Charles Bukowski’s “Beer”

Today is the birthday of American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920-March 9, 1994). Bukowski was a hard-living individual, as well as a hard drinker. Wikipedia gives a summary of his life, albeit a very brief one.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

If you haven’t read his work, you’re definitely missing out. I think my favorite quote by him is from an interview he did in Life magazine, in December of 1988. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” A collection of his poems, entitled “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” was published in 1977, and includes the poem “Beer.” A few months ago, an Italian animation studio, NERDO, created a short animated film of that poem, and it’s pretty awesome.

Beer Birthday: Garrett Oliver

Today is Garrett Oliver’s 54th birthday. Garrett is the head brewer at Brooklyn Brewery and has done more for the craft beer industry to promote pairing food and beer than just about any other person alive. If you haven’t picked up a copy of his book, The Brewmaster’s Table, you should definitely do so. He was also tapped to be the editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer, which came out four years ago (and which I also contributed to). He’s the best-dressed brewer in the world and a great person. Join me in wishing Garrett a very happy birthday.

Garrett and Bruce Joseph, from Anchor Brewery, at the Brewer’s Dinner before GABF a few years ago.

Tom Dalldorf, published of the Celebrator, Garrett and me share a beer at d.b.a.

Giving a cooking demonstration with beer chef Bruce Paton at GABF in 2005.

Garrett Oliver and Randy Mosher
A happy Garrett with Randy Mosher at the World Beer Cup dinner at CBC in Chicago a few years ago.

Earlier this year at Carlsberg in Copenhagen.

Dancing with Jessica, formerly of the Brewers Association, late one night after GABF in 2004 at Falling Rock.

Beer Birthday: Sam Calagione

Today is Sam Calagione’s 47th birthday. Sam is the owner and marketing genius behind Delaware’s successful Dogfish Head Brewing. Sam’s also a great guy, and a (former?) rap singer of sorts, with his duo (along with his former head brewer Bryan Selders) the Pain Relievaz. See the bottom of this post for a couple videos of him singing after hours at Pike Brewery during the Craft Brewers Conference when it was held in Seattle. Join me in wishing Sam a very happy birthday.

Sam gives the thumbs up behind his booth at the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago.

Hosts Ken Grossman & Sam Calagione
With Ken Grossman at a Life & Limb collaboration beer dinner.

Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam Calagione, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch
Kite & Key co-owner Jim Kirk and me with Sam, Bill Covaleski & Greg Koch.

Sam Calagione @ Rare Beer Tasting
Sam at the Rare Beer Tasting at Wynkoop during GABF 2009.

Rapping at Pike Place in Seattle in 2006.

This first video is “I Got Busy with an A-B Salesgirl,” the Pain Relievaz’ first hit single.

The second video is “West Coast Poseurs,” a smackdown to the hoppy West Coast beer and brewers.

Historic Beer Birthday: August Anheuser Busch, Jr. a.k.a. Gussie Busch

Today is the birthday of August Anheuser Busch, Jr., better known as Gussie Busch (March 28, 1899–September 29, 1989). He was the grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch. His parents were August Anheuser Busch, Sr. “Starting at lower levels to learn the family business of Anheuser-Busch Company, Busch became superintendent of brewing operations in 1924 and head of the brewing division after his father’s death in 1934. After his older brother Adolphus Busch III’s death in 1946, August A. Jr. succeeded him as President and CEO.”


Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was the President and CEO head of the Anheuser Busch Brewery the largest brewery in the world, (1946-75). He succeeded his older brother Adolphus bush III as President and CEO and began using the Bud Clydesdale Horse Team as a company logo. He was an avid sportsman and became owner of the National League St. Louis Cardinals Major League franchise in 1953, until his death. He died at age 90 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1984, the Cardinals retired the number 85 in his honor, which was his age at the time and he was posthumously inducted into the Cardinals team Hall of Fame in 2014.

Gussie at his desk at Grant’s Farm.

This is August Anheuser Busch Jr.’s obituary from the New York Times:

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

He had been honorary chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Companies since his retirement in 1975. But he had remained active as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League baseball club he persuaded the company’s board to buy in 1953.

Mr. Busch, known as Gussie to virtually everybody who did not know him and as Gus to those who knew him well enough not to call him Mr. Busch, was the grandson and great-grandson of the founders of the company that bore two of his names.

The company, founded in 1876, survived Prohibition by moving into widely diverse products like soft drinks and automobile bodies.

Born in St. Louis on March 28, 1899, Mr. Busch entered the family business as a young man and became general superintendent of brewing operations in 1924. He took over as head of the brewery division after the death of his father in 1934. Although he did not become president of the company until the death of his older brother, Adolphus Busch 3d, in 1946, Mr. Busch had already made his mark as a salesman-showman.

