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!

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