QUICK ONE: (A Comically Small Portion of) Food for Thought

Auguste Escoffier in pop art colours.

In 1973 the food critic Henri Gault published ‘The Ten Commandments of Nouvelle Cuisine’, crystallising the new movement then sweeping French gastronomy:

  1. Thou shall not over­cook
  2. Thou shall use fresh, qual­i­ty prod­ucts
  3. Thou shall light­en thy menu
  4. Thou shall not be sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly mod­ernistic
  5. Thou shall seek out what the new tech­niques can bring you
  6. Thou shall elim­i­nate brown and white sauces
  7. Thou shall not ignore dietet­ics
  8. Thou shall not cheat on thy pre­sen­ta­tion
  9. Thou shall be inven­tive
  10. Thou shall not be prej­u­diced

(This is the trans­la­tion giv­en by Paul Freed­man in Ten Restau­rants That Changed Amer­i­ca, 2016. There are many sub­tly dif­fer­ent ver­sions around.)

From this side of the 1980s, Nou­velle Cui­sine is a bit of a joke – huge plates, tiny amounts of sil­ly food, very expen­sive. What yup­pies ate. But that list made us think about changes in beer that were tak­ing place in the same peri­od with the rise of micro-brew­ing and ‘alter­no beer’.

Of course some of those com­mand­ment don’t direct­ly map (over­cook­ing, sauces) but how about if we rewrite them a bit?

  1. Thou shall not stew good hops.
  2. Thou shall use fresh, qual­i­ty prod­ucts.
  3. Thou shall light­en thy beer.
  4. Thou shall not be indus­tri­al.
  5. But thou shall seek out what the new tech­niques can bring you.
  6. Thou shall elim­i­nate brown beer (UK) and yel­low beer (US).
  7. Thou shall be trans­par­ent about the strength and ingre­di­ents of your beer.
  8. Thou shall not prize mar­ket­ing over qual­i­ty.
  9. Thou shall be inven­tive.
  10. Thou shall not be prej­u­diced.

Of course there are a mil­lion excep­tions to each of those ‘rules’, as there were in Nou­velle Cui­sine as actu­al­ly prac­tised, but that does­n’t feel to us like a bad sum­ma­ry of where – in the very most gen­er­al sense – peo­ple’s heads were between about 1963 and, say, 2015. (We say 2015 because, in very recent years, some­thing seems to be chang­ing. But that’s just a gut feel­ing which we’re still prob­ing.)

This feels like a con­nec­tion Michael Jack­son, Char­lie Papaz­ian, Gar­rett Oliv­er or even Sean Franklin must have made at some point but a quick Google (time is short this morn­ing) does­n’t turn any­thing up. Point­ers wel­come in com­ments below.

To fin­ish, here’s anoth­er quote from Freed­man:

Nou­velle Cui­sine of the 1970s… had two mis­sions that have since gone sep­a­rate ways: to exalt pri­ma­ry ingre­di­ents sim­ply pre­pared, and to advo­cate vari­ety result­ing from break­ing with tra­di­tion – new com­bi­na­tions such as Asian fusion.

That sounds a bit like the break between ‘real ale’ and ‘craft beer’, does­n’t it?

Key Points in the Birth of British Alterno-beer?

More on how British beer got from where it was to where it is with this attempt to iden­ti­fy some key points in the devel­op­ment of what we’re begin­ning to think of as an ‘alter­no-beer’ cul­ture. (That is, beer and pubs for awk­ward sods.)

We’re sure there are lots of points to add and that some of those we’ve come up with aren’t per­haps as sig­nif­i­cant as we imag­ine them to be: addi­tions and cor­rec­tions very wel­come, as always. Be gen­tle with us.

  • Does any­one else see a sto­ry of some­thing tak­ing hold out­side Lon­don and work­ing its way in?
  • For us, the birth of CAMRA and the devel­op­ment in the 1970s-90s of the ‘real ale Mec­ca’ – pubs with more than three real ales, often from micro­brew­eries – is the direct ances­tor of ‘craft beer’.
  • Or did the brown and dusty real ale pub mate with the chromed style bar to cre­ate ‘craft beer bars’?
  • So many of the ear­ly micro­brew­eries, brew­pubs and ‘craft beer’ bars did­n’t make it: they were before their time.
  • Please excuse us includ­ing the found­ing of a beer blog as an impor­tant event, but we think it was, alright? Back off.

And some gaps:

  • When did UK super­mar­kets start sell­ing US and Bel­gian beer?
  • Where was Britain’s first Bel­gian beer bar and when did it open? The Dove­tail opened in around 2000, we think. Any ear­li­er?

Updates 12/07/2012 in red. Updates 19/07/2012 in blue. Updates 24/08/2012 in green.

