100 WORDS: A Warning to the Curious

Generic beer pumps in photocopy style.

A busy pub in Sheffield on Saturday night, and a line of hand-pumps from here to the horizon.

We order a pint of this one, and a half of that one, then spot the oth­er one which we’ve been want­i­ng to try out of aca­d­e­m­ic curios­i­ty.

Oh, actu­al­ly, can you make it a half of [REDACTED].”

The per­son behind the bar hes­i­tates, glances, and says qui­et­ly (yet some­how audi­ble over the hub­bub):


Not good?”

A slight wrin­kle of the nose con­veys every­thing we need to know.

Ah, right, scratch that.”

A con­spir­a­to­r­i­al nod – good move, well done, smart choice.

100 Words: Fine is Fine

Ah, So Very British™ – saying things are Fine when you really mean they’re awful.

Except that’s not what we mean.

When we say Fine, we mean Fine – that is, ade­quate, the mildest form of Good.

Fine-not-fine scale with 'fine' on the positive side.

And you know what? We drink a fair bit of beer that isn’t Fine. It’s not Awful or Dread­ful – it’s just, like most stuff, float­ing around in the mid­dle, stir­ring lit­tle beyond a shrug, an appre­cia­tive nod or a momen­tary frown.

We like to keep some­thing back for the gold medal beers, and for the absolute stinkers.

The rest of the time, Fine is OK.

100 Words: Not an Endorsement

Let’s pop in here for a pint.

Oh, is it good?


Well what?

Not, good, exact­ly. Inter­est­ing.

What does inter­est­ing mean?

There’s always some­thing going on. Some sort of dra­ma.

Oh dear. Is the beer good, though?

Well.… Not good. I mean, it doesn’t taste that nice, but there is some­thing about it.

Sor­ry, but this sounds ter­ri­ble.

Oh, yeah, it is, in a way. But we should go in any­way, just for one. It’s bril­liant.

Oh, I see – iron­ic appre­ci­a­tion – ‘So bad it’s good!’.

No, we gen­uine­ly like it, we just can’t be sure any­one else will. It’s com­pli­cat­ed.


100 Words: The Global Republic of Craftonia

The citizens of Craftonia, from Singapore to Stockholm, stand together in uniform opposition to homogeneity.

It is a land where the light comes from fil­a­ment bulbs.

Edison Bulbs at the HubBox, Truro.

Where beer taps are on the back wall, brick is bare and wood is stripped.

Keg taps.

Crafton­ian cui­sine is ‘dirty’, but not real­ly, and it is usu­al­ly a burg­er.

Bundobust window, Leeds.

There are no plain walls there: every sur­face has a car­i­ca­ture of a bar­man, a beer list, or a brief man­i­festo.

Beer list at the Beer Cellars, Exeter.

All the beers are IPAs, except the ones that are sour.

BrewDog IPAs c.2009 (old labels).

There are many brew­eries in Crafto­nia but most of them are Stone, Brew­Dog and Mikkeller.

We wrote this last autumn but decid­ed against post­ing it, though we did include a ver­sion of it in our email newslet­ter (sign up here). We were moved to revive it by this post from Tan­dle­man.

100 Words: Describing Brettanomyces

The sacred texts told us Brettanomyces had a ‘horse blanket’ or ‘barnyard’ aroma. It is, they said, ‘sweaty’, ‘leathery’, ‘mousy’.

But none of that worked for us and we couldn’t spot Brett unless we’d been cued to expect it.

We know what the experts are get­ting at with the ani­mal com­par­isons – earthy, musky, funky, right? – but it’s like try­ing to describe the colour red by say­ing ‘Pur­plish, but also orangey.’ Brett is Brett, and noth­ing else.

We even­tu­al­ly cracked it by drink­ing a lot of Orval, and ‘Orval-like’ is the most use­ful descrip­tor for Brett char­ac­ter we’ve yet dis­cov­ered.

Any oth­er sug­ges­tions?

Main image from the BBC web­site.