Why so many breweries in Waltham Forest, all of a sudden?

I paid a flying visit to Tap East the week before last to see my brother. While I was there I tried the Pilsner by Pillars Brewery.

“Do you know it’s made round the corner from where we grew up?” asked my brother.

“Brewed on an industrial estate in Walthamstow – isn’t everything these days?”

And then the two of us took a moment to ponder on how weird that is and how far things have come for beer in Waltham Forest, with several breweries and talk of a rival beer mile.

Pubs that were on the brink of closing have been ‘rescued’ and you certainly don’t go short of a Sunday roast and a hazy pale ale.

And while it’s easy to moan about gentrification, this isn’t a case so much of pushing out existing traditional businesses because there are way more decent places to drink now than there ever were.

When I was young, Walthamstow wasn’t really a big drinking destination. It was somewhere young families settled. You might have a few in The Village or The Goose or whichever local pub tickled your fancy but, generally, people went up town for serious nightlife.

And there were no breweries at all, not one, in a borough with about a quarter of a million people. The Essex Brewery closed in the 1970s and the Sweet William brewery at the William IV, later Brodie’s, didn’t come along until much later.

Talking this through with Ray, we concluded that Waltham Forest these days is the perfect combination of shed-loads (literally) of bona fide industrial estates, not just converted railway arches; with good transport connections; and an increasingly young, wealthy demographic.

That must make it a great seedbed for new breweries and a good option for established breweries looking to move or expand.

We asked London beer experts Des de Moor and Jezza for their opinions, by way of testing our assumptions.

The latter, editor of the excellent Beer Guide London, confirmed my perception of a recent explosion: “That section has certainly grown remarkably in the last year or two in particular.”

And both Des and Jezza came up with the same overarching explanation. Des happens to have been giving this some thought lately as he’s been working on an imminent new edition of his CAMRA guide to London pubs. Here’s how he expresses the challenge for London brewing businesses and the appeal of Waltham Forest:

Your task is to find an ‘up and coming’ area that already has, or is near to somewhere that has, a bit of hipster buzz, and over the coming years is likely to attract a population who will drink and talk about your beer, but still has relatively affordable industrial space and where you won’t have a problem getting an on-licence… Walthamstow, and particularly the area where all the new breweries are opening up, to the west of the historic centre along Blackhorse Road, is one of the few places that scores highly on all these factors. This is part of the Lea Valley, historically one of London’s largely industrial areas as the risk of flooding from the Lea discouraged housing development.

Jezza and Des also highlighted a point we’d missed which is that the local council has been keen to encourage craft breweries and other businesses, “even to the extent of partnering in a pub that showcases breweries in the borough” as Des put it, referring to the Welcome to the Forest Bar.

What about the Pilsner, though – was it any good? Yes, rather to my surprise, it was absolutely fantastic – really crisp and clean, as if it had been brewed in a Bavarian city somewhere rather than round the back of my old primary school.

Perhaps the next step could be to build a sprawling Munich style beer garden down by the reservoirs…?

News, nuggets and longreads 7 March 2020: Sceptres, Slutte, Spitalfields

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, with a particular focus on beer labels.

First, some Portman Group news. The industry body has declared against a label from Bristol brewery Lost & Grounded on the grounds that its procession of cartoon animals might be seen to appeal to children. Lost & Grounded has rejected this decision and doesn’t intend to change the label which, as we understand it, is always an option as long as you’re willing to be blacklisted by outlets that are signed up to the Portman code.

This time, Martyn Cornell has taken on the job of writing the obligatory opinion piece on the subject:

There is a legitimate position in declaring: “Why shouldn’t we use whatever artwork we like on our cans and bottles? What actual evidence is there that such artwork will encourage under-18s to drink the contents?” And you’d be right. But in the real world, there will always be those wowsers who will declare that such images COULD encourage children to pick up the can or bottle and sample what’s inside, and the Portman Group will always head those people off and ban such images, in the frankly justifiable fear that if it isn’t seen to be banning such images, then some politician will declare that industry self-regulation has failed, and state regulation will be brought in instead.

Another brewer, Purity, has also had a ticking off from Portman over its Lawless unfiltered lager: “The Panel considered that the name ‘Lawless’ directly implied breaking the law, which was by definition illegal behaviour. Therefore, it could not be justifiable through content given the nature of the Code.”.

Purity’s defence in this case does a good job of explaining why these decisions are a problem for small breweries: “The company explained Lawless was an internationally award-winning beer brand, and accounted for 10% of their revenue across cans and keg. The company stated changes to the brand name were a huge risk and could impact sales through consumer recognition and delists.”

At any rate, your man from SIBA is taking steps:

 


Switched on Bach.

At Appellation Beer Stan Hieronymus asks, “How much do ‘we’ need to know about beer history?” In a post that references Bach, Philip Glass and Nadia Boulanger, he reflects on whether doing your homework matters much in appreciating and commentating on what is current:

“If we had a teenager and a film historian talking about Quentin Tarantino then the film historian would matter more,” [music podcaster Chuck] Klosterman says. “If we had a rock historian talking about Billy Eilish the teenager’s perspective would matter more. It’s the only thing like that.”

Perhaps it is not the only thing. Perhaps milkshake IPAs and pastry stouts are like that.


Slutte label

In a guest post for Brussels Beer City, beer sommelier Hélène Spitaels declares that she has had enough of the unabashed sexism of her native beer culture:

Slutte was a perfect example. A brand set up by a group of men from a local sports club in Brussels, the brand received unearned attention when it was awarded a medal at the World Beer Awards in 2019… Despite protestations to the contrary by the owners, and a fake backstory they cooked up in an attempt to give themselves cover, the name means what you think it means. And then there’s the beer’s label – the silhouette of a women’s bum, accompanied by the tagline “A Belgian beer with body”.


The Blue Anchor brewery in the 1980s.
The Blue Anchor brewery, Mile End Road. SOURCE: Philip Cunningham/Spitalfields Life.

At Spitalfields Life, guest poster Philip Cunningham has provided a set of poignant photos of the lost breweries of the East End of London, along with notes on his own family history:

My grandfather was a train driver until the day he was discovered to be colour blind, when he was sacked on the spot. He then became a drayman and – apart from two world wars – spent the rest of his working life at the Albion Brewery in Whitechapel. He was one of the first draymen to drive a motorised vehicle, a skill which saved his life in WWI.


Lost and Grounded.

After what must have been a tough week, we imagine the team at Lost & Grounded were quite pleased to see the publication of a tribute to their flagship beer by Will Hawkes, at Pellicle.  Keller Pils is a beer we know fairly well and generally enjoy. The notes here about sales and production method are particularly interesting:

At every step, the lager problem has been tackled with rigorous attention to detail. One telling example: to iron out inconsistencies between batches of Keller Pils, [Alex Troncoso] now blends two types of pale lager malt, from Bamberg and Belgium, and fermentation and maturation take place in tanks big enough to contain six batches. … The brewery has grown rapidly of late. Keller Pils makes up around 70 per cent of 2019’s 6000-hectolitre total (just over a million pints). That will double next year, with a final target of somewhere between 30,000 (5.3m pints) and 40,000 (7m).6


And, finally, there’s this…

…and this:

 


For more good reading about beer and pubs, check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.

When Barclay Perkins tried to evict my great grandad

great grandad as a teenager
My great grandad aged 18

One of the oddest, most wonderful moments researching 20th Century Pub was stumbling across my own great grandfather in the archives.

I was reading through volume after volume of minutes from the London brewery Barclay Perkins, tracing the story of their relationship with the Trust House movement and the development of their enormous improved pubs such as the Fellowship Inn, Bellingham.

Then, suddenly, there was a reference to an off licence round the corner from where I grew up, and a few lines down, the name of my great grandfather.

I don’t know all that much about him although I have photos and the odd document. I know he served in World War I which seems to have screwed him up somehow and during the 1920s he ran a grocer’s shop and off-licence in Walthamstow, which eventually ended badly.

From the minutes, I learned that Barclay Perkins owned the freehold on the shop and leased it to him on a short-term basis, with the lease expiring in 1930. In 1925, Barclays were approached by a wine merchant’s, Yardley’s London & Provincial Stores Ltd, who would pay more rent, and a lease premium to boot. They were also keen to do some bottling for the brewery, as they already did for Watney, although the board were less interested in this as Barclay Perkins did their own London bottling.

There’s an interesting insight into how these things worked: my great grandad bought beer from the brewery and also paid a royalty of 2d per dozen bottles of non-company beer sold. They were rather sniffy about his business generally; “…[Company] purchases were small and the royalty only amounted to some £12 per annum”. Also, the implication in the minutes is that Barclay Perkins would probably find another site and trade the licence.

Someone was dispatched to “inspect the neighbourhood” and report back. The following minutes record that the intrepid company rep had found out that the local magistrates would only issue a new licence if two were given up. In the meeting after that, the decision to grant Yardley’s a 21 year licence was deferred. It then goes quiet for a few months, and then the Board are asked whether they would consider it again – and then that’s it.

My great grandad continued to run the shop after 1930, so I guess the Yardley’s deal fell through and Barclay Perkins had to put up with his disappointing trade for a while longer.

Mass Observation on juvenile drinking, 1944

Mass Observation was a social research firm that made its name observing the habits of British people before and during World War II. In 1944, it published a report on a particularly interesting subject: to what extent did ‘juveniles’ consume alcohol? If so, what did they drink? And where?

The Mass Observation team set about their study during 1943. Here’s a chunk of the preamble to the report:

The object of this survey was to establish how, when and where young people consumed alcoholic drinks, how the habit of drinking and pub-going is established, and, at the higher age levels, how juveniles and youth behave in pubs. Two London areas were made the main subject of the survey, one in the South West, the other in the East End. Check studies were made in a South Coast port, Worktown and a Devonshire village, with some subsidiary observations on behaviour among the older age groups, in a docks area, the neighbourhood of a London Railway terminus and one of the London markets. Direct interviewing methods of the familiar questionnaire type were only used in certain parts of this survey. In obtaining children’s own accounts of their drinking experiences the subject was brought up in the course of conversation, on different topics, and introduced naturally into the context in a friendly manner. 200 verbatim statements were obtained in this way from children aged 7 to 18, individually engaged in conversation.

Continue reading “Mass Observation on juvenile drinking, 1944”

Everything we wrote in February 2020

Will February 2020 go down as the most exciting month in this blog’s history?

Probably not. But we somehow managed to post 14 times, around side projects and day jobs, so not bad, all in all.

And we expect to hit our 3,000th post in March or April, by the way – bonkers, that.

Anyway…

We had Belgium on our brains in February and started the month with a post about the appeal of Belgian beer and Belgian beer culture to people just starting to get excited about beer:

When you first encounter Belgian beer, there’s an impression of boundless choice. Even the most basic bars have lengthy beer lists, usually with enough options to offer something different throughout a weekend city break. The beers on offer range from brain-dissolvingly sour to syrup sweet, and often come with tantalising, almost romantic descriptions.


Perhaps because storms kept us stuck in the house a bit more than usual, we spent a fair bit of time digging in online archives in the past few months, which is how we stumbled across an 1856 survey of London pubs. Apart from pointing people to the book, we wanted to highlight in particular the stats on mid-Victorian pub names:

“A wonderful display of tapsters’ ingenuity occurs in such signs as Blade Bone, Coffee-pot, Essex Serpent, Knave of Clubs, Lilliput Hall, Naked Boy and Woolpack, Old Centurion, Pickled Egg, Prospect of Whitby, Tippling Philosopher, Widow’s Son, Valiant Trooper, Sun in Splendour, Running Footman, Experienced Fowler, Good Man, Kentish Wag and World Turned Upside Down.”


You can’t judge a pub on one visit, we argued, perhaps with The Portcullis in mind, of which more later:

We think this is why it’s easier to judge places that have an identifiable guv’nor or guv’nors – that their personality, for good or worse, sets a fairly consistent tone for the place. And you can tell a lot by the regulars that they gather around them and the behaviours that are and aren’t allowed.


We shared details of a 1963 document from Guinness setting out the itinerary for a carefully managed press tour, including briefing notes on questions likely to be asked:

How can you expect to do well with beer now that wine and spirit drinking is a “done” thing?
It is true that wine sales are going up quickly but only a comparatively small amount is drunk by a particular section of the population.

