News, nuggets and longreads 9 October 2021: of data and donkeys

Here’s all the booze and pub writing that grabbed us in the past week, from hop substitutes to Pubtober.

The news that BrewDog’s mobile app left the personal data of more than 200,000 ‘Equity for Punks’ open to exploitation isn’t all that interesting to us in its own right. What is interesting is the sense that it’s yet another blow for a brewing company which is not, it seems fair to say, having a great year. ‘Move fast and break things’ doesn’t seem to be working. Which makes us wonder how long can it be before the founders think, sod this, and exit with their big comedy buy-out cheques.

Another bit of news: Brains is selling 99 pubs, including the famous City Arms in Cardiff. It had already entered into a partnership with Marston’s for the management of its pub estate. Again, not that interesting in its own right, perhaps, but indicative of the direction of travel for an old brewing company of a type which seems increasingly endangered.

Mark Johnson has emerged from a period of silence with an exasperated admonishment for those who bang on about how “you can’t get normal beer anywhere these days”:

Jarl is a good beer. Have I mentioned Jarl before? I like Jarl. I could see Jarl in every pub up and down the land and never tire of it. Am I repeating myself? I like Jarl… But still… I don’t actually want to drink Jarl all the time, despite previous suggestions. I like the variation and the choice. I like the current beer climate of irresistible opportunity… The idea that brewers could start pushing the idea of beer to the limit, in the ingredients used and the method undertaken to get there, was what drove the beer scene forward. Endless openings – the antithesis or even antidote to the rapidly declining pub scene.

For Craft Beer & Brewing Ryan Pachmayer provides an overview of the use of ‘liquid hop terpenes’ as an alternative to hops in brewing:

While many brewers are just trying to keep up with demand for their IPAs, Brandon Capps has had great success in using hop terpenes in some limited-release IPAs. The owner and founder of New Image Brewing, in the Denver suburb of Arvada, combines the terpenes with more conventional hops (in T-90 pellet form) to achieve the final flavor in several of his popular IPAs… “I’ve been using this as more of a finishing salt to date,” Capps says. He uses terpenes for up to 20 percent of the hop bill, focusing on the unique flavor contributions they bring to the base beer, in conjunction with conventional hops.

We’re not necessarily going to link to all of Eoghan Walsh’s ‘50 objects’ pieces but, frankly, this is one of the most interesting runs of beer writing we’ve encountered in a while. It’s going to be turn into a book, right? This week, he turned his attention to Schaarbeekse Kriek:

Schaarbeek is famous for two things: donkeys and cherries. The Brussels municipality, now largely residential, was once farmland. From the 12th century, donkeys (ezels in Dutch) were driven down the Ezelweg road, carrying produce for central Brussels’ food markets. The clacking of their hooves on cobblestone streets caused the people living there to shout “Daar zijn de ezels van Schaarbeek!” – “There go Schaarbeek’s donkeys!” Schaarbeek was the Ezelstad, Donkey Town, and its residents nicknamed ezels.

(Forget it, Jake – it’s Donkeytown.)

We’ve long said that the trick to maintaining or reviving a blog is to get a project. At Bring on the Beer Michael has declared this ‘Pubtober’ and is writing about a new pub each day, such as The Old Arcade in Cardiff:

The Old Arcade is a monument to the game with the odd-shaped ball. It is a celebration in pub form of rugby’s players and of the nations and clubs that have played it over the past 150 years. Every great day in Welsh rugby can be found here somewhere, and some of its darker ones too.

This is proper, old skool blogging which adds to the sum of human knowledge. We’ll certainly be checking these posts out next time we go exploring in Newport, Cardiff and around.

Mining historical sources, as ever, Gary Gillman highlights an interesting nugget: did brewery workers in Burton drink sour beer on the job?

Finally, from Twitter, a plug for this book, which we’re in, and have finally seen in the, er, pulp:

You can read more about it in the Guardian.

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

2 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 9 October 2021: of data and donkeys”

It’s on the cover but the design is so hip you can’t read it. ‘Public House: a cultural and social history of the London pub’. Check the Guardian link below for more info.

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