Everything We Wrote in July 2018: Community, Mild, Tripel

July 2018: hot sun, parched land, cool beer.

Here in one handy round-up is everything we wrote in the past month. We managed to keep up the output up despite the heat, including one whopper of a post.

The month began with the kick-off of our Tripel Taste-Off. This time, we’ve gone with a knockout competition. The first round games so far have been:


In what turned out to be quite a history-filled month we dissected Ted Elkins 1970 book about the history of the Northern Clubs Federation, AKA The Fed, and its empire in the north east of England:

What is the maximum output possible to the brewery?
Answer: One hundred barrels per week.
What is the minimum required to make the brewery solvent?
Answer: thirty barrels.
Then am I right in understanding that you can live on 30 barrels and will grow rich on 100 barrels weekly?
Answer: Yes.
Then three of four large clubs in any locality could easily and profitably free themselves of private brewers?
Answer: Yes.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in July 2018: Community, Mild, Tripel”

Everything We Wrote in June 2018: RATs, Beavers, Kittens

June was hot and hectic, and yet somehow we managed 20 posts here and 13 over on the Patreon feed.

There was also the usual barrage of Tweets, bits and pieces on Instagram and Facebook, and 1000+ words of exclusive stuff in the newsletter. (We don’t normally make those publicly viewable but this one is, if you want to see the kind of thing we write about.)


The month began, as they so often do, with a contribution to the Session, this time on the subject of farmhouse brewing. The fun thing about the Session is how often we think we have nothing to say but start typing anyway and… Oh, there’s a thing.

You can read a round-up of all the entries at Brewing in a Bedsitter.


The first of this month’s Pub Life posts records a conversation between bar staff on important philosophical questions: are zebras black with white stripes, or white with black? (Do check out the hilariously (knowingly) literal comments on this post…)

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in June 2018: RATs, Beavers, Kittens”

Everything We Wrote in May 2018: Pints, Drinks, Staropramen

"What a Lot of Words!"

It was a busy month for us — almost too busy, really, because we set ourselves rather too much of a challenge with #BeeryLongreads2018. Still, the results were probably worth it.

We began the month with one of our ‘Pub Life’ pieces based on observing an odd character one Sunday afternoon. We didn’t intend any criticism — the pub seemed to tolerate him well enough and it’s their business, really — but some of the comments suggest that freeloaders are a real problem in some pubs.


In the wake of a piece we wrote for CAMRA’s BEER magazine we asked people to tell us about their local beer mixes and beer mixing traditions. You’ll see there were plenty of comments and we gather CAMRA has also been receiving correspondence on the issue.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in May 2018: Pints, Drinks, Staropramen”

Everything We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gardens, Amsterdam

April was a relatively quiet month because we went on holiday for ten days in the middle of it, but we managed a few decent posts nonetheless.

If you got something out of this lot, and the peripheral activity on social media, then do consider signing up for our Patreon. We’d love to get to to 100 sign-ups by the end of this year. Or, failing that, buy us a one-off pint — we’ve had a few of these already and it’s a lovely boost when they land in the inbox.

Orbit beers in a row.

Anyway… The month started with another entry in our series of tasting notes on beers suggested by our Patreon subscribers, focusing on beers from Siren as requested by Tim Thomas. Then, later in the month, we tasted a bunch of beers from Orbit as chosen by Paul B. Finally, we worked our way through a whole bunch of beers from Ireland at the prompting of the Beer Nut:

Kinnegar Rustbucket, at 5.1%…. smelled wonderful, taking us back to those days of a decade ago when Goose Island IPA was considered Way Out There, all orange and pine. Red-brown in colour, it tasted like a well executed, tongue-coating, jammy IPA of the old school, and gave the impression of being a much bigger beer. It was perfectly clean, nicely bitter, and just a touch peppery by way of a twist. What a breath of fresh air, and good value, too. We’d drink more of this.

(Side note: we had a couple of private messages from brewers of the back of this run of posts, offering follow-up information on what might have been wrong with beers we hadn’t enjoyed, and updating us on background goings-on that should mean better beer in months to come.)


Cheery-beery!

Longform subtweeting at Mark Johnson and Peter McKerry in an effort to raise their spirits (they spotted this was aimed at them immediately) we came up with a list of reasons to be cheerful about beer. This was Stan Hieronymus’s favourite:

10. Beer in general continues to be really tasty, and getting tipsy with friends and family is still great fun.

Continue reading “Everything We Wrote in April 2018: Real Ale, Beer Gardens, Amsterdam”

Everything We Wrote in March 2018: Devon, Michael Jackson, the Good Beer Guide

That was a pretty productive month with more posts than in any other month for some time, perhaps because the snow and cold kept us indoors near the books and the computer.

We started off gently with a bit of Pub Life, observing the dainty manoeuvres that take place around a communal pork pie which everyone wants to eat, but nobody wants to be seen to want to eat.


The topic of last month’s edition of The Session was ‘Hometown Glories’ so we separated into our constitutional parts to think about Walthamstow and Bridgwater respectively. It doesn’t look as if the host has put together a round-up of the entries yet but when he does, it’ll be here. (No pressure, Gareth.)


We flagged a new favourite book, 1949’s A Scrapbook of Inns, picking out some highlights, and then came back for another go at one of them in this post about the mysterious lost style ‘Ashburton Pop’:

There is a particular kind of beer brewed at Ashburton in Devonshire, very full of fixed air, and therefore known by the name of Ashburton pop, which is supposed to be as efficacious in consumptions as even the air of Devonshire itself…


BrewDog have been embroiled in some brouhaha every other day for the last month, it seems. We had some thoughts on the Pink IPA business, the reaction to which seemed like another win-win for the Scottish behemoth.


In a biggish post we looked back on what we learned about Devon’s beer scene while writing our Devon Life column for a year and a half:

If you think brown bitter is endangered, spend more time in Devon. Time after time we spoke to people who expressed mild frustration at the conservatism of the county – at the aversion to things pale, bitter or aromatic – and of the need to dial things back and down if they want to sell any of it in local pubs. There are too many potentially interesting beers that feel compromised, and too many brewers who know it.

This was one of our most popular posts for the month, though 99.9 per cent of the traffic was from one particular geographical region.


Women in work clothes smiling.
Women posing beside the bottling machine at Mitchells & Butlers bottling depot, Birmingham, c.1950.

For Internation Women’s Day we put together a gallery of images of women working in breweries and pubs from our collection of mid-20th-century in-house magazines.


One thing we weren’t very good at last month was tasting new beers and writing up the notes. We did get round to trying one of the beers suggested for us by our Patreon subscribers, though — De Molen Not For Sale Ale, about which we were rather enthusiastic.


While researching the IWD post (above) we came across several articles about malting and decided to put together a gallery of pictures from those, too.


Then came a cry of despair from the pub: what’s the point in breweries producing decent beer if it’s exactly the same as everybody else’s decent beer? What’s your thing?


Butting into somebody else’s mystery took us down an interesting line of research around Bristol’s mining history and take-away-only beerhouses. There’s a further update from the original poster in the comments on Instagram: “The Rock Tavern / Rock House appears around 1899 and disappears in the late 1960s. One of the entries is asterisked to indicate it was off-sales.”


There’s a whole lot of politics going on in and around SIBA, a lot of it rather hard to follow. We piped up to say that, actually, we understand why small brewers might not want medium-large brewers in their club. (Note: Neil from SIBA popped up on Twitter to point out that St Austell aren’t so much “muscling in” (our phrase) as trying to get back in, having been bumped out when they grew too big.)


Watney's Red -- detail from beer mat.

Nick Wheat acquired and uploaded a rare Watney’s training film from the launch of the reviled Red keg bitter in 1971 and kindly allowed us to share it. Do give it a watch if you have a spare 10-15 minutes, if only to marvel at the impenetrably plummy accents.


Last year CAMRA published our 2,500-word article on the origins of the Good Beer Guide, using only the words of those who were there. Now, so everyone can read it, it’s available here on the blog.


We weren’t expecting to like that beer, which we didn’t expect to find in such good condition, or in that pub, which we didn’t expect to find on that street, in that part of town. Surprises all round!


In 1983-84 Pitfield brewed a mild in support of the women of Greenham Common — was it the first ‘cause’ beer? Check out the comments for some other suggestions, and a telling off.


Illustration: Micheal Jackson peers from behind his glasses.

This was great fun to write, and a great example of where having two writers helps rather than hinders: someone asked us what Michael Jackson would have made of NEIPA so we invented two scholars and had them debate it using only his writings for ammo.


For a long time Orval was a beer alone; now, it has company, as a new style is in the process of being born. We’re calling it DHBA for now. And here’s a footnote via Twitter:


It was a long month which meant five rounds of News, Nuggets & Longreads, including one that was so full of good stuff we resorted to a list of bullet points at the end to fit it all in:

3 March 2018 — Norway, Nitrogen, Nanas

10 March 2018 — Lemondrop, BrewDog, Hardknott

17 March 2018 — London Drinkers & Bristol Dockers

24 March 2018 — Glitter, Ilford, AK

31 March 2018 — Moorhouse’s, Memel, Mellowness


There was also an email newsletter (sign up!), lots of Tweets, photos of pubs on Instagram, a bit of Facebook stuff, and a three-hour Reddit AMA.

If you think all this lot is worth anything please consider signing up to support us via Patreon (where there are also exclusive posts for $2+ subscribers) or maybe just buy us a pint via Ko-Fi.