News, nuggets and longreads for 4 April 2020: Coping mechanisms, ecommerce, murder

Here’s everything in writing about beer and pubs that caught our collective eye in the past week, from online beer sales to digitally-enabled darts matches.

First, for Good Beer HuntingKate Bernot writes about how the global lockdown has prompted a leap forward in online beer sales in the US:

Under normal circumstances, an ecommerce portal would take breweries months of planning and roughly a month or two of web development work to execute. But the circumstances of the last month have been anything but normal. At least one brewery, in response to these turbulent times, was able to set up a web store in just two days… The need for a speedy solution is why there’s a new beer delivery truck rolling through the streets of Manhattan. It doesn’t have branded side bays or roll-up doors. It’s a beige 2003 Lexus GX 470 with a rusted trailer hitch and 250,000 miles on its odometer. The Lexus belongs to John Dantzler, CEO and co-founder of New York City’s Torch & Crown Brewing, and it’s one of the brewery’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enterprise Inns

Publicans whose pubs are owned by large pub companies (pubcos) have begun campaigning to have their rent payments cancelled for the duration of the lockdown, as reported at This is Money:

Ed Anderson, 45, a publican with three pubs in Cheltenham and 25 years of experience in the industry, said it was ‘absurd’ that some landlord pub holding groups had failed to cancel rental fees during the pandemic… Typically, a pub tenant’s rental fees are derived from the pub’s finances. But, with no cash coming in, publicans like Ed face a huge financial hurdle, particularly if rental costs are simply deferred rather than temporarily scrapped altogether… An online social media campaign called #NoPubNoRent is calling on major pub groups like Star Pubs and Bars, Stonegate (Ei Group) and Greene King to cancel rents for tenants while the pandemic rages.

The Red On Lion

The Campaign for Real Ale has joined the ranks of those attempting to recreate the experience of the pub using online tools. Its take is called The Red (On)Lion and offers…

a video platform where anyone can enjoy a lively chat over a beer or cider. There is a ‘main bar’ area, and visitors can also create or book a table to set up video conferencing with their friends… Tables can take part in games, or participants can tune in to presentations and events, such as pub quizzes and expert-led tutored tastings… The platform also supports Facebook Live streaming for events run by brewers and pubs…

This sounds like thoughtful, interesting approach. We’ll be investigating.

Detail from a brewing process diagram

Ron Pattinson provides some brief notes on the practice of ‘liquoring back’ (watering down) in the brewing process:

I can remember a conversation I had once with Dann Paquette about liquoring back. It drove him crazy when he worked at a cask brewery in the UK… For the sake of convenience and consistency, all the beers were brewed over-strength and then liquored back – watered down in plain English – to get to get to the right ABV. Dann hated it because he said it adversely affected the beers… So I was quite surprised to see someone advocating the practice more than 100 years ago.


Until such time as we can go exploring again, we’re going to have seize on posts like Mark Johnson’s tour of the pubs of Glossop:

I spend a lot of time in and around Glossop nowadays, mostly because – spoiler alert – I live in close proximity to it. Sometimes I even wrongly refer to the area as a whole as Glossopdale and suggest I live there, more to annoy the proud locals. It is one of those fiercely archaic areas where its long term residents respect ancient hamlet boundaries. Do not suggest to a person from Hadfield or Padfield or Simmondley that they live in Glossop because they will aggressively tell you that they 100% do not, despite all the evidence proving that they do.

Arthur Marsden
SOURCE: Martyn Cornell/Colleen Murphy

It’s not often we get tales of true crime in the world of beer but Martyn Cornell has turned up a particularly sad example in the Marsden murders:

[The story] centres on Arthur Eagles Marsden, born in 1849 in Pimlico, London to a dynasty of operative brewers… [In] the early 1870s [Arthur] was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, working as a brewer… There he met a young woman named Catherine ‘Kate’ Vaughan, three years his senior, daughter of Patrick Vaughan and Mary Sullivan, both from Cork in Ireland, who had arrived in Halifax around 1844. One source claims that Catherine’s parents “took her away from school” because they were afraid she was about to convert to Catholicism, and forced her “against her will” to marry the Protestant Arthur Marsden… Soon after the new family returned briefly to England, and then, in December 1874, sailed from Southampton for India, where Arthur had evidently been offered a post as a brewer by the brewing entrepreneur Henry Meakin.

From the archives: We came across a couple of excellent articles on gin and gin palaces while researching our recent posts on this topic.

For further distractions check out Alan McLeod’s round-up of links from Thursday.