News, nuggets and longreads 22 February 2020: Lovington, Liverpool, Low-alcohol

Here’s everything in writing about beer and pubs that made us sit up and pay attention in the past week, from crowdfunding to dinner plates.

First, some local news, from a local newspaper: whatever happened to those plans for a new Wild Beer Company brewery site that made a big splash with crowdfunding a couple of years back? For Bristol LiveRobin Murray writes:

Wild Beer co-founder Andrew Cooper told Bristol Live the funds raised went towards purchasing a defunct brewery in Lovington, Somerset, as well as equipment so the company could increase its brewing capacity… He added they are working on finding a ‘large investment partner’ to help fund the project and are in discussions with people, details of which cannot be revealed.


University drinking society in action.
SOURCE: Ferment.

For Ferment, the promotional magazine published by beer subscription service Beer52, Katie Mather has written about university beer societies and the drinking habits of young people:

As someone on the older end of the Millennial generation scale, it worries me how easy it is to slip into the same slurs I’ve heard my contemporaries use. Generation Z are nerds. They don’t drink — they’re too busy making memes about depression. They don’t socialise because they’re all introverts. We have nothing in common. Don’t fall for any of these statements. They simply are not true.


Kutna Hora
SOURCE: Pellicle.

For PellicleAdrian Tierney-Jones shares the story of a Czech brewery we’ve never heard of, Pivovar Kutná Hora, which was loved by locals, closed by Heineken, and after social pressure, has now been resurrected:

Kutná Hora’s brewmaster Jakub Hájek has been at the brewery since it produced its first batch of beer in February 2017. He’s a garrulous chap, open and generous in the way he and the owners (who also have Pivovar Břeclav, based in the southern Czech region of Moravia, in their portfolio) foresee the future, a progress that sees them slowly but surely building up trade in local bars and pubs as well as restoring the brewery.


Non alcoholic beer: 0,0

In this piece on drinking habits and the market for low- and no-alcohol beer, Jeff Alworth expresses the appeal, in theoretical terms at least, of non-alcoholic beers:

An ideal session to me is three or four beers. That’s the amount of time it takes for me to settle in and enjoy myself. The trouble is, my body very much wants a limit of two beers, and punishes me when I exceed it. I’ve found non-alcoholic beers to be a perfect solution; I just alternate boozy and alkoholfrei. As a bonus, I’m actually limiting the damage of the two regular beers because I’m hydrating in between.


A Liverpool pub.
SOURCE: Kirsty Walker.

Kirsty Walker of Lady Sinks the Booze works in Liverpool but, by her own admission, doesn’t get out to explore the suburbs much. With her new pal Vinnie, though, she’s been getting adventurous, and writes about a recent pub crawl with her usual wit:

Vinnie met me at the Brookhouse, a massive studenty place which specialises in cheap food and drinks deals. There were two different sections of bar which as usual led to me standing at the wrong one for a good while before someone pointed out that there was no service in this bit and ‘there should be a sign’. I had a pint of Blue Moon, and they apologised for not having orange for it. Not like the student pubs I used to frequent where asking for a clean glass was greeted with eyerolls and led to you being nicknamed ‘the Duchess’ for three years.


The Fox, Dalston

For New Statesman, not typically a hotbed of writing about beer and pubs, Eleanor Peake has investigated the trend for converting pubs into flats and the cost to communities:

Originally from Ireland, Joseph and Patrick Ryan started renting pubs in London in the mid-2010s. By 2017, the brothers rented the Bear in Camberwell, the Fox in Dalston and the White Hart in New Cross, all from the Wellington Pub Company… In 2017, they received the first call from the company informing them of redevelopments. They were told that the Bear in Camberwell would have to close its doors to make room for renovations, as the company wanted to turn the upper floors of the pub into private apartments.


And finally, from Twitter:


For more good reading, check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.

News, nuggets and longreads 15 February 2020: Flagships, Norway, Introversion

Here’s all the writing about beer and pubs that’s grabbed our attention in the past week, from pub ticking to archive digging.

First, as we’ve failed to mention in previous weeks for some reason, it’s Flagship February when we’re encouraged to celebrate classics and standards. You can read a whole series of personal essays by notable beer writers at the FF website. If you’re bored of negativity and/or novelty-seeking, here’s your antidote. Check out this from Stan Hieronymus, for example:

Creature Comforts Tropicália represents American IPA evolution. It’s bitterness is softer than the IPAs of the aughts. It is juicy, but not like drinking orange juice and certainly not juicy/hazy. It’s more like biting into a ripe apricot. You almost feel like you need to wipe some juice off your face after you take a long drink. Per its name, Tropicália’s aroma is fresh and tropical, its flavor full of juicy (there’s that word again) fruits — take your pick of mango, banana or melon.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 15 February 2020: Flagships, Norway, Introversion”

News, nuggets and longreads 8 February 2020: opening hours, pricing, the Phil

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week from historic pubs to hazy IPA.

First, a bit of news: Laura Hadland has been announced as the author of a new official history of CAMRA. We know they’re keen for this to be an objective, challenging account that acknowledges downs as well as ups and can’t wait to see what she comes up with. She’s after insight and memories from people involved in the Campaign and, indeed, those very much not involved in the campaign, so do follow her on Twitter @Morrighani and drop her a line if you’ve got something to contribute.


Philharmonic Dining Rooms

This week saw the release of the now annual announcement from Historic England of which pubs have been listed, or had their list status upgraded. The headliner this year is The Philharmonic in Liverpool which has been upgraded to Grade I, “making it the first purpose-built Victorian pub in England to be given the highest level of designation for a historic building”:

Regarded as a ‘cathedral among pubs’ for its opulence, the Philharmonic was one of the most spectacular pubs to be completed at the end of the 19th century, known as the ‘golden age’ of pub building. It now joins the top 2.5% of protected historic buildings in England such as Buckingham Palace, Chatsworth House and Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral Church of Christ in gaining the highest listed status.

We visited when we were researching 20th Century Pub and were blown away. We keep sending friends there and getting messages that say, in so many words, “Wow”. So, yes, this makes sense to us.


Closed sign on shop.

Mark Johnson is annoyed at retail outlets that don’t open when he’s ready to spend money. This is part of a wider debate about the hours the staff and owners of beer businesses work that kicked off on Beer Twitter over Christmas:

Like high street shops opening to utilise the Boxing Day sale rush, I couldn’t understand why small businesses wouldn’t want to take advantage of this busiest time of year. But of course, suggesting such radical thought makes me selfish and “uncaring of worker’s mental wellbeing.” Aye. Okay… Which is why I take slow sips from my cup of tea when those same pubs/bars that were shut late December start the year with the wonderful TRYANUARY spiel. Support your local business. Support the Beer Industry. A pub isn’t just for Christmas. No, true, but you weren’t open at flipping Christmas time were you when I was there to support you so what do I possibly owe you now?


Cash Money Pound Signs.

As Dave S wearily sighs, “it looks like the ‘expensive beer’ discourse is back.” He’s responding to this by Tony Naylor but takes, as ever, a measured stance:

I quite like fancy, expensive beers, and I know that many of the things that I like in fancy beers – mixed fermentation, barrel aging, high gravity, expensive hops – add to the cost of the beer… I also like cheap, good beer. I like the fact that beer is an everyday drink, something that large swathes of the population can share and bond over as a routine matter… A lot of the current discussion is about choosing one of these to the exclusion of the other, but like a lot of people, I don’t see any reason that we can’t have both.


A quote from the article.
SOURCE: Good Beer Hunting/Cooper Foszcz.

For Good Beer HuntingLuke Robertson has dug into what it’s really like to be working at a brewery when it gets taken over by a multinational:

Lachlan Barter is a state sales manager for Green Beacon Brewing Co. in Brisbane, Australia. In 2019, it was announced that Green Beacon would be sold to Asahi, but stories of a prospective sale had dragged on for years. Everyone knew, or thought they knew, what was going to happen—and everyone wanted his confirmation.

“It was a rumor for almost two years. You hear rumors—some have weight in them, some don’t have weight in them,” Barter says. “More and more people started bringing it up. Really random people as well. At the time [of the sale], it was a sigh of relief. No more rumors. I don’t have to deal with that anymore.”


Detail from a vintage India Pale Ale beer label.

