Blogging and writing

From Us To You

We’ve decided to party like it’s 1999 and start an email newsletter.

The first one goes out tomorrow (Friday 16 January) with content we won’t be sharing anywhere else, and we’ll aim to send one a month from here on. Here’s a taste of the contents:

  • Machines for drinking in — an update on our research into post-war pub buildings.
  • Beers from 1999 and 1981 from a head brewer’s private stash.
  • A brief rant about Dry January but probably not the one you’re expecting.
  • Highlights of the last month on our blog…
  • …and some essential reading elsewhere in the world of beer writing and blogging.
  • Plus some bits and pieces: a new camera; another award; and notes and queries.

Sign up here, or using the little form which should appear over there → and up a bit on desktop PCs or down there ↓ near the bottom on mobile devices.

UPDATE 16/01/2015 13:45: The newsletter has gone out. If yours hasn’t arrived check (a) your spam folder and (b) in Gmail, the tabs across the top — some people are telling us it’s been automatically filed as an Update/Promotion/Social. There’s still time to subscribe today — we’ll send another batch at the end of the day.

Blogging and writing

We Won An Award

We’d like to play it cool but the fact is that we’re delighted to have been named beer writer(s) of the year for 2014 by the British Guild of Beer Writers.

As it’s part of our M.O. to keep a bit of distance (literally, since moving to Cornwall) we’ve never joined the Guild but, laudably, the awards are open to everyone, free of charge, and with no especially restrictive rules. We figured that if we were ever going to win anything, 2014 would be the year, and so we entered ourselves in two categories for both the blog and book.

Winning what insiders call ‘the big gong’ was an incredible surprise made all the sweeter because the panel included people with whom we haven’t had had any dealings and who aren’t in ‘the beer bubble’. In other words, they don’t owe us anything, and if they liked Brew Britannia, it is presumably because it stood on its own merits.

We don’t know what happens next. We’d like to write another book, though we haven’t yet found a topic which is both exciting to us and to potential publishers. We don’t really want to write a list book or beginner’s guide, although we have given some thought to whether there might be any new and genuinely interesting angles from which to approach such a project.

Mostly for fun, we’re going to keep chipping away at the subject of lager, and might follow up Gambrinus Waltz with an ebook about Skol and Carlsberg in the 1960s and 70s.

We’re also going to keep up the quarterly #BeeryLongReads, perhaps using the next one (28 February 2015) as an opportunity to start filling in details of the Brew Britannia story. For example, we didn’t have space to write about Williams Bros in the book, but their pioneering 1990s experiments with unusual ingredients is very much ‘proto craft’ and deserves a bit of attention.

Our fortnightly columnettes for the Guardian Guide are set to continue for the foreseeable and, for Christmas, we’ve been asked to expand it to a comparatively luxurious 200 words.

And, of course, we intend to keep spouting off here on the blog as near to every day as we can manage, five years of which, learning to string sentences together and accumulating knowledge, preceded us even thinking about putting pen to paper at book length.

UPDATE 05/12/2014 12:55: it turns out we also came second in the online communications category, behind Martyn Cornell. Blimey!


The Introvert and the Pub

Saloon Bar sign.

By Bailey

I can’t find the original quotation, but Ian Nairn once described the pub as something like ‘the perfect place to be alone with other people’.

A few weeks ago, Ron Pattinson asked this question on his blog: “Why bother going out at all if you don’t want to interact with anyone?” I bristled slightly, but let it go. Then, this morning, ‘py’ said something similar in the comments on this post by the Pub Curmudgeon, and I thought I ought to try to explain myself.

When someone explained the idea of introversion to me a few years ago, I felt greatly relieved to have been ‘diagnosed’. Here are two simple ways I’ve heard it expressed:

  • If faced with a choice of spending eternity alone or with a group of strangers, the introvert will choose to be alone.
  • Extroverts gain energy from interacting with other people, while introverts spend it.

I’m an introvert through and through, but that doesn’t mean I’m unfriendly or socially inept. I turn it on when I have to, and there are plenty of people who seem to enjoy my company.

But when I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough. I sometimes feel exhausted the next day, too, as if I’ve got a hangover, and need to be alone for a day or two to recharge my batteries.

Where does the pub come in? Well, sometimes — and it might only be every four or five weeks — I feel an urge to be around other people. If I’m feeling really full of beans, I’ll perch at the bar, say hello, and hope to get included in the conversation. Usually, though, the operative word is around — I like hearing the murmur of conversation without actually wanting to have one. I find a corner, read a book or a newspaper, drink a pint or two, and go home with my need for company nicely topped up for another month.

And I don’t think I’m doing the pub ‘wrong’ because I’m doing it differently to you.