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News, Nuggets and Longreads 2 March 2019: Retirement, Simplification, Adjuncts

Here’s all the bookmarkworthy writing about beer and pubs that landed in the past week, from the mysterious behaviour of dads to corn syrup.

First, some depressing news from the north west of England, in a story that’s unfolding right now: Cloudwater’s much-anticipated Family & Friends beer festival has run into a licencing issue and may not go ahead today. In a statement issued first thing this morning, the brewery said:

The police have informed us that Upper Campfield Market is not, as we have been assured on many occasions by the managing agent acting on behalf of Manchester City Council, licensed for the sale of alcohol. The attending police officer earlier this evening, the two licensing officers, a licensing solicitor, and even the night-time tzar of Greater Manchester, appear to have exhausted every option to allow us to operate in Upper Campfield Market tomorrow. If we ignore the licensing team, and run tomorrow anyway, I risk an unlimited fine or six months imprisonment.

It’s a reminder of just how much behind-the-scenes bureaucratic battling has to go on to put on any event with booze, and gives a glimpse into why entrepreneurs so often seem to end up regarding local government as the enemy.

Dulwich Raider and his dad.

For Deserter Andrew Grumbridge, AKA The Dulwich Raider, has written a memoir of his heavy-drinking father and the course of their relationship over decades:

Gin had become his tipple. At work, at play, all day, every day. At the outset of his working life, when picking up a bottle of Guinness to share with my mother after work each day, he watched the smartly dressed man in front of him in the queue at the off-licence buy a bottle of gin. ‘I promised myself,’ he later told me, ‘that if I worked hard, one day that could be me.’ And now it was, except he was no longer sharing it with my mother. Or anyone… A concerned doctor once asked my father how he felt if he went 24 hours without drinking. ‘No idea,’ he replied, with a shrug.

A pint of stout.

We liked Rach Smith’s short but elegant piece on the philosophy of pub-going:

Life is complicated enough. Life is survival and that can get messy, but life is also about finding a balance; finding harmony; making the most of your time; enjoying life. Some people search for answers, others seek thrills. Often, I simplify. You can’t get a much simpler pleasure than a pint of cask beer. This is harmony, this is a small thrill. This, for the time it takes to drink it, is life.

Lager beer saloon, 1864.

For Brewed Culture historian Brian Alberts has written about the long trail of arguments over adjuncts in American beer recently revived by bickering between the marketing teams of brewing giants Anheuser-Busch and Miller-Coors:

Lagers were not just beer to Germans. It was an expression of their entire ethnocultural identity, and that identity considered beer to be literal nourishment, a “poor man’s bread” thanks to its hearty all-barley malts and lower alcohol content. As Germans steadily co-opted the American brewing industry during the mid-1800s (indeed, 80% of people working in the industry by 1880 were German immigrants, or else their children), they expanded the debate about what American beer is and ought to be. It didn’t take long for rebuttals to emerge… Some Americans considered immigrants—and their beer—to be a dangerous foreign element. Temperance reformers likewise saw lager beer as a threat to their crusade against alcohol, and found that one of the most effective ways to attack beer was to claim it was dangerous.

The Golden Lion, Camden
Adapted from a picture by Ewan Munro (Pubology), via Flickr.

Today’s archive revival is from 2015 and is one of the reasons we’ve never attempted to write a substantial piece on pub companies: what more is there to be said that isn’t already conveyed brilliantly in Tom Lamont’s article for the Guardian about the Golden Lion in Camden, north London?

Map of pubs in the City of London, 1968.

Sticking in the big city, the author of A London Inheritance has researched the history of a City of London pub, The Horn Tavern, inspired by a photograph of its distinctive lantern taken by his father c.1950.

If you want more reading, check out Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up, and Stan Hieronymus’s from Monday.

And we’ll finish with this:

3 replies on “News, Nuggets and Longreads 2 March 2019: Retirement, Simplification, Adjuncts”

There must be something in the air in Manchester. Many, many years ago and after being held in the same venue for a few years, CAMRA’s Stockport Beer Festival had a similar problem. The event was all set up to go, scaffolding and beer all in place and they may even have opened for one session when the organisers were informed that the venue had the wrong type of license. It was something called a “supper license” or such like, alcohol could be served but only at a table to diners. So the event had to close. It opened to members only on the Friday evening (as many had already set off to travel there) and the beer was given away. But buckets were placed all around the place and if those there felt like making a voluntary donation, well that would be welcomed. Many such donations were made. On Saturday, led by the beer orderer Andy Cooper, the team made valiant efforts to sell on the beer to others. They did a great job.

A lesson in all this is that a license is always represented by a physical piece of paper, you should ALWAYS have access to this. You MUST be able to produce it for inspection. An alcohol license requires licensee (designated premises supervisor) and you should ALWAYS know who this is.

The DPS is ultimately responsible for what goes down. They are the individual with whom the buck stops — this is why most big events must get their own licenses, a sensible DPS won’t take hands-off responsibility for someone else’s gig. This is responsible service of alcohol stuff — preventing drunkenness, underage drinking, etc. We’re talking risk of prosecution – gaol. And it is fundamentals of alcohol licensing — anyone who’s got a personal license should have a full understanding of all of this.

I’m glad it all came to a relatively happy conclusion for most folk… the Cloudwater team are fantastic people with huge passion who poured so much energy into this event — and it is an event Manchester deserves.

But there are serious lessons to take away from this. I wouldn’t want to see anyone being prosecuted in the current case or any future cases. Ignorance of the law is not a defence. I’m not sure John Cryne’s CAMRA example would happen in present time and I suspect occurrences like this one “many, many years ago” are why CAMRA takes all this so seriously now — I did the CAMRA festival organiser course at GBBF one year and it is intensive on getting the paperwork right (enough to put one off trying to run festivals!)

This is a case of naïvety and a lack of understanding of licensing law, not “bureaucratic battling” with “local government as the enemy.”* As much as people in general like to play the victim of The Man when they fall afoul of the law. The result FFBF got in being able to continue with day two of the event is truly exceptional — local government pulling out all stops to effectively skirt around the law, I gather by letting the law be broken but by choosing to not prosecute. Local government are the heroes of this particular story.

The key take-away for this is: ALWAYS *see* the license & it’s details and restrictions… never assume it exists, no matter what someone might say. I guarantee most building managers and property agents don’t actually know licensing law. But the folk holding licensable events should be fully up to date on it to avoid breaking it and being prosecuted. Expect to have to apply for a license of your own to run an event. If you are running a booze event have someone with a Personal License on the team and an understanding of licensing law. I recommend doing your personal license yourself if you plan to run an event. And take it seriously. Study the material properly. It’s your skin on the line at the end of the day — and let’s not kid ourselves, alcohol is a drug and can be toxic and all people running bars and events have a serious duty of care. This stuff is important.

On the plus side I think this will all result in more people being more careful in future. Hooefully raise some awareness of licensing law. And FFBF v2 will be even better, and also all above board on the law.

* Sure, this can sometimes be the case of course … but typically licensing for events where suitable planning effort can be demonstrated for ensuring public safety and order isn’t a problem. And once you have shown you can do it once it is easier the second time.

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