News, nuggets and longreads 28 September 2019: language, complexity, taprooms

Karaoke pub.

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from The Good Beer Guide to the language we use.

First, here’s a substantial piece by Jonny Garrett for Good Beer Hunting which attempts to unpick the language used in the conversation around beer:

Character limits and fast-scrolling mean we’re getting more creative, but we’re also reducing the words we use to mean the same thing. On an Instagram post or Untappd check-in, why list guava, mango, and pineapple when a simple “juicy” cuts to the chase?

You might quibble with some of his conclusions – the origins of the terms ‘craft beer’ and ‘craft brewery’ are hotly debated, for example – but there’s plenty of food for thought.


Instagram likes.

For CañaBeth Demmon gets stuck into a complex question: if sexist imagery on beer packaging is a problem, what about when social media influencers in beer gain leverage by presenting themselves as sexy? Is it empowerment, or perpetuation?

I tend to be less than thrilled when men decide to police women’s bodies. But as a woman covering the craft beer scene, I also struggle with the residual impact that hypersexual content from beer influencers has on how the world may view me in the same space. With more and more conversations covering the troublesome history that beer has with women while acknowledging the potential damage this new genre of social media interaction can have on all women, I’ve come to realise one important truth: it’s complicated.


Anheuser Busch logo.

Another piece from Good Beer HuntingEvan Rail reports from the Czech Republic on AB-InBev’s acquisition of Samson, a somewhat overlooked brewery in České Budějovice, AKA Budweis, and what it might mean for the ongoing trademark battle over the term Budweiser:

“We used to be much larger,” says Samson CEO Daniel Dřevikovský. “We need to connect to our local consumers, because we lost them at the end of the ’90s.”… How much larger? In 1996, Samson was brewing at capacity, nudging up against 380,000 barrels (in local terms, 450,000 hectoliters) per year, about as much as what Stone Brewing produced last year. Today, its annual production is only 75,000 barrels, a little more than what Massachusetts’ Wachusett Brewing Company made in 2018. That’s not the nadir: volumes at Samson have actually improved under its AB InBev ownership, up more than 10% in 2017 and increasing slightly from there last year… Those results, Dřevikovský says, are due to investments in technology and sanitation under the ownership of AB InBev, which has put millions into Samson over the last five years.


Order and Outdoor Dept. sign.
SOURCE: Stephen Marland.

Stephen Marland, the man behind the Manchester Estate Pubs blog, has a piece on his other website, Modern Mooch, about the Anson Hotel on Beresford Road in Manchester:

Cycling back from Town, zig zagging between the A6 and Birchfields Road, I headed down Beresford Road and bumped into a behemoth… A huge inter-war Whitbread boozer long since closed, now a retail food outlet and badged as the Buhran Centre, also trading as Burooj… This change of use is far from uncommon, the demographics, socio-economic conditions and drinking habits which shape this and countless other pubs, have since shifted away from the lost world of this immense, roadhouse-style palace of fun.


The 2020 Good Beer Guide.

Good Beer Guide ticker Martin Taylor has had a little while to digest the latest edition of CAMRA’s flagship publication and has reached a few conclusions. Read his high level summary first

The micropub craze is dead… Only joking. Seven new ones in Tyne & Wear alone, nine in Lancashire, etc etc… Old Dylan LPs are now available in 23% of the Guide’s pubs… Plenty of taprooms too, which are arguably even less to provide you with a couple having an argument over a ferret.

…then check out this reflection on opening hours which becomes a lament for the country pub which can’t afford to open on weekdays or lunchtimes.


Taproom sign.

Speaking of taprooms, Jeff Alworth continues his European tour with some reflections on how pursuing interesting beer in 2019 increasingly means heading to the wrong side of the tracks:

In past generations, past beer hunters probably spent much of their days in remote countryside locations. Folks pursuing and writing about beer before the 1990s found precious few breweries in cities. The breweries that survived were often in small towns outside of larger population centers… The hunters of our day have a different experience: we’re headed back into the cities. Sort of. But the breweries we visit are almost never downtown, where real estate is expensive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wandered toward a brewery purportedly within the city, only to find myself on the marginal, decaying fringes, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.


An interesting bit of bad news from Beer Guide London: UBrew in Bermondsey has gone into liquidation.


If you’re after a beer book to read, we’d like to recommend Maureen Ogle’s Ambitious Brew, which is out in an updated Kindle edition right now.


Finally, here’s something from Twitter:

For more links and reading, check out Stan Hieronymus on Mondays and Alan McLeod every Thursday.