After a couple of weeks off, partly because beer writing and blogging also went into hibernation, we’re back with our first round-up of 2021.
Once again, things are bleak. As various wags have pointed out, the only pubs you can now sit in for a drink are on Scilly and UK COVID-19 case numbers look scarier than ever. Still, at least vaccines are beginning to roll out – though even that has somehow become fraught and and confusing.
Still, beer continues to exist, and pubs continue to fascinate, and writing about them rolls on.
At Brussels Beer City, with the help of his wife, Eoghan Walsh provides notes on whether there is such a thing as traditional Bruxellois Christmas food and, if so, which of the city’s beers might best pair with what:
Irish Christmas traditions are pretty standard when it comes to food, and are what you might expect from the archipelago of English-speaking islands in the northwestern corner of Europe: mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, turkey, stuffing, ham, various iterations of potatoes (mashed, roasted, parsley), gravy. In asking around what constituted a Brussels Christmas, it became clear that no such culinary canon existed. For some people, game – rabbit often, sometimes small birds – featured highly, while for others it was all about salmon. Noting Brussels’ long history of migrant communities, people suggested dishes with Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, and French influences…
Suzy Aldridge has launched a new blog, Hobbyist Lobbyist, with a bit less beer than the old one but still plenty of room for, say, reflections on the magic of bar stools:
There’s just enough space on the curved end of the bar for your pint, your book, and a pot of olives. There’s four more seats at the bar but you’re just out the way enough that no-one needs to lean over you to order. You occasionally duck so they can read the blackboard behind you but you don’t mind, in fact you can recommend the stout – gesturing at your tankard. The bar staff are charming, the ebb and flow of customers sharing the bar with you is friendly and comfortable. You are at peace.
For Burum Collective, Helen Anne Smith has interviewed Alice Batham, an early-career brewer with a name famous among beer geeks:
“My family own a brewery, so I have actually grown up in the industry. When I was younger, I used to go to the brewery with my Dad, it was only ever like a Saturday, or Sunday kind of thing. I was never pressured into going into beer. I went to University to do English and – it sounds like super cliche whenever I say this to people, but I went and lived in Australia for a bit. Their bar and pub scene is just so different and I realised how much I loved it and missed it.”
In his ongoing research into porter and stout (there’s a big book on the way) Martyn Cornell continues to find new stories to tell. This week, he shone a light on the historic popularity of porter among working-class Jamaicans:
Draught porter was sold from draught porter shops, in existence in Kingston, Jamaica from at least the Edwardian era; from casks in refreshment parlors that also sold fried fish and bread; and also by travelling salesmen, who would call out “Draaf porter!” as they travelled on foot around rural villages in the Jamaican interior, carrying a large tin container with a spout, and cans in quart, pint, half-pint and gill (quarter-pint, pronounced “jill”) sizes, for serving… Draught porter, often referred to as “drought porter,” was brewed by Jamaica’s many soda water and soft drinks manufacturers using “wet sugar,” a type of molasses made by the hundreds of small cane-sugar farmers in the Jamaican countryside and sold in tins. Draught porter retailed for an exceedingly cheap 1½ pence a glass, and was the drink of Jamaica’s poorest classes.
Liam at Beer, Food, Travel has unearthed a fun little thing – a rundown of the correct names for drinks taken at various times of day, from 1892. At the time of writing, we ought to have put away our eye openers (6am), be working on our appetizers (7am) and looking forward to digesters at 8am. (Ugh.)
After a slow start, a decent number of Golden Pints posts did appear in the end. If we’ve missed yours, give us a shout.
- The Beer Nut
- Ben Palmer/Hop & Schwein
- Dave S/Brewing in a Bedsitter
- Ed Wray/Ed’s Beer Site
- Jim Rangeley/Mashtun and Meow
- Paul Bailey (no relation)
- Robbie Pickering/Refreshing Beer
- Roy/Quare Swally
- @T_i_B on Twitter
Common themes? “What a year it’s been!” and plaudit for Lars Marius Garshol’s excellent book.
Finally, from Twitter, there’s this, which you’ll either get, or you won’t:
02:25 01/01/2021, Manchester pic.twitter.com/VtDLnTZemv
— Joel Goodman (@pixel8foto) January 1, 2021
For more good reading, check out Alan McLeod’s round-ups from Thursday – from the past three Thursdays, in fact.