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Blogging and writing

BOOK REVIEW: An uneasy journey into Clubland with Pete Brown

Pete Brown’s latest book is really three-in-one: a history of working men’s clubs, a portrait of clubs as they exist today, and an emotional memoir of a life spent struggling to navigate the English class system.

Like Pete, I’ve got a strong connection to working men’s clubs. Although my parents tended to prefer pubs – better beer, better atmosphere – they were also members of The Railwayman’s Club in Bridgwater, and of The Royal British Legion.

But my maternal grandparents, Lancastrians who moved to Somerset in the 1960s, were club people by nature. Grandpa had a strict three-pint limit and liked the fact that, at the club, it felt OK to nurse a half-pint of mild for an hour or two. Nan liked bingo.

The club I think of when I think of The Club is Highbridge Social Club where my grandparents drank for several years and which for a while my cousin actually managed.

A social club.
Conservative Club, Bath.

In Clubland Pete writes about the difficulty of knowing whether he really likes clubs or is appreciating them through a middle class filter. Is it nostalgia? Or, worse, ironic detachment?

Personally, I think it’s both of those things, but also completely sincere. I remember visiting the former railwayman’s club at Truro for the first time (it’s now just a pub, albeit one in a Portakabin) and feeling deeply, wonderfully at home.

Drinking a brown split, in lieu of mild, sitting on a bench under fluorescent light, I was eight-year-old me again, but also my own father and grandfather and uncles, but also a writer thinking: “There’s content in this.”

Pete Brown navigates this awkward space with the confidence you might expect from a man who has been writing about beer and pubs for 20-odd years and seems to win Beer Writer of the Year most years he’s eligible.

A particularly mean-spirited review of one of his previous books, by Jonathan Meades, of all people, dismissed Pete as a “professional northerner”. Still smarting from that, perhaps, Pete has nonetheless leaned into it: good point, Mr Meades – but what does that actually mean? Let’s not shy away but, rather, dig deeper into it.

How does a man from Barnsley – whose identity is built on being A Man From Barnsley – feel when he walks into working men’s clubs in Newcastle or Sheffield, knowing that he is also now a middle class writer from North London?

In the introduction to the book, he recalls how, as a student, he visited the hometown club with his father and, suddenly, didn’t fit in:

“I’m at college,” I said proudly (‘college’ being the catch-all term for any education after the age of sixteen. You just didn’t say the word ‘university’).

“What’s tha study?”

This was brilliant. A follow-up question! A real conversation with the lads. ‘Management Studies,’ I replied proudly.

An embarrassed silence fell immediately around the table. After a while, one of the other blokes, without lifting his eyes from his pint of John Smith’s, muttered, ‘Tha can’t study management.’

And that was the end of it.

Elsewhere, he runs himself in circles trying to work out if it feels right for him to join his local working men’s club in Stoke Newington. On the one hand, he’s helping it survive. On the other hand, he has a reflexive dislike of “middle class twats” appropriating working class culture.

Of course you might prefer your history with less personality, less emotion, and more footnotes.

The fact is that the facts are all here, in the service of a story about how the British working class has struggled against attempts to dictate how it ought to live, and enjoy itself.

Pete traces the origins of the club movement as an effort by well-to-do, well-meaning people who wanted to provide an alternative to the pub. At first, there was no beer, but the working man won that battle.

They then, after much wrangling, won control of the entire movement. In so doing, they wrestled free of the influence of brewers (real competition, cheap beer) and of moral arbiters – late opening, the development of a unique clubland culture behind members-only doors.

Tales of clubs in the north in the 1960s and 70s have a flavour of the novels of David Peace: an attempt to transplant the glamour of Las Vegas to a landscape of moorland and mines. Did you know Roy Orbison met his second wife while performing at a club in Batley?

A recurring point is that people underestimate the importance of clubs, overlooking their role in the history of everything from music halls to improved pubs, and the extent of their reach.

In 1974, he tells us, there four million people were members of Club & Institute Union (CIU) affiliated clubs.

Interior of the Buffs club, Penzance.
The Buffs Club, Penzance.

In the past we’ve referred to clubs as “shadow pubs”, invisible in many towns and neighbourhoods. Perhaps, as Pete suggests, they’ve flown below the radar in terms of cultural commentary too.

