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.”

Con­tin­ue read­ingGALLERY: Malt, 1955–1969”

Dump Red Stripe, get Budvar on


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.