News, Nuggets & Longreads 5 January 2019: Gratitude and Onions

The Star and Garter pub against the night sky.

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the past few weeks (given that we took Christmas off) from St Albans to air raid shelters.

At The Pur­suit of Abbey­ness Mar­tin Stew­ard asks an excel­lent ques­tion: why do peo­ple vis­it brew­ery tap­rooms?

On the face of it, this is an odd thing to do. Brew­eries with­out tap­rooms may give you a taste of their beer, but they are hard­ly places to kick back and put the world to rights over a good ses­sion. They can be inter­est­ing for beer lovers, but, if we’re hon­est, set­ting aside the few with spe­cial archi­tec­tur­al, his­tor­i­cal or brew­ing points of inter­est, one is much the same as anoth­er.

But per­haps there is some­thing deep­er going on:

When we knock on the door of a pokey lit­tle brew­ery at the ragged end of a rain­swept indus­tri­al estate, are we real­ly respond­ing to a soul-deep thirst to express our grat­i­tude, in per­son, to the brew­ers of our much-loved beer?

Illustration: a country inn.

Tan­dle­man has start­ed the new year with his take on the cur­rent­ly fash­ion­able choose-your-own-adven­ture for­mat, reflect­ing on the options avail­able to those vis­it­ing a strange pub for the first time:

You enter and as your eyes become accus­tomed to the some­what gloomy inte­ri­or you realise that this isn’t the shiny lit­tle gas­trop­ub you’d hoped for. Instead it is a fair­ly rough and ready local pub, with a sin­gle room – though you might be lucky and find the small snug open… You realise that you have found: a) a hid­den gem b) a night­mare pub with no redeem­ing fea­tures… What hap­pens next depends on you.

Adey and White Brewery, St Albans.
SOURCE: Most­ly About Beer/St Albans Muse­um.

At Most­ly About Beer Alec Lath­am takes some time to explore the impor­tance of beer and pubs in the his­to­ry of the city where he lives, St Albans in Hert­ford­shire:

The town (it didn’t become a city until 1877) was described by its may­or in 1637 as ‘chiefly of inns and vict­ual hous­es, who dri­ve a trade upon the trav­el­ling of pas­sen­gers’ and in 1700, any hous­es sus­pect­ed of har­bour­ing vagrants, rogues or oth­er dis­or­der­ly per­sons could be pun­ished by being sup­pressed from sell­ing beer or ale – proof that threat­en­ing removal of that licence act­ed as an effec­tive social con­trol.


A nugget from Ron Pat­tin­son: who wouldn’t want to work at a brew­ery with an excel­lent air raid shel­ter?

A milk carton of IPA.

Josh Noel has appar­ent­ly writ­ten an inter­est­ing arti­cle for the Chica­go Tri­bune but we can’t (eas­i­ly) read it because the Tri­bune group can’t be both­ered to sort out their web­site for Euro­pean GDPR and so have just blocked Euro­peans from see­ing them. For­tu­nate­ly, Jeff Alworth has sum­marised the key points, and added plen­ty of extra thoughts of his own:

[Amer­i­can brew­eries] that focus on Euro­pean styles are at a real dis­ad­van­tage in the mar­ket­place, where most sales are reg­is­tered with­in a few pop­u­lar types. The hops-shift is almost inevitable, because own­ers can’t afford to sit around and watch their debt grow as they try to find an audi­ence for obscure styles. So they make an entree of IPA with a side of pas­try stout and fruit sour. Exact­ly like Une Annee did… When the sto­ry came out, some folks com­ment­ed on Twit­ter that this is a sad state of affairs: why won’t Amer­i­cans drink dubbels, dammit? But Une Annee’s devel­op­ment is entire­ly pre­dictable, and most every­thing in the sto­ry rep­re­sents the organ­ic devel­op­ment of a mature mar­ket for craft beer.

Keg taps.

While we’re in the US, do take a look at Dr J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham’s sum­ma­ry of eight months serv­ing as diver­si­ty ambas­sador for the Brew­ers Asso­ci­a­tion. It’s extreme­ly frank and deeply thought­ful, and con­cludes with a note of frus­tra­tion:

I wish I could tell you pre­cise­ly what front-of-the-house habits will make your tap­room inclu­sive in terms that are as con­crete as those that gov­ern how fre­quent­ly to clean your draft lines. I wish I could tell you exact­ly what poli­cies and prac­tices will make your work­place more equi­table in terms that are as pre­cise as the tech­nolo­gies you use to con­serve water or con­sume less ener­gy. I wish I could explain what jus­tice might mean in craft beer spaces with the speci­fici­ty that you might find in guide­lines for pro­tec­tive cloth­ing for brew­ery work­ers. Per­haps one day, I will find ways to do these things. I am an opti­mist.

(Via @stanhieronymus.)

Close-up of the CAMRA logo from the 1984 Good Beer Guide.

Our fel­low CAM­RA-watch­ers will, like us, be won­der­ing what the appoint­ment of Tom Stain­er as the organisation’s new chief exec­u­tive means. That there’s a sense bring­ing in reform­ers from out­side hasn’t worked, per­haps? When Tim Page took the job a few years ago we had chance to talk to him about it; per­haps we’ll man­age the same with Tom at some point.


We’ve start­ed shar­ing the odd archive post in these round-ups and this week it’s a love­ly bit of snark about Dry Jan­u­ary from 2016:

I’m doing no onion Jan­u­ary” I sobbed. My friends thought I was jok­ing, but I was dead­ly seri­ous. For once, my tears were real, and not the result of chop­ping an onion. I’ve always enjoyed onions in the evening, but I felt it had reached a new lev­el in 2015 where the only ques­tion I was ask­ing when I got home from work was “white or red?”

Via @paperclipracket.

Final­ly, from Twit­ter, here are Tom Clarke’s  gor­geous pho­tos of a clas­sic booze bunker in the North East of Eng­land:

Want more read­ing? Check out Alan’s links from Thurs­day, and Stan’s from Mon­day.