News, nuggets and longreads 24 September 2022: The drift

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that leapt out at us in the past seven days, from fresh beer to energy bills.

First, some news: SIBA a cross-industry group including SIBA and CAMRA has launched a new campaign with the aim of improving the image of cask ale, especially among younger drinkers. The angle this time? Rebranding it as “fresh beer”. At his website Protz on Beer Roger Protz has the press release:

Drink Fresh Beer has presented a series of eye-catching visuals to help cask compete on the bar including new cylindrical handpulls, tulip glassware, table talkers, posters, beer mats and staff T-shirts. Crucially, social and cross-media promotions will aim to capture the attention of consumers before they step through the pub door. Once they reach the bar, an AR-scannable pump clip will help beer drinkers learn more about their favourite drink, how far it has travelled to the pub and when the cask was freshly tapped.

We can see the logic in this. We’ve written in the past about how ‘real ale’ was a term created to imply heritage and authenticity; and ‘cask ale’ does something similar.

At the same time we’re also wary of the tendency to think that coming up with the right form of words can solve an underlying problem. It will only take someone to drink a pint of ‘fresh beer’ that tastes like vinegary mud to sour them (heh) on the whole idea.

A jumble of pubs.

Also in the news this week was the Government’s long-awaited announcement of support for business in dealing with the energy price crisis. As usual with this lot, the announcement came late, with little detail, and the reaction can probably be summed up as “Better than nothing, still not enough”. There’s a good summary at Politics Home:

Leading figures in the UK’s hospitality industry say the government’s energy bills package for businesses won’t last long enough to save thousands of pubs from going to the wall this winter… Prime Minister Liz Truss announced her “Energy Price Guarantee” would cap the price suppliers can charge domestic customers for two years, but support with spiralling costs for those on commercial contracts would only last for six months… A number of hospitality groups have told PoliticsHome they want not only more “clarity” from government, but to be granted support for longer than six months and some acknowledgement that companies have already been paying increased bills for the past few months which has led to many closures or staff layoffs.

At Beer is for Everyone Ruvani de Silva has been grappling with some big issues as the world focuses on the British royal family and its imperial baggage:

English IPA should, by all logic, stick in my throat, yet I continue to devour and praise them. I know full well the excessive damage the British East India Company, purveyors of said IPA did to the Subcontinent, how rich they became from plundering our resources and labor, and how that wealth still circulates among the British elite… How can I, armed with full awareness of the damaging nature of its marketing, enjoy a bottle of Bengal Lancer? And yet not only was it one of the first English IPAs I really rated, I still regard it as an excellent example of the style. Can we separate the beer from its history, its heritage? Can I disconnect my love for it from my own history and heritage?

Cask ale

Phil Mellows has written about the magic and minefield of cask ale for British Beer Breaks with Cask Ale Week in mind:

We know how to get cask beer right. But there’s so much to go wrong. And every little wrinkle can be tasted in a mouthful of beer that may not be all it should… Ordering a pint in an unfamiliar pub becomes a risk. A risk hedged by reputation or an accreditation by Cask Ale Week organiser Cask Marque or a listing in the Good Beer Guide, perhaps, but always a risk. It’s even a risk in a pub that you do know. There’s only one thing more embarrassing than sending back a pint in a strange pub, and that’s sending back a pint where everybody knows your name.


At Beer (History) Food Travel Liam has pulled together, expanded and updated a series of posts from a few years ago on the history of hops in Ireland. The new piece is a bit of an epic:

“Historically, hops were not grown in Ireland …”

Or so says an online encyclopaedia entry on hops, and although some people know this not to be true, the sentence is so often repeated in similar wording that I thought it would be best to do some myth-busting to highlight that hops were grown in this country in various quantities and were even used in commercial brewing… This is a record of the history, mentions and other snippets of information pertaining to hop growing in this country, where I will show and prove that we have been growing hops in this country for the last 400 years…

Ron Pattinson provides a nugget on the subject of British and Irish beer styles. It suggests that by 1905 the link between places and styles had begun to weaken with only the broadest generalisations possible:

Burton was famous for Strong Ales long before the first Pale Ale was brewed there… London and Mild may have long lost their association, but it was once very strong. It was the capital’s favourite for getting on for a century… Edinburgh was, by this point, as well, if not better known, for its Pale Ales. Their Scotch Ale was still quite a thing in some markets… A bit more obvious is Cork and Dublin brewing Stout. Both still are.

Finally, from Twitter, un objet d’art…

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 24 September 2022: The drift”

I drink plenty of unpasteurised, unfined, carbonated brewery-conditioned beer, often brewed just a few yards away from the point of sale, and it’s just as fresh as anything in a cask, often far more so given the poor standards at which much cask is kept. This new definition for cask seems to be somewhat pointless.

Agreed. It’s the quality that needs to improve not just the marketing. Good cask pubs sell plenty of cask. And reading the article, “will commit to stocking at least two handpulls”. What’s the point of that if that makes the quality worse than if they only sold one? More ill-considered BS from CAMRA.

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