Pete’s accounts of visits to clubs still in operation today are distorted by the strange effects of the pandemic. Soldiering on, though, he talks to treasurers, committee members, bar staff and drinkers, making keen observations on the way.

For example, he is repeatedly told that the secret to the success of clubs is cheap beer. But it’s cheaper again from the supermarket so there must be something else that draws people in. It’s company, he suggests, and live music. (And the relatively cheaper beer doesn’t hurt.)

At the same time, Pete keeps checking himself for rose-tinted-glasses. He reflects on the sexism that blighted men-only working men’s clubs for decades, even as he seeks to understand it as a response to the accumulated trauma of successive world wars. Sheila Capstick, who campaigned to abolish the practice of second-class club membership for women, gets some well-deserved attention in a dedicated chapter.

Pete also forces himself to look long and hard at Bernard Manning who, for many people, epitomises the clubland comedian.

Throughout, the writing is frank, witty and warm. I particularly enjoyed the casual use of northernisms throughout the text – another “fuck you” to Jonathan Meades, but also mimicking the way your accent returns when you spend time with the folks, back home. “As the nature of being working-class shifts, and t’world continues to open up…” he writes at one point. Is it an affectation, or could he just not help himself? Either way, it’s a welcome touch of seasoning to the prose.

He concludes with some advice for clubs which are struggling to survive, including the very basic step of making it easier to join. After more than a century of exclusivity, some have simply not adapted to a world in which they need to attract members, rather than find excuses to turn them away.

Our nearest club is St Anne’s Board Mill Social Club, originally serving workers at a long-demolished cardboard factory. Maybe we’ll join, if they’ll have us.

Clubland: how the working men’s club shaped Britain is published by Harper North, RRP £20, but we got our copy for £15. There’s also an eBook and an audiobook read by Pete Brown himself.

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Blogging and writing

Fifteen years of blogging about beer and pubs

Fifteen years ago today the first post appeared on this blog. It wasn’t anything very exciting in itself – we just wanted to test how it all worked before committing – but was the start of something that has brought us a lot of fun and satisfaction over the years.

When work or real life has been tough, the blog has been somewhere to retreat. You can’t be depressed when you’re totally absorbed in writing something about gin palaces, or organising a tasting of bottled milds.

More than that, though, it’s taught us new skills, most notably how to write – and how to collaborate on writing.

The experience we’ve gained writing with each other translates well into writing with other people: don’t take those edits personally; it’s all about getting the best end product in the time available.

And, of course, it led to two published books, of which we’re very proud, and a few awards, too.

We’re not sure how we’ve stuck at it this long. Being a team helps but also, habit. We might not post as often as we used to but even now, if we don’t put up at least one post per week, we start to feel a bit twitchy.

That about 70 people think we’re worth supporting via Patreon, and several thousand more follow us on Twitter, is also a great encouragement to stick at it.

It can feel as if you’re throwing stuff out into a void – and we definitely were doing that for the first year or two – but it only takes the smallest echo to feel reassured that it’s landing somewhere.

Questions answered

To mark this little milestone, we put it to readers, followers and subscribers in various places that we’d be up for answering any questions they might have.

Here’s what we got, starting with a few questions from Andreas Krennmair, via Patreon.

What’s your most popular blog post by e.g. page views or comments?

In terms of comments, it was this piece from 2012 on ‘The Brown Bitter Company’ which actually got to something like 120 comments before the site was hacked. We tried to restore as many comments as we could from a backup but didn’t catch them all.

We don’t particularly monitor analytics these days but we do know that our piece about Watney’s Red Barrel is consistently among the most visited on the site. That’s not a surprise: we wrote it with the specific idea that it might be a helpful single source of information on this important beer, and it’s somewhat optimised to show up in Google search results for a range of searches on this topic. (This is another skill we’ve learned through blogging.) It got about 8,000 views in 2021 and continues to do steady traffic every day. We could probably make some money off that if we had on-page ads.

On a similar note, which blog post was the greatest unexpected success, and vice versa, were there any posts that you expected to be popular but then got a lot less resonance?

What we thought was a fairly minor bit of midweek pondering on brewery takeovers generated (a) several days of angry Tweeting, stroppy emails and not entirely welcome attention; followed by (b) a second surge of attention a couple of weeks later when it turned out our guesswork was more accurate than we could have known.

