News, nuggets and longreads 26 June 2021: Rhubarb and rainbows

Once again, here we are, rounding up all the most interesting news and commentary on pubs and beer from the past week, including thoughts on Pride, more on ancient Sumeria and a giant tankard.

First, a little update on The Rhubarb, our nearest pub, which is in danger of being turned into flats: there is now an organised campaign, centred around Facebook and the story has been covered by the Bristol Post and Bristol 24/7. Now, we promise not to go on about this too much – if you don’t live in Bristol, or Barton Hill in particular, why should you care especially? But it’s interesting to us to see a local campaign from the inside, having previously studied and written about them without that personal connection.

SOURCE: Brussels Beer City.

From Eoghan Walsh at Brussels Beer City comes an in-depth study of the brewery architecture of the Belgian capital (#secondmentions). It has lots of photos and a map, should you find yourself wanting something to do between drinks next time you’re there. Here’s what prompted him to write it:

In 1989 Belgian geographer Martine Louckx published Itinéraire de la Bière: 55km à travers Bruxelles et le Brabant flamand occidental. The book was a 55km tour through the ailing brewing landscape of Brussels and Flemish Brabant, stopping along the way at working breweries and the remains of breweries that had closed down. Louckx’s tour reveals the parlous state of an industry gutted by de-industrialisation and consolidation… The surviving buildings were enough material for her to be able to identify three broad types of Brussels brewery architecture: the rural brewery; the urban brewery; and the usine-îlot or “factory island” brewery. 


Dr Christina Wade continues her exploration of those Sumerian cuneiform tablets with a piece on the legal aspects of beer c.4000 years ago:

If an alewife
For the price of beer
Barley has not accepted,
but by the large stone
silver has accepted,
and the market price of beer
to the market price of barley has reduced,
against that alewife
they shall prove, and
into the water they shall cast her.


SOURCE: Miller/Flickr.

For Pellicle, Lily Waite explains what Pride means in the context of beer and why ‘rainbow washing’ AKA ‘pinkwashing’ is a problem:

American brewing giant Miller has a long history of gay marketing, starting in the 1970s with the sponsorship of the leather and BDSM oriented Folsom Street Fair. Budweiser and Coors have both marketed towards US queer communities since the ‘90s—though there’s little evidence of any UK equivalents… While, as the saying goes, “Pride is a protest, not a party,” rainbow capitalism is almost as old as Pride itself. Brands, including breweries such as Miller, Budweiser, and Coors, have been sponsoring pride for decades. Though this has increased in recent years, prompting criticism from much of the queer community. 


Here’s a headline for you: ELY PUB’S ‘QUIRKY’ TANKARD INVESTIGATED BY COUNCIL. Personally, we’re all for giant quirky tankards. More of this sort of thing!


Ed Wray provides a brief correction to the often-made claim that you can make beer by chucking grains in water and walking away:

It has occurred to me that if some sort of primitive beer is this easy to make then why don’t we see it naturally forming on a regular basis? If ancients could make beer by simply getting wild grains they’d picked wet then surely now grains are farmed on an industrial scale shouldn’t it be happening all the time? When barley fields are flattened after heavy storms shouldn’t there be reports of beer puddles forming? Or if a grain silo or lorry has a leaky roof shouldn’t spontaneous outbreaks of brewing happen? Come to think of it, if it was that bleedin’ easy, why don’t teenagers desperate to get hold of some alcohol mix wholemeal flour and water a few days before parties?

Finally, from Twitter…

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