News, nuggets and longreads 11 May 2019: Mild, Mergers, Manchester

Header: a London pub with date.

Here’s everything around beer and pubs that seemed to us worth bookmarking in the past week, from boozelessness to buyouts.

The week’s big news is that two Amer­i­can brew­eries we’ve actu­al­ly heard of, and whose beers we have actu­al­ly man­aged to taste, are merg­ing. That is, Boston Beer and Dog­fish Head. We’ve been won­der­ing for some time if we might see more craft-on-craft acqui­si­tions and merg­ers; it’ll be inter­est­ing to see if this is the start of a wave. In the mean­time, we went straight to Jeff Alworth at Beer­vana for com­men­tary, as should you.


If you enjoy indus­try dra­ma then do have a look at this Twit­ter con­ver­sa­tion around BrewDog’s new alco­hol-free Punk IPA vari­ant ini­ti­at­ed by a mar­ket­ing agency for­mer­ly retained by the Scot­tish brew­ery:


The Mild Guy by Lily Waite/Pellicle.

For the brand new pub­li­ca­tion Pel­li­cle Lily Waite has writ­ten about a Lon­don brew­ery find­ing space in a crowd­ed mar­ket by focus­ing on an unfash­ion­able style. Box­car is based in Beth­nal Green and run by Sam Dick­i­son:

Whilst not nec­es­sar­i­ly the polar oppo­site of the New Eng­land-style beers that put Box­car on the prover­bial map, dark mild is a depar­ture from those juicy, hazy, hop­py beers. It is, how­ev­er, very much in keep­ing with Boxcar’s ethos.

We’ve gone in the hop­py direc­tions because I love those beers, but equal­ly, I love dark mild, so I said ‘let’s do a dark mild”, he says, with a typ­i­cal qui­et smile.

(This kind of thing sig­nals some­thing inter­est­ing: mild has become a quirky minor­i­ty style – a nov­el­ty, rather than an every­day beer, like Berlin­er Weisse or Gose.)


Detail from a 1943 advert for Lifesavers depicting fruit on a tree.

At a time when sil­ly one-off beers with sil­ly stuff in them has become one of the go-to moans in beer com­men­tary, it’s refresh­ing to read a post which, though it starts that way, ends up talk­ing pos­i­tive­ly about the ben­e­fits of get­ting to know a stan­dard beer real­ly well, from Joan Vil­lar-i-Martí at Bir­raire:

I enjoy see­ing the con­stant qual­i­ty of Montse­ny IPA Aniver­sari, even when bought in the super­mar­ket; my sens­es soared the first time I drank Espiga’s Mosa­ic Hops Col­lec­tion in a can, a for­mat that enhances a recipe that was already a sol­id. After analysing it dur­ing a guid­ed tast­ing, I felt the urge to buy a whole box of Sansa, La Pirata’s Amber Ale, so tasty and smooth that it prompt­ly dis­ap­peared.

(Flag­ship Feb­ru­ary feels so long ago.)


Intoxicate Lubricate Connect

For the Guardian Tony Nay­lor has writ­ten about why booze­less pubs don’t work:

Beyond lov­ing the taste of beer, I also love the effects of alco­hol, and for what it can do to a pub. I cher­ish that three-pint win­dow where real life melts away. I love the warmth, the laugh­ter, the life, the ran­dom, non­sen­si­cal con­ver­sa­tions and soft-edged, jovial chaos of full pubs at peak hours. I like the din. I like the rev­el­ry. I like a bit of noise and chaos, frankly. And I like the sense of drinkers of often very dif­fer­ent back­grounds rub­bing along in mutu­al intox­i­cat­ed tol­er­ance. In an increas­ing­ly atom­ised soci­ety, there is val­ue in that.


A map of the world.

A fas­ci­nat­ing piece in the Econ­o­mist puts AB-InBev into con­text as one strand in a glob­al busi­ness that also oper­ates 3G net­works and owns the strug­gling Kraft Heinz con­glom­er­ate. With few costs left to be cut, and few busi­ness­es left to acquire, where do they go next? Per­haps towards acquir­ing Coca-Cola (we’ve heard this in the form of a rumour before) or Dia­geo, the arti­cle spec­u­lates. We can cer­tain­ly imag­ine ABI fan­cy­ing Guin­ness in its port­fo­lio. (Arti­cle pay­walled; reg­is­tra­tion required to read five arti­cles per month for free.)


A vintage image a flat-roofed pub.
The Old Gar­ratt c.1970 via Manchester’s Estate Pubs.

It’s always excit­ing when one of our favourite blogs, Man­ches­ter Estate Pubs, posts some­thing new. This week Steve Mar­land shares pho­tographs of and notes on The Old Gar­ratt:

Time changes every­thing the Cream of Man­ches­ter is now a some­what sour sub­ject, the Old Gar­ratt has dropped the old in favour of Ye Old­en Days, a look which it clear­ly lacked. Moder­ni­ty is now dragged up as a cut price stage set coach­ing house caprice, replete with lamps, black and gold lin­ing, columns and ped­i­ments. The pub that thinks it’s a pack of John Play­er Spe­cials.


And final­ly, a great pho­to of a pub we vis­it­ed dur­ing research for 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub, in the base of a tow­er block in north Lon­don:

For more of the same, but dif­fer­ent, check out Alan’s blog on Thurs­days and Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­day.

3 thoughts on “News, nuggets and longreads 11 May 2019: Mild, Mergers, Manchester”

  1. Mild sure­ly lost the sta­tus of an every­day beer a very long time ago. How­ev­er, I am get­ting a notion that it is about to become trendy again.

  2. Inter­est­ing to see what has hap­pened to the Old Gar­ratt; at least it is still a pub. I doubt if I have been in there for at least thir­ty years, but on my reg­u­lar vis­its to Man­ches­ter in the 1970s it was usu­al­ly the first port of call for the superla­tive Bod­ding­tons: served through hand pumps in one bar, and through metered elec­tric pumps in the oth­er. I always went for the elec­tric pumps: not only were you guar­an­teed a full pint, but the head was less dense and creamy, which I much pre­ferred. Hap­py mem­o­ries (even though it was in the Old Gar­ratt that I first noticed the debase­ment of Bod­ding­tons in the ear­ly 80s).

    1. A friend at work was very keen to intro­duce me to the Prop­er Work­ing-Class Life of Prop­er Work­ing-Class Man­cu­ni­ans like him­self; he was also very keen to intro­duce me to bor­der­line-unlis­ten­able noise-rock (Swans, Vel­vet Under­ground, ear­ly Meat Pup­pets), so maybe he was just one of life’s intro­duc­ers. Any­way, one day after work he told me he’d take me to a Prop­er Work­ing Men’s Pub, and we went to the Old Gar­ratt. I’m sor­ry to say that I’ve got no mem­o­ry at all of the beer. All I remem­ber is that the ceil­ing was invis­i­ble behind a blan­ket of cig­a­rette smoke, the clien­tele was 80% male and we were the only two blokes in suits. At a guess this was 1986.

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