More than a quarter of Britain’s pubs that existed in 1980 have closed their doors. Last year alone, the country lost some 1,100 pubs. What’s behind this trend?
One factor is spiraling real-estate prices, which provides developers with an incentive to convert pubs into houses and apartments. In just the last five years, the average house price has risen by 50 percent.
Another factor was a 2007 law banning smoking in public places.
And then there’s cost. A pint of beer is five times as expensive in a pub as it is in a supermarket. The price discrepancy is due in part to Britain’s tax code, which imposes a higher levy on pub revenue than supermarket revenue; and to higher staff costs in the service industry than in retail.
But there’s some good news for pub lovers. It is now possible to list local pubs as “assets of community value”, which makes development more difficult. Parliament recently scrapped an inflation-linked excise tax on beer, providing some price relief for beer drinkers. Last but not least, Britain’s craft-brewing boom has resulted in a more diverse selection of beer at the “friendly local”.
Three hundred and fifty years ago today, the Great Fire of London broke out. The blaze, famously described in the diaries of Samuel Pepys destroyed most of the city’s buildings, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and countless pubs.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Winnipeg, where a man dressed as a hockey goalie broke into a store and made off with some beer. It wasn’t even Canadian-brewed beer; he stole Budweiser. Speaking of the King of Beer, a man wearing a Batman costume swiped two 18-packs of Bud from an Upstate New York store.
Alan McLeod, the keeper of A Good Beer Blog, found a 200-year-old classified ad for a homebrewing machine that made beer without mashing. That sounds too good to be true, and probably is.
According to a poll of more than 100 college basketball coaches, Bob Huggins of West Virginia is the coach they’d most like to have a beer with. University of Kansas coach Bill Self finished second.
Miller Genuine Draft is a dying brand. A Milwaukee Record journalist visited a dozen bars in the city. Nine didn’t carry MGD; one bartender laughed at him, and another was offended that he even asked for it.
Breweries in Portland, Maine, are asking customers to rank the beers they’ve been served. It’s their effort to promote ranked-choice voting, aka instant-runoff, which will be on the November ballot.
Stephen Wilmot of the Wall Street Journal warns that the recent slowdown in craft beer’s growth won’t help the big breweries. One major reason is that wine and spirits—bourbon in particular—are growing even faster than craft.
Finally, a British brewery is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth with a beer brewed using yeasts scraped off of Dahl’s armchair. The beer will be served at the premiere of a stage adaptation of Dahl’s The Twits.
On this day in 1271, Kublai Khan of “stately pleasure dome” fame renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. The yuan is modern-day China’s monetary unit.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Japan, where a local firm has teamed up with an Amsterdam-based renewables company to develop eco-friendly plastic beer bottles. They’re made from plant sugar rather than fossil fuels.
As competition grows more fierce, breweries are hiring artists, graphic designers, and even branding firms to create packaging that wins shelf space and attracts customers.
“Beer before whiskey” is risky, but not for the reasons you think. People drink faster as intake increases, whatever the beverage; and whiskey’s higher alcohol content compounds the effects.
Last weekend, Vancouver’s Storm Brewing unleashed its Glacial Mammoth Extinction beer. It’s Canada’s first beer above 25 percent ABV, and it isn’t cheap: a bottle will set you back C$1,000 ($730 U.S.).
Craft brewing’s success has created a problem: a shortage of cans, especially the 16-ounce cans that many crafts prefer to distinguish their product from national-brand beer.
Debrett’s, a British etiquette authority since 1769, has published a guide to proper beer-drinking. Among other topics, it covers proper pouring and tasting and how to behave decorously at the pub.
Finally, James Grugeon of Brisbane, Australia, is crowd-funding a brewery with a social purpose. Half the profits of his Good Beer Company will be donated to a conservation society trying to save the endangered Great Barrier Reef.
Early this morning, Ludwig pulled out his lion phone and texted us. He said he’s on a plane home, and expects us to meet him at the airport. While waiting for his plane, we got caught up on news from the beer world.
And now….The Mash!
We begin in Detroit, where Shawn and Aaron Gross will open Windmill Pointe Brewery next year. They’ll rely on bicyclists to provide the power in exchange for beer.
Paperwork is a pain, so the Minneapolis-based Colle + McVoy ad agency gives employees an incentive to turn in their time sheets—in the form of a pint of August Schell beer.
Your friends probably believe at least one of the ten persistent beer myths (myth #1 involves IPA’s origins). Jim Vorel of Paste magazine is here to debunk them.
The Force had better be with New York State’s Empire Brewery. Lucasfilm filed a “Notice of Opposition” to the brewery’s application to trademark “Strikes Bock by Empire.”
British public-health experts want alcoholic beverage labels to disclose the drink’s caloric content. They contend that heavy drinking is a major cause of obesity.
Mystery shopper Kyle Taylor says he earned $4,000 a month as a “beer auditor.” His job was to make sure retailers follow ID-checking procedures. And yes, he was over 21.
Finally, Esquire magazine’s Aaron Goldfarb reflects on the “dad beer” phenomenon. Brands such as Schaefer and Genesee Cream Ale are enjoying a revival thanks to drinkers toasting their fathers and grandfathers.
“Ding” is a middle-aged Englishman who lives somewhere in the South and provides often-tart commentary about beer on his blog. One of Ding’s classics, which appeared in December 2011, took aim at the top ten myths about American craft beer.
Heading the list of the myths is the belief that one can put any beer in a cask and get a good result. Casks, he contends, bring out the best of a malty, low-gravity beer, but won’t have the same effect with an imperial IPA. He goes on to say that “a huge amount of beer that is being presented in casks…is simply not beer that will showcase the presentation at all well.”
Other myths that Ding wants to debunk include these:
On this day in 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, railroad tycoon Leland Stanford drove in the Golden Spike and completed the First Transcontinental Railroad. The 1,907-mile line, built by three railroad companies, cut travel time for a coast-to-coast journey from six months to a week.
And now…The Mash!
We begin in Milwaukee, where investor David Dupee is planning to launch the Craft Fund. Once the SEC gives the go-ahead, Dupee will use crowd-funding to provide capital to small breweries.
Not only must Mets fans endure losing baseball, but New York City’s finest are issuing $25 citations to people caught drinking beer in Citi Field’s parking lots.
How does a koozie keep beer cold? It prevents condensation from forming on the outside of the can. Condensation will raise the temperature of your beer in a hurry.
It appears that the British government’s decision to cut the beer tax is helping the country’s pub trade. The JD Wetherspoon’s chain reported that sales increased by six percent in the past quarter.
Brett VanderKamp, the co-founder of west Michigan’s New Holland Brewing Company, has written a book about his craft-brewing experiences. It’s titled Art in Fermented Form: A Manifesto.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have cultivated a new type of barley which, thanks to a genetic defect, will keep beer fresher.
Finally, the New York Post found most of 15 bars they visited poured less than 16 ounces in their “pints” of beer. That really hurts, since some NYC bars are charging $8 for a pint these days.