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.