After a refreshing (ha!) Christmas break (sigh) here’s our first round up of 2022, with Golden Pints, crop circles and the Band of Hope.
First, though, a note on blogging. If this is the year you finally start writing about beer, or you’re planning to revive a dormant blog, do let us know. In the meantime, here are our tips on how to go about it:
If you are in search of an audience — and be honest with yourself here — then you need to find an angle that sets you apart from all the other straight-up beer and pub review blogs. It might seem boring to you, but your town and local breweries are probably mysterious and interesting to everyone else… There is also room to stand out stylistically… blog because you want to blog.
The editors of JSTOR Daily have started the year by presenting a collection of images of lantern slides from the British temperance movement, from the Livesey Collection:
Stick or carrot? The early British Band of Hope temperance campaign against alcohol consumption used both tactics in their messaging to children. “Where there’s drink there’s danger.” says one lantern slide. “Abstain and be fit!” says another. They’re clever, funny, and uh, persuasive (e.g., “Which do you prefer? This Meal—or two bottles of Bass.”)
At the Urban Prehistorian Kenny Brophy writes about The Barge Inn, Honeystreet, Wiltshire, and its connections with Stonehenge and crop circles:
The walls here are adorned with a wonderful mural that showcases the very best of the local Neolithic archaeology along with some crop circles and other weird and wonderful things that occupy the spaces between archaeology and arcane-ology… The mural is the work of artist Vince Palmer, the ghost of urban prehistory tells you as he puts another pint on the table you appear now to be sitting at. The beermat, you notice just before it is eclipsed by the glass, is a Scarfolk Brexit pastiche, ‘Britannia’s Folly’. The mural is sometimes known as the ‘sistine chapel of crop circles’. It was painted in 1997 ‘on the day Princess Diana died’ went on your ghostly drinking partner, quoting from the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald newspaper. The walls are adorned with crop circle imagery and artworks showing Stonehenge and Avebury, and crop circle enthusiasts used to meet here to compare notes and new discoveries.
Ed Wray has reviewed Amazon’s Beer Masters – the Great British Bake Off for beer, basically – and said most of what we wanted to say ourselves:
Beer Twitter did get a bit twitchy about it, but as a home brewer turned master brewer I could see things from the amateur and professional side and thought it was all good fun. There did seem to be a marked difference in the ability of the home brewing pairs, with some making pretty fundamental errors. And the gap between hobby and commercial brewing was also evident at times: with my professional head on I wouldn’t have brew a Bretted sour beer if asked to make an accessible session beer… The involvement of Global brewing giant ABInBev also loomed over the programme… Mostly it doesn’t jar, but there was one particularly clunky moment when James Blunt parrots propaganda about Stella Artois originating as a “gift to the people of Leuven”.
On video, via @beerfoodtravel, there’s an excellent piece of archive film that we would have found really useful c.2013 when we were writing Brew Britannia. It’s from 1982 and tells the story of the rise of real ale in Belfast, including footage of Hilden Ale in operation. There are interviews with brewery founder Anne Scullion, who we never managed to track down, and Brendan Dobbin, one of the most fascinating characters in brewing.
Believe it or not, the old tradition of Golden Pints awards continues. Here are all the entries we could find covering 2021:
- Roy at Quare Swally – “NI NEW BEER OF THE YEAR: LACADA – Herring Pond”
- Ed at Ed’s Beer Blog – “Best UK cask beer… Thurston’s No-Ale”
- Robbie at Refreshing Beer – “Best pint: ALL NATIONS HOME BREW”
- Alan at A Good Beer Blog – “Favourite Old Beery Friend: Peculiar Strong Ale by Granite Brewing”
- Joan at Birraire – “Best beer: Or i Plata – La Petita Creu Alta”
- Al at Fuggled – “The winner then is Loonar Eclipse from Utepils Brewing”
- Jim at Beers Manchester – “Beer of the Year (Draught) : Black IPA (Black Jack Beers)”
- Ben at Ben Viveur – “My favourite new cask beer in 2021 was the Thornbridge/Bundobust collaboration Impromptu Ladder Convention”
- The Beer Nut – “Best Overall Beer: Western Herd Flora & Fauna”
Alternative perspectives are available:
Finally, from Twitter, via @totalcurtis…