Everything We Wrote in May 2018: Pints, Drinks, Staropramen

"What a Lot of Words!"

It was a busy month for us – almost too busy, really, because we set ourselves rather too much of a challenge with #BeeryLongreads2018. Still, the results were probably worth it.

We began the month with one of our ‘Pub Life’ pieces based on observ­ing an odd char­ac­ter one Sun­day after­noon. We didn’t intend any crit­i­cism – the pub seemed to tol­er­ate him well enough and it’s their busi­ness, real­ly – but some of the com­ments sug­gest that free­load­ers are a real prob­lem in some pubs.

In the wake of a piece we wrote for CAMRA’s BEER mag­a­zine we asked peo­ple to tell us about their local beer mix­es and beer mix­ing tra­di­tions. You’ll see there were plen­ty of com­ments and we gath­er CAMRA has also been receiv­ing cor­re­spon­dence on the issue.

The Blue Bell, York.

For an emer­gency gath­er­ing of The Ses­sion we raid­ed our pho­to archives to come up with a piece we rather liked about sepia-toned pubs. You can read all the oth­er entries via Al’s round-up at Fug­gled. The next ses­sion is, er, today, via Dave S.

We shared some writ­ing by sub­scribers to our newslet­ter (sign up at tinyletter.com/boakandbailey) who we asked to write 100 words about beer and pubs. The entries were great and we hope more peo­ple will give this tech­nique a go at some point if only because it’s a great way to smash through writer’s block. Here’s the win­ner, by Mark Bai­ley:

Pi Bar Altrin­cham. Or a Bar called Pi? Untap­pd seems to think so. By design or chance you can see right down the road. Big win­dows. Like a mov­ing small town paint­ing. Looks bet­ter when it’s rain­ing. Gives it a water­colour sheen. Noisy. Espe­cial­ly THAT laugh. Dogs wel­come, as are chil­dren. Staff who stick around. Chat­ty. The Boss always lets on, knows your name. Beer art­work. Bod­ding­tons. Fan­cy Amer­i­can brew­ery. Bel­gian. All bases cov­ered. Ear­ly drink after buy­ing the veg from the mar­ket. The old cou­ple are in. As they leave, ‘See you next week!’ Him: ‘I hope so’.

Our local doesn’t dis­play pump-clips on the bar and that’s led us to try some beers we (being human) might oth­er­wise have missed, which got us think­ing about the ben­e­fits of the absence of brand­ing.

Details of the Staropramen packaging.

Where the heck is the Staro­pra­men we get in 330ml bot­tles in the UK actu­al­ly brewed? We got lots of spec­u­la­tive respons­es but no defin­i­tive answer and, you won’t be sur­prised to hear, heard noth­ing back from Mol­son Coors. (Gary Gill­man had some extend­ed thoughts here.)

On pints and halves: “I (Jes­si­ca) hit my teenage years dur­ing the era of the ladette when drink­ing beer, and espe­cial­ly drink­ing beer in pints, was a way for women to stake a claim on blokes’ ter­ri­to­ry. Big boots, no make-up, pints, swear­ing — don’t tell me what’s lady­like or how to behave! Up yours!”

Anoth­er round of ‘Pub Life’, this time based on observ­ing goings on behind the bar where a baby-faced trainee was under­go­ing com­bat train­ing with live ammo.

Oh, crikey – this one got us in hot water. Giv­en that a few brew­eries have now been tak­en over do we have enough infor­ma­tion about how takeovers unfold to be able to guess like­ly tar­gets? We reck­on so and named a test case. There were respons­es from Glynn Davis at Beer Insid­er and Kei­th Flett – ‘Will Beaver­town Sell Out? The Case Against’. Mean­while sev­er­al news sto­ries broke which made us feel a bit more con­fi­dent in our guess.

Why do Ron Pattinson’s notes on long lost mild ales make our mouths water when, log­i­cal­ly, we know the beer prob­a­bly wasn’t great?

Try­ing to lift the mood after a try­ing week we came up with 100 words of pure pos­i­tiv­i­ty on why we love Tripel: “Com­plex with­out dra­ma. Sub­tly lux­u­ri­ous. Afford­able art.”

Being forced to go dry for a week made us think about the cer­e­mo­ny and rev­er­ence that sur­rounds A Drink, whether alco­hol is a nec­es­sary part of that, and what mock­tails can teach us about the pre­sen­ta­tion of beer.

Diagram: a plain glass of water vs. a drink with ice, fruit, herbs....

We made a first pass at a read­ing list, or ‘Vir­tu­al Anthol­o­gy’ as we pompous­ly call it, on the sub­ject of IPA. We’ve had a cou­ple of sug­ges­tions for things to add and will hope­ful­ly get chance to review it in the next few weeks.

A bit of a data dump: in 1994 the tabloid news­pa­per the Peo­ple sat beer writer Michael Jack­son down with 101 beers read­i­ly avail­able on British high streets; we’ve typed up the full list with info on price, ABV, etc., to give a glimpse 25 years into the past.

One of our local pubs has start­ed sell­ing Bath Ales’ new Sulis lager and, it being lager weath­er, we detoured there to try it under (not real­ly) con­trolled con­di­tions. Spoil­er: we real­ly liked it.

And, final­ly – the rea­son we’ve had the past week off – for #BeeryLongreads2018 we wrote 6,000 words on the state of British beer cul­ture, as a kind of fol­low-up to both Brew Bri­tan­nia and 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub. It’s a bit scrap­py here and there (we keep find­ing new typos) but, we think, well worth your time:

In our view, if you live in Eng­land and can’t go out and find a pint of bit­ter with rel­a­tive ease, or even a choice of bit­ters, then you’re being fussy about pubs, fussy about beer, or per­haps just plain awk­ward.… On the flip­side, we’re also baf­fled by the sug­ges­tion that hazy IPAs have some­how come to dom­i­nate. It’s inter­est­ing that Adnams has brewed one as an exper­i­ment, and we were amused to see that Alec Lath­am encoun­tered a cask ver­sion of the style at a region­al beer fes­ti­val, but, equal­ly, we can go weeks with­out see­ing one on sale.

There were also the usu­al Sat­ur­day morn­ing round-ups of sub­stan­tial read­ing, news and tit­bits:

5 May 2018 – Bernard, Bud­weis­er, Bro­ken Bones

12 May 2018 – Bass, Bavaria, Bam­bi­ni

19 May 2018 – Booz­ers, Brus­sels, Benin

26 May 2018 – Hill Farm­stead, Fried Eggs, Fullers

Guitar man

On the Patre­on feed for $2+ sub­scribers we wrote about: Schrödinger’s craft beer | an upcom­ing Tripel Off | con­fused stu­dents | the best beers of week­ends 1, 2, 3, 4 | an aggro barper­son | a pos­si­ble book project | the eti­quette of shar­ing archive pho­tos online | an Irish­man who loves Eng­lish beer | a gui­tar slinger | and some behind the scenes busi­ness.

If you want access to that lot, and to encour­age us to keep going with all the above, do con­sid­er sign­ing up.

Off site we wrote about Bris­tol for the Man­ches­ter Beer Week web­site (a paid gig) and you’ll find our piece on the his­to­ry of home­brew­ing in the UK in issue #9 of Hop & Bar­ley.

We also Insta­grammed a bit, Face­booked a lit­tle, and Tweet­ed a ton – this sort of stuff: