News, Nuggets & Longreads 17 February 2018: Koduõlu, Tmavé Pivo, Buck’s Fizz

Here’s everything that grabbed us in the world of beer and pubs in the past week, from inclusion to IKEA.

Before we start, though, here’s a reminder that oth­er links round-ups are avail­able: Stan Hierony­mus posts every Mon­day (lat­est) and Alan McLeod has nabbed Thurs­day. Do take a look if our list below leaves you hun­gry for more.

Illustration: "Odd One Out".

First up, for Gal-Dem mag­a­zine Alexan­dra Sewell (@wehavelalex) has writ­ten about her expe­ri­ence of the British beer scene as a black woman, and explored the pos­si­ble rea­sons more black women might not be involved:

Alco­hol was nev­er a fea­ture in our fam­i­ly house­hold. My British-born Jamaican mum nev­er kept low­ly bot­tles of brandy hid­den in the kitchen cup­boards and we weren’t accus­tomed to any­thing more than a non-alco­holic “Buck’s Fizz” at Christ­mas time. As a small kid, Sun­days were for church. As a big­ger kid, I was too pre­oc­cu­pied with school. And as far as I was con­cerned, alco­hol was some­thing that was out of sight, and there­fore entire­ly out of mind. I knew of it; I knew oth­er peo­ple that liked it and drank it, but the only edu­ca­tion I had about such a big part of the cul­ture I was born into was from those bor­der­line hilar­i­ous Chan­nel 4 doc­u­men­taries about peo­ple binge-drink­ing and puk­ing up onto the street.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “News, Nuggets & Lon­greads 17 Feb­ru­ary 2018: Koduõlu, Tmavé Pivo, Buck’s Fizz”

Notable Pubs: The White Knight, Crawley

We recently acquired a copy of The House of Whitbread for Spring 1958 – a magazine we had previously only seen bits of, in the form of photocopies, at the London Metropolitan Archive – with a short feature on a famous post-war pub.

The White Knight in Craw­ley, West Sus­sex, was­n’t by any means the first new pub built after World War II but nonethe­less seems to have been con­sid­ered some­thing of a land­mark when it was opened in Octo­ber 1957. Indeed, the HoW arti­cle cites a BBC Home Ser­vice fea­ture called Town and Coun­try which appar­ent­ly described it as ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary in char­ac­ter and embody­ing many new ideas’. Archi­tec­tur­al crit­ic Ian Nairn loved it, too.

Exterior of the White Knight

There’s are pho­tos of the exte­ri­or of the pub in almost every arti­cle about mod­ern pubs from the 1950s and 60s but inte­ri­or pho­tos are less com­mon so it’s good to see these:

Pub interior in mid-century modern style.
The Knight’s Tap­room.
Pub with carpets and flowers.
The Knight’s Saloon

The inset fire­place! The atom­ic-age wall clock! Those striped cur­tains! The fly­ing saucer light-fit­tings! We’ve nev­er seen colour pho­tographs and no indi­ca­tion of the colour scheme is record­ed any­where we can find but we have to assume there are some pas­tel shades in there.

Here’s the HoW account of what made the pub spe­cial:

There are two bars, the Knight’s Saloon and the Knight’s Tap­room, and walls made almost entire­ly of glass divide them from the ter­race which has wood­en bench­es and tables screened by per­go­las. The Knight’s Saloon also leads, again through glass walls, to a small paved gar­den at the side of the house. On week­days from ten in the morn­ing till half past ten at night a cof­fee room serves light refresh­ments, lunch­es, teas and soft drinks. It is linked by an open ter­race where beer drinkers and cof­fee drinkers can freely mix. The design com­plete­ly dis­re­gards the idea that drink­ing is a secret occu­pa­tion to be screened from view by sol­id walls and obscured glass.

That all sounds, it must be said, thor­ough­ly mod­ern – very Hun­gry Horse or Flam­ing Grill.

