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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