News, Nuggets & Longreads 22 September 2018: Brussels, Muscles, Beer Tie Tussles

After a two-week break, here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs, from Autovac mild to pilot plants.

First, an inter­est­ing nugget from Birm­ing­ham: the long-derelict Fox & Grapes on Free­man Street in the city cen­tre has final­ly been pulled down as part of high-speed rail con­struc­tion. Why does this mat­ter? Because it was the last remain­ing bit of Old Birm­ing­ham.


The window of Mort Subite in Brussels.

Cana­di­an beer writer Jor­dan St. John recent­ly vis­it­ed Brus­sels and has writ­ten a long, enter­tain­ing, insight­ful piece record­ing his impres­sions of the city, and reflect­ing on the place of Bel­gian beer in the glob­al craft beer scene:

I can’t help but notice how same-y the selec­tion is every­where; As though there had once been a list of approved Bel­gian beers that no one has updat­ed since the mid 2000’s. Michael Jackson’s Great Beers of Bel­gium is that list, and look­ing at the selec­tion in the dusty shop win­dows it feels like no one has come along with the grav­i­tas to approve new addi­tions to the canon; it is stuck in amber… Cafe Bebo helps to ease me into the con­tem­po­rary. It even has beers from brew­eries found­ed this cen­tu­ry. I order De La Senne Zin­nebir and some cheese from the Orval Trap­pist monastery to snack on.


Detail from the poster for National Lampoon's European Vacation.

Still in Bel­gium we find Alec Lath­am dis­sect­ing the label of De la Senne’s Taras Boul­ba to the nth degree:

The art­work is a send-up of the two com­pos­ite nations – Flan­ders and Wal­lo­nia – and their antag­o­nism of eachother. It employs satire, humour and car­i­ca­ture to make an impor­tant point: please dump the bag­gage of the past and let’s move on… Unlike the easy-going­ness of the beer, the label art­work is utter­ly loaded.

We can imag­ine this mak­ing for an inter­est­ing series, reverse engi­neer­ing the brand­ing process to work out what brew­eries want us to under­stand from the small choic­es they make in their graph­ic design.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 22 Sep­tem­ber 2018: Brus­sels, Mus­cles, Beer Tie Tus­sles”

The Original Beer Podcast, 1975

If you tuned the radio to BBC Leeds at 18:45 on a Wednesday in 1985 you’d hear What’s Brewing, a programme dedicated to beer and pubs.

It was estab­lished dur­ing the height of real ale mania, in 1975, by a local jour­nal­ist and CAMRA activist, Bar­rie Pep­per, who worked in the news­room at Radio Leeds and would go on to become a well-known beer writer. In a lat­er ret­ro­spec­tive in the CAMRA news­pa­per, also called What’s Brew­ing, for March 1985, he recalled its ori­gins:

[The radio show] made its first appear­ance… after pres­sure from mem­bers of the Leeds branch of CAMRA. In that pro­gramme, though to be a one-off, Tom Fin­cham and I made the first of our ‘rur­al rides’ in search of good ale, we defined real ale and Eddie Lawler sang his now famous ‘We’re all here for the real thing’.

Famous’ might be over­stat­ing it but Eddie Lawler told us in an email that he has per­formed the song at the CAMRA AGM. He was kind enough to share the ver­sion he record­ed under the title ‘CAM­RAn­them’ for his 2007 album The Bail­don Sky Rock­et with 1970s ref­er­ences to ‘big-bust­ed bar­maids’ and the ‘nat­ter­ing spouse’ removed. As you might guess, it’s a folky pub sin­ga­long with a piano back­ing:

We’re all here for the Real Thing.
That’s why we’re singing this song, just to show all those
Fan­cy TV pro­mo­tions
That the customer’s not always wrong, so you’d bet­ter not
Give us pale imi­ta­tions
Or gas us with chem­i­cal beer.
So just give us a pint of the Real Thing land­lord
’Cos that’s why we’re bloody well here.

Off the back of that first pro­gramme the pro­duc­er, David Camp­bell, com­mis­sioned a year’s-worth of month­ly pro­grammes. In his 1985 ret­ro­spec­tive Bar­rie Pep­per described the dif­fi­cul­ty in find­ing top­ics for dis­cus­sion and, in par­tic­u­lar, the chal­lenge of find­ing a Pub of the Month every month. (The first was The Grey­hound at Sax­ton.)

1970s portrait photograph, candid and grainy.
Bar­rie Pep­per.

There was also a ‘real ale soap opera’ called Tap Room Tales writ­ten by Ger­ry Gar­side from Brad­ford which was rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the rib­ald, pan­tomime humour that char­ac­terised ear­ly CAMRA cul­ture. There’s an extract from the first episode, broad­cast in August 1977, in Bar­rie Pepper’s 1990 anthol­o­gy of beer writ­ing The Bed­side Book of Beer:

Episode one – the Price of a Pint

The scene is the tap room of The Plas­tered Par­rot, a real ale pub in a work­ing sub­urb of a West Rid­ing town. The time is half an hour before clos­ing time on a week­day evening.

Let me intro­duce you to the cast.

Nora Nock­ers is an occa­sion­al bar­maid; Yorkie Bale is a retired shod­dy mer­chant, Shuf­flem Round is the pub domi­no cap­tain and Barum Hall is the land­lord. Char­lie Chock, Gor­don Spile, Andrew Mal­let and Peter Bar­rel are mem­bers of the Cam­paign for Real Ale. Girling­ton Ger­tie is an aging ex-cho­rus girl and we present Lars Torders, a Swedish Steel work­er.

