Newsletter Competition Winner

In our most recent email newsletter (sign up here) we challenged people to produce a 100-word bit of writing about beer or pubs under the banner #BeeryShortreads, as the antidote to #BeeryLongreads which is now only a few weeks away.

Here are all the entries we received, with the winner of a paper copy of Gambrinus Waltz and a set of badges named at the bottom.

Gambrinus Waltz and badges.


Studying for the Beer Sommelier exam turns beer into homework. You drink the style you need to study rather than the one you feel like drinking. You taste four beers side by side in the middle of the day because that’s the only time you have free. But it’s the middle of the day, so you taste just enough and pour the rest away. It can be lonely, sat there obsessing over tiny variations in flavour. Drinking in a way most people wouldn’t consider. Nerding out over off flavours and food pairings. I love it though. This feels like me.

Anthony Gladman | @agladman | blog


Remember when you could get a pint for less than three quid? Remember when pubs used to smell interesting? Remember when you could order a drink without being stuck behind people waiting for Gin cocktails? Remember when everywhere shut at 11pm? Remember when pubs closed in the afternoons? Remember when this place was heaving every lunchtime? Remember when I could drink six pints without needing a piss? Remember when she used to be in here with me every night? Remember when the police were called? Remember when this place got shut down?

No?

Just me then?

I’ll have a lucky dip for tonight too….and some green Rizla.

Ta mate.

Gareth | @barrelagedleeds | also on his own blog


‘Do you realise it’s really sour?’ asks the barman at ‘t Brugs Beertje. It is 2011. I’ve ordered my first ever sour beer – 3 Fonteinen Oude Geuze. I have been in Bruges for a whole day and now I am ready. I have read about champagne flavours, tartness, beer-that-isn’t- like-beer. ‘Oh yes’ I say, confidently. I take a sip. My tongue shrinks, I worry my teeth might dissolve. It takes me an hour to finish it and I feel a little traumatised. Yet days, weeks later, I think about it. One stiflingly hot summer’s day I realise a cold, sour, cheek-puckering beer is the only answer, and I am right.

Lorraine Bland


Pi Bar Altrincham. Or a Bar called Pi? Untappd seems to think so. By design or chance you can see right down the road. Big windows. Like a moving small town painting. Looks better when it’s raining. Gives it a watercolour sheen. Noisy. Especially THAT laugh. Dogs welcome, as are children. Staff who stick around. Chatty. The Boss always lets on, knows your name. Beer artwork. Boddingtons. Fancy American brewery. Belgian. All bases covered. Early drink after buying the veg from the market. The old couple are in. As they leave, ‘See you next week!’ Him: ‘I hope so’.

Mark Bailey (no relation)


100 words is a challenging limit,
To write a blog post with something interesting in it.
Carefully selecting a subject to cover,
something to appeal to the UK beer lover.
What can I talk about? I know, revitalisation,
It’s the latest buzz word issue, dividing the nation.
Only its a bit too intense to fit into some prose,
And my thoughts on the subject I think everyone knows.
I could talk about a cracking West Coast IPA,
But everyone does that, every day.
I need something controversial, make everyone shout,
I can write loads of words, except, wait, I’ve run out..

Myles Lambert | @myleslambert | blog


Growing Dilemma

“Pour smoothly and in one motion.”

I’d love to, but your can has outgrown my glass!

Why increase in size from schooners to size/strength combinations rarely available even in specialist bars?

Whether delicious or terrible I’d prefer smaller sizes when unable to share. Smaller mean more different beers can be tried. Smaller mean Fewer should miss out.

Is it even sensible to routinely sell Doubles, Triples and Imperials in 440 millilitres and larger?

I think not; but still I buy.

Time to choose between multiple glasses, a murky top-up or pouring some away.

<Grabs another schooner>

Rob Shaw


RUSHED HALF DOWN ORWELL’S MOON

What’s great about Orwell’s fantasy boozer?

The strawberry pint pots – bar service – minimalist menu?  Lovely… but isn’t it quaint to the point of twee?

The scariest thing: George Orwell’s there. What does one say to the man? “Loved Animal Farm, but 1984 was a bit heavy…” – “tell us about the wars”? “Y’like Corbyn then”? I’d want to hear the man speak… but my banality would ruin the ambience for us both.

