British Beer

The Great British Beer Hunt —
Jester, Ernest, Olicana and Godiva
On a rail replacement bus.

Beer and queuing —
A British thing in a British stadium,
A beer at the British Museum.

There was lots of good beer here before —
Malty British beer, living fossils,
Standard British quaffing beer.

Iconic symbol of all that is great,
What is truly great,
About British beer —
A bottle of mild on the shelf.

British beer is not like its past.
British beer is best,
British beer is too strong —
This is where British beer is and will go,
Or you’ll upset the Queen.


This poem, and we use the word in the loosest sense, was put together from phrases found by searching the Tweets of people we follow for the phrase “British Beer”, and is our small contribution towards marking Beer Day Britain.

Schrödinger’s Beer (non) Review: Cloudwater DIPA V3

There are some beers about which it is practically impossible to express an opinion and be believed, one way or the other.

They’re so talked-about, so anticipated, so venerated, or so despised, that nothing we say can add much to the conversation.

The Westvleteren beers from Belgium are one example, Batham’s Best Bitter might be another. But they’re fixed points in the firmament; others blink into existence and generate great heat, perhaps only for a few months or years.

The word we’re avoiding here is hype, perhaps because it gets thrown around too easily — people talking with enthusiasm about a thing you’re not interested in isn’t hype. It might be justifiable in this case, though, which has seen online beer stores issuing would-be-panic-inducing Tweets in anticipation of a consumer frenzy, and launch events. (It is still in stock in many places, by the way.)

"Schrödinger's Cat" by the No Matter Project.
Schrödinger’s Cat” by ‘No Matter’ via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

If we say that we were anything less than wowed by version 3 of Manchester Cloudwater’s Double IPA, we’re surely just inverted bandwagon jumpers, contrarians and grumps. We’re fighting the hype and thus still failing to judge the beer on its own merits. We’re those people who say with a flourish that they don’t like The Beatles and make you think, ‘Really? Even “It Won’t Be Long”?’ If we say we didn’t especially like this beer not everyone will believe us or will question our motives.

But what happens if we rave about it? If we list this fruit and that. If we say it is like nothing else we’ve ever tasted and that it blows similar beers from other equally hip breweries out of the water, that it finds a truly distinctive flavour profile in a market already crowded with IPAs, that it made us swoon?

Then we’ll be sheep, sycophants, mindless zombie fans.

So, we’re just going to leave the box here, unopened.

Modern Pubmanship 6: Jukeboxes

This is the sixth in an occasional series of guest posts by etiquette expert R.M. Banks.

Not all public houses are enhanced by the addition of a jukebox. Some do quite well with the gentle avant-garde percussion provided by a burning log or two in the grate; others lack the acoustic qualities so that the addition of recorded music brings to mind someone falling downstairs while carrying a tin bath full of squeaky dog toys.

On the whole, though, I am personally all for them. Oh, yes, you can count me as a fee-paying member of the Juke Box Appreciation Society. I am always happy to kick in a quid for the pleasure of hearing five of the gramophone industry’s finest efforts, or two quid the dozen for that matter. A well husbanded juke-box, stuffed to the coin-slots with the right stuff, brings joie de vivre where once glum silence lay heavy as suet pudding; it lifts as it brightens as it shines!

Of course there are pitfalls.

First, there is the matter of good taste. If you were to flip through my record cabinet you would likely scoff, perhaps mock, or even come to look up on the very basis of our friendship with jaundiced eye. And the reverse would likely be true. Consider, then, a public bar containing, let us say, 30 people – what are the chances that all will be equally enthused upon hearing, to pick an example quite at random, the surging of the Hammond organ at the commencement of ‘Stop in the Name of Love’? Up to a point, this cannot be helped: a jukebox containing only songs that no one dislikes would be like a hospital meal of steamed fish and boiled potatoes. The soundest advice is to avoid the deep end of the pool – songs containing full-throated Scandinavian metal screaming, dischord intended to evoke mans inhumanity to man, treated piano, laxative basslines, children’s choirs, and so on. Jukebox songs ought to elicit a tapping of the foot, perhaps a gay whistle, but oughtn’t interfere with the conversation.

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Modern Pubmanship 5: Christmas Day

A brief Christmas missive from our etiquette expert R.M. Banks.

You may be fortunate enough to find that the licensee of your favourite watering station is the splendid sort who postpones the enjoyment of a platter laden with the flesh of the fowl and the well-stewed brassica to fling open the hatches for an hour or so on Christmas Day.

If so, and you are not posted eagerly outside at 12 o’clock with a dry mouth and a fistful of the Bank of England’s finest lettuce, then you are, frankly, a foul blister who ought not to be allowed into the pub at any other time of year.

You see, the open door of a public house on the 25 of December is to the keen student of the Champagne of the grain as the ‘Battle Action Millennium Falcon’ (RRP £120) is to an 8-year-old child, and, like a fine equine specimen with a bow on top, its oral cavity ought not be given the glassy eye.

So, you have done the right thing and turned up for the midday service — perhaps in the company of one parent while the other dons the novelty apron to baste the goose. So far, so good.

Now, on approaching the bar, and after exchanging the necessary pleasantries with your host, if there was ever a time to sally forth with ‘One for yourself?’, this is it. (If you are one of those unfortunate wretches afflicted with chronic rigor mortis of the wallet, perhaps take a tumbler-full of your favourite loosener before leaving the house.)

