Over the past week, we’ve bookmarked all the new writing on beer and pubs that struck us as especially interesting, from quiet pubs to treasure maps.
First, though, notes from the frontline. Dave Hayward, of the shop and bar A Hoppy Place in Windsor, has written about the challenges faced by the trade in this strange time when things are open, but not normal:
This August Bank Holiday just gone has helped us to finish off the summer school holiday period of trading. The great unlocking. The first 6 weeks “restriction free”, wherein everything would go “back to normal”. How do you feel that went for you? It was an interesting time, certainly. But was it the reopening that so many in hospitality hoped for? I think that for nearly everyone – this inbetweenland has been pretty underwhelming… I think we should be talking about what’s left of our pubs – and what we need to do to recover things. I think we should be talking about how hundreds of breweries are cutting their noses off to spite their face. I think we should be talking about the damaging shift in consumer habits and how we should absolutely not be encouraging them.
And here’s another point of data, from The Dodo Micropub in West London:
We suspect lots of people are trying to second guess when other people are going to be in the pub so they can pick ‘the quiet night’. Things have yet to settle, for quite understandable reasons.
At Hop Culture Hollie Stephens has profiled Anthony and Helena Adedipe’s Eko Brewery in London:
Eko Brewery derives its name from Eko, the original name of Lagos, the most populous city in Africa and Anthony’s family’s home. From the beginning, the pair both wanted the beers to reflect their heritage. Anthony is from West Africa. Helena is Congolese. “We wanted to incorporate that into what we do,” says Anthony. “There’s an element of risk in that because it hadn’t been done before. We were so keen to try it and [to] try and see if there was a market for African-inspired beer.” And now, thanks to Anthony and Helena’s tenacity, Eko Brewery is making huge waves in a sea of sameness… In homage to their African heritage, Anthony and Helena focus on brewing with classic African components. Traditionally brewed with ingredients such as maize, sorghum, and cassava (a starchy root vegetable, popular in Latin American, Caribbean, and African cuisines), African beer typically forgoes the hops. This means the beers are often sweet or sour. And they are sometimes fuller in form.
Eoghan Walsh’s epic tour through the history of Brussels beer continues with entry number 8 on the statue of Karel van Lotharingen in the Grand Place:
At 7pm on August 13, 1695, the skies above Brussels commenced to rain fire down on the city. French king Louis XIV, frustrated with the progress of his Nine Years’ War, determined to make an example of Brussels. For three days the Sun King’s troops pummelled the city with a barrage of cannonballs and firebombs, stopping only once, briefly, to reload. To keep their aim true they used the ornate spires of Brussels’ Town Hall, on the Grand Place, as their target… The buildings around the Town Hall were obliterated, including the one that used to stand at number 10: the Maison de l’Arbre d’Or (“House of the Golden Tree”), known locally as the Brauwershuys and home to Brussels’ brewers’ guild.
There’s been a lot of chat about beer styles in the past week or so – this being one of those topics that comes up on the beer blogging randomiser every couple of years. This time round, among familiar arguments, there are some new angles and interesting nuggets:
- Jeff Alworth – “scratch the surface even a little bit, and you fall into an epistemological void”.
- Also Jeff Alworth – “Michael Jackson sharpened the edges of styles so they seemed more scientific and less impressionistic”.
- Gary Gillman – “marketing efforts or mixing of beer styles can sometimes lead to outlier results”.
- Ron Pattinson – “I don’t accept them… What is my system of classification?… by time”.
- Also Ron Pattinson – definitive specifications for IPA, e.g. “OG 1001-1200º, piss weak to falling over”.
Franz D. Hofer has shared detailed notes on Augsburg and its beer at Tempest in a Tankard. We visited Augsburg in 2007 and this post, as is often the case with Franz’s writing, makes us want to go back:
No one knows how Die Drei Königinnen (The Three Queens) got its name, not even the owner. But the patrons who flock to this lively Wirtshaus don’t seem much bothered by these arcane details of local history, devoting their attention instead to the beer and satisfying food on offer at this chic tavern… Located in a quiet neighbourhood just beyond the southern edge of the Fuggerei, Die Drei Königinnen also conceals a secluded treasure of a beer garden in its courtyard. You’ll feel like you’ve been let in on a secret as you drink in the autumn sunshine shimmering through the leaves of the majestic trees rising up over this small oasis of calm. Near the back of the garden is a covered seating area held aloft by slender iron columns. This was once an outdoor bowling alley, a historical remnant that stands as a testament to nineteenth- and early twentieth-century leisure pursuits.
Pub ticker Martin Taylor is one of the most consistent bloggers in the game and we often find ourselves referring to his back catalogue when we want to know what a pub in a strange town is really like. Now, he’s started to put together a map so you can more easily find what he’s written about particular places.
Finally, from Twitter, notes from the holiday we wish we’d had…