In terms of disappointments, it’s usually the longreads. When you’ve put a lot of effort into something 1,500 or more words long, you hope people might read and enjoy it. Our second piece following up on the story of Brew Britannia, ‘Don’t Worry, Be (Mostly) Happy’, runs to 6,000 words and took a lot of work, but didn’t grab people anywhere near as much as the first update, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Murky’. So maybe that one. Or it might be our interview with Simon Gueneau from Zero Degrees, which we think got overlooked because, first, that’s not an especially cool brewery and, secondly, interviewers with brewers don’t excite people all that much in general, we’ve found.

What is your whale topic? By that I mean something you’ve wanted to research but every time you tried, you have not been able to find any (usable) sources about it?

We’ve got one at the moment – the history of Smiles Brewery here in Bristol. We’ve cast around for information and sources a few times but can’t get hold of anyone with first-hand knowledge, or any documentation. That might be because it’s relatively recent history and people feel uncomfortable talking about it, or it could just be that there’s not much to tell. But we’ll keep at it.

Having just returned from Belgium, is there a Belgian beer that you’re surprised doesn’t get more recognition?

This question and the next are from Stuart Pritchard, also via Patreon. Our gut instinct is to say De Ranke. Beer geeks know them and in our minds, they’re up there with Duvel, Orval and Westmalle. But we wonder how many people outside The Bubble might think of them at all. Finding De Ranke XX on draught in Bristol the other week was a major cause of excitement.

Given the amount of hype around some beers and breweries, is there one subject of adulation that you have found warranted the attention?

We struggle with this a bit. Few breweries that appear from nowhere and generate lots of excitement in a short period of time have ever really worked for us. We sometimes feel out of step, wondering if we’re missing something. But, ultimately, we have to trust our own judgement. Sometimes those breweries get good, if they stick it out. Siren, for example, we recall finding underwhelming early on but now, well established and consistent, they’ve become a go-to for us. Generally, we prefer breweries that start small and quiet and build a buzz over the course of years. We’d never have called Elusive a hype brewery and yet we hear that other week a ‘meet the brewer’ event generated queues around the block. They’ve earned that following.

If you could resurrect one beer that has ceased being brewed, or the original brewery has ceased to exist, what would it be? – Ian Garrett, via Twitter

There are a couple of categories here. First, there are beers we miss from the last decade or two, such as Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter. This was a go-to, especially for Jess, and we still don’t understand the logic behind its disappearance. (“Poor sales!” Yes, but also poor marketing.) Then there are beers and breweries we regret having missed, from the perspective of beer history. Boddington’s, for example, which we’ve done our damnedest to get to know by reading and talking to people – but that’s not the same.

What’s your favourite flavour of crisps? What’s your favourite brand of crisps? Does your favourite flavour/brand become overall fave? Why do lots of ‘beer’ pubs sell Pipers Crisps? – ‘Reg Plates’ via Twitter

Ray’s given up crisps! But Jess says Pickled Onion Monster Munch. We’ve both been impressed by Piper’s ready-salted which are a bit more oily than some other brands and get really close to the experience of the bits from the bottom of a bag of chips. Which probably answers that final question, too.

The one/ultimate Bristol pub to visit for that a craft (summer) experience….. throw in a yard…or garden… forget the food…. though a pop up…. – DG, via Twitter

We don’t think there is one magical place that has it all. The Lost & Grounded taproom comes closest with its benches out on the car park, an always-interesting beer list and usually someone cooking pizza or whatever. When the weather is right, and the crowd is buzzing, it can feel quite like a German beer garden… despite being on an industrial estate in Brislington.

What is the answer to Life, the Universe & Everything?? – Granddad Greg, via Twitter

We’d have put money on some smart arse asking this. Anyway, it’s beer.

If you had to draw a pie chart showing importance for a good night with 3 factors, company, atmosphere/surroundings and beer quality what would it look like? – Chris Murray, via Twitter

First, pie charts are bad, and information can almost be displayed more clearly with another type of chart. But, anyway… These days, beer quality is much less important to us than it used to be. As long as there’s something on offer we can enjoy drinking – and that can be Guinness at a push – if the pub and/or company are interesting, we’ll have a good time. Here’s the chart, though, showing a 40/40/20 split.

