PUB CLUB: FEBRUARY MEETING
THIS MONTH’S MEETING, THURSDAY 7TH FEBRUARY
This month, not only have we gone back to two newsletters a month [now I’ve been relieved of several of my other duties by kind new committee members!] but we’re also meeting in a brand new venue! Well, not BRAND new, obviously, as The Rose and Crown on Bondgate has been around for nearly 300 years, but certainly newly refurbished and under new management. It’s now open every day from 7pm to midnight, except Sunday when it closes at 11. They’ll soon be opening from midday, and doing food as well – so watch out for that. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to pop in and see what it’s like now, why not use us as the excuse? When I called in on Sunday night they had Rooster’s Yankee, Theakston’s Best and Black Sheep Holy Grail on cask, with Leeds Pale waiting to come on, so it’s worth a trip. [I was also tempted by a shot of Thunder toffee vodka – if you have a sweet tooth, that stuff is blooming marvellous!] The committee will meet from 19:15 till about 20:00, then we hang about for a chat before legging it to the next pub of the night – The Junction – at about 20:45 [even though the R&C’s first new quiz night starts at 21:00.] Finally, we’ll move on again to The Old Cock back round the corner in Crossgate at about 21:30. So now read on [even though most of this stuff might be a bit old, and left over from the January Newsletter that was getting too big!]
PREMIER CARDS – STILL 6 MONTHS FOR A FIVER!
Still a few of our newly reduced 2018-2019 Premier cards available! When the print run of black cards has run out, there will be no more available this year, and you’ll have to wait until August to get a whole new year, and a brand new colour, for the regular price of £10. We told you last month about all the ways you can easily save the cost of the card in just one weekend, let alone 6 months, so what’s stopping you? [Look out for extra savings for card holders when Otley Pub Club puts on its own special events like beer tastings as well.]
At the moment the cards are on sale in The Curious Hop in New Market in Otley, but I’ll let you know as soon as you can buy them on the OPC website. And remember – you don’t have to be an existing Otley Pub Club member to buy a card.
READING IN PUBS
Do you ever just take a book down to the pub with you and read for a while on your own? Or are you perhaps a member of a book club that meets regularly in a pub to discuss your interpretation of the latest scandi-noir, or nebula award winner? A recent article in The Independent asks why reading in a pub is so enjoyable, when perhaps it should be just the opposite! It also describes the long association between English literary classics and public houses, from Chaucer’s pilgrims in the Tabard Inn to Du Maurier’s eponymous Jamaica Inn. I’ve certainly been known to settle down with a pint to finish off the last few dozen pages of a novel in peace in my local [The Fleece]. Whether you choose a pint in Whitakers or an endless coffee in The Bowling Green it’s sometimes great to just leave the world outside and immerse yourself in your particular favourite. [Of course – other public houses ARE available!]
As 2019 is the 10th anniversary of Otley Pub Club, we’re hoping to kick off a couple of projects to commemorate the event. That old chestnut a pub passport might finally arrive, and an inter-pub quiz is definitely on the horizon. And maybe we could think of doing something with books. I’m sure most of us have a few books [or hundreds, like me!] lying around the house that we’re unlikely to read again, and selling books is hardly worth the effort nowadays. Perhaps we could think of a way of helping any pubs who want to encourage reading by holding a small stock of books themselves. [Some already do, of course.] Unwanted books could be donated centrally or collected by us, then distributed to the pubs who wanted them. Pub customers could then either swap one of their own books for one they wanted to read, or make a donation that could be shared between Otley Pub Club and the pub in question – or their favourite charity. Just a thought, but do let me know if you think it’s a runner!
UCI ROAD RACE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
You might already know that The UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale or International Cycling Union] road world championships are coming to Harrogate later this year. The ‘grand tours’ [of Italy, France and Spain] are classic events, but the world championships are arguably THE most important event in the annual cycling calendar. They surely are for the individual riders who win their chosen event, and get to wear a world champions jersey for the next 12 months. I know there are many people who hate the disruption that road closures during bike races brings to a town like Otley, but for the sake of a few hours of closures we will get to see all the best men and women cyclists in the world racing through our town [albeit for only a few minutes at the speed they all travel!]