In his 1985 ret­ro­spec­tive Bar­rie admit­ted that Tap Room Tales ‘might have seemed a bit facile… but it had a seri­ous pur­pose and was great fun to take part in’.

From 1980 What’s Brew­ing went week­ly and Bar­rie took over as pro­duc­er with Mike Green­wood host­ing. There was home­brew advice from Bob Blag­boro, pro­files of York­shire brew­eries, and cam­paigns against pub clo­sures. ‘[In] the case of the Spring Close Tav­ern in East Leeds we were able to secure the reprieve by Leeds City Coun­cil live on our micro­phone,’ Bar­rie recalled in 1985.

Though Bar­rie insist­ed the show was inde­pen­dent of CAMRA he was at var­i­ous points on the Campaign’s Nation­al Exec­u­tive and it cer­tain­ly seems to have giv­en the local branch what amount­ed to a mouth­piece fund­ed by the licence pay­er.

The last episode was broad­cast in June 1986 for rea­sons Bar­rie explained in an email:

I moved on from the news room at BBC Radio Leeds to become Head of Press and Pub­lic Rela­tions with Leeds City coun­cil. Ray Beaty, the sta­tion man­ag­er, wasn’t keen on a non-staffer pro­duc­ing – he didn’t mind a free­lance (unpaid) pre­sen­ter but wor­ried about some­one ‘speak­ing out of turn’ as he called it. In any case I couldn’t find any­one to do the job and the coun­cil wouldn’t allow me to do it.

So, that was that.

Thir­ty-odd years on, though BBC radio only touch­es on beer occa­sion­al­ly, in the cur­rent pod­cast boom there’s no short­age of beer-relat­ed audio. For exam­ple, we recent­ly lis­tened to Fer­men­ta­tion Radio for the first time and thor­ough­ly enjoyed it. We’ll send Bar­rie Pep­per the link.

Main image incor­po­rates ele­ments of ‘Philips Radio from the 1970s’ by David Mar­tyn Hunt under Cre­ative Com­mons via Flickr.

John Smith’s Modern Pubs in the North, 1967–69

This is another in our series of posts sharing photographs and details about post-war pubs from mouldering magazines. This time, it’s John Smith’s of Tadcaster and the magazine is The Magnet.

We’ve only got three edi­tions – we’d love more – but they’re packed with good stuff if, that is, your def­i­n­i­tion of good stuff is pro­files of plain-look­ing mod­ern pubs on hous­ing estates in places like Sheffield and Don­cast­er.

The Flarepath, Dunsville, South Yorkshire

Exterior of The Flarepath.

The head­line for this piece in The Mag­net is A ROYAL AIR FORCE PUB – The Flarepath, which opened in Novem­ber 1967, served RAF Lind­holme, near Don­cast­er.

The sign of The Flarepath.

The name refers to an illu­mi­nat­ed run­way used by bombers return­ing from night-raids over Ger­many dur­ing World War II. (Again, anoth­er won­der­ful name square­ly of its time.)

The Lindholme Lounge at The Flarepath.

The car­pet in the lounge was spe­cial­ly woven and fea­tured a Lan­cast­er bomber tak­ing off and the bars were dec­o­rat­ed with RAF squadron crests. There were pho­tographs of var­i­ous types of bomb, again from the Impe­r­i­al War Muse­um archive, on the walls.

Mr & Mrs Varley.

Its first man­agers were Joyce Var­ley and her hus­band Arthur, late of the Mag­net Hotel, Bent­ley.

Is it still there? Yes, with John Smith’s sig­nage out­side, too.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “John Smith’s Mod­ern Pubs in the North, 1967–69”

Tetley’s Post War ‘Estate’ Pubs in The North

We’ve just acquired a couple of editions of Tetley’s in-house magazine from the 1960s and thought we’d share some pictures of the then state-of-the-art modern pubs featured.

We usu­al­ly scan these things and effec­tive­ly thrown them away on Twit­ter but thought that we ought to put them some­where a bit more per­ma­nent in case they’re inter­est­ing or use­ful for oth­er researchers, or just for the enjoy­ment of peo­ple who might recall the pubs in ques­tion as they were in their hey­day.

The first batch of pho­tos are from The Hunts­man for Autumn 1964. This pic­ture is on the front cov­er:

The Cup & Ring (exterior).

Explana­to­ry text inside says: ‘The Cup & Ring, the new opened Tet­ley house on the edge of the moors by Bail­don. It is almost cer­tain­ly the only pub­lic house in the coun­try with this name – tak­en from the cup and ring mark­ings carved by Ear­ly Bronze Age peo­ple on cer­tain stones of Bail­don Moor.’ Today the pub is – obvi­ous­ly, of course, it goes with­out say­ing – gone.

The Earl Francis, Park Hill, Sheffield -- exterior.

Next up is The Earl Fran­cis at Park Hill in Sheffield of which the mag­a­zine says:

[The] third Tet­ley ‘pub’ in the vast com­pre­hen­sive area of Cor­po­ra­tion flats which will ulti­mate­ly house 10,000 peo­ple, was named as a reminder of the local his­tor­i­cal asso­ci­a­tion with the Shrews­bury fam­i­ly… The first two of these three Tet­ley hous­es were each an inte­gral part of the ground floor of the block of flats in which they were sit­u­at­ed. The Earl Fran­cis dif­fers in that it is a sep­a­rate build­ing. To ensure har­mo­ny with its back­ground of flats the shell was built by the Cor­po­ra­tion; but the main entrance and canopy, the inter­nal plan­ning and struc­ture, and all fix­tures and fit­tings were dealt with by The Com­pa­ny.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Tetley’s Post War ‘Estate’ Pubs in The North”