Blogging and writing

Our favourite beer writing of 2022: It Lives!

Every Saturday morning we put together a round-up of the best writing about beer and pubs from the previous week. And once a year, we sift through that to find the best posts and articles of the year.

In 2022, Pellicle and Good Beer Hunting (two households, both alike in dignity) continued to dominate.

They provide platforms for heavier bits of beer writing – stuff that might take some time, effort and money to put together – and present it beautifully.

Close behind is Ferment, the widely respected magazine that comes with the monthly box from a widely disliked beer subscription service. In particular, it provides a platform for Matt Curtis, who edits Pellicle, but doesn’t tend to feature his own writing there.

Where does that leave blogs? As in, proper blogs, written by enthusiasts, or semi-professionals, and published on platforms they own.

They’re still about, and they’ve been joined by a new beast: newsletters on Substack, or similar, which perform essentially the same function, but right up in your inbox. Will Hawkes’s excellent London Beer City is one notable example.

We try to feature as much of that stuff as we can, and would love to see more. Let us know if you’ve got a beer blog we don’t know about.

Putting this piece together, we totted up which writers had featured most often in our round-ups.

Forty-three got mentioned in more than one round-up, and these people all ended up in more than five:

Eoghan Walsh15
Jeff Alworth12
Courtney Iseman11
Martyn Cornell10
Liam K8
Pete Brown7
Mark Johnson7
David Jesudason6
Will Hawkes6
Ruvani de Silva6
Gary Gillman6

We’ve got our own preferences and biases, of course, but what these people all have in common is that they:

  • sit their arses down and write, regularly
  • tell us things we don’t already know
  • take us to places we’ve never been
  • show us new perspectives
  • tell compelling stories
  • have their own unique voices

Now, here’s a list of 20 substantial pieces of beer writing from 2022 that, looking back, we especially liked.

There’s also a focus on writers who didn’t feature every week. It’s all too easy for that one fascinating one-off contribution to The Discourse to come, go, and be forgotten.

They’re ordered chronologically, earliest to most recent, and each writer is limited to one entry.

Magic from the Baltic coast | Charlotte Cook | February 2022

“When most people think of Estonia, their minds tend to conjure up images of a post-Soviet wasteland inhabited by concrete tower blocks and spluttering Ladas. That, or they imagine an icy landscape filled with impenetrable pine forest and permafrost. Most people don’t know what language they speak in Estonia, never mind much about its culture and people, and least of all about its burgeoning and unique craft beer scene.”

The Campaign for Real Architecture | Matthew Bliss | February 2022

“CAMRA obviously conducts architectural preservation as part of its mission, since preserving the function of a building necessarily preserves the building itself. Buildings and their functions are awfully hard to separate most of the time. If you change the function, you usually have to change the building… But CAMRA’s architectural project, along with that of the ‘pub’ itself, is a profoundly nostalgist one. It, like the branding of most British beers (you don’t find this with, for instance, East Asian beers), is reliant on notions of the Good Old Days.”

Why bootleg Moe’s Taverns are all over Latin America | Tamlin Magee | March 2022

“For anyone in Latin America, visiting one of these unlicensed bars is a lot cheaper than flying to California or Florida to the official Moe’s Tavern at Universal Studios. ‘For many, our bar is the only chance to live the Simpsons experience, since our customers often don’t have the means to visit the official Moe’s Tavern,’ says Nicolás González Milano. In 2017, he and a group of friends at ‘differing scales of Simpsons fanaticism’ opened a Moe’s Tavern in the Ituzaingó district of Buenos Aires, which has served fans who can’t travel across the globe.”

The pub with no beer (fiction) | Kevin Barry | April 2022

“He took up the cloth and dampened it in the sink and ran it along the bar top. He brought up a quiet shine. The intention of the polishing was to approximate soft labor. Daily the bar top was polished to show its grain and the nicks and scratches of its great age. The pub had been his father’s for the long shift of four decades. His father in turn had taken it from a bachelor uncle. For three generations behind this bar much the same set of thick, knitted eyebrows had insisted on a semblance, at least, of decorum. The sunlight crept by slow inches across the floor. It was the moment, in more usual times, of the primary school’s letting out and he missed the high excited chatter from the yard across the way. Neither loudness nor drunkenness in this barroom had ever been tolerated.”

