News, nuggets and longreads 16 October 2021: pressure from below

Every Saturday morning, give or take, we sit down and put together a list of the week’s most important, entertaining or interesting beer writing. This week, we’ve got… not much, actually, because one story took up all the air in the room.

Without doubt the story that dominated the week was a tussle over the attendance of breweries at a festival organised by Danish brewing company Mikkeller.

In this case, we can understand if some brewers missed the Mikkeller story first time round – we’d forgotten it, actually, among the flood of similar news from the past year – but the response was where it really went wrong for them.

The lesson for breweries is probably something like this: if you want to be considered ‘the goodies’, whether because it’s part of your brand or completely sincere, double down on due diligence.

If you’re alerted to the fact you’ve entered into a relationship with an organisation that has unresolved issues around bullying or harassment, be ready to either (a) change course decisively and apologise without qualification or (b) take the hit to your reputation.

As a consumer, you might be thinking, bloody hell, how am I supposed to know which beer to buy or not? Honestly, we don’t really think this should keep most ordinary consumers awake at night but if you do want to make an effort…

Elland 1872 porter pump-clip.

We enjoyed Anthony Gladman’s piece for Good Beer Hunting on the past and present of porter, not least because of its science fiction opening:

Imagine you’re standing in the middle of London’s West End. By Centre Point (the 34-story, 1960s Brutalist tower block), facing northeast towards the Dominion Theatre, to be precise… Now imagine you have on your wrist a special watch. Around its face it has a knurled bezel. Turning this adds or subtracts from the date displayed on its face, one soft, haptic click for each day ticked off. Dial the date back to October 16, 1814 and press the button… You find yourself standing in the infamous St Giles “rookery” – a Dickensian slum. It is home to the dispossessed and the desperate. Many are poor Irish immigrants. It is crowded, dirty, and dangerous. Above the reek of juniper and turpentine leaking from the nearby gin shops, there’s a strong smell of beer in the air. Much of the area due west, back towards what was, or will be, the Dominion Theatre, is taken up by Henry Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery. The locals are starting to look at you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, so you flip the dial forward one day and hit the button once more… A roaring wall of liquid 15 feet high sweeps you from your feet and dashes you against people, against doorways, against debris borne along by its force.

This is an interesting side note, too:

An American M1 helmet.

In a special edition of The Ruffian, his Substack newsletter, New Statesman columnist Ian Leslie provides detailed notes on ‘the Battle of Bamber Bridge’, a little-known incident from World War II:

On a warm midsummer evening [in June 1942] two Military Policemen (MPs) – American officers tasked with ensuring discipline among the troops – drove by one of Bamber Bridge’s pubs, the Hob Inn, on the village’s main road. Roy Windsor and Ralph Ridgeway were based in nearby Preston, but that night, as they passed the Hob, they noticed what they took to be a disturbance and stopped. It’s hard to say what caught their attention but among the mixed crowd of black GIs, British soldiers, and local civilians at the Hob there seems to have been boisterous resistance to the call for last orders. The Americans were unaccustomed to being refused beer after 10pm… Whether what took place constituted disorder or not, Windsor and Ridgeway were determined to treat it as such. After parking the jeep and getting out, Windsor confronted some of the black GIs drinking outside the pub, while Ridgeway went inside. There, he surveyed a scene that must have enraged him. Not only were the black soldiers enjoying themselves, but they were mingling freely with white men and women, an eventuality that the American military had gone to great lengths to prevent.

We touched upon the Battle of Bamber Bridge ourselves in 20th Century Pub, in the chapter about the English pub during World War II, but this piece goes much deeper.

Bog myrtle.

We find ourselves enjoying the content at Craft Beer & Brewing quite a bit these days. It’s old-fashioned, low-key writing about beer, brewing and beer styles which invariably tells us something we didn’t know. This week, it was Joe Stange’s piece on the use of bog myrtle in beer that caught our attention:

A less conventional outfit that likes brewing with bog myrtle is Antidoot Wilde Fermenten, a brewery/winery/cidery based in Kortenaken, Flemish Brabant, about 60 miles east of Brussels. Brothers Tom and Wim Jacobs are specialists in wild fermentations using indigenous yeast and bacteria—and often indigenous ingredients, such as bog myrtle… “We tried it a few times in homebrew experiments,” says Tom Jacobs, “and we were at first surprised that it was more antibacterial than the other herbs we were using. In those experiments, we were not using any hops at all, trying to find out about the possibilities of herb-forward beers, like in the old times. At the same time, we were intrigued by its distinct aromatic profile.”

Finally, from Twitter, a final word on breweries grumbling about being ‘cancelled’:

For more good reading check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday and Stan Hieronymus’s Monday notes – “But let’s face it. Beer blogs are dead. That is why you are not reading this.”

3 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 16 October 2021: pressure from below”

“And if you’re worried about being wrongly or maliciously accused of being racist or sexist, have you considered… well, I don’t know, but I’m sure there must be something.”

I mean, I’m sure there are lots of racist and sexist brewers out there to be called out, but let’s not assume that everyone who objects is necessarily doing so in bad faith.

That’s where it pays to have clear policies in place, to be seen to be doing the right things and to actively support campaigns to make things better. FWIW, this is why we suggest people make up their own minds based on the available evidence. We’re not boycotters by nature, except in the most cut-and-dried cases, and haven’t, for example, stopped drinking beer from Moor – but we can understand why others might. Here’s what we wrote back in May.

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