News, nuggets and longreads 18 November 2023: Pulp Fiction

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs we particularly enjoyed in the past week, from obscure hops to autumnal moods.

First, some news. At VinePair Dave Infante continues his detailed coverage of attempts by workers to buy San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing – or, at least, to buy the brand:

“We’re guessing [$2.5 million] is the lowest number the IP is going to be sold for.” If they can raise that sum from small-dollar investors, their thinking goes, they’ll be able to attract bigger sums from deeper-pocketed ones, or leverage it to draw a bank loan — or both, to be as competitive as possible in securing Anchor’s recipes, trademarks, and branding. Bringing back the old label, which SUSA replaced in 2021 in a widely panned rebrand, is a top priority for the co-op. As is reinstituting Our Special Ale, says [brewer Patrick] Machel. “That’s a ‘for sure.’”

The word hops with a simple illustration of two hop cones.

Pellicle has the semi-magical story of the emergence of a new hop variety in the Kent, as told by Adam Peirce:

So steeped is Little Scotney Farm in the traditional ways of picking and drying hops that the last thing you would expect are experimental hop varieties with very different flavours to what traditional English hops are known for. In 2015, David Goodsel, who has been working on the farm since before Ian took over, noticed a group of seven different looking hops at the end of a row of Whitbread Goldings Variety (WGV). It’s not known how long they’d been growing in the ground, nor how they came into existence so beyond this. The story is lost to the mists in the valley of the River Bewl.

Autumn leaves somewhere in Europe.

Adrian Tierney-Jones has been sitting in pubs again, thinking about the passage of time again, and letting his consciousness stream:

This is a consume-at-all-costs war, but is also an undemanding slumbering conflict into which it is easy to fall, as in the mall that one has uneasily and warily come to in search of goods that slam the cost of living crisis into a wall, with the ease of Joe Marler tossing aside Faf de Klerk. Yes, when you were young and the world seemed as bright as the light that lit up the family lounge and your parents were alive and still married, you really wished it could be Christmas every day and now your dream has come true and from early November it really is. But it is too late and love left on a boat without even a farewell sometime ago.

The word Kveik on a rough textured background.

Stan Hieronymus has written about one of his beers of the year – an American kveik beer inspired by the work of Lars Marius Garshol. Here’s what struck us as most interesting – the impact a good book can have:

A Better Burden is a collaboration between Narrow Path and Nine Giant Brewing, and Powers and Mike Albarella have brewed it together at Narrow Path the past three years… They had both read ”Historical Brewing Techniques” by Lars Marius Garshol right when the book became available. They wrote the initial recipe together and have subtly changed it each year. The base malt and the alder wood smoked malt come from Sugar Creek Malt Co. in Indiana. “We knew that Caleb (Michalke) had built a Såinnhus, and we wanted to use ingredients that were as local as possible and that were produced as traditionally as possible,” Powers said.

Guinness vintage-style cap.

Liam K at Irish Beer History continues his exploration of the objects that tell the national beer story by turning his attention to a 1970s Guinness bottle opener:

There is a relatively famous (in certain circles at least) archive film from RTE that reports on the ceasing of the cork-bunged Guinness bottle by orders of the brewery, as it was to be completely replaced by a seemingly unpopular bottle closer – the metal cap. In that piece of recorded Irish beer history from 1969, which incidentally shows both the insertion and extracting of corks, there are a few stout drinkers quite unhappy with this change from what was seen as the traditional method of sealing beer bottles in this country. The interviewees argued that cork-sealed stout bottles tasted better than those using a metal cap, with one drinker being shown to be able to pick out the one corked bottle from a row of poured stouts, allegedly based on taste alone. 

A view of Bamberg along the river with spires and old buildings.

Who likes a mystery? Andreas Krennmair has returned to Bamberg mapping the 41 breweries it had in 1876, and digging into the vague connection between Keesman and Mahrs:

Talking about Mahrs Bräu in Wunderburg, I came across something strange: the Mahr pub (building 702) is listed as “Brenner” with owner Ambros Mahr, while the “Brenner” brewery is listed with owner Karl Mahr (building 736½ on modern Holzgartenstraße, probably no. 29). But there is a second pub with the name “Brenner” listed, building 708, across the road from Ambros Mahr’s pub, with owner Adam Keesmann. Interestingly, Keesmann is not listed as a brewery (it was officially founded in 1867), and I still don’t understand the supposed connection of Keesmann and Mahr… Georg Keesmann, the person most often mentioned these days in connection with the foundation of Keesmann brewery (he was a butcher and allegedly finished his brewing education at age 51 to start his own brewery), is listed as a restaurant owner in a different section of the address book, not a brewery owner, for building 708. How are Georg and Adam related?

Finally, some photos, from a new book called East End Pubs by Tim George, as shared at Creative Boom:

The Old Ship, a backstreet Victorian corner pub with a prominent pride flag.
SOURCE: Tim George/Hoxton Mini Press/Creative Boom.

For more good reading check out Alan McLeod’s round up from Thursday.

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