News, Nuggets & Longreads for 2 June 2018: Flanders, Erith, Easterly Road

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from D&D to WWI.

First, a great story by Liam Barnes that just missed the cut off for last week’s round-up, about the part pubs and bars are playing in the resurgence of Dungeons & Dragons:

On first glance this branch of BrewDog in Nottingham might seem like your typical hipster hangout, but one thing gives it a slightly different air: numerous hand-drawn maps, some character sheets, and voluminous bags of 20-sided dice…. It’s the bar’s monthly tabletop gaming night – and regulars love it…. “I think the escapism is the best bit,” says 27-year-old gamer Hannah Yeates. “For a few hours you can become a completely different person living a completely different life, making decisions you’d never make and forgetting what’s happening in the real world…. It’s liberating.”


German troops sharing beer during World War I.

For All About Beer Christopher Barnes has written a long, detailed, heavily illustrated account of how World War I affected French and Belgian breweries:

The monks of Westmalle and Achel were forced to flee to The Netherlands. The Belgians, in their defense of Antwerp, destroyed a tower at Westmalle to prevent it being used as an observation post by the approaching Germans. Achel was occupied by the Belgians and shelled by the Germans until they were able to solidify their hold on Belgium. To keep citizens from going back and forth over the border with The Netherlands, the Germans erected an electrified fence along the border. Since Achel straddles the border of The Netherlands and Belgium, the fence bisected the abbey’s lands. When the call went out from the German War Department, the monks of Achel were able to sadly watch as their brewery was dismantled. No beer was brewed at Achel until 2001.


Price list in a pub.

Via @corbettcollins here’s an interesting bit of research from YouGov: how much do British people think a pint ought to cost? And in which parts of the country does it deviate furthest from that expectation?


Screengrab of the Stones of Manchester.

And here’s an interesting photography project: architectural historian Paul Dobraszczyk has completed his comprehensive survey of the buildings of Manchester and put them online, categorised and catalogued, at The Stones of Manchester. Treat yourself to a browse through the pubs category.


Oakwood, 1938.

It was #BeeryLongreads2018 last Saturday. We included a couple of the early posts in last week’s round-up and so it probably makes sense to round-up the rest here. First, a one-off comeback post from Leigh Linley — a wonderful reflection on the history of Beefeater chain pubs and one in particular, The Oakwood in Leeds:

As in most summer childhood memories of the early 1990’s, it’s hot. Really, really hot. Hard, powder-blue sky, short shorts and sweaty polyester replica football shirts. Ice pops dribbling neon sugar-water down your wrist. Leeds United are playing – or have played, actually – and have won. I know this even though we’re playing in the car park of The Oakwood pub with a rapidly-deflating ball. We’ve all been assigned the requisite personas: Speed, Strachan, Chapman, Dorigo et al. Everybody wants to be Gary Speed or Lee Chapman, of course. It’s less of a football game, more a Battle Royale with a 99p football. The radio’s on in the bar and the odd explosive cheer emanates from inside when the double doors to the beer garden swing open, kicked by a guy doing trying to port three pints of Skol to his mates outside. The terrace adjacent to the car park is full, and pints upon pints of gold-hued lager are being necked with almost as much ferocity as the mid-day sun beating down on this corner of Leeds. Cars rolling up and down Easterly Road are beeping their horns and through the tree-line to the dual carriageway beyond I can see the odd flash of a white, yellow and blue bar scarf draped down the side of a nearly-closed car window. We play. The sound from the pub and the terrace is just chatter: low, grown-up talk humming under the cranked commentary, sailing on that ashen crown of cigarette smoke that pubs had in those days.


A fake ID card.

Josh Farrington at Beer and Present Danger also found himself waxing nostalgic, recalling his own teenage efforts to commence a drinking career:

Because I was a particularly nerdy 16-year-old, I asked my father’s permission to go out drinking for the first time. And, because I was a particularly nerdy 16-year-old, and there was in his view very little trouble that I could wind up getting into, he said yes. So, one Friday night, dressed in my finest shirt and shiniest shoes, we headed down town to a pub where my mate Will guaranteed we could get served…. We couldn’t. As it turned out, they’d been raided the week before by the police, who’d checked the IDs of all the furtive drinkers huddled in the back room, and given the owners a very stern talking to.


The Northern Whig bar.

‘Mac Suirtáin’ wrote his first ever blog post about an incident of Irish history, the part pubs played in it, and what those pubs are like today:

In Ireland, a rebellion that was gestated in the backroom of various pubs in Belfast set forth a chain of events that have defined the last two decades on the island…. The United Irishmen rebellion of the 1790s is one of the most personally fascinating chapters of Ireland’s colourful history. Despite being little over 200 years ago (and just over a century before partition) the events of the uprising sound almost alien to someone like myself who grew up in a Northern Ireland of binaries and certainties, where, with very few exceptions, you could box people as British/protestant/unionist/loyalist or Irish/catholic/nationalist/republican.


A detail from Haden's etching.

Finally there’s this piece from Steve at Wait Until Next Year on The Yacht Tavern, Erith, south London, which is really about art and idealism:

Seymour Haden sits on the balcony of the Yacht Tavern, Erith. Seymour Haden, the famous etcher and surgeon. Two very different jobs, on the surface, and yet, on reflection, there are some similarities. The scalpel and the graver look interchangeable to the layman. Both occupations require precision, decisiveness, delicacy….. Etch, from the Dutch etsen, from the German ätzen, from the Old High German azzon, “give to eat, cause to bite, feed”. Seymour Haden sits on the balcony of the Yacht Tavern, Erith. He sits, and he etches.


And that’s that for another week. We’ll finish with this Thought for the Day:

One thought on “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 2 June 2018: Flanders, Erith, Easterly Road”

  1. I was brought up not far at all from The Oakwood – it was one of the nearer pubs. Always thought it was a bit grim, to be honest, and being a Beefeater, it wasn’t the sort of pub my dad went to as a CAMRA member (albeit we’re talking a decade or so earlier than this particular longread). There was a huge shortage of pubs around Oakwood and Roundhay more generally. The Oakwood was actually bang on the border of Oakwood (a sub-suburb of Roundhay, one of the leafiest and most prosperous parts of the city) and Gipton, one of the worst estates in the entire country. The Oakwood had more of a Gipton feel to me. Confusingly, The Gipton was actually in Oakwood (the pub is now less confusingly called The Roundhay) and at times was actually not a bad place to drink some of Whitbread’s better beers – Castle Eden, for example. There weren’t many other pubs within walking distance; The White House was an absurdly posh, snobby place selling Greenall Whitley beers, and The Mansion in Roundhay Park was precisely that, although remarkably unsnobby in comparison – technically a free house, it generally had Webster’s beers on. There was also a somewhat incongruous Working Man’s Club that served Wards’ beers not that far away.
    All in all, some very uninspiring pubs, but an unusual selection of beers for Leeds at the time – not a Tetley’s pub in sight. There are actually more and better drinking establishments in the area now.

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