News, nuggets and longreads 5 October 2019: sessionability, Spam, the seventies

The Golden Lion.

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related reading we’ve found especially illuminating or enjoyable in the past week, from Monty Python to pensions.

When you’ve been at this game for a while, you start to see the same con­ver­sa­tions cycle round. This week, it’s time to talk about what ‘ses­sion­able’ means again. First, for Vine­PairLily Waite argues that it’s impos­si­ble to pin down

The most com­mon use of ‘ses­sion” in beer con­texts is as a qual­i­fi­er. It means the beer in ques­tion con­tains low enough amounts of alco­hol that sev­er­al, or even many, can be con­sumed in one drink­ing ‘ses­sion.’ The term ‘ses­sion­able’ is com­mon­ly used to sug­gest some­thing is eas­i­ly drink­able, light, refresh­ing, or any com­bi­na­tion of the three… But even those airy def­i­n­i­tions leave a lot open to inter­pre­ta­tion. As all beer drinkers are dif­fer­ent, with indi­vid­ual sizes, appetites, tol­er­ances, and pref­er­ences, how can we say what ‘ses­sion” or ‘ses­sion­able’ even means?

In response, Mar­tyn Cor­nell, who Waite cites in her arti­cle, says, no, actu­al­ly – it’s not dif­fi­cult at all:

I saw a tweet yes­ter­day from some­one talk­ing about “a ses­sion­able 5.5 per cent smoked oat­meal stout”, and the world swam and dis­solved before me as I plunged scream­ing and twist­ing into a hell­ish, tor­ment­ed pit of dark despair… Let me make this as clear as I can. This is an egre­gious and unfor­giv­able total fail­ure to under­stand what the expres­sion ‘ses­sion­able’ means, is meant to mean, and was coined for. A 5.5 per cent alco­hol beer is not, and can­not be, ‘ses­sion­able’. A smoked oat­meal stout, while I am sure it can be love­ly, is not and can­not be ‘ses­sion­able’. Nobody ever spent all evening drink­ing four or five, or six, pints of smoked oat­meal stout.


Stella Artois
SOURCE: Brus­sels Beer City.

One of our favourite blog posts of last year was Eoghan Wal­sh’s lit­er­ary pub crawl around Brus­sels. Now he’s back with Part Two:

Nobody exem­pli­fied the writer liv­ing unhap­pi­ly in Brus­sels bet­ter than French­man and ser­i­al flâneur Charles Baude­laire… Leav­ing behind Vic­tor Hugo and the Chaloupe D’Or café on Brus­sels’ Grand Place, my walk fol­lows the well-worn tourist path out of the square and into the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. These glass-ceil­ing shop­ping arcades were a first in Europe when they were built in 1847 and imme­di­ate­ly they became a meet­ing place not only for the city’s bour­geoisie but also for its writ­ers and artists. It was here that the Lumière broth­ers showed off their ciné­matographe for the first time out­side of Paris, in March 1896. Vic­tor Hugo’s mis­tress, Juli­ette Drou­et – Juju – has an apart­ment above what is now the fran­coph­o­ne Tro­pismes book­shop. French poet Paul Ver­laine once pur­chased a revolver here with his moth­er. And, liv­ing a cou­ple of streets away while escap­ing debts and debtors back in Paris, Charles Baude­laire was a fre­quent vis­i­tor.


Bass logo.

Roger Protz has writ­ten a por­trait of a Lon­don pub famous for its Bass, as it has been since 1921:

The Express Tav­ern on Kew Bridge Road is that rar­i­ty – a Lon­don pub that reg­u­lar­ly serves Draught Bass. The Bass red tri­an­gle trade­mark adorns the exte­ri­or and the famous tri­an­gle also declares itself on a pump clip on the bar… Two reg­u­lars seat­ed at the bar nod­ded in salu­ta­tion when I asked for a pint. “You’ve come to the right place for Bass,” they said. “That’s what we’re drink­ing.”


Citra/Spam.

Dave at Brew­ing in a Bed­sit­ter offers a brief rein­ven­tion of a famous moment from Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus:

Wait­ress: Evening!

Man: Well, what’ve you got?

Wait­ress: Well, there’s IPA with mosa­ic and sim­coe; IPA with mosa­ic and cen­ten­ni­al; IPA with mosa­ic and cit­ra; IPA with mosa­ic, sim­coe and cit­ra; IPA with mosa­ic, sim­coe, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra; IPA with cit­ra, sim­coe, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra; IPA with cit­ra, mosa­ic, cit­ra, cit­ra, sim­coe and cit­ra, IPA with cit­ra, vic secret, cit­ra, cit­ra, mosa­ic, cit­ra, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra;

Hip­sters (start­ing to chant): Cit­ra cit­ra cit­ra cit­ra…


Homebrew beer mat.
SOURCE: NMAH.

