News, nuggets and longreads 19 October 2019: Lancashire, language, local

Here’s everything that struck as noteworthy in beer and pubs in the past week, from foeders to the importance of L.

Mar­tyn Cor­nell has been reflect­ing on the urge to nit­pick over the lan­guage peo­ple use to talk about beer and brew­ing:

I had a small Twit­ter spat yes­ter­day with Dura­tion Brew­ing after they said they were installing a cool­ship and foed­ers at their brew­ery in Nor­folk. A wave of grumpy old man­nish­ness washed across me, and I tweet­ed that we don’t have cool­ships and foed­ers in Britain, we have cool­ers and vats. Why use a for­eign word when we have Eng­lish words that mean the same thing?

Wetherspoon pub sign, Penzance.

Ben­jamin Nunn at Ben Viveur is a fan of the Wether­spoon pub chain but not uncrit­i­cal. In his lat­est post, he lists five things he likes and five he does­n’t:

3. Col­lec­tabil­i­ty. For those of us for whom brew­ery- and beer-tick­ing isn’t enough, there’s the chal­lenge of try­ing to vis­it all the Spoons. It’s tremen­dous fun. Some have vis­it­ed over 1000 and to them I doff my Wether­cap. (If you’re even slight­ly inter­est­ed in tak­ing up this hob­by, Spoon­sTrack­er makes it easy!)

Casked in Rawtenstall.
SOURCE: Dun­can Mackay/Pubmeister.

Is Rawten­stall in Lan­cashire “the Hack­ney of the north”? Dun­can Mack­ay thinks it might be, unless it’s the oth­er way round:

It’s one of sev­er­al sol­id for­mer mill towns that seem to be increas­ing­ly attrac­tive to the Man­ches­ter dias­po­ra. How else to explain two microp­ubs, a sta­tion bar, a brew­ery tap, a tem­per­ance bar and, wait for it, a nano pub, all doing a brisk trade on a dre­ich Sun­day evening… Two of the above (Hop and Buffer Stops) have graced pre­vi­ous Good Beer Guides.… The new addi­tion is Casked, described as a microp­ub but real­ly a decent sized beer and gin bar that looks as if it occu­pies two for­mer shops.

Generic beer pumps in photocopy style.

For The Morn­ing Adver­tis­er Stu­art Stone looks into why so many tra­di­tion­al British beers have updat­ed their brand­ing late­ly, and the impor­tance of brand­ing to con­sumers more gen­er­al­ly:

Hobgoblin’s mod­ern makeover is fur­ther vin­di­cat­ed by the fact that 41% of 18 to 25s and 39% of 26 to 35s agree that “I think mod­ern beer brands under­stand me bet­ter as a con­sumer”, accord­ing to Street­bees – with only 14% of each age-group dis­agree­ing with the state­ment. ­ Is falls to an aver­age of 34% across all age groups and 27% among those aged over 46.

(Note the bloop­er, though: Georgina Young is head brew­er at Bath Ales, a sub­sidiary of St Austell, not at St Austell prop­er.)

A nugget from Stan Hierony­mus: what if all brew­eries local­ness was list­ed like ABV?

Full­steam Brew­ery in North Car­oli­na has made a small change in the sig­nage it uses at beer fes­ti­vals.

A line that pre­vi­ous­ly read “AUTUMN LAGER fes­t­bier, 6% ABV, 99% local” now reads “AUTUMN LAGER fes­t­bier, 6% ABV, 99% L.”

Final­ly, from Twit­ter, via @teninchwheels:

Stan has retired from link wran­gling but do check out Alan McLeod’s Thurs­day round-up for more good read­ing.

News, nuggets and longreads 12 October 2019: silly stout, Somerset cider, sad stories

Here’s everything on the subject of beer, pubs and (this month only) cider, that caught our attention in the past few days, from lost friends to last beers.

Between us we’ve encoun­tered Roger Wilkins of Wilkins Cider a few times over the decades. When Ray was young, his Dad used to buy cider from the farm every now and then. And until a year or so ago, Wilkins used to sup­ply the Drap­ers Arms so the sight of Mr W him­self steam­ing through a crowd­ed pub, sweat­ing and huff­ing, with a jar of pick­led eggs under each arm was­n’t uncom­mon. Now, for Pel­li­cleNic­ci Peet has giv­en him the full pro­file treat­ment:

I hear Roger before I see him, his laugh bel­low­ing from inside his barn. It’s as big and as bold as his rep­u­ta­tion. Local­ly, and to some inter­na­tion­al­ly, he is known as the “cider king,” mak­ing prop­er, tra­di­tion­al farm­house cider… Roger offers two ciders: dry and sweet. Both sit in big wood­en bar­rels with taps ready for you to serve your­self and there’s no fixed price—you pay as you feel. If you’re after a medi­um sim­ply mix the two. Then sip your cider in the barn or in the orchard, the way Som­er­set cider has been enjoyed for cen­turies. Even how he sells his cider is old school, as you have to ring him direct­ly if you want to make an order.

Drawing: a pub bar.

Mark John­son paints a pic­ture of pub life with an emo­tion­al twist in a post about the acci­den­tal Thurs­day Club, dry roast­ed peanuts and a man called Col­in:

Most­ly we just meet at the bar. First by chance. Then increas­ing­ly “by chance.” Then it became Thurs­day club. Then Wednes­day was added into the mix too. And of course we are always here Fri­day. And the odd quick pint on a Mon­day has been known to turn into five hours of putting the world to rights – or at least his beloved City’s back four… I’m not sure I’ve ever socialised with Col­in out­side of the pub… And he is too bloomin’ gen­er­ous. Annoy­ing­ly so. I have to fight to even pay for a drink. I’m sure I’m about 20 pints behind now. I don’t think I’ve ever bought the bags of dry roast­ed.

Chelsie's last beer.
SOURCE: Chelsie Markel.

Chelsie Markel did­n’t know she was drink­ing what might be her last beer when she checked it in on Untap­pd dur­ing the sum­mer:

While I was drink­ing my very last full pour of beer while vis­it­ing Tree House Brew­ing Co. in July, I had no idea I had the dis­ease. I had no idea that ‘Hur­ri­cane (with Peach)’ would be my last beer self­ie that I ever took. That the beer I rat­ed a 4.5 in Untap­pd and every­thing I had hoped for as a tast­ing expe­ri­ence would be the begin­ning of the finale… Even though a few years back a friend of mine had been diag­nosed with Sjo­grens and I thought “Wow! I have a lot of these med­ical con­di­tions and symp­toms though­out my life. But stop being sil­ly! Your doc­tors would have con­nect­ed the dots and test­ed you if they thought this was a real con­cern. Stop self-diag­nos­ing.”

Various books and magazine from the last 40+ years of CAMRA.

The Cam­paign for Real Ale keeps doing inter­est­ing things. The lat­est eye­brow-rais­ing move is to ten­der for a not-the-usu­al-sus­pects writer to tack­le an offi­cial 50th anniver­sary biog­ra­phy of the cam­paign group:

We would like this per­spec­tive to come from some­one who is not per­ceived as hav­ing a close asso­ci­a­tion with CAMRA. The brief is for a c.50,000 word autho­rised biog­ra­phy of CAMRA, to be researched and writ­ten in 2020, with the text due at the end of the year, ready for pub­li­ca­tion in March 2021 in time for the Campaign’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. Exact out­line, terms and fees to be nego­ti­at­ed.

Cult Czech brew­ery Kout na Šumavě is in trou­ble, it turns out:

Siren Caribbean Chocolate Cake (label).

Steve Body, AKA The Pour Fool, has put togeth­er a typ­i­cal­ly impas­sioned defence of ‘crazy’ beers:

We have to have this sort of “crazi­ness” for craft beer – noth­ing says we have to like every dick­head idea or style that sham­bles onto the brew­ing scene – to con­tin­ue to evolve and progress as the par­a­digm-chang­er it has become. There is NO oth­er path. The surest way to mur­der inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­i­ty is to slap blind­ers on those doing the work. There is an old say­ing, “Out of exper­i­men­ta­tion comes syn­the­sis.” Nev­er heard that? Appar­ent­ly, I just made it up. Google gives me no hits on that axiom. But it’s the truth: we try crazy shit, watch some or even most of it fail, and pluck the nuggets, the pearls, out of the chick­en­shit.

Sam Smith logo from beer bottle.

We can’t resist these Humphrey Smith sto­ries: the head of Samuel Smith’s brew­ery in Tad­cast­er has reached a new high this week by shut­ting down a new­ly opened pub because he heard a cus­tomer swear­ing. Here’s the sto­ry as report­ed by the Inde­pen­dent:

[Smith] was vis­it­ing the Fox and Goose in Droitwich Spa, Worces­ter­shire, sev­en weeks after it opened… But when the 74-year-old heard anoth­er drinker drop­ping the F‑word while telling his wife a joke, he decid­ed to imme­di­ate­ly close the place… [leav­ing] land­lord Eric Low­ery, who lives in a flat above the pub with wife Tracey, look­ing for both a new job and some­where to live.

Final­ly, from Twit­ter:


News, nuggets and longreads 5 October 2019: sessionability, Spam, the seventies

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related reading we’ve found especially illuminating or enjoyable in the past week, from Monty Python to pensions.

When you’ve been at this game for a while, you start to see the same con­ver­sa­tions cycle round. This week, it’s time to talk about what ‘ses­sion­able’ means again. First, for Vine­PairLily Waite argues that it’s impos­si­ble to pin down

The most com­mon use of ‘ses­sion” in beer con­texts is as a qual­i­fi­er. It means the beer in ques­tion con­tains low enough amounts of alco­hol that sev­er­al, or even many, can be con­sumed in one drink­ing ‘ses­sion.’ The term ‘ses­sion­able’ is com­mon­ly used to sug­gest some­thing is eas­i­ly drink­able, light, refresh­ing, or any com­bi­na­tion of the three… But even those airy def­i­n­i­tions leave a lot open to inter­pre­ta­tion. As all beer drinkers are dif­fer­ent, with indi­vid­ual sizes, appetites, tol­er­ances, and pref­er­ences, how can we say what ‘ses­sion” or ‘ses­sion­able’ even means?

In response, Mar­tyn Cor­nell, who Waite cites in her arti­cle, says, no, actu­al­ly – it’s not dif­fi­cult at all:

I saw a tweet yes­ter­day from some­one talk­ing about “a ses­sion­able 5.5 per cent smoked oat­meal stout”, and the world swam and dis­solved before me as I plunged scream­ing and twist­ing into a hell­ish, tor­ment­ed pit of dark despair… Let me make this as clear as I can. This is an egre­gious and unfor­giv­able total fail­ure to under­stand what the expres­sion ‘ses­sion­able’ means, is meant to mean, and was coined for. A 5.5 per cent alco­hol beer is not, and can­not be, ‘ses­sion­able’. A smoked oat­meal stout, while I am sure it can be love­ly, is not and can­not be ‘ses­sion­able’. Nobody ever spent all evening drink­ing four or five, or six, pints of smoked oat­meal stout.

Stella Artois
SOURCE: Brus­sels Beer City.

One of our favourite blog posts of last year was Eoghan Wal­sh’s lit­er­ary pub crawl around Brus­sels. Now he’s back with Part Two:

Nobody exem­pli­fied the writer liv­ing unhap­pi­ly in Brus­sels bet­ter than French­man and ser­i­al flâneur Charles Baude­laire… Leav­ing behind Vic­tor Hugo and the Chaloupe D’Or café on Brus­sels’ Grand Place, my walk fol­lows the well-worn tourist path out of the square and into the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. These glass-ceil­ing shop­ping arcades were a first in Europe when they were built in 1847 and imme­di­ate­ly they became a meet­ing place not only for the city’s bour­geoisie but also for its writ­ers and artists. It was here that the Lumière broth­ers showed off their ciné­matographe for the first time out­side of Paris, in March 1896. Vic­tor Hugo’s mis­tress, Juli­ette Drou­et – Juju – has an apart­ment above what is now the fran­coph­o­ne Tro­pismes book­shop. French poet Paul Ver­laine once pur­chased a revolver here with his moth­er. And, liv­ing a cou­ple of streets away while escap­ing debts and debtors back in Paris, Charles Baude­laire was a fre­quent vis­i­tor.

Bass logo.

