News, nuggets and longreads 1 June 2019: Bubbles, Boozers, Business

The Albion Pub

Here’s everything that struck us as noteworthy, informative or entertaining in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from worrying to Wegbier.

Writ­ing, odd­ly, for the blog of beer indus­try mar­ket­ing agency Mash, Matt Cur­tis offers a bal­anced, detailed run­down of the state of UK brew­ing in a week when there has been much dis­cus­sion of brew­ery clo­sures:

About five years ago, if I was giv­en a pound for every time I was told that the “beer bub­ble” was about to burst, I’d have, well, sev­er­al pounds. Enough for a round of “Lon­don murky” in a trendy craft beer bar at the very least. At the time, it felt as though beer was reach­ing its apex. As it turned out, it still had fur­ther to climb before it did.

Now, how­ev­er, I’m begin­ning to think that, although some of those hot takes came far too ear­ly, that in today’s mar­ket, they might be right.

Augustiner bottles

For Vine­Pair Evan Rail writes about the Ger­man cul­ture of Weg­bier – lit­er­al­ly beer that you drink on your way from A to B.

A Weg­bier is a sim­ply a beer that you drink while you’re walk­ing,” Ludger Berges, own­er of the Hopfen & Malz bot­tle shop in Berlin, says. “Actu­al­ly, ‘Weg’ means ‘way,’ so it’s a beer for the road. If you’re on your way to a par­ty or on your way home from a par­ty, maybe it’s 10 min­utes by foot, many peo­ple in Berlin will walk that dis­tance, and many peo­ple will drink a Weg­bier along the way. It’s cool, it’s relaxed. Every­body does it.”

The con­cept of Weg­bier seems fair­ly spe­cif­ic to Ger­many. Despite the coun­try shar­ing a bor­der and lager-brew­ing (and ‑drink­ing) his­to­ry with the Czech Repub­lic, there is no Czech-lan­guage equiv­a­lent of Weg­bier. Nor is the con­cept in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Bel­gium or Poland.

Pubco advertisement for landlords.

In anoth­er area of the indus­try, the Guardian has a piece by Rob Davies on how the Mar­ket-Rent-Only option is work­ing out for pub­li­cans whose pubs are owned by the much-reviled pub com­pa­nies:

Pub ten­ants and MPs have been “duped and betrayed”, accord­ing to the British Pub Con­fed­er­a­tion, which said the MRO was lit­tle more than a myth.

It accused pub com­pa­nies of seek­ing to scup­per MRO appli­ca­tions by any means nec­es­sary, includ­ing spook­ing them with evic­tion notices. The group also cast doubt on the inde­pen­dence of assess­ments used to set rents.

The BPC chair, Greg Mul­hol­land, who pushed the MRO option through par­lia­ment as a Lib­er­al Demo­c­rat MP, said that in its cur­rent form “ten­ants do not have the rights they were promised by min­is­ters”.

Thornbridge, 2013.

Rea­son, a con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can pub­li­ca­tion which sits in around the same space as the UK’s Spec­ta­tor, has an inter­est­ing piece by Alex Mure­sianu on how the impo­si­tion of steel tar­iffs has affect­ed the US brew­ing indus­try:

The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for import tax­es is usu­al­ly that they will pro­tect Amer­i­can jobs from for­eign com­pe­ti­tion. Tar­iffs on a spe­cif­ic good, like alu­minum, might help work­ers in the indus­try which pro­duces that good. How­ev­er, work­ers in indus­tries that use that good as an input suf­fer.

I have heard from brew­ers large and small from across the coun­try who are see­ing their alu­minum costs dras­ti­cal­ly increase, even when they are using Amer­i­can alu­minum,” Jim McGreevy, pres­i­dent and CEO of The Beer Insti­tute, said in March, when the group released a sep­a­rate report detail­ing $250 mil­lion in high­er costs cre­at­ed by tar­iffs and tar­iff-asso­ci­at­ed price increas­es.

We haven’t had chance to watch this yet but the Craft Beer Chan­nel has pro­duced a 70-minute doc­u­men­tary about beer in New Eng­land which is clear­ly a labour of love.

His­toric Eng­land is try­ing to save a rev­o­lu­tion­ary 18th cen­tu­ry build­ing in Shrews­bury that was built as a flaxmill and con­vert­ed into malt­ings in the 1890s. They call it ‘the first sky­scraper’. You can find out all about the Flaxmill Malt­ings at the His­to­ry Call­ing blog.

And final­ly, there’s this elo­quent account of why you might start a brew­ery, and what might move you to stop:

For more, check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thurs­day. (Stan Hierony­mus is tak­ing a break.)

One thought on “News, nuggets and longreads 1 June 2019: Bubbles, Boozers, Business”

  1. The tar­iffs in N Am are alleged­ly being lift­ed which may cause a col­lapse in prices. I am help­ing lead two teams build­ing $225m in bridges and the steel price issue has been a roller coast­er. I am now watch­ing to see how far the drop goes and if it trans­lates to retail. In 2015–16 prices were 40% of today, even for with­in nation sup­ply.

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