Here’s everything in the world of beer and pubs that caught our eye in the past week, from the colour of pre-WWI beer to the mysteries of fermentation.
First, though, an admission: we put this together on Thursday evening and scheduled it to post automatically. If anything exciting happened on Friday it might not be reflected.
Right, down to business.
For Ferment, the promotional magazine for subscription service Beer52, Katie Taylor has written about the pubs of Blackburn, Lancashire:
“If you asked anyone in here what craft beers they enjoyed, they’d probably think you were on about bottles,” said [bar manage] Hilary [Carr]. “And they don’t drink those.”
I ask what a local drinker would call a beer brewed in a local microbrewery. She answers: “Real ale.”
So with all this love for good, local real ale, what’s stopping northern craft beer brewers from moving in? I ask Hilary to join me for a sit down and she brings her coffee mug – it says “Prog Forever” on it.
“It’s the price,” she says. “All our beers are £2.50 a pint. Nobody will pay more than that and to be honest, they don’t need to!”
(This is actually from last week but we missed it then.)
For Good Beer Hunting Stan Hieronymus writes about the fermented food guru Sandor Katz and how his evangelism is leaking into the world of beer:
“Mixed culture is probably the most annoying buzzword right now,” says Todd Steven Boera at Fonta Flora Brewery in North Carolina. “And we use it on our menu boards, labels, everywhere. If you asked 10 random people, I think you would get 10 different answers what it means.”
Mixed culture may not tell consumers as much about what to expect in a glass as Boera would like, but it makes sense in the context of the first of two beers Boera and Katz collaborated on.
At An Seisiún Mac Siúrtáin (a pen name) has written a long piece about the experience of trying to drink any stout other than Guinness in Belfast:
Before independent beer was a thing in Northern Ireland (prior to this decade, the only independent breweries were Hilden and Whitewater)’ Guinness was my session beer of choice. It had a hint of satisfying roastiness, there were no evil flavours or wateriness like you’d get in macro lagers and the nitro serve – while it stripped some flavour out – meant it went down smoothly without making you feel gassy and bloated like the carbonated beers. It’s therefore the ultimate session beer – enough taste to be morish but not enough to be sickening, and the nitro means it goes down easier and leaves room for more. While Yardsman and Belfast Black are objectively better beers with more flavour, they are not quite direct substitutes in terms of the purpose they serve the drinker.
There’s a fascinating little ‘ouch’ in there for craft beer advocates, too: what if the craft clone of your favourite big brand beer isn’t an improvement but merely the equivalent of supermarket own-brand cornflakes?
On his travels in Stockton-on-Tees Martin Taylor found the tradition of ‘banking Bass’ alive, if not quite well:
“Do you still sell Bass ?” I squeaked.
“Of course” Next time I’ll ask if they’re actually open or something daft like that.
I was directed to the other side of the bar. But where was the famous bankers fridge ?
Still there, but with just four bankers cooling down, rather than the twenty of a decade ago. Still looked the business though.
Just in case you missed it when we Tweeted it last week, do check out this magnificent find by Gary Gillman (@beeretseq): a chart from the period before World War I depicting in full colour various types of European beer, each in their typical glassware. (Detail above.) Gary has now tracked down the source of the image in the Toronto library and found that it came with a table of figures.
Finally, here’s one to provoke some thought:
Had lunch at a pub the other week which proudly displayed it's electric vehicle charging point. Which made me wonder if we're returning to a 19th Century model of pubs as coaching houses, but instead of fresh horses, you get fresh batteries for your Nissan Leaf?
— Alex Routledge (@AlexTheNewTyke) July 26, 2018