Roger Protz has writ­ten a por­trait of a Lon­don pub famous for its Bass, as it has been since 1921:

The Express Tav­ern on Kew Bridge Road is that rar­i­ty – a Lon­don pub that reg­u­lar­ly serves Draught Bass. The Bass red tri­an­gle trade­mark adorns the exte­ri­or and the famous tri­an­gle also declares itself on a pump clip on the bar… Two reg­u­lars seat­ed at the bar nod­ded in salu­ta­tion when I asked for a pint. “You’ve come to the right place for Bass,” they said. “That’s what we’re drink­ing.”


Dave at Brew­ing in a Bed­sit­ter offers a brief rein­ven­tion of a famous moment from Mon­ty Python’s Fly­ing Cir­cus:

Wait­ress: Evening!

Man: Well, what’ve you got?

Wait­ress: Well, there’s IPA with mosa­ic and sim­coe; IPA with mosa­ic and cen­ten­ni­al; IPA with mosa­ic and cit­ra; IPA with mosa­ic, sim­coe and cit­ra; IPA with mosa­ic, sim­coe, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra; IPA with cit­ra, sim­coe, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra; IPA with cit­ra, mosa­ic, cit­ra, cit­ra, sim­coe and cit­ra, IPA with cit­ra, vic secret, cit­ra, cit­ra, mosa­ic, cit­ra, cen­ten­ni­al and cit­ra;

Hip­sters (start­ing to chant): Cit­ra cit­ra cit­ra cit­ra…

Homebrew beer mat.

John Har­ry has been intern­ing at the Nation­al  Muse­um of Amer­i­can His­to­ry and as part of an ini­tia­tive to record US brew­ing his­to­ry has researched and writ­ten about the birth of the mod­ern home-brew­ing move­ment:

After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege in 1972, [Char­lie] Papaz­ian moved to Boul­der, Col­orado, to try to fig­ure out his life plans. Some peo­ple there dis­cov­ered that he knew how to brew beer and asked him to teach a class on home­brew­ing at the local com­mu­ni­ty free school. The class­es were incred­i­bly pop­u­lar and attract­ed many curi­ous local res­i­dents… As word spread through news­pa­per arti­cles, admin­is­tra­tors grew con­cerned that the class­es might be attract­ing the wrong type of atten­tion. “After about the third year…those class­es became noto­ri­ous,” Papaz­ian recount­ed. “One time at reg­is­tra­tion for the class, the admin­is­tra­tion con­tact­ed me, and said, ‘You know… there’s a guy, who’s reg­is­ter­ing for this class. He may be from the ATF.’” The ATF is the Bureau of Alco­hol, Tobac­co, and Firearms—the law enforce­ment agency in charge of reg­u­lat­ing activ­i­ties such as home­brew­ing. As Papaz­ian start­ed the class, a man walked in wear­ing a dark pair of slacks, a white shirt, and a skin­ny black tie. Papaz­ian sus­pect­ed he was the ATF agent right away.

The Cask Report.

The lat­est edi­tion of Cask Mar­que’s Cask Report is out, edit­ed by Matt Eley and with con­tri­bu­tions from peo­ple like Pete Brown and Adri­an Tier­ney-Jones. We haven’t had chance to digest yet but the key mes­sage is that cask ale could be about to have a moment if it can rein­vent itself as a spe­cial­ist, pre­mi­um prod­uct:

The whole indus­try has to work togeth­er to improve the con­sis­ten­cy and qual­i­ty of cask. This will enable it to be posi­tioned in a more pre­mi­um man­ner on the bar, reignite wider inter­est and ulti­mate­ly bring cask back to growth. It might not quite be cask’s moment yet, but it feels like it’s com­ing and pubs should be ful­ly pre­pared by embrac­ing it now.

The cast of We Anchor in Hope.
SOURCE: The Bunker The­atre.

We Anchor in Hope, a play set in a pub – a ful­ly-func­tion­al pub recon­struct­ed in a the­atre – sounds inter­est­ing:

The two have thought a lot about the pub that the Bunker is becom­ing: a quiz every Tues­day, karaoke on Thurs­days and a dis­co on the week­end. The space will be open an hour before the show for peo­ple to get a drink, with Son­nex him­self pulling pints along­side his gen­er­al man­ag­er, Lee. In the world of the play, the pints in the Anchor pub will be pulled by Pearl, the play’s only woman. “In the cur­rent cli­mate, and right­ful­ly so, you should be look­ing at the ratio of men to women and mak­ing sure there are real­ly good oppor­tu­ni­ties for female actors,” Jor­dan tells me. But in order to stay true to the pubs she spent time in, which were “over­whelm­ing­ly male spaces”, We Anchor in Hope has “one female char­ac­ter and four male char­ac­ters – which is some­thing we both thought about and talked about”.

Final­ly, here’s a nugget from Twit­ter:

For more links and news, check out Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­days and Alan McLeod on Thurs­days.

News, nuggets and longreads 28 September 2019: language, complexity, taprooms

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from The Good Beer Guide to the language we use.

First, here’s a sub­stan­tial piece by Jon­ny Gar­rett for Good Beer Hunt­ing which attempts to unpick the lan­guage used in the con­ver­sa­tion around beer:

Char­ac­ter lim­its and fast-scrolling mean we’re get­ting more cre­ative, but we’re also reduc­ing the words we use to mean the same thing. On an Insta­gram post or Untap­pd check-in, why list gua­va, man­go, and pineap­ple when a sim­ple “juicy” cuts to the chase?

You might quib­ble with some of his con­clu­sions – the ori­gins of the terms ‘craft beer’ and ‘craft brew­ery’ are hot­ly debat­ed, for exam­ple – but there’s plen­ty of food for thought.

Instagram likes.

For CañaBeth Dem­mon gets stuck into a com­plex ques­tion: if sex­ist imagery on beer pack­ag­ing is a prob­lem, what about when social media influ­encers in beer gain lever­age by pre­sent­ing them­selves as sexy? Is it empow­er­ment, or per­pet­u­a­tion?

I tend to be less than thrilled when men decide to police women’s bod­ies. But as a woman cov­er­ing the craft beer scene, I also strug­gle with the resid­ual impact that hyper­sex­u­al con­tent from beer influ­encers has on how the world may view me in the same space. With more and more con­ver­sa­tions cov­er­ing the trou­ble­some his­to­ry that beer has with women while acknowl­edg­ing the poten­tial dam­age this new genre of social media inter­ac­tion can have on all women, I’ve come to realise one impor­tant truth: it’s com­pli­cat­ed.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, nuggets and lon­greads 28 Sep­tem­ber 2019: lan­guage, com­plex­i­ty, tap­rooms”

News, nuggets and longreads 21 September 2019: Catalonia, cask, cans

Here’s a week’s worth of reading about beer and pubs, from Catalan hops to cask ale.

For Bir­raire, Joan Vil­lar-i-Martí has writ­ten at length about Jor­di Sánchez of Lupuli­na, a hop-grow­ing busi­ness in Cat­alo­nia, Spain, that spe­cialis­es in serv­ing the grow­ing craft beer move­ment:

At a time when there were around 15 fac­to­ries with brew­ing license in Cat­alo­nia… Jor­di decides to com­bine his grow­ing pas­sion with his expe­ri­ence and train­ing in biol­o­gy, devel­op­ing in 2013 a pilot plan­ta­tion with 150 hop plants of 10 dif­fer­ent vari­eties… His vision: to accom­pa­ny the craft beer move­ment by sup­ply­ing raw mate­r­i­al, with the will to reg­u­lar­ly pro­vide pro­duc­ers with good val­ue local­ly grown hops… “The thing that makes a craft brew­ery dif­fer­ent is its atti­tude, but also its raw mate­ri­als”.

Casks in a pub yard.

Jeff Alworth con­tin­ues his tour of the UK with a vis­it to Man­ches­ter where he offers an out­sider’s per­spec­tive on the health and future of cask ale, and a throw­away judge­ment on sparklers:

[A] pint of cask bit­ter is… one of the world’s best drink­ing beers… But man, has it got a brand­ing prob­lem. This per­cep­tion was height­ened by spend­ing most of my time in Man­ches­ter and Lon­don, two mod­ern cities with large pop­u­la­tions of young drinkers. Amer­i­cans revere the Eng­lish pub because it drips with romance and nos­tal­gia. The wood pan­elling, the old pic­tures on the walls, the fire in the cor­ner, the low light­ing, the nooks, cran­nies, and snugs. But cask’s prob­lem is that it is so tight­ly fused with the envi­ron­ment in which it is served.