 

At Beervana Jeff Alworth has been grappling with how to classify IPAs for a new edition of his book The Beer Bible. What his thinking aloud reveals is how different things are now compared to a decade ago:

It’s impossible to create categories of mutually-exclusive IPAs because a double IPA, for example, may be hazy or not, but this is my best first draft:

  • West Coast IPAs. Basically as close to the standard IPA as we have.
  • New England (or Hazy) IPAs
  • Flavored IPAs. (Will include white, fruit, and milkshake IPAs)
  • Strong IPAs
  • Session IPAs and Pale Ales
  • Brett and Sour IPAs
  • Specialty IPAs (will include black, red, Belgian, and brut IPAs)

Finally, from Twitter, there’s this picture which really brings home how big interwar pubs were compared to those they replaced:


If you’re hungry, or should we say thirsty, for more good beer reading, check out Alan’s round-up from Thursday and Carey’s from yesterday.

News, nuggets and longreads 1 February 2020: Babies, Bitter, Bushfires

Here’s everything the struck as interesting or amusing in writing about beer and pubs in the past two weeks, including Disney cruises and Kingston upon Hull boozers.

First, some bits of news.

  1. Peter Martin, head brewer at the Driftwood Spars in St Agnes, Cornwall, has sadly died. We never spoke to Pete although we saw him at work, sat near him and passed him coming and going from many Cornish pubs during our time living there.
  2. The Government has announced a business rates cut for pubs. The new pubs relief will kick in from April 2020 and reduce bills by £1,000.

A baby.

For Pellicle, Jemma Beedie writes well on a well-worn topic: children in pubs. Her point is not that people should tolerate children in pubs but that letting children into adult spaces is what turns them into functional adults:

My first experience of the pub was during childhood, as it was for so many of us. Waiting for parents to finish their drinks, bribed with packets of crisps, we learnt that the world didn’t revolve around us. We learnt how to be in public… There are some people who will complain if children are in their vicinity, outraged that parents would dare bring their offspring to a pub, a restaurant, or on a plane. I wonder about them. Did their parents keep them at home, locked in a nursery? Or were they, like the rest of us, also taken to public spaces where they learnt how to behave?

This topic always prompts responses. This time, we took particular note of a piece by Alistair Reece of Fuggled:

The problem here, in my unhumble opinion, is that we are focusing far too narrowly on children in pubs. Kids that misbehave in pubs are in all likelihood the kind of children who misbehave in other public spaces such as on the high street and in the shops. In reality the issue here is one of parenting, of which the child’s behaviour in public is a symptom not the disease itself. Parents that take their kids to a public space and then let them run wild to the detriment of others using the space are the problem.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 1 February 2020: Babies, Bitter, Bushfires”

News, nuggets and longreads 18 January 2020: Summer Wine, South Africa, Sierra Nevada

Here’s everything that struck as especially interesting in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from GMO yeast to dogs in taprooms.

Here’s everything that struck as especially interesting in writing about beer and pubs in the past week, from GMO yeast to dogs in taprooms.

First, a bit of news: Summer Wine, one of the middle wave of new British craft breweries (definition 2) has announced it is shutting down.

Based in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, it had a loyal following but, from our remote perspective, always seemed to be overshadowed by local competitor Magic Rock. There’s an end of an era feel to this announcement, as there was to the news of Hardknott’s shuttering in 2018.


 

Black Lab brewery.
SOURCE: Jordan St John

Canadian beer writer and teacher Jordan St John reports on a visit to a Toronto brewery taproom where he encountered several dogs:

I tell tourists, of the dog fountain in Berczy Park, that people are basically the dogs they choose to live with and to my left is a blonde man in a Roots cabin sweater who is ferrying beer back to his table. Under the table is a nine month old Golden Retriever puppy (named Roo) in a Toronto Vs. Everybody sweater. It’s good to know my hypothesis continues to bear up under scrutiny.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 18 January 2020: Summer Wine, South Africa, Sierra Nevada”

News, nuggets and longreads for 11 January 2020: Abstinence, Birmingham, Smithwicks

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that struck us as especially interesting or entertaining in the past week, from Burton to Osaka.

