News, Nuggets & Longreads 13 October 2018: Pine, Pubs, Pilsner

Here’s everything in beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past seven days, from nostalgia to grapefruit IPA.

First, some mild melan­choly: Becky at A Fledg­ling Blog­ger has been reflect­ing on the part being alone in the pub has played in the state of her psy­chol­o­gy over the years:

As a stu­dent in New­cas­tle when times were hard (which they often were) I would head to The Car­riage alone and stare into a pint until I felt that I could face the world again. I can’t say I always felt bet­ter after sit­ting in the pub alone for hours, but it made me feel like I was able to go home and talk to my friends. After all alco­hol is a depres­sant but it also loosens the lips and it meant that I felt able to con­fide in my long-suf­fer­ing flat mate who reg­u­lar­ly dragged me out of my pit of despair.

Casks in a pub yard.

Jes­si­ca Mason AKA the Drinks Maven has joined the wave of dis­cus­sion around cask ale that always fol­lows pub­li­ca­tion of the Cask Report with obser­va­tions on oppor­tu­ni­ties missed dur­ing the craft beer hype of the past half-decade:

This might have been the piv­otal point where cask appre­ci­a­tors repo­si­tioned ale. Effec­tive­ly, remind­ing how it is nat­u­ral­ly flavour­some, fresh­ly cre­at­ed and diverse in its myr­i­ad of vari­eties. All of this would have been com­pelling; as would flag­ging up the trend for pro­bi­otics and nat­ur­al ingre­di­ents… But the ver­nac­u­lar sur­round­ing cask ale lacked some­thing else: sheer excite­ment.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 13 Octo­ber 2018: Pine, Pubs, Pil­sner”

A Dictionary for Beer Tasting, 1981

Here’s another find from the collection of Guinness-related material we’re currently sorting through: a 1981 dictionary of beer tasting descriptors by American brewing scientist Joseph Owades.

This is fas­ci­nat­ing to us because while research­ing Brew Bri­tan­nia we spent ages try­ing to find exam­ples of the kind of tast­ing notes we now take for grant­ed – horse­blan­ket, pine, all that jazz – and found noth­ing sub­stan­tial from before the mid to late 1980s.

This doc­u­ment, how­ev­er, lists almost 80 dif­fer­ent taste descrip­tors with brief notes on their mean­ing. Here are a few sam­ple entries:

cel­lary – usu­al­ly an odor, but some­times also a taste, pro­duced by micro-organ­isms which live main­ly in wood, and found in beers which have been kept in such wood­en tanks or bar­rels. Also found in beers which have not been in con­tact with wood, but with such micro-organ­isms; also musty or woody.

flow­ery – an odor which resem­bles a mixed bou­quet of flow­ers, usu­al­ly sweet and pleas­ant; most prob­a­bly derived from hops.

skunky – an odor, resem­bling close­ly that emit­ted by a skunk, pro­duced only when beer in a clear bot­tle is exposed to vis­i­ble light. The use of brown glass pro­tects from this effect.

It looks as if this par­tic­u­lar copy, typed and pho­to­copied on eight sides of A4, was a hand­out at some kind of con­fer­ence held at the Har­vard Club in New York City in Novem­ber 1981 and spon­sored by Anchor Brew­ing of San Fran­cis­co, and All About Beer mag­a­zine.

Owades is an inter­est­ing fig­ure, best known as the inven­tor of light lager, and of con­tract brew­ing as we know it today. The dic­tio­nary was pub­lished under the flag of his beer con­sul­tan­cy firm, The Cen­ter for Brew­ing Stud­ies.

Though the doc­u­ment is obscure (scarce­ly a pass­ing men­tion exists online) we can’t help but sus­pect that some key play­ers – writ­ers and brew­ers on both sides of the Atlantic – acquired copies, and were inspired by the lan­guage employed.

News, Nuggets & Longreads 14 July 2018: Cain’s, Keptinis, Craeft

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that inspired us to hit the BOOKMARK button in the past week, from pubs to hazy IPAs.

But let’s start with some items of news.

Illustration: intimidating pub.

