News, nuggets and longreads 4 June 2022: Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs we’ve enjoyed in the past week, from stats to studies, and stout to Skol.

First, some news that we missed last week: Heineken is shutting down the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh. Roger Protz has a neat account of the story and explains why it matters:

Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery is to be axed by Heineken, ending more than 150 years of brewing that included winning the accolade of Champion Beer of Britain for Deuchar’s IPA in 2002… The global Dutch giant says Caledonian was “economically unviable” and was not brewing to its 50,000 barrel capacity on Victorian equipment that needed major investment… It adds that it has reached agreement with Greene King to brew Deuchar’s IPA (3.8%) and Maltsmiths (a 4.6% American style IPA) at the Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar.

The Shades, Hartlepool, closed and boarded.
A closed and boarded pub in Hartlepool.

There’s more news, too: CAMRA has released its annual statistics on pub closures and openings, painting the usual gloomy picture, albeit with footnotes, as explained at Beer Today:

The figures… show that across Great Britain last year 290 pubs were demolished or converted to another use. That’s an average of just over five a week… There was an increase in the number of new pubs being built, or existing buildings being converted into pubs. This averaged just over seven new pubs every week in the second half of the year… However, more than 500 pubs were also classed as a long-term closure in 2021. This is where the building is still classed as a pub for planning purposes, but the business itself has closed or is empty and without tenants to run it. This shows the lasting effects of the pandemic, and the present cost of business crisis.

Whitbread & Co London Cooper, Stouts and ales
An 1879 advertisement for Whitbread London Cooper.

At Zythophile Martyn Cornell has written about London Cooper, a briefly trendy mix of stout and porter:

The first known mention of “cooper” as a blend of “half stout and half porter”, otherwise “stout half-and-half”, came in John Camden Hotten’s Dictionary of Modern Slang, published in 1860. Two years later at Marylebone magistrates’ court in London  a pub customer who explained “cooper” as “half stout and half porter” was corrected by the magistrate, who told him: ”That, I should say, is half-and-half”, suggesting the phrase was still not in common use. When Hotten brought out another edition of his slang dictionary in 1864, he added an explanation for the name: “Derived from the coopers at breweries being allowed so much stout and so much porter a day, which they have mixed sooner than drink the porter after the stout.

As he acknowledged in a comment on this blog a few weeks ago, Martyn is going for quality rather than quantity on his blog these days and it was genuinely exciting to see this new post pop up in the feed.

A cap from a bottle of Skol lager.
SOURCE: Brussels Beer City/Eoghan Walsh.

Eoghan Walsh is nearing the end of his History of Brussels Beer in 50 Objects series. Entry #45 is the cap of a bottle of Skol around which he builds a story about immigration and community:

In 1947… the Belgian state counted 10 Congolese nationals living in Belgium, most likely centred on the office blocks behind the royal palace that housed the network of administrative bodies and industrial concerns comprising Belgium’s colonial bureaucracy… Brussels’ Congolese population started to grow, as students made their way north to Belgium’s universities. Instead of settling near the palace, these new arrivals moved across Brussels’ petite ceinture to the streets around Porte de Namur, Rue Stassart and the Waversesteenweg. Colloquially dubbed Matongé after Kinshasa’s eponymous market district, by the mid-1970s the neighbourhood had evolved into a nightlife district for diplomats, businessmen, students, and politicians – populated by nightclubs and ngandas (Lingala for café) serving bottles of Congolese Primus and Skol beer.

There’s also a book on the way, by the way, as we’d hope there might be:

Edwardian barmaids.
A 1901 illustration of London barmaids.

This is a weighty one, in every sense: James Green has been studying “emotional labour adopted by female bartenders when faced with unwanted sexual attention at work”. His article is long, detailed and rigorous – and far from purely theoretical:

The methods utilised for this study encompassed an ethnographic research design which included interviews and participant observation. The field of inquiry was located at a pub in the London Borough of Camden which has been operating and serving… guests since the 1920s. While I began working at The Watch Tower in October 2016, the participant observation began in October 2017 and ended in July 2018 and involved 30–35 hours per week of performing work tasks and duties, observing interactions, and documenting fieldnotes. My work patterns were inconsistent as I tended the bar on a mixture of day (e.g. 11 am to 6 pm) and night (e.g. 6 pm to 12 am) shifts. Much activity of unwanted sexual attention was produced in common (e.g. non-physically and verbally) and infrequent (e.g. unwanted physical contact and stalking) forms and occurred during the night shifts and on ‘heavier’ drinking days (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday).

There’s some especially interesting stuff about the role of the female bartender in male fantasies – “…when you’re serving someone, they get this idea in their head where you are the maiden…” – which suggests not much has changed since the 19th century.

Finally, from Twitter, a fascinating looking pub:

For more good reading check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday which this week also includes a competition: “the cleverest comment” can win a commemorative Jubilee pin issued by the Canadian government.