I’d find the presence of the literary giant intimidating. Orwell would spoil The Moon Under Water. I’d be happier, miserably, at Wetherspoons…

Tim Kingston

* * *

We’re really grateful to everyone for taking part (imagine throwing a party and nobody comes) but our favourite was by…

[annoying pause]

[annoying pause]

[annoying pause]

[seriously, one pause too many]

[oh, for f–]

Mark Bailey.

Well done, Mark!

Everything We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gardens, Amsterdam

April was a relatively quiet month because we went on holiday for ten days in the middle of it, but we managed a few decent posts nonetheless.

If you got something out of this lot, and the peripheral activity on social media, then do consider signing up for our Patreon. We’d love to get to to 100 sign-ups by the end of this year. Or, failing that, buy us a one-off pint — we’ve had a few of these already and it’s a lovely boost when they land in the inbox.

Orbit beers in a row.

Anyway… The month started with another entry in our series of tasting notes on beers suggested by our Patreon subscribers, focusing on beers from Siren as requested by Tim Thomas. Then, later in the month, we tasted a bunch of beers from Orbit as chosen by Paul B. Finally, we worked our way through a whole bunch of beers from Ireland at the prompting of the Beer Nut:

Kinnegar Rustbucket, at 5.1%…. smelled wonderful, taking us back to those days of a decade ago when Goose Island IPA was considered Way Out There, all orange and pine. Red-brown in colour, it tasted like a well executed, tongue-coating, jammy IPA of the old school, and gave the impression of being a much bigger beer. It was perfectly clean, nicely bitter, and just a touch peppery by way of a twist. What a breath of fresh air, and good value, too. We’d drink more of this.

(Side note: we had a couple of private messages from brewers of the back of this run of posts, offering follow-up information on what might have been wrong with beers we hadn’t enjoyed, and updating us on background goings-on that should mean better beer in months to come.)


Cheery-beery!

Longform subtweeting at Mark Johnson and Peter McKerry in an effort to raise their spirits (they spotted this was aimed at them immediately) we came up with a list of reasons to be cheerful about beer. This was Stan Hieronymus’s favourite:

10. Beer in general continues to be really tasty, and getting tipsy with friends and family is still great fun.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gardens, Amsterdam”

QUICK ONE: New Beer Bloggers — Say Hello!

"Hello" overlaid on a pint glass of beer.

If you’ve started a beer blog in the last year or so and would like to let other beer bloggers know about it please Tweet using the hashtag .

Here — like this:

We’ve been corresponding with someone who has just started a beer blog and isn’t sure how to go about making connections with others in the same boat, and we reckon this might be one solution.

To some extent blogs stand or fall based on links in and out, comments and mutual boosting, and we hope this might help people find their Class of ’18, just as we had our Class of ’07.

This will hopefully also be useful for us in recharging our RSS feeds with active beer blogs that we might otherwise have missed, with this kind of thing in mind.

If you’re not on Twitter… Well, if you want to promote a blog, you probably should be. But if you’re not, for reasons, then if you like you can comment below with something along the lines of Katie’s blurb above and we’ll Tweet on your behalf.

Further Reading: How to Beer Blog, by us, 2015

While We’re Away: Guinness in the Archives

We know blogs are ephemeral and that you’re just supposed to let a post disappear once it’s had its moment but we’ve got lots in the archive that we reckon newer readers might have missed. So, while we’re away on holiday, we thought we’d resurface a few bits on Guinness.

First, a big one, and not a blog post: for All About Beer back in June 2016 we pondered on how Guinness has managed to lose its edge, from being the go-to choice for discerning drinkers to the subject of scorn. After a lot of picking and digging, we reckon we managed to work it out:

Beers that are around for a long time often come to be perceived as Not What They Used to Be (see also Pilsner Urquell, for example). Sometimes that is down to jaded palates, or is the result of a counter-cultural bias against big brands and big business. Both of those might apply to Guinness but there is also objective evidence of a drop in quality, or at least of essential changes to the product…. Guinness has tended to be secretive about process, recipes and ingredients but we do know, for example, that the temperature of draught Guinness dropped significantly from about 1988 onward, falling from a typical 12 degrees Celsius to a target of 7 degrees. This is one thing that caused those drinkers of traditional cask-conditioned ale who had regarded draught Guinness as the one tolerable keg beer to turn against it.


