News, nuggets and longreads 12 March 2022: Beer for all

This week’s round-up of writing about pubs and beer features a lot of thinking about cask ale, the price of a pint and access to good beer.

For her Taste Psychology newsletter Steph Shuttleworth has begun to explore attitudes and expectations around the price of a pint. Specifically, a pint of cask mild. And even more specifically, whether there might be different expectations of price around a possible new category of ‘craft cask mild’:

Breweries like Bathams – a family run business which is over 140 years old – based in the Black Country (near Birmingham) is still brewing and selling cask Mild (3.5% alcohol by volume) for around £2.60 a pint… 70 miles up the road in Macclesfield, is a more modern brewery called RedWillow. They’re serving up pints of a similar dark mild, Dark Mild (3.5% alcohol by volume), for £3.60… Left Handed Giant, a younger brewery still, sells their slightly stronger dark mild, Dark Mild (4% alcohol by volume) for £4.60 per pint, down in Bristol… When deciding to buy a beer – or anything else – we use two sets of cognitive references… External Reference Prices (ERPs), which come from the price displayed in the pub, or the number you work out by being ‘that person’ who keeps too close of an eye on what your round will cost… Next, and most relevant to our example of dark mild, are Internal Reference Prices (IRPs): the price you expect to pay based on previous purchases. IRPs can also be influenced by knowledge of beer prices in general and fancy pubs in particular – plus knowledge of how far into your overdraft the order is likely to push you.

Cask ale

Very much on a related note, it seems to us, is Tandleman’s latest report from an unnamed pub in the catchment area of the Rochdale, Oldham and Bury branch of CAMRA. There, cask is off the menu:

This is a pub that was first a beerhouse in 1860 and only became a fully fledged public house in May 1960.  I rather think that in all the time it has sold beer, it has been sold in either bottled form, or more likely,  as cask conditioned real ale.  Alas, no more.  A very amiable chat with the landlady revealed that she switched to keg on re-opening after Covid-19.  I expressed surprise and with a pained expression she explained, that put simply, over the years and exacerbated by Covid, most of the bitter drinkers had died off and not been replaced. This had resulted in her having to throw away rather a lot of beer. Over time, with no improvement, she realised that she simply couldn’t afford this, hence the move to the smooth version… Looking around me in this neat little street corner local, there were, perhaps, a half dozen people around the bar at 5.30 p.m.  All were drinking pints of lager.  I sympathised with her predicament, and she assured me it was a very reluctant step and maybe one day, things will change.

A man pours a beer into a glass.
Steve Dunkley. SOURCE: Laura Hadland/Pellicle.

Let’s keep the chain going. For Pellicle Laura Hadland has profiled Steve Dunkley of Beer Nouveau in Manchester, who has interesting ideas about barriers in beer:

After a nonchalant shrug, he gives me the “official tour”. Wooden barrels, fermenting vessels and shiny stainless steel kegs jostle for position. Every available surface is taken up with precarious towers of crates and boxes, all apparently occupying a designated spot in the carefully shepherded chaos… “Everything here is salvaged,” Steve says with his best faux-innocent grin. “I don’t like paying for things when I can get them for free. The table football is on a slant though.”… Steve tells me about the generous amount of energy he devotes to homebrewers and small businesses. He does it because he is determined to democratise access to beer… “Beer really should be for everybody,” he says. “The only thing that should be on a pedestal is the sink in the toilets. Not the beer. Not the brewer.”

SOURCE: La Taberna de Mou, Cuenca/Facebook.

For Eater Tamlin Magee looks into the strange phenomenon of bootleg Simpsons-themed bars across Latin America:

On the outskirts of Cuenca, Ecuador, bar hoppers might accidentally wander from the Andes right into Los Simpson. On one side of the road, Springfield is spelled out, Hollywood sign-style, above illustrations of Chief Wiggum arresting Bart, Kearney, and Dolph for vandalism. Across the way, the facade of Springfield Elementary School towers over two squat buildings (the full extent of this tiny DIY TV town): “Krosty Burger” and La Taberna de Mou. In the latter, fans are greeted at the bar by a life-size Moe Szyslak cutout, who extends the phone Bart often prank calls in the series. There’s a to-scale Love Tester machine, themed art covering the walls, and barrels of Duff beer, which is also available by can or on tap.

A Praha beer glass.

At Casket Beer Kevin Kain has treated us to another deep dive into beer glassware, this time focusing on the range of glasses most commonly used in the Czech Republic – and some new interlopers:

The Tübinger is a specific handled beer glass with dimples. Its origins go back to the late 1800s in Germany, but it’s a rarity there and it is much more common in the Czech Republic these days… It’s important to note that this mug is not the same as the British dimple mug and its modern replicas. There’s no need to be snobby about it. It’s just worth knowing that they’re different mugs from different cultures… Dva Kohouti solely uses the dimple mug that is closer in design to the traditional British dimple mug. In a 2018 Instagram post, the brewery recognizes the mug is in the English style, but notes they find it ideal to serve their variety of beer styles.

(We’d be gutted if we went to the Czech Republic and got served beer in an English-style dimple mug.)

A post-war mural in Huddersfield.

Mark Johnson crawled around the pubs of Huddersfield in September last year and has just got round to writing it up. It’s both a personal note (grief, nostalgia) and a handy guide to where you’ll get a decent pint… or not:

There are five cask pumps in the centre of the huge bar but only one in use, for Magic Rock’s. Hat Trick… I’ve never seen a cask beer poured so slowly and in so many stages. This was the Salt Bae experience of cask beer being poured, with such unnecessary flourish and delay. It was also the preview show to an entirely undrinkable beer. A cloudy mess on sight that smelt of Fish ‘n’ Chips. Given that the only member of staff was now sitting down on the customer side of the bar, playing on a tablet and watching the football, I didn’t think there was much point questioning it. One of these sort of pints seems to be par for every one of these football posts I do so Showtime get the gong for that… The beer got two sips before I left.

Finally, from Twitter, via @DeadlyGoldfish

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

2 replies on “News, nuggets and longreads 12 March 2022: Beer for all”

Bathams’ are a leader in their particular field and have very little competition; RW and LHG both have a great deal of competition in theirs, and of the two only RW can claim to be any kind of big fish. The volumes they can dependably sell follow from that, and the prices they can charge follow from that.


The chat about Sarah Hughes Ruby Mild a while back was clearly at the back of my head as I looked out at the fine weather this lunchtime and thought ‘nice weather for a bike ride – I’ll head over to the Beacon Hotel.’ A pint of the ruby mild and a packet of crisps came to £4.40 – there are some advantages to living in the Black Country…

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