News, nuggets and longreads 14 September 2019: racism and railway arches

Here’s everything on the subject of beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from Norway to Manchester.

First, a cou­ple of updates on sto­ries from the past few weeks.

1. Lars Mar­ius Garshol was curi­ous about the ori­gin of a par­tic­u­lar pack­aged yeast thought to derive from a Nor­we­gian farm­house strain; he now has an answer.

2. Last week, Wether­spoon reduced the price of one of its cask ales in an odd Brex­it pro­pa­gan­da moment; in the after­math, SIBA ticked Tim Mar­tin off and he respond­ed, as sum­marised at Beer Today.

3. Tan­dle­man con­tin­ues his sur­vey of Samuel Smith pubs, this time with a cameo from Humphrey Smith him­self.


Illustration: "Odd One Out".

When Chalon­da White (@afrobeerchick) received a racist email say­ing that black peo­ple “do not belong in this indus­try” she shared it on Twit­ter. An out­pour­ing of sup­port and protest devel­oped around the hash­tag #IAm­Craft­Beer. For ViceBeth Dem­mon sum­maris­es the sto­ry, and what it means:

This inci­dent is an acute reminder of the racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion still deeply embed­ded in the craft beer indus­try. The Brew­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, the Unit­ed States’ lead­ing non-prof­it group ded­i­cat­ed to pro­mot­ing craft beer, recent­ly released the study “Brew­ery Diver­si­ty Bench­mark­ing: A Foun­da­tion for Change,” which out­lines racial and gen­der demo­graph­ics of those employed in the beer indus­try… The num­bers con­firm what most already know: Craft beer is over­whelm­ing­ly white and male. Based on their data, 88.4 per­cent of brew­ery own­ers are white, with only 1 per­cent of brew­ery own­ers iden­ti­fy­ing as Black.


Sign from the Eaton Cottage.
SOURCE: BBC/The Eaton Cot­tage

The new CAMRA Good Beer Guide is out and this sto­ry from the BBC high­lights how impor­tant inclusion/exclusion can be to pub­li­cans, and how emo­tion­al the response can be:

A land­lord has crit­i­cised his cus­tomers after his pub failed to make it into the Good Beer Guide… Philip Bir­chall put up a notice in the Eaton Cot­tage in Nor­wich offer­ing a “huge sar­cas­tic thank you” to mem­bers of the Cam­paign for Real Ale (Cam­ra)… As a result of the pub not fea­tur­ing in the guide Mr Bir­chall said he had decid­ed to grad­u­al­ly reduce the num­ber of real ale pumps… “Peo­ple like drink­ing here and remov­ing the pub from the guide is tan­ta­mount to a demo­tion.”


La Tans
SOURCE: Brus­sels Beer City/Eoghan Walsh.

This piece on the rela­tion­ship between beer and food in Brus­sels by local expert Eoghan Walsh should have made the round-up last week but we missed it:

It’s a sticky Fri­day night in inner city Brus­sels, and the foot­path on Rue de Lom­bard is jammed. It’s the eve of the BXL­Beer­fest beer fes­ti­val and vis­it­ing beer tourists have decamped to Nüet­nige­nough, loi­ter­ing in front of the restaurant’s sinewy art nou­veau entrance. The restau­rant doesn’t do reser­va­tions, and those hop­ing to get a spot have gath­ered into hun­gry clumps around the door, beer and menu in hand, sweat­ing and wait­ing… This has been the rhythm at Nüet­nige­nough… since Olivi­er Desmet opened it a lit­tle over a decade ago. The restau­rant has been a base for him to pros­e­ly­tise for beer as a legit­i­mate accom­pa­ni­ment to a good meal. In the Brus­sels of 2019 this may seem an unnec­es­sary strug­gle, but for much of the restaurant’s short life it was an excep­tion, not the rule.


Mother Kelly's
SOURCE: Beervana/Jeff Alworth.

Amer­i­can beer writer Jeff Alworth is in the UK. If you enjoy, as we do, see­ing Britain through the eyes of an out­sider, check out this post on brew­eries and bars in rail­way arch­es – some­thing we take quite for grant­ed but which, now he men­tions it, is odd:

Brew­ing, accord­ing­ly, is a space-inten­sive busi­ness that requires sub­stan­tial cap­i­tal invest­ment. For under­fund­ed start-ups, this can be daunt­ing. A solu­tion cho­sen by about a fifth of London’s brew­eries is the rail­way arch… Train lines criss­cross the city, many of them ele­vat­ed on old Vic­to­ri­an viaducts. They’re as wide as a city street, raised 15–25 feet above the ground, and sup­port­ed by a repeat­ing line of arch­es. As space became tighter and tighter in Lon­don (an old prob­lem in a city once the cap­i­tal of a glob­al empire), peo­ple began to make use of pro­vi­sion­al spaces. Decades ago, some clever entre­pre­neur iden­ti­fied those viaduct arch­es as a huge source of real estate and began leas­ing them.


Final­ly, from Twit­ter, push­ing back the date of the ear­li­est Ger­man theme pub in the UK that we’re aware of…

For more read­ing and links check out Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­day and Alan McLeod on Thurs­day.