Here’s everything that’s grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pubs in the last seven days, from Tiny Rebel’s labelling woes to pairing beer with chocolate.
(Note: because we’re on the road we put this together on Thursday so any exciting developments from Friday might be missing, depending on whether we could be bothered to fiddle with editing the post on a phone screen.)
First, undoubtedly the biggest story of the week was the Portman Group’s ruling against Tiny Rebel over the design of the Cwtch can. This has generated commentary to reinforce each and every set of prejudices:
- It’s fair enough, Portman is better than the alternative — Ed
- It’s nanny-statism and a step towards plain packaging — the Pub Curmudgeon
- The system is broken and unfair to craft brewers in particular — Matt Curtis for Good Beer Hunting
The most essential items of reading, though, are the Portman Group’s own report on the decision, and Tiny Rebel’s response which comes with (perhaps questionable) figures for the final cost of the exercise.
Here’s one we added from a smartphone sitting in a pub on Friday: Emma Inch asks if we might apply a version of the Bechdel test to beer. We don’t do much Women in Beer stuff these days, even though one of us is, of course, a Woman in Beer, so this very much resonates.
We always enjoy dissections of artefacts from recent beer history which is why this piece by Josh Noel about an early-to-mid-1990s menu from Goose Island’s original Chicago brewpub caught our eye. He discovered it while researching his upcoming book about Goose Island, an extract from which is quoted in this post, and it tells us a lot about where American beer was at just 25 years ago:
The menu features three core year-round beers: Golden Goose Pilsner, which had been a brewpub mainstay since opening in 1988; Honker’s Ale, the only 1988 original that has endured throughout Goose Island’s 30-year history (though the fading popularity of the easy drinking, malt forward style leaves it at the periphery these days); and Tanzen Gans Kolsch, likely one of the earliest examples of the kolsch style made by an American craft brewer… The Brewmaster’s Specials included another 19 beers that rotated seasonally, including a heretofore rarity in Chicago called IPA (“very strong, very bitter, very pale”).
Having corresponded with her on and off for some years we finally met Christine Cryne completely coincidentally in our local pub earlier in the year. Now Katie Wiles gives us a profile of one of the quiet stars of British beer based on a lunchtime chocolate-and-beer pairing session at London’s Wenlock Arms:
I’m eager to see what it’s like to drink beer with a Master Beer Trainer, so we decide to break open the Oddfellow’s Chocolate, a favourite for Christine’s pairings. “It’s best to pair chocolate with a beer that is over 4% ABV,” Christine explains. “You want to make sure that the chocolate either amplifies the flavours or tones them down – you can try the same type of beer with two different chocolates and bring out completely different tastes.”
Concealed within this bit of PR fluff, an oddity: Black Sheep has brewed a Costa coffee infused beer for hospitality company Whitbread. Whitbread. Hospitality company Whitbread. Hospitality. There is something very sad about this story.
(Disclosure, we guess: Whitbread allowed us to use archive images from their collection in 20th Century Pub.)
The first batch of Golden Pints posts are in. We won’t be sharing every one that pops up but this is by way of a reminder that this is still A Thing, in case you were in two minds about whether to bother. Ours will be up sometime next week, we hope.
- Tim Sheahan — Northern Monk, Siren, Edge
- Phil Lowry — Adnams, Fullers, Harvey’s, Tiny Rebel, Cloudwater
- James Beeson — Cloudwater, Deya, Verdant, Five Points
We’ll finish with this work of art: