Everything We Wrote in August 2018: Old Haunts, Wheat Beer, Bierkellers

The chequered floor of the Old Duke pub.

Here’s everything we wrote in August 2018 in one handy round-up, from blog posts to magazine articles, via a blizzard of social media.

This was our lowest output since April this year, pressing family and work business for both of us meaning that we just didn’t get round to the huge list of posts we’re itching to write and have half-drafted in our heads.

Anyway, never mind — what we did turn out wasn’t bad, and we’re hoping to find time for a bit more writing over the course of this blessedly empty weekend.

If you think all the effort below is worth anything do consider signing up for our Patreon (with yet more exclusive stuff) or just buying us a one-off pint via Ko-Fi.


Sketch of The Brunswick.

The month kicked off with a solo piece from Jess on the Brunswick in Derby, a pub we loved when we visited a decade ago, and which it turns out is still a corker.


We filleted an obscure book of West Country humourOur Village Parliament, for details of the cider-soaked pubs of Somerset in the early 20th century:

“Time, gennamin, please,” broke in the voice of Mrs Barker. “Let I zee your backs tonight an’ your feaces at ten-thirty, marra’ mornin’.”


For Session #138 we wrote about how wood has made a comeback in the world of beer even since 2013 when we were researching our book Brew Britannia. You can read a round-up of all the responses at Jack Perdue’s blog.


Revisiting the Pembury Tavern in Hackney we were delighted to find it much improved in terms of atmosphere, and really enjoyed some of the Five Points beers we drank. (It has since closed for a bit of light refurbishment — let’s hope not too much change takes place.)


Illustration: queue.

There was a huge amount of interest in our post about queuing in pubs with lots of strong feelings either way. (Although one bloke on Facebook said it sent him to sleep.)


More exciting and interesting for us was the discovery of a cache of paperwork relating to the Guinness brewery at Park Royal in London. We now have possession of the whole lot and have begun sorting through it and taking notes. There’ll be a few posts highlighting interesting bits in the collection the first of which concerns a 1939 manual for how to brew the famous stout.


The semi-finals of our Tripel Taste-off saw Westmalle face De Dolle and Karmeliet up against Lost & Grounded. We’ll hopefully arrange the final, and maybe a third-place play off, this week.


Berni Inn logo.

We really enjoyed writing a long post about the history of Berni Inns with a particular focus on their Bristol roots:

Frank Berni visited the US in the early 1950s and came away inspired by American steak bars which made money by carefully controlling margins while maintaining the appearance of generosity and good value. He was also impressed by the consistency of chain restaurants which were capable of serving identical steak meals in identical surroundings anywhere in the US… When meat rationing ended in Britain in 1954, they pounced, taking on The Rummer, a historic pub in central Bristol.


Just for a bit of fun we tried putting cocktail bitters in beer. It was… interesting. Since this we’ve also been experimenting with non-alcoholic spirits substitutes which mostly taste like garden weeds.


What was the first British take on German wheat beer, who brewed it, where and when? We found the answer in an old copy of CAMRA’s newspaper What’s Brewing.


A 1924 article on ‘The Future of Beer’ fascinated us not least because it got so much basically right.


Then there was a second solo post by Jess, this time on the Head of Steam in Birmingham — our first encounter with this growing chain. People generally seem to agree with her judgement.


Then Ray had a go at writing on his own, reporting on a visit to an old favourite pub in his home town with his Dad which turned into a recreation of the famous photograph ‘Lads of the Village’.


The Royal Forest Hotel in full view.

After staying in an interesting pub-hotel in Chingford on the London-Essex border we decided to find out a bit more about it and discovered a tale of fakery, fire and chainification.


There were also the usual instalments of news, nuggets and longreads:


Our email newsletter was back to its full length of 1,000+ words and delivered on time, after a wobble the month before. Sign up if you want to receive a load of exclusive stuff once every month.


Revellers.
Opening night at Rigby’s Bierkeller.

In print, you’ll find our latest piece for CAMRA, on German-style Bierkellers in Britain in the 1970s, in BEER magazine which is online here.


On Patreon for $2+ subscribers we wrote about whether pubs need beer | the British Guild of Beer Writers | pub life — cider | pub life — them gay lads | the best beers of weekends one, two , three and four | and a bit of behind the scenes maintenance stuff nobody needs to hear about again.


We did some Instagramming and lots of Tweeting, the biggest hit of which was this: