Martyn Cornell

Gilroy Was Here

If you’ve spent any amount of time in bars, you’ve probably seen the famous Guinness ads featuring toucans, sea lions, and other creatures. The ads, which first appeared in the 1930s, were the work of artist John Gilroy, who’s back in the news thanks to the discovery of his “lost” work.

Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, has been following the story for some time. In 1971, Guinness’s advertising agency, SH Benson, was sold to another agency. In the process, hundreds of works by Gilroy, who worked for Benson, disappeared. A few years ago, some of the lost works started showing up on the American art market, and sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

The most interesting lost works were a series of parodies of well-known works of art. Intended to hang in the Guinness brewery in London, they were never used, and instead wound up in Benson’s archive. The works included “The Creation of Man,” in which God hands Adam a pint; Vermeer’s “Girl with the Pint of Guinness”; and “Henri ‘Half-Pint’ Toulouse-Lautrec advertises Guinness in the Paris of the 1890s.”

The Friday Mash (Smokey the Bear Edition)

On this day in 1944, Smokey the Bear made his debut. He has appeared on radio programs, in comic strips, and in cartoons. The federal government, which owns the rights to Smokey, has collected millions in royalties and used them to educate people about forest fire prevention.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, where booze is a no-no and the young and fashionable are gravitating to alcohol-free beer.

If you missed the Beer Bloggers Conference, New Orleans writer Nora McGunnigle has a full report. She was impressed by the welcome given by local brewers Sam Adams and Harpoon.

The Princeton Review has released its list of top party schools, and the University of Iowa is ranked first, followed by UC Santa Barbara, Illinois, West Virginia, and Syracuse.

The summer has been cold and wet in much of the country, but weather doesn’t fully explain light beer’s drop in popularity. A growing number of drinkers are getting tired of its taste.

Fort Collins, Colorado’s “other” major craft brewery is the Odell Brewing Company. Although it’s the nation’s 33rd-largest, and about to get much bigger, it remains a low-key operation.

The U.S. Postal Service hopes to get badly-needed revenue by shipping beer and other alcoholic beverages. First, Congress has to repeal a 1909 law making it illegal to send booze by mail.

Finally, Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, serves up five facts about India pale ale you might not have known. Fact number one: a century and a half ago, people drank their IPA ice-cold.

In Defense of Old Men With Beards

It has become a British stereotype that Real Ale is “for old men with beards.” And that stereotype rankles Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile. He admits to being in his sixties and to having a beard, but goes on to say: “I’ve been drinking cask ale since the 1970s, when I was a young man, without a beard (and with much more hair on my head). And at that time, vast numbers–half or more–of CAMRA members were under 30, like me, and like the organisation’s founders, who had been in their mid-20s in 1971 when the Campaign for the Revitalisation of Ale kicked off.”

He adds that this phenomenon is not limited to Real Ale: “Of course, people’s pleasures actually barely change from their youth as they pile up the years and wrinkle like a shar pei, which ought to be obvious, but seems not to be. You might add on a few more likes, such as malt whisky and Frank Sinatra, neither of which I really understood until I was well past 25, and lose a few of the stranger ones, such as wearing brown corduroy and too-tight tanktops, but pretty much all of the things I enjoyed when I was just out of university I still enjoy now.”

Cornell takes Real Ale marketers to task for their apologizing for the age of their customers, something that the makers of other products don’t do. Point taken.

Twenty Deserving Beer Quotes

You might have noticed the “Worts of Wisdom” on the front page of our calendar. Ludwig tries hard to avoid commonplace beer quotes, like the famous quote by Ben Franklin who, by the way, probably never uttered it.

Ludwig has found a kindred soul in Martyn Cornell, who blogs at The Zythophile. Cornell recently compiled a collection of 20 beer quotes that even Ludwig hasn’t run across.

For example, there’s a good chance that you’ve read 1984, but do you remember the scene in which a now-brainwashed Winston Smith goes to the pub?

“You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,” said Winston tentatively. The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents….“The beer was better,” he said finally. “And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer–wallop we used to call it–was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.”

Cornell explains that “wallop” was a 1930s slang term for mild ale, a style that Orwell was fond of. There’s plenty more in his article–enough, in fact, to get you through a pint, even if it’s stronger than the mild that Winston Smith alluded to.

Most Influential Beers of All Time

A website called FirstWeFeast.com recently convened a panel to choose the 20 “most influential” beers of all time.” It didn’t take long for Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, to file a dissenting opinion.

Never one to mince words, Cornell called the selections “a totally crap list, with far, far more misses than hits.” The hits include Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which inspired the “lite” beers that dominate America’s beer scene; Pilsner Urquell; and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Heading the list of notable misses are Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, Allagash White, and Sam Adams Utopias.

