June was hot and hectic, and yet somehow we managed 20 posts here and 13 over on the Patreon feed.
There was also the usual barrage of Tweets, bits and pieces on Instagram and Facebook, and 1000+ words of exclusive stuff in the newsletter. (We don’t normally make those publicly viewable but this one is, if you want to see the kind of thing we write about.)
The month began, as they so often do, with a contribution to the Session, this time on the subject of farmhouse brewing. The fun thing about the Session is how often we think we have nothing to say but start typing anyway and… Oh, there’s a thing.
The topic of last month’s edition of The Session was ‘Hometown Glories’ so we separated into our constitutional parts to think about Walthamstow and Bridgwater respectively. It doesn’t look as if the host has put together a round-up of the entries yet but when he does, it’ll be here. (No pressure, Gareth.)
There is a particular kind of beer brewed at Ashburton in Devonshire, very full of fixed air, and therefore known by the name of Ashburton pop, which is supposed to be as efficacious in consumptions as even the air of Devonshire itself…
If you think brown bitter is endangered, spend more time in Devon. Time after time we spoke to people who expressed mild frustration at the conservatism of the county – at the aversion to things pale, bitter or aromatic – and of the need to dial things back and down if they want to sell any of it in local pubs. There are too many potentially interesting beers that feel compromised, and too many brewers who know it.
This was one of our most popular posts for the month, though 99.9 per cent of the traffic was from one particular geographical region.
Butting into somebody else’s mystery took us down an interesting line of research around Bristol’s mining history and take-away-only beerhouses. There’s a further update from the original poster in the comments on Instagram: “The Rock Tavern / Rock House appears around 1899 and disappears in the late 1960s. One of the entries is asterisked to indicate it was off-sales.”
Nick Wheat acquired and uploaded a rare Watney’s training film from the launch of the reviled Red keg bitter in 1971 and kindly allowed us to share it. Do give it a watch if you have a spare 10–15 minutes, if only to marvel at the impenetrably plummy accents.
We weren’t expecting to like that beer, which we didn’t expect to find in such good condition, or in that pub, which we didn’t expect to find on that street, in that part of town. Surprises all round!
In 1983–84 Pitfield brewed a mild in support of the women of Greenham Common – was it the first ‘cause’ beer? Check out the comments for some other suggestions, and a telling off.
This was great fun to write, and a great example of where having two writers helps rather than hinders: someone asked us what Michael Jackson would have made of NEIPA so we invented two scholars and had them debate it using only his writings for ammo.
For a long time Orval was a beer alone; now, it has company, as a new style is in the process of being born. We’re calling it DHBA for now. And here’s a footnote via Twitter:
… Huh, I foolishly thought these were very alike … I was wrong. Orval is much more fudge and barley sugar when compared to Bruxellensis with its rosewater and lychee flavours. A weird experience … not sure if I’m disappointed or just surprised.
This has been another month where we felt as if we hadn’t written much but then on looking back found ourselves thinking, oh, was that this month? It amounts to 20 posts in all, some administrative or routine, but plenty ‘proper’.
We started with a heartfelt self-indulgence: beer should be joyful. (Tim Thomas, editor of the West Berkshire CAMRA magazine Ullage, has picked this one for our column in the next issue.)
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.
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.