To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Mr. Busch recalled the draft horses that had once pulled beer wagons in Germany and pre-automotive America and obtained a team to haul the first case of Budweiser down Pennsylvania Avenue for delivery to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Since then the famous eight-horse hitch of Clydesdales has become almost as famous as the brand they continue to promote.

What was undoubtedly Mr. Busch’s greatest promotional coup was disguised as a civic duty – the company’s purchase of the Cardinals for $7.8 million in 1953 after the previous owner was convicted of income tax invasion.

”My ambition,” Mr. Busch declared, ”is, whether hell or high water, to get a championship baseball team for St. Louis before I die.”

He had a long wait. But beginning in 1964, the team won six National League pennants, most recently in 1987, and the World Series in 1964, 1967 and 1982.

Savored Success

Mr. Busch savored success, and he became a familiar triumphant figure to baseball fans in league playoffs and World Series home games when he would ride into Busch Stadium on the Clydesdale wagon waving a red cowboy hat.

He attributed the team’s success and the company’s to his policy of noninterference. Even so, he was active in the club’s affairs long after he left the company to others, and in 1982 he led the campaign among major league owners not to retain the previous commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.

Through the Clydesdales and the Cardinals, other promotional gimmicks and a commitment to mass advertising, Mr. Busch turned a comparatively small and financially ailing company into the industry giant. In his 29 years as the company’s active head, sales of beer went from 3 million to 37 million barrels a year. Last year the company produced 78.5 million barrels, almost double the output of its nearest competitor, and recorded sales of $9.7 billion. Its flagship brand, Budweiser, is the most popular beer in the world.

Medium Stature, Loud Voice

Through direct ownership and various trusts, Mr. Busch owned 12.5 percent of the company, or more than 30 million shares of its common stock. At yesterday’s closing price of $43.375 on the New York Stock Exchange, the holdings were worth more than $1.3 billion. The day’s increase of $1.125 a share represented a gain of more than $30 million. Trading in the company’s stock was suspended for 20 minutes after the announcement of his death.

Mr. Busch, at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 165 pounds, was a man of medium stature, but he had a loud voice that was once likened to the roar of a hoarse lion.

Fortunately for his colleagues, he had a sense of humor about his own shortcomings, which included a hairtrigger temper. ”All right, you guys,” he once shouted at a raucous company meeting. ”Let me blow my stack first. Then you can blow yours.” He also had an outsized zest for life, and both the wealth and the inclination to indulge it.

Among other things, his 281-acre estate, Grant’s Farm, includes a cabin built by hand by President Ulysses S. Grant and has a 34-room French Renaissance chateau and a well-stocked private zoo, which reflect his abiding love of animals. Mr. Busch trained his own chimpanzees and elephants before donating them to the St. Louis Zoo.

A onetime rodeo rider who later served as master of the Bridlespur Hunt outside St. Louis, Mr. Busch stocked his air-conditioned stables with several breeds, including hackneys, hunters and jumpers.

He clattered his way into family legend one day when he rode one of his horses up the main staircase of the family residence to cheer up his bedridden father.

Mr. Busch was married four times. Two of the marriages ended in divorce. His last wife, the former Margaret Rohde, died last year.

August A. Busch (center) and his sons, Adolphus III (left) and August Jr., seal the first case of beer off the Anheuser-Busch bottling plant line in St. Louis on April 7, 1933, when the sale of low-alcohol beers and wines was once again legal. Prohibition didn’t officially end until Dec. 5 of that year.

During World War II, Busch was very involved in the war effort through the Ordnance Corps, during which time he attained the rank of colonel.

Colonel August A. Busch, Jr. was born in 1899 in St. Louis, Missouri and was educated in the public schools there. He entered the family brewing business in 1924, and by 1931 was Second Vice President and a member of the board of directors. In June 1942, he was commissioned a major in the Ordnance Corps and was assigned to the Ammunition Division in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance.

He later became Deputy Chairman in charge of the Industry Integrating Committees of Ammunition (one of 82 committees set up to work with industry). Each Industry Integration Committee was made up of representatives from each participating contractor and set up to integrate Ordnance with industry. As Deputy Chairman, he was instrumental in expediting and improving production on several items. In January 1943, he was assigned to the Tank and Automotive Center at Detroit, Michigan. His task was to further the efforts of the committees on the production of tanks, the most critical item of Ordnance procurement. In March of 1943, he was reassigned to the Industry Committees of the Ammunition Division, as the Assistant Chief in Charge of Procurement for metal parts. In 1944, he became Chief of the Industry Production Branch while still retaining the title and duties of the Deputy Chairman of Industry Integrating Committees.

He established precedents and procedures that helped industry and Ordnance work together towards the war effort. His intimate knowledge of industry and his ability to gain the confidence of industrial leaders made him an invaluable asset to the Ordnance procurement process. During his later years, he served as Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and as Chairman of the board and President of the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals organization. Colonel Busch died in 1989.


The St. Louis Cardinals, which Anhesuer-Busch bought in 1953, became an important part of Gussie Busch’s life.

In 1953, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion. Facing almost certain banishment from baseball, he put the Cardinals up for sale. When Busch got word that Saigh was seriously considering selling the team to interests who would move the team to Houston; he decided to have Anheuser-Busch get into the bidding in order to keep the Cardinals in St. Louis. Ultimately, Busch persuaded Saigh to take less money ($3.75 million) than what he was being offered by out-of-town interests in the name of civic pride, and also achieved a marketing tool.

As chairman, president or CEO of the Cardinals from the time the club was purchased by the brewery in 1953 until his death, Busch oversaw a team that won six National League pennants (1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987) and three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1982). When his son, August Busch III, ousted him as president of Anheuser-Busch, the elder Busch remained as president of the Cardinals.

Although the Cardinals were the dominant baseball team in St. Louis, they did not own their own ballpark. Since 1920 they had rented Sportsman’s Park from the St. Louis Browns of the American League. Shortly after buying the Cardinals, Busch bought and extensively renovated the park, renaming it Busch Stadium (but only after a failed attempt to rename it as Budweiser Stadium). The team played there until Busch Memorial Stadium was built in the middle of the 1966 season.

In 1984, the Cardinals retired a number, 85, in Busch’s honor, which was his age at the time.

Cardinal’s Owner and beer baron Gussie Busch threw a party at the Chase Hotel following the Cardinals 1964 World Series Championship. Here he congratulates Cardinal’s third baseman Ken Boyer, who hit two home runs and drove in six.

The Busch family also acquired Grant’s Farm, and made it the Busch Family Estate, opening it up to the public beginning in 1954. The estate website also has a timeline and there’s a short history of the farm from Wikipedia:

The property was at one time owned by Ulysses S. Grant and prior to that, by the Dent family. It is now owned by the Busch family, who owned the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company for many years until it was sold to InBev in 2008. Grant’s Farm has been an animal reserve for many years and is open to the public for free; however, there is a parking fee of $12 per vehicle. This fee helps to maintain the farm. The farm is home to such animals as buffalo, elephants, camels, kangaroos, donkeys, goats, peacocks, the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales and many more. Most of these animals can be seen by visitors on a tram tour of the deer park region of the park, while the Clydesdales are found in their nearby barn and pastures. The farm also contains a cabin called “Hardscrabble,” which was built by Ulysses S. Grant on another part of the property and later relocated to Grant’s Farm. It is the only remaining structure that was hand-built by a U.S. president prior to assuming office.

Also on the farm is the Busch family mansion, and a house in which Ulysses S. Grant resided between the Mexican and Civil Wars—White Haven. This had been his wife, Julia Grant’s, family home. Frederick Dent, Julia’s father, gave 80 acres of the farm to the couple as a wedding present. White Haven is now a national historic site: the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, and is located just across the road from Grant’s Farm.


Here’s Gussie’s entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

August Anheuser Busch, Jr., byname Gussie Busch (born March 28, 1899, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. — died September 29, 1989, near St. Louis), American beer baron, president (1946–75) of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., who built the company into the world’s largest brewery.

In 1922 Busch was put to work sweeping floors and cleaning vats at the brewery cofounded by his grandfather Adolphus Busch, but by 1924 he was general superintendent of brewing operations. After his father died (1934), Busch became head of the brewery department, and he was installed as president of the company following his older brother’s death (1946).

Busch was a civic leader who helped revive St. Louis in the 1950s by donating $5 million toward the construction of Busch Memorial Stadium and purchasing the St. Louis Cardinals professional baseball team for $7.8 million. A familiar figure during postseason play-off games, Busch often rode into the stadium in a wagon drawn by Clydesdales, the horses that were indelibly identified with the beer wagons of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch’s main brand. Grant’s Farm, the Busch family estate near St. Louis, was converted into a 281-acre (114-hectare) historical site and wildlife preserve.


And finally, here’s a video created for Gussie’s induction into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.


To celebrate production of the ten millionth barrel of beer, August A. Busch Jr. (right) and his son August III share a toast with other officials of the company on December 15, 1964.

