News, nuggets and longreads 26 September 2020: curfews, critical theory, conservatism

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that grabbed us in the past week, from curfews to critical theory.

First, the big news in the UK has been the rather sudden introduction of a 10 pm closing time for pubs, as part of a tightening of restrictions intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. There must be a belief that this will help but the scientists say it wasn’t their idea.

From where we’re sitting, it seems as if it’s not enough to make a difference and, at the same time, perhaps too much for pubs to bear.

And it might have been good to see the Chancellor announce additional support for pubs in his not-a-Budget speech on Thursday; as it is, an extension of the VAT cut, which doesn’t apply to booze, was about it.

Unfortunately, the latest data (PDF) does seem to indicate that eating out is a problem:

Since 10 August, people who test positive are also asked about places they have been and activities they have done in the days before becoming unwell; eating out was the most commonly reported activity in the 2-7 days prior to symptom onset.

Still, at least the contact tracing app that was due in May has finally arrived. It seems pretty slick, the privacy setup is sound and when we used it to check into The Drapers Arms last night, it worked like a dream.

A brain.

For Good Beer Hunting Lily Waite has generated a lot of excitement with a piece applying critical theory to beer. Now, frankly, we struggled to follow some of the arguments, but the sense of bewilderment was enjoyable in its own right. And it was certainly fun watching Beer Twitter enthuse about something, rather than grumbling. Anyway, here’s a taster:

Broadly, postmodernism is characterized by skepticism toward reason. It’s seen as a reaction to the thoughts and values of modernism, which was a late-19th-century and early-20th-century philosophical, intellectual, and artistic movement… Postmodernism manifests differently in different fields, but broadly, it’s a school of thought that wields irony, distrust, and even anarchy against the authoritative “truths” of modernism… And that’s where Lucky Charms IPA comes in.


Source: Pim Myten at Unsplash.

Proof that Lily’s piece is thought-provoking can be found in the fact that it provoked thoughts from Dave S at Brewing in a Bedsitter. He wonders if the Sarah Thornton’s concept of subcultural capital might apply to beer as well as clubbing:

This is inspired by the idea of cultural capital, which the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu introduced in the 70s to describe the accumulation of knowledge, cultural artifacts, behaviour and social contacts that can help “the right sort of chaps” to smooth their way through life, particularly in the public and professional spheres, even without needing to be particularly rich in cash. Thornton’s subcultural relocation of the idea refers to tangible and intangible stuff that makes a clubber “hip” – the clothes, the dance moves, the hairstyle, the collection of white-label vinyl, and the stock of stories about legendary clubs and raves they’ve been to and scene insiders that they’ve hung out with.


Source: Ruvani/Fuggled.

Veteran beer blogger Al Reece has decided to invite guest posts from beer writers whose voices need raising up. First up it’s Ruvani on her experience as a second-generation South Asian immigrant discovering the British beer scene in the 2000s:

Back in 2005 I liked beer, but was honestly a bit more of a wine gal. Walking into Earl’s Court that day, something began to change. That huge cavernous space, not a pretty events arena by anybody’s estimation, but so alive and buzzing with the hubbub of beer nerds poised over their programmes, clamouring at each of the endless progression of bars, full of questions, specifications, speaking – or so it felt – their own language. I was fascinated. I wanted to be on the inside, to learn how to navigate this enormous room full of more beer, more types of beer, more breweries than I could ever have imagined could exist in the geographical confines of Great Britain.

US magazine Craft Beer & Brewing magazine has polled its readers to find out how their buying habits have changed during the pandemic. It turns out they’ve become more conservative in their tastes.

Finally, from Twitter, there’s this sign of the times:

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

2 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 26 September 2020: curfews, critical theory, conservatism”

Thanks a lot for the link to the article about simulacra in post-modern society. Fascinating stuff, though I get the feeling that Philip K Dick got there about 60 years ago. (He actually wrote a book called The Simulacra, and a major theme of his work was “is reality real?”) Whatever, he’d have understood that “the iteration of copies has literally allowed people to can hard orange juice and sell it to us as high-end beer,” just as he anticipated “President” Trump. Several times I caught myself wondering whether the article itself was hyper-real, in the same way that NEIPA is seen to be, ie a simulacrum of a real philosophical paper on post-modernism. Now there’s a thought…

I’ve read The Simulacra, now I think of it. About 30 years ago. In fact, it’s still on the bookshelf – mine’s a very cool US Ace paperback from 1964.

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