I Know What I Love

Although I was blissfully ignorant of CAMRA in its earliest days — drinking American beer in Pennsylvania while in junior high and high school — my understanding is that it was not always as popular as it later became. And it certainly wasn’t universally beloved by many breweries, since they were moving toward keg beer which was much cheaper to produce and away from cask-conditioned beer, or real ale. It took a small dedicated group to convince brewers, and many ambivalent consumers, that real ale was worth preserving so British beer didn’t end up tasting like America of the 1970s. But there were critics of CAMRA almost from the get go, as recently detailed in a post by Boak & Bailey entitled A Brief History of CAMRA Bashing.

I didn’t follow all of Boak & Bailey’s thread on Twitter this morning, apart from finding part of a script from what they believed was a “c.1978 anti-‘real ale’ propaganda film starring Bernard Cribbins.” They were fishing to see if anybody might have more information about the movie.


It turned out the film was from 1973, and a follower (thanks Cliff) found the actual film online, courtesy of the East Anglican Film Archive . The film is titled “I Know What I Love,” which is curiously very close to the title of a song from the Genesis album Selling England By the Pound, also released in 1973. That was “I Know What I Like,” but still, it was my first thought since I was a big fan of the band back then.

It’s a fairly goofy film, but also very interesting the way beer and brewing is presented. Bernard Cribbins, a reasonably well-known British character actor plays all of the major parts, explaining how beer is made. If you watch a lot of British TV or films, you’ve probably seen him. He’s made appearances in “The Avengers,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Doctor Who” and “Coronation Street,” and was in the films “The Railway Children,” “Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River,” the 1967 Bond film “Casino Royale” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Frenzy.”


Here’s the description from the film’s webpage at the EAFA:

Presented by The Brewers’ Society and featuring Bernard Cribbins in multiple roles, the documentary explains the process of brewing beer, from the pasture to the pint.

After ordering a pint at his local and taking a sip, the actor Bernard Cribbins sets out to explain the brewing process, with a little help from some of his ‘relatives’ in the industry, all played by Cribbins himself. One ‘cousin’ explains the malting process, where barley is germinated and malted, whilst another talks about hops, which contribute to the flavour of beer. His ‘uncle’, who works in a traditional brewery, explains the process, from the spurging of barley in mush tuns to the addition of hops, followed by yeast to aid fermentation, before the beer is conditioned and siphoned into casks.

Brewing on an industrial scale is also explained by Cribbins, with the help of one ‘relative’ who grows large amounts of barley, and a ‘distant relative’ who works as a technician at a large brewer. The film concludes with a glimpse at pub life, with a variety of environments catering for a range of tastes, but linked together by one thing: beer. With the process explained, Cribbins heads back to the bar for another pint, which is pulled by the governor, his ‘father’.


It was created by the Rank Short Films Group and sponsored by the Brewers’ Society. The director was James Allen from a script by Michael Barnes and the only actor credited is Bernard Cribbins. It doesn’t strike me as particularly anti-real ale, but maybe there’s some nuance I’m missing. They certainly try to allay fears that stainless steel, and modern brewing methods didn’t change the beer they produced. The humor seems a little forced, and not particularly witty, more mildly amusing than funny.

Unfortunately, the archive doesn’t allow their films to be embedded but you can go to their website and watch it online, which I highly recommend. It runs around seventeen minutes, and is certainly an interesting look at brewing at a particular time in recent history.


The Comforts Of Life

Here’s an interesting piece of history I came across this morning. It’s a hand-colored etching created around 1826, possibly by Henry Heath. This one is plate 3 from a set of 4, all of which apparently relate to alcohol and its effects. It’s believed to have been published by William Cole of 10 Newgate Street in London. An original of the print is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s certainly an interesting caricature of life in the early 19th century.


According to the text at the bottom of the print, each of the gentlemen are drinking the following. Double-X / Half & Half / Porter / Swipes (Which appears to be beer that is weak, thin, watery or even spoiled).

Watney’s Happy Families

The other night Boak & Bailey tweeted a photo of a UK eBay listing for a card game published in the 1930s by Watney Combe Reid & Co. LTD, brewers of Watney’s Red Barrel.

One of the many things I’m obsessed with is games. Since I was a kid, I’ve played them, collected them, and even created them. It’s just one more thing to add to the ever-growing list of things about which I’m particularly geeky. So I was already familiar with the card game Happy Families, which is a fairly simple game, and is somewhat similar to “Go Fish.” But I had no idea that a brewery had made their own version of the game.

watneys-happy-families-box watneys-happy-families-back

Based on the box, it was obviously a giveaway to advertise the Watney’s brand. Intrigued, I would have bought it on the spot, except that, as Boak & Bailey noted, the “Buy It Now” price was a hefty £64.95, or about $100. Beer writing, unfortunately, doesn’t pay well enough to indulge all of my whims. Still, I wanted to know more about the game, and set out to see what I could find.

It was apparently created in England in 1851, by John Jaques II, who was also responsible for inventing “Snakes and Ladders,” “Tiddlywinks,” “Ludo” and the pub favorite “Shove Ha’penny.” It often uses a custom deck of 32 cards, although the game can be played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Cartamundi has the rules online. In the Watney’s version, the rules are printed on the back of the cardboard box:


In the Watney’s version, the families are the Barrels, the Cheerilads, the Combes, the Hops, the Malts, the Reids, the Stouts, and the Watneys. According to The World of Playing Cards:

Although the 1920s was a decade of optimism after the Great War, the Great Depression made the 1930s a difficult time. In Britain unemployment was widespread. As we see from these images, the woman was the homemaker and had a hairdo, and the man worked. The generation of children who grew up in the 1930s would go on to fight in World War II. They had their share of hardships and built strong values of hard work.

Below are the 32 cards from deck:


For two of them, they apparently didn’t have a finished card, so here’s those cards taken from the eBay listing photos.

Mrs-Reid Miss-Watney

Hopefully, I can find a less expensive deck of these cards. Great, another item to add to my Wishlist.

Beer In Ads #1665: Welcome To The Inns Of Britain

Tuesday’s ad is from the English brewer’s “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1951. The campaign began in 1933, and ran for 30 years, and this one shows an idyllic country pub — The Axe and Compass — with a conspicuous church spire behind it. It almost appears that they’re trying to either suggest the pub as church or to associate the two as central to British life (both claims I agree with, BTW). But it looks so perfect one assumes it has to be a fictional, stylized version meant to invoke the romance of the country pub.


But not so fast. The Axe and Compass is an actual country inn located in Hemingford Abbots, 3 miles from St Ives, 6 miles from Huntingdon, and 12 miles from Cambridge. According to their website, the pub dates “back to the 15th century.”


But perhaps the artist did take a few liberties with perspective. That church spire that looms so large in the ad’s illustration appears much less imposing in the photograph from the pub’s website. And even more revealing, placing the inn at roughly the same angle as the drawing using Google Maps Street View, you can barely make out just the tip of the spire above the edge of the end of the pub’s roof past the back chimney. You have to go down Church Lane to see the church, and it doesn’t look nearly as large as it does in the illustration. Still, it’s an awesome image and I suspect it may have been one in a series, which would be even cooler. I know I want to go there now, and if I’m ever in the area, I’d definitely try to have a pint of Timothy Taylor there.


Beer Birthday: Adrian Tierney-Jones

Today is the birthday of English beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones. Adrian’s written several beer books, and writes online at Called to the Bar. I first got to him when he was the editor for 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, to which I contributed around two-dozen entries. I’ve also seen Adrian at events in London and Belgium since then, and he’s a great person to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Adrian a very happy birthday.

Having another pint.

In Leuven for the Brussels Beer Challenge last year: Adrian, with fellow Brits Tim Hampson, Tim Webb and Pete Brown.

Me and Adrian having a beer and a chat in Belgium in 2014.

[Note: first and third photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer In Ads #1603: A Calendar Of British Beer — July

Wednesday’s ad is from the Brewer’s Society’s “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1938. It’s the July image from “A Calendar Of British Beer” for the year 1938. Showing a pair of Shire horses hooked up to a wagon of wooden beer kegs, the idea was that such a scene wasn’t too far removed from “the way [beer] has always been brewed.”


Beer In Ads #1597: When Work Is Done

Thursday’s ad is for Great Britain brewers’ “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1935. Part of the British brewers series of ad promoting beer generally, this one focuses on an after work drink as a positive, where a man can “put away the cares of the day; restores his toil-spent energy; revives his flagging spirit.” But what stood out for me was at the bottom of the ad there’s a simple list of beer’s four ingredients, which they list as “Malt · Hops · Sugar · Yeast.” What was that third one again?


Beer Birthday: Charlie Bamforth

Today is the 63rd birthday of Charlie Bamforth, who is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there). His two most recent books should be on your must read list: Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us and Grape vs. Grain. He’s a terrific advocate for beer and a great person. He was also kind enough to speak to beer appreciation class that I recently taught at Sonoma State University. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

Charlie with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing, at a reception held there for the launch of Charlie’s new book.

Speakers at the Symposium: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth
Charlie with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a few years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie.

Charlie being courted by both wine and beer on his publisher’s blog, Cambridge University Press.

Beer In Ads #1534: Row, Row, Row Your Beer

Thursday’s ad is for beer generally, from the 1950s. It was created for the Brewers Society, presumably a brewing industry trade organization in Great Britain. It appears that the Brewers Society became the British Beer & Pub Association in the 1990s. A quick search reveals that they did a series of ads in the 1950s using a tagline referring to beer as “The Best Long Drink in the World.” This one features a boat, but instead of the coxswain shouting “stroke,” they’re all shouting “good wholesome beer” instead.


Despite this ad being the size I found it, the resolution is terrible, but the smaller one below is slightly sharper, despite being much smaller.