Thought we did­n’t make it to Craw­ley dur­ing research for 20th Cen­tu­ry Pub we were pleased to find that it is still trad­ing under the name The Knight. It has lost most of its mid-cen­tu­ry charm, made over with cod-Vic­to­ri­an details, but that’s so often the way.

Magical Mystery Pour #32: Gun Brewery Zamzama IPA

This is the last of the mini-series of Sussex beers from a selection suggested by Rach Smith of Look at Brew (@lookatbrew) and it’s a 6.5% IPA.

We bought our can of Zamza­ma online from South Down Cel­lars for £2.70 plus deliv­ery and it has been sat in our fridge since arriv­ing a cou­ple of months ago. Rach says:

Gun beers have become some of my favourites over the past cou­ple of years, not just among Sus­sex beers, but over­all. I think the Sus­sex spring water that’s used may help with that! The mod­ern and often cre­ative beers are fly­ing the flag for con­tem­po­rary Sus­sex brews and break­ing out of the region. This is the bold­est beer in the core range, and drinks with a huge pro­file of pineap­ple, man­go and lychee, with a spicy kick and tof­fee to round it all off.

Zamzama IPA in the glass.

It came out of the can a slight­ly hazy gold, throw­ing up a lot of entic­ing orange peel aro­ma, and with plen­ty of car­bon­a­tion. (See pho­to above.) Pour­ing what was left in the can nudged it from hazy to cloudy but did­n’t seem to much change the flavour.

Rach men­tioned pineap­ple, man­go and lychee; our first gulps sug­gest­ed pas­sion fruit. But in the world of tast­ing notes, same dif­fer­ence, real­ly. Sweet, vibrant, sticky trop­i­cal fruit is the point.

We were delight­ed by how clean it tast­ed – no stal­e­ness, no card­board, not a wheel­bar­row full of mud­dy onions, just a lot of Jaf­fa Cake jel­ly and jam, bal­anced by a rye bread bit­ter­ness in the back­ground. Cans can be a lot­tery but this time it worked.

It’s per­haps more of a 2010 beer than a 2017 one – the kind of thing we remem­ber drink­ing at The Rake in Bor­ough Mar­ket in the form of expen­sive Amer­i­can imports – but that’s fine by us.

It is sweet and Ribena-like, though, and we’d per­haps like a touch more bit­ter­ness, but that’s not a fault, just a pref­er­ence.

If you like juicy, fruity, Tech­ni­col­or beers but find too many of the most fet­ed exam­ples exces­sive­ly dirty and savoury, as we do, then con­sid­er giv­ing this one a go.

We’d like to thank Rach again for choos­ing beers and pro­vid­ing notes, and apol­o­gise for hav­ing made a bit of mess of the buy­ing process. We’re going to think about who to invite next but have a few ideas bub­bling away already.

Magical Mystery Pour #31: High Weald Charcoal Burner

The second Sussex beer chosen for us by Rachael Smith (@lookatbrew) is a 4.3% ABV oatmeal stout from the High Weald brewery of East Grinstead.

We bought our 500ml bot­tle for £2.75 by mail order from South Down Cel­lars.

Rach says:

High Weald has been on the scene since 2012 and recent­ly under­went a mas­sive re-brand, which seems to have thrust the core beers forth and more into the local spot­light than ever before. This oat­meal stout is a favourite of mine on cask where it takes on a creamy char­ac­ter. It’s a great ses­sion strength brew, smooth, with all the clas­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics of choco­late, cof­fee, a touch of smoke and bal­anced sweet­ness.

We don’t advo­cate judg­ing books by their cov­ers but that does­n’t mean you can’t take a moment to appre­ci­ate a nice bit of graph­ic design.

The label for High Weald Charcoal Burner: farmer chased by Dragon.
SOURCE: High Weald web­site.

High Weald’s labels look like cov­er designs for Non­such-era XTC sin­gles and (we’d guess) were inspired by those for US brew­ery Odel­l’s. Print­ed on tex­tured paper, they look even nicer.

