News, nuggets and longreads 22 June 2019: Birmingham, Bottle Shares, Books

Left Handed Giant taproom, Bristol.

Here’s everything that struck us as interesting, amusing or eye-opening in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from Burning Soul to the future of CAMRA.

First, some sad news: Mor­due Brew­ery has gone into admin­is­tra­tion. Found­ed in North Shields in 1995, Mor­due was best known for its Workie Tick­et real ale. The New­cas­tle Chron­i­cle includes some telling lines from co-founder Gar­ry Faw­son:

We have been look­ing to get invest­ment over the last 12 months but with no luck. We then put the brew­ery up for sale and again no seri­ous inter­est, which was par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­ap­point­ing to Matt and I… If you have won the amount of awards that we have and still no inter­est in buy­ing the busi­ness then we are just lost for words, to be hon­est… [The] mar­ket has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly. It has shrunk whilst at the same time there are now more brew­eries than there ever have been before.”

(Via @robsterowski.)

Old sign: B'HAM (Birmingham).

For Pel­li­cle Nic­ci Peet has pro­duced a pro­file of Birm­ing­ham’s Burn­ing Soul brew­ery with side notes on the city’s beer scene. You may think you’ve read enough of these ori­gin sto­ry pieces to last a life­time but, seri­ous­ly, this is a good one:

Chris Small: I used to work for the NHS. The job was fine and I was pret­ty good at it. It was mon­ey and I had a lit­tle place in Edg­bas­ton but I had quite a bit of debt and I didn’t real­ly have any sav­ings to make this work, so I sold close to every­thing. I sold the flat, all the fur­ni­ture, every­thing that I had at the time. I had four things: a van, my clothes, my mobile and I had…I’m not sure what else, there was def­i­nite­ly a fourth thing…

Nic­ci Peet: A brew­ery?

Chris Small: Half of a brew­ery!

Various bottles from a 1910 advertisement.

For Fer­ment, the pro­mo­tion­al mag­a­zine of beer sub­scrip­tion ser­vice Beer52, Antho­ny Glad­man has writ­ten about the joys of organ­ised bot­tle-shar­ing ses­sions with input from lots of keen advo­cates of this approach:

Some­times these events are put on by bot­tle shops, pubs or brew­eries. Some­times they’re less for­mal and run by groups of friends. Either way the con­cept is sim­ple: a bunch of beer lovers get togeth­er and each per­son brings one or two beers to share with the group. At small­er events it’s pret­ty com­mon to drink one beer at a time and usu­al­ly the group will be small enough that every­one can get a taste of every beer. Some­times peo­ple will intro­duce the beers they have brought along and say who brewed it, how they got hold of it and what it means to them. At big­ger events there might be an ele­ment of the night dur­ing which a brew­er or the shop staff intro­duce a few beers to the group and talk about them, before peo­ple open up the beers they’ve brought them­selves and every­one gets stuck in.

(Antho­ny seems a good egg. Do give him a fol­low on Twit­ter.)

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

Ash Cor­bett-Collins, a new gen­er­a­tion direc­tor at the Cam­paign for Real Ale (CAMRA), has writ­ten an impas­sioned blog post on the organ­i­sa­tion’s direc­tion of trav­el:

Despite the grow­ing inter­est from drinkers, the praise from beer writ­ers and the enthu­si­asm from brew­ers; cask is still suf­fer­ing. Sales are down 6.8 per cent. Pubs are still clos­ing. There is still con­fu­sion to many as to what real ale is, how it dif­fers from oth­er beers and why it needs pro­tect­ing. CAMRA has a vital role to play in help­ing con­sumers dis­cov­er more beers and learn about what they are drink­ing. It needs to help peo­ple learn what it means when one Pub­Co calls their beers ‘live ale’ while anoth­er claims cask is back when real­ly it nev­er went away. It has to fight to pro­tect cask beer from those who wish to cheap­en it’s image or rel­e­gate it to a mar­ket­ing gim­mick to be rolled out once in a blue moon.

From the Irish Times comes an inter­est­ing nugget by Frank McNal­ly on the nam­ing of Dublin street cor­ners with ref­er­ence to James Joyce:

Any­one who was at the annu­al Blooms­day re-enact­ment in Glas­nevin last Sun­day will have been remind­ed that Doyle’s Cor­ner, in near­by Phib­s­boro, used to be “Dunphy’s”. As such, it was men­tioned in Ulysses for its promi­nent role in city funer­als, includ­ing the fic­tion­al Pad­dy Dignam’s, as the last right-angle turn towards the ceme­tery… Hence, as Leopold Bloom’s inte­ri­or voice records: “Dunphy’s cor­ner. Mourn­ing coach­es drawn up drown­ing their grief. A pause by the way­side. Tip­top posi­tion for a pub. Expect we’ll pull up here on the way back to drink his health. Pass around the con­so­la­tion. Elixir of life.”

And final­ly, there’s this excit­ing news:


For more links to good read­ing check out Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­day (prob­a­bly) and Alan McLeod on Thurs­day (almost cer­tain­ly).

3 thoughts on “News, nuggets and longreads 22 June 2019: Birmingham, Bottle Shares, Books”

  1. Mor­dues own­ers might be por­tray­ing them­selves as vic­tims but this is their sec­ond time in admin­is­tra­tion and the actu­al vic­tims are, as ever in these sit­u­a­tions, employ­ees and sup­pli­ers. Oth­er sim­i­lar sized brew­ers in the area seem to be man­ag­ing well but then they haven’t just opened a new pet project in the form of Beeron­o­my – a grandiose craft beer and food venue in New­cas­tle city cen­tre (with enor­mous rent and rates) which seems to be the main rea­son for the brew­ery clos­ing down.

  2. I agree with the pre­vi­ous com­ment but it is inter­est­ing to add that Ger­ry Faw­son resigned as a direc­tor of Beeron­o­my (the restau­rant busi­ness) in March so per­haps strains were start­ing to show then. The brew­ery busi­ness is already mort­gaged, per­haps to pay for the restau­rant, and the lenders must have thought that enough was enough. I tried the beers and I think liked them, but it was a few years ago and they clear­ly aren’t one that stood out in the mem­o­ry. It is inter­est­ing that Beeron­o­my does­n’t men­tion on its menu what beers it sells, although the had­dock is bat­tered in Brook­lyn Beer and beer and food match­ing is said to be ‘com­ing soon’. What­pub just states ’10 chang­ing beers’ with­out giv­ing any exam­ples. Sell­ing their own beer in their own restau­rant might have helped?

    1. I think sell­ing their own beer there would have been shut­ting the sta­ble door, and although they dab­bled with ‘craft’ with their Pan­da Frog Project, their beers were emi­nent­ly tra­di­tion­al and did­n’t real­ly fit in with Beeron­o­my’s offer.

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