News, nuggets and longreads 15 June 2019: Beavertown, Bristol, Boozeless Beer

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs from the past week that struck as interesting, thought-provoking or otherwise noteworthy, from The Crumpled Horn to craft beer.

First, some bits of news.

> It used to be that if you want­ed to buy West­vleteren beer you had to vis­it the monastery at pre­scribed times and pur­chase a lim­it­ed amount under strict rules. (Or go into almost any beer shop, it seems, and pay over the odds.) Then, a few years ago, a tele­phone order­ing line was intro­duced. Now, though, you can order it online. (But you still have to pick up your order in per­son.)

> Last year, five post-war pubs were list­ed, includ­ing The Crum­pled Horn in Swin­don. Now, accord­ing to the Swin­don Adver­tis­er, it has closed. Wor­ry­ing news.

> When we vis­it­ed the Fel­low­ship at Belling­ham, South Lon­don, dur­ing research on 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub it was a near-wreck with only one decrepit room still oper­at­ing as a pub. Now, final­ly, its rein­ven­tion as a ‘com­mu­ni­ty pub’ is com­plete. We look for­ward to vis­it­ing.

It’s always worth read­ing Pete Brown on the state of the nation. For Imbibe he’s writ­ten a sub­stan­tial overview of where craft beer is at in 2019, reflect­ing in par­tic­u­lar on the takeover fever of the last cou­ple of years:

Fourpure’s beers are broad­ly sim­i­lar in style and qual­i­ty to Beavertown’s, and are avail­able about as wide­ly. Yet some­how, Fourpure’s 100% acqui­si­tion was not greet­ed with any­thing like the out­rage prompt­ed by Beavertown’s minor­i­ty sale. The rules of accept­able behav­iour among craft brew­ers, it seems, are flex­i­ble, depend­ing on who we’re talk­ing about.

Cranes on the waterside in Bristol.

Lydia and Lor­na at Liquor­Trips offer a review of the recent Bris­tol Craft Beer Fes­ti­val which might help you decide whether to attend next year:

With more than 35 brew­eries offer­ing their wares, it was dif­fi­cult to pace your­self too much with so much to try. We man­aged to get round the major­i­ty, even if it was just for tasters from some. Locals Wiper and True and Wild Beer Co were there, among oth­er nation­al and inter­na­tion­al names in beer such as The Ker­nel, To Øl, Mikkeller, Ver­dant, Lervig, Left Hand­ed Giant, Lost and Ground­ed and North­ern Monk to name a few… Some of the sours on offer were among our absolute best beers of the day – Gip­sy Hill’s Peo­ple Like Us fruit­ed sour, Wiper and True’s Bar­rel Age­ing Car­di­nal Sour and the Pome­lo Palo­ma by Com­mon­wealth Brew­ing Com­pa­ny stay in our minds.

The Waggon & Horses.

From The New Wipers Times, a blog about 1930s archi­tec­ture, comes an inter­est­ing note on an inter-war pub, the Wag­gon & Hors­es, in Lon­don N14:

With the open­ing of South­gate Tube sta­tion on 13 March 1933, as part of the Pic­cadil­ly line exten­sion to Cock­fos­ters, and the com­ple­tion of the near­by North Cir­cu­lar Road, the sur­round­ing area was heav­i­ly devel­oped dur­ing the 1930s and so South­gate became one of many new sub­urbs in Lon­don where Watney’s required larg­er, more suit­able premis­es… The North Lon­don build­ing was designed by the group’s Chief Archi­tect, A. W. Blom­field, F.R.I.B.A., (Alfred William Blom­field, 1879–1949), who also over­saw the design of “The Giraffe” in Ken­ning­ton, S.E.17. Both build­ings would like­ly now be described as Neo-Geor­gian in their exter­nal appear­ance.

Non alcoholic beer: 0,0

A pro­vok­ing thought from the Pub Cur­mud­geon: has the recent dri­ve to mar­ket non-alco­holic beers been a tac­ti­cal deci­sion in response to the threat of a ban on booze adver­tis­ing? Maybe. (Jess remem­bers TV adverts for vod­ka in Poland that weren’t for vod­ka – weird, but effec­tive.)

Scales and balance.

The ever-per­cep­tive Kate Bernot makes some inter­est­ing obser­va­tions about writ­ing about alco­hol in a piece for The Take­out, con­clud­ing with this zinger:

I think drinkers owe it to them­selves to under­stand the risks inher­ent in over­con­sump­tion, and to savor and appre­ci­ate respon­si­ble drink­ing all the more so. Per­haps those sen­ti­ments can coex­ist, and per­haps an aware­ness of the dual­i­ty makes the sub­ject of alco­hol even more fas­ci­nat­ing to cov­er.

Final­ly, we’re fin­ish­ing with one of our own Tweets:

For more select­ed links check out Alan McLeod on Thurs­days and Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­day (prob­a­bly).

News, nuggets and longreads 8 June 2019: Key-keg, Kigali, Krunchy Pork

Here’s all the beer- and pub-related writing that grabbed our attention in the past week, from GBBF politics to Jarl.

First, three bits of news:

1. CAMRA has announced that it will have a key-keg beer bar at its flag­ship nation­al event, the Great British Beer Fes­ti­val (GBBF). There’s com­men­tary from Ben­jamin Nunn here (this, he says, is a non-sto­ry) and Dave S, who argues that CAMRA has put too many restric­tions and caveats on this to make it as mean­ing­ful as it ought to be.

2. Heineken has bought a chunk of Ams­ter­dam craft brew­ery Oedi­pus. This fits the pat­tern.

3. Brains has had to dump 36,000 pints of Bit­ter after reports that the batch in ques­tion had a ‘tang’ when served in pubs.

The Nation­al Brew­ing Her­itage Trust in Bur­ton-upon-Trent has launched a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign to pay for an online cat­a­logue of every item in its vast col­lec­tion. They need to make £20,000 and £3,500 is already in the bag. We’ve chipped in; if you’re inter­est­ed in Britain’s brew­ing his­to­ry, you should too.

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

On a relat­ed note, here’s Jeff Alworth on the fragili­ty of brew­ing archives, and how easy it is for them to end up in skips dur­ing peri­ods of suc­ces­sion or cor­po­rate takeovers, quot­ing Matt Swi­hart at length:

Miller had no inter­est in the Olympia his­to­ry or its archive. There was a 100-year-old plus library of old brew­ing jour­nals, mag­a­zines, research arti­cles, tech­ni­cal jour­nals, and brew­ing records all stored in that library. Paul was sor­row­ful that it was all slat­ed for the dump­ster as of some com­ing week­end. I asked if I could have the library if I came up and picked it up. He gra­cious­ly accept­ed and I went up the next day with my old Toy­ota pick-up with a camper shell, and filled the entire truck with every­thing I could.


We’re in the mid­dle of a hol­i­day in Scot­land and can­not help but agree with Mark Johnson’s dec­la­ra­tion that all he wants to drink is Fyne Ales Jarl:

Sat fac­ing the bar with my pint of hand­pulled Jarl I realised that this was all I want­ed from this indus­try, that this was still as good as it got for me. I’d take this 16th cen­tu­ry toll­booth-struc­ture-come-pub over school chairs and Edi­son bulbs any day. I’d take this beer on cask over any clichéd milky Impe­r­i­al Gose you can stick in a plas­tic keg. It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy those places and those beers at times, but they are becom­ing like new Hip Hop to me.


We’ll con­fess that we weren’t imme­di­ate­ly moved to click on the link to this arti­cle about Rwan­dan banana beer by Eoghan Walsh for Pel­li­cle – who wants to read anoth­er arti­cle about a Euro­pean or Amer­i­can beer writer explain­ing a coun­try they’ve only been in for ten min­utes? But then we read it and realised, oh, that’s his point:

I scut­tled back to my hotel to soothe a bruised ego. I was sup­posed to be the voyeur, the for­eign inter­lop­er in search of a bit of African exoti­cism I could par­lay into a bot­tle-share anec­dote when I got home. Con­front­ed with my obvi­ous and pathet­ic white­ness, I felt keen­ly out of place and uncom­fort­able in self-reflec­tion. It turns out I didn’t real­ly want to expe­ri­ence Kigali as it was, but instead a care­ful­ly pack­aged ver­sion that I could eas­i­ly digest dur­ing my vis­it through the region. For the rest of the week, I drank macro lagers that tast­ed of noth­ing except an acrid taint of self-loathing.

Final­ly, there’s this:


You can find more sug­gest­ed read­ing via Alan McLeod on Thurs­day and maybe from Stan Hierony­mus on Mon­day.

News, nuggets and longreads 1 June 2019: Bubbles, Boozers, Business

Here’s everything that struck us as noteworthy, informative or entertaining in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from worrying to Wegbier.

Writ­ing, odd­ly, for the blog of beer indus­try mar­ket­ing agency Mash, Matt Cur­tis offers a bal­anced, detailed run­down of the state of UK brew­ing in a week when there has been much dis­cus­sion of brew­ery clo­sures:

About five years ago, if I was giv­en a pound for every time I was told that the “beer bub­ble” was about to burst, I’d have, well, sev­er­al pounds. Enough for a round of “Lon­don murky” in a trendy craft beer bar at the very least. At the time, it felt as though beer was reach­ing its apex. As it turned out, it still had fur­ther to climb before it did.

Now, how­ev­er, I’m begin­ning to think that, although some of those hot takes came far too ear­ly, that in today’s mar­ket, they might be right.

Augustiner bottles

For Vine­Pair Evan Rail writes about the Ger­man cul­ture of Weg­bier – lit­er­al­ly beer that you drink on your way from A to B.

A Weg­bier is a sim­ply a beer that you drink while you’re walk­ing,” Ludger Berges, own­er of the Hopfen & Malz bot­tle shop in Berlin, says. “Actu­al­ly, ‘Weg’ means ‘way,’ so it’s a beer for the road. If you’re on your way to a par­ty or on your way home from a par­ty, maybe it’s 10 min­utes by foot, many peo­ple in Berlin will walk that dis­tance, and many peo­ple will drink a Weg­bier along the way. It’s cool, it’s relaxed. Every­body does it.”

The con­cept of Weg­bier seems fair­ly spe­cif­ic to Ger­many. Despite the coun­try shar­ing a bor­der and lager-brew­ing (and -drink­ing) his­to­ry with the Czech Repub­lic, there is no Czech-lan­guage equiv­a­lent of Weg­bier. Nor is the con­cept in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries like Bel­gium or Poland.

Pubco advertisement for landlords.

In anoth­er area of the indus­try, the Guardian has a piece by Rob Davies on how the Mar­ket-Rent-Only option is work­ing out for pub­li­cans whose pubs are owned by the much-reviled pub com­pa­nies:

Pub ten­ants and MPs have been “duped and betrayed”, accord­ing to the British Pub Con­fed­er­a­tion, which said the MRO was lit­tle more than a myth.

It accused pub com­pa­nies of seek­ing to scup­per MRO appli­ca­tions by any means nec­es­sary, includ­ing spook­ing them with evic­tion notices. The group also cast doubt on the inde­pen­dence of assess­ments used to set rents.

The BPC chair, Greg Mul­hol­land, who pushed the MRO option through par­lia­ment as a Lib­er­al Demo­c­rat MP, said that in its cur­rent form “ten­ants do not have the rights they were promised by min­is­ters”.

Thornbridge, 2013.

Rea­son, a con­ser­v­a­tive Amer­i­can pub­li­ca­tion which sits in around the same space as the UK’s Spec­ta­tor, has an inter­est­ing piece by Alex Mure­sianu on how the impo­si­tion of steel tar­iffs has affect­ed the US brew­ing indus­try:

The jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for import tax­es is usu­al­ly that they will pro­tect Amer­i­can jobs from for­eign com­pe­ti­tion. Tar­iffs on a spe­cif­ic good, like alu­minum, might help work­ers in the indus­try which pro­duces that good. How­ev­er, work­ers in indus­tries that use that good as an input suf­fer.

I have heard from brew­ers large and small from across the coun­try who are see­ing their alu­minum costs dras­ti­cal­ly increase, even when they are using Amer­i­can alu­minum,” Jim McGreevy, pres­i­dent and CEO of The Beer Insti­tute, said in March, when the group released a sep­a­rate report detail­ing $250 mil­lion in high­er costs cre­at­ed by tar­iffs and tar­iff-asso­ci­at­ed price increas­es.

We haven’t had chance to watch this yet but the Craft Beer Chan­nel has pro­duced a 70-minute doc­u­men­tary about beer in New Eng­land which is clear­ly a labour of love.

His­toric Eng­land is try­ing to save a rev­o­lu­tion­ary 18th cen­tu­ry build­ing in Shrews­bury that was built as a flaxmill and con­vert­ed into malt­ings in the 1890s. They call it ‘the first sky­scraper’. You can find out all about the Flaxmill Malt­ings at the His­to­ry Call­ing blog.

And final­ly, there’s this elo­quent account of why you might start a brew­ery, and what might move you to stop:

For more, check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thurs­day. (Stan Hierony­mus is tak­ing a break.)

News, nuggets and longreads 25 May 2019: Hyperlocal, Global, Superfresh

Here’s all the beer and pub writing from the past week that made us pause to think, with something of a common thread emerging.

For Fer­ment, the mag­a­zine pub­lished by beer sub­scrip­tion ser­vice Beer52, Katie Math­er has writ­ten about the beer-drinker’s equiv­a­lent to the book group:

What’s espe­cial­ly grand about these hyper­local com­mu­ni­ties is that they’ve all grown out of neces­si­ty and pure enthu­si­asm. Even large groups like Craft Beer New­cas­tle, Ladies That Beer and the long-run­ning Twit­ter com­mu­ni­ty Craft Beer Hour start­ed off as ideas sparked by pub con­ver­sa­tions between beer lovers who want­ed to hang out more. Now, most areas have at least one super-small com­mu­ni­ty for you to take part in, whether they’re local CAMRA groups or self-start­ed clubs like Beer Mersey­side, Glas­gow Beer, Mid­lands Beer Blog, South Dublin Brew­ers, North Coast Bot­tle Share, Leeds Beer Bul­letin or CRAP (Cum­bria Real Ale Post­ings).

Oompah band at the Hofbrauhaus.

There are four First Class Beer Coun­tries, argues Ed, where the beer and drink­ing cul­ture is just bet­ter than any­where else:

1. Britain

A well kept pint of cask ale is indeed the great­est beer in the world. It has only been when drink­ing cask beer that I’ve felt the mag­ic come and angels dance on my tongue. Served as god intend­ed with­out arti­fi­cial car­bon­a­tion, there is no bet­ter beer. And to back it up it will be found in pubs, the great­est places that can be found to drink beer, where you can relax and unwind in a com­fort­able and cosy envi­ron­ment.

Barcelona in 2007.

Now, segue­ing well, here’s a month-old arti­cle that bare­ly men­tions beer: Rebec­ca Mead writ­ing for the New York­er on Airbnb and its impact on Euro­pean cities. The apart­ment rental ser­vice, she argues, is dri­ving the homogeni­sa­tion of cul­ture as part of ‘a glob­al trend in urban gen­tri­fi­ca­tion’, focus­ing on Barcelona as a prime exam­ple:

We crossed the Ron­da de Sant Pau, a boule­vard that sep­a­rates the Raval from its more mid­dle-class neigh­bor Sant Antoni. Quaglieri want­ed to show me a café, Fed­er­al, which Aus­tralian expats had opened a few years ago. We might as well have been in Hack­ney or the Mis­sion Dis­trict or any­where else that hip­sters gath­er: signs, in Eng­lish, request­ed that vis­i­tors with lap­tops con­fine them­selves to a large com­mon table, every seat of which was occu­pied by a young per­son using the Inter­net. We ordered drinks: a warm gin­ger infu­sion for me, a turmer­ic lat­te for Quaglieri.

Dom Cook.
Source: The Takeout/Tiesha Cook.

And anoth­er segue: what are the alter­na­tives to gener­ic, cos­mopoli­tan white hip­ster cul­ture? For The Take­out Kate Bernot has inter­viewed Dom Cook, author of This Ain’t the Beer That You’re Used To:

Dom “Doochie” Cook is also not the beer writer that you’re used to. I’ve read a lot of beer books, and I’ve nev­er seen prop­er beer and food pair­ing described as “like Jadakiss and Styles P going back and forth on a Swizz track in the ear­ly 2000s.” Cook and his Beer Kul­ture col­lec­tive have set out to change the way urban black Amer­i­ca thinks about beer, and vice ver­sa. They’re out to deliv­er a wake-up call.

Jaipur can
SOURCE: Thorn­bridge.

This one is about glob­al or local beer cul­ture… Or is it? Josh Far­ring­ton at Beer and Present Dan­ger was moved to come out of a year-long blog­ging hia­tus by a can of Thorn­bridge Jaipur from his local super­mar­ket which made him rethink his atti­tude to fresh­ness:

Crack­ing it open ready to enjoy a sim­ple glug­ging beer, I was stopped in my tracks, even before I took a swig – the aro­ma leapt out of the tin, a tuft of fruit sal­ad chewi­ness, and the taste was per­fect, part Nordic Fir and part mar­malade shred, decid­ed­ly bit­ter but with­out being harsh or dry­ing. It was sub­lime, a pla­ton­i­cal­ly good beer, and a per­fect rev­e­la­tion when I’d expect­ed mere­ly fine. I checked the can – and dis­cov­ered it was three days old.

And final­ly, an inter­est­ing look­ing book with a great title:


For more of this kind of thing check out Alan McLeod’s round-up on Thurs­day; Stan Hieronymus’s Mon­day links are on hold.

News, nuggets and longreads 18 May 2019: ratings, lager, and lager ratings

Here’s everything that struck as particularly interesting in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from Carlsberg to Cambridge.

First, some news: those Red­church rum­blings from the oth­er week are now con­firmed – the brew­ery went into admin­is­tra­tion and is now under new own­er­ship. This has prompt­ed an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion about crowd­fund­ing:

More news: it’s intrigu­ing to hear that Curi­ous is expand­ing. It’s a brew­ery you don’t hear talked about much by geeks like us – in fact, we’re not sure we’ve ever tried the beer – but it does turn up in a sur­pris­ing num­ber of pubs and restau­rants.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, nuggets and lon­greads 18 May 2019: rat­ings, lager, and lager rat­ings”