I want to see mountains again: the banked beers of Teesside, North East England | Reece Hugill | April 2022

“Unique and beautiful things rarely come from boring places… In the industrial glow of lower North East England, along the banks of the River Tees, a tiny handful of pubs still serve beer the way my grandad, and his dad used to drink… Half-full glasses are pulled from the bar-back fridge, topped up feverishly from the hand-pull. Placed in front of me are two ridiculous looking pints of ruby-red cask beer. Foam cartoonishly mounded a full four inches higher than the brim of the glass. Wobbling and bubbling, alpine peaks and whips of pure white.”

Chloé | Katrina Kell | April 2022

“Chloé, the French nude by Jules Joseph Lefebvre, is an Australian cultural icon… [In] 1908, Henry Figsby Young bought Chloé for £800 and hung the famous nude in the saloon bar of Young and Jackson Hotel, opposite Flinders Street Station in Melbourne… Enjoying a drink with Chloé at the hotel has been a good luck ritual for Australian soldiers since the first world war… The ritual of having a drink with Chloé at Young and Jackson Hotel, opposite Melbourne’s busiest railway station, began after Private A. P. Hill, who was killed in action, put a message in a bottle and tossed it overboard…”

‘ Makes Me Want to Shut Down, Cover Up’ | James Green | May 2022

“This article seeks to provide a detailed account of emotional labour adopted by female bartenders when faced with unwanted sexual attention at work. In the field, I implemented an ethnographic research design and maximised opportunities for data collection through the use of interviews with eight participants and participant observations while employed at the same venue. Drawing on previous theoretical thought, the data gathered will outline the learnt, and most common, forms of display rules barstaff demonstrate while engaging with unwanted interactions, and, from the viewpoint of the female barstaff, the expected display rules envisioned by some male customers.”

Why we should all be raising a glass to the 160th birthday of the working men’s club movement – even if they aren’t | Pete Brown | June 2022

“On 14th June 1862, Unitarian Minister Henry Solly convened a meeting which founded the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union. At the time, philanthropists and reformers of all stripes were desperately trying to ‘improve’ the working man – some out of genuine concern for his plight, others because millions of men were about to get the vote for the first time and therefore needed to be ‘civilised,’ so they voted for the ‘right’ people… Solly recognised that if he wanted to attract working-class men after a gruelling, monotonous, ten- or twelve-hour shift, they needed a place where they could relax as well as being lectured to. A club, rather than an austere institute, was his model.”

A History of Brussels Beer in 50 Objects // #48 Support Local Breweries T-shirt | Eoghan Walsh | June 2022

“Brussels’ hospitality industry has a long history of entanglements with public health emergencies. In 1866, 2732 people died in Brussels’ last deadly cholera outbreak (1.5% of the population), with city authorities forced to cancel that autumn’s annual festivities. Their contemporary successors had to deal with COVID-19, arriving with a bang on March 12, 2020. That evening the Belgian government announced the nationwide closure of hospitality businesses, as the country registered its first COVID-19 deaths and case numbers rose exponentially… The reaction of many in the industry was panic.”

Beer Myths on Beer Mats? A Closer Look at the Legendary Marketing of Smithwick’s and Kilkenny Ales | Liam K | June 2022

“Smithwick’s brewery – or the St. Francis Abbey Brewery to give it its proper name – is an establishment that I am mildly obsessed with for a number of reasons… But is there a nagging issue, a grey murkiness that muddies its history, which means that the brewery has lost more than it has gained in the promotion of ‘Brand Smithwicks’ and becoming for the most part a single product within the portfolio of a much larger global company? This is a subject I have written and commented about before, both in a short history on brewing in Kilkenny and in a piece on the dubious history of Irish Red Ale, but I have never explored these legends one by one…”

The Ten Pubs That Made Me Part 1: Fernandes’ Brewery Tap | Mark Johnson | July 2022

“Wakefield operates under the famous One Degree of Separation system when it comes to locals. You cannot have a volatile break-up with a partner in this city as they will always be in your life through others. You either remain friends with your ex or you leave the city for good… That is the crux of Wakefield; it never really wanted you anyway… There is a pub here, however, that makes my top ten list of pubs that aided my beer journey.”

The broon dog that walked so that others could run: celebrating 95 years of Newcastle Brown Ale | Emmie Harrison-West | July 2022

“‘Bottle of Broon, please,’ I said, smiling nervously to the barman, hoping he wouldn’t ask for my (clearly fake) ID. He didn’t seem bothered I was dressed as a cowgirl… I was 17 and on my first night out in my hometown, Newcastle upon Tyne, when I first tried the fabled Newcastle Brown Ale… To locals it’s known as ‘Broon’ or ‘ah bottle ah dog’ (pronounced ‘derg’) – lovingly named after the saying “I’m off to walk the dog,” which naturally meant ‘I’m off to the boozer,’ instead. To everyone else in the UK who felt a fool for attempting to imitate the Geordie dialect (trust me, you can’t) it was a bottle of ‘Newkie’.”

Britain’s most remote mainland pub | Daniel Stables | August 2022

“Our journey began at the end of the road. The longest dead-end road in Britain, in fact. It took two hours of knuckle-whitening jags around hairpin bends and past sheer descents, on a 22-mile taxi ride from the town of Fort William in the western Scottish Highlands, to get to our starting point of Kinloch Hourn… In the company of two friends, Carl and José, I was embarking on a journey to the most remote pub in mainland Britain. Accessible only by sea ferry or by a two-day, 18-mile hike across the Scottish Highlands from the small settlement of Kinloch Hourn (or an even longer, 28-mile yomp from the hamlet of Glenfinnan), the Old Forge sits in the village of Inverie, on the southern coast of the Knoydart peninsula. ‘Walking in’ to the pub is a rite of passage in the outdoors community, and one we were keen to tick off, thirsty in equal measure for adventure and the extreme satisfaction of a pint well earned.”

Campaigners face uphill battle to save two BS5 pubs from redevelopment | Alex Turner | August 2022

“Walk down Church Road from St George Park and it feels as if this part of Bristol is bucking national trends towards pubs closing. As you leave the park there’s the recently opened Red Church, then the Fire Engine, Dark Horse and George and Dragon… But wander through the sidestreets towards Barton Hill and a different picture emerges. Within 10 minutes you pass the former Three Crowns, Hauliers Arms, Hop Pole, Swan and Russell Arms. All have closed within the last decade or so, with most turned into housing… Now, two of the area’s most recently departed pubs face the same fate. They are St George’s Hall on Church Road, and the Rhubarb Tavern in Barton Hill.”

Go West: resistance, Ricky Reel, and the real Southall | David Jesudason | August 2022

“Southall is so varied, so personal to me, that it is hard to describe it to people who are unfamiliar with it. The best I can say is: Imagine a town that has somehow managed to recreate many aspects of daily life in South Asia – it’s often dubbed “Little India” – but appears distinctly harmonious, with Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian residents all living side by side… Southall is, unsurprisingly, the place to buy South Asian ingredients in London – you can find everything from huge bags of spices to Indian spirits like Old Monk. Large-scale wedding celebrations regularly spill out onto the streets. And it’s also the place to eat a hearty, South Asian meal, whether at traditional restaurants or British-Indian “Desi” pubs, even though it’s overlooked by many Londoners in favour of Brick Lane’s heavily commercialised curry houses.”

The essential guide to IPA | Matt Curtis | August 2022

“To the educated beer connoisseur – very much a minority, even among beer drinkers themselves – the language of IPA comes instinctively. They know their Citra from their Nelson Sauvin. But to the majority of people, labels like NEIPA, DDH, and the other myriad terms associated with one of beer’s most argued-over styles, are ultimately meaningless. You could even go a step further and suggest they’re a form of gatekeeping; if beer is truly for everyone, why go to such great effort to make it so fucking complicated? IPA used to mean ‘strong and hoppy’, now it could mean pretty much anything. Today’s breweries are as comfortable using it to label what is essentially an alcoholic fruit smoothie as they are for a beer that tastes like licking a goat.”

