News, Nuggets & Longreads 18 August 2018: Bartram’s, Belgium, the Barley Mow

Here’s everything published on beer and pubs in the past week that grabbed our attention, from teetotal tendencies to the extraordinary nature of ordinary pubs.

First, some trademark thoughtful reflection from Jeff Alworth at Beervana who asks ‘What If We Just Stopped Drinking?

[What] if we just keep drinking less and less until we’re consuming it like our old auntie, who only pulls out the sherry for special occasions? This won’t happen immediately, but the trend lines are pretty clear… A dirty little secret of the alcohol industrial complex: it relies on very heavy drinkers, many of them alcoholics, for the bulk of sales. Among drinkers, the median consumption is just a couple drinks a week. That’s the median–some “drinkers” basically don’t drink at all. That means, of course, that someone’s doing a lot of drinking…


A Belgian Brown Cafe.

There’s a new links round-up in town: Breandán Kearney at Belgian Smaak has put together a rather wonderful rattle through all the Belgian beer and bar news from the last few months. How can you resist a 15 item list including such headers as CHINESE HOEGAARDEN and BEAVERTOWN GOES BELGIAN?


The mad collection at the Prince of Greenwich.
SOURCE: Deserter

For Deserter the pseudonymous Dirty South gives an account of a day spent trying to entertain a sullen teenager in the cultural pubs of South London:

The Prince is run by Pietro La Rosa, a Sicilian who has not only brought Italian hospitality and splendid Italian food to SE10, but opened a pub full of curios that he and his wife Paola have collected from their travels around the world. An enormous whale’s jaw bone hangs over various objets d’arts, a rhinoceros’ head protrudes above an antique barber’s chair, surrounded by artwork from afar.

‘It’s mad,’ concluded Theo.


The Bridge Inn, Clayton.
SOURCE: John Clarke.

Here’s something we’d like to see more of: veteran CAMRA magazine editor  John Clarke dusted down a pub crawl from 30 years ago and retraced his steps to see how time had treated the boozers of Clayton, Greater Manchester:

The Folkestone was closed, burnt out and demolished. New housing now occupies the site. The Greens Arms struggled on and then had a brief existence as the Star Showbar… The Grove also continues to thrive as a Holts house and the war memorial remains on the vault wall. No such luck with the Church.


The Barley Mow, London.
SOURCE: Pub Culture Vulture.

Ben McCormick has been writing about pubs on and off at his Pub Culture Vulture blog for a few years now and a recent flurry of posts has culminated with what we think is a profound observation:

[The Barley Mow] must be the best Baker Street boozer by a billion miles… I was on the point of writing there is nothing special about the place, but stopped abruptly on the grounds that’s complete horseshit. There ought to be many, many more examples of pubs like this dotted around central London and further afield. But there aren’t.

Any pub, however, ordinary, becomes extraordinary if it resists change — that makes sense to us.


A bit of news: Bartram’s, a brewery in Suffolk, seems to have given up brewing (the story is slightly confusing) which has given the local newspaper an opportunity to reflect on the health of the market:

Now Mr Bartram is currently no longer looking to export overseas, and is not producing any beer. “There are about 42 breweries in Suffolk – when I started 18 years ago, there were just five,” he said. “There is a lot more competition. The market is saturated, it’s ridiculous.”

Another Suffolk brewer, who declined to be named, claims overcrowding in the marketplace is true of the cask ale industry that Mr Bartram is part of, but not the key keg ale market.

Also unclear: the key market for keg ale, or the keykeg ale market? Anyway, interesting.


If you want more good reading check out Stan Hieronymus’s Monday round-up and Alan McLeod’s regular Thursday linkfest.

6 thoughts on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 18 August 2018: Bartram’s, Belgium, the Barley Mow”

  1. The Beervana piece refers to something very specific: the USA. There is a trend, largely I think due to accessibility (ie Americans write in English, and we can read it) for it to be reported “this is what is happening”, rather than “this is what is happening in America”. My feeling in so many cases, including this, is that it is the USA which is aberrant, and what we should do is look much wider for what is happening; and in many cases run a mile from whatever the American “example” is.

    (Including dank, oily beers hopped with the subtlety of a sledgehammer smashing melons.)

    1. In some ways the US is closer to eg Germany, and it’s the UK that’s aberrant in many ways – we have a far higher proportion of on-trade/draught consumption than most countries for instance, and one could view pub closures as something of a reversion to the international norm. But declining alcohol consumption is something that’s pretty much universal among Western countries.

      Given that some British beers in Victorian times were 150 IBU or more, I’m not sure you can say that hopping with the subtlety of a sledgehammer is uniquely USian, rather you could view 20th century British beers as watery pish compared to British beer in The Good Old Days.™

  2. Thank for the mention. You should be seeing one of these every month from now on.

    I’m not sure how many other CAMRA magazine editors have been in harness as long as me (30 years and counting) and so have been able to build an archive of material. I suspect much has been lost.

  3. As a Suffolk beer blogger I am embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t noticed the Bartram’s story myself. I have exchanged emails with Marc and have found him to be a very decent guy, as have other people I know. Some of his beers were great, but he brewed so many different beers that I rarely saw the same beer twice. That meant that I never knew what to expect from his brewery. I will look out for his new project, and hope to spot it before you do on the other side of the country!

Comments are closed.