News, nuggets and longreads 11 June 2022: Milky milky

Here’s all the beer and pub writing that caught our attention in the past week, from betting shops to milky beers.

First, some updates on today’s tough trading conditions. The BBC this week featured comments from pub landlady Miranda Richardson whose quarterly energy bill has jumped to almost £30,000 per quarter:

Her gas bill for the February, March and April in 2021, totalled just over £1,500 for the three months – £6,200 less than her current bill… To break even following her most recent gas bill and other costs, Ms Richardson said on Twitter she would have to sell “roughly 1,400 pints of lager”.

Meanwhile, Tandleman continues to ask questions of brewers and publicans as he does his rounds:

This week, following the Jubilee celebrations, I was returning a container to a well-known and established local brewery, and stopped for a chat with the owner. “How’s things?” I asked.  His face grimaced. “Bad, Peter, bad!” he replied.  He went on to describe the current situation.  Pubs which used to take two or three eighteens a week were now taking only one or two nines. Fuel to power the brewery has gone through the roof, the cost of diesel fuel to deliver the beer is frightening and loads are less than he’d like, making the overall trip less than economic. The cost of ingredients is also increasing to add to a difficult picture… Undercutting by other small brewers is also playing a part. When he rings regular customers, the phones are often not answered.

BrewDog bar sign.
BrewDog Bristol.

Despite her significant influence as a beer writer we don’t often get to include Melissa Cole here for various reasons. Her comments about BrewDog in an interview conducted by Andy Crouch for All About Beer are both incisive and, frankly, entertaining:

And then of course it started getting much more unpleasant and gimmicky and just constantly it was just like, “alright who are we going to piss off next? Who are we going to fight next? Which element of the establishment are we going to take on next?” (*long pause*). It was just so bro. I mean, there’s a reason why they’re nicknamed BroDog, you know?… It was like watching a mini episode of American Pie every five minutes you know? Just constant frat boy shit. But it was also just so unnecessary and was drawing other people into it. Young guys who were getting into the beer industry were suddenly just like, “Yeah, I gotta be like BrewDog.” Oh, God not another one. And you know we’ve got that problem now and they’ve spawned all these little agi-puppies who all think that they can behave like assholes and get away with it.

Beer glasses being clinked together
SOURCE: Des Récits/Unsplash.

In her Substack newsletter Hugging the Bar Courtney Iseman has written about the moment in American history when it was illegal to raise your glass and say “Cheers!”:

The concern was that drinking healths led to too much drinking, as imbibers ordered round after round to facilitate their hat toss into the toasting ring. And for puritanical windbags like a clergyman named Increase Mather, this was actually akin to black magic—wishing illness on someone with an evil potion = wishing health for someone with alcohol, also maybe an evil potion. Puritans thought using alcohol to hope for health was too close to the transubstantiation that made Roman Catholics big old blasphemers in their eyes. Just like Roman Catholics believed in converting bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ, tavern patrons, in the opinion of puritans, were revering alcohol like it had some real power to instil wellness and good fortune. Bet ya never looked at your beer that way.

Illustration of a beer mug mostly full of foam.

It’s a Courtney double bill! For VinePair she’s written about the Czech Mlíko method of pouring beer, sometimes called the ‘milko pour’ as appropriated by the American craft beer scene:

“Mlíko means ‘milk’ in Czech,” says Pilsner Urquell senior trade brewmaster Kamil Růžek. “It’s named because it’s a glass filled with wet beer foam, with a very small bit of beer at the bottom, so it really does look just like a glass of creamy milk.”… Růžek calls the mlíko “certainly the most extreme” of three classic Czech beer pours, which include the hladinka and the šnyt. The hladinka is about 75 percent beer, 25 percent foam; the šnyt is a little more foam than beer. Pilsner Urquell keeps all three alive with its explainers and marketing, but it’s the hladinka and the šnyt you’re more likely to actually see at Czech pubs, says Prague-based beer writer and author (and VinePair columnist) Evan Rail. “The mlíko is a little more of a party trick,” he says.

A Škoda outside a herna bar. SOURCE: Alastair Gilmour.

It’s a Czech drinking culture double bill! On his blog, Meet and Drink, Alastair Gilmour does his best to explain the concept of the ‘Herna bar’:

Herna – also known as Non-Stop or 24/7 – translates loosely as ‘casino’ but that’s too simplistic a description, as Martin Macourek, director of the London-based Czech Beer Alliance, explains… “We used to go to Herna bars quite often when we were students and under eighteen as they would serve us beer and other alcohol without checking our IDs… Also, the attraction always was that they are open until very late and constitute a last resort drink possibility. This brought in very special individuals who came in without really seeking to gamble, so you would mostly find yourself in the company of alcoholics, youngsters, working-class men or football hooligans ­– I remember my local Herna bars were often full of Sparta Prague fans – plus semi-bankrupt persons or even prostitutes. And, of course, gamblers.”


In an article for Craft Beer & Brewing Jeff Alworth makes the case for more funk in our beers:

Before starting Epochal Barrel-Fermented Ales in Scotland, Gareth Young was a philosophy lecturer at the University of Glasgow. He has an appropriately academic approach to old Scottish-style ales. An important piece of equipment in old breweries was a “cleansing tank,” which scrubbed the fresh beer of yeast. “This gives a cleaner funk,” he says. “Less ethyl caprylate, for instance.” That ester contributes sweet notes that can smell like fruit brandy… At Beer Nouveau, Dunkley cites a different kind of “cleaning” that’s important for refining these beers: Brettanomyces, like lager yeast, needs to go through a full cycle. Those aggressive, funky flavors we typically associate with Brett “are there because the yeast hasn’t finished and hasn’t cleaned up after itself. Once it has, you get wonderful new soft leather notes from it.”

(And don’t forget, you always have the option of an Orval top…)


Sergey Konstantinov is writing a book on brewing and beer history, sharing the chapters online as he writes them. His particular focus is helping drinkers find modern beers which illustrate the history lessons – that seems a smart angle to us. And those who know this kind of deep beer history better than us might enjoy prodding at his work to see if they can find any weak points. We get the impression he’d welcome this kind of challenge, too. This piece on the history of hops is a good place to start.

Finally, from Twitter, a nugget that feels somewhat significant…

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

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