News, nuggets and longreads 12 October 2019: silly stout, Somerset cider, sad stories

Swan With Two Necks

Here’s everything on the subject of beer, pubs and (this month only) cider, that caught our attention in the past few days, from lost friends to last beers.

Between us we’ve encoun­tered Roger Wilkins of Wilkins Cider a few times over the decades. When Ray was young, his Dad used to buy cider from the farm every now and then. And until a year or so ago, Wilkins used to sup­ply the Drap­ers Arms so the sight of Mr W him­self steam­ing through a crowd­ed pub, sweat­ing and huff­ing, with a jar of pick­led eggs under each arm was­n’t uncom­mon. Now, for Pel­li­cleNic­ci Peet has giv­en him the full pro­file treat­ment:

I hear Roger before I see him, his laugh bel­low­ing from inside his barn. It’s as big and as bold as his rep­u­ta­tion. Local­ly, and to some inter­na­tion­al­ly, he is known as the “cider king,” mak­ing prop­er, tra­di­tion­al farm­house cider… Roger offers two ciders: dry and sweet. Both sit in big wood­en bar­rels with taps ready for you to serve your­self and there’s no fixed price—you pay as you feel. If you’re after a medi­um sim­ply mix the two. Then sip your cider in the barn or in the orchard, the way Som­er­set cider has been enjoyed for cen­turies. Even how he sells his cider is old school, as you have to ring him direct­ly if you want to make an order.


Drawing: a pub bar.

Mark John­son paints a pic­ture of pub life with an emo­tion­al twist in a post about the acci­den­tal Thurs­day Club, dry roast­ed peanuts and a man called Col­in:

Most­ly we just meet at the bar. First by chance. Then increas­ing­ly “by chance.” Then it became Thurs­day club. Then Wednes­day was added into the mix too. And of course we are always here Fri­day. And the odd quick pint on a Mon­day has been known to turn into five hours of putting the world to rights – or at least his beloved City’s back four… I’m not sure I’ve ever socialised with Col­in out­side of the pub… And he is too bloomin’ gen­er­ous. Annoy­ing­ly so. I have to fight to even pay for a drink. I’m sure I’m about 20 pints behind now. I don’t think I’ve ever bought the bags of dry roast­ed.


Chelsie's last beer.
SOURCE: Chelsie Markel.

Chelsie Markel did­n’t know she was drink­ing what might be her last beer when she checked it in on Untap­pd dur­ing the sum­mer:

While I was drink­ing my very last full pour of beer while vis­it­ing Tree House Brew­ing Co. in July, I had no idea I had the dis­ease. I had no idea that ‘Hur­ri­cane (with Peach)’ would be my last beer self­ie that I ever took. That the beer I rat­ed a 4.5 in Untap­pd and every­thing I had hoped for as a tast­ing expe­ri­ence would be the begin­ning of the finale… Even though a few years back a friend of mine had been diag­nosed with Sjo­grens and I thought “Wow! I have a lot of these med­ical con­di­tions and symp­toms though­out my life. But stop being sil­ly! Your doc­tors would have con­nect­ed the dots and test­ed you if they thought this was a real con­cern. Stop self-diag­nos­ing.”


Various books and magazine from the last 40+ years of CAMRA.

The Cam­paign for Real Ale keeps doing inter­est­ing things. The lat­est eye­brow-rais­ing move is to ten­der for a not-the-usu­al-sus­pects writer to tack­le an offi­cial 50th anniver­sary biog­ra­phy of the cam­paign group:

We would like this per­spec­tive to come from some­one who is not per­ceived as hav­ing a close asso­ci­a­tion with CAMRA. The brief is for a c.50,000 word autho­rised biog­ra­phy of CAMRA, to be researched and writ­ten in 2020, with the text due at the end of the year, ready for pub­li­ca­tion in March 2021 in time for the Campaign’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. Exact out­line, terms and fees to be nego­ti­at­ed.


Cult Czech brew­ery Kout na Šumavě is in trou­ble, it turns out:


Siren Caribbean Chocolate Cake (label).

Steve Body, AKA The Pour Fool, has put togeth­er a typ­i­cal­ly impas­sioned defence of ‘crazy’ beers:

We have to have this sort of “crazi­ness” for craft beer – noth­ing says we have to like every dick­head idea or style that sham­bles onto the brew­ing scene – to con­tin­ue to evolve and progress as the par­a­digm-chang­er it has become. There is NO oth­er path. The surest way to mur­der inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty is to slap blind­ers on those doing the work. There is an old say­ing, “Out of exper­i­men­ta­tion comes syn­the­sis.” Nev­er heard that? Appar­ent­ly, I just made it up. Google gives me no hits on that axiom. But it’s the truth: we try crazy shit, watch some or even most of it fail, and pluck the nuggets, the pearls, out of the chick­en­shit.


Sam Smith logo from beer bottle.

We can’t resist these Humphrey Smith sto­ries: the head of Samuel Smith’s brew­ery in Tad­cast­er has reached a new high this week by shut­ting down a new­ly opened pub because he heard a cus­tomer swear­ing. Here’s the sto­ry as report­ed by the Inde­pen­dent:

[Smith] was vis­it­ing the Fox and Goose in Droitwich Spa, Worces­ter­shire, sev­en weeks after it opened… But when the 74-year-old heard anoth­er drinker drop­ping the F‑word while telling his wife a joke, he decid­ed to imme­di­ate­ly close the place… [leav­ing] land­lord Eric Low­ery, who lives in a flat above the pub with wife Tracey, look­ing for both a new job and some­where to live.


Final­ly, from Twit­ter: