News, Nuggets & Longreads 29 September 2018: Runcorn, Rochefort, Rules of the Tavern

The Hillgrove Porter Stores pub.

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that grabbed us in the past week, from PR disasters to art installations.

Last year Kirst Walk­er wrote up a pub crawl of Run­corn’s Vic­to­ri­an pubs with her trade­mark spark; this year, she notes plen­ty of changes, giv­ing the exer­cise a cer­tain aca­d­e­m­ic inter­est as well as pure enter­tain­ment val­ue:

Time for the Lion, where every­body knows your name! Last year’s win­ner was where we we would end the night once more. I didn’t dou­ble up last time but as we’d already had time bonus­es, sam­buc­ca, and sand­wich­es I threw cau­tion to the wind. Alan bought a round of pies like a freak­ing bil­lion­aire and we had a group de-brief with plans to repeat the oper­a­tion next year on the same week­end… The Lion has lost much of its orig­i­nal room lay­out since it was refur­bished and part of it con­vert­ed into hous­es, but it’s still the type of tra­di­tion­al cor­ner pub which is a hub for the com­mu­ni­ty, and in my opin­ion it as bet­ter to try and save the pub than keep the entire sprawl­ing space.


Price list in a pub.

We tend to ignore click­baity brouha­has over indi­vid­ual expen­sive pints these days but Mar­tin Stew­ard at Pur­suit of Abbey­ness has wait­ed for the dust to set­tle before reflect­ing on one such recent inci­dent, pro­duc­ing a slow-cooked opin­ion rather than a flash-fried ‘hot take’:

The most remark­able thing about the price of Ale­smith Speed­way Stout Hawai­ian is not that it is five-times high­er than the price of Rochefort 10, but that it is three-times high­er than Alesmith’s ordi­nary Speed­way Stout… That pre­mi­um buys you some toast­ed coconut flakes, some vanil­la and some rare Hawai­ian Ka’u cof­fee beans, which are indeed three-times more expen­sive than your bog-stan­dard joe… If you can taste the dif­fer­ence after those beans have had beer fer­ment­ing on them, I com­ple­ment you on your sen­si­tive palate. If you think it jus­ti­fies a 200% pre­mi­um, I have a bridge to sell you.


The Blue Bell, York.

Adri­an Tier­ney-Jones asks a good ques­tion: what is the attrac­tion of dark, brown pubs, Kellers and bars?

The first thought that attempt­ed to answer this ques­tion was that these wood­en wombs are per­haps rem­i­nis­cent of the dark forests from whence we came, where we all felt the same and dur­ing a time before elec­tric light, a time when per­haps, dis­re­gard­ing tales of mon­sters and demons, we were more com­fort­able with the dark. An ances­tral mem­o­ry per­haps?


Rules of this Tavern.

Here’s some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent: a back­ground detail in the Jonathan Meades video we linked to last week caught the eye of Lon­don’s Singing Organ Grinder, prompt­ing him to do some dig­ging into the his­to­ry of the faux-antique signs often seen in pubs:

It is one of a range of qua­si-antique, kind-of-humor­ous pub and bar signs which I thought orig­i­nat­ed with cheap pub­lish­ing in 1990s’ Eng­land, but which an Ebay list­ing sug­gests were mass-pro­duced by Yorkraft in Penn­syl­va­nia in the 1960s… I don’t think the sign would fool any British drinker above a cer­tain age, but per­haps Amer­i­cans are more trust­ing of pro­to-dis­tressed Bohemi­an­ism. One writes, of the Jean Bon­net Tav­ern, Bed­ford, PA: “In the low­er pho­tos, the year of orig­i­nal con­struc­tion, 1762, is cel­e­brat­ed in stained glass and the tavern’s orig­i­nal rules remain on dis­play…”

(Spot­ted via ping­back – one very good rea­son for inter­link­ing.)


Closed sign on shop.Reflect­ing on the long-trailed final final final clo­sure of Hard­knott Brew­ery, and on the ques­tion of crowd­fund­ing, Tan­dle­man express­es his sense that all is not well on the UK scene:

There will be fur­ther casu­al­ties and it won’t always be the bad guys who will fail. It won’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be the ones with the worst beer. It may be your favourite small to medi­um local brew­er and it may well be that even the opti­mists who are using oth­er peo­ple’s mon­ey to grow won’t be suc­cess­ful either.

For what it’s worth, though we agree with many of the specifics, we ulti­mate­ly draw less gloomy con­clu­sions. But who can say for sure what’s going to hap­pen until it does or does­n’t?


 

Tipperary back bar.

Mar­tyn Cor­nell has direct­ed his annoy­ance towards the unchecked bull­shit that infests the sup­posed his­to­ry of a cen­tral Lon­don pub, The Tip­per­ary:

In approx 1700 the S.G. Mooney & Son brew­ery chain of Dublin pur­chased ‘The Boars Head’ and it became the first Irish pub out­side Ire­land … The pub also became the first pub out­side Ire­land to have bot­tled Guin­ness and lat­er draft.” I can­not fath­om how or why any­one would invent this stuff, or have it so total­ly wrong. There is actu­al­ly a gor­geous old mir­ror, prob­a­bly more than 100 years old, on the wall inside the pub which gives the prop­er name of the pub chain – not “brew­ery chain”, what­ev­er one of those is — that for­mer­ly owned the Board’s Head/Tipperary, which makes get­ting the incor­rect name out­side the pub par­tic­u­lar­ly inex­cus­able. It was JG Mooney and Co, not “SG Mooney & Son”: the com­pa­ny devel­oped out of the licensed whole­saler and retail­er busi­ness James G Mooney was run­ning in Dublin from at least 1863. The Tip­per­ary was not only emphat­i­cal­ly NOT “the first Irish pub out­side Ire­land”, it wasn’t even JG Mooney’s first pub out­side Ire­land.

Con­fes­sion: we cred­u­lous­ly repeat­ed a bit of this fake his­to­ry back in 2015, and even 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub has an unfor­tu­nate pass­ing ref­er­ence (p.150).  A use­ful reminder to ques­tion every­thing.


We weren’t going to both­er men­tion­ing the lat­est Brew­Dog PR dis­as­ter because, well, it’s much like the last Brew­Dog PR dis­as­ter. But then we noticed that non-beer-geek col­leagues at our respec­tive work­places were talk­ing about it and fig­ured it might be worth a line or two, just for the record.

Eater has a good round up from Emma Hugh­es embed­ding Tweets from sev­er­al famil­iar names but, short ver­sion: a PR agency work­ing with Brew­Dog and US firm Scofflaw sent out a press release offer­ing free pints to Don­ald Trump sup­port­ers; peo­ple were not impressed. Our read­ing: this was a gen­uine cock up. But it’s inter­est­ing that this idea was on the table some­where, some­how, long enough to make it to first draft stage.


Final­ly, this sounds like fun, if you hap­pen to be knock­ing about South Lon­don today or tomor­row:

For more links and read­ing check out Alan’s Thurs­day round-up. (Stan Hierony­mus is still on hol­i­day.)

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