For Orig­i­nal Grav­i­ty Emma Inch has writ­ten about the feel­ing of being on edge in pubs, even if noth­ing con­crete hap­pens, because of a sense that peo­ple are just a lit­tle too aware of “what makes you dif­fer­ent”:

Through­out my drink­ing life I’ve been asked to leave a pub on the grounds that it’s a ‘fam­i­ly friend­ly venue’; I’ve wit­nessed a friend being eject­ed for giv­ing his male part­ner a dry peck on the cheek; I’ve had a fel­low cus­tomer shout homo­pho­bic abuse in my ear whilst the bar­tender calm­ly con­tin­ued to ask me to pay for my pint… Once, I had to shield my face from fly­ing glass as the pub win­dows were kicked in by big­ots out­side, and I still remem­ber the sharp, breath­less fear in the days fol­low­ing the Admi­ral Dun­can pub bomb­ing, not know­ing if it was all over, or who and where would be tar­get­ed next.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 14 July 2018: Cain’s, Kep­ti­nis, Craeft”

Ale Like Champagne


Brut IPA is the niche beer style of the moment in the US and has been the focus of several substantial articles with headlines such as:


Apart from mak­ing us thirsty all this got us think­ing about the ten­den­cy to com­pare beer to Cham­pagne and how far back it goes.

With­out too much dig­ging we found this in an edi­tion of the Dublin Evening Post from 1783:

LEINSTER ALE -- sparkles like champagne.
SOURCE: The British News­pa­per Archive.

Bear­ing in mind that Cham­pagne as we know it was still in the process of being invent­ed in the 18th cen­tu­ry, and that its ten­den­cy to sparkle was still con­sid­ered a fault by many, this rates as pret­ty quick off the marks.

The most famous ref­er­ence to beer resem­bling Cham­pagne is one most of us came to via Michael ‘The Beer Hunter’ Jack­son who said that Napoleon’s troops called Berlin­er Weisse “the Cham­pagne of the North”. As he was­n’t much of a foot­not­er we haven’t been able to iden­ti­fy his source but this Ger­man book from 1822 says (our trans­la­tion, tidied up from Google’s auto­mat­ic effort, so approach with cau­tion):

Berlin’s ‘Weiss­bier’ is a very pop­u­lar drink in Berlin, which, when it is of good qual­i­ty, is dis­tin­guished by a yel­low­ish col­or, a wine-like body, a slight­ly acidic taste, and a strong sparkle, so that the French mil­i­tary gave it a name: Cham­pagne du Nord.

Real­ly, though, it’s just an irre­sistible com­par­i­son, isn’t it?

Often the sim­i­lar­i­ty is mere­ly super­fi­cial – most lagers would look like Cham­pagne at first glance if you poured it into flutes – but some­times there is a real sim­i­lar­i­ty of flavour and mouth­feel. Most­ly, though, it’s just irrev­er­ent fun to sug­gest that the Toffs are wast­ing all that mon­ey and effort acquir­ing Cham­pagne when if only they weren’t such snobs they could have some­thing just as good for a frac­tion of the price.

A Glossary of Terms

Amongst all the chat about the Campaign for Real Ale’s AGM at the weekend we noticed a few old questions resurfacing: why, exactly, does CAMRA campaign for Real Ale and not Cask Ale? And, of course, “Why is everyone using that bloody awful, meaningless word ‘craft’?”

With that in mind, this isn’t an attempt to jus­ti­fy or pro­mote any one term over anoth­er but rather a chrono­log­i­cal list of terms and that we’ve noticed in cir­cu­la­tion, how they have been and con­tin­ue to be used, and (to the best of our reck­on­ing) where they came from.

If there is a point we’re try­ing to make it’s prob­a­bly that most of these terms are new­er than they seem, and that their mean­ings are less fixed in law or tra­di­tion than you might assume.

If there are terms you think ought to be added, let us know in the com­ments below.

And if you want more detailed accounts of some of this click the links through­out which will take you to old posts of ours, and get hold of a copy of our 2014 book Brew Bri­tan­nia which cov­ers the birth of CAMRA and rise of craft beer in some detail.

* * *

Beer from the Wood, 1880s. A near-syn­onym for cask ale, prob­a­bly derived from ‘Wines from the Wood’ (1850s) which dis­tin­guished wine dis­pensed on tap from bulk wood­en casks from the bot­tled prod­uct. The Soci­ety for the Preser­va­tion of Beer From the Wood (SPBW) was found­ed in 1963 and were prob­a­bly drawn to the phrase because of it’s stout yeo­man of the bar archa­ic qual­i­ty. It was used freely in the 1960s, e.g. in Bats­ford guides, often but not always refer­ring to what we now call cask ale, even though by this time most casks were not actu­al­ly made of wood. These days, it refers specif­i­cal­ly to cask-con­di­tioned beer served from wood­en casks – a grow­ing trend.