What about failure of Common Market Negotiation?
This has not changed our picture. Our main trade within the European Common Market is with Belgium and France where Guinness has always been regarded as a speciality drink commanding a higher price than regular beers.


We put into words our feelings about The Portcullis, which at first we thought was a peculiar pub but eventually realised was actually a misplaced eccentric Belgian cafe:

On Saturday evening, we sat at a shelf, facing a canvas print of Prince, against a backdrop of red-rose boudoir wallpaper… We drank Belgian beers chosen from a printed menu, each served in correctly branded glassware – Chimay, Straffe Hendrik, Orval, De Ranke, with more on offer… Pink Floyd played softly in the background.


Next came a piece directly inspired by our visit to The Portcullis, on which we drank more than our physical limits would usually permit, but which, miraculously, we got away with:

Not too bad.

No instinctive shying from the light.

There doesn’t seem to be any nausea, although you won’t really know until you try to get up and do something.


We didn’t think we’d ever want to write about the origins or meaning of the term craft beer again but, having noticed conversations about it on Twitter, lately, felt the need to provide some raw information for reference. The post takes the form of a timeline running from 1883 to 1995, by which time the phrase was in regular use.


Molly Figgures lived and worked in the same Gloucestershire village pub for 50 years. Fortunately for we booze historians, she was given a nudge to write a short memoir – an eccentric volume full of amazing details. For example…

Sometimes the spittoons were turned into a form of entertainment when a well-known character, who had served in the Navy, would go down on his knees and slide them around the floor accompanied by an appropriate song. This was known as Holy Stoning.


We also produced five editions of our regular Saturday morning round-ups of news and links:


We posted some bits and pieces on Patreon, including a pub life vignette and notes on the controversy around people asking for samples in pubs. Do consider signing up.


Our newsletter was a whopper, covering our plans to index What’s Brewing, the necessity of nicheing and more. To get next month’s, sign up here.


And on Twitter, there was a bunch of stuff like this:

Now then – let’s crack on with March.

News, nuggets and longreads 29 February 2020: Mindfulness, mixed fermentation, Magee

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from mindful drinking to robotic noses.

First, an interesting bit of news: Beer Advocate, the business built around rating beer that isn’t RateBeer, has been acquired by the people who own beer ticking app Untappd. As Todd Alström, Beer Advocate co-founder, writes:

We’ve been struggling to keep the lights on for over two years, and we still face some challenges, but I’m confident that this is the best path for all of us. Next Glass is committed to not only helping BeerAdvocate, but passionate about protecting and cultivating our unique culture, identity, and community… I also have a lot of respect for what Greg Avola, Untappd’s Co-Founder and CTO, and team have built over the past nine years, and this next chapter is a great opportunity to explore new features and opportunities.

This is more evidence that global craft beer, as an industry, is now well into the consolidation phase.


A brain.

For Vox, Derek Brown has written about how ‘mindful drinking’ has changed his life and enabled him to continue a career in booze while curbing the worst of his relationship with alcohol:

Alcohol isn’t really all that good for you. It certainly wasn’t always good for me. Though I used to joke that without it I wouldn’t have a job, friends, or a hobby, I now teetotal most of the week and drink cocktails, whiskey, and wine infrequently… Everything about that goes against the way I make my living as a spirits and cocktail expert, author, and bar owner. I don’t think everything we do has to be “good for you.” Neither should everything we do lead us down a fiery path of ruination. Lately, I’m more than content with a few fingers of bourbon followed by a drink without alcohol. And, when I indulge, it’s still with the guardrails on.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 29 February 2020: Mindfulness, mixed fermentation, Magee”

Molly Figgures’ 50 years in a Gloucestershire pub

Molly Figgures was born Gwendoline Mary Barrett in Blockley, on the Gloucestershire-Worcestershire border, in 1907. When she was a child, her father, Ernest Alfred, took over the running of the Bell Inn at Blockley where she would live and work for the next 50 years.

We’ve often lamented the dearth of first-hand accounts of pub life in the 20th century.

Fortunately for us, Molly was encouraged by local historian Norah Marshall to write down her stories of life at the Bell.

What she wrote was published under the cryptic title Over the Bones by Blockley Antiquarian Society in 1978.

