London Pubs Named After Fictional Characters 

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.

The Owl and the Pussycat (Ealing micropub), 106 Northfield Avenue, W13 9RT

The Owl and the Pussycat (Shoreditch), 34 Redchurch Street, E2 7DP

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Camra: more than half of UK adults struggle to afford to drink in pubs

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. [ . . . ]

Continue reading at THE GUARDIAN: Camra: more than half of UK adults struggle to afford to drink in pubs | Money | The Guardian

Trappist ales: why monks have always brewed beer

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.

Listen at: BBC Radio 4 – Radio 4 in Four, Trappist ales: why monks have always brewed beer

IPAs Are Not Giving You Man Boobs

There’s no evidence that IPAs are giving you man boobs. A provocatively titled article claiming the exact opposite made the rounds on social media a few days ago, but there is no evidence to back up this claim. Here are the facts.

As with any plant, hops contain a wide variety of chemical compounds. One of these compounds — 8-prenylnaringenin (8-PN) — is a phytoestrogen. A phytoestrogen is a plant compound (hence the prefix “phyto”) that binds to estrogen receptors. Specifically, 8-PN has been shown to bind tightly to estrogen receptors in rat uterus. Hops also contain isoxanthohumol, which can be converted to 8-PN in the intestines [ . . . ]

Continue Reading at: IPAs Are Not Giving You Man Boobs

Why British pubs are closing, and how we can save them

Things have been declining for decades. There were 67,800 pubs in Britain in 1982, and 60,100 as recently as 2002. By 2015, there were just 50,800.

Campaigners are calling for action to stop the trickle of pub closures turning into a flood. An average of 18 pubs a week are shutting down, according to research by Camra (Campaign for Real Ale), which puts much of the blame on a “triple whammy” tax burden. Rising business rates, which have also struck retailers on the high street, have combined with VAT and “one of the highest rates of beer duty across Europe” to put pub landlords under a strain they are finding it difficult to withstand, Camra says. Campaigners called for ministers to use Brexit as a chance to ease the burden.

“As Britain prepares to leave the European Union, the Government has a unique opportunity to update the tax system to better support pubs, which are a bastion of British culture and at the heart of communities across the country,” said Colin Valentine, Camra’s national chairman. We’ve heard the tax line before, notably from Wetherspoons’ Tim Martin. But is there really a problem? And how do we fix it? [ . . . ]

Read Full Story at INEWS: Why British pubs are closing, and how we can save them