No one gets to tell anyone they’re tasting beer wrong, actually | Courtney Iseman | September 2022

“It seems like every few months someone thinks (incorrectly) that the world desperately needs to hear his (because let’s be honest, it’s probably an older white dude) opinion on some beer descriptor, and will log on to Twitter-dot-com to fire off some embarrassingly overzealous judgement on the word in question. It’s one of the gross but stubborn elements of craft beer culture that seems like it will just carry on until we’re all on our deathbeds wishing we didn’t waste so much goddamned time on arguing about adjectives.”

Dual identity, death, and decolonization | Ruvani de Silva | September 2022

“English IPA should, by all logic, stick in my throat, yet I continue to devour and praise them. I know full well the excessive damage the British East India Company, purveyors of said IPA did to the Subcontinent, how rich they became from plundering our resources and labour, and how that wealth still circulates among the British elite… How can I, armed with full awareness of the damaging nature of its marketing, enjoy a bottle of Bengal Lancer? And yet not only was it one of the first English IPAs I really rated, I still regard it as an excellent example of the style. Can we separate the beer from its history, its heritage? Can I disconnect my love for it from my own history and heritage?”

‘Beer for all, or for none’: The Busch-Lasker controversy of 1922 | Brian Alberts | October 2022

“It was May 1922, and August A. Busch Sr. needed a break. A long one. So he did what America’s wealthiest dynasts do, and treated the word “summer” like a verb… Reaching the coast, Busch boarded the SS George Washington, a passenger liner about half the size of the Titanic. However, as soon as the ship passed into international waters and out of United States jurisdiction, something peculiar happened. The staff threw open cabinets stocked with European beer, liquors, and wines, and opened not one but five bars throughout the ship. It was as if Prohibition never existed at all… As you might imagine, this upset Busch more than a little.”

Gay men drink craft beer, too: on lad culture, stereotypes, and beer’s cultural barriers | Damian Kerlin | November 2022

“My first introduction to beer was through my dad: When I was young, I used to ask for a sip from a freshly opened bottle. I liked it cold – the colder the better. But as I got older, I stopped drinking beer and instead ordered what felt representative of me: vodka and Coke, gin and tonic, wine… I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but now that I’m older, I understand why my drinking preferences changed. It’s not because I stopped liking beer—instead, I wanted to fit in with my peers, those who I drank with and wanted to emulate. I came to see beer as macho, laddy and rough, just like vodka and Coke was chic, sophisticated. Even the glasses in which the two were served seemed to confirm that: one a chunky pint glass, the other a small, light tumbler.”

For more, do check out the backlog of our weekly round-ups. Stan Hieronymus has put together a list of his favourite writing of the year and Alan McLeod has done the same, with additional thoughts on the state and future of beer writing.

beer reviews

Our Golden Pints of 2019

It must be the end of the year… Wait, no, the end of the decade – because here we are, once again, debating which pubs and beers we want to declare The Best of 2019.

It gets easier, this, when it’s a habit. Throughout the year we find ourselves saying to each other: “Could this be a contender?” We keep notes, we check-in every now and then, and so half the post half-written by October.

It also helps that we’ve been reporting to our Patreon supporters on the best beers of each weekend most weeks and so have a decent record of what really impressed us.

As last year, though, it’s amazing how often that’s The Usual Suspects – Young’s Ordinary, St Austell Proper Job, Dark Star Hophead, Bass, Oakham Citra or JHB, Titanic Plum Porter, Hop Back Summer Lightning… Classics, in other words.

Bristol Beer Factory might have won more awards if its range was a bit more stable. As it is, the many excellent but barely distinguishable pale-n-hoppy cask ales we enjoyed from them never seem to be on sale with any regularity to we never quite get to know them.

Now, then – the awards.

The Drapers Arms -- a table with beer and filled rolls.

Best Bristol pub – The Drapers Arms

Yes, again, but how could it be anything else? We go at least once every week, usually more like twice or three times, and it’s got to the point where we can’t be remotely objective about it. It’s also become a kind of office for us – somewhere to meet visitors to Bristol, such as the charming Texans we got sloshed with in the summer. And we’ve never felt more like part of the community than when our neighbours responded to Jess’s call for apples.

Runner-up: The Good Measure.

The Laurieston.

Best non-Bristol pub – The Laurieston, Glasgow

A historic building with period decor is obviously exciting but when the beer is also great, and the service, and the atmosphere, you’ve got a winner.