These local history publications aren’t always riveting, let’s be honest. This one is genuinely brilliant, though, not because Molly is a great writer but because The Bell, and Blockley, sound… mad.

Consider these two paragraphs in which Molly recollects some of the regulars from her childhood days:

We had some delightful old age pensioners who were customers. There was ‘Shover’ Eden, he came along to fetch his paper and always called for a drink every morning, which was a pint of bitter. He said that The Bell was the Doctor’s surgery and he’d come for his medicine! There was Ted Beachey who had a half of bitter. His wife was the local midwife. She made humbugs and aniseed sweets which were in ‘pennyworths’ wrapped in newspaper. Often halfway through eating one you would find a dead wasp in the centre! Ted frequently brought some along for us. You had to get the newspaper off too before you could eat them. However, we did not mind so long as we had sweets to eat! I only had 1d a week to spend so being free they were very welcome.

There was also a Mr. Freeman and he had a tame fox which he brought with him. Fred Hitchman was a very regular customer in the evenings and he always smoked a pipe so of course he was honoured with a spittoon which he proudly had between his feet so that he could spit in comfort! It was not a very pleasant job to empty these spittoons and we had to buy sawdust by the sackful from Butlers saw-yard at Draycott to put in them. Sometimes the spittoons were turned into a form of entertainment when a well-known character, who had served in the Navy, would go down on his knees and slide them around the floor accompanied by an appropriate song. This was known as Holy Stoning.

So, to summarise, we’ve got boiled sweets with wasps in them, a tame fox, and curling with spittoons – this is some real folk horror stuff.

A man outside a pub
The Bell Inn, AKA The Bell Hotel, in around 1950, via Over the Bones.

She also describes various moments of arguing and fighting, including the occasion when ‘Badgie Mayo’ got into a scrap with another customer. Because Badgie had lost an arm in WWI, the other man agreed to tie an arm behind his back so their dust up in the pub garden would be fair.

The very best part might be her account of throwing out a customer who was rude to her mother:

He called my Mum by a name of which I disapproved, so I ordered him out and made him go and I followed him and told him never to come in again, and he didn’t.* My Mum said this was the first time she had seen “Our Moll” in a temper, which goes to show what one can do.

* He is dead now. I hope he went to the right place!

There are some lovely details about the evolution of the pub. First, there’s the installation of what Molly calls a ‘snug’ but which sounds more like what would usually be called a lounge, with an electric bellpush for service and a penny surcharge per drink.

Then there’s the acquisition, after World War II, of a television, which caused great excitement in the village. One local, Molly says, became a fixture at the pub, lingering for hours over a half so he could watch whatever was on. Until he got his own TV, that is, when he stopped coming to the pub altogether. If we’d made that up, you might think it was a bit heavy handed.

There’s some great stuff about booze, obviously, lots of it a reminder of the freedom a remote village offered when it came to obeying the letter of the law.

For example, Molly’s mother made rhubarb wine while Bert, Molly’s husband, produced plum. Strictly against the law, you could order your cider ‘with’ and get a shot of wine added to the glass to give it extra oomph.

(Again, mixing and blending was absolutely normal until quite recently; it’s not a weird modern development.)

As for beer…

All the beer was drawn from the wood and it was twenty walking steps each way to the cellar to fetch each drink so of course some was spilt and sometimes my Mum would spill more than usual and there was usually someone who complained; but on the whole people were very good. Some would say “Mrs., my glass ain’t full” so my Mum would take a swig out of the glass and say “It is full now” and no more was said. I could carry four full glasses with handles in each hand and not spill much. My Mum refused to put pumps in until 1951 when my brother talked her into having them. Then she said that she wished she had had them installed years before! Unfortunately she only lived for two years after so she did not benefit much… Sometimes a customer would say the beer was flat, and Kate (my Mum) would take it back to the cellar to “change it” and all she did was make another head on it and take it back and the customer would say “Ah! that’s better” – So what!

That last point is yet more evidence of the confusion between foamy beer and beer in good condition.

One of the appendices provides a list of nicknames for pub regulars including Buffud, Chicken, Grunter, Gubbins, Jambox, Sneezer, Waggy and Yatty. Molly’s husband, Bert, was known as Pur-Pur because he had a stammer.

