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News, nuggets and longreads 24 June 2023: Goats Head Soup

We’ve read lots of writing about pubs and beer in the past week. Here’s the digest, featuring Firkin, Guinness and steam beer.

First, a newsletter: Will Hawkes’s London Beer City for June is now available to read online. (Email subscribers get it a week earlier.) It covers a ton of news, including the return of the Firkin brand:

Firkin, a chain of brewpubs which transformed London brewing (and to an extent, British beer) when it emerged in the late 1970s, is back – after a fashion. I’m told that Didier Autard, the owner of the Fox and Firkin in Lewisham, this week installed a 12-hectolitre brewhouse (to be named named Firkin Brewery), in a former Sainsbury’s warehouse at the back of the pub. Brewer Hugo Anderson, who worked for many years at Ab INBev’s Stag Brewery in Mortlake, is consulting on the project. 

A large and small tankard with Guinness branding.
SOURCE: BeerFoodTravel

We’ve been waiting for Liam K to get to this: the latest entry in his history of Irish brewing in 50 objects is about the Guinness Waterford tankard. He writes:

There is probably no piece of vintage, beer-related glassware that is talked about in the same reverential tone as the Guinness Waterford tankard. For many collectors of breweriana finding an absolutely perfect example is akin to discovering The Holy Grail, and almost as hard to acquire. Even those who show indifference to Guinness itself have a fondness for the barrel-like shape, the curvaceous handle, and that gold lettering with the harp sitting above. It has, for many at least, a deserved iconic status in Irish – and British – beer history, much more so than the relatively recent interloper that comes in the shape of the tulip pint glass.

Illustration: a round of drinks.

For i (the most stupid name for a news outlet) Clive Martin has written about the “fraught politics of drinking a beer”:

The way you sip your beer is not just a personal preference; it’s an indicator of character, manners and class – in both senses of the word. Whether you’re a glugger, chugger or sipper, a pint nurse or a down-the-hatch champion, your fellow drinkers are probably considering every slurp you take… Beer, and the way we drink it, is loaded with all kinds of signifiers – and a recent incident involving French President Emmanuel Macron demonstrates the depth of feeling around the issue… A few days back, Macron was seen at a rugby match in Toulouse downing an entire bottle of Corona (a brand that seems to have survived an unfortunate association in recent times) in a time measured at a solid 17 seconds.

Great Beer Guide by Michael Jackson.

Kevin Kain has found his niche: he writes about beer glassware, and does a brilliant job of it. In his latest post he seizes on something that resonated with us: the sheer range of attractive glasses to be seen in Michael Jackson’s Great Beer Guide. This book was our introduction to beer back in the early 00s and, yes, the gorgeous studio shots of beers with their matching glasses did a lot to get us interested. Kevin writes:

Despite the American notion that nonics are the ubiquitous UK beer glass, there are very few in the book. They include Fuller’s… and Woodforde (though there are a couple other nonics that are unbranded)…  Most UK/Irish glasses are presented in tulip pints and shakers (aka, conicals.) This includes Adnams, Bank’s, Beamish, Cobbold, Greene King, Murphy’s, Pitfields, Sam Smiths, and Ushers for the former, and Bass, Batemans, Cain’s, Caledonian (Scotland), Charles Wells, Eldridge Pope, Highgate & Walsall, Hopback, King and Barnes, Marston’s, Shepherd Neame, Youngs for the latter… Of course, a significant number of US breweries are presented in shakers.

Text: California Common.

It’s always exciting to see that beer historian Andreas Krennmair has dropped a new blog post. This time he’s looking beyond Austria and Germany to America and ‘steam beer’:

Somebody recently asked on Reddit about whether historic recipes of California Common from the late 19th or early 20th century exist, like something that Jack London would have drank when he lived in San Francisco… A large majority of homebrew recipes for that style that float around nowadays are straight up clone recipes of Anchor Steam Beer, or at the very least heavily inspired by it as many style guidelines have based the style essentially upon Anchor’s beer… But in reality, this beer goes back much further and has been more varied.

A jumble of pubs.

This next piece is an old one, from 2021, but it resurfaced when news broke that The Dolphin in Hackney had reopened after a prolonged closure. It’s by Isabelle Aron and recalls what the pub was like in its previous incarnation – exactly the kind of cultural history that’s all too easily lost:

People have strong feelings about this pub on Mare Street. It’s a rare kind of place where the word ‘legendary’ actually applies. Its late licence means it’s open until 4am at the weekend. Its door stamp (of a Dolphin, obviously) is an icon in its own right, and not just because it’s impossible to scrub off – punters have been known to get it tattooed on their wrist. There are even rumours about a now-defunct loyalty card… From the outside, with its wood-panelled front and classic gold signage, The Dolphin looks like your average traditional London pub… But in its heyday, between 2005 and 2015, the pub’s owner Yaşar Yildiz says thousands of people would go through the doors on Friday and Saturday nights. It was sweaty. It was noisy. It was actually… kind of disgusting! And, during that time, if you were going out in Hackney, it was almost unquestionable that you’d end up there.

Finally, from Twitter…

(Other social networks are available.)

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 June 2023: Goats Head Soup”

The Macron Corona case is notable because Macron is a public figure. I can’t recall how anyone I have drunk beer with, a wide circle, did it: how fast or slow, or how they stood at the bar or took their seat; who cares? As an experienced taster I sometimes down half a glass just because I want to, or the beer tastes better that way. The word that came to me reading the Martin article was, overthinking. As to Marcon himself who knows what his intentions were? Maybe he was trying to make a macho gesture, maybe not. Small beer.

Fantastic Newsletter, congrats! It’s hard to find engaging and “real-life beer-stories”digitally (as they are mostly payed content), but your Newsletter is definitively an example of o great brewed content! Keep going! Cheers form Portugal! ????

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