News, nuggets and longreads 28 March 2020: Berlin, BrewDog, Brasserie de la Senne

Here’s all the reading about beer and pubs that struck us as especially entertaining, interesting or important in the past week, from notes on isolation to virtual globetrotting.

First, Jeff Alworth provides a preview of a chunk of the upcoming second edition of his book The Beer Bible. It’s a profile of Ulrike Genz, who has dedicated herself to the revival of Berliner Weisse in its home city:

Genz’s story began in 2012, while she was studying at Technischen Universität Berlin—but visiting VLB regularly. A professor at the school brought a keg of Berliner to a summer gathering. “So I tried for the first time real one of these beers, and I simply fell in love with it,” Genz said, describing the experience. “It was not that heavy in alcohol, and the next day was perfect. The taste was so nice.” At that point, the only commercial example was from Kindl, a debased version sweetened with artificial syrups—nothing like true Berliner weisse. The only way she could taste it again was to brew it herself—so that’s what she did.

Stools at the bar in a pub.

Mark Johnson seems to be a man whose feelings run near the surface and in his latest piece, he probes his own sense of loss at being denied access to his local pub during the enforced lockdown of British society:

In one announcement, the social diary was wiped away, like a cloth to a whiteboard. The decision as to whether to have a pint after work. The decision as to where to meet a friend on a Thursday evening. The decision as to how to spend a weekend. Gone. Taken for us… There were comments near criticising anybody saddened by the turn of events – “you can go a few weeks without the pub, unless you have a problem” – showing the ignorance and aggression widely associated with social media… It is missed and it is irreplaceable, for those who crave sociability or for those of us who live life as the latter stages of a game of Jenga, frail and prone to fall with each block removed.

Shabby decor at the Oxford, Totterdown.

In the same vein, Adrian Tierney-Jones has revived his blog with a post that asks why we all miss the pub so much:

I am in the dark woodland of another traditional pub, where the tidied-up god-knows-where-they-got-them-from trinkets of another age stand on parade with the steadfastness of RSM gargoyles. Toby jugs, framed hunting scenes, burnished brassed off plates and here and there the odd black-and-white photograph of a local in the throes of lifting a pint. This is a decor that decorum doesn’t have a language for, a decorative pattern once thought to be as modern as the H-bomb, but obviously not as destructive… So what do we like about pubs — obviously we love what is put forward in front of us on the plate and in the glass, as well as how the mood and the atmosphere fills the air; then there are the people and their feeble but lovable attempts at jokes, the locals and the blow-ins, and the reason for why we are there.

BrewDog bar sign.Phil Edwards at Oh Good Ale has made his peace with BrewDog bars after years of irritation, admitting with great honesty that his change of heart is at least in part because he’s a bit better off these days and is no longer offended by the pricing:

I no longer read nefarious intentions into getting a price wrong on the menu, or naming a beer “Dead Pony Club”. (Apparently it was originally “Grateful Dead Pony Club”. Yeah, well… exits muttering…) Another thing that’s changed over the last eight years is my employment contract & consequent spending power – points 1-3 don’t bug me the way they used to. The prices were still high – all the pints were priced in the £5-6 range, and so were the beers advertised in smaller measures (2/3, a half or even a third, depending on strength). Point 3 above continued to irk me for a lot longer than 1 and 2, but I got over it; in the end I was a lot more bothered by the thought of a beer being priced at eighteen quid a pint!!! than I was by actually paying £6 for a third of something unusual (and very strong).

The Blue Bell
SOURCE: John Clarke

John Clarke has revived his long-dormant blog to provide us with a pub crawl in four dimensions, revisiting a 1988 CAMRA stagger around Shaw Heath, Stockport, to see how the pubs have fared in the past 30 years:

With so many pubs so close together there were bound to be some casualties – and time has not been kind to the pubs of the Shaw Heath area….

The sales team at de la Senne.
SOURCE: Eoghan Walsh/Brussels Beer City.

At Brussels Beer CityEoghan Walsh continues his month-long focus on women in the Belgian beer industry with an interview with the sales team at Brasserie de la Senne:

When Marta Resmini stepped out in 2015 as Brasserie de la Senne’s first sales and marketing representative, freshly minted business cards in her pocket, she didn’t get the reaction she was initially expecting. “I went to the first customer, to which I had to go with my business card,” she says. “He looked at my card and then paused for 5-10 seconds, and he was like, ‘Okay, so this is your phone number, what are you doing tonight?’ That was my first experience dealing out business cards.”

