News, nuggets and longreads 13 July 2019: Molson, Heineken, RateBeer

Here’s everything that struck us as interesting or noteworthy in beer and pubs in the past week, from Burton to beer vats.

First, some news: fol­low­ing up on its appar­ent col­lapse in Feb­ru­ary, we now hear via 853 that Lon­don brew­ery Hop Stuff has been acquired by Mol­son Coors:

The company’s investors – many of whom were local to Wool­wich – will receive noth­ing from the sale, which came a month after the company’s Twit­ter account announced: “Near­ly there with some­thing great for Hop Stuff!” One of the founders of the com­pa­ny, James Yeo­mans, set up a new com­pa­ny, JY Advi­so­ry Ltd, in March, while Hop Stuff was in tur­moil, accord­ing to Com­pa­nies House records. His wife, Emma Yeo­mans, who found­ed the com­pa­ny with him, resigned from Hop Stuff in April.

Here’s anoth­er nugget: after years of chat, we final­ly know what’s going on with brew­ing at the old Young’s Brew­ery site in Wandsworth – there’s going to be a new pub with attached brew­ery and Sam­brook’s (which has always been some­thing of an homage to Young’s) will also be mov­ing there from Bat­tersea.

And then there’s this, fol­low­ing on from last week’s lit­tle flur­ry of acqui­si­tions by the Beer Hawk:


(We also refer you to this post of ours from 2016.)

Heineken sign

For Good Beer Hunt­ing Jon­ny Gar­rett attempts to unpick the pol­i­tics around tied pubs with par­tic­u­lar ref­er­ence to Heineken. We were espe­cial­ly struck by this point on which, we have to admit, we had not put togeth­er two and two:

Slow­ing down pro­ceed­ings and start­ing nego­ti­a­tions well beyond “rea­son­able” terms aren’t the only ways that large pub com­pa­nies are try­ing to restrict the num­ber of pub­li­cans going free of tie. In Heineken’s case, the acqui­si­tions of Beaver­town Brew­ery and Brix­ton Brew­ery were in part to offer beer with “craft” cre­den­tials to their 2,000-strong Star Pubs & Bars’ estate, intend­ing to remove one motive for pub­li­cans to look else­where. This in turn has shut out oth­er large brew­eries and dis­trib­u­tors who had hoped to sign large con­tracts with Star and Punch pubs.

(For years, peo­ple have been say­ing we need more cov­er­age of the busi­ness side of pubs and brew­ing; it feels as if we’re get­ting there, to the point that there’s a sense of com­pe­ti­tion to break sto­ries fastest, have the sharpest take, dig up the best source. Good news, that.)

Molson Coors brewery in Burton upon Trent.

It’s some­times fun to read a piece about beer by some­one who isn’t into beer, like this reflec­tion on “Burton(-)(up)on(-)Trent” by rail­way tick­er Scott Willi­son:

Beer is awful. At least, it is at first. Beer is this orange mess you have to force your­self to like because every­one else is drink­ing it. That first pint you get as a teenag­er, that won­drous moment when you get to drink what every­one else drinks… and then you taste it and it’s bit­ter and flat and gross… Of course, you have to train your­self. You have to force your­self to have more and even­tu­al­ly you get used to it. After a while you sort of like it. Then you real­ly like it. Then you end up an alco­holic like me.

Beer maturing in vats.
Vats at George’s of Bris­tol as pic­tured in the Illus­trat­ed Lon­don News in 1909.

A fas­ci­nat­ing nugget from Mar­tyn Cor­nell: we’ve all heard about the Lon­don porter flood of 1814, a sta­ple of did-you-know pieces for some years now, but Man­ches­ter had a go in 1831. He writes:

[The] vat that burst at Meux’s brew­ery, off Tot­ten­ham Court Road, con­tain­ing near­ly six times as much porter as the one that col­lapsed at Mottram’s brew­ery in Sal­ford in 1831, but eight peo­ple, all women and chil­dren, died in the Lon­don flood, while the only real vic­tim of the one in Sal­ford was a pig that must have had a seri­ous hang­over the next day.

Playing the piano in a London pub.

Excit­ing news: The Ulti­mate Lon­don Pub Crawl is back! Their first post since Novem­ber 2017 is an account of an expe­di­tion to Col­liers Wood in south west Lon­don:

After our cathar­tic reunion, we quick­ly returned to our wry, lacon­ic selves and moved on to The Roy­al Stan­dard… The pub was of the car­pet­ed, live sports, local booz­er vari­ety. Men sat drink­ing, singly and in pairs. I ven­tured to the gents and a solo drinker fol­lowed me. He joined me at the uri­nals, gave me a cheeky wink and said, “it go in one end and out the t’other, dun’t it!” This remark­able insight, deliv­ered in a jaun­ty iambic hexa­m­e­ter, gave me pause for thought. Yes, I thought to myself, my God, yes — the fel­low is right! He then asked me if I was a local, the flat­ter­er. I admit­ted that, no, I lived near Kingston. He then pro­ceed­ed to reel off an accu­rate list of all the river­side pubs south of Kingston Bridge. What a man.

And, final­ly, we don’t exact­ly why, but we love this image: