News, nuggets and longreads 20 April 2019: Pub Crawling, Carlsberg, Craftonia

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that caught our attention in the past week, from Leeds to low alcohol beer.

For the Guardian Dave Simp­son writes about the devel­op­ment of the post-punk scene in Leeds in the late 1970s, which took place in pubs, with the York­shire Rip­per as a dark back­ground pres­ence:

Today, with its wood and tiles and punk sound­track, [the Fen­ton] is almost as it was; Gill observes that the juke­box has moved rooms. “Pre-mobile phones, you’d have to go where you knew peo­ple would be,” Mekons singer Tom Green­hal­gh explains, remem­ber­ing “intense polit­i­cal debates and insane hedo­nism”, and leg­endary scene char­ac­ters such as Bar­ry the Badge. “A huge gay guy cov­ered in badges from Arm­ley Social­ist Worker’s par­ty. He was rock-hard, but then he could just grab you, snog you and stick his tongue down your throat.”


Roger Protz has been writ­ing about lager in Britain for 40 years so his com­men­tary on where the new ‘Dan­ish Pil­sner’ Carls­berg has just launched in the UK fits in was bound to be inter­est­ing. Where oth­ers have been cau­tious­ly pos­i­tive, Mr Protz essen­tial­ly dis­miss­es the beer as more the same:

I was asked for my views by Carlsberg’s Lon­don-based PR com­pa­ny, who sent me some sam­ples. The bot­tled ver­sion said it was brewed in the UK – pre­sum­ably this means the Northamp­ton fac­to­ry – while the can says “brewed in the EU”. I said this made a mock­ery of the new beer being called “Dan­ish Pil­sner”… I added that 3.8 per cent ABV was too low to mer­it being called Pil­sner: the clas­sic Pil­sner Urquell is 4.4 per cent and all claims to be a Pil­sner should be judged against it. I found the Carls­berg beer to be thin and lack­ing in aro­ma and flavour.

A foot­note from us: we were asked to take part in mar­ket research by Heineken ear­li­er this week, which leads us to sus­pect some sim­i­lar post-Cam­den rein­ven­tion is in the pipeline there, too.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, nuggets and lon­greads 20 April 2019: Pub Crawl­ing, Carls­berg, Crafto­nia”

News, Nuggets & Longreads, 1 July 2017: Smoking, Civil War, Global Chic

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related writing we’ve most enjoyed in the past week, and all the news that’s struck us as important.

First, a small thing that might not be: two chains of upmar­ket Lon­don pubs have effec­tive­ly merged with the takeover by Draft House of Grand Union. So what? Well, from where we’re sit­ting, this looks like anoth­er step towards Draft House becom­ing a nation­al chain. It’s a strong brand, ‘well craft’ with­out being too obnox­ious about it, and we can well imag­ine a branch in every town and city.


A counter from the BA website: 883 breweries have adopted the seal.

Mean­while, in the US, shot have been fired: the Brew­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents craft brew­eries as defined here, has announced a new badge to help con­sumers iden­ti­fy beer from inde­pen­dent brew­eries. This is intend­ed to counter AB-InBev’s strat­e­gy of acquir­ing small­er local brew­ers which the BA appar­ent­ly believes is leav­ing con­sumers con­fused. In retal­i­a­tion, AB’s High End divi­sion, which ties togeth­er the craft brew­eries it has acquired over the past few years, has released a video say­ing, essen­tial­ly, ‘The logo looks bad and doesn’t mean any­thing and we should be band­ing togeth­er to fight wine and spir­its any­way and and and…’

For com­men­tary on this we endorse the always thought­ful Jeff All­worth at Beer­vana: post 1 | post 2.


A no smoking sign on a pub door.

It’s been ten years since the ban on smok­ing in pubs and oth­er enclosed work­places came into force and the BBC’s Nick Trig­gle has attempt­ed an objec­tive assess­ment of the impact:

With all these fac­tors hap­pen­ing at the same time, BBPA spokesman Neil Williams says it is ‘pret­ty impos­si­ble’ to unpick exact­ly what the indi­vid­ual impact of the ban has been.