Historic Beer Birthday: Morton Coutts

Today is the birthday of Morton W. Coutts (February 7, 1904-June 25, 2004) who was a “New Zealand inventor who revolutionized the science of brewing beer,” and “is best known for the continuous fermentation method.”


Here’s a basic biography from the DB Breweries website:

Morton Coutts (1904-2004) was the inheritor of a rich brewing tradition dating back to the 19th century. Like his father, W. Joseph Coutts and grandfather, Joseph Friedrich Kühtze, Morton Coutts was more an innovator and scientific brewer than a businessman. He was foundation head brewer of Dominion Breweries Ltd under (Sir) Henry Kelliher and became a director of the company after his father’s death in 1946. He and Kelliher formed a formidable team-Coutts, the boffin-like heir to a rich brewing heritage, obsessed with quality control and production innovation, and Kelliher, a confident, entrepreneurial businessman, able to hold his own with politicians and competitors.


Morton Coutts’ most important contribution was the development in the 1950s of the system of continuous fermentation, patented in 1956, to give greater beer consistency and product control. The continuous fermentation process was so named because it allows a continuous flow of ingredients in the brewing, eliminating variables to produce the ideal beer continuously. The system achieved this by scrapping open vats-the weak link in the old system-and replacing them with enclosed sealed tanks. Continuous fermentation allows the brew to flow from tank to tank, fermenting under pressure, and never coming into contact with the atmosphere, even when bottled. Coutts’ research showed that his process could produce consistent, more palatable beer with a longer shelf life than under batch brewing. A London newspaper described it as a “brewer’s dream and yours too”. Coutts patented the process, and subsequently the patent rights were sold worldwide as other brewers recognised the inherent benefits of continuous processes. Although many attempted to implement the technology, most failed due to their inability to apply the rigorous hygiene techniques developed and applied by Coutts. Eventually, in 1983, Coutts’ contribution to the industry was honoured in New Zealand.

And DB Breweries also has a timeline with key events in the brewery’s history, including dates from Coutts’ life.

The Waitemata Brewery in 1933, after it became part of DB Breweries.

As for his most influential invention, continuous fermentation, here are some resources, one from New Zealand’s Science Trust Roadshow with Morton Coutts — Continuous Fermentation System. And after I visited New Zealand, I wrote a sidebar on it for an article I did for All About Beer, and also later when a German university announced something very similar a few years ago in Everything Old Is New Again: Non-Stop Fermentation.


Coutts later in life.

Also, here’s the story of him creating DB Export The Untold Story, featuring this fun video.

Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors

Today is the birthday of Adolph Coors (February 4, 1847-June 5, 1929) whose full name was Adolph Hermann Josef Coors, although it’s probable that the Coors surname was originally spelled Kuhrs, or something like that. Coors was born in what today is Germany, in the town of Barmen, part of Rhenish Prussia, or Rhineland. After being orphaned as a fifteen-year old boy, he continued the apprenticeship he’d begun earlier at the Wenker Brewery in Dortmund, and later on was a paid employee. When he was 21, he stowed aboard a ship in Hamburg and made his way to New York City, where he changed the family name to its present spelling. By spring he’d moved to Chicago, and shortly thereafter became a foreman of John Stenger’s brewery in nearby Napierville, where he worked for the next four years.

At the beginning of 1872, he resigned and headed west, to Denver, Colorado. Coors took a few odd jobs, and then he purchased a partnership in the bottling firm of John Staderman, buying out his partner later the same year, assuming control of the entire business. But it was the following year, on November 14, 1873, that the Coors empire really began. On that day, Adolph Coors, along with Denver confectioner Jacob Schueler, bought the Golden City Tannery, which had been abandoned, in Golden, Colorado, and transformed it into the Golden Brewery. “By February 1874 they were producing beer for sale. In 1880 Coors purchased Schueler’s interest, and the brewery was renamed Adolph Coors Golden Brewery.”


And here’s a short biography from the Colorado Encyclopedia:

Adolph Coors (1847–1929) immigrated to the United States in 1868 after serving as a brewery apprentice in western Germany and then in the Kingdom of Prussia. After working in Chicago breweries, he moved to Colorado in 1872 and purchased a bottling company. He transformed it into the Coors Brewing Company and became one of Colorado’s wealthiest and most influential men during the early twentieth century.

After moving to Denver, Coors promptly bought into a bottling company and became the sole owner by the end of the year. In 1873 he started looking for a place to build a brewery with access to clean mountain water and found one at the abandoned Golden Tannery. He partnered with candy store owner and fellow German Jacob Scheuler to purchase the tannery and turned it into the Scheuler and Coors Brewing Company, one of the first breweries in the area. By 1874, even in the midst of economic crisis, the company was making 800 gallons of beer a day. Their beer was valued for its taste, consistency, and crispness.

