Everything We Wrote in January 2018

January 2018.

We managed a slightly slim 17 posts last month what with the lingering effects of the Christmas break and a cheeky holiday towards the end. Still, there were a few good ‘uns you might have missed in the January fog.

We kicked the month off, as usual, with a contribution to the Session. January’s edition was a bit weird because there was no host until the last minute when co-founder Jay Brooks stepped in to ask ‘Three Questions’. His round-up of all the responses is here.


We went to Cardiff which prompted Keith Flett to ask us a question: “Why Drink Brains?” We answered.


A relic from the pre-CAMRA era of beer appreciation arrived in our actual snail-mail postbox: a pub crawl schedule from Cup Final day, 1967.


Some pubs are famous for doing one beer really well — Bass, Landlord, usually one of the classics. People suggested examples in the comments and a good discussion was had all round. (This one got lots of attention, as the throwaways often do.)

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Boak & Bailey’s Golden Pints for 2017

Ah, the Golden Pints — a grim obligation undertaken out of habit rather than joy, a mere ‘circle jerk’, a relic of a past era of beer blogging…

Nah, we like ’em. We enjoy the chance to reflect, and to think about what we’ve actually been drinking and which beers have really stuck with us down the months.

We also enjoy reading other people’s. They’re often biased, full of odd choices, and demonstrate unabashed local boosterism… Which is what makes them great. When there are enough of them trends emerge and the same names to crop up again and again. And you know that beers and breweries from one part of the country grudgingly mentioned in Golden Pints from another must really be something.

We’ve decided this year that an important test of Golden Pint status is repeatability — in a landscape of infinite variety and choice, did a particular beer warrant a second pint? Did a particular pub demand a second visit despite the temptation to explore new territory?

With all that in mind, here’s what we came up with, omitting any category to which we didn’t feel we could give a decent answer.

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The Best of Us in 2017

The idea behind this round-up of the best of our own writing from 2017 is, as much as anything, to remind ourselves of what we’ve pulled off.

We forgot we’d written some of this stuff at all, while other bits we had in mind were were from last year, or maybe the year before.

It’s been a hectic time what with moving from Penzance to Bristol and the publication of a second book but, despite all that, we kept up a fairly steady flow of posts — about 240 in all. Of course that includes plenty of throwaways, weekly links round-ups, and our Month That Was summaries. Still, we reckon it amount to about 160,000 words of original writing — enough for another two books.

This is probably a good point to say that if you appreciate our output and want to encourage us to keep doing it, ad-free, and mostly outside any kind of paywall, please do consider subscribing to our Patreon. It’s dead easy, and for as little as $2 per month you can help pay for all this, and also get some bonus stuff there. (We’ve unlocked a few posts over the course of the year so you can see for yourself.) That people have signed up has been a major source of encouragement but, you know, there’s always room for a bit more.

Now, down to business. We’ve decided to limit ourselves to ten that we especially like but have also included by way of a footnote a second list of the stuff that actually got all the traffic, which is not always the stuff that’s most fun or interesting to write. First up, its…

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2017’s Best Words on Beer and Pubs, Sez Us

These are the posts and articles from 2017 that have stuck with us throughout the year.

They cover everything from pubs to the business of beer and what links them, if anything, is that they all make a point, or tell us something we didn’t know.

A baby in the pub.

1. Children in Pubs

By The Bearded Housewife (@Cuichulain)

TBH, AKA Rob G, is a pub-loving home-brewer with two young daughters. In this epic post from January he applied much thought to the question of children in pubs:

Overall, the debate never seems to go anywhere because most people worth listening to state their position as something adjacent to “I don’t have any problem with children in pubs, if they’re well-behaved”. This position is so unarguably reasonable that it’s never really questioned, and everyone leaves with their own vastly divergent, and unchallenged, mental picture of what ‘well-behaved’ actually constitutes. I shall address this in greater depth further down, but first I’d like to pick out and exclude certain arguments that don’t have merit.


Cuneiform tablet.

2. Babylonian Cuneiform

By Alan McLeod (@agoodbeerblog)

Back in February Alan at A Good Beer Blog did what all beer nerds do when a new online archive becomes available: he searched it for the word BEER. What he found was a time tunnel connecting us, now, with them, then:

How is it that I can read a Mesopotamian clay tablet and pretty much immediately understand what is going on? If it was about religion, governance or astronomy I wouldn’t have a clue. But beer and brewing are not strange. They are, in a very meaningful way, constant. You can see that if we go back to column 2 where you see words for 1:1 beer, 2:1 beer, 3:1 beer and even triple beer. The ratio is the relationship of grain input to beer output. If you scroll down to page 238 of the 2005 Spar and Lambert text you see there are footnotes and in the footnotes an explanation of Mesopotamian methodology.

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Everything We Wrote in September 2017: Listicles, GBBF, Post-War Pubs

September 2017: Pelican style photo illustration of a pub.

The last month was one of our busiest for some time with house moving issues and book business settling down to manageable levels.

In fact, we posted 23 times here and 11 times on our (mostly) subscriber-only Patreon feed, along with a ton of bits and pieces on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Proper pub with an accent on cider. #pubs

A post shared by Boak & Bailey (@boakandbailey) on

Two of our posts here were among the most read and commented on for a while, too, so we’ll give those a bit of special attention first.

The Great British Beer Festival

Having ruminated for a month we finally expressed some ideas about ways to improve GBBF. Our pre-emptive whining about how hard it is to discuss CAMRA and GBBF without people getting narky seems to have worked and a generally civil, stimulating conversation ensued. There was also quite a bit of chat on Twitter, across various Facebook groups and pages, on the Hopinions (Beer O’Clock Show) podcast, and behind the closed doors of the CAMRA discussion forum.

Illustration: SEVEN.
Seven Ages of Beer Geek

We think this attempt to break down the trajectory of a typical beer geek’s obsession was a bit more than just a listicle but there’s no denying the ‘click appeal’ of a post in the format ‘X types of Y’: it got something like three times as much traffic as anything else we wrote in September or, indeed, for months. It also prompted some substantial responses from other bloggers.

Jeff Alworth didn’t agree with our conclusions (‘The stages are conceptually familiar, but not emotionally so’) but, actually, we think he misunderstood our point, i.e. that if you go deeper than stage one, two or three, this is where it might lead, rather than that everyone will always end up at seven, or that they will always pass through every stop on the way. But his own reflections on the subject are as thoughtful as ever and worth a read.

Ed thought we’d missed something: that loving something often means hating something else, and ‘the most hated enemy can well be someone that to outsiders seems politically close’.

Uffe Karlström (new to us) effectively translated the post into (we think) Swedish adding some commentary of his own along the way, which we discovered via a pingback and were able to read via Google Translate — ain’t 2017 amazing? ‘Since spring 2005 I have terrorized brewers, salesmen, owners, distributors, etc. with questions, questions and more questions’, he says.

J. Wilson was moved out of blogging semi-retirement to write about how he has grown to appreciate ordinary bars and mainstream beer: ‘These days I’m a seven… There were no fives in sight.’

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