Here are all the blog posts and articles we bookmarked in the past week, from cosy pubs in Dublin to chilly ones in Manchester.
First, some news. North Brewing of Leeds has appointed administrators and is looking for “additional investment” to stay afloat. This is significant because North Bar, from which North Brewing is a spin-off, was arguably the UK’s first craft beer bar (see Brew Britannia for more on that). Its expansion into brewing and multiple bars was very much a sign of the craft beer boom of the 2000s and 2010s. And that it is struggling in 2024 perhaps confirms that boom is well and truly over.
It’s exciting to see that Lisa Grimm’s Weirdo Guide to Dublin Pubs has broken free from her blog onto its own website at weirdodublinpubs.com. The first post on the new site is about The Ivy House in Drumcondra:
The Ivy House is in a lovely three-storey building (with the date ‘1809’ above the pediment…we’ll get back to that), so it’s quite a substantial place, but it could easily be argued that it’s two pubs in one. Although most visual interest is drawn by the frontage, the smaller, one-storey structure to the side could almost be overlooked, were it not for the arresting image of an older man – one Patrick Carthy, formerly of Carthy’s Bar, painted on the wall, and this part of the business is still known by his name… the Carthy’s Bar side of The Ivy House… has an entirely separate entrance around the corner, complete with its own frontage. And, once inside, it’s quite the contrast from the other side of The Ivy House – it’s every bit the old-man-pub…
How long is long enough when it comes to lagering? For Craft Beer & Brewing Michael Stein explores the myths, the rules-of-thumb and the facts of the matter:
While four to six months was proudly advertised as a great deal of time in 1904, two to three months seems like a long time today. It might even feel like forever… In recent years, as more small breweries have dabbled in lager, many have been mentioning the lagering times on their packaging or social media. After all, if it’s expensive to keep beer in tanks for that long, you might as well get some marketing benefit out of it… Back in 1907, Christian Heurich Brewing in Washington, D.C., was advertising two beers, Maerzen and Senate, as being six to 10 months old. Heurich, however, was a large brewery with a massive footprint, able to produce 200,000 barrels a year.
Like Jeff Alworth we’re always fascinated by the strange beers you sometimes find in unexpected places. For us, it’s things like Bass Mild in a social club in Penzance. For Jeff it’s an off-brand bottle of Corona lager in a Mexican restaurant:
En Route to Oceanside, an unincorporated town of 361, we stopped in Tillamook for dinner, selecting a Mexican restaurant I will not name in case it is on the fringes of an international beer-smuggling ring. Our server, who also seemed to be the owner, offered us a choice of one beer: Corona. He gestured at a cooler, but instead of seeing the familiar blue and white, it was filled with 1.2 liter bombers with labels the color of a paper bag. I write about beer for a living, and I spend a fair amount of time in Mexican restaurants, and I have never seen a bottle like that. Mystified, I asked about it, and he told us (paraphrasing here), “That’s the kind we get in Mexico.” He said it encouragingly, as if inviting me to sample a local delicacy.
What is Breal Capital’s gameplan as it snaps up one troubled UK brewery after another? At Beer Insider Glynn Davis offers some insight with his business journalist hat on:
Beyond the tap rooms of the breweries it has bought there appears to be only modest tied profitable sales for Breal. It closed three of the four Black Sheep pubs having deemed them unviable. It has suggested that its brewing sales team across the UK can expand the market for the breweries in its ever-expanding portfolio. This is fair enough but it’s a tough market out there as the acquired breweries know all too well… What Breal can also tap into is its growing presence in the restaurant and bars sector as it is also on a mission to hoover up distressed assets in this area. It has so far bought Vinoteca, D&D London and a couple of bars that it has brought into its growing Andrea chain.
Visiting one outer Bristol pub before Christmas we took note of a chill in the air and damp on the seats. Now Tandleman has similar observations from Manchester:
Yesterday in Manchester, two out of the three pubs I was in… were actually cold. So cold in one that my wife refused to allow a further drink, as she was perishing. In this case, it was not helped by a door at the rear to the courtyard that was left open by smokers as they nipped in and out. With a door at the other end admitting customers, it made for an icy through draught from the sub-zero temperatures outside. While the radiators were feebly doing their best, it was a losing battle, and in any case they didn’t seem to be that hot anyway. Our earlier experience in a very large venue wasn’t much better, though they did have a huge space to heat, nor was the small restaurant where we tried to enjoy a meal. I’d call that a trend.
There’s a sharp observation from the Pub Curmudgeon in the comments, too, that “the tendency to remove small rooms and convert pubs into one large single space has stored up a problem for the future”. See also: private houses.
Finally, from Mastodon…