Here’s everything on beer and pubs that caught our attention in the past week, from social clubs to foot-flavoured beer.
First, some pub heritage news: eleven pubs across England have been given listed status by the Government, or had their listings upgraded, because of the significance of their interiors. They range from The Bridge Inn at Topsham, Devon, with its parlour bar, to the Victorian splendour of The Red Lion in Westminster. Between us, we’ve been to five. We’ll be making it our mission to visit the other six in the next year or two.
And a bit more news: craft beer retailer Honest Brew has gone into administration, after a few weeks in which people were commenting on low stock and other worrying signs. After nine years, they’re quite a surprising casualty of the current difficult trading environment.
Pete Brown has a new book out, Clubland, on the subject of working men’s clubs. It’s on our to-buy list because (a) Pete writes good books and (b) this is a relatively little explored area of British culture – “the shadow pub”. To mark its release, on his blog, he’s shared a substantial piece making the case for the working men’s club:
Inside anonymous-looking buildings like this all across the country are bars, concert rooms and meeting rooms that would be perfect for coffee mornings, jumble sales, record fairs, dance classes, yoga classes, mother and toddler groups, slimming meetings, youth clubs, book events, WI meetings, band practices and such more. On a more prosaic level, as the price of a pint soars, they’re good places to get cheap drinks without giving your money to Tim fucking Martin. Yet for much of the week, they stand empty. The community often has no idea they’re there. And the committees who run these places – often now well into their seventies – have no idea how to market themselves. The [Working Men’s Club and Institute Union] should be helping them, but it’s just as clueless about the modern world as they are. No one in the organisation seems aware that communities today live online.
We’d never heard of ‘hashing’ until we read Jemma Beedie’s piece for Pellicle this week, which explores the intersection of running and beer:
I grew up in the Middle East, part of a tight ex-pat community. My parents met at the Bahrain Black Hash, a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers. It was hugely important to our lives and defined many of my family’s friendships for decades. As a child, I was introduced to people by their Hash names – cheeky nicknames not suitable to be mentioned here – and that’s how I continue to know them now. I spent my formative years watching my teachers drinking warm beer from each other’s shoes – a longstanding Hash tradition found in every chapter worldwide.
Jo Caird has written about water for Ferment, the promo mag of a beer subscription company, explaining with real-world examples how its scarcity could be a problem for the brewing industry:
It was 2013 and times were good at Bear Republic Brewing Company. Business was booming at the family-owned California brewery, its distribution network extending to more and more states. Keen to capitalise on growing demand Bear Republic applied to the local authority for an increase in their allocation of water. The request was turned down… This news was a blow but wasn’t exactly surprising. California was experiencing what they have since realised was its worst drought in 1,200 years, a combination of low rainfall and record-breaking high temperatures… Brewing’s high demand for water isn’t just a problem in drought-stricken places like California. Even in regions where water is plentiful, there are environmental costs attached to water use. Treating it requires energy, as does pumping it into our homes and businesses.
It hasn’t quite sunk in that next time we go to Sheffield we might not be able to drink a pint of Kelham Island Pale Rider. Martin Taylor, AKA Retired Martin, lives in Sheffield these days and wonders in this post whether he’s just had his last pint of this notable beer:
The Pale Rider was superb, it always is despite some on Discourse telling me “the beer isn’t what it was”. Rubbish… I hope the folk at Kelham Island are OK; I miss their beers already.
Finally, something not about beer, but which has a certain resonance. For Sight and Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute, director Prano Bailey-Bond expresses her frustration at being asked constantly to talk about what it’s like to be “a woman in horror”:
I do believe that, behind every panel or article on ‘women in horror’, there is usually the good intention to shine a spotlight on female-driven films. It’s an opportunity for a female creator to talk about and elevate her work. But ultimately the conversation is limiting. For every question a female-identifying filmmaker is asked about how her gender relates to her genre, that’s one less answer where we get to hear about her craft… Rather than obsessing about gender, let’s obsess about the artistic sensibilities on display. Let’s record and remember women’s contribution to genre cinema so it can inspire the next generation. And let’s allow that generation to be defined by their creativity, not their gender.
Finally, from Twitter, a blind taste test with interesting results…
For more good reading check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.