Runner-up: The Waterloo, Shirley, Southampton.

Au Stoemelings.

Best overseas bar – Au Stoemelings, Brussels

This is a fairly basic bar with what, by Belgian standards, a bog standard beer list, but we loved it because (a) we found it ourselves and (b) it felt so real. We got the impression that if we’d sat in the corner for a week, we’d have come away with material for an 800-page novel.

Runner-up: Cafe Botteltje, Ostend.

Best cask beer – Five Points Pale Ale

When it came on at The Drapers, we couldn’t stop drinking it, and nor could Ray’s parents. On multiple occasions, we schlepped across London to The Pembury determined to drink it. Softness, fruitiness, peachy goodness… It’s a great beer.

Runner-up: Bath Ales Prophecy.

Best bottled beer – Westmalle Tripel

We barely drink bottled beer these days but this one… This is irresistible. Still the best beer in the world.

Runner-up: Augustiner Helles.

Best keg beer – Bristol Beer Factory White Label

A 3.3% pale ale with Belgian yeast is more or less the perfect concept and this particular example really delivered. One of those beers we marked up as CONTENDER? In about May and revisited a couple of times thereafter.

Runner-up: Bristol Beer Factory Banoffee Pies.

Best beer overall – Five Points Pale Ale

See above. And the fact is, cask ale is what we like best.

Best brewery – Stroud

We thought long and hard about this but, looking back over a year’s-worth of notes, saw Stroud’s name popping up time and again in the Beers of the Weekend posts on Patreon. This award, we think, has to be about consistency as much as moments of brilliance and the facts is that we’re always relieved to see their name on the board at The Drapers. Their Budding has become a go-to bitter, too. But there’s plenty to get excited about, too: towards the end of the year, they produced a stunning, irresistible cask Rauchbier.

Runner-up: Moor.

Best blog – Tandleman

One of the last of the old school, blogging for the sake of blogging, drinking beer and visiting pubs not many others notice, writing with a voice so strong it nearly knocks you off your feet.

Runner-up: Bring on the Beer

Best beer Twitter – The Beer Nut @TheBeerNut

Again. Possibly forever. Who knows.

Runner-up: Jezza @BonsVoeux1

Blogging and writing

The best of our writing from 2019

We’ve turned out some stuff of which we’re quite proud this year, from Guinness history to reflections on Belgium.

We’ve been pulling together these self-celebratory round-ups for a few years now, as companion pieces to our selections of the best beer writing by other people.

They offer a chance to pat ourselves on the back, tamp down some of the self-doubt that probably afflicts anyone who ‘puts stuff out there’ and to think about which direction things might head in the year to come.

If you’ve enjoyed some of our work this year, do consider:

Fuller's Traditional Draught Beers (1970s beermat).

Feelings about Fuller’s, January 2019

“On Friday it was announced that Asahi had acquired the brewing wing of Fuller’s, subject to rubber-stamping, and we felt, frankly, gutted… With a few days to absorb and reflect we’re still feeling disappointed, despite commentary from those who argue that Asahi aren’t the worst, that it’s a vote of confidence of cask, and so on. It still feels as if someone you thought was a pal has betrayed you.”

Simon Guineau

The distributed brewery: Simon G. and Zero Degrees

“Simon Gueneau is a Parisian trained in Belgium, based in Bristol, and brewing Continental-style beer on Italian kit – how could we fail to be intrigued? We’ve long been fascinated by Zero Degrees, the brewpub chain that predates the craft beer craze of the mid-2000s, with bars that never quite click for our taste. Since moving to Bristol, though, we’ve come to really appreciate the beer, which, if you can ignore the context, is clean, classical and balanced across the board.”

Soon after opening.

Soon after opening, March 2019

“Soon after opening I came down to the public bar in the plain old pub in the plain old part of Exeter that traffic flew through, dusting everything black and shaking crumbs from the cracks, following Mum for no special reason other than that following Mum was my default course, and knowing soon that I would be sent upstairs, away from the optics and the enticing piano, away from the plastic sign advertising hot pies and pasties, away from the plastic Babycham Bambis and unbelievably, unthievably massive porcelain ashtrays.”

