H.E. Bates Evokes a Country Pub, 1934

It must be forty years since my aunt began to keep the pub of which I am writ­ing; and less than five years since she ceased to be the land­la­dy of it… It was not prim, and I am pret­ty sure it was not always prop­er, but it had about it a kind of aus­tere home­li­ness. The floors were of pol­ished brick, the tables were scrubbed like bleached bones, and the lamps shone like alter brass­es. There were three rooms – the bar, the smoke-room, and the par­lour – and they had char­ac­ters of their own. And just as I see my aunt in per­pet­u­al black, so I nev­er think of that pub with­out remem­ber­ing the mild beery smell that all her scrub­bing could nev­er wash away, the odour of lamp oil and the faint fra­grance of old gera­ni­ums sun-warmed in the sum­mer win­dows.

From ‘A Coun­try Pub’ by H.E. Bates, New States­man, 25 August 1934

Porter for Breakfast, 1924

Bottle of stout w. glass.

The following passages, for obvious reasons, grabbed my attention in the opening pages of Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel The Magic Mountain, about a young Hamburg man exiled to an Alpine sanatorium before World War I:

So he grew up; in wretched weath­er, in the teeth of the wind and mist, grew up, so to say, in a yel­low mack­in­tosh, and, gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, he throve. A lit­tle anaemic he had always been, so Dr. Hei­dekind said, and had him take a good glass of porter after third break­fast every day, when he came home from school. This, as every­one knows, is a hearty drink – Dr. Hei­dekind con­sid­ered it a blood-mak­er – and cer­tain­ly Hans Cas­torp found it most sooth­ing on his spir­its and encour­ag­ing to a propen­si­ty of his, which his Uncle Tien­ap­pel called ‘doz­ing’: name­ly, sit­ting star­ing into space, with his jaw dropped and his thoughts fixed on noth­ing at all.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Porter for Break­fast, 1924”

Microscope as Brewer’s Life Blood, 1924

1899 illustration of brewing yeast.

As far as the practical brewer is concerned, complete knowledge of the correct use of the microscope is as necessary as his life blood, for it will save him a host of troubles. Indeed, it passes my comprehension how some prefer to take their chance when you hear them say: ‘I never look at my yeast under the microscope. If it is of a certain solidity and smells all right, and is of a good colour, I never worry further about it!’ This kind of thing may not have led to disaster in former days, when the alcoholic content of beers was such that it was an efficient protection, but to trust to such rough and ready methods in these days must surely court disaster.”

The Train­ing of an Oper­a­tive Brew­er’, B.G.C. Wether­all, Jour­nal of the Oper­a­tive Brew­ers’ Guild, Octo­ber 1924

QUOTE: Ian Nairn on Pub Atmosphere

Detail from the cover of MODERN BUILDINGS IN LONDON: London Transport roundel and crane.

The White Knight [in Crawley]… is a common type done extremely well, not so much in its architecture as in its atmosphere, which seems to hit off exactly the balance of friendliness and circumstance which a New Town pub needs. If there was less fretting over architecture and more over atmosphere our towns would be better places.”

From Mod­ern Build­ings in Lon­don, Lon­don Trans­port, 1964

We used a line from this in a piece we wrote about Nairn avail­able in Back of a Beer Mat, our free e‑book col­lect­ing var­i­ous beer-relat­ed ‘lon­greads’.

QUOTE: Something Will Turn Up, 1940

Dominoes in the pub, 1940.
Men play­ing domi­noes in the pub, LIFE mag­a­zine, 1940.

This is the text of an anonymous advertisement (probably placed by the Brewers’ Society) that ran in The Times on 10 January 1940:

Dis­raeli once said that the real mot­to of the Eng­lish peo­ple is – “some­thing will turn up.”

It is cer­tain­ly true that not even the advent of a Euro­pean war, nor the threats of raids, nor the frus­tra­tion of the black-out have dimmed our cheer­ful faith and phi­los­o­phy among us.

It is in the pub where one sees it best. Around the glass­es of beer the peo­ple of all class­es have found a warm, bright, kind­ly atmos­phere in which cheer­ful­ness sup­plants alarm. The pub gives relax­ation. It pro­motes our nation­al demo­c­ra­t­ic feel­ing.

And beer too has played its tra­di­tion­al part in keep­ing us friend­ly, buoy­ant and good tem­pered. Good bar­ley malt and coun­try hops brewed in the man­ner hand­ed down to us through the cen­turies has been John Bul­l’s drink in many a hard day – giv­ing him the health to with­stand and courage to endure!

(Exe­unt. Alarum, and cham­bers go off.)