News, nuggets and longreads 21 September 2019: Catalonia, cask, cans

Here’s a week’s worth of reading about beer and pubs, from Catalan hops to cask ale.

For Bir­raire, Joan Vil­lar-i-Martí has writ­ten at length about Jor­di Sánchez of Lupuli­na, a hop-grow­ing busi­ness in Cat­alo­nia, Spain, that spe­cialis­es in serv­ing the grow­ing craft beer move­ment:

At a time when there were around 15 fac­to­ries with brew­ing license in Cat­alo­nia… Jor­di decides to com­bine his grow­ing pas­sion with his expe­ri­ence and train­ing in biol­o­gy, devel­op­ing in 2013 a pilot plan­ta­tion with 150 hop plants of 10 dif­fer­ent vari­eties… His vision: to accom­pa­ny the craft beer move­ment by sup­ply­ing raw mate­r­i­al, with the will to reg­u­lar­ly pro­vide pro­duc­ers with good val­ue local­ly grown hops… “The thing that makes a craft brew­ery dif­fer­ent is its atti­tude, but also its raw mate­ri­als”.


Casks in a pub yard.

Jeff Alworth con­tin­ues his tour of the UK with a vis­it to Man­ches­ter where he offers an out­sider’s per­spec­tive on the health and future of cask ale, and a throw­away judge­ment on sparklers:

[A] pint of cask bit­ter is… one of the world’s best drink­ing beers… But man, has it got a brand­ing prob­lem. This per­cep­tion was height­ened by spend­ing most of my time in Man­ches­ter and Lon­don, two mod­ern cities with large pop­u­la­tions of young drinkers. Amer­i­cans revere the Eng­lish pub because it drips with romance and nos­tal­gia. The wood pan­elling, the old pic­tures on the walls, the fire in the cor­ner, the low light­ing, the nooks, cran­nies, and snugs. But cask’s prob­lem is that it is so tight­ly fused with the envi­ron­ment in which it is served.


The Marble taproom.
SOURCE: The Ale in Kaleigh

On a relat­ed note, Man­ches­ter-based writer Kaleigh Wat­ter­son has vis­it­ed Mar­ble’s new tap­room in Sal­ford:

I thought the space was exact­ly what a brew­ery tap­room should be; you can see inside the brew­ery but it feels com­fort­able and sep­a­rate, some­where you could set­tle in for a few hours… It was obvi­ous­ly a big deci­sion for such brew­ery so asso­ci­at­ed with the city of Man­ches­ter to move over the bor­der into Sal­ford, but with the uncer­tain­ty around the future of rail­way arch­es, the size con­straints of their old site and the great space they’ve built shows it was the right one for them.


The Fleece Inn
SOURCE: Beer Com­pur­ga­tion

Mark John­son has a new project (it’s always good to have a project) focus­ing on the foot­ball clubs and pubs:

My first trip was on Sat­ur­day 31st August to Seel Park to catch Moss­ley AFC tak­ing on Kendal Town in the North­ern Pre­mier League Divi­sion One… Grow­ing up in neigh­bour­ing Staly­bridge, Moss­ley was always con­sid­ered the debauched and ostracised cousin. The peo­ple had their rep­u­ta­tion and so did the pubs. We were paint­ed the pic­ture of a run­down, smog filled town that hadn’t changed since pre-Peter­loo days… As you mature you realise that such rep­u­ta­tions in any town are fic­ti­tious local­ism; that the res­i­dents there view your area with sim­i­lar dis­dain and fan­ta­sy.


Map of Lee High Road
SOURCE: Run­ning Past

At Run­ning Past this week (via @untilnextyear) a por­trait of a lost Lon­don pub – The Sul­tan on Lee High Road, demol­ished 20 years ago:

Some­time dur­ing 1993, I had been into Lewisham with my tod­dler son in a bug­gy and was con­front­ed by a low-speed car chase – the pur­sued car had come out of Claren­don Rise, had mount­ed the pave­ment in a vain attempt to evade the traf­fic back­ing up at the junc­tion of Bel­mont Hill and Lewis Grove. The nar­row pave­ment was busy so the dri­ver slow­ly inched towards the Clock Tow­er… I took eva­sive action and pushed the bug­gy into the Sultan’s lounge… The Sul­tan wasn’t the most invit­ing pub lounge I’ve ever been in – dark and a fug of smoke so thick that the bar was a lit­tle inde­ter­mi­nate in out­line. Out­side the excite­ment swift­ly abat­ed; the police pur­suers had quick­ly arrest­ed the dri­ver who had come to a halt when a lamp­post blocked his path.


Felinfoel cans
SOURCE: Chiswick Auc­tions

The own­er of Felin­foel Brew­ery in Wales has just paid £2,250 for two sealed cans of beer from the 1930s, for some­what under­stand­able rea­sons:

The cans of Felin­foel pale ale, which were brewed before the Sec­ond World War, are thought to have become the most expen­sive ever – each can cost the equiv­a­lent to 270 pints… The yel­low cans were bought by Philip Lewis (corr), the man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Welsh brew­ery where the ale was first canned in 1936… Mirac­u­lous­ly, one of the cans is still full of beer, while the ancient brew is slow­ly evap­o­rat­ing out of the other’s slight­ly dam­aged seal.

What we real­ly like is the blurb, in what look like Gill Sans: “Canned beer is bet­ter because the good­ness is sealed in and the flavour pre­served. It is also pro­tect­ed from the harm­ful effect of light. Unbreak­able. Lighter to car­ry. Takes up less space. No deposits; no returns. More hygien­ic – used only once.”


Final­ly, from Twit­ter, a new turn of phrase that we sus­pect is already fea­tur­ing as a key ‘buy­er per­sona’ in mar­ket­ing plans up and down the coun­try…

For more links and news, check out Stan’s round-up from Mon­day and Alan’s from Thurs­day.

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