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News, nuggets and longreads 22 July 2023: The modern world

Here’s everything about beer and pubs we bookmarked in the past week, from glampsites to steam beer to stone fermenters.

First, a couple of bits of news:

  1. Moves towards a staff buyout are being made at Anchor Brewing in San Francisco although the word ‘longshot’ is being used a lot.
  1. A pub in Llandyrnog, Wales, is going to reopen because local authorities made it a condition of planning permission for a ‘glamping site’ that the pub must be trading. An interesting way forward, perhaps. (Via Rhys on Mastodon.)

The beer menu at a craft beer bar with various beers from Tiny Rebel and others.
The Hop Co., Warrington. SOURCE: Kirsty Walker.

At Lady Sinks the Booze the always entertaining Kirsty Walker has been exploring her ancestral homelands, namely Warrington. Her account of her pub crawl contains many gems like this:

Warrington, the town of my father’s people, and where he has his shop, Premierfoto, on the mezzanine of the new market. (Promotional consideration supplied by Premierfoto.)… The new Hop Emporium has four cask, four keg and a wall full of bottles and cans as well as oddities like Cherry Cola Vodka Strawberry Slush. I avoided the novelty and stayed pale with Only With Love’s Jester single hop sunshine ale. I tell you, it’s getting hard to log things on Untappd these days, every beer name is like a sentence in a James Joyce novel, or for young people, a Fall Out Boy song title. The market is full to the brim with food outlets and has your more traditional stalls round the edge, for example, Premierfoto on the mezzanine, for all your photographic needs, weddings and portraits a speciality.


Anchor brewery, San Francisco.

With all the talk of Anchor Steam in the air (in the steam?) Martyn Cornell has shared an in-depth essay on this American beer style, highlighting (a) its diversity and (b) how much it has changed:

One of the problems in trying to unravel the history of steam beer is that for at least the first 30 years or so after the Gold Rush began in California and entrepreneurs rushed in to supply the hundreds of thousands of miners with their needs and wants, brewers on the Pacific coast generally called what they were brewing “lager”, though it was not cold-brewed, since ice was almost impossible to obtain. It was not until “real” lager arrived in the 1880s that a differentiation started to be drawn between the sort of warm-fermented beer made with lager yeast brewed, not just in San Francisco, or California, but up the Pacific coast from Nevada through Oregon, Washington and British Columbia to Alaska and Yukon, and even as far away as Quebec, and the cold-fermented lager beer brewed east of the Rockies.


A Victorian pub window with the words 'music room'.
SOURCE: Dermot Kennedy.

At Pub Gallery Dermot Kennedy has given us another post laden with beautiful photographs of pubs. This time his focus is cut and etched glass:

Cutting, etching and embossing glass was perfected by the Victorians and put to excellent effect in many of the hundreds of pubs they built towards the end of the 19th century. It was considered inappropriate for people to be able to peer through pub windows at the people inside, and in any case the magistrates would not have allowed clear glass. Translucent glass in the lower panes was the ideal solution, as people couldn’t see in and it allowed the creation of the ornate and decorative designs beloved of Victorian pub architects… Almost all Victorian and Edwardian urban pubs had decorative translucent glass and although most of it has been torn out, much still remains.


A sign on a pub door that says "Permanently closed, apologies for inconvenience".

Mark Johnson is continuing his tour of the pubs that made him with a trip to Leeds and memories of Mr. Foley’s Ale House, AKA Dr. Okell’s:

Dr. Okell’s was formative in my early beer years whilst I was a Leeds resident. The famous North Bar was slowly changing the city’s beer scene but at the time we preferred the comfort of Okell’s. In this Headrow bar we would often spend a few post lecture hours on one of the sofas in the back room, with a newspaper and the puzzle page. As mentioned in Post 0, the number of famous European beers that I sampled for the first time here was extensive but my first taste of Gordon Scotch Ale always holds a strong memory for me. My favourite brewery of the time (and one of them to this day) Abbeydale Brewery would also often pop up on the cask lines. I could hardly hide my excitement at having my housemate sample Absolution for the first time, on a post Saturday work shift visit. As money was tight, I conceded a couple of future nights out just to return for more the following day.


The texture of stone.

At Good Beer Hunting Jerard Fagerberg has written a substantial piece about ‘stone fermentation’:

When Aaron Reames stopped by the Sonoma Cast Stone booth at the 2015 Craft Brewers Conference, he was immediately enticed by the promise of stone fermentation… At the time, stone fermentation was a percolating trend. Stainless steel and wood had ruled the scene long enough, and breweries had begun to experiment with concrete, slate, granite, and clay… But despite carefully researched efforts, stone-fermented beer never rose above an offbeat curiosity in the beer world. The predictions never came true… As brewers soon discovered, stone is a clumsy fermentation medium. It’s heavy, expensive to manufacture, and easily corroded. The allure of the minerality it imparted was never realized. And it probably never will be.


Finally, from Instagram, enjoy Bristol photographer Jem Southam’s photos of the lost Courage brewery in central Bristol where the Left Handed Giant brewpub now lives:

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

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