News, Nuggets & Longreads 21 October 2017: Bad Pubs, Good Dogs

Here’s all the news, opinion and pondering about beer and pubs that’s grabbed our attention in the past week, from spoof crowdfunding campaigns to social exhaustion.

London pub expert Des de Moor has been reflecting on pub preservation, the relationship of pubs to good beer, and his own experience of pubs over a 40-year drinking career. What results is a deliberately provocative piece (the title is ‘Love Beer, Hate Pubs?’) full of interesting observations and personal detail:

As campaigners are fond of pointing out, they are community spaces too, public places for talking and meeting, whether informally or for organised activities from sports and games to political meetings. But the idealised view of the inclusive community pub of the past, where everyone was welcome, is not only contradicted by the facts of physical segregation in pubs at least up until World War II, but by the lived experience of anyone who found themselves outside the prescribed normality of the communities that used them… I reached pub-going age in the second half of the 1970s. I wasn’t yet out as a gay man, but I was mildly unconventional and decidedly non-macho. Most pubs in the small Home Counties town where I lived, far from being welcoming and inclusive places, were off-limits to me and anyone like me, on pain of anything from tacit hostility to actual violence… And I was at least white and male.


For the Morning Advertiser Phil Mellows summarises the rise of the micropub, thankfully avoiding the usual suspects and briefly profiling several Kentish micropubs and their owners:

Ale Caesar occupies part of the former Punch & Judy bar on the site of the recently revived Dreamland fairground, and has been trading as a pop-up over the summer… The licensee is Matt Edmondson, no relation to X Factor presenter of the same name but brother of actor, comedian and musician Ade Edmondson… Fittingly, it’s decked out as a celebration of British comedy and serves three beers on draught from a specially built cool room, plus local cider from the Kent Cider Co.


Citroen van in La Rochelle.

From Wayne at Irish Beer Snob comes a report of a trip to the French coastal town of La Rochelle, famous for its U-boat pens and, to British and Irish people of a certain age, for its role in the Tricolore language textbooks. We enjoyed the photos accompanying the post and also admired Wayne and Janice’s approach:

The criteria for our trip was that it was not beer focused. You see invariably, we end up planning our trips around bars, breweries and things, this time we literally went in blind. No research, No scoping stuff out on Tripadvisor. Nada.


The IndyMan whirl.

Emma at Crema’s Beer Odyssey has taken some time to digest the experience of the hip Independent Manchester Beer Convention (IndyManBeerCon, or just IndyMan) and reached some broader conclusions about herself:

In the same way that some people love Christmas – I count down the days until IMBC and the closer it gets the more excitable I become… But there’s [a] reason we don’t manage to chat to as many people for as long as we’d like to and that’s because I have a problem with extended social interaction. If it goes on for too long without a break I find myself completely drained of energy. I feel physically and mentally worn out.

Further reading: this piece from Suzy at Lincoln Pub Geek compares the twin experiences of the Beavertown festival and IndyMan, finding the latter calmer and less anxiety-inducing. “Was the rowdiness just something I miss out on by not attending many London events?” she asks, or “Does Beavertown simply attract a different crowd?”


People were surprised, confused, and either delighted or irritated by the video above, which was launched by the US Brewers’ Association earlier this week. The idea is that the BA is crowdfunding to raise money to buy-out AB-InBev – obviously a joke, and quite well executed, insofar as any jokey corporate wannabe viral video is ever anything other than cringeworthy. There were lots of opinion pieces and takes on Twitter but our favourite was this from Jeff Alworth who asked the BA’s Julia Herzwhat were you thinking?

The idea, then, is for people to take the campaign seriously, if not literally. Having had a day to reflect on it, though, I wondered what the endgame was. What if they make their goal? What if they don’t? “We’re eternal optimists, so we’re going to keep trying. But if everybody on the planet gave ten dollars, we’d still only be a third of the way there.” When I pressed her about whether they would actually try to buy ABI she gave me a coy response: “Wouldn’t it be a fun plot twist if we actually got to our goal?”


Buster at the Alma, Stoke Newington.

Not much reading in this one but have a look anyway: filmmaker Abbie Lucas and journalist Paul Fleckner have spent the last seven years photographing the pub dogs of Britain for a new book, Great British Pub Dogs, and the Guardian has a gallery by way of a taster.

(Disclosure: we don’t particularly like dogs, or cats for that matter. Sorry.)


And, finally, from Will Hawkes comes news of an interesting development in London: