News, Nuggets & Longreads 7 July 2018: Marsan, Saison, Vaseline

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that grabbed us in the past week, from equality initiatives to the specifics of European beer styles.

We’ll start with a flur­ry of acci­den­tal­ly inter­con­nect­ed items about pubs and how wel­com­ing they might or might not seem to dif­fer­ent peo­ple and groups.

British polit­i­cal Twit­ter spent a good chunk of the week talk­ing about pubs after actor Eddie Marsan said that he didn’t like them, asso­ci­at­ing them, based on his own child­hood expe­ri­ences in the East End of Lon­don, with domes­tic vio­lence and macho pos­tur­ing.

Mean­while, two relat­ed schemes have launched with the inten­tion of mak­ing pubs more invit­ing to a wider range of peo­ple. First, with Melis­sa Cole at the helm, there’s the Every­one Wel­come Ini­tia­tive:

The aim of this ini­tia­tive is to pro­vide beer venues and events with a strong state­ment that every­one who walks through the door is wel­come regard­less, of their gen­der, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, race, health, reli­gion, age or dis­abil­i­ty… Whilst these forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion are cov­ered under the Equal­i­ty Act 2010, none of us can say that they don’t hap­pen and what this ini­tia­tive is designed to do is give peo­ple the oppor­tu­ni­ty to nail their colours to the mast about the kind of venue or event they are run­ning – to shout proud­ly that hate isn’t to be tol­er­at­ed and igno­rance is not an excuse.

The Equal­i­ty in Pubs accred­i­ta­tion scheme, led by Jes­si­ca Mason, launched a few days lat­er:

Pub­li­cans who would like to let vis­i­tors know that their pub has a zero tol­er­ance pol­i­cy on abuse in any of its forms can now sign up to TEPA and, from 2019, gain a win­dow stick­er and a plot on a map on TEPA web­site to let peo­ple know that their pub doesn’t sup­port homo­pho­bia, sex­ism or racism in any of its guis­es from nei­ther its staff or it’s drinkers. Join­ing TEPA means the pub­li­can has a civic duty to act should they recog­nise abuse in their venue.

We’ll fin­ish with a link to some­thing we wrote last year which appeared this week at All About Beer after a long delay, thus seem­ing acci­den­tal­ly top­i­cal:

[If you] find your­self in a pub where you oughtn’t be, it will usu­al­ly be made clear to you, as long as you are rea­son­ably flu­ent in the lan­guage of pas­sive-aggres­sion. It might, for exam­ple, take a long time to get served, if the per­son behind the bar acknowl­edges you at all. You might get asked point blank if you are a police offi­cer, which hap­pens to us not infrequently—something about our flat feet, per­haps. Or the reg­u­lars might start a loud, point­ed con­ver­sa­tion about strangers, or for­eign­ers, or peo­ple wear­ing what­ev­er colour hat you hap­pen to be wear­ing. We once walked into a pub only to be greet­ed by five men in soc­cer shirts, one of whom sim­ply point­ed and said: “No, no—turn round and walk out. Now.” We did so.


A glass of saison.

Roel Mul­der con­tin­ues to ques­tion the accept­ed his­to­ry of Bel­gian beer at Lost Beers, this time ques­tion­ing just exact­ly how sure we can be that sai­son was real­ly “a typ­i­cal­ly rur­al beer or specif­i­cal­ly aimed at farm work­ers”:

[The] old­est men­tion of sai­son that I found dates from 1823, where it is described as ‘Advent or March beer, excel­lent beer that is brewed in Liège and that can be kept.’ Liège, for those who do not know it, is a typ­i­cal indus­tri­al city with coal mines and met­al indus­try, and this was already the case in the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry. Hard­ly a rur­al envi­ron­ment, you would say. Also, it is not in the province of Hain­aut.

(But the long, gen­tly resis­tant com­ment at the bot­tom from Lars Mar­ius Garshol is also worth read­ing.)


Herr Schneider in the brewery.

We’re vocal fans of Stan Hieronymus’s book Brew Like a Monk and yet for some rea­son nev­er got round to read­ing his book about brew­ing with wheat, per­haps because wheat beer seemed less inter­est­ing to us than Trap­pist brew­ing. Well, if the extract he has shared for Ses­sion 137 is any­thing to go by, then we’ve been miss­ing out:

Lis­ten­ing to Josef Schnei­der talk about brew­ing wheat beers could make you start to think it is sim­ple.

Does he wor­ry about haze sta­bil­i­ty?

You brew the beer right, you serve it fresh, it is not a prob­lem.”

Would he con­sid­er mak­ing a beer with­out using a decoc­tion mash? (The look on his face indi­cat­ed just how crazy he thought this ques­tion was, but he answered any­way.)

Bavar­i­an beer must have more malt fla­vor. You must cook it long to make it that way. Oth­er­wise you have Warstein­er … or Amer­i­can beer.”


1930s style picture of a pint of beer.

One of our favourite sub-gen­res of beer writ­ing is the deep reflec­tion on a well-known beer, such as this by Alec Lath­am on Guin­ness. The fun is in find­ing some­thing new to say about beers that have already been well worked over, which effort some­times squeezes out star­tling insight, or poet­ry:

There’s some­thing else about this beer I don’t like and it takes me a lit­tle while to put my fin­ger on it. It’s in the vis­cos­i­ty itself. The mouth­feel is malty but it clings after­wards and makes me think of Vase­line. Per­haps that’s too strong – more like the tex­ture of the neon-pink spoon­fuls of antibi­otics I was forced to swal­low as a child.

(When did we last have Guin­ness? A week ago. We drink it quite fre­quent­ly as a side-effect of our #Every­Pu­bIn­Bris­tol mis­sion and it’s no hard­ship every now and then.)


Certified craft.

Is it safe yet to reflect once more on what we call that cat­e­go­ry of beers that isn’t the oth­er cat­e­go­ry of beers? You know – that type of beer some peo­ple are into, rather than the type they’re not. Katie at The Snap & the Hiss asked peo­ple on Twit­ter whether they use the term ‘craft beer’ and used the respons­es as the start­ing point for think­ing about how to talk about those beers with­out it:

It’s a con­ve­nient phrase… espe­cial­ly if you’re look­ing to describe a dif­fer­ent type of beer to some­one who might not be famil­iar with it. Say­ing “it’s just beer” is true, and all well and good, but offer­ing a pas­sion fruit Gose to a per­son who under­stands “beer” to be either Fos­ters or a pint of bit­ter will leave them con­fused, stunned, and no doubt dis­gust­ed. It’s about con­text, but it’s also about under­stand­ing.


Anton Dreher.

Andreas Kren­mair is con­tin­u­ing his attempts to pin down the specifics of Anton Dreher’s Vien­na beer, one of the foun­da­tion stones of mod­ern lager, and this week revealed a few more nuggets of infor­ma­tion that lead to a “pret­ty com­plete” spec for the beer as it was c.1887.


We don’t nor­mal­ly link to arti­cles locked behind pay­wall but we’ll make an excep­tion for this by Dean Robie at busi­ness jour­nal Merg­er Mar­ket, the full text of which we were sent in a mes­sage:

Thorn­bridge Brew­ery is look­ing to raise GBP 10m in the next two years, CEO Simon Web­ster told this news ser­vice.… To finance the craft brewer’s expan­sion, Web­ster is open to sell­ing a stake to either a megabrew­er or a pri­vate equi­ty.… Thorn­bridge has been in touch with sev­er­al indus­tri­al as well as “half a dozen” pri­vate-equi­ty suit­ors, he said.

Hard­ly shock­ing news but it’s inter­est­ing to see it being dis­cussed (rel­a­tive­ly) open­ly.


And final­ly, for old time’s sake, and because it might be use­ful gen for some of you hol­i­day­mak­ers out there…

2 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 7 July 2018: Marsan, Saison, Vaseline”

  1. Some of the neg­a­tive com­ments after the All About Beer arti­cle were a scream, espe­cial­ly the ones won­der­ing if you two knew any­thing about pubs! Just about to leave for the Star Crowlas beer fes­ti­val!

  2. Blimey, that sounds good. Crowlas you say? Bit of a trek from Porth­leven, and I’m not even in Porth­leven. Oh well, more for the Cor­nu­bians.

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