Beer Birthday: Martyn Cornell

Today is the birthday of Martyn Cornell. Martyn is an English beer writer who writes online at the Zythophile. Martyn is hands down my favorite brewing historian, and among my very favorite beer writers. His scholarship, research and skill is second to none. I had the pleasure of meeting him and sharing a few pints during a trip to Burton-on-Trent a few years ago, where we met up in London before taking the train north to Marston’s. Join me in wishing Martyn a very happy birthday.

Me and Martyn, sharing a pint at London’s Perseverance in 2008.

Martyn with Firestone Walker’s Matt Brynildsohn, at St. Pancras Station, also in 2008.

SABMiller Acquires Meantime Brewing

meantime sabmiller
Global beer company SAB Miller has announced the acquisition of London’s Meantime Brewing in effort to enter the UK craft market.


From the press release:

Meantime is a pioneer in British modern craft beer, giving SABMiller an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market and complementing its imported super-premium lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell.

SABMiller plans to grow sales of Meantime’s beers nationally and explore export opportunities in its European markets under the continued leadership of Nick Miller, Meantime CEO.

Meantime was established by Brew Master, Alastair Hook, in 1999 with a brewery in Greenwich, London. The business has since created a successful range of British and international beer styles.

Sue Clark, Managing Director, SABMiller Europe, said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles. At SABMiller we love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers. Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.

“Nick Miller, Alastair Hook and their team have built a strong sense of pride and identity within Meantime, which has an excellent reputation for brewing consistently high quality beers and for industry-leading innovation. This expertise will boost our strategy to develop beers that appeal to more people, including women, and which can be attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.”

Nick Miller, CEO, Meantime, said: “I can say from personal experience, that SABMiller is a great company to be joining forces with. They see the opportunity, and believe in the longevity, of modern craft beer in the UK.

“SABMiller shares our passion for putting great beer first, and making, selling and marketing it responsibly to beer aficionados worldwide. The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and have a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of the local businesses they’ve bought in the past.

“We are all excited about the opportunity to continue growing Meantime. We are also thrilled and flattered that SABMiller has given us a remit to innovate. This is a massive compliment and acknowledges our position as pioneers in modern craft beer.”

Volumes of beer sales at Meantime grew by 58% in 2014, outpacing the UK beer market’s 1% growth during the same period and making it one of the top-performing modern craft breweries in the UK.

Among Meantime’s award-winning lagers and ales are its leading brand London Pale Ale, London Lager, Yakima Red, Pilsner, India Pale Ale and London Porter. London Pale Ale and London Lager together account for around 70% of total volumes. Following the transaction, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.

The acquisition includes Meantime’s retail sites, including the Tasting Rooms and the brewery shop in Greenwich, the Greenwich Union pub, pop-up Beerbox pub, and the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which is now in 26 pubs across London, complementing SABMiller’s Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer in a further four London pubs.

The deal is expected to close in June of this year, and the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The BBC and the Guardian also have stories on the deal.

Meantime brewmaster Alastair Hook, with Greg Koch from Stone Brewing, at a British Guild of Beer Writers event during the Great British Beer Festival in 2009.

Beer In Ads #1545: The Only Beer Brewed Specially For The Can

Monday’s ad is for Long Life, from 1963. The canned beer Long Life Beer was made by Ind Coope beginning in the 1950s, making it one of the early beers in cans in the UK. They launched a series of ads claiming that the recipe was formulated specifically for the can, and as a result “it never varies!” But it certainly looks good for out-of-focus fishing.


Beer In Ads #1542: It Stands Out —

Friday’s ad is for Whitbread, from 1952. The illustration features an illustration of a man pouring a pale ale, and he’s wearing a very odd expression on his face, his smile seemed forced (or just plain creepy). But what strikes me as strange is a statement in the copy that “they do all their own bottling.” Was that something uncommon enough in the 1950s that they’d use it as a selling point?


