News, nuggets and longreads 4 November 2023: Badlands

Every Saturday we collect the best writing about beer from the past week. This time we’ve got old brands, pub crawls, and the price of a pint.

First, some news that we’d probably have picked up from Twitter a year ago but which we only came across via Google News: the legendary Laurieston in Glasgow is up for sale. The property types involved are talking about “unprecedented levels of interest” and its strong prospects as a going concern. But it’s always worrying when a family-owned business changes hands. We just hope whoever takes it on doesn’t instantly rip out the beautiful historic interior.

A Double Diamond logo on a pub.
The Hyde Park, Plymouth, in 2014.

For Pellicle Rachel Hendry has written about the history of Double Diamond, a cult beer, in its own way, whos marketing campaigns in the mid-20th century still linger:

Peter Probyn was an illustrator and cartoonist whose work was described as “gently humoured”. It was Probyn who created the infamous character of the Double Diamond Little Man, a chicly dressed character adorned with a toothbrush moustache, bow tie, pinstriped trousers and never to be seen without his pocket watch, briefcase and cane. The Little Hat Man—as he came to be known—went on quite the adventure with Double Diamond… From heroically apprehending a bank robber, to winning the heart of a mermaid by fishing a Double Diamond out of the sea during an angling competition, to defying the laws of physics using only an umbrella as a parachute there was simply no scenario in which The Little Hat Man—with the help of Double Diamond, of course—would not succeed.

The Bricklayer's Arms at night.

Stephen Jackson at Musing Anorak has been on a tour of South West London, highlighting everything from chain gastropubs to bottle shops to backstreet boozers:

I jumped on a train and made my way to Surbiton for a visit to the Antelope, my fifth Big Smoke venue of the day and the original home of the brewery. A small area as you enter quickly opens out to a huge space at the rear and a beer garden where you can see the outbuilding that housed the original brewing kit. Again, the usual good selection of Big Smoke and guest beers… I took a bus into Putney for a first chance to take a look at the newly refurbished Bricklayer’s Arms. They have done an outstanding job with the pub now having a light, airy, modern feel whilst still retaining its original character. and of course it still has its main selling point, the full range of Timothy Taylor beers, unique in London.

A jumble of pubs.

And David Jesudason has been hanging out in Reading, partly, it seems, out of bloodymindedness at how snooty people are about it –  “Why on earth would you go there?”

A former Irish bar, the Nag’s Head is a destination that’s possibly easier to sell than Reading itself (even though the Elizabeth Line now makes the trip from London speedy). It’s the mesh of tradition and modernity – 12 cask ales “a festival in a pub”, more kegs in a traditional, comforting setting. The publican and his staff are hugely attentive – rightly proud of what they’ve achieved. Offering recommendations, knowing the breweries well and aware that we like to be steered not prodded to the right pint… I have Oregon Trail by Elusive on cask. I feel like the day has started again. Some say this is the finest iteration of a “British” West Coast IPA, and I have to agree.

Cash Money Pound Signs.

What if breweries decided that their taproom ought to be the cheapest place to buy their beer on draft? At Fuggled ‘Velky’ Al Reece has written about a Viriginia brewery that has priced its pilsner provocatively:

Tabol Brewing are based in Richmond, and given that I very rarely go that way I have yet to actually get to their taproom, where all pints are now $3.50… A while back, I wrote a post about what the price of a pint would be if we followed the pricing restrictions of Reinheitsgebot as well as the ingredients, and unless my maths is entirely atrocious (eminently possible), based on the average daily wages of a manual labourer in Virginia and it’s purchasing power compared to 16th century equivalents, Tabol’s new price point is pretty close… I am pretty sure this move it going to stir the pot in craft brewing circles in Virginia, especially given the number of breweries where they are changing $7 and upwards for a pint at their taproom.

The word 'yeast' printed in an old book.

At Appellation Beer Stan Hieronymus indulges in a classic bit of reframing by flipping a BBC headline on its head to ask ‘Why wouldn’t you drink a genetically modified beer?’

Miskatonic Brewing in suburban Chicago first used Cosmic Punch before Omega gave it a name. Founder and brewer Josh Mowry had a pretty good idea of how CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology works. “We pretty quickly did some dives into what the concerns are. What are the known unknowns,” he said. He shared what he learned with customers. “We’ve only had a couple people raise (doubts), say that it feels unnatural.”… Plenty of brewers embraced modified yeast strains… Have they all gone out of their way to inform consumers that the strain in this beer may be different than the strain in that beer? Of course not.

Finally, re: social media, come and find us on…

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