Our Beerhunter points out the way our lives connect up around good times in pubs and people we meet there
I’m not sure if I’ll manage to keep a beer column going for the duration of our current exile from pubs but here’s one, inspired by Mark Gilliver, landlord of the Coach & Horses at Draycott, which he has built into a marvellous community facility.
This was Mark’s Facebook post which spurred me into action:
“Life just doesn’t seem the same without The Pub. A pub should be a cornerstone of every village, like a post office or church. It’s a place where a community knits and socialises. It’s a second front room, where you go to meet your neighbours, vent your woes, wind down after a day at work, solve all the world’s problems or join a pool team. You can have a bite to eat, watch the football and it’s the perfect place to take the in-laws when the conversation at home dries up.
“Call me old-fashioned but I think the good stereotypical English boozer has an esteemed place in our history and whether it will still be living and breathing in the future remains to be seen, but for many of us it’s an essential part of every decent community in this fine land. Looking forward to seeing all our friends and neighbours back at the Coach, hopefully sooner rather than later.”
If anyone reading this can’t agree with that then they might as well move on. Wrong article, wrong column! Continue reading →
How much would you spend on a pint of beer? Depends on where you live most likely, but it’s safe to say that the majority of British people would draw the line at around £7, which itself is ludicrous.
But what if we told you that there is a pint of alcoholic liquid that would set you back more than £20-per-pint? No, this is not some cruel prank we’re playing on you ahead of pints actually costing that much after a no deal Brexit, it is in fact the real price of a pint of a particular stout in London.
The rare stout is quite strong – 12 percent – so it traditionally comes in sizes like a third, or a half of a pint, but travelled down to see how good probably the most expensive pint in Britain actually tastes.
Dotted around our fair city are plenty of pubs with chin-stroke-inducing names. A plethora of these reference obscure traditions. Some tell of unusual past lives the building once had. Others, are named for figures of local interest. And finally some are named after people — or animals — that only exist in works of fiction. Today, we’re focusing on that last category, fictional characters immortalised in London’s pubs.
The Owl and the Pussycat, Ealing/Shoreditch
There are two The Owl and the Pussycat pubs in London, both inspired by Edward Lear’s masterpiece. Let’s start with the lesser known of the two, The Owl and the Pussycat micropub in Ealing. This is west London’s first micropub, and it’s taken up residence in a former children’s bookshop. The pub serves beers from the owners’ Marko Paulo microbrewery based in the back room, along with kegged beers, which is rather unusual for a micropub.
Amusingly, the pub’s website has an employee of the month competition. By August 2018 the pussycat had won the title 13 times, compared to the owl’s paltry eight.
The other pub named after Lear’s poem lives in buzzy Shoreditch. Or perhaps it’s the other way round; on some Friday evenings it feels like Shoreditch’s buzz emanates from The Owl and the Pussycat and the swell of people spilling out onto the street. This is much more than a post-work drinking hole though — there’s an extensive menu offering pies, roasts, fish and chips and other pub classics. But if it’s booze you’re after, then head upstairs to the dedicated cocktail bar enticingly/unnervingly (delete as appropriate) called The Jago.
More than half of adults in the UK are struggling to afford to drink in pubs, according to the Campaign for Real Ale
The average price of a pint of beer in London is now £5.20 and regularly tops £6. Across the country, the average is about £3.50, leading to many drinkers staying at home with cans of beer bought in supermarkets instead, said Camra, which warned that more than a dozen pubs a week were closing as a result.It said its research found that 56% of drinkers believe the price of a pint of beer in a pub in the UK has become unaffordable.Prices have risen steeply in recent years, with various taxes including beer duty, business rates and VAT accounting for a third of the cost, said Camra.
The most expensive places for a pint outside London are Oxford (£4.57), Edinburgh and Bristol (£4.35), and Brighton (£4.24). The cheapest is Carlisle £2.35, which is two-thirds of the UK average.
Craft beer in supermarkets costs about £1.50 per bottle or can (330ml) and while mass-produced lager and bitters averages less than £1.
Camra is concerned that the government is planning to increase the tax paid by pubs in the November budget. Beer duty is to rise by about 2p per pint under Treasury plans, and small pubs are to lose the £1,000 in business rate relief introduced in 2017, but scheduled to end in 2019. [ . . . ]
What’s the historic connection between abbeys and brewing?
Monks in Leicestershire are brewing up a storm, the first batch of a new Trappist ale. The monks of the Mount Saint Bernard abbey have revived the craft of brewing beer. But, how far back does the tradition go in the UK? Helen Castor spoke to the beer historian Martyn Cornell to discover a tradition that goes back for centuries before the Reformation, when beer was given as hospitality but also drunk by the monks themselves who needed something nutritious to quench their thirst when working hard in the fields or in workshops around their Abbey.