Beer In Ads #1541: Stick To Beer

Thursday’s ad is for the English brewer’s “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1938. The campaign began in 1933, and ran for 30 years. This one simply shows a man’s arm (wearing a suit) holding a mug of beer. The ad copy wants people to keep drinking English beer, offering several reasons why you should. “Drink beer because you like it” and “Drink beer because it’s good for you.” But whatever you do, “Stick to beer.”


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.


Beer In Ads #1533: Rare As The Bottle It Comes In

Wednesday’s ad is for Carlsberg, from 1968. Although Carlsberg was founded in 1847, apparently they first started exporting in 1868, so 100 years later, in 1968, they created a special beer for the UK market. It was “specially brewed for the British taste,” whatever that might have been. NOt sure how rare that would have been, but I guess give them points for trying something newish.


Beer Birthday: Steve Parkes

Today is the 55th birthday of Steve Parkes. Steve owns and runs the American Brewers Guild, which trains brewers. I’ve known Steve for a number of years now and he’s one of my favorite Brits in the industry. I had the pleasure of writing a profile of him for Beer Advocate magazine a few years ago, from which I learned the following. Steve studied brewing sciences at Heriot-Wyatt University in Edinburgh and worked at several small UK breweries before moving to Maryland to open British Brewing (later known as Oxford Brewing). He then moved to California and created Red Nectar for Humboldt Brewing, which is also where he caught the teaching bug. Eventually buying the ABG school in 1999, three years ago finally making the leap to running the school full-time. In 2009, Steve was awarded the Russell Schehrer Award for Innovation in Brewing by the Brewers Association at CBC in Boston. Steve said at the time. “It’s gratifying when someone notices what you’re been doing every day. It just feels tremendous, like standing on the shoulder of giants. The willingness to share is the best part of this industry. I love being part of a working community that thinks like that. It makes you a better person.” Join me in wishing Steve a very happy birthday.

Pete Brown and Steve Parkes
Pete Brown and Steve at the GBBF in 2009.

Steve at Cantillon in Brussels.

Enjoying a Rodenbach.

Words fail me. Happy birthday Steve. [Note: Last three Photos Purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Michael Jackson

Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 73rd birthday. I first met Michael in the early 1990s, shortly after my first beer book was published. He is all but single-handedly responsible for the culture of better beer that exists today. He began writing about good beer in the 1960s and 70s and his writing has influenced (and continues to influence) generations of homebrewers and commercial brewers, many of whom were inspired to start their own breweries by his words. There are few others, if any, that have been so doggedly persistent and passionate about spreading the word about great beer. I know some of my earliest knowledge and appreciation of beer, and especially its history and heritage, came from Michael’s writings. Michael passed away in August 2007, eight years ago. I still miss him, and I suspect I’m not the only one. A couple of years ago, J.R. Richards’ new documentary film about Michael Jackson, Beer Hunter: The Movie, debuted, which I helped a tiny bit with as a pioneer sponsor.

I did an article four years ago for Beer Connoisseur, for their Innovator’s Series, entitled Michael Jackson: The King of Beer Writers, A personal look back at the man who made hunting for beer a career. I reached out to a number of people who also knew Michael for their remembrances as well as my own, and as a result I’m pretty pleased with the results (although the original draft was almost twice as long).

I’ll again be playing some jazz and having a pint of something yummy in his honor, which has become my tradition for March 27, which I’ve also started declaring to be “Beer Writer’s Day.” Join me in drinking a toast to Michael Jackson, the most influential modern beer writer who’s ever lived.

At the Great Divide Brewing’s media party in Denver over fifteen years ago.

On stage accepting the first beer writing awards from the Brewers Association with Jim Cline, GM of Rogue, Stan Hieronymus, who writes Real Beer’s Beer Therapy among much else, and Ray Daniels, formerly of the Brewers Association.

At GABF in 2006, still wearing the same glasses. But my, oh my, have I changed. Sheesh.

With Carolyn Smagalski receiving an award at Pilsner Urquell.