1963 Home­brew­ing legalised.
1963 Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Beers from the Wood found­ed in Epsom.
First ‘good beer’/anti-Big Five cam­paign group.
1971 CAMRA found­ed. Presents an alter­na­tive to ‘monop­oly beers’.
1973 Dur­den Park Beer Cir­cle found­ed by Dr John Har­ri­son and oth­ers. Home­brew­ing cul­ture insti­tu­tion­alised.
1972 Sel­by Brew­ery, North York­shire, re-opens after eigh­teen year hia­tus. First British brew­ing com­pa­ny to open since at least World War II.
1973 West­bury Ales begins brew­ing at the Min­ers Arms in Prid­dy, Som­er­set. First new brew­ery.
1974 The Big Book of Brew­ing by Dave Line pub­lished. First real­ly use­ful home­brew­ing man­u­al.
1974 Litch­bor­ough Brew­ery found­ed in Northamp­ton­shire by Bill Urquhart. First new brew­ery sell­ing to the free trade.
1975 Pollard’s Brew­ery found­ed in Stock­port by David Pol­lard. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1976 The Hole in the Wall, Water­loo, makes a name as a spe­cial­ist real ale pub. Ear­ly ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’ real ale spe­cial­ist pub.
1976 Old British Beers and How to Make Them pub­lished by the Dur­den Park Beer Cir­cle. Inspi­ra­tional recipes for his­toric beer styles.
1976 John and Bet­ty Black­well take over the Bar­ley Mow, St Albans, even­tu­al­ly sell­ing 18 real ales. Ear­ly (the first?) ‘beer exhi­bi­tion’, must-vis­it real ale pub.
1977 God­son’s brew­ery opens in Clap­ton. First new Lon­don brew­ery.
1977 The World Guide to Beer by Michael Jack­son pub­lished. Inspi­ra­tional beer Bible.
1978 Ring­wood Brew­ery found­ed by Peter Austin. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1978 Brew­ing Beers Like Those You Buy by Dave Line pub­lished. Inspi­ra­tional recipes for cloning com­mer­cial beers.
1979 Firkin brew­pub chain found­ed by David Bruce. Ear­ly microbreweries/new British brew­pubs.
1979 Mar­ler’s Bar opened by Tim Mar­tin. First Wether­spoon’s pub.
1979 But­combe Brew­ery found­ed. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery.
1980 Two Brew­ers Off Licence, Pit­field Street, Lon­don opens. Makes avail­able Ger­man and Bel­gian beer.
1980 Franklin’s found­ed by Sean Franklin. Ear­ly micro­brew­ery; use of exot­ic hops.
1982 Pit­field Brew­ery found­ed. Revival of his­toric styles and recipes.
1987 Sum­mer Light­ning launched. Ear­ly (suc­cess­ful) ‘blonde’ British ale.
1989? West Coast Brew­ing found­ed by Bren­dan Dob­bin. ‘Hop-for­ward’, open­ly US-influ­enced British ale fea­tur­ing ‘new world’ hops.
1990 Alas­tair Hook sets up Pack­horse Brew­ing in Ash­ford, Kent. First ‘craft keg’ brew­ery.
1990 Kel­ham Island found­ed by Dave Wick­ett. Influ­en­tial in devel­op­ment of ‘craft beer’ cul­ture in the UK.
1990 Michael Jackson’s The Beer Hunter shown on Chan­nel 4. Bel­gian, Ger­man and US beer treat­ed with respect and admi­ra­tion.
1992 Bel­go opens in Lon­don. Bel­gian beer in a trendy bar/restaurant.
1993 Rooster’s found­ed by Sean Franklin. Yet more ‘hop-for­ward’ British ale.
1994 Dark Star Brew­ery found­ed by Rob Jones. Influ­en­tial in devel­op­ment of ‘craft beer’ cul­ture in the UK.
1994 Free­dom Brew­ery found­ed. First UK ‘craft lager’ pro­duc­er with wide dis­tri­b­u­tion.
1996 Mark Dor­ber takes over at the White Horse. First (?) ‘craft beer’ pub/bar in the UK.
1997 North Bar opens in Leeds. Ear­ly ‘craft beer’ bar.
1999 Mean­time Brew­ing found­ed by Alis­tair Hook. Ger­man-inspired UK lager and wheat beer pro­duc­tion; attempts to revive his­toric British styles.
2000 Zero Degrees brew­pub opens in Black­heath, Lon­don. Lager brew­ing; style-bar and beer geek des­ti­na­tion.
2001 Micro­bar opens in Lon­don. Ear­ly ‘craft beer’ bar.
2002 Pro­gres­sive Beer Duty intro­duced by the Gov­ern­ment. Makes opening/running small­er brew­eries more finan­cial­ly viable.
2004 Thorn­bridge found­ed. Ear­ly prod­uct of ‘noughties’ brew­ing explo­sion.
2006 Rake Bar opened. Cen­tre of ‘noughties’ ‘craft beer’ explo­sion.
2007 Stonch’s beer blog found­ed. First wide­ly-read UK beer blog.
2007 Brew­dog found­ed. Self-iden­ti­fied ‘craft’ brew­ery.
2008–2012 Lon­don brew­ing explo­sion. 7 brew­eries in Lon­don in 2007; 25 open or announced in 2011.
2009 Cask opens in Pim­li­co. Sign that Lon­don might sup­port more than one ‘craft beer’ pub.

Cor, blimey – we’ve used so many dis­tanc­ing quote marks in that, we might as well have put the whole thing in one big pair.