Beer history Generalisations about beer culture

Dregs from the Drip Tray

Detail from the cover of Beers of Britain (1975).
Detail from the cover of Beers of Britain (1975).

Here are a few odds and ends which didn’t warrant a post of their own.

  • We’ve updated this post on the Pub Users’ Protection Society with new (old) information from a 1979 edition of CAMRA’s What’s Brewing, including a picture of their famous ‘beerometer’.
  • On a similar note, we’ve stumbled across information on a couple more pre-CAMRA beer clubsDerby’s Black Pig Society (c.1959) and The Honourable Order of Bass Drinkers (1967). Simon Johnson, who tipped us off to the latter, was surprised to know we hadn’t heard of both of them; if you know of any similar clubs or societies, assume we’re ignorant, and let us know. We love this kind of stuff.
  • The late Michael Jackson continues to give useful advice. Reading the almost hidden preface to his The English Pub (1976) we came across mention of yet another lost pub guide, a copy of which is now on its way to us. Beers of Britain by Conal Gregory and Warren Knock, Jackson says, is a ‘broader guide’ than the GBG. We’ll let you know if there are any nice nuggets.
  • This article from last year by Leigh ‘Good Stuff’ Linley is a cracker. It’s an interview with the founders of North Bar in Leeds marking its fifteenth anniversary, and there are some great reminders that not everyone likes the same thing, e.g. pubs: ‘You’d get the bus from Headingley straight to a club. There was nowhere in between to have a beer, except Pubs.’
  • We keep finding useful ideas in Nairn’s London, and his warning about the ‘dreary finger of good taste‘ struck home. Balance and class are great and everything, but it’s good to have the occasional King Ralph of a beer to keep things lively.
  • Stanley Unwin made an advert for Flowers Keg Bitter in 1959 (‘For the best picket in a brew flade, pick Flowers!) which we’d love to see. It’s not on YouTube as far as we can tell. Any other ideas that don’t involve a trip to London and a private screening at the BFI?
  • A frustrated question: at what point do publicans stop saying ‘there’s no demand for it’ and accept that the fact we’ve asked might indicate that there is hidden demand?
  • Here’s a permanent home for our generic beer infographic.
  • And, finally, why we’re in favour of two-third-of-a-pint glasses: we get out of sync when we’re drinking together, prompting all kinds of up-and-down to the bar to fetch halves, or forcing us to wait for each other. If Boak could drink two-thirds while Bailey drank pints, we reckon that’d be us back in step.

Designer beer, session beer and Chimay

Chimay beer in a glass.

Here are some bits and pieces we spotted around and about in the last few days.

1. We think we’ve worked out when Trappist beer first landed in the UK. A chain of off-licences called Arthur Rackham began importing Chimay (probably Rouge) in 1974, perhaps in the wake of the 1974 World Beer Festival at Olympia in London. It first showed up at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival in 1979. Anyone know otherwise?

2. Here’s another definition of session beer for you to chew on, from Tim Webb and Joris Pattyn’s 10o Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die:

Surprisingly, it makes a great session beer. Just as you think its bitterness will be too much, it proves it can tempt you to one more.

Beer you want to drink a lot of rather than beer it’s easy to drink in quantity… that’s a thought.

3. We’d forgotten the term ‘designer beer‘ until we came across a 1991 Daily Mirror article on the then hot trend in ‘boozy fashion accessories’. Typical designer beers, it suggests, are Brahma (favoured by Andrew Ridgeley of Wham!), Dos Equis (David Bowie), Sapporo (Jason Donovan) and Peroni (Tina Turner). Chimay Blue also gets a mention, alongside a peach beer from Belgium which was supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities.