News, nuggets and longreads 5 December 2020: Bristol, Bamberg, bogeymen

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from orange blossom to smoked malt.

First, we want to highlight a piece we intended to include last week but each assumed the other had bookmarked. That is, Eoghan Walsh’s account of the creation of Le Marlouf Moroccan Tripel:

Yassine Kouysse came to beer – and to brewing – late in life. Arriving in Belgium as a 19 year-old university student in 1998, Kouysse admits he was a reluctant convert to Belgian beer. He’d left Morocco before having had much time to explore what beers were on offer but in any case the Moroccan beer scene was “not an amazing experience,” Kouysse says. It was dominated by century-old Brasserie du Maroc, with its flagship Flag Spéciale Pale Lager, and post-colonial hangovers like Kronenbourg 1664. Despite working in bars to pay his way through school, it took 12 years and a revelatory glass of glass of Duvel before his eyes were opened to the possibilities of Belgian beer culture.

Harlestone Arms.

The Harlestone Arms. SOURCE: Courage/Pete Insole.

Bristol historian and heritage educator Pete Insole has provided a virtual crawl of the city’s lost pubs, with fantastically high-resolution photos and a very whizzy map:

Given that we cannot currently get out to the pub, this is a virtual pub crawl around some of the lost pubs of Bristol… At one point, each of these pubs were part of the Georges’ Brewery empire, but since the 1960s one by one each of them have closed, been knocked down or converted into housing or supermarkets… There was a time when there was literally a pub on every street corner and several in every neighbourhood. Each of the images on this tour come from the Courage Brewery archive of images.

Pils label

It had never occurred to us to ask “Whatever happened to Pils?” until Robbie Pickering, AKA Barm, AKA @robsterowski, answered that very question this week:

Isn’t Pils, or a bastardised descendant of it, the most popular beer style in the world?… Perhaps. But the term was understood much more narrowly in 1980s Britain by most beer drinkers. It wasn’t a hoppy golden lager modelled on the intensely bitter beer pioneered by Josef Groll at Pilsner Urquell. Nor was it the rather lighter version of it popularised by Dutch and Belgian brewers… For a generation, drinkers believed that a Pils was a strong bottled lager with gothic type on the label.

The beer that immediately sprang to our minds was Sam Smith’s take, available in their pubs until about 15 years ago – D-Pils, was it called? Or are we misremembering?

Clement Ogbonnaya

SOURCE: Tida Bradshaw/Pellicle.

For Pellicle Tutku Barbaros writes about a South London pub for South Londoners:

The thing about Clement [Ogbonnaya] is that we all trust him – he doesn’t need to specify he’s a Nigerian-born long time local resident to justify the pub’s slogan: “a pub for South London by South London.”… He politely refers to “a gap” in who was being represented and welcomed, noting “people that look like me and identify with me felt the same… Pubs are the cornerstone of British society, and I’m British, you know? I want to walk into a space and feel welcomed, not like awild west saloon where the music stops as I enter,” he says.

There are a couple of new beer media projects you might want to add to your bookmarks:

  • Time at the Bar is a podcast dedicated to beer history, produced by Marianne and Florean Hodgkinson. Their introductory blog post explains more.
  • The Female Gueuze is Sarah Sinclair’s new website/blog designed to “champion diverse personalities within the beer industry and to empower others to join”.

Schlenkerla Cap

Jeff Alworth has been profiling landmark beers over the course of the past few months and this week reachers Bamberg, where he paints a picture of a brewery that is at pains to remain unique:

Matthias [Trum] earned an economics degree at the university in Bamberg and then studied brewing at Weihenstephan, where he had a focus on brewing history as well as the craft of beer making. At Weihenstephan, “they don’t teach you anything about smoking [malt],” he explained… No one may have studied the process at a highly technical level outside the walls of Schenkerla, but the family has perfected the process over the century and a half of kilning over fire. “We often get questions from American craft brewers and American homebrewers—how do you do this, and how do you do that? And we always have to decline and say, ‘sorry, that’s a family secret that we have been working on for centuries.’”

A snug bar.

SOURCE: Finn Richards/It’s Nice That

Finn Richards has been taking gloriously warm, minimalistic photos of the snug bars in Irish pubs, which are now available as a calendar for 2021. Design website Its Nice That has some highlights.

Finally, from Twitter, there’s this reminder of a childhood favourite:

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

2 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 5 December 2020: Bristol, Bamberg, bogeymen”

You are probably right about Sam Smith’s – it just wasn’t one that occurred to me because I’ve never drunk very much in their pubs, certainly not during the heyday of Pils. A quick search suggests that they sold Ayinger D-Pils while their licensing agreement with Ayingerbräu lasted.

Holsten Diat Pils was pretty much ubiquitous, and generally what I would go for in a keg-only pub if there wasn’t any bottled Guinness. Aside from the Holsten, I remember the Lowenbrau version, and indeed it took a trip to Munich for me to realise this wasn’t really what Lowenbrau – or indeed German beer – was all about.

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