News, Nuggets & Longreads for 9 June 2018: Etiquette, Esters, Ethics

Here’s everything on the subject of beer and pubs that we bookmarked in the past week, from matters of manners to jars of juice.

Well, most of the last week: we wrote this on Thursday and scheduled it to post so if anything big happened on Friday, sorry, it’s probably missing.

Let’s start with this piece for the Guardian by Tony Naylor on the new etiquette of the pub. We can’t say we agree with every word but it’s a fascinating snapshot of where things stand in 2018:

People making phone calls, texting and tweeting in the pub is to be expected and, unless they are giving it the full Dom Joly, of no issue. Volume is key. Showing your mate that hilarious video on YouTube? Mute it. Pacifying your kids with Paw Patrol episodes on the tablet? Get their headphones on. Spare us that tinny racket.

See also: R.M. Banks. on Modern Pubmanship.

Cash Money Pound Signs.

Dave ‘Hardknott’ Bailey has gone on record with some details of the anti-competitive measures he understands large suppliers to be taking to push the products of smaller brewers off the bars of UK pubs:

[A bar owner] contacted me a couple of months ago as they were negotiating with suppliers of their major brand lager. It seems that they were being offered a cash lump sum for a two year exclusivity deal. They were being offered £2k cash to kick our Intergalactic Space Hopper off the bar. Apparently it isn’t just one major beer producer that is doing this, it is most of the big multinational brands and is looking a little bit like a cartel and anti-competetive action…. £2k is roughly the annual value of this particular account. We cannot compete in this territory.

Illustration: 'Citrus burst'.

For the Takeout Kate Bernot analyses the brewing industry’s obsession with ‘juiciness’ and the interesting ways it is being achieved by American brewers in 2018:

California-based Ballast Point Brewing (owned by Constellation Brands)…. recently introduced a new variant of its popular Sculpin IPA called Aloha Sculpin. It’s not brewed with pineapple, as the name might imply, but with a yeast strain called Brux Trois that supplies its fruity notes and slightly more rounded texture…. “We played around with this weird new yeast strain that made all these beautiful, tropical flavors. We put it on tap and the beer was gone before we knew it,” says Ballast Point’s director of quality Lauren Zeidler. “We had this collective lightbulb go off that this yeast makes so many amazing tropical flavors and this could be a great pair for some of the best attributes of the base Sculpin.”

Telescope in Cornwall.

We should have written this piece about beer in Cornwall, but we didn’t. Somehow, when we lived there, we never quite got it together, or couldn’t see the overall picture clearly enough, and so held back. For Good Beer Hunting Jonny Garrett, however, has spoke to a wide range of interesting people and given a rather sharp reading. We particularly like the fact that he spoke to the founders of a brewery that failed because of the realities of brewing in the far west:

“A common saying down here is that Cornwall is ‘five years behind London,’ and unfortunately, that’s the case in the beer world,” [Rob] Lowe says. “Traditional cask beer dominates the Cornish pub scene, and seasonality can be a killer. Many small breweries can’t produce anywhere near enough to meet demand in summer, but then spend months barely brewing when the tourists leave. It makes cashflow a nightmare.”

Cornwall has 44 breweries, but 9 have closed in the last decade. That’s not exactly an impressive success rate—clearly, competition for the hearts and mouths of the local cask-drinking population is fierce.

A canal boat and beers.

From Lydia and Lorna at Liquortrips comes a late contribution to #BeeryLongreads2018 in the form of a report on the Worcester Ale Trail:

The Ale Trail – which is the result of a partnership between The Cardinal’s Hat and the Worcester Food Festival – sends you around eight pubs with the view of ordering a pint of real ale in each. Punters have until June 17 to complete the challenge…. The recommended order of completion is you begin your adventure at The King’s Head in Sidbury, heading next to The Cardinal’s Hat on Friar Street before then stopping off at The King Charles on New Street. Then you go on to The Firefly in Lowesmoor, the Imperial Tavern on St Nicholas Street, The Paul Pry in The Butts, Tonic Bar on Foregate Street and finally finishing at The Oil Basin in Copenhagen Street.

And we’ll finish with some sad news:

2 replies on “News, Nuggets & Longreads for 9 June 2018: Etiquette, Esters, Ethics”

Is it just me, or is there a fundamental dichotomy in Dave Bailey’s logic: “Keg is the way forwards for small brewers”, but “small brewers can’t compete with keg”? I know that’s something of a reduction of his arguments, but surely without a change in legislation, the wording of the Beer Orders means that the number of outlets for keg beers is a lot more limited than the number of outlets for cask, due to the “soft tie”? Actions that would be illegal against cask beer are not outlawed against keg.

And compare and contrast with Verdant – a brewery who not only completely understand the local and national markets, they are accepting of them and build their business accordingly.
I wonder why they’re successful? 😉
I’m really, really impressed with what they have to say. All power to them.

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