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News, nuggets and longreads 25 July 2020: beer duty, Babbity Bowster, brettanomyces

Here’s all the reading about pubs and beer that caught our attention in the past week, from heavy duty politics to pubs in 3D.

First, more on the week’s big news: announced, but not quite final, changes to small brewers’ duty relief:

  1. A summary of the story for Good Beer Hunting by Jonny Garrett.
  2. Further impassioned commentary from Jim at Beers Manchester.

More news: in what feels like a sign o’ the times and a taste of things to come, Beer Ritz in Headingley, Leeds, is closing. (Though the online store is to continue trading.) It was one of the earliest specialist beer shops and played a key part in giving Leeds its thriving beer scene a decade or so ago.


Sign: "mild ales".

Something short but sweet from Ron Pattinson next: when exactly did the phrase ‘dark mild’ emerge?

In the first half of the 19th century there would have been no need for the term. Because Mild Ale was all relatively pale, being brewed from just pale base malt. Only when some Mild Ales began to darken – sometime at the end of the 19th century – would there be any need for it… [Google Books] turned up the first mention: in 1897.


A brain.

Jordan St. John has been thinking about beer social media, Marx and Baudrillard:

In a world where there are tens of thousands of breweries making hundreds of thousands of beers, the representation of any product through your social media presence becomes, of necessity, a matter of jockeying for position. Hundreds of thousands of ways to say “Look at what I have” and intimate that your status is higher than that of other people because they don’t have what you have. Social or cultural status always comes at the expense of someone else’s social or cultural status because at least in the community that values an individual signatory fetish item, there is an ever more minute and rigid hierarchical system in which objects jockey for position on the basis of people’s estimation. It’s why people ask, “what’s the best beer in the world?”


Babbity Bowster sign

The newest blogging micro-genre of the summer of 2020 is ‘I went back to the pub after several months’. Robbie Pickering has contributed a low key but evocative account of a pint of Landlord at Babbity Bowster in Glasgow:

Babbity Bowster dates from the mid-1980s when legendary publican Fraser Laurie took on the then-derelict eighteenth-century building and turned it into something quite new for Glasgow. Though decried at the time as a yuppie pub, it has developed into an institution with a formidable reputation… It seems much the same on entering, less regimented than some pubco establishments and I just have to fill in a slip of paper and put it in a plastic tub, then sanitise my hands. I choose to sit outside and my pint is brought out to me. I pay in cash because the machine isn’t working yet; I think this is the first time I have used cash since March.


Bruxellensis label.

For Beer & Brewing magazine, Joe Stange has written about the evolution of funky, wild, Brettanomyces powered Belgian beer, providing us with an updated shopping list:

Brettanomyces bruxellensis, after all, is named after Brussels. It also lends its name to a beer from that city called Bruxellensis, brewed by the Brasserie de la Senne. It’s a dry, bitter pale ale that gets some Brett for conditioning, developing pronounced notes of leather and pineapple… In an example of influence vectors that cross the Atlantic and come back again, Senne brewery’s Jester Zinne is a mixed-culture collaboration with Jester King, whose house blend of yeasts and bacteria comes to the forefront with age.

(It’s actually a couple of weeks old but we only spotted it this week.)


Finally, from Twitter, there’s this mesmerising video of a pub in 3D:

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

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