And the title? In 1970, after Molly’s retirement, the pub was converted into four flats and during building work, two skeletons were found beneath the floor. “It was fun really,” writes Molly: “I kept meeting people who pulled my leg and said they didn’t think I was like that!” The bones turned out to be of medieval origin, of course.

If you want to read more, Molly’s text is available as part of a collection called A Third Blockley Miscellany at £6.50 from Blockley Heritage Society.

Not this again: the birth of the term ‘craft beer’

As the question is in the air again, here’s our attempt to answer the question “Where did ‘craft beer’ come from?”

A decade or so ago, it seemed as if this was all anyone was talking about – what is craft beer? Is there a better phrase we could be using? Is it meaningless? An Americanism? A con trick?

We enjoyed the debate, formulated an opinion, and have stuck by it, more or less, ever since.

And in our 2014 book Brew Britannia we gave a brief account of the history of the term and how it took hold in the UK, drawing on research by Stan Hieronymus and others.

Since then, we’ve picked up a few extra instances of its use, or similar, and thought it might be helpful to everyone involved in researching and writing about beer to have a timeline at hand.

Timeline

1883 | “the great craft of brewing” – anonymous, Holmes’ Brewing Trade Gazette, 01/09/1883

1930s | “the craft of brewing” – Worthington Brewery advertising

1934 | “neither an art nor a science, but a traditional procedure” –  A. Drinker, A Book About Beer

1946 | “Maybe it can hardly be called a craft in the strict sense, but cider-making is an interesting old country work” – Norman Wymer, Country Crafts

1967 | “Craft Brothers” – Ken Shales, Brewing Better Beer

1973 | “In the last decade, brewing has turned from being a craft industry into a technology.” – R.E.G. Balfour, chairman and MD of Scottish & Newcastle, quoted in What’s Brewing, 08/1973

1975 | “This is all some way from the small craftsman brewer.” – Conal Gregory and Warren Knock, Beers of Britain, via Gary Gillman

1977 | “craft-brewers”, “craft-brewed” – Michael Jackson, The World Guide to Beer

1982 | “A craft brewery down to the last detail.” – Michael Jackson, Pocket Guide to Beer

1983 | “The recent return to the craft brewing of ‘real ale’ as championed by the consumer group CAMRA…” – Elizabeth Baker, the Times, 07/03/1983

1984 | “craft-brewing scene,” “craft brewery”, “craft brewing” – Vince Cottone, New Brewer, 09/1984

1986 | “I use the term Craft Brewery to describe a small brewery using traditional methods and ingredients” – Vince Cottone, Good Beer Guide: Brewers and Pubs of the Pacific Northwest [SOURCE]

1993 | “They’re riding on the tails of the craft beer movement” – Steve Dinehart of the Chicago Brewing Company quoted in What’s Brewing 08/1993

1994 | “craft ale” – Ed Vulliamy, Observer, 27/10/1994

1995 | “independent craft breweries” – Roger Protz, Observer, 26/02/1995

* * *

A couple of those are new additions – the 1973 Balfour quote and the 1983 one from Elizabeth Baker.

Our view is this: the phrase ‘craft beer’ is a natural development after a hundred years or so of people talking about ‘the craft of brewing’.

And it’s not really any surprise it beat designer beer and boutique beer because they’re both, frankly, a bit wanky, while ‘craft’, per some of the examples above, has a simpler, more down-to-earth, traditional quality.

Updated 4 April 2020.

Getting away with it

You open your eyes, slowly.

Not too bad.

No instinctive shying from the light.

There doesn’t seem to be any nausea, although you won’t really know until you try to get up and do something.

You definitely need to piss, and your mouth feels powder-dry, but it’s possible you might be able to address those needs without last night’s mixed seafood basket resurfacing.

Bathroom, kitchen, a glass of water absorbed rather than drunk, and then you go back to bed, because you don’t want to push your luck.

After a brief doze, you find yourself actively craving a cuppa, and… is that actually a hunger pang? Tea first. See if that stays down.

Seems OK.

Can’t be, surely?

The Orval for round five was pushing it, and then you then stayed for a sixth, enjoying it with the grim knowledge of impending doom.

Than again, thinking about it, you had sense enough to stop at the chippy on the way home, and drink two pints of water before going to bed, and to take another pint up to bed.