Coors hired many German immigrants to run his beer factory, bottling plant, malt house, and icehouse. He invested heavily in new technology, such as metal bottle caps and increased automation. In 1879 he married Louisa Weber. The couple had six children – three daughters and three sons. That same year, he bought out Scheuler and became the sole owner of Coors Brewing. He allowed his workers to join the United Brewery Workmen of the United States and paid them well. The brewery famously provided free beer to its workers during breaks. By 1890, Coors was a millionaire, a US citizen, and a medal winner at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The movement to abolish alcohol began to gather momentum in the late nineteenth century. Coors correctly diversified his investments; beer may be recession-proof, but it would not weather Prohibition. In 1916, when Prohibition began in Colorado, Coors shifted his manufacturing from beer to milk products and porcelain. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Coors returned to his preferred product but continued to manufacture other goods.

Coors generally remained aloof from Denver high society, but he felt great kinship with his employees and identified with them as a craftsman. He instituted more breaks, better working conditions, and higher wages for his workers than did almost all other brewers. But Coors became disillusioned with his product in the early twentieth century, after pasteurization (the heating of beer to kill microbes) and mass marketing transformed the beer industry. Coors took his life in 1929 by jumping from his hotel balcony in Virginia Beach. In his will, he stipulated that his hotel bill be paid in its entirety; otherwise, he left no note and no reason for his action. Coors is remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his rags-to-riches immigrant story, and his dedication to the craft of brewing beer.

A portrait of Adolph Coors by artist Bill Moomey

Coors was elected to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1990, who produced a short film of his life for the induction ceremony:

And here’s an early postcard depicting the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado. It’s a remarkable place and you should definitely take the tour if you ever get near that part of the world.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer

I first made Johann, the founder of Seef Bier, in San Francisco, when he was here to do a presentation with his importer and the Belgian Trade Delegation as he was beginning to import his beer to the U.S. And I quite like Seef, and have since I first tried it. I saw him most recently last month in Belgium, when he was on hand to pick up the gold medal for Seef he received at the Brussels Beer Challenge. At any rate, this morning he sent me this fun video of Christmas Wishes from Seefbier, a spoof of the popular Christmas carol recorded by Andy Williams, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It really is the most wonderful time to drink beer. Enjoy.

Beer Birthday: Bryan Selders

Today is the 41st birthday of Bryan Selders, who is the brewmaster at Post Brewing in Colorado. Up until March of 2011, he was lead brewer of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and one-half of the hip hop duo The Pain Relievaz, before leaving the industry temporarily to do web design at Inclind. But a few years ago, he came back to brewing, which was great new for everyone who love terrific beer. I first met Bryan at Hop School in Yakima, Washington years ago and he’s a terrifically talented and fun person. Join me in wishing Bryan a very happy birthday.

Bryan with his boss Sam on picture day at the brewery.

Bryan with some of his “fans.”

The cover of the latest CD, Awesome = Yes, the Pain Relievaz Greatest Hits, available nowhere as far as I can tell. But below is Bryan and Sam in the video “Pinchin’ Pennies.”

Note: All photos purloined from Facebook.

Felix The Cat (& Beer Drinker)

As if you needed further proof that cartoons weren’t always for kids — and still aren’t — here’s an interesting one from 1930. Today was the debut in 1919 of the popular cartoon character Felix the Cat. It was actually the third film using a similar-looking cat, but the Adventures of Felix, released today in 1919, was the first time the name Felix was attached to the character. Felix became very popular and remained so until sound was introduced, when he fell into cartoon obscurity when his transition to sound tanked. There was a much later cartoon version, from when I was a kid, that began in 1958 and was shown in television through at least the 1960s and 70s, and that’s probably the one you’re more familiar with.

But the earlier Felix was darker and less kid-friendly, for the simple reason they were aimed at adults going to see a movie in a theater.


Woos Whoopee was one of Felix’s later cartoons (at least of the earlier black and white and largely silent ones), and takes place in a speakeasy (it was still Prohibition after all).


Felix stays out late, drinking and dancing, while his wife paces at home angrily, watching the clock with a rolling pin in her hand. Finally, well after 3 AM, Felix begins to stumble home and begins to hallucinate. Finally, after a surreal journey, he makes it home around 6 AM. I thought sure he’d be in more trouble, but besides shooting the cuckoo in the clock, not much happens to him after he gets home. Oh, well, at least he had a few laughs and drank a few beers.

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.