When we opened this work of art there was only a faint air-kiss of car­bon­a­tion and it looked flat as it poured. Then one of our favourite things hap­pened: a just off-white head mag­i­cal­ly mate­ri­alised out of the black body of the beer.

The beer smelled smoky, autum­nal and entic­ing.

High Weald Charcoal Burner.

The flavour was less imme­di­ate­ly impres­sive – that stale note we so often get in pack­aged beers from small brew­eries dom­i­nat­ed for the first mouth­ful or two, mut­ing the oth­er flavours so that the beer seemed almost bland. Through­out the mid­dle stretch, things improved and we start­ed to throw about words like rum and choco­late. At the very end there was anoth­er dip – it began to seem mere­ly sug­ary, like the dregs of a cup of sweet, creamy cof­fee.

 

Over­all, we felt fair­ly warm towards it. It’s a stout, of which there aren’t enough, and a decent one at that. A few tweaks would improve it, though – more body to hold the sweet­ness, or more bit­ter­ness to match the body. As it is, it remind­ed us a bit of a watered down impe­r­i­al stout. But remem­ber, we are fussy dev­ils. At any rate, we’ll cer­tain­ly try more beers from High Weald if we get the chance and (that now famil­iar catch­prase) look for­ward to try­ing this on cask one day, per­haps near an open fire.

Magical Mystery Pour #30: Long Man Best Bitter

This new season of Magical Mystery Pour, with Sussex beers chosen by Rachael Smith of Look at Brew, is one of those trendy but annoying short ones like Game of Thrones does these days.

That’s because with us mov­ing house there was a bit of a delay in order­ing the beers, and because the online store Rachael sug­gest­ed – the only one with a com­pre­hen­sive range of beers from Sus­sex – turned out to be a bit flaky. She picked five beers of which we end­ed up with three. (A fourth, from Burn­ing Sky, was deliv­ered past its best before date.)

The label for Long Man Best Bitter.

Any­way, crap­ness aside, the first beer we tast­ed was Long Man Best Bit­ter, a 4% ABV ale which cost us £2.80 for one 500ml bot­tle from South Down Cel­lars. Rach says:

I’ve picked this as it has become a sta­ple in many a Sus­sex pub (on cask of course) as the core Long Man range is becom­ing syn­ony­mous with good qual­i­ty beers at the tra­di­tion­al end of the Sus­sex brew­ing spec­trum. It’s a clas­sic ses­sion bit­ter with well bal­anced malts and bit­ter­ness, with some nut­ti­ness com­ing through. It’s well worth seek­ing out on cask, but the bot­tled ver­sion is handy to have around. Not quite Har­vey’s but a fine alter­na­tive.

The beer isn’t bot­tle-con­di­tioned and was there­fore no trou­ble to pour, giv­ing us a thick, sta­ble head above a body that it feels harsh to describe as brown such was its glow. (This is why mar­ket­ing peo­ple so often resort to ‘amber’.)

Best Bitter in the glass.

The aro­ma was mut­ed but sug­gest­ed tof­fee and hot jam to Bai­ley, and a pure­ly beery, wood­land earth­i­ness to Boak.

It seemed to be miss­ing some­thing on first tast­ing – a fizz, more tof­fee, and then a watery hole. As it went down and hung around, though, a warm­ing orange mar­malade note emerged.

It’s hard to find much more to say than that. It remind­ed us of any num­ber of oth­er tra­di­tion­al bit­ters you might find in the super­mar­ket from brew­eries such as Bad­ger or But­combe, although with per­haps just a bit more oomph. Which is to say, it was a clean, bright, main­stream beer that with the right mar­ket­ing could eas­i­ly become a nation­al brand.

We can’t imag­ine going out of our way to acquire anoth­er bot­tle but we’d cer­tain­ly rec­om­mend it to friends who like nor­mal beer and, as per Rach’s sug­ges­tion, sus­pect we’d get much more of a kick out of it on cask.