This duty dispensed, it is a simply your mission to achieve a moderate level of jollity in the hour or so before the publican begins to send subtle signals that their own feed will wait no longer by, for example, dousing the fire with a bucket of cold water,  switching off the lights and standing with folded arms before the grandfather clock.

At this, you may return to the homestead, pour yourself into a dining chair, hold the silverware aloft, and know that you have demonstrated the true pub fancier’s spirit.

Top Beer Tweets Of 2015

We’ve been bookmarking and saving these beer- and pub-related Tweets all year.

Some of them we Re-Tweeted at the time; others we included in our weekly round-ups.

We hope you find something here to tickle you and maybe also a few new people to follow.

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A Quick Quiz Question

The Windsor Castle by Ewan M.
The Windsor Castle by Ewan M, used with permission. Thanks, Ewan!

Why would the above pub be a particularly suitable place to drink during November?

We’ll post the answer at the end of the day.

UPDATED 14:55

Well done, Andrew — the Windsor Castle is the current headquarters of the Handlebar Club which celebrates moustaches with ‘graspable extremities’. Appropriate, we reckon, for ‘Movember‘.

We first came across mention of the club in a 1947 issue of LIFE magazine accompanied by this picture:

The Handlebar Club, 1947.

The American magazine describes the venue for the meeting as ‘the Temple pub’ but we haven’t been able to work out where exactly that was. (Possibly actually a restaurant?) Jimmy Edwards is in there somewhere — third from left, or is that him at the far end of the table on the right?

Here’s another pic from the same article, captioned ‘Boozer’s Droop’, and featuring a cameo from a ten-sided pint glass:

A moustachioed man with a pint glass.

TOP TIP: Putting Life Back into Flat Beer

A while ago, we got involved in a conversation on Twitter about how to put a head on flat beer.

You can buy a fancy-pants sonic foamer (they tried to send us a sample, it got impounded by Customs, we never retrieved it) but what lots of people recommended was a syringe. There’s more on how it works here but, basically, you squirt a mix of air and beer into the glass which introduces nitrogen into the mix like the widget in a can of Guinness.

We struggled to get hold of a syringe, though — for some reason, Penzance chemists look askance at you when you ask for one — and forgot about it. Then we realised that a testing kit we’d bought for home brewing came with a load of these small plastic pipettes:

Plastic pipettes. CREDIT: King Scientific, via Amazon.

As you can see, they turned out to be a pretty effective substitute (no sound):

It might seem a bit daft but it’s really handy when you’ve just slightly misjudged the pour, or had to leave a beer for 10 minutes to take a phone call or something.

We so often get served headless pints when we’re out and about but, realistically, we wouldn’t want to do this in the pub. You could, though, if you’re without shame, and it’s not as if the pipette weighs much.

Plus it is kind of fun: WHOOSH!

Modern Pubmanship, Part 4: Nor Any Drop to Drink

The fourth in an occasional series of guest posts by our etiquette expert R.M. Banks.

We have, as our cousins across the p. like to put it, ‘all been there’: in the pursuit of some errand of great import, you come upon a public house handsome enough to lighten the dullest eye before which resistance crumbles, and in you stride, hands rubbing together and tongue lolling in thirsty anticipation of 20 fluid ounces of something piquant and wholesome. At which, like young Harker hoofing across the threshold of Castle Dracula, What ho!-ing freely, you confront a scene of infinite horror: there is not one beer on the bar counter worth your time, your precious coinage, or the strain on the old sock which serves in place of your liver.

‘Oh, you are being fussy again, Banks,’ you say, pooh-poohing, and, I dare say, wagging a digit. Well, I tell you, I am not – the most flexible of practitioners would struggle to limbo beneath my standards, which lie as close to rock-bottom as is possible without holing the hull. (Have I mixed my metaphors? No matter. We must plough on. (Oh, bother — there’s another one.))

Continue reading “Modern Pubmanship, Part 4: Nor Any Drop to Drink”

Modern Pubmanship, Part 3: Broken Glasses

The third in an occasional series of guest posts by our etiquette expert R.M. Banks.

Having downed a goblet of Banks’s patented hangover cure, I find myself enjoying a moment of clarity in regard to a question that has been floating in the cranial ullage like a cellarman’s cigarette end: Should one, in this progressive age, emit a cheer when a glass is smashed by the barkeep?

‘Surely, Banks,’ you cry, haughtily (yes, I’m afraid these interjections of yours do strike me as haughty, and, there — now I’ve said it) ‘there are more pressing matters to which you might apply the newly-honed razor-like edge of the Great Brain? Affairs of nations, or matters metaphysical?’

To which I say: Many a mickle makes a muckle, and refuse to be drawn further on the matter.

Now, if you’ll only be quiet for a moment, let us away to the Red Lion, where we lay our scene: it is a busy Wednesday evening, shall we say, the usual crowd gathered around the quiz machine, and a hum of conversation almost equal in volume to the hum of the antique cheese rolls on the back bar. Then, in an instant, this idyll is disturbed: as if it were a greased aubergine, Bert the Hat’s favourite handled jug springs from the barkeep’s moist palms and onto the flagstones, whereupon it makes a sounds as of bells of gold, and retires from its long career as a vessel suitable for containing liquids.

For a sliver of a second, blessed silence falls, and then… well, what?

Continue reading “Modern Pubmanship, Part 3: Broken Glasses”