November was a bit more productive than October, thank goodness, or this blog might have started to acquire cobwebs.
It helped to have a bit of a project, only a small one, looking into some of those aspects of pub culture that puzzled or intrigued us.
We started the month by trying to work out what a sign we used to see in a London pub might have meant:
For years, we tried to work out what WYBMADIITY stood for, in the days before everyone had Google on their phones. We got as far as ‘Will you buy me a drink if I _____ you?’ What ITMA, Max Miller, Round the Horne naughtiness might that missing word suggest?
How important is consistency in beer? We’ve heard all sorts of opinions on this over the years and found ourselves reflecting on our own point of view as of 2020:
We want things to be consistent enough that we know what we’re going to get if we order the same thing twice, while still having scope to surprise us, just a little, in the subtle details.
What makes pubs feel like pubs? It’s at least partly the texture provided by the junk on the walls and shelves and back bar, which makes us think of the greebling on the plastic spaceships in Hollywood films.
We spent evening drinking beers from Elusive Brewing and liked them a lot:
The final round included Lord Nelson, a 6.8% saison originally brewed in collaboration with Weird Beard… [which inspired] oohing and aahing – it’s a really exciting beer. Think Dupont (classical) but with a sharp melon-grape-gooseberry note from New Zealand Nelson Sauvin hops. Each sip reminded us of something different: Hopfenweisse? Tokaj? Japanese gummy sweets? We wonder how it might have fared in our saison contest of a few years back.
We reviewed our new local craft beer bar, Sidney and Eden, which proves that, in the right neighbourhood, you can make a go of this kind of specialist outlet.
Eoghan Walsh’s book Brussels Beer City seems to be going down well. We certainly enjoyed it:
What gives the book energy is Eoghan’s dogged determination to find the very last traces of these stories in real life – a broken chimney here, a faded sign there… It’s no deskbound, bookbound work of dry scholarship and even, at times, suggests mild peril. Poking through the ruins of a brewery by torchlight, kicking through the traces of recent trespassing, who or what might we bump into?
Jukeboxes are a fixture of a certain type of English pub but when did they first arrive? We reckon it can be pinned down to the late 1940s:
Throughout 1948, newspapers reported on the spread of jukeboxes much as they reported on outbreaks of coronavirus back in March this year – “Two already in Nottingham”; “Juke-box experiment for Hull”; “Juke-box music application fails” (Dewsbury)…In February 1949, a pub landlady in Liverpool, Eileen Jones of a ‘local’ on Griffiths Street, asked local licencing magistrates permission to install a jukebox. After much deliberation – would it cause noise? Bring down the tone? Prompt fighting over the choice of music? – they turned down the application.
Jess provided an update on our cider experiment now it’s had a year to mature:
It’s a gorgeous pale gold and very clear… The aroma is ever so slightly vinegary, which isn’t a good sign, although the acetic aroma dissipates quickly and doesn’t carry through into the taste… It is very dry, unsurprisingly, but I found a teaspoon of sugar per pint was enough to take the edge off.
We put together four round-ups of news, nuggets and longreads:
- 7 November | Festbier, Fuggle, fierce creatures
- 14 November | Mexico, money, mould
- 21 November | laddism, lager, longing for pubs
- 28 November | train beer, steam beer, hedgehog glasses
There was a load of stuff like this on Twitter:
— Boak and Bailey (@BoakandBailey) November 21, 2020
And we put weekly round-ups of our favourite beers of each weekend on Patreon. We’ve had a few new sign-ups there, too – thanks, all!