GALLERY: Malt, 1955-1969

‘The Other Fellow’s Job No. 10: The Maltster’ by Richard HiltonHouse of Whitbread, Spring 1955, with photographs by P.M. Goodchild.

“In these modern times, when machinery has largely replaced the hands of the craftsman, one might think that the ingredients of beer are largely subjected to numerous mechanical processes in the course of their evolution. And many of them are — but the malting process is one that has stood the test of time, and remains the secret of the craftsman who transforms the corns of barley into that most valuable ingredient of all — malt.”

A man with a specially designed wheelbarrow.
“C. McCabe carries the barley in a specially designed malt barrow.”

“When a new load of barley arrives at the maltings, the first men to handle it are the granary hands. It is their job to dry the barley to about 12 per cent of moisture so that it can be kept in bulk without deterioriation; next, they clean and ‘screen’ it to extract the small or broken grains… Typical of the granary hand at the Whitbread maltings in East Dereham in Norfolk is Chris McCabe. An Irishman, 64-year-old McCabe started with Whitbread’s eleven years ago, and takes great pride in his work…. Before he came to East Dereham he worked in large maltings in Ireland.”

A man in flat cap and overalls.
“As foreman of the East side of the Dereham maltings, Walter Lambert has many responsibilities. Here, he is adjusting the oil burner on one of the barley kilns.”

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Dump Red Stripe, get Budvar on

carpentersarms

Last night, we wanted to go somewhere with a bit of music. A quick search turned up the Carpenter’s Arms, a nice looking pub with a DJ playing “eclectic beats” (eh?) every Saturday night.

As it happened, it was just what we were looking for. We enjoyed the music and the atmosphere and got lightly pissed. Nice.

Even though we weren’t in beer geek mode, we couldn’t help but ponder the selection of beers on offer. We gather that this is one of Mitchells and Butlers undercover chain pubs and the familiar line-up on the pumps confirmed that. There were more than 20 draft beers, some interesting, others less so.

What struck us most was the menu which offered five ‘pilsners’: Carlsberg, Red Stripe, Peroni, Becks Vier and Heineken. Then there were the two very similar wheat beers — Franziskaner and Erdinger.

Why offer five such similar lagers? Couldn’t they spare a pump for something a bit better (Budvar, Urquell) or different (Budvar Dark)? We’re not being weird beer snobs here — those aren’t exactly obscure or hard to get hold of, and would just broaden the range a bit.

This is exactly the kind of pub which should have Brewdog’s beers on offer, too.

And, controversially, we’re going to suggest that they should drop their cask ales altogether, or have a really long hard think about how they’re looking after them.  We tried a pint of London Pride (no-one else was touching it) and it tasted very, very old and stale. Maybe this just isn’t the place for them?

Of course, being part of a chain, even if it’s kept a bit secret, they’re bound by all kinds of contracts and agreements, so this is really feedback for the owners, rather than the cheery bar manager.

All in all, we had a good night, and didn’t struggle to find nice things to drink, with the aforementioned Franziskaner, kegged Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, bottles of Chimay Red,  and bottled Meantime Chocolate and Raspberry. But a few small changes could make this a great pub, rather than just a good one.

Pubco sets up pretend freehouses

UK pub company Mitchells and Butlers are apparently planning to open a series of unique “concept bars”. They’ll be part of a chain but designed to look like they’re independent.

The UK pub chain company owns, among others, O’Neill’s, Scream Pubs and All Bar One, but has clearly recognised (as we’ve pointed out before) that big companies and boringly ubiquitous brands are going out of fashion. They’re not going away, though — just into hiding.

Interesting to see how this business model works out. Our bet is that one of the bars will do better than the others and then turn into a chain…

Via Marketing magazine/Brand Republic.