The current fuss around Bass in certain corners of the beer world must seem baffling if you don’t get it. You might even have tried Bass and found it underwhelming – that can happen. Now, Ian Thurman, AKA The Wicking Man, is a passionate advocate for this historic brand and has declared 11 April National Bass Day 2020, which seems like a good opportunity for sceptics to give it one last chance:

First of all, have a pint or two of Draught Bass on Easter Saturday. If you’re on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram etc. please let people know the pubs you’ll be in. Don’t wait until Easter Saturday, tell us now where you’ll be and use the hashtags #DraughtBass, #NationalBassDay, #NBD2020… If you’re a landlord why not promote the day and let folk know that you’ll have Draught Bass on the bar. I’ll be offering free downloadable posters. Please PM me with your contact details through Twitter @TheWickingMan . A number of pubs have already offered to be the lead in their area. If you’re interested in doing the same please let me know.


A Smithwick's TIME beer mat.
SOURCE: Beerfoodtravel

Liam at BeerFoodTravel continues his chronicling of lesser-known aspects of Irish brewing history with notes on Smithwick’s 1960s attempt to compete with Watney’s Red Barrel:

Smithwicks have never been very good at promoting their not-so-recent history, or at least not if it varies from the fake-lore and new-stalgia that’s created by their marketing department goblins, as they weave their wicked magic over the actual history of the brewery to create some quasi-real world where their red ale is the same as one that was produced a 300 hundred odd years ago in a (possibly mythical) brewery from that age. I’ve written before of my doubts regarding their self-promoted history and how even that has changed over the years, it’s as if they feel uncomfortable about anything that deviates from that arrow-straight history that springs from 1710 to the present, so I feel duty bound to write about a period not terribly long ago when yet another Smithwicks marketing department decided that the company needed a rebrand for the swinging sixties – and so was born their Time brand.


Brewdog bar with SOBER in the window.

At Bring on the BeerMichael Young has written about Dry January, Tryanuary and the bitterness it increasingly seems to prompt:

I wouldn’t for one moment decry desperate business owners for being miffed at a campaign that they perceive as seeking to undermine their footfall at a needy time of year. But I would like to know if it’s been proven that that’s where their ire should be directed. Blunt, hostile rejection of the ‘other’ camp is completely illogical and does more harm than any abstinence campaign ever could. If a pub does put out a tweet saying ‘Forget (or stronger) Dryanuary’ it makes it less likely that folks will come into their pub to partake of a soft drink or two, so they’re basically shooting themselves in the foot.


Crackers, bread and sunflower seeds -- malt-type flavours.

At Appellation BeerStan Hieronymus has been thinking about how we taste beer, the perception of flavour, off-flavours and whether any of that helps us have more fun:

There’s good reason for those in the beer business to learn to identify what are classified as off flavors, and it useful to some to understand what causes them… However, I’m not convinced that the “Best way to be a better drinker is drink bad beer and learn what has gone wrong with it.”… I think the best way to be a happy… drinker is to drink great beer and learn what makes it great. Learning to identify positive attributes expands the number of beers you might appreciate.


Blogging is dead, people sometimes say, but it’s so frustrating that great information is left lying in Twitter where hardly anybody can find it within ten minutes of transmission. On that note, here’s @BEERMINGHAM with a thread listing the best places to drink in Birmingham.


Ceiling of the Marble Arch, Manchester.

And in Manchester, Kaleigh Watterson has prepared her now regular list of beer events to look forward to in the coming year. If you’re a drinker, you’ll want to see what’s on; if you’re a pub or brewery and your event is listed, let her know!


Brewery in Osaka, Japan.

SOURCE: Derailleur Beerworks.For the GuardianJustin McCurry reports on a brewery in Osaka, Japan, that employs disabled people and those with addiction issues:

Derailleur employs about 70 people, many of whom have physical and intellectual disabilities. They are given on-the-job training and perform tasks ranging from brewing, labelling, sales and delivery, as well as serving food and drink at the brewery’s three pubs – two in Osaka and one in the central city of Nagoya… Mr Yamagami – known affectionately as Yama-chan – spent his youth drinking illicitly produced alcohol and getting into fights, but decided to apply for a job at the brewery after he lost his sight… “It’s fun to be able to work alongside my friends,” says Yama-chan, a 47-year-old former fishmonger. “Handling the bottles by touch alone is the sort of work I can do without any problem. I need help getting around, but apart from that I can do my job freely. I really enjoy it.”


And, finally, here’s a taste of Bristol street photographer Colin Moody’s latest project:

For more good reading, check out Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up and Carey’s from Wednesday.

News, nuggets and longreads 4 January 2020: BrewDog, boats, brewery cats

Here’s everything on the subject of beer that we picked up during the Christmas and New Year deadzone, from booze-free pubs to home-brewing.

First, there’s this story of BrewDog’s new non-alcoholic bar. Like almost every PR claim to be “the first ever”, the PR doesn’t hold up to scrutiny (here’s one example, here’s another, there are lots more) but it still seems significant to us: no- and low-alcohol beer really is having some sort of moment. Out in the real world, we’ve seen more of it being drunk, heard more people talking about it and, indeed, drunk a little bit more of it ourselves. This new surge seems to be driven by people who like beer rather than by people opposed to it on moral grounds, as has tended to be the case in the past.


Non alcoholic beer: 0,0

Related: the Pub Curmudgeon has an interesting angle on the years 2010-2019, reflecting on the limited progress made by the anti-alcohol lobby in legislative terms in that period. This is especially interesting because he’s tended to be among the most vocal in sounding the alarm about slippery slopes and the risk of a return to prohibition:

In fact, changes in social attitudes have been doing a lot of the anti-drink lobby’s work for them. Over the past ten years, there has been a gentle but significant fall in per-capita alcohol consumption, probably more than they would have hoped for in 2009, but largely without help from public policy. As I’ve said in the past, the moderate consumption of alcohol in social situations has increasingly been stigmatised, and the range of occasions on which people will consider an alcoholic drink has shrunk. Just look at all those pubs that no longer open at lunchtimes, or are virtually deserted when they do, and observe amongst a party of diners in a pub how many of the adults have a soft drink.


Dupont logo.

For Craft Beer & Brewing Drew Beechum has given an account of his attempts to clone a cult Belgian beer, Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux:

I replaced my Saaz and Styrian Goldings with hops that I knew were in better shape in our markets. (It’s tempting to use region-appropriate ingredients, but if they’re not high-quality, skip them.) I simplified my water additions to a small dose of gypsum to punch the hops forward a bit. And the yeast … here, I got complicated… Over the years, from various sources, I’ve learned that Dupont has a few cultures living in the brew. Despite our desire for single manageable organisms, you can’t get there with just a single strain of yeast. (This is a good tip for a number of complex Belgian beers—mix strains!)

 


Exterior of the Vine Inn.

For CAMRA’s What’s Brewing newspaper, but reproduced here on his website, Roger Protz has a report into the health of Black Country breweries and, more particularly, their famous milds:

The only sadness visiting the two breweries is the dramatic decline of their Mild ales. Batham’s brews 8,000 barrels a year and only 2 per cent of that production is now Mild. Holden’s is slightly bigger, brewing 10,000 barrels a year, and Jonathan says he brews Mild only once every three weeks… Tim Batham says bluntly: “Mild is dying because the people who drink it are dying. But we’ll continue with it as long as people drink it.” Jonathan Holden offers a tad more optimism as sales of his bottled Mild are selling well.


Toulouse
SOURCE: Henrique Ferreira via Unsplash.

From the recently revived Booze, Beats and Bites blog, Nathaniel Southwood gives an account of an English pub in, of all places, Toulouse in the south of France:

There were a couple of tables out the front of the pub, with old chaps standing around chain smoking cigarettes, slowly drinking their dark amber coloured beer and occasionally engaging each other in conversation, nodding at all those who enter the pub as if they owned the place. Had it not been for the fact that they were speaking French, they could have been anywhere in the UK… Walking into the pub, I felt like I was in my local; the pub itself has a carpet, which is unlike Europe, it has low tables and stools with fixed seating on the back wall.


The Edwin Fox
SOURCE: Zythophile/Edwin Fox Society.

Martyn Cornell has found something amazing: “the Edwin Fox, last remaining wooden sailing ship to have carried India Pale Ale from London to the thirsty east”. You can read the full story at Zythophile:

In her three decades as a working ship, the Edwin Fox carried an enormous variety of cargoes and passengers: troops to the Baltic during one of the side-campaigns of the Crimea War, supplies and ammunition to Balaclava, wounded soldiers back home, rice for Hong Kong and South Africa, coolies from China to the plantations of Cuba, coals to the Coromandel coast, convicts for Australia, cotton, sugar, more troops to and from India, emigrant families to New Zealand, as well as beer… Her transport of IPA from London to India, according to modern commentators who prefer the thrill of a good story to the labour of checking its veracity, brought the Edwin Fox the nickname “the booze barge”.


German soldiers with beer.
German soldiers distributing beer in 1914. (Flanders Fields Museum)

Here’s a story by Christopher Barnes we’ve featured before but it deserves another surfacing. It’s a wonderful account of the fate of European breweries during World War I originally published at the now defunct All About Beer which, Mr Barnes reveals, never paid him for his hard work. He’s now revived the piece at his own website, I Think About Beer:

Before the war, there were more than 6,000 breweries spread across Belgium and France, with the majority of the French breweries located along the northern border with Belgium and Germany. World War I profoundly changed the face of brewing in Western Europe. Germany-backed Austria-Hungary’s desire to punish the Serbs for the assassination drew Russia and France into the war to defend the Serbs. Germany’s strategy involved a lightning-quick strike through neutral Belgium into northern France to capture Paris. Unfortunately for the Germans, the French and English halted their advance and created a brutal four-year stalemate that encamped millions of soldiers from both sides directly through the heart of Belgian and French brewing country.


Finally, there’s this from Twitter:

For more reading, check out Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up.

News, nuggets and longreads 14 December 2019: Vintage ale, Christmas beer, winter walks

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that struck us as worth bookmarking in this past week, from pub numbers to Christmas traditions.

First, a rather pleasing news story: for the first time in a decade, the total number of pubs in the UK has risen rather than falling, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics:

The UK ended March 2019 with 39,135 pubs, 320 more than a year earlier, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). It is the first net increase since 2010… The rise marked a dramatic turnaround compared with the previous nine years, during which the UK pub network declined by an average of 732 each year, comparable data showed… While the ONS figures showed an increase, industry trade body the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) warned that its own statistics, which capture a higher number of pubs, showed a turning point was yet to be reached.

As ever, it’s worth remembering that there are pubs, and there are pubs – it still seems that suburban backstreet pubs are more at risk than big ones in city centres and on high streets, and that certain neighbourhoods are at greater risk of becoming publess.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 14 December 2019: Vintage ale, Christmas beer, winter walks”

News, nuggets and longreads 7 December 2019: Marble, micropubs, more takeovers

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that grabbed us in the past week, from authenticity to Austria’s part in the birth of lager.

First, some takeover news from the US: Ballast Point has been sold again, sort of, as has Anderson Valley. It feels as if there’s often a flurry of buying and selling of breweries just before Christmas as people seek to seal deals before the end of the calendar year. The twist this time? It isn’t multi-nationals doing the buying. Here’s Jeff Alworth on Ballast Point:

Now that we’ve had 48 hours to digest the news that Kings and Convicts, a tiny, two-year-old brewery, has indeed purchased Ballast Point, new questions have emerged. Initially everyone was trying to learn who Kings and Convicts (K&C) were. Was the deal legit? And, because Ballast Point was purchased for a billion dollars just four years ago, the question everyone wanted answered—what was the (fire?) sale price?


Portrait of Jan Rogers.
SOURCE: Good Beer Hunting/Lily Waite.

For Good Beer Hunting Lily Waite has profiled Marble, the pioneering Manchester microbrewery that began its life behind one of Britain’s best pubs:

“I came here for a drink, got involved in a lock-in, and came away with a job,” Marble’s founder, owner, and director Jan Rogers tells me over a pint. “That was it!”… Often found with her trusty vape in hand, Rogers is a woman with a firecracker wit and just as much energy—her calm is someone else’s boisterous; her excited is your or my whirlwind. She’s razor-sharp of both mind and expletive-laden tongue. In an industry dominated by men, she may not exemplify a “typical” brewery owner but, frankly, I can’t imagine her giving a flying fuck—and it’s not like that’s slowed her down.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 7 December 2019: Marble, micropubs, more takeovers”

News, nuggets and longreads 30 November 2019: football, wine, pub rules

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that caught our eyes in the past week, from lower division football to natural wine.