Keg Beer, 1955. Keg beer as we know it – stored and served from pres­surised con­tain­ers – was pio­neered by Wat­ney’s in the 1930s but this par­tic­u­lar phrase was first used by Flow­ers in the mid-1950s. The ter­mi­nol­o­gy was mud­dled for most of the decade that fol­lowed with kegs some­times called casks and so on. Which leads us to…

1956 Flower's Keg beermat.
Flow­er’s Keg – not the first keg beer, but the first to use the word in this way, in 1955. It then became (to their annoy­ance) a gener­ic term.

Cask Beer, 1968. The British Gov­ern­men­t’s inquiry into monop­o­lies in the beer indus­try at the end of the 1960s required the firm­ing up of some pre­vi­ous­ly vague ter­mi­nol­o­gy. “We use the descrip­tion ‘draught’ beer to include any beer which is sup­plied to the retail­er in bulk con­tain­ers and drawn to order in the pub for each cus­tomer”, the final report said. “Although the word ‘draught’ is some­times used to dis­tin­guish tra­di­tion­al draught from keg beer, for the pur­pos­es of this report we call the for­mer ‘cask’ beer.”

Bière Arti­sanale, French, c.1970. We’re a bit shaky on this one because it’s hard­er to access sources, and we under­stand them less well even when we can dig them up, but there are def­i­nite­ly instances of this exact phrase in print from around 1970 onward. (And see Craft-brew­ing, below.) Arti­sanale and direct trans­la­tions in oth­er lan­guages are used wide­ly on the Con­ti­nent in a way that rough­ly cor­re­sponds to the late 20th cen­tu­ry sense of craft beer in Eng­lish, i.e. dis­tinc­tive, spe­cial, inter­est­ing, and prob­a­bly from small­er inde­pen­dent pro­duc­ers. The union of Bel­gian Lam­bic pro­duc­ers, HORAL, for exam­ple, found­ed in 1997, is De Hoge Raad voor Ambachtelijke Lam­biek­bieren, and trans­lates its name in Eng­lish as the High Coun­cil for Arti­sanal Lam­bic Beers.

Sign: "Traditional Real Ales".

Real Ale, 1973. In 1971, the founders of the Cam­paign for the Revi­tal­i­sa­tion of Ale (CAMRA) chose the word ‘ale’ rather than beer because it seemed more down-to-earth than ‘beer’. Then at the 1973 CAMRA annu­al gen­er­al a deci­sion was made to change the organ­i­sa­tion’s name so it would be eas­i­er to say (espe­cial­ly after a few drinks) and activist Peter Lyn­lie sug­gest­ed the Cam­paign for Real Ale, to per­mit the reten­tion of the exist­ing acronym. And so Real Ale, almost by acci­dent, became a syn­onym for Cask Beer.

Craft-brew­ing, 1977. Used by British writer Michael Jack­son in his World Guide to Beer to refer to rare exam­ples of non-indus­tri­al “spe­cial­i­ty brews” in France, along with craft-brew­ers in the sec­tion on the Amer­i­can brew­ing indus­try dur­ing pro­hi­bi­tion. It was prob­a­bly a direct trans­la­tion of bière arti­sanale.

Micro-brew­ery, 1982. A phrase that first began to appear in print with ref­er­ence to Amer­i­can brew­eries at around the time of the first Great Amer­i­can Beer Fes­ti­val, and which saw off ‘mini-brew­ery’ and ‘bou­tique brew­ery’ (see Bou­tique Beer, below) as com­peti­tors. In Britain these were gen­er­al­ly called ‘small’ or ‘free trade’ brew­eries until the 1990s. An ambigu­ous term, Micro-brew­ery was also often applied to what we might now dis­tin­guish as Brew­pubs.

Zero Degrees, Bristol.

Brew­pub, 1982. At the 1982 con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can Home­brew­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion David Bruce, of Firkin fame, gave a talk enti­tled ‘The Eng­lish Brew­pub and the Resur­gence of the Small, Local Brew­ery in Eng­land and Amer­i­ca’. In Britain pubs that made their own beer on the premis­es were known as ‘home-brew hous­es’, or ‘home-brew pubs’, which mor­phed into Brew­pub, we would guess, to avoid con­fu­sion with home-brew­ing of the ama­teur vari­ety.