And of course, many pubs have thrived since the smok­ing ban, chang­ing to focus more on high-qual­i­ty food and try­ing to attract fam­i­lies – includ­ing those with young chil­dren – who would pre­vi­ous­ly have avoid­ed smoky atmos­pheres.

Pubs have had to adapt. We’ve seen those that can invest in food and they’ve made a very good job of it.

But some pubs – the tra­di­tion­al street-cor­ner booz­er – sim­ply haven’t had the space to do that. They are the ones that have suf­fered.’

We’ve attempt­ed to address this in our forth­com­ing book, 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub, and reached much the same con­clu­sion: it prob­a­bly has been bad news for a cer­tain type of booze-led work­ing class pub.


Inside In de Wildeman, Amsterdam.

Report­ing from the Car­ni­val Bret­tanomyces in Ams­ter­dam Mar­tyn Cor­nell gives us, as you might expect, a bit more than a blow-by-blow wot he dun on his hol­i­days post, tak­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to high­light the his­toric role of Bret­tanomyces in brew­ing, among oth­er points:

[One prob­lem is that] the events them­selves cost upwards of €11 each to get into, with the three beer-and-food din­ners €60 a plate. That quick­ly makes a prob­a­bly already expen­sive trip to Ham­ster Jam even more wal­let-bend­ing. But hey, you’re get­ting to try beers that will some­times be once-in-a-life­time expe­ri­ences… Cer­tain­ly, for me, the punch in the over­draft was utter­ly worth it: I’ve not enjoyed a beery gath­er­ing so much for a long time, lots of great con­ver­sa­tions with eager, enthu­si­as­tic, expe­ri­enced, knowl­edge­able, peo­ple…


Illustration: Monocle magazine.
SOURCE: New Repub­lic

Here’s some­thing a bit tan­gen­tial, but thought-pro­vok­ing, from New Repub­licKyle Chay­ka’s reflec­tions on glob­al­ist lux­u­ry chic as embod­ied by Mon­o­cle mag­a­zine. It doesn’t men­tion beer once, and we’ve nev­er read Mon­o­cle, but, gosh, some of it rings great big bells:

It’s as easy to be charmed by Mon­o­cle as it is to hate it. Who doesn’t like a good Japan­ese leather origa­mi bag? But if nation­al­ists have a point in decry­ing the ‘glob­al cit­i­zen­ship’ that Mon­o­cle epit­o­mizes, it lies in the magazine’s sub­tle approach to cul­tur­al homog­e­niza­tion. [Edi­tor Tyler] Brûlé’s styl­is­tic vision has repro­duced itself to the point of banal­i­ty: Whether due to his own efforts or to the chang­ing tide of taste, Dan­ish fur­ni­ture, clean cafés, shared offices, and arti­sanal food and cloth­ing can now be found every­where, attract­ing a float­ing tribe of inter­na­tion­al con­sumers the way flow­ers attract bees. The magazine’s worst offense may be that it is bor­ing.

(via Aaron Gilbreath/Longreads.)


If you want some pure blog­ging to read, as opposed to lon­greads and news, we’ll take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to remind you to catch up with Mar­tin Tay­lor’s ongo­ing Good Beer Guide pub crawl. As we’ve said before, there’s rarely any one post that war­rants a fan­fare, but as an ongo­ing project themes emerge and inci­dents accu­mu­late until some­thing like an argu­ment begins to form. This week, we were par­tic­u­lar­ly struck by a Wetherspoon’s moment:

The Thumper tast­ed a bid odd to me. I said so to the Spoons bar­maid, who, unbe­liev­ably;

1. Seemed inter­est­ed in my £1.99 pint

2. Tast­ed it her­self  ‘Just tastes fruity, like it should do’

3. Popped down the cel­lar to check whether it was the bot­tom of the bar­rel (it wasn’t)


And, final­ly, those who enjoy being appalled at the antics of those wacky craft brew­ers will enjoy this intel from Joe Stange: