News, nuggets and longreads 18 April 2020: Liverpool, Collyhurst, Heywood

The Marble Arch, Manchester.

Here’s all the beer and pub related writing that grabbed our attention in the past week, including a bumper crop of notes on pubs and beer festivals in the North West of England.

We’ve been asking people one question for years: “Yes, but why is cask better? What’s actually different about it?” That CO2 is CO2 has made it difficult to understand why cask-conditioned ale should feel different and more subtle than keg – which we think it does, though we’re not by any means anti-keg, they added as if it was 2012. In fact, one of the people we asked about this while researching Brew Britannia was Ed Wray who did his best to come up with a sensible answer all those years ago. Now, he’s back with another plausible answer, via the IBD magazine:

Dr Frank Müller, Brewmaster at Riegele brewery…. “describes fermentation derived carbonation as a more delicate, more integrated effervescence than the coarse bubbles that result from CO2 delivered by gas suppliers and injected in-line. One theory briefly mentioned in the course of this conversation dealt with saturation aspects of CO2 around haze particles, visibly perceived or not evident. Arguably, a slow evolution of CO2 leads to a more gradual saturation and better mouthfeel properties in the final beer.”


The Lorimers

Steve Marland, AKA The Modern Moocher, provides another photographic dispatch from the weed-strewn yard of a former Manchester pub, this time reporting from outside what was once the Lorimer’s Arms at Collyhurst:

Typical of its time, developed to meet the needs of the new estates which replaced the slum clearance of the Sixties, in an area surrounded by industry… Once home to the Osborne Street Baths and Wash House, and a pub of an earlier age – The Osborne, still standing – ceased trading…. The pub had briefly become the centre for a telephone chatline service, prior to its current use as a place of worship – for the Christ Temple International Church.

There’s also a bonus mention of The Vine, AKA The Valley, which was the one pub we chickened out of going into during our 20th Century Pub research tour of England in 2016-17.


Liverpool Beer Festival

Kirsty Walker has posted twice this week, noting with sadness that now she has time to blog, there’s nothing to blog about. Her piece on Liverpool Beer Festival was as entertaining as usual, though:

When you’ve been to as many beer festivals as I have (roughly 4000), it is possible to get to saturation point. I had never been to a beer festival in the metropolitan cathedral, and I wanted to go, but I knew it would be a CAMRA festival quite similar to most. How to shake things up? Simply, to take someone who has never been to a beer festival before and has only been drinking real or craft ale for about six months. Step up Vinnie, your time is now.


The Grapes, Heywood

After a pause, Tandleman has returned to his series of reports from Samuel Smith pubs in his neck of the woods, this time popping into The Engineer’s Arms and The Grapes in Heywood, AKA ‘Monkey Town’:

I turn to Heywood’s History site for enlightenment and two explanations are offered. I rather like the one with a pub connotation of course, whereby folklore had it that Heywood men used to have tails, and so the stools and benches in the town’s pubs had holes in them for the tails to fit through. The reality, the article concludes, is that the holes were there for carrying the stools. Hmm. I’ll reluctantly rule that one out then, but the same piece surmises that the nickname ‘Monkey Town’ is derived from the pronunciation of Heap Bridge – a local area – as ‘Ape’ Bridge, and probably dates from the 1840s-50s. Not quite so much fun, but let’s go with that.


Tandleman has also provided this relic from c.2000 which might or might not mean we need to rewrite our history of hazy beer in the UK:


At Beervana, Jeff Alworth offers reflections on the interpretation of beer history, tackling what has become a thorny topic: does Belgian Lambic beer have a long history, or is it a recent marketing gimmick? Jeff respectfully disagrees with some recent scholarship on the subject:

Raf Meert has devoted a website to revisiting the history of lambic, and has discovered some interesting material. Much of it is quite helpful. After what looks like a fairly comprehensive search, for example, he can find no reference to the word “lambic” before the early 19th century. Interesting! But many of the conclusions he draws seem unsupported by the data… He has helped refine my understanding of some of the history, particularly the development of the various lambic products after the 19th century. But some of his arguments seem faulty to me, and since I know his work has influenced people who care about these things, I’d like to point out where I think he erred.


Oatmeal Stout label

A nameless archivist at Wandsworth Heritage Service has put together an interesting piece on Young & Co branding over the decades illustrated with some lovely historic labels.


And finally, from Twitter, there’s this:

For more good reading, check out Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up.

2 thoughts on “News, nuggets and longreads 18 April 2020: Liverpool, Collyhurst, Heywood”

  1. That Marble flyer brings back some memories! (File under “things I would have mentioned years ago if I’d thought they’d be of interest to beer historians…”)

    For various reasons I’d date it a bit after 2000 – apart from anything else I remember the Marble Beerhouse switching to the ‘cloudy’ range after I’d been going there for some time[1]. People who were actually involved can give you a better idea, but my recollection was that Marble (having been brewing for a while[1]) decided to go vegan, couldn’t source a vegan replacement for fish finings & so decided to do without and make a virtue of necessity – and that a vegan substitute for ‘fish guts’ came on the market a year or so after, obviating the need to switch to haze. (If I’m right about that, it would give you a terminus ante quem.)

    Both Cloudy Marble and Uncut Amber were considerably darker & more malty than the kind of thing James and Dom would specialise in, a few years down the line (and indeed just about every draught beer Marble have produced since); I liked ’em, but then I like brown bitter – indeed, back then I only liked brown bitter. I remember thinking you could taste the haze, but I’ve no idea if that was true – I’d never had a fined version of the same beer, after all.

    And it was a couple of years after that that Marble brought out McKenna’s Revenge, and everything changed…[2]

    [1] I can be less precise.
    [2] Actually nothing changed at all, I just wanted to squeeze in a plug for McKenna’s Revenge – still the best draught porter I’ve ever drunk.

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