Bot­tle-con­di­tioned Beer, 1984. In 1980, CAMRA was describ­ing bot­tled Guin­ness as nat­u­ral­ly con­di­tioned. By 1983 it was con­di­tioned in the bot­tle. Then in the 1984 Good Beer Guide it was final­ly described using the phrase we know today.

Craft Beer, 1986. There are almost cer­tain­ly ear­li­er uses of this exact phrase but 1986 is when it start­ed to appear in print in US pub­li­ca­tions such as this news­pa­per arti­cle and Vince Cot­tone’s Good Beer Guide: Brew­ers and Pubs of the Pacif­ic North­west. The ear­li­est instance in a British pub­li­ca­tion we’ve been able to find is from CAM­RA’s What’s Brew­ing for August 1993, in an arti­cle by an Amer­i­can writer, but Roger Protz and oth­er soon took it up. Ini­tial­ly used as a delib­er­ate­ly vague catch-all to dis­tin­guish sup­pos­ed­ly interesting/distinctive/independent beers (includ­ing, but not exclu­sive­ly refer­ring to, Real Ale) from loathed bland/industrial/macro prod­ucts.

Bou­tique Beer, 1988. Used by Michael Jack­son in the 1988 edi­tion of his World Guide to Beer and occa­sion­al­ly up until the present day. In Jack­son’s usage exact­ly syn­ony­mous with Craft Beer, above. Ear­li­er in the decade a vari­ant, ‘Bou­tique Brew­ery’, had occa­sion­al­ly been used as an alter­na­tive to Micro-brew­ery.

Design­er Beer, 1991. Over­lap­ping with Craft Beer but with more focus on style and brand­ing than the beer itself. Sap­poro, in its weird pint-glass-shaped can, was con­sid­ered design­er, but does­n’t seem to have qual­i­fied as craft.

Microp­ub, 2005. The first Microp­ub was launched in Herne, Kent, by Mar­tyn Hilli­er and as far as we have been able to ascer­tain was described that way from the very start. The term was Hillier’s own inven­tion inspired by the idea that it was the pub equiv­a­lent of the Micro-brew­ery. By his own admis­sion he has spent a lot of time since explain­ing that, no, it isn’t a Brew­pub or Micro-brew­ery.

Nano-brew­ery, c.2005. As some of the first wave of Micro-brew­eries got big a word was need­ed to describe tiny com­mer­cial setups oper­at­ing on a home-brew scale. We can’t trace the exact roots of the phrase but here’s a 2006 post on Beer Advo­cate which seems to sug­gest it was in gen­er­al cir­cu­la­tion among the cognoscen­ti by this point.

KeyKeg, 2006. This is a trade­mark for a spe­cif­ic line of prod­ucts pro­duced by Light­weight Con­tain­ers, a Dutch com­pa­ny, and launched at a brew­ing trade fair in Novem­ber 2006. Where­as tra­di­tion­al Keg Beer is exposed to pro­pel­lant gas KeyKeg beer sits in a bag inside a pres­surised ball and does not come into con­tact with the pro­pel­lant. Depend­ing on how the beer derives its car­bon­a­tion, it may or may not qual­i­fy as Real Ale under the stan­dards of CAM­RA’s Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee. (Key­Cask is also a trade­mark of Light­weight Con­tain­ers, applied to essen­tial­ly the same prod­ucts.)

Craft Keg, 2010. This is a hard one to pin down but this 2012 arti­cle by Adri­an Tier­ney-Jones for All About Beer places a mark­er point for the term hav­ing tru­ly arrived. Before this, from around 2010, most peo­ple were care­ful­ly refer­ring to “craft keg beer” – that is, Keg Beer, that was also Craft Beer, but look­ing at old Tweets you’ll see peo­ple like Dave ‘Hard­knott’ Bai­ley using it quite freely. There was­n’t real­ly an urgent need for a way to dis­tin­guish good keg from bad (yes, we know – just a short­cut) until the 1990s because until then all keg was bad; and that need did­n’t become urgent until after Brew­Dog began to make waves.

UPDATED 26/04/2018: Added entries for Micro-brew­ery, Brew­pub, Nano-brew­ery, Microp­ub and KeyKeg, and amend­ed oth­er entries to fit as required.