Cornell goes on to list his 20 Most Influential list. Topping the list is Spaten Dunkel because brewmaster Gabriel Sedlmayr’s lagering techniques, and the yeast he shared with other European breweries, powered the lager revolution the swept the world. Pilsner Urquell is second, followed by Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale, which inspired Bass Pale Ale. Cornell gives the number-four spot to Sir Humphrey Parsons, of the Red Lion Brewery in London, for his porter that everybody else copied. Rounding out the top five is Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout, the first brewery known to have made this style.

You get the idea. Cornell is a beer historian, and to him “influential” has a specific meaning: the size of the effect it had on subsequent beer history. By that criterion, Budweiser earns a spot in his top ten: “It pioneered national beer distribution around the US, and it set the standard for what American beer was expected to be.” That’s influential.

It’s International IPA Day

Today is the second annual International IPA Day, an occasion for beer enthusiasts to toast one of craft beer’s most iconic–and most popular–styles. The event, created by beer writers and social media personalities Ashley Routson (The Beer Wench) and Ryan Ross, will be celebrated at hundreds of establishments around the world.

Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, is celebrating in his usual curmudgeonly fashion by debunking myths about IPA. You’ve got to love a guy who dismisses an untrue assertion as “complete cobblers’ awls.”

The Friday Mash (CNN Edition)

On this day in 1980, the Cable News Network debuted. After an introduction by Ted Turner, the husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored the network’s first newscast.

Travel tip: if you’re going to Toronto this summer, do not refer to that enormous tower on the lakefront as the “CNN Tower.” Every Canadian within earshot will give you a dirty look.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Colorado, where the owners of Oskar Blues hope to operate a “beer train” between their Longmont and Boulder locations.

Sara Dickerman of the New York Times updates us on San Diego’s craft beer scene. San Diego County has more than 50 breweries, and many of the area’s beers can be found far from California.

India and Pakistan fought three major wars in the 20th century, but beer might bring them closer together. Pakistan’s Murree Brewery will start selling its lager to India for the first time since the two countries were partitioned in 1947.

In Grayslake, Illinois, four hockey fanatics are starting a brewery. All Light the Lamp Brewery beers–for example, Sin Bin Stout–will have hockey-themed names.

Tuscany is known the world over for its wine but even there, craft beer is making inroads. The region has more than 30 craft breweries, plus a number of bars that specialize in local beer.

The term “dive bar” gets a new meaning, thanks to a bar inside a fully functional submarine. The sub recently took guests to the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

Finally, Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, identifies some endangered beer species, including some that are critically endangered in his native Britain.

Hong Kong’s First-Ever Beer Festival

Some weeks ago, a festival organizer named Jonathan So asked us to add his event, Beertopia Hong Kong, to the calendar. We happily obliged, and wished him luck.

It turns out that Beertopia, Hong Kong’s first-ever beer festival, was a rousing success. British beer writer Martyn Cornell, who helped publicize the event, was there in person, along with a capacity crowd that emptied the Hitachino Nest beer stand long before closing time. By Cornell’s estimation, one-quarter to one-third of the crowd were Hong Kongers, evenly divided between men and women.

So explained to Cornell why he put on the festival. A native of Toronto, he developed a taste for craft beer while studying at Columbia University. Afterward, he moved to Hong Kong to work for a software company.

On an excursion to Singapore, So attended the highly-popular Beerfest Asia and asked himself, “How come Hong Kong doesn’t have anything like this?” Eighteen months later, Beertopia opened its doors. Don’t be surprised if a larger-scale second edition finds its way onto the calendar next year.

History’s Most Notorious Brewer?

Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, has yet another fascinating story from history. Its subject is the most notorious brewer in history. His name was Antoine-Joseph Santerre who, more than 200 years ago, owned the largest brewery in Paris.

But it was politics, not beer, that made Santerre notorious. He aided the mob that stormed The Bastille; and four and a half years later, he was one of the men who escorted King Louis XVI, from his prison to the guillotine. Historians still debate whether Santerre gave the military drummers the order to play so the king’s last words couldn’t be heard; and, if he did give the order, why he did so.

Santerre was an innovative brewer: the first in France to use a thermometer to measure the temperature of his mash tun liquor; the first to dry his malt English-style, with coke rather than wood; and the first to install a steam engine in his brewery.

Cornell suggests that Santerre would have been off had he stuck to his day job. He was a terrible general who allegedly ran from the enemy, and lost two-thirds of his men; and he also flopped as a real estate speculator, winding up broke, living with his son, and hiding from creditors.

Living History in London

A recent festival sponsored by the London Brewers Alliance led Martyn Cornell to recount London’s rich brewing history.

Cornell reminds us that London has given the world five beer styles. They are porter, which dates back to 1718; stout, which was brewed in London until after World War II; what we now call Russian imperial stout; India pale ale, first given that name by a London brewery in 1835; and brown ale, which was enormously popular between the world wars.

Cornell’s post also provides a detailed timeline of London brewing, beginning with the birth of Thomas a Becket, the patron saint of the city’s Brewers’ Company. Pay close attention because some of the factoids–like the Great Beer Flood of 1814–might come in handy in a pub quiz.

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