We seem to have settled into a new pace of about 12–15 posts per month as opposed to 19–21, but that’s fine.
It’s in the context of having given up writing for magazines and instead publishing one ‘longread’ here every month, with the support of our Patreon subscribers. There are currently 73 people encouraging us via that route, and getting some exclusive content in return.
Best Beers of the Christmas Break | What ‘Welcoming’ Means | Beers of the Weekend 4–6 Jan | Pub Matchmaking | Beers of the Weekend 11–13 Jan | Bonus Notes on Watney’s Red Barrel | Beer of the Weekend 18–21 Jan: Titanic Plum Porter| Beers of the Weekend 25–27 Jan (OPEN ACCESS) | Talk Police
Please do consider signing up, or maybe just buy us a one-off pint instead, or perhaps one of our books.
Here on the blog proper, the main event was this 2,700-word whopper on Watney’s Red Barrel – how bad could it really have been?
This piece prompted lots of reaction including this from Gary Gillman and a clear answer from Keith Flett to a question we didn’t quite ask: “No, it is not time to rehabilitate Watney’s Red.”
We eased ourselves gently into blogging in 2019 by sharing details of brewery life in St. Helen’s between the wars, via Industrial Town, an oral history edited by Charles Forman.
Having spent the gap between Christmas and New Year in London we enjoyed, observed and took notes on four notable pubs:
- The Forester in Ealing – a majestic Edwardian Fuller’s pub.
- The Cat’s Back in Wandsworth– a Harvey’s pub with complex social status.
- The Bricklayer’s Arms in Putney – a Tim Taylor outpost in London.
- The Grenadier in Belgravia – a posh pub that’s been famous forever.
Browsing a 1967 book about the north of England we came across an intriguing note on the meaning of pub carpets in Saddleworth: “The King William… has treated itself to wall-to-wall carpeting, an extravagance which [local character] John Kenworthy thinks has changed them from forums of discussion into mere drinking places.”
Liam asked us what was meant by ‘harmonising brewing methods’ in the mid-1970s prompting one of the more interesting historic rabbit-holes we’ve found ourselves down of late:
It’s not hard to work out what people thought harmonisation might mean: mild and bitter banned, German-style lager everywhere, by order of Brussels… But there’s very little detail in the story and it reads like typical fuss-about-nothing tabloid reporting wilfully missing the point for the sake of causing outrage. (On the same page: NOW FRIED ONIONS ARE BANNED AT WIMBLEDON.)
An observation: there’s a lingering preference for completely headless pints in Bristol – a genuine expression of local beer culture that’s probably on the way out.
Oh, woe! We had a strong emotional reaction to the sale of Fuller’s brewing operation to Asahi, but also focused on how it might feel to those working in the company. (Spoiler: bad.)
We enjoyed a weekend in Southampton and found lots of pubs, and lots of types of pub, to explore and ponder on:
Off the main run, into the suburban streets with their schools and churches, we had more luck. The Waterloo Arms is a Hop Back pub and looks, feels and even smells just like the Sultan in London SW19. That is, plain but not austere, clean but not sterile, ‘proper’. A kid in a Batman costume was overseeing the meat raffle; darts went thump, thump, thump; and when a family left, the elderly lady next to us tutted: “Didn’t even take their glasses back, look.”
We posted DN round-ups of links and news:
5 January – gratitude and onions
12 January – bitterness, Brüpond, burlesque
19 January – bottleshares, Boddies, brand loyalty
26 January – as a thread on Twitter.
Our biggest Tweet of the month was this:
In a pub where a party of Spanish tourists expressed disappointment at the lack of anything sweet to eat. A regular left and came back with eight large Dairy Milk bars, one for each of them. They applauded him. He’s gone back to his ESB.
— Boak and Bailey (@BoakandBailey) January 26, 2019
And there was also this kind of thing on Instagram: