Here’s everything that struck us as especially interesting in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from the origins of craft beer to best practice in bars.
A couple of years ago we put together a short history of beer weeks with input from Will Hawkes, then involved in organising London Beer Week. Now, Will has written his own piece revealing just how much stress and work was involved, and for how little reward:
It had all been a terrible error. I should have known that I was doing something very stupid before I started; I’d asked around to see if anyone else in the London beer demi-monde was interested in helping, and got a series of responses along the lines of “Good idea! No, sorry, I’m too busy,” generally from people with enough time to be discussing the idea with me in a pub in mid-afternoon… Not only that, but I was never really sure why I was doing it: it just sort of kept on happening, for four long years.
For The Takeout Kate Bernot writes about the experience of drinking out as a woman, and how much she appreciates concrete steps taken by bars to make women feel safe:
The Rhino bar in Missoula, where I live, has posted flyers indicating its bartenders have undergone “bystander intervention” training. The bar has also hosted police-led classes on the topic. “What our training specifically talked about was intervening in things like sexual assault,” Missoula Police Deparment detective Jamie Merifield told KGVO years ago. “When you see someone in trouble, the training helps you to intervene, and not just turn a blind eye. Most people would want to help, they just don’t know how.” In a similar vein, other establishments around the country have introduced “angel shots,” drinks that people can order as a signal to bartenders that they’re in trouble.
This is a nice story from Denmark: renovations at an old brewery building in Viborg have unearthed a set of beer bottles, mostly intact and full, from 1906. An accompanying note from the long-dead head brewer explains the motive: “as we don’t know how long it will last, these words and some bottles of the beer that we brew nowadays will be placed under the floor”.
Lars Marius Garshol reports on brewing traditions in Chuvashia, a former Soviet republic and now an autonomous unit within the Russian Federation:
The Chuvashian farmhouse ale is called ‘saura’, obviously related to the Komi ‘sur’ (and Hungarian, and Finnish). So why would a Turkic people use a Finno-Ugric word for something so ancient and important as beer? Well, according to Marina the Chuvash were originally nomads, and only settled in Chuvashia in the 13th century. At that point, the area was dominated by Finno-Ugric peoples, and the Chuvash probably learned grain growing and beer brewing from them, also taking their word for beer.
A small but significant discovery by Gary Gillman: Michael Jackson did use the exact phrase ‘craft brewery’ as early as 1982, with referenc to Timothy Taylor, in his 1982 Pocket Beer Guide. We crawled all over this book when we were researching Brew Britannia but didn’t spot this, though we did give him credit (blame) for the phrase via a sideways reference to Belgian beer as artisanale in his 1977 World Guide to Beer.
A nugget of news: RateBeer is now entirely owned by AB-InBev, which previously took a minority stake in the consumer beer logging and reviewing website.
We said a while ago that we intended to resurface the odd older bit of writing in these round-ups. This week, it’s novelist Beryl Bainbridge with an homage to George Orwell, imagining ‘The Eagle Over Water’ for the Guardian a decade ago, in 2009:
Mr Stone never goes further than the plastic-topped table adjacent to the gents; he has only one leg. According to Mrs Moon, a Saturday barmaid, he’s a victim of passion, not war. Fifty years ago, walking to meet Dolly, his sweetheart, he saw her across the road in the arms of a strange man. He ran forward immediately, just as the Queen’s horses, en route to Regent’s Park, cantered into Parkway. Dolly screamed; Mr Stone fainted; a horse named Infidel stamped all over him. I’ve never spoken to Mr Stone, or he to me. I did ask Mrs Moon if he and Dolly had got together again, but she said she’d never bothered to ask.
And, finally, a reminder that Evan Rail’s @Beer_In_Art exists and is very much worth a follow:
Unknown artist, "Psychology of the Beer Lover: It is Better to be Stung by a Bee Rather Than to Spill Even One Drop of Beer," 1936. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Japanese Postcards. pic.twitter.com/8z1UEkiXf1
— Beer in Art (@Beer_in_Art) February 6, 2019