Or perhaps you’re still drunk. Yeah, might be that. Take it easy. Brace yourself for the coming storm.

A few hours later, breakfast and lunch conquered, you start to dare to believe that you might really have got away with it.

The thought of a pint later that afternoon is not actually unappealing.

But perhaps, as the Hangover Gods have smiled on you today, you shouldn’t push your luck.

Photo by Manu Schwendener via Unsplash.

News, nuggets and longreads 22 February 2020: Lovington, Liverpool, Low-alcohol

Here’s everything in writing about beer and pubs that made us sit up and pay attention in the past week, from crowdfunding to dinner plates.

First, some local news, from a local newspaper: whatever happened to those plans for a new Wild Beer Company brewery site that made a big splash with crowdfunding a couple of years back? For Bristol LiveRobin Murray writes:

Wild Beer co-founder Andrew Cooper told Bristol Live the funds raised went towards purchasing a defunct brewery in Lovington, Somerset, as well as equipment so the company could increase its brewing capacity… He added they are working on finding a ‘large investment partner’ to help fund the project and are in discussions with people, details of which cannot be revealed.


University drinking society in action.
SOURCE: Ferment.

For Ferment, the promotional magazine published by beer subscription service Beer52, Katie Mather has written about university beer societies and the drinking habits of young people:

As someone on the older end of the Millennial generation scale, it worries me how easy it is to slip into the same slurs I’ve heard my contemporaries use. Generation Z are nerds. They don’t drink — they’re too busy making memes about depression. They don’t socialise because they’re all introverts. We have nothing in common. Don’t fall for any of these statements. They simply are not true.


Kutna Hora
SOURCE: Pellicle.

For PellicleAdrian Tierney-Jones shares the story of a Czech brewery we’ve never heard of, Pivovar Kutná Hora, which was loved by locals, closed by Heineken, and after social pressure, has now been resurrected:

Kutná Hora’s brewmaster Jakub Hájek has been at the brewery since it produced its first batch of beer in February 2017. He’s a garrulous chap, open and generous in the way he and the owners (who also have Pivovar Břeclav, based in the southern Czech region of Moravia, in their portfolio) foresee the future, a progress that sees them slowly but surely building up trade in local bars and pubs as well as restoring the brewery.


Non alcoholic beer: 0,0

In this piece on drinking habits and the market for low- and no-alcohol beer, Jeff Alworth expresses the appeal, in theoretical terms at least, of non-alcoholic beers:

An ideal session to me is three or four beers. That’s the amount of time it takes for me to settle in and enjoy myself. The trouble is, my body very much wants a limit of two beers, and punishes me when I exceed it. I’ve found non-alcoholic beers to be a perfect solution; I just alternate boozy and alkoholfrei. As a bonus, I’m actually limiting the damage of the two regular beers because I’m hydrating in between.


A Liverpool pub.
SOURCE: Kirsty Walker.

Kirsty Walker of Lady Sinks the Booze works in Liverpool but, by her own admission, doesn’t get out to explore the suburbs much. With her new pal Vinnie, though, she’s been getting adventurous, and writes about a recent pub crawl with her usual wit:

Vinnie met me at the Brookhouse, a massive studenty place which specialises in cheap food and drinks deals. There were two different sections of bar which as usual led to me standing at the wrong one for a good while before someone pointed out that there was no service in this bit and ‘there should be a sign’. I had a pint of Blue Moon, and they apologised for not having orange for it. Not like the student pubs I used to frequent where asking for a clean glass was greeted with eyerolls and led to you being nicknamed ‘the Duchess’ for three years.


The Fox, Dalston

For New Statesman, not typically a hotbed of writing about beer and pubs, Eleanor Peake has investigated the trend for converting pubs into flats and the cost to communities:

Originally from Ireland, Joseph and Patrick Ryan started renting pubs in London in the mid-2010s. By 2017, the brothers rented the Bear in Camberwell, the Fox in Dalston and the White Hart in New Cross, all from the Wellington Pub Company… In 2017, they received the first call from the company informing them of redevelopments. They were told that the Bear in Camberwell would have to close its doors to make room for renovations, as the company wanted to turn the upper floors of the pub into private apartments.


And finally, from Twitter:


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