News, nuggets and longreads 28 March 2020: Berlin, BrewDog, Brasserie de la Senne

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that struck us as especially entertaining, interesting or important in the past week, from notes on isolation to virtual globetrotting.

First, Jeff Alworth provides a preview of a chunk of the upcoming second edition of his book The Beer Bible. It’s a profile of Ulrike Genz, who has dedicated herself to the revival of Berliner Weisse in its home city:

Genz’s story began in 2012, while she was studying at Technischen Universität Berlin—but visiting VLB regularly. A professor at the school brought a keg of Berliner to a summer gathering. “So I tried for the first time real one of these beers, and I simply fell in love with it,” Genz said, describing the experience. “It was not that heavy in alcohol, and the next day was perfect. The taste was so nice.” At that point, the only commercial example was from Kindl, a debased version sweetened with artificial syrups—nothing like true Berliner weisse. The only way she could taste it again was to brew it herself—so that’s what she did.

Stools at the bar in a pub.

Mark Johnson seems to be a man whose feelings run near the surface and in his latest piece, he probes his own sense of loss at being denied access to his local pub during the enforced lockdown of British society:

In one announcement, the social diary was wiped away, like a cloth to a whiteboard. The decision as to whether to have a pint after work. The decision as to where to meet a friend on a Thursday evening. The decision as to how to spend a weekend. Gone. Taken for us… There were comments near criticising anybody saddened by the turn of events – “you can go a few weeks without the pub, unless you have a problem” – showing the ignorance and aggression widely associated with social media… It is missed and it is irreplaceable, for those who crave sociability or for those of us who live life as the latter stages of a game of Jenga, frail and prone to fall with each block removed.

Shabby decor at the Oxford, Totterdown.

In the same vein, Adrian Tierney-Jones has revived his blog with a post that asks why we all miss the pub so much:

I am in the dark woodland of another traditional pub, where the tidied-up god-knows-where-they-got-them-from trinkets of another age stand on parade with the steadfastness of RSM gargoyles. Toby jugs, framed hunting scenes, burnished brassed off plates and here and there the odd black-and-white photograph of a local in the throes of lifting a pint. This is a decor that decorum doesn’t have a language for, a decorative pattern once thought to be as modern as the H-bomb, but obviously not as destructive… So what do we like about pubs — obviously we love what is put forward in front of us on the plate and in the glass, as well as how the mood and the atmosphere fills the air; then there are the people and their feeble but lovable attempts at jokes, the locals and the blow-ins, and the reason for why we are there.

BrewDog bar sign.Phil Edwards at Oh Good Ale has made his peace with BrewDog bars after years of irritation, admitting with great honesty that his change of heart is at least in part because he’s a bit better off these days and is no longer offended by the pricing:

I no longer read nefarious intentions into getting a price wrong on the menu, or naming a beer “Dead Pony Club”. (Apparently it was originally “Grateful Dead Pony Club”. Yeah, well… exits muttering…) Another thing that’s changed over the last eight years is my employment contract & consequent spending power – points 1-3 don’t bug me the way they used to. The prices were still high – all the pints were priced in the £5-6 range, and so were the beers advertised in smaller measures (2/3, a half or even a third, depending on strength). Point 3 above continued to irk me for a lot longer than 1 and 2, but I got over it; in the end I was a lot more bothered by the thought of a beer being priced at eighteen quid a pint!!! than I was by actually paying £6 for a third of something unusual (and very strong).

The Blue Bell
SOURCE: John Clarke

John Clarke has revived his long-dormant blog to provide us with a pub crawl in four dimensions, revisiting a 1988 CAMRA stagger around Shaw Heath, Stockport, to see how the pubs have fared in the past 30 years:

With so many pubs so close together there were bound to be some casualties – and time has not been kind to the pubs of the Shaw Heath area….

The sales team at de la Senne.
SOURCE: Eoghan Walsh/Brussels Beer City.

At Brussels Beer CityEoghan Walsh continues his month-long focus on women in the Belgian beer industry with an interview with the sales team at Brasserie de la Senne:

When Marta Resmini stepped out in 2015 as Brasserie de la Senne’s first sales and marketing representative, freshly minted business cards in her pocket, she didn’t get the reaction she was initially expecting. “I went to the first customer, to which I had to go with my business card,” she says. “He looked at my card and then paused for 5-10 seconds, and he was like, ‘Okay, so this is your phone number, what are you doing tonight?’ That was my first experience dealing out business cards.”

A lot has changed in the intervening five years. For one, Resmini gets fewer abortive pick-up attempts. She’s gained recognition as one of the most visible faces of the brewery, alongside Cleo Mombaers – her colleague in the sales and marketing team at de la Senne.

Finally, from Twitter, people have been having fun coming up with names for the virtual pubs that are filling the gaps left in their lives:

There’s more good reading in Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up.

2 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 28 March 2020: Berlin, BrewDog, Brasserie de la Senne”

Thanks for the name check! I think you may like the Stagger in a couple of weeks time as it has an interesting tale to tell.

Likewise! Like John, I’m planning to revive the blog after a bit of a fallow period; there’s a surprising amount to write about in the current situation.

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