John Har­ry has been intern­ing at the Nation­al  Muse­um of Amer­i­can His­to­ry and as part of an ini­tia­tive to record US brew­ing his­to­ry has researched and writ­ten about the birth of the mod­ern home-brew­ing move­ment:

After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege in 1972, [Char­lie] Papaz­ian moved to Boul­der, Col­orado, to try to fig­ure out his life plans. Some peo­ple there dis­cov­ered that he knew how to brew beer and asked him to teach a class on home­brew­ing at the local com­mu­ni­ty free school. The class­es were incred­i­bly pop­u­lar and attract­ed many curi­ous local res­i­dents… As word spread through news­pa­per arti­cles, admin­is­tra­tors grew con­cerned that the class­es might be attract­ing the wrong type of atten­tion. “After about the third year…those class­es became noto­ri­ous,” Papaz­ian recount­ed. “One time at reg­is­tra­tion for the class, the admin­is­tra­tion con­tact­ed me, and said, ‘You know… there’s a guy, who’s reg­is­ter­ing for this class. He may be from the ATF.’” The ATF is the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobac­co, and Firearms—the law enforce­ment agency in charge of reg­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties such as home­brew­ing. As Papaz­ian start­ed the class, a man walked in wear­ing a dark pair of slacks, a white shirt, and a skin­ny black tie. Papaz­ian sus­pect­ed he was the ATF agent right away.


The Cask Report.

The lat­est edi­tion of Cask Mar­que’s Cask Report is out, edit­ed by Matt Eley and with con­tri­bu­tions from peo­ple like Pete Brown and Adri­an Tier­ney-Jones. We haven’t had chance to digest yet but the key mes­sage is that cask ale could be about to have a moment if it can rein­vent itself as a spe­cial­ist, pre­mi­um prod­uct:

The whole indus­try has to work togeth­er to improve the con­sis­ten­cy and qual­i­ty of cask. This will enable it to be posi­tioned in a more pre­mi­um man­ner on the bar, reignite wider inter­est and ulti­mate­ly bring cask back to growth. It might not quite be cask’s moment yet, but it feels like it’s com­ing and pubs should be ful­ly pre­pared by embrac­ing it now.


The cast of We Anchor in Hope.
SOURCE: The Bunker The­atre.

We Anchor in Hope, a play set in a pub – a ful­ly-func­tion­al pub recon­struct­ed in a the­atre – sounds inter­est­ing:

The two have thought a lot about the pub that the Bunker is becom­ing: a quiz every Tues­day, karaoke on Thurs­days and a dis­co on the week­end. The space will be open an hour before the show for peo­ple to get a drink, with Son­nex him­self pulling pints along­side his gen­er­al man­ag­er, Lee. In the world of the play, the pints in the Anchor pub will be pulled by Pearl, the play’s only woman. “In the cur­rent cli­mate, and right­ful­ly so, you should be look­ing at the ratio of men to women and mak­ing sure there are real­ly good oppor­tu­ni­ties for female actors,” Jor­dan tells me. But in order to stay true to the pubs she spent time in, which were “over­whelm­ing­ly male spaces”, We Anchor in Hope has “one female char­ac­ter and four male char­ac­ters – which is some­thing we both thought about and talked about”.


Final­ly, here’s a nugget from Twit­ter:

For more links and news, check out Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­days and Alan McLeod on Thurs­days.

One thought on “News, nuggets and longreads 5 October 2019: sessionability, Spam, the seventies”

  1. cask ale could be about to have a moment if it can rein­vent itself as a spe­cial­ist, pre­mi­um prod­uct:

    I nev­er did Eco­nom­ics at school, but isn’t the usu­al idea that when a prod­uct costs more you sell less of it? If brew­ers have dis­cov­ered how to raise sales by rais­ing prices, that’s big news.

    Seri­ous­ly, pre­mi­u­mis­ing real ale is a dread­ful idea – the nega­tion of every­thing CAMRA stands for. The idea was nev­er to take the work­ing man’s drink, dou­ble the price and sell it to the cognoscen­ti, leav­ing work­ing peo­ple with a cheap and nasty imi­ta­tion. (I can – and quite often do – pay £5 a pint, but I’m well off.) I hope this moment nev­er comes, or at worst that it does­n’t reach the North­west. (I cer­tain­ly can’t see it reach­ing Stock­port.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.