News pubs

News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 August 2018: Alcohol, Mirages, Contracts

Here’s everything to do with beer and pubs that struck us as bookmarkable in the past week, from alcohol guidance to estate pubs.

First, a bit of news from the other side of the world: Lion, which seems to be on a spending spree, has just bought pioneering New Zealand ‘boutique brewery’ Harrington’s, founded in 1991.

Meanwhile, in Australia, AB-InBev (via it’s ZX Ventures investment wing) has acquired online beer retailer BoozeBud, to go with similar purchases worldwide such as Beerhawk here in the UK.


Illustration: poison symbol (skull and crossbones)

For the Guardian philosopher Julian Baggini reflects on the essential problem of alcohol guidance in the UK: the entanglement of scientific evidence-based advice with matters of morality.

[We] like to think in clean, clear categories of good and bad. With our puritanical Protestant history, alcohol has always fallen on the dark side of this divide. So when the truth turns out to be complicated, rather than accept this maturely, we refuse to acknowledge the good and carry on as though it were all bad. Because drunkenness is sinful, moral condemnation of it trumps any other redemptive qualities it might have.

Bar mirage, 1976.
SOURCE: Jim Frost, Chicago Sun-Times.

In 1976 a team of reporters in Chicago got frustrated at their inability to get any bar-owners to go on record talking about corruption and bribery among the city’s health and safety inspectors. Their solution was elegant, but controversial: set up their own bar and take notes and photographs of every shakedown that came their way. (By Andy Wright, via Boing Boing.)

Sign on the side of the pub advertising Northern Soul.
SOURCE: Manchester’s Estate Pubs

One of our favourite blogs, Manchester’s Estate Pubs, is back with an affectionate, melancholy portrait of a pub author Steve Marland knows, or at least knew, particularly well — The Four Heatons in Stockport:

Do not let the unusual design of the exterior put you off visiting this pub. When it first opened it was called the Moss Rose… The name was changed subsequent to the tragic and unfortunate gangland killing that took place in September 1999. It never seemed to recover from such a damning reputation,  and though well used by the many residents in the well populated surrounding area, the offer of hard cash for the site. must in the end have proved irresistible.

Alan Winfield in the 1970s.
SOURCE: Never Ending Pub Crawl.

Speaking of pub explorers, some sad news: Alan Winfield, author of the Never Ending Pub Crawl blog, has died. He was ill and knew this was coming which gave him time to write one final post rounding up his favourite pubs of all time.


In the US, there’s been a kerfuffle over non-compete clauses in brewers’ contracts. It might be within their legal right but is it cool for a brewery to prevent a former staff member from starting their own brewery? Jeff Alworth reflects on the news (as covered by Bryan Roth for Good Beer Hunting) pointing to a historic example for context:

I would like to take you back a generation to 1993, when a similar case created a massive stink here in Portland… The incident involved Alan Sprints and Widmer Brewing. I spoke to Alan about it in writing my biography of Rob and Kurt, The Widmer Way. He had been hired there as a brewer in a company that was just beginning to develop a corporate mentality. They had him sign a non-compete agreement and when he departed a couple years later to start Hair of the Dog, they sued him… It was a public relations disaster for Widmer…

Here’s a great Twitter thread to finish on — do click through to check out the replies.

One reply on “News, Nuggets & Longreads 4 August 2018: Alcohol, Mirages, Contracts”

The Four Heatons (ex Moss Rose) was one of the two pubs nearest to my house. While it wasn’t the one I tended to favour, I certainly enjoyed mnay pints in there over the years and delivered the local CAMRA magazine to it for over 25 years.

An interesting sign of the times is that, when it was built in 1971, it was given spacious separate cellars for mild and bitter.

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