The Best of Us in 2017

The idea behind this round-up of the best of our own writing from 2017 is, as much as anything, to remind ourselves of what we’ve pulled off.

We for­got we’d writ­ten some of this stuff at all, while oth­er bits we had in mind were were from last year, or maybe the year before.

It’s been a hec­tic time what with mov­ing from Pen­zance to Bris­tol and the pub­li­ca­tion of a sec­ond book but, despite all that, we kept up a fair­ly steady flow of posts – about 240 in all. Of course that includes plen­ty of throw­aways, week­ly links round-ups, and our Month That Was sum­maries. Still, we reck­on it amount to about 160,000 words of orig­i­nal writ­ing – enough for anoth­er two books.

This is prob­a­bly a good point to say that if you appre­ci­ate our out­put and want to encour­age us to keep doing it, ad-free, and most­ly out­side any kind of pay­wall, please do con­sid­er sub­scrib­ing to our Patre­on. It’s dead easy, and for as lit­tle as $2 per month you can help pay for all this, and also get some bonus stuff there. (We’ve unlocked a few posts over the course of the year so you can see for your­self.) That peo­ple have signed up has been a major source of encour­age­ment but, you know, there’s always room for a bit more.

Now, down to busi­ness. We’ve decid­ed to lim­it our­selves to ten that we espe­cial­ly like but have also includ­ed by way of a foot­note a sec­ond list of the stuff that actu­al­ly got all the traf­fic, which is not always the stuff that’s most fun or inter­est­ing to write. First up, its…

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Best of Us in 2017”

Service Update: Moving House

Stingo delivery van.
From 1951.

Right, we’ve done pretty well at keeping things ticking over up to this point but, to paraphrase Hildegard Knef, from here on it gets rough.

We’re in the process of mov­ing from Pen­zance to Bris­tol which means sev­er­al long train jour­neys, lots of dis­rup­tion, com­put­ers in places with­out inter­net, and inter­net in places with­out com­put­ers. And who knows where all the books and yel­low­ing pam­phlets will be.

This dis­rup­tion should­n’t last more than a cou­ple of weeks and we’ll still hope­ful­ly man­age to get the odd blog post out – we’ve got some half-writ­ten that just need pol­ish­ing up when we can catch our breath, and oth­ers we can prob­a­bly just about man­age to type with crabbed fin­gers on phone screens.

In the mean­time we’ll def­i­nite­ly keep up the Tweet­ing, Face­book­ing and Insta­gram­ming, and of course there’s a ten year back­log of stuff here you can check out if you need some­thing more sub­stan­tial. Top tip: the ‘Relat­ed Posts’ wid­get (to the right on desk­top browsers and down below on mobile) is a good way to dis­cov­er stuff you might have missed.

Related posts widget.

And also, here’s some­thing to think about: once we’re set­tled at the oth­er end we’re hop­ing to put togeth­er a fol­low-up to ‘The Good, the Bad and the Murky’, which was itself a fol­low-up to Brew Bri­tan­nia. If you’ve got thoughts on the kind of things we ought to include – major trends and devel­op­ments in British beer since 2015 – drop us a line ( or leave a com­ment below.

Ten Years

Ringo Starr's Sentimental Journey album.

Well, there you go: we made it to ten years.

To mark the occa­sion we’ve relaunched the page where we list some high­lights from the blog – just twelve posts this time, all things of which we’re par­tic­u­lar­ly proud, or at least fond. Do have a look, espe­cial­ly if you’re a new fol­low­er-read­er.

Newslet­ter sub­scribers will know a bit more about the ups and downs that have got us here so we won’t go over that again but thanks to every­one for read­ing, com­ment­ing, encour­ag­ing and shar­ing over the years.

Sec­ond decade, here we come.

Status Update: Bona Fide Travelling

Window at the Old Pack Horse, Chiswick.

Today and tomorrow we’re on the road visiting some pubs and interviewing some people for research purposes so there won’t be a News, Nuggets & Longreads links round-up tomorrow.

If you’re des­per­ate for a Sat­ur­day morn­ing fix keep an eye on our Twit­ter time­line tomor­row – we’ll share a few things there instead of here.

And, as they say at the BBC, oth­er links round ups are avail­able, e.g. Stan Hierony­mus’s reg­u­lar Mon­day morn­ing post which, this week, had some par­tic­u­lar­ly juicy stuff.

(The title of this non-post is a ref­er­ence to a quirk of UK licenc­ing law that we wrote about here, by the way.)

Home Brewing Mojo

Homebrewing yeast, book, notes and bottle.

We had a bit of a wobble when it came to home brewing, hardly touching the kit for more than a year, but now the magic seems to be back.

What went wrong? A cou­ple of batch­es that did­n’t turn out as we’d hoped. A load of lager that froze because we made a stu­pid mis­take with a fridge. A few late starts because we did­n’t have a bit of pipe or a tap, which in turn led to tired out, late fin­ish­es. And, of course, the increas­ing avail­abil­i­ty of the kind of beer we want­ed to drink at rea­son­able prices on the high street.

A 25kg sack of malt went untouched until we decid­ed it was prob­a­bly past its best and, any­way, might start to attract ver­min, so we threw it away. What a waste.

The kit lit­er­al­ly gath­ered dust.

Then, last Octo­ber, we gave our­selves a stern talk­ing to and ordered just enough stuff for a sin­gle brew. If it was­n’t fun, and the beer was rot­ten, we’d made no seri­ous com­mit­ment.

Amaz­ing­ly, it went bet­ter than ever. Hav­ing had a break, some­how the rou­tine had embed­ded itself as habit and we sud­den­ly knew what to do with­out pan­ick­ing, rush­ing or repeat­ed­ly con­sult­ing guid­ance online. Water was heat­ing before break­fast, recipe for­mu­lat­ed over a plate of scram­bled eggs. We did­n’t make any stu­pid mis­takes – for­get­ting to fit the hop strain­er, leav­ing taps open, break­ing ther­mome­ters in the mash – the kind of thing we used to do all the time.

Giv­ing up on liq­uid yeast and just pitch­ing dry yeast straight into the fer­ment­ing ves­sel seems to have removed one entire lev­el of stress, too.

Even clean­ing seemed easy. (Bar the frus­tra­tion of try­ing to buy thin bleach which is appar­ent­ly on its way to extinc­tion.) We were done by lunchtime leav­ing the after­noon free for a ses­sion in the Star Inn.

The result­ing HLA was­n’t amaz­ing but it was­n’t bloody bad either and we achieved exact­ly the kind of low­er bit­ter­ness, high aro­ma Prop­er-Job-type hop char­ac­ter we were aim­ing for.

Since then we’ve man­aged to not screw up a batch of lager, not screw up anoth­er HLA and, today, (tempt­ing fate) we’re in the process of not screw­ing up a Vic­to­ri­an porter.

With less anx­i­ety, brew­ing leaves plen­ty of long gaps for read­ing, watch­ing films, under­tak­ing errands, so that it feels like a kind of pro­duc­tive loaf­ing. We’re glad to have it back in our lives.