News, nuggets and longreads 12 February 2022: Dark City

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that we found especially enjoyable or informative in the past week, from Munich Dunkel to dark mild.

There doesn’t seem to be a single defining news story this week but there’s certainly been a drip-drip-drip of stuff about rising beer prices, tying into more general anxiety about increases in the cost of living in the UK. At the same time, analysis of Government stats suggests the brewing industry is still struggling in the aftershocks of the pandemic, per Beer Today:

Despite an improvement on 2020, pub beer sales were still down 38% last year against pre-pandemic levels… The on-trade lost £5.7 billion of revenue from beer sales alone in 2021 — equivalent to 1.4 billion pints. Pubs accounted for 1.1 billion of lost pints, or £4.5 billion in revenue… BBPA analysis of HMRC tax receipts confirms a significant shift in consumer consumption patterns. Between March 2020 and October 2021, beer receipts dropped 11%, while receipts for wine and spirits rose 8% and 13% respectively.

The Newport cherub.

We’re always nagging our fellow bloggers to put together local pub guides because (a) they’re really useful and (b) generally less irritating than listicles from national publishers that otherwise clog up Google results. Michael at Bring on the Beer has put together a really helpful guide to the pubs of Newport, Wales, which pulls together opinions he’s expressed in individual blog posts and across Twitter over the past couple of years. The entry for Tiny Rebel is interesting, though:

Don’t go there. Seriously. I only included them on this list because folk would ask where they were if I didn’t. The company is trash and I’m ashamed that they, de facto, represent Newport in the craft beer world. One for tickers, completionists and masochists only.

SOURCE: Through Vienna with a Camera, Martin Gerlach, 1900.

At Fuggled, Al Reece continues his exploration of Austrian newspaper archives and tells us something that should have been obvious, but wasn’t – not to us, at least. The Austro-Hungarian Empire wasn’t only about Austrians in Prague but also Czechs in Vienna:

Česká Vídeň translates as ‘Czech Vienna’ and obviously thus served the sizable Czech community in the capital of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire. Another fun fact, Vienna was home to the second largest Czech community in the world in the early 20th century, the largest being Prague. Estimates range from 10-30% of the Viennese population in 1900 being Czech, and even today it is not uncommon for Austrians to have distinctly Czech family names… At Restaurace Fr. Němečka… Mr Němeček naturally sold ‘delicious export lager’ from Plzeň, but not from Pilsner Urquell, rather from the Kladrubský Pivovar which was based in a one time Benedictine monastery.

Medieval beer brewing.
SOURCE: Wellcome Collection.

Dr Christina Wade has being doing more historic brewing and at Braciatrix reports on the process of making medieval English small ale for later use as the base for a braggot:

I used [a] recipe that Tofi Kerthjalfadsson designed and made in 1998… primarily based on Judith Bennett’s research into brewing women in the medieval and early modern periods in her book, Ale, Beer and Brewsters in England: Women’s Work in a Changing World 1300-1600; more specifically from data she found for the household of Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady of Clare… Kerthjalfadsson said his tasted like liquid bread. My ale was definitely bready. But like bread crust, rich and deep flavours with small hints of malty sweetness; essentially like big, crusty French baguette, which is kind of exactly what you would expect from a combination of Vienna and Munich like I chose.


At Daft Eejit Andreas Krennmair digs deep into a recipe for a Bavarian Dunkel from 1968, breaking down everything from the surprise inclusion of Pilsner malt to calculations of hop acidity:

Whenever somebody asks me how I would brew a Bavarian Dunkel, I have to respond that I never actually brewed one on my own. Instead, I rather point to an authentic modern-ish recipe from a Bavarian brewery from the 1960s… A few years ago, Urban Chestnut Brewery from St. Louis, MO posted a sheet from 1967 brewing records of Brauerei Erharting in Bavaria. Their brewmaster, Florian Kuplent, had originally apprenticed there, and most likely got his hands on these records that way… The recipe is interesting because there are a lot of assumptions baked into it that you’d only know if you had an idea about Bavarian brewing.

Chips and mayonnaise

This one isn’t directly about beer, but it’s certainly beer adjacent: Breandán Kearney has written a long, thoughtful piece about Belgium’s particular attachment to mayonnaise:

Frituren in Dutch, or fritures in French are often found on main highways and in town squares and can be restaurants with table service, small kiosks with big reputations, or even converted vans parked up near a café. They sell “double-fried method” frietjes, or Belgian fries, often served in large cardboard cones, whilst the sauce most regularly accompanying them is mayonnaise… Belgians eat more fries per capita than any other nation and Belgium is the world’s biggest exporter of frozen fries. There are in the region of 4,500 frituren in Belgium, essentially a frietjes kiosk for every 2,500 people in the country – the highest number of frituurs per capita in Europe.

Finally, from Twitter, a bit of hashtag brand content that reflects the current trend for dark mild:

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

One reply on “News, nuggets and longreads 12 February 2022: Dark City”

Michael’s guide on Bring on the Beer is called CaskNewydd, which is a play on words of the welsh name for Newport, Gwent (Casnewydd), not to be confused with the other Newport in Wales (Trefdraeth) which is in Pembrokeshire!

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