Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the past week from sexist beer branding to chronic Oztalgia.
First, that brewery takeover news. Well, we say ‘takeover’ but in fact Heineken has actually acquired a non-controlling (49 per cent) stake in south London’s Brixton Brewery. With this, Camden Town and London Fields in mind, it begins to seem that the key to luring in investment from Big Beer is a good neighbourhood-specific brand name. We can certainly imagine Brixton Craft Lager competing for bar-space with Camden Hells in the near future. The general reaction seems to be neutral, shading positive — ‘good for them’ — but this slam from Yes! Ale reflects the counterview: “You may as well be pissin’ straight into the fermenter, Moneybags.”
One final bit of reading on this: Richard Taylor of BrewDog writing at the BeerCast suggests that the Pirate Life story might signal how this will play out in future takeovers, with Big Beer winning over reluctant craft brewers with the offer of a separate smaller brewery to play around on making sour beers or whatever. “Hey guys, it’s fine”, he imagines the Big Beer negotiators saying. “We’ll build a new brewery for your core stuff and push it to market. You can keep the old kit and go wild on it. Brew what you like! Go for IT! HIGH FIVE. NOW. HIGH FIVE US LIKE A DUDE. RADICAL!’”
Here’s everything that grabbed our attention in the world of beer and pub writing in the past week, from World’s Fairs to Beer Miles.
First, there’s been a bubbling discussion about sexism in beer for the last month or two, prompted by a series of individual incidents and issues, which Kate Wiles has summarised in this widely-shared article:
Sexist beer labels may not be as prevalent as they used to be – but not a week goes by without an example cropping up on social media. The most recent example of “Deepthroat” beer clearly indicates fellatio on the label. Another, Irishtown Brewing, boasts the tagline “Dublin blonde goes down easy”. These examples are both demeaning and degrading to women. Furthermore, they reinforce the stereotype that beer is a “man’s drink” and that women have no right to it.
Her call is for stronger sanctions against offenders from within the industry itself: “Beers that are demeaning to women should not win awards, receive accreditation or be able to use industry logos.” We’re going to have to ponder that a bit but instinctively think it feels quite reasonable — not government censorship, about which people are understandably squeamish, but a setting out of standards amongst peers.
Gary Gillman continues to mine the archives for interesting titbits. In the last week he has highlighted two especially juicy items:
We can’t say we were outraged by it, but we were certainly dismayed. CAMRA, like it or not, is these days an organisation of similar status to the National Trust or the RSPB, and we can’t imagine either of them doing anything so crass.
The main problem is that it confirms what many people suspect: that, despite making some of the right noises, behind the scenes, CAMRA isn’t fully committed to the idea of making the Campaign more welcoming to women, or at least hasn’t given it much more thought than you might expect from Alan Partridge or David Brent.
When the drays roll out of Paine’s Brewery into the market square of St Neots, Cambridgeshire, with 612 gallons of Silver Jubilee Ale on board, a young lady will smack her lips in the knowledge of a job well done… She is Fiona McNish — an unlikely name for an unlikely lady in an unlikely profession… She is one of the elite in the brewing industry. She tastes beer.
This Daily Express article from 21 February 1977 hinged on the idea that it was hilarious that a woman — a 23-year-old woman at that — should know anything whatsoever about beer. But the important thing — what all 1970s readers wanted to know — was whether she was sexy. Good news!
Fiona, long brown hair, topographical as the Alps, a very feminine lady, has worked her way deep into male territory.
Good grief. When they stopped laughing at her and eyeing her up, and actually let her speak, Ms McNish came out with a nugget of wisdom which holds up pretty well today:
There is nothing mysterious about beer… It either tastes good or bad. You don’t need to be a genius to tell which. Just thoughtful and honest.