Ikeja, 1962

Snapshot: Guinness in Nigeria, April 2019

“We had a huge house. We lived in a big compound with about half an acre of land around it, maybe more, with a houseboy, a cook and a nanny, who lived in shacks in the back garden. They thought they were nice quarters but even as a small child I thought they were shacks. We were very well looked after… We had mosquito nets, but we also had air conditioning. We only dropped the mosquito nets if the air con broke and the windows had to be opened. Every night before we went to bed the houseboy would come in and spray God knows what, DDT probably, and kill everything that was in the bedroom.”

Illustration: a round of drinks.

The unwritten rules of buying rounds, June 2019

“There are few things as odd as reading an observed description of your own culture’s unconscious habits, such as the buying of rounds of drinks. When we arrived in Glasgow last weekend we browsed the guidebooks supplied in our flat and stopped short when we found a note, aimed at visitors to Scotland, on how to buy rounds…”


Glimpses of Glasgow, June 2019

“We went to the Babbity Bowster because it’s in the Good Beer Guide and our friend recommended it and someone on Twitter told us to go. We loved it, though plain it was, with its Jarl, tourist-baiting fiddle music and eyepatch-wearing cowboys… The Black Friar is in the Good Beer Guide. We didn’t love it, plain as it was, with its long silences and so-so cask ale… The Pot Still, late at night, had a buzz and humidity we enjoyed, and a certain everyday ceremony around the serving of whisky. But everybody seemed to be Swedish or Spanish or, ugh, English, which is fine, of course, but, well…”

The Drapers Arms.

Two years, two hundred pubs, July 2019

“We’ve now been in Bristol for two years and have logged every single official Pub Visit since arriving…. We have logged 516 pub visits in total. Almost 30% of these were to our local, The Drapers Arms. We have visited 216 different pubs. Our pace of visiting new pubs has slowed: we went to our first 100 in six months; our second 100 took a year; and we’ve only added 16 in the last six months.”

Leeds town hall

In their own words: the development of the Leeds beer scene, August 2019

“Leeds is still Leeds – there’s still a pub for all tastes within walking distance and the majority of the classic places are still there, doing well. There’s even more choice and it’s hard to not encounter ‘craft’ in most places now, like in any major city. At the risk of sounding like an old man, it’s getting increasingly expensive to drink in the city centre, but the scene itself is thriving – beer is mainstream, there’s no need to guide people anymore.”

Ceci n’est pas un travelogue.

Ceci n’est pas un travelogue, September 2019

“There is a man with a piece of pencil lead under his fingernail drawing nudes in a notebook while drinking a milky coffee. Two bar staff are dancing and miming along to ‘Dolce Vita’ by Ryan Paris as they wash glasses. A man with a shopping trolley, dressed head to toe in custom embroidered denim, lumbers in and raises a hand at which, without hesitation, he is brought a small glass of water; he downs it, waves, and leaves. On the terrace, two skinny boys in artfully tatty clothes eat a kilo of pistachios and sip at glasses of Pils. A group of Englishmen in real ale T-shirts arrive: ‘Triples all round is it, lads? Aye, four triples, pal.’”

The Meaning of Pub

Running the numbers, October 2019

“One of the most frequently asked questions about #EveryPubInBristol is how we define a pub. This is hard to answer beyond ‘We know one when we see one’. But we thought we might try to be a bit more scientific and come up with a scoring system.”

Swan With Two Necks interior.

The Swan with Two Necks and the gentrification problem, November 2019

“‘I’ve been called a cultural terrorist,’ said Jamie Ashley, the new landlord of The Swan With Two Necks, seeming offended, amused and confused in equal measure. In the past few months, he’s found himself at the centre of one of Bristol’s many small dramas of gentrification, as either a pioneer or an intruder depending on your point of view.”

Those are, for us, the real highlights, but with about 150 posts in total this year there’s plenty more to explore – do have a nose around using categories and tags. And if there’s a piece you liked we haven’t included above, feel free to mention it in the comments. We absolutely will not object to a bit of flattery.

Blogging and writing

Our favourite beer writing of 2019

Every year for the past few years, we’ve dug through our weekly news, nuggets and longreads posts to identify what we reckon is the best of the year.