A lot has changed in the intervening five years. For one, Resmini gets fewer abortive pick-up attempts. She’s gained recognition as one of the most visible faces of the brewery, alongside Cleo Mombaers – her colleague in the sales and marketing team at de la Senne.

Finally, from Twitter, people have been having fun coming up with names for the virtual pubs that are filling the gaps left in their lives:

There’s more good reading in Alan McLeod’s Thursday round-up.

News, nuggets and longreads 21 March 2020: the show must go on

Here’s all the news and commentary on pubs and beer that grabbed us in the past week, from takeaway beer to brewery-side blending.

First, sigh, some news: pubs, along with other hospitality businesses, have been commanded to close by the Government. The situation will be reviewed every month but even the most optimistic pundits seem to think we can expect them to be shut for three months.

In our view, this is sad, but necessary.

If you’re someone who relies on pubs for your social life, we’d recommend investigating the various virtual meet-up options, from Twitter drinkalongs to video conferencing.

And if you make your livelihood through the pub trade, we hope the various business support measures the Government has introduced will go some way to cushioning the blow.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 21 March 2020: the show must go on”

News, nuggets and longreads 14 March 2020: intervention, invoices, isolation

Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in writing about beer and pubs in the past week. And, boy, did our attention take some grabbing with all this nonsense going on.

First, there was a major ‘fiscal event’ in the form of the debut Budget speech of Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Pubs and beer both got a few mentions:

  • As part of the Government’s response to the economic impact of the coronavirus COVID-19, business rates for pubs with a rateable value under £51,000 will be suspended for a full year.
  • The £1,000 relief on business rates currently given to pubs with rateable value of up to £100,000 will increase to £5,000.
  • Duty on beer, cider, wine and spirits won’t increase.

Whether this will be enough to protect pubs against the buffeting effect of the pandemic remains to be seen.

As yet, British pubs and bars continue to trade and, if our observations are anything to go by, remain busy, but other European nations, including Belgium, have begun shutting down hospitality businesses from this weekend, so dire times could be ahead.

Online drinking.

Pubs might have a bumpy patch ahead but for drinkers under lockdown, at least, technology offers alternatives. For ViceHarron Walker has picked up on a trend in Japan for communal drinking via video chat:

Groups of nearly a dozen at a time have started using Zoom, the teleconferencing service (whose ominously friendly “Wel-come to Zoom!” greeting will haunt me till my last dying breath), to share a drink with other people stuck inside their homes, as the Asahi Shimbun reported on Thursday… The news outlet has dubbed the activity “オン飲み,” or on-nomi—a new Japanese word, according to Spoon & Tomago editor Johnny Waldman, who said that the term translates to ‘online drinking’ in English.

Barley & Malt.

In a guest post for Make Mine a Magee’s!, a blog run by beer historian and brewer Edd Mather, Robin Appel has provided a detailed history of Warminster Maltings, which he runs:

By the middle of the 19th century, ever larger breweries established themselves, and demand for malt consolidated around industrial capitals. It followed that ever larger malthouses proliferated, mostly in and close by areas where the best barley was grown. We are talking about areas where the Icknield Series soil type prevailed. This particular soil type is the best soil for premium malting barley production. It is depicted as an area which breaks out of the east coast of Yorkshire, cascades south over Lincolnshire, West Norfolk, across Cambridgeshire and down through the Home Counties, and spreads right across the south of England from Kent to Dorset. Within and adjacent to this zone “malting capitals” were established in places like Mistley (Essex), Ware (Hertfordshire), and Newark (Nottinghamshire). The most westerly of these “malting capitals” was Warminster in Wiltshire.

As promotional prose goes, this is good stuff!

Beer bottle and glass in low warm light.

In the latest of series of articles in which writers focus on particular beers, David Nilsen has provided Pellicle with personal notes on Bell’s Two Hearted Ale:

Since before I was born, my family has camped along the Hurricane River just west of Grand Marais on the coast of Lake Superior, about 35 miles west of the mouth of the Two Hearted. The Hurricane is a shallow stream that tumbles over dark rocks before hitting the beach, and its mouth changes daily as the sands shift with the moods of the big lake… There’s a small gas station above the harbour in Grand Marais, and it’s one of two places in town you could buy carryout beer when my family visited in the mid-2000s, at a time when I was just beginning to like beer. There was a six-pack of something called an IPA with a trout on the label, and its muted but clear earth tones brought to mind the Hurricane’s bed under a rippled surface.

(We liked this beer when we tried it.)

A pound coin.
SOURCE: Steve Smith on Unsplash.

Cashflow is one of the most commonly cited reasons for business failure in the UK and late payment of invoices is one of the biggest causes of cashflow problems. Every now and then, frustration over late payments in the beer and pub industry spills onto social media, as it did last week. The most recent bout prompted a typically challenging piece from Mark Johnson, arguing that consumers don’t need to know about this and that, in particular, it’s never right to ‘name and shame’ late payers:

Those customers may disagree with me, thinking they have the right to this information so that they can choose where to spend their money in support. You don’t. If this isn’t part of your everyday work then it may sound horrifying but are people showing sympathy and understanding because they believe they are so worldly that they can empathise? Does their compassion come from a sense of blind loyalty? Because this is reality and it doesn’t care about your feelings… Behind closed doors, perhaps. Share your experiences with industry peers. Share those that have screwed you over to stop it happening to others in the business if you wish. But globally naming and shaming is unacceptable.

Vintage SIBA sign on a pub in London.

Brewer Andy Parker has come off the fence – SIBA isn’t perfect, he says, but it’s the best vehicle independent British brewers have to be heard and it’s time to get behind the organisation:

Elusive Brewing joined SIBA in late 2019. Although we’d inquired about joining a couple of times before that, an undercurrent of member dissatisfaction with SIBA’s direction put us off biting the bullet. I believe that SIBA ideally needs to operate entirely in the interests of its members, with no commercial interests, and some decisions it took (for example the acquisition of beer wholesaler Flying Firkin) seemed take it further away from that… SIBA recognises the need for change and under its new Chief Executive James Calder, has started to re-engage and rebuild relations with its members. SIBA is listening and 2020 is the year we as independent breweries need to get behind them. It can only operate outwith any commercial interests if it has more members, as those interests are needed to cover its operating costs at current levels of membership.

Of course SIBA doesn’t help itself, sometimes, with ‘bad optics’ like this:

It makes sense when Neil explains it…

…but that doesn’t matter when the outrage train is already running downhill at full tilt.

And finally, from Twitter, there’s this nugget of post-war pub design from an expert in the work of British sculptor William Mitchell:

For more reading on beer and pubs, check out Alan McLeod’s round-up from Thursday.

News, nuggets and longreads 7 March 2020: Sceptres, Slutte, Spitalfields

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, with a particular focus on beer labels.

First, some Portman Group news. The industry body has declared against a label from Bristol brewery Lost & Grounded on the grounds that its procession of cartoon animals might be seen to appeal to children. Lost & Grounded has rejected this decision and doesn’t intend to change the label which, as we understand it, is always an option as long as you’re willing to be blacklisted by outlets that are signed up to the Portman code.

This time, Martyn Cornell has taken on the job of writing the obligatory opinion piece on the subject:

There is a legitimate position in declaring: “Why shouldn’t we use whatever artwork we like on our cans and bottles? What actual evidence is there that such artwork will encourage under-18s to drink the contents?” And you’d be right. But in the real world, there will always be those wowsers who will declare that such images COULD encourage children to pick up the can or bottle and sample what’s inside, and the Portman Group will always head those people off and ban such images, in the frankly justifiable fear that if it isn’t seen to be banning such images, then some politician will declare that industry self-regulation has failed, and state regulation will be brought in instead.

Another brewer, Purity, has also had a ticking off from Portman over its Lawless unfiltered lager: “The Panel considered that the name ‘Lawless’ directly implied breaking the law, which was by definition illegal behaviour. Therefore, it could not be justifiable through content given the nature of the Code.”.

Purity’s defence in this case does a good job of explaining why these decisions are a problem for small breweries: “The company explained Lawless was an internationally award-winning beer brand, and accounted for 10% of their revenue across cans and keg. The company stated changes to the brand name were a huge risk and could impact sales through consumer recognition and delists.”

At any rate, your man from SIBA is taking steps:


Switched on Bach.

At Appellation Beer Stan Hieronymus asks, “How much do ‘we’ need to know about beer history?” In a post that references Bach, Philip Glass and Nadia Boulanger, he reflects on whether doing your homework matters much in appreciating and commentating on what is current:

“If we had a teenager and a film historian talking about Quentin Tarantino then the film historian would matter more,” [music podcaster Chuck] Klosterman says. “If we had a rock historian talking about Billy Eilish the teenager’s perspective would matter more. It’s the only thing like that.”

Perhaps it is not the only thing. Perhaps milkshake IPAs and pastry stouts are like that.

Slutte label

In a guest post for Brussels Beer City, beer sommelier Hélène Spitaels declares that she has had enough of the unabashed sexism of her native beer culture:

Slutte was a perfect example. A brand set up by a group of men from a local sports club in Brussels, the brand received unearned attention when it was awarded a medal at the World Beer Awards in 2019… Despite protestations to the contrary by the owners, and a fake backstory they cooked up in an attempt to give themselves cover, the name means what you think it means. And then there’s the beer’s label – the silhouette of a women’s bum, accompanied by the tagline “A Belgian beer with body”.

The Blue Anchor brewery in the 1980s.
The Blue Anchor brewery, Mile End Road. SOURCE: Philip Cunningham/Spitalfields Life.

At Spitalfields Life, guest poster Philip Cunningham has provided a set of poignant photos of the lost breweries of the East End of London, along with notes on his own family history:

My grandfather was a train driver until the day he was discovered to be colour blind, when he was sacked on the spot. He then became a drayman and – apart from two world wars – spent the rest of his working life at the Albion Brewery in Whitechapel. He was one of the first draymen to drive a motorised vehicle, a skill which saved his life in WWI.

Lost and Grounded.

After what must have been a tough week, we imagine the team at Lost & Grounded were quite pleased to see the publication of a tribute to their flagship beer by Will Hawkes, at Pellicle.  Keller Pils is a beer we know fairly well and generally enjoy. The notes here about sales and production method are particularly interesting:

At every step, the lager problem has been tackled with rigorous attention to detail. One telling example: to iron out inconsistencies between batches of Keller Pils, [Alex Troncoso] now blends two types of pale lager malt, from Bamberg and Belgium, and fermentation and maturation take place in tanks big enough to contain six batches. … The brewery has grown rapidly of late. Keller Pils makes up around 70 per cent of 2019’s 6000-hectolitre total (just over a million pints). That will double next year, with a final target of somewhere between 30,000 (5.3m pints) and 40,000 (7m).6

And, finally, there’s this…

…and this:


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

News, nuggets and longreads 29 February 2020: Mindfulness, mixed fermentation, Magee

Here’s everything on beer and pubs that grabbed our attention in the past week, from mindful drinking to robotic noses.

First, an interesting bit of news: Beer Advocate, the business built around rating beer that isn’t RateBeer, has been acquired by the people who own beer ticking app Untappd. As Todd Alström, Beer Advocate co-founder, writes:

We’ve been struggling to keep the lights on for over two years, and we still face some challenges, but I’m confident that this is the best path for all of us. Next Glass is committed to not only helping BeerAdvocate, but passionate about protecting and cultivating our unique culture, identity, and community… I also have a lot of respect for what Greg Avola, Untappd’s Co-Founder and CTO, and team have built over the past nine years, and this next chapter is a great opportunity to explore new features and opportunities.

This is more evidence that global craft beer, as an industry, is now well into the consolidation phase.

A brain.

For Vox, Derek Brown has written about how ‘mindful drinking’ has changed his life and enabled him to continue a career in booze while curbing the worst of his relationship with alcohol:

Alcohol isn’t really all that good for you. It certainly wasn’t always good for me. Though I used to joke that without it I wouldn’t have a job, friends, or a hobby, I now teetotal most of the week and drink cocktails, whiskey, and wine infrequently… Everything about that goes against the way I make my living as a spirits and cocktail expert, author, and bar owner. I don’t think everything we do has to be “good for you.” Neither should everything we do lead us down a fiery path of ruination. Lately, I’m more than content with a few fingers of bourbon followed by a drink without alcohol. And, when I indulge, it’s still with the guardrails on.

Continue reading “News, nuggets and longreads 29 February 2020: Mindfulness, mixed fermentation, Magee”

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.

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