First, there’s Katie Mather on the connection between beer and lower-division football, for Ferment, the promotional magazine for beer subscription service Beer52:

Standing in the drizzle of an unseasonably chilly Saturday, the fans of Altrincham FC aren’t fazed. They’ve got their scarves and their pride, but they’ve also got the best bar in any league. Well, according to Paul Rooney who runs it, anyway. He’s a lifelong Manchester United fan, but ten years ago he stopped making the pilgrimage to Old Trafford and started watching the Robins at Moss Lane instead… “It just got too expensive,” he says, opening our conversation with complete honesty. “To be honest, it’s not a great experience there anymore. I’m in my mid-thirties and so I might not have been old enough to drink back then, but I remember when you could stand and watch the game and have a beer. The atmosphere in the higher leagues is vanilla now. I’m not prepared to pay for it.”


Wine glasses.

We tend to leave wine be – we just don’t know enough about it and don’t have time to learn – but this piece by Rachel Monroe on ‘natural wine’ for the New Yorker is crammed with parallels to, and sideways insight into, the world of beer:

In place of Parker’s muscular Bordeaux, the wines of the moment were often described as glou glou, French for “chuggable”: light reds frequently made via carbonic maceration, a fermentation technique that results in fresh, fruity wines. (It’s also quick; the wines are often ready to sell a few months after the grapes are harvested.) They sometimes tasted self-consciously unconventional. Millennials with appetites for difficult beverages—sour beers, bitter spirits, kombucha, apple-cider vinegar—appreciated wines that were cloudy and effervescent, with a noticeably fermented funk. Wine bars celebrated previously obscure styles and regions: pét-nat, skin-contact, Georgian, Slovenian.


Hops against green.

For Pellicle Hugh Thomas has written about the Faversham Hop Festival which takes place in August every year:

Faversham is just south of the coast, between Maidstone and Canterbury in East Kent, the near-about birthplace of the East Kent Golding—a hop prized around the world for its aromas of lavender, thyme, and honey. It doesn’t matter if you’re the oldest brewery in the world or the youngest, the respect for this 230-year-old hop variety is often unmatched… You needn’t double-check the programme to know what they’re celebrating at the festival—hops are everywhere. The town is drenched in them. If they’re not working as a bittering or aroma agent in people’s pints, then they’re draped over shop fronts, or crawling through fences.


Stools at the bar in a pub.

This one’s a few weeks old but we’ve only just come across it: Richard Molloy is a publican and has written about the rules of becoming a regular. It contains helpful advice like this:

Real acceptance into the inner sanctum of the regular pub crowd takes time and patience. Here’s a quick guide:

1. Find a pub where most people sit around the bar.
2. Pick a barstool on the edge of where you perceive the regulars sit.
3. Take a newspaper – you don’t want to seem like you need them to entertain you. Do not take a book. Repeat. Do not take a book. This scares people and will set you back hours in your mission.


An old postcard of the Four Horseshoes.
SOURCE: Reading Libraries/The Whitley Pump.

Here’s a blog post of a type for which we have a real soft spot: a detailed, footnoted history of a specific pub, namely The Four Horseshoes in Reading, AKA The Long Barn. Writing for The Whitley Pump Evelyn Williams explains its origins, its place in a famous local libel case, its rebuilding, reinvention and eventual demolition:

On the front page of the Tory supporting Berkshire Chronicle on 24 September 1825 was a letter from James Leach of the Four Horseshoes addressed to ‘Brother Landlords’. He described how the renewal of his licence for the public house had been refused by magistrates at the annual licensing sessions… Leach wrote that around midsummer he had been given notice to quit by Mr Stephens and when he attended the magistrates sessions he was surprised to be told that his licence would not be renewed but was not given any reason. In particular he focused on the treatment he received from one of the magistrates, John Berkeley Monck one of the Whig MPs for Reading.


And finally, there’s this, via @irr_orbit:

For more reading, checkout Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up.