The Marble taproom.
SOURCE: The Ale in Kaleigh

On a relat­ed note, Man­ches­ter-based writer Kaleigh Wat­ter­son has vis­it­ed Mar­ble’s new tap­room in Sal­ford:

I thought the space was exact­ly what a brew­ery tap­room should be; you can see inside the brew­ery but it feels com­fort­able and sep­a­rate, some­where you could set­tle in for a few hours… It was obvi­ous­ly a big deci­sion for such brew­ery so asso­ci­at­ed with the city of Man­ches­ter to move over the bor­der into Sal­ford, but with the uncer­tain­ty around the future of rail­way arch­es, the size con­straints of their old site and the great space they’ve built shows it was the right one for them.

The Fleece Inn
SOURCE: Beer Com­pur­ga­tion

Mark John­son has a new project (it’s always good to have a project) focus­ing on the foot­ball clubs and pubs:

My first trip was on Sat­ur­day 31st August to Seel Park to catch Moss­ley AFC tak­ing on Kendal Town in the North­ern Pre­mier League Divi­sion One… Grow­ing up in neigh­bour­ing Staly­bridge, Moss­ley was always con­sid­ered the debauched and ostracised cousin. The peo­ple had their rep­u­ta­tion and so did the pubs. We were paint­ed the pic­ture of a run­down, smog filled town that hadn’t changed since pre-Peter­loo days… As you mature you realise that such rep­u­ta­tions in any town are fic­ti­tious local­ism; that the res­i­dents there view your area with sim­i­lar dis­dain and fan­ta­sy.

Map of Lee High Road
SOURCE: Run­ning Past

At Run­ning Past this week (via @untilnextyear) a por­trait of a lost Lon­don pub – The Sul­tan on Lee High Road, demol­ished 20 years ago:

Some­time dur­ing 1993, I had been into Lewisham with my tod­dler son in a bug­gy and was con­front­ed by a low-speed car chase – the pur­sued car had come out of Claren­don Rise, had mount­ed the pave­ment in a vain attempt to evade the traf­fic back­ing up at the junc­tion of Bel­mont Hill and Lewis Grove. The nar­row pave­ment was busy so the dri­ver slow­ly inched towards the Clock Tow­er… I took eva­sive action and pushed the bug­gy into the Sultan’s lounge… The Sul­tan wasn’t the most invit­ing pub lounge I’ve ever been in – dark and a fug of smoke so thick that the bar was a lit­tle inde­ter­mi­nate in out­line. Out­side the excite­ment swift­ly abat­ed; the police pur­suers had quick­ly arrest­ed the dri­ver who had come to a halt when a lamp­post blocked his path.

Felinfoel cans
SOURCE: Chiswick Auc­tions

The own­er of Felin­foel Brew­ery in Wales has just paid £2,250 for two sealed cans of beer from the 1930s, for some­what under­stand­able rea­sons:

The cans of Felin­foel pale ale, which were brewed before the Sec­ond World War, are thought to have become the most expen­sive ever – each can cost the equiv­a­lent to 270 pints… The yel­low cans were bought by Philip Lewis (corr), the man­ag­ing direc­tor of the Welsh brew­ery where the ale was first canned in 1936… Mirac­u­lous­ly, one of the cans is still full of beer, while the ancient brew is slow­ly evap­o­rat­ing out of the other’s slight­ly dam­aged seal.

What we real­ly like is the blurb, in what look like Gill Sans: “Canned beer is bet­ter because the good­ness is sealed in and the flavour pre­served. It is also pro­tect­ed from the harm­ful effect of light. Unbreak­able. Lighter to car­ry. Takes up less space. No deposits; no returns. More hygien­ic – used only once.”

Final­ly, from Twit­ter, a new turn of phrase that we sus­pect is already fea­tur­ing as a key ‘buy­er per­sona’ in mar­ket­ing plans up and down the coun­try…

For more links and news, check out Stan’s round-up from Mon­day and Alan’s from Thurs­day.