1970s photograph of two men in horn-rimmed glasses inspecting beer.
Tommy Marling takes the temperature of draught Guinness watched by Mr Bill Steggle, licensee of the Cock at Headley near Epsom.

Here on the blog we also looked into what old in-house magazines from Guinness’s London brewery at Park Royal can tell us about the roll-out of the draught Guinness we know today:

“In 1946 when old-stagers with us now were breaking in their 32″ bottom demob suits our metal cask department was formed and managed by E.J. Griffiths. His assistant was Jack Moore now regional manager in Leeds. Even in 1946 the houses which specialised in draught Guinness such as Mooneys and Wards were being supplied from Park Royal ‘in the wood’. Don’t forget, we still had a cooperage and there was no tanker delivery.”


A sardine/sild sandwich.

Beyond beer, Guinness also had a huge impact on the birth of ‘pub grub’, as readers of 20th Century Pub will know. Here, from November 2016, is our filleting of Guinness’s 1961 recipe book for publicans, which was published as part of the brewery’s drive to get more food into pubs:

[In] October 1962, the newly-formed Snack Demonstration Team hit the road in [a] fabulous Mystery-Machine-alike [van]… Four days a week for the latter part of that year, lecturer Jo Shellard (an actor turned caterer) and his assistant Clint Antell toured the North West of England (where pub food was particularly wanting, we assume) speaking to groups of publicans ‘and their wives’.


And there’s lots more, if you want it:

Reasons to be Cheerful

We don’t generally cast ourselves as cheerleaders but today, with the sun shining, we wanted to take a minute to ac-cen-tu-ate the positives.

1. There are loads of great pubs and bars still to discover. We’re 143 pubs into our #EveryPubInBristol mission and still finding gems like The Beaufort

2. And new ones are opening or re-opening all the time in unexpected places, such as The Pursuit of Hoppiness in Exeter, or the Barrel at Bude.

3. Even with our Every Pub mission, and having been in various small towns, suburbs and villages, we haven’t had a really rank pint in months. We can’t recall the last time we felt the need to complain and ask for a replacement.

4. There’s more choice of beer and beer styles than most of us have the time to do anything about, even outside the hippest centres of craft beer culture. For example, Marks & Spencer announced a new beer range this week which includes a Saison from St Austell, and our local CO-OP has a choice of canned session IPAs, all perfectly decent. The average small-town Wetherspoon can usually do you a double IPA, a choice of standard IPAs, a choice of wheat beers, one or two Trappist beers, and that’s without even looking at the taps.

The beer garden at The Pirate.

5. It’s nearly beer garden season! The evenings are drawing out, the grass is growing over the muddy patches, and the picnic tables are being sanded down. If we don’t get to sit in the sun drinking pints of lager in the next fortnight, something will have gone dreadfully wrong.

6. There are people out there just discovering how interesting and exciting beer can be, drifting towards the thrill-ride of becoming a Five. Someone out there will drink their first Westmalle Tripel today! (Further reading: ‘Dare I Say Wine for Wives?’)

7. Adnams, Fuller’s, Harvey’s, St Austell, Timothy Taylor and a ton of other respected family breweries are not only still going strong but (a) continuing to brew classics such as ESB and Landlord and (b) brewing genuinely interesting side project beers, including a flood of porters.

8. There is beer on TV. It seemed impossible a few years ago but now there’s beer most weekends on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch, brewer Jaega Wise has joined the crew on ITV’s The Wine Show, and ‘Jolly’ Olly Smith is currently working on series 3 of Ale Trails for the Travel Channel.

9. Every weekend for the past few years we’ve managed to find enough interesting writing about beer and pubs to populate a blog post with links. There’s more good stuff in 2018 than there was in 2014, covering a wider range of topics from different perspectives. Recently, for the first time, there was so much going on we had to resort to bullet points to get it all in.

10. Beer in general continues to be really tasty, and getting tipsy with friends and family is still great fun.

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