News, nuggets and longreads 31 August 2019: London, Lambeth, Lancashire

Sacks of malt on a brewery floor.

Here’s everything that struck us as noteworthy in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from judging beer to assessing malt.

First, a bit of news: Founders Brew­ing Co has final­ly sold off the major­i­ty of itself to Mahou, hav­ing ini­tial­ly sur­ren­dered a 30% stake in 2013. This comes in the con­text of accu­sa­tions of endem­ic racism at the Michi­gan brew­ery which have tar­nished its image in the past year or so.


And anoth­er: accord­ing to fig­ures released by Lon­don City Hall, the num­ber of pubs in the city has sta­bilised at just over 3,500. In 13 bor­oughs, the num­ber of pubs actu­al­ly increased and the num­ber of small pubs across the city went up, buck­ing a trend towards larg­er pubs that’s been evi­dent since 2003. There’s also a map show­ing the num­ber of pubs for each bor­ough – a fas­ci­nat­ing at-a-glimpse read­out with traf­fic light colours that we sus­pect would look sim­i­lar for most cities in the UK these days.


Old engraving of Lambeth Palace.
Lam­beth Palace in 1647. SOURCE: Archive.org

At A Good Beer Blog Alan McLeod con­tin­ues his inves­ti­ga­tions into old British beer cat­e­gories ask­ing this time why Lam­beth Ale was called Lam­beth Ale:

Let me illus­trate my conun­drum. If you look up at the image above, which I am informed is a 1670 illus­tra­tion of the sights at Lam­beth, you will note two things: a big church com­plex and a lot of grass. Here is a sim­i­lar ver­sion dat­ed 1685. I have fur­ther illus­trat­ed the con­cept here for clar­i­ty. Lam­beth Palace is and was the Lon­don res­i­dence of the Arch­bish­op of Can­ter­bury, head of the Church of Eng­land. It sits in what is known as – and what was at the time in ques­tion – Lam­beth Marsh. Grass.


Tractors at Rivington.
SOURCE: Katie Mather/Pellicle.

Katie Math­er reports for Pel­li­cle from “Man­ches­ter’s Lake Dis­trict” where Riv­ing­ton Brew­ing Co is oper­at­ing from a farm, pro­duc­ing Amer­i­can-style IPAs and sour beer:

We do suf­fer from a mas­sive sense of imposter syn­drome,” Ben says as we stand around the tiny lean-to, clutch­ing mugs of diges­tive bis­cuit-coloured tea. “When oth­er brew­eries give us good feed­back we think… But we’re mak­ing it in here. Are we good enough?”


A perfect pint of Bass in Plymouth.

For Der­byshire Live Col­ston Craw­ford has writ­ten about the resur­gence of Bass, not only as a cult brand but as a beer real­ly worth drink­ing:

Noth­ing the var­i­ous own­ers of the brand have done to try to ignore it has, it would seem, dimin­ished its pop­u­lar­i­ty in this part of the world and peo­ple keep on telling me that Bass right now is as good as it’s been for many a year… There are a num­ber of pubs serv­ing mul­ti­ple brews around the city who will not remove Bass from the pumps, as there would be an out­cry if they did… This sug­gests that the own­ers of the brand – cur­rent­ly the con­glom­er­ate AB-InBev – have missed a trick while con­cern­ing them­selves with flog­ging us Bud­weis­er.

There’s even a poll: does Bass taste bet­ter than it has done for years?


Judge with beer.

Chris Elston at Elston’s Beer Blog has been reflect­ing on what it means to judge beer in our every­day lives, in the wake of his expe­ri­ence at the World Beer Awards:

How can you judge a beer when you haven’t even tried it? We all do it though, every time we go into the bot­tle shop or super­mar­ket, we do it. We’re not just choos­ing the beers we’d like to drink, we’re judg­ing those we’re not sure about or the ones we feel we don’t want. These are the beers that lose out, or rather, we lose out because we’ve judged that they are not worth pur­chas­ing. Which again is wrong.



If you want more read­ing and com­men­tary, Stan Hierony­mus posts a round-up every Mon­day, while Alan McLeod has the Thurs­day beat cov­ered.

One thought on “News, nuggets and longreads 31 August 2019: London, Lambeth, Lancashire”

  1. Inter­est­ing point about cheap malt – I’m sure the hazy beer craze start­ed because small rail­way arch brew­ers were buy­ing poor qual­i­ty malt with high nitro­gen con­tent that would pro­duce beer that would nev­er clear in a month of Sun­days, no mat­ter how heav­i­ly fined.

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