As we did for the Tour de France in 2014, Otley Pub Club want to mark the occasion with one of its now-famous pub projects. We haven’t got much further than the simple main idea yet, but will be working on the detail between now and September. We are hoping to allocate a different one of the top cycling nations to each of the pubs on the route [and elsewhere in town if the pubs want us to]. We would then put up the national flag and bunting outside the pub, and possibly even translate the pub name into the national language of the country chosen. If it were possible to have typical food and drink from the chosen nation on sale, so much the better [but we do realise all the difficulties involved in that!]
If we were going to be REALLY optimistic, we could try to get musicians and dancers from each of the nations to come and perform at their pubs – either on the days the races come through, or even over the first weekend of the championships, which is Otley Folk Festival weekend! But the real reasons for the project would be twofold: to attract cycling fans from the countries involved to come to Otley and visit their pub; and to once again raise the profile of Otley and its pubs on local, national and international media. Tell us right now if you hate the idea, or watch out for more progress during the next 8 months.
[Pictured is a framed signed shirt from Otley’s own Lizzie Deignan, from her previous team Boels Dolman, with the world champion rainbow colours on neck and cuffs. Lizzie kindly let us have it for our Yorkshire Celebrities project in 2018, and it might be one of the prizes in an OPC charity raffle later this year.]
HOME BREW BEER AS EASY AS MAKING COFFEE
Electronics giant LG have developed a machine that will let you brew beer at home, as easily as making coffee by sticking a capsule in a machine. [But not quite as quickly.] This report from James Peckham at Techradar.com describes how you can brew one of 5 different styles of beer at home. Apparently you just stick a capsule into the LG HomeBrew, and 2 weeks later out comes American IPA, American Pale Ale, English Stout, Belgian-style Witbier or Czech Pilsner! Unfortunately James didn’t get to taste any of the beers the machine can produce, so I can’t say how good they are. But if you think that’s a better way to spend your hard-earned cash on beer than going down the pub for a chat with your mates – that’s entirely your choice!
OFF DOWN T’ALE-DRAPER’S GINNEL?
This article on the BBC website describes a newly-published dictionary of almost 4,000 traditional Yorkshire words and sayings from the 12th to the 19th century. That’s not to say that you won’t recognise any of them nowadays – lads are still lakin’ in t’snickets as far as I’m aware, and I’ll definitely bray thee if tha tries to steal me brass! If you’re not into books, but you fancy browsing through the whole archive of words, places, and sources, they’re all online here already.
Yorkshire-born poet Ian McMillan [after whom The Rose & Crown pub in Otley was named in our Yorkshire Celebrities project last Yorkshire Day] helped launch the dictionary. He’s quoted as saying [quite rightly] “If you don’t record these words then they’ll go. Once the things that these words were about – mining, cotton, farming – start to change, and sometimes disappear, then the words will go too.” [NB – IAN McMILLAN AND LUKE CARVER GOSS are appearing at Otley Courthouse on Friday February 22nd, in what promises to be ‘a night of music, laughs and tales’. Tickets are still available from the Courthouse website.]
COFFEE CULTURE FESTIVAL – THE 2020 VISION
Just as LG are producing a machine to brew your own beer, Otley is getting ready to host a coffee festival to rival its existing beer festival! It’s still over a year away, with a planned delivery date of Saturday April 25th 2020, but organisers Richard Hughes, Tom Winder and Stuart Jobbins are already well down the path of planning, and of inviting participants. All Saints Parish Church will be the festival hub, housing stalls and exhibits, and the town’s many excellent coffee shops will be joining in with individual events and offers as well. The organisers are also seeking help, either from individuals who would like to volunteer to help in preparation and delivery, or from sponsors – for whom a variety of packages are available from £50 to £500. If you think you can help, contact Richard Hughes at email@example.com
However, in the [slightly!] longer term, it looks as though the coffee industry itself might be under threat. This article on The Guardian website reports on research published by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, which predicts 60% of wild coffee bean species might be under threat of extinction. One of those is Arabica – the original of the world’s most-used form of coffee – with the number of locations where it grows in Ethiopia being possibly reduced by 85% by the year 2080. Next year’s Otley ‘Coffee Culture Festival’ should still be safe though!
