Today is the 31st birthday of Mark Dredge, who writes the beer blog Pencil and Spoon from his home in Kent, England. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking with Mark on his last few trips across the pond. The first time, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week, four years ago at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently judging at GABF. By day, he works in digital marketing and social media, most recently for Pilsner Urquell, and by night, he’s “a beer writer and blogger.” The last two times I saw him, a few months ago in Belgium, and last week in San Francisco, it was working for Pilsner Urquell. In December 2009, he won the British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year for Pencil and Spoon. If you don’t read his stuff, you should. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today in 1988, US Patent EP 0138341 B1 was issued, an invention of Charles William Bamforth and Roy Cope, assigned to the Bass Public Limited Company, for their “Beer and Other Beverages and Their Manufacture.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:
This invention relates to beer and other beverages and to their manufacture. In particular the invention is concerned with the incorporation into a beverage of an additive enabling the beverage to have a head formed on it or to improve the quality of the head that can be formed on it.
The invention is primarily applicable to beer, and the term beer is used herein to designate generally any of a variety of alcoholic beverages made by the fermentation of hopped malt wort; it thus includes within its scope ales, lagers and stouts. Beer itself is normally dispensed with a head, but there are also other beer-like beverages that are, like beer, bright and without haze and that are normally dispensed with a head to which the invention is also particularly applicable, these including beverages which include little or no alcohol but otherwise resemble beer quite closely.
Their claims for the patent are also listed as follows:
1. A method of modifying or improving beer or other beverage, the beverage being bright and without haze, which method comprises the step of incorporating in the beverage concerned an additive enabling the beverage to have a head formed on it or to improve the quality of the head that can be formed on it, the additive comprising protein fragments made by the partial hydrolysis of protein material, and the method being characterised in that the protein material comprises egg albumen and is added in an effective amount to improve or cause head formation without inducing haze formation.
2. A method according to claim 1 characterised in that the additive is formed as an aqueous solution.
3. A method according to claim 2 characterised in that the additive also contains a minor addition of ethyl alcohol.
4. A method according to any one of the preceding claims characterised in that the additive comprises fragments of protein material separated from any remaining unsevered protein material.
5. A method according to any one of the preceding claims characterised in that the beverage is made by a process including a fermentation stage and in which the additive is added at a stage later than the fermentation stage.
6. A method according to claim 5 characterised in that the beverage is beer.
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.
Today is the 40th birthday of Melissa Cole, UK beer writer extraordinaire. I’d met Melissa first online and then in person at the Rake in London a few years ago. She’s also been coming over to our side of the pond to judge at both GABF and the World Beer Cup. She’s a great advocate for beer generally, but especially for women, and is great fun to hang out and drink with. She also writes online at Taking the Beard Out of Beer! which is subtitled “A Girl’s Guide To Beer.” Her first book, Let Me Tell You About Beer, was published a couple of years ago. Join me in wishing Melissa a very happy birthday.
Today is the 59th birthday of Ron Pattinson, a brewing historian who writes online at Shut Up About Barclay Perkins. Ron lives in Amsterdam but is obsessed with the British brewery Barclay Perkins, which is what the title of his blog refers to. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Ron in person, though we’ve corresponded several times, and we got close earlier this year when he was in Sonoma County. Lew Bryson had a chance to go drinking with Ron a few years ago. Join me in wishing Ron a very happy birthday.
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.
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.
Hopefully, I can find a less expensive deck of these cards. Great, another item to add to my Wishlist.
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.
Tuesday’s ad is for the English brewer’s “Beer is Best” campaign, from 1949. The campaign began in 1933, and ran for 30 years, and this one included landlord “Fred Green” — whoever that is — who apparently greets every patron with a “good evening” and a “cheerful smile.” I definitely want to go to that pub.
Thursday’s ad is for the Brewers’ Society, from 1956. Similar to the ads in America by the United States Brewers Foundation that ran around the same time, the British ads used taglines like “Good Wholesome BEER” and “The best long drink in the world!” People are turning red in the face in the tug-of-war contest going on in the ad. I bet I know what they can drink when they’re done building up a thirst. “A cooling drink. A cheering drink. An invigorating drink.”
Tuesday’s ad is for Double Diamond, from 1951, which by that time was part of Ind Coope. It’s part of their “works wonders” series featuring the “Double Diamond Man.” After drinking a Double Diamond, it appears that DDM believes he can stop an armed bank robber singlehandedly. The DDM reminds me of a cross between John Cleese and Rumpole of the Bailey. The ad copy almost sounds like their encouraging such behavior. Dutch courage is one thing, but I’m not sure suggesting drinking a beer will make you a hero is necessarily a good message.