Links for 23 January 2021: being Asian, Baltic porter, brahäuser

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that we deemed bookmarkable in the past week, from personal observations to policy suggestions.

Ruvani de Silva, AKA @amethyst_heels, has spoken to a group of south Asian women who love beer, comparing notes on their experience of navigating this predominantly male, predominantly white world:

“Don’t even get me started on beer and yoga events,” says beer blogger Sonia B, and I laugh out loud. The cultural-religious incompatibility of yoga with beer (or any form of alcohol) is so rarely acknowledged that I forget about it sometimes. I enjoy the shivering spark of recognition I feel in Sonia’s comment… It’s not often that I get to have conversations like this—there aren’t many other South Asian women in the beer world. Although there are some 5.4 million South Asians in the U.S. (and close to 2 million in Canada), we are noticeably absent within the ranks of a sector that made $29.3 billion in 2019 (the last year of data available).

Detail from lager ad, 1961: "You're watching a trend grow."

For the Guardian, Tony Naylor asks a good question – how exactly do food and drink trends happen? Why do people get obsessed with sriracha or avocados or pastry stouts?

Such renewal is human nature, says Daniel Woolfson, food and drink editor at trade magazine The Grocer. “People are faddy. When Instagrammable stuff gets old, they instinctively look for the next thing… The industry is obsessed with disruption,” says Woolfson. That is, creating a new sub-group in a food or drink category or transforming how an item is perceived and sold. Fever-Tree is the classic example. It pioneered an unforeseen market for “posh tonic” and even now when, like kombucha, cupcakes, Brewdog or smashed-patty burgers, it is long past peak cool, it retains an aura of quality and sophistication that bolsters sales. 

"Traditional Country Ales" window livery.

Ian ‘The Wicking Man’ Thurman, Bass-lover extraordinaire, has written a heartfelt piece about how the Government might support the pub sector in practice:

Pubs need to see a way forward. I recognise that fixed dates for the reopening of pubs aren’t possible at this time. That doesn’t mean that pubs and their customers can’t be given hope and the opportunity to plan… It’s time to set some targets. Government needs to decide the level of 7 day rates for positive cases, hospital admissions and population vaccinated per head of population that need to be achieved by local area before pubs can open. Opening targets would offer an incentive to pub-goers and the opportunity for brewers, pubs and ancillary suppliers the chance to plan for their businesses… Offer the pub sector a carrot and then, in my view, most publicans would accept the need for strict COVID-ready compliance. If that includes the government telling people to use local pubs rather than travel, so be it.

An aeroplane

Tandleman insists he is not being sentimental when he asks “Where is the Tandle Hill Tavern?” but there’s an obvious element of yearning into this piece inspired by an aerial photo of his local pub:

So what are we looking at?  This is the open farmland between part of Middleton on the left side and on the right-hand side of the photo, the lane,  continuing into Royton. The right-hand part of the photo, where it ends, is, more or less,  the boundary between the two boroughs mentioned in the first paragraph above.  If you look at the left of the photo, in front of the farm with the wind turbines, you’ll see Thornham Lane. Follow this right with your eye to the clump of buildings in the middle and the reddish looking building – it isn’t red – with an  apparently white roof – it isn’t white –  is the Tandle Hill Tavern.  To save you the counting, there are four farms in the photo, so to say that it “nestles” amongst them, is pretty accurate I think you’ll agree.

SOURCE: Robbie Pickering/Refreshing Beer

Robbie Pickering, AKA Barm, AKA @robsterowski, has finally got round to writing up a 2019 trip to Zoigl country and the village of Neuhaus:

The unique feature of Zoigl culture is a beer which is made in a shared, communal village brewery. When the wort has been made in the Kommunbrauhaus, the brewers take it home and ferment and mature it in their own basements and garages… The Oberpfalz alone once had 75 towns and villages with a communal brewhouse. Now the culture survives in just a few villages: Neuhaus, Windischeschenbach, Falkenberg, Mitterteich, Eslarn… Once the beer is ready, each brewer sells it to the public in their Zoiglstube (Zoigl parlour). Originally it would just be served in the kitchen or the front room, whatever space the brewer had. Despite the cheap price the beer sells for, brewing Zoigl seems lucrative enough that many of the householders these days have dedicated extensions built with Zoigl money. These are pubs in all but name, yet the community feeling continues.

Baltic porter beer bottle cap: Pardubicky Porter.

Belligerent myth-busting is a great format for Martyn Cornell. This week, responding to ‘Baltic Porter Day’ (who knew?) he’s turned his guns in that direction:

Baltic Porter, if you want to be historically accurate, should NOT be as strong as an Imperial Russian Stout. Baltic porter has its roots in the early 19th century, when Polish drinkers could not get hold of the strong porters imported from England that they had grown to love: but these were what would have been called a “double brown stout” in Britain, around 7 or 8 per cent alcohol by volume, heavy but rather weaker than the “imperial” stouts popular at the Russian court: a Polish publication from 1867 compares the strength of “piwo podwójne,” double beer, such as “porter angielski” to “Salvator or Bockbier from Munich,” which was an 8 per cent abv beer.

Finally, from Twitter, there’s this:

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