ASAHI TAKE OVER FULLER’S
You might have seen the news last month that the London brewer Fuller’s, whose beers include London Pride, is to sell its entire drinks business to Japan’s biggest brewer Asahi. The response from CAMRA was, I suppose, predictable, with its chair Jackie Parker saying she was concerned that consolidation was “seldom beneficial for consumers . . . Fuller’s has been a family brewer in Britain for more than a hundred years, and it’s a very sad day to see such a well-known, historic and respected name exit the brewing business.” You can see more about the story here on the BBC website but for a different point of view, with the emphasis very much on what a good deal it is for Fuller’s and their shareholders, just take a look at this blog post on zythophile.co.uk It calls the deal “a massive vote of confidence in the future of cask ale.” [I have a particular fondness for Fuller, Smith and Turner because of the trio of goodies in the photo. I earned them for visiting all 128 of their pubs and getting my ‘passport’ stamped at each one, way back in the ‘80s! If only Otley Pub Club could find a generous sponsor to help provide a similar award for our own passport holders later this year, eh?]
THE SUCCESS OF COMMUNITY PUBS
A report produced by The Plunkett Foundation, called “Community Pubs: A Better Form of Business” has proved just how successful community-owned pubs can be. Not a single community-owned pub ceased trading during 2017, maintaining an impressive survival rate in the sector of 100%. [Three were sold to private concerns, but are still open and trading.] It shows that the main reason for the continuing number of pub closures cannot be local or central taxation, the increasing price of beer, or changes in drinking habits. The only logical answer must be that it’s the failed business model of the POBs [pub-owning businesses] with their tied house practices and refusal of fair market rents, which make it virtually impossible for landlords to make a reasonable living. Although the report only covers the year 2017, when there were 85 known community pubs trading, it shows an increase of 14 pubs during the year, and the pipeline of communities exploring community pub ownership grew to 153. The report also illustrates a number of examples of the added value of community pubs, including initiatives to address social isolation, loneliness and wellbeing. With The Black Horse Hotel in Otley still trying to move to community ownership before the ACV moratorium period runs out in 3 months’ time, this report from the Plunkett Foundation perhaps indicates that we can be confident about the future if the LS21 bid to Ei is successful.
While celebrating their 25th anniversary and their collaboration project last year, Rooster’s brewery in Harrogate also picked up awards both from the British Guild of Beer Writers (for their Anniversary Magazine), and from the Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards. The latter was for Yankee, which was named Product of the Year – and you can try it out if you join us at The Rose & Crown on Thursday evening! You can read the story of Rooster’s 2018, and their plans for the new brewery and brewery tap in Hornbeam Park in 2019 here on their blog.
. . AND FINALLY,
WHAT’S THE OLDEST BEER YOU’VE EVER HAD?
Probably less than two and a half thousand years old, anyway! Road workers completing improvements to the A14 in Cambridgeshire have come across what appears to be the earliest evidence of beer ever discovered in Britain, possibly dating back to as early as 400BC. This article in thedrinksbusiness.com explains how Dr Steve Sherlock, lead archaeologist working with the road improvement project, believes they have discovered potentially “the earliest physical evidence of the brewing process taking place in the UK.” With a name like Sherlock, I wonder what is the most popular response he gets, whenever he tells people that he has discovered something? [And if you think 2,500 years ago was when beer might FIRST have been brewed in England – think again. This article by Merryn Dinely on the English Heritage website suggests that beer might have been drunk at feasts and festivals in the Neolithic age – almost twice as long ago!
OPC Newsletter Editor
04 February 2019