News, Nuggets & Longreads 23 June 2018: Lager, Gas, Glass

Here’s everything around beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from Belgium to Oregon via Moscow. (And with special thanks this week to our Patreon subscribers for suggestions.)

Some news: there is a short­age of CO2 (car­bon diox­ide) which is affect­ing not only the food indus­try but also pubs which rely on it to add sparkle to cer­tain beers and soft drinks. It’s been brought about by a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, not least of which is the World Cup which caus­es a Europe-wide surge in demand for lager, espe­cial­ly in Moscow. But…

The [British Beer and Pub Asso­ci­a­tion] has issued some guid­ance to its mem­bers remind­ing them that CO2 used in drinks, includ­ing for dis­pens­ing beer at the pumps, must be food grade gas.… “We’d be con­cerned this is not the time to go look­ing for a white van man who says they can sup­ply you with CO2,” [Brigid Sim­mons] said.

(On the whole, peo­ple did not take well to the Cam­paign for Real Ale’s attempt to score a cheeky goal off the back of this by point­ing out that cask ale pro­duces its own CO2.)

Graffiti: lager, lager, lager.

Alec Lath­am has been reflect­ing on the recent resur­gence of lager in the UK, updat­ing on a sim­i­lar post from last year:

The acid test is when the tra­di­tion­al ale oases that dom­i­nate Britain’s rur­al areas and small­er towns give way to this prop­er matured beer style – hope­ful­ly reflect­ed in pubs where cor­po­rate Lager still holds a 70% hold.… Last year in that local catch­ment, I found evi­dence of just four brew­eries (not includ­ing a giant – Wells & Young’s). This year, the tal­ly has shot up to thir­teen. These coun­ties are by no means brew­ing epi­cen­tres, so this aug­men­ta­tion could be applied nation­al­ly – prob­a­bly with a mar­gin in its favour.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 23 June 2018: Lager, Gas, Glass”

Session #135: Sepia-Toned Pubs

The Ses­sion, when blog­gers around the world get togeth­er to write on the same sub­ject, is a frag­ile thing, only ever one dropped ball away from dis­ap­pear­ing alto­geth­er. This mon­th’s was look­ing dicey until Al at Fug­gled stepped in hero­ical­ly to save the day, propos­ing for Ses­sion #135 the top­ic ‘Sepia Tones’. Here’s our con­tri­bu­tion.

Over the past few years we’ve spent a lot of our time think­ing in mono­chrome, thumb­ing through decay­ing papers, and star­ing into the eyes of long-dead brew­ers and pub­go­ers. But some­thing about Al’s par­tic­u­lar choice of words made us think not of archives but of a par­tic­u­lar cat­e­go­ry of pub that we’ve some­times strug­gled to describe.

The Blue Bell, York.

We’ve some­times used the short­cut ‘prop­er pub’ but call­ing them sepia toned is rather more poet­ic, and also implies less of a judge­ment against oth­er less ‘prop­er’ pubs.

The Marble Arch, Manchester.

These are places dom­i­nat­ed by shades of brown, from the dark wood of the bar to walls either stained with nico­tine or paint­ed to look that way. The prints on the walls are yel­lowed, the paint­ings dark and var­nished to death, the pho­tographs jaun­diced.

Swan With Two Necks, Bristol.

The beer prob­a­bly sits some­where on that stretch of the colour spec­trum, too – per­haps Courage Best, Bass, Tet­ley, or some oth­er brand from a long-gone brew­ery frozen in the flash-bang of nos­tal­gia, fad­ing away with mis­han­dling and neglect.

Two pints of Courage Best.

They have them on the Con­ti­nent, too, where the clue is in the name: brown cafes, or brown bars.

A Belgian Brown Cafe.

Here’s one test: take a pho­to in a sepia-toned pub and com­pare it to one  of the same place from a hun­dred years ago – can you see much dif­fer­ence?