A pie chart showing Atmosphere (40%), Company (40%) and Beer (20%)

Can you define the difference between porter and stout? – James B, via Twitter

We’ve already had a go at this one on our FAQ page: “Historically speaking, nothing: stout is to porter what best bitter is to bitter – a heftier version of the same style. Modern home-brewing competition guidelines set specific parameters but remember, those aren’t rules. And if a brewer makes both a porter and a stout they’ll usually, in our experience, make the stout denser and more bitter.”  From a personal perspective, we’d probably describe something rich and creamy as stout, and expect porter to be more smokey or fruitier.

Why do brewers still conform to the uniform of check shirts, beards, tattoos and beanies long after the fashion died? – Alcofrolic Chap, via Twitter

We don’t know if they do, to be honest. Especially not the women. But about 18% of British men had full beards as of 2017 and around a third of UK adults have tattoos. Given that part of the appeal of working in craft brewing must be that you’re not expected to be clean-shaven, wear a suit or otherwise conform to corporate dress codes, it’s probably higher again in the industry. And check shirts are just… standard clothes? Pretty practical for working in, too, as they don’t show dust or schmutz as easily as, say, a white or black one. And beanies are still very much in fashion, based on our observations of people going about their business in Bristol. What we’re saying is, they’re just normal men. They’re just innocent men.

Have your thoughts on what makes an ideal pub changed since you first started? – Lisa Grimm, via Twitter

Yes. When we started blogging, we were constantly irritated at pubs only having brown bitter on offer and would rate pubs more highly because of their beer offer even if the atmosphere wasn’t great. We were on a mission back then to try as many beers as possible and expand our knowledge. Now, we value variety much more. The ideal pub now will have personality, individual character and something unique about its offer – whether that’s cheese rolls in paper bags, a particularly good jukebox or, say, weirdly flat Bass. One of our latest thoughts, that we haven’t quite worked through yet, is that a great pub should make the regulars feel as if they’re at home without making incomers feel unwelcome.

We hear statistics about how many pubs have closed in recent years; but several that I know are now a lot bigger with extensions built and outbuildings refurbished. Has anyone studied how the overall hospitality area has changed? – Mark Swingler, via Twitter

We’ve thought about this a bit. Old-fashioned street corner beerhouses might have had space for 20 or 30 drinkers. A typical Wetherspoon pub has room for 200 or more. So there’s definitely some sort of consolidation process going on. At the same time, the micropub has arisen in the past two decades. Operators will always want bigger, more efficient premises; but maybe drinkers don’t; so huge pubs won’t necessarily be anyone’s favourite place to drink, even if they’re convenient. Pre-pandemic, we’d have said the medium-sized suburban local was most at risk but the pandemic has thrown everything up in the air, including where you’ll find people. So who knows what will happen in coming years.

Who is your favourite beer writer? – Tim Hickford, via Twitter

In our Golden Pints last year we named Eoghan Walsh and we’d stick by that, especially as we hear he’s turning his excellent posts on Brussels beer history into a book. But David Jesudason is having a hell of a year in 2022. Check out this list of our favourite beer writing from 2021 for more names. 

Will Scampi Fries, Cheese Moments and pork scratchings ever be surpassed? – Martyn Griffin, via Twitter

We’d make the case for pistachio nuts, salted cashews and Serious Pig ‘Crunchy Snacking Cheese’. The latter is the essence of oily, salty umami and does the job when (having gone veggie in the past year or so) we crave something like scratchings.

Thanks to everyone who asked us something for this post and, of course, to everyone who’s encouraged or supported us over the years.

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Blogging and writing

BOOK REVIEW: Modern British Beer by Matthew Curtis

Modern British Beer (RRP £15.99, 256 pages) by Matthew Curtis comprises a series of short pieces covering 80 or so beers that the author feels reflects the breadth and range of beer on offer in the UK today.

As in our review of the official history of CAMRA, we’ll start with an observation that this is an interesting choice of book for CAMRA to commission and publish.

It suggests they’ve moved quite comprehensively past the debate about whether it is ever appropriate for the Campaign to support or endorse beer that isn’t ‘real’.

The book features a good spread of breweries, from the very new to stalwarts of the real ale scene such as Durham and Oakham. It’s fair to say, though, that the book leans towards those founded in the 21st century.

We often feel we’ve fallen out of the loop since writing Brew Britannia and all too often fall into the trap of writing off a lot of modern beers as hazy and/or sweet, and not to our taste. A book that provides a manageable hit list and helps us find our way to the good stuff in a crowded market might, we hoped, make us feel more on top of things.

This book delivers precisely that. Like the book we started out with all those years ago, Michael Jackson’s 500 Great Beers, it offers page after page of delightful descriptions accompanied by enticing photography.

Perhaps wisely, the choice of image goes beyond glossy product or pack shots and instead seeks to convey a sense of what ‘modern British beer’ means in practice. That is, lots of stainless steel, industrial units and taprooms.

We’ve drunk maybe only a third of the beers listed. There are a few breweries in the book we’ve never come across in the wild and which, having read Curtis’s impassioned tributes, will definitely be seeking out.

We know we won’t like everything he recommends but the hit rate is likely to be higher with a guide than without.

Particular kudos is due to the author for making the effort to list plenty of beers that aren’t hazy IPAs.

As with Michael Jackson, the tone is positive and uncritical – perfect for generating enthusiasm in the reader. There is a sense that the text takes the various breweries’ marketing lines and origin stories at face value, usually with a personal recollection of where the author first tasted Beer X or first met Brewer Z.

In a couple of cases, this highlights the weakness of books as a format for covering the here and now. For example, between writing and printing, the environmental credentials that form a large part of the BrewDog story here came under fire in the national press. And a passage about the head of one brewery who ‘has always done things her way’ prompts an involuntary cringe in the wake of bullying allegations which led to her recent resignation.

Books can only ever be snapshots, however, and capturing the moment is worthwhile, too. We can presumably expect a new edition of this guide every two or three years and it will be interesting to see who is in, and who is out.

One final quibble: we’re also not sure about the definition of modern British beer, or whether it even needs defining.

That is, we’re not convinced that being focused on ingredients, or being rooted in the local community, is something that sets the breweries listed here apart from, say, Bathams, or Adnams.

The point isn’t laboured, though, and is hardly that important. Really, it’s all about the list, the guiding hand and the sense of infectious glee.

The book is already well-thumbed and is, as we speak, informing our plans about where to go on holiday later this year.

We bought our copy direct from CAMRA at a pre-order price of £13.00 plus delivery.

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Blogging and writing News

News, nuggets and longreads 2 January 2021: Future Shock

After a couple of weeks off, partly because beer writing and blogging also went into hibernation, we’re back with our first round-up of 2021.

Once again, things are bleak. As various wags have pointed out, the only pubs you can now sit in for a drink are on Scilly and UK COVID-19 case numbers look scarier than ever. Still, at least vaccines are beginning to roll out – though even that has somehow become fraught and and confusing.

Still, beer continues to exist, and pubs continue to fascinate, and writing about them rolls on.


Brussels blood sausage.

At Brussels Beer City, with the help of his wife, Eoghan Walsh provides notes on whether there is such a thing as traditional Bruxellois Christmas food and, if so, which of the city’s beers might best pair with what:

Irish Christmas traditions are pretty standard when it comes to food, and are what you might expect from the archipelago of English-speaking islands in the northwestern corner of Europe: mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, turkey, stuffing, ham, various iterations of potatoes (mashed, roasted, parsley), gravy. In asking around what constituted a Brussels Christmas, it became clear that no such culinary canon existed. For some people, game – rabbit often, sometimes small birds – featured highly, while for others it was all about salmon. Noting Brussels’ long history of migrant communities, people suggested dishes with Spanish, Italian, Moroccan, and French influences…


A pint and a book.

Suzy Aldridge has launched a new blog, Hobbyist Lobbyist, with a bit less beer than the old one but still plenty of room for, say, reflections on the magic of bar stools:

There’s just enough space on the curved end of the bar for your pint, your book, and a pot of olives. There’s four more seats at the bar but you’re just out the way enough that no-one needs to lean over you to order. You occasionally duck so they can read the blackboard behind you but you don’t mind, in fact you can recommend the stout – gesturing at your tankard. The bar staff are charming, the ebb and flow of customers sharing the bar with you is friendly and comfortable. You are at peace.


Alice Batham

For Burum Collective, Helen Anne Smith has interviewed Alice Batham, an early-career brewer with a name famous among beer geeks:

“My family own a brewery, so I have actually grown up in the industry. When I was younger, I used to go to the brewery with my Dad, it was only ever like a Saturday, or Sunday kind of thing. I was never pressured into going into beer. I went to University to do English and – it sounds like super cliche whenever I say this to people, but I went and lived in Australia for a bit. Their bar and pub scene is just so different and I realised how much I loved it and missed it.”


Rural Jamaica

In his ongoing research into porter and stout (there’s a big book on the way) Martyn Cornell continues to find new stories to tell. This week, he shone a light on the historic popularity of porter among working-class Jamaicans:

Draught porter was sold from draught porter shops, in existence in Kingston, Jamaica from at least the Edwardian era; from casks in refreshment parlors that also sold fried fish and bread; and also by travelling salesmen, who would call out “Draaf porter!” as they travelled on foot around rural villages in the Jamaican interior, carrying a large tin container with a spout, and cans in quart, pint, half-pint and gill (quarter-pint, pronounced “jill”) sizes, for serving… Draught porter, often referred to as “drought porter,” was brewed by Jamaica’s many soda water and soft drinks manufacturers using “wet sugar,” a type of molasses made by the hundreds of small cane-sugar farmers in the Jamaican countryside and sold in tins. Draught porter retailed for an exceedingly cheap 1½ pence a glass, and was the drink of Jamaica’s poorest classes.


Breakfast now being served.

Liam at Beer, Food, Travel has unearthed a fun little thing – a rundown of the correct names for drinks taken at various times of day, from 1892. At the time of writing, we ought to have put away our eye openers (6am), be working on our appetizers (7am) and looking forward to digesters at 8am. (Ugh.)


After a slow start, a decent number of Golden Pints posts did appear in the end. If we’ve missed yours, give us a shout.

Common themes? “What a year it’s been!” and plaudit for Lars Marius Garshol’s excellent book.


Finally, from Twitter, there’s this, which you’ll either get, or you won’t:

For more good reading, check out Alan McLeod’s round-ups from Thursday – from the past three Thursdays, in fact.

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Blogging and writing

Our favourite bits of beer writing from 2020

These are individual pieces of beer writing that stood out to us, and stuck in our memories, because they were powerfully written, especially illuminating or simply spoke to a moment.

This isn’t a record of every good bit of writing from the year – we managed to find between five and eight notable posts or articles most Saturday mornings.

If there’s a favourite piece of yours we’ve omitted, feel free to give it a shout out in the comments.

Mallaig
My Journey to Scotland’s Most Remote Pub

By Oliver Smith, Outside, January 2020

“In the beginning, there was the pub. And the people saw that the pub was good… The pub was the Old Forge, and the Guinness Book of World Records declared it “the most remote pub on mainland Britain.” It was set in the village of Inverie, the only major settlement on Scotland’s Knoydart peninsula, a wild finger of land with a population of 100. To get there, you had two choices: catch a six-mile ferry from the little port of Mallaig, or set out on a two-to-three-day hike across some of the most isolated mountains in Western Europe—an attempt referred to by the British outdoor community as a “walk-in.” The trek from the hamlet of Glenfinnan is some 27 miles, crossing swollen rivers and lonely mountains along vague and vanishing trails. With every mile walked, every sprain of ankle, every squelch of bog, the beer tasted sweeter… But then the trouble started.”

Norway
East of the mountains: gong

By Lars Marius Garshol, April 2020

“While the wort boiled, we headed into the house where Ågot, Sverre’s mother, was preparing the yeast. Sverre said that even when his father brewed, his mother was the one that handled the yeast. Entering the kitchen I was astonished to see pieces of cloth with a thin, dry crust of darkish-brown yeast on them. I’d read about people storing yeast by drying it on cloth, but never actually seen it… This is the “gong”, the yeast that Sverre inherited from his father. Exactly where it came from before that he’s not quite sure. He also shares it with Bjarne Halvorsgard, another local brewer. So the exact origin of the yeast is difficult to pinpoint, but it’s definitely been in the village for a long time. Beyond that it was not at all clear what it was, except that it could ferment beer… It turns out Ågot takes the harvested yeast and smears it on cloth, where it is dried. She has a box full of these cloth pieces with dried yeast on them. After they’re dried she cuts them into suitable sizes for the next brews.”