We do this not only as a reminder that there’s lots of great stuff being produced by talented writers but also because writing online is transitory – you sweat over something, it has its moment of attention, then sinks away into the bottomless depths of the Eternal Feed.

The pieces we’ve chosen below excited or interested us when they were published an, rereading them this weekend, retained their power.

They tell us things we didn’t already know, challenge our thinking, find new angles on old stories, and do it with beautiful turns of phrase and delightful images.

Give these writers a follow on social media, if you haven’t already, and do what you can to support their efforts (Patreon, Ko-Fi, buy their books or zines, pay them to write for you) if you want more of this in 2020 and beyond.

David Brassfield outside Brupond.
SOURCE: Will Hawkes.

The Quiet American

By Will Hawkes, @Will_Hawkes, January 2019

The story of the rise and fall of Brüpond, a London brewery set up by an American with high hopes, offers a valuable perspective on failure,  a topic often overlooked in the excitement around the beer boom:

I only met David Brassfield once, at The Kernel on a warm day at the end of July 2012. He was standing patiently in front of a fermenting vessel, a notepad clutched to his chest, waiting to speak to Evin O’Riordain. I noted how smartly turned-out he was: he was wearing modish thick-rimmed spectacle, as I recall, and there was a biro tucked into the breast pocket of his white shirt… For a moment I imagined him as an American journalist, here to find out more about London’s brewing renaissance. A quick chat dispelled that notion. He was setting up a brewery in London, he told me in easy-going Midwestern style, and gave me his card: Brüpond Brewery, it read in thick black type, “for explorers”… 13 months later, Brüpond was up for sale.

The Cantillon Brewery in Brussels.

The Male Gueuze – Cantillon, Cabaret, and Context

By Lily Waite, @LilyWaite_, December 2018

There’s been some squirming over the attitudes of the cult Belgian brewery for a few years now but if anything, its management seemed to be doubling down:

In 2018… the Zwanze Day events that Cantillon co-hosted at Moeder Lambic—one of Brussels’ most popular beer bars—overshadowed the beer itself… After an introduction by Cantillon owner Jean Van Roy, Colette Collerette, a burlesque dancer who performs with Brussels’ Cabaret Mademoiselle, began to disrobe in front of the bar. The show culminated when Collerette—wearing just nipple pasties and a thong—shook two bottles of beer and sprayed the foam over her nearly-naked body.

What’s going on, and how does it fit into the wider conversation around attitudes to women in beer?

Blogging and writing

Everything we wrote about beer and pubs in November 2019

We managed a respectable fourteen posts in November, with an emphasis on pubs, community and gentrification, but with the odd tasting note and bit of history, too.

The first proper post of the month wasn’t about beer and was a solo flight for Ray on the subject of pies, and specifically whether they need to have a pastry base:

You are here for deprogramming. Everything you thought you knew about pies is wrong. Listen to me – listen carefully: even if it has no pastry base, it is still a pie. You might have a preference for a pie with a pastry base. That might be how your Mum made pies, or how the speciality pie of your hometown is made. But none of that means ‘stew with a lid’ is anything other than a legitimate pie.

This generated some attention from outside our friendly bubble – turns out pie people are passionate and partisan as beer geeks.

For our own satisfaction, we (mostly Jess) set out to discover exactly when British brewers started putting the ABV on beer packaging and at point of sale:

[We were] able to establish that a change in the law was proposed in 1987 by the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) in response to an EEC (European Economic Community) directive… And that was our first surprise – we had assumed it happened as a result of either consumer or CAMRA pressure, or as a result of one of the many government enquiries going on at the time. But it looks like it was actually just an all-but automatic implementation in the UK of European wide legislation.

Cinema Open

The first of our pieces on pubs and gentrification was a reflection on the relaunch of The Fellowship at Bellingham, south east London, which we last visited in 2016 when it was semi-derelict:

We visited shortly after opening on a Sunday when it was fairly quiet but with a good number of reservations for lunch later in the afternoon. They had had a busy night before, too, as suggested by the dry pumps and confirmed by the staff behind the bar: “Well, we did have Don Letts here last night.”… We were really impressed with the transformation, or rather the comparative lack of it. While it definitely clean and contemporary the original wooden panelling was visible throughout, barely even retouched or varnished in some places.