OTLEY PUB CLUB: FEBRUARY MEETING
THIS WEEK’S MEETING, Wednesday 07 February
Wednesday night meetings seem to be doing OK, so we’ll be continuing with them throughout the year. This week we’ll be starting off in The Black Bull with the usual committee meeting at 19:15, followed by a swift social drink until about 20:45, when we’ll move on to The Black Horse Hotel. [If for any reason The Black Horse is closed that night, we’ll head off to The Bowling Green instead!] Then at 21:30 we’ll move again, to The Manor House, for the rest of the evening.
The brewing industry might seem to be a million miles away from Hollywood, but this article on the BBC news website suggests that sexism is blighting the beer world as well. Unwanted physical attention and touching spreads all the way from bar staff to female brewers at trade conferences and events. Female brewers are disrespected and taken less seriously than their male colleagues, and the attitude to women as mere sex objects is strengthened by beer names like Top Totty or Dizzy Blonde being accompanied by pump clips bearing pictures of scantily clad women. At least the Brewers Association has ruled award-winning beers with offensive names in the United States will not be read out at ceremonies, and maybe that will be repeated in the UK.
On a positive note, brewer Jaega Wise, of Wild Card Brewery in East London, has been made a South East elected director for the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), following an election at the organisation’s South East AGM. Jaega will also be a part of a panel debate at SIBA’s BeerX in March on Marketing Beer to Women Responsibly, looking at ways in which breweries should market to women and the potential pitfalls to avoid. SIBA chief executive, Mike Benner, said: “On behalf of SIBA, I am very pleased to welcome Jaega as one of our new elected directors. As well as representing the region alongside Tom and Iain, it is positive she is already seeking to enact national change, by bringing forward an important discussion on sexism in the beer industry at the SIBA board meeting in February.” Let’s hope the time is not far away when a woman gaining a position on the board of a brewing organisation is not headline news! Full story at https://beertoday.co.uk/jaega-wise-siba-director-0118/
WHEN IS A BEER NOT BOOZE?
Maybe when it’s ‘completely’ alcohol free? [As a follow-up to last month’s ‘Dryanuary’ piece] if you’re still being reminded about the excesses of December, there ARE alternatives when you fancy an evening out. Budweiser, for instance, are promising that their new Prohibition Brew is an alcohol-free beer that actually tastes like beer. I can’t verify that, I’m afraid, as I haven’t tasted it yet. Pistonhead do a 0.5% can of dry hopped lager called Flat Tire that gets good reviews and at the same strength you can get everything from a wheat beer by Erdinger to a chocolate milk stout from Big Drop Brewing. If you want to go the whole hog, and you’ve always liked San Miguel, they do a completely alcohol free bottled beer. You can find out more about the options available at https://www.lightdrinks.co.uk/blogs/latest/5-low-and-alcohol-free-beers-to-try and elsewhere on the lightdrinks website.
If your preference is more for wine than beer, The Guardian’s Feast magazine on Saturday 20/01 contained an article by Fiona Beckett (which I couldn’t find online, I’m afraid) about readily available low alcohol wines. It featured a Muscat from Waitrose, a Chardonnay and a Garnacha rosé from Tesco [all at 0.5%], and a Shiraz from the Co-op at – err – 8.5% [OK, maybe low for Shiraz!] So if you try any of these and like them, let your local landlords know. If there is enough demand – and not just from the odd ‘designated driver’ – the licensed trade might just listen.
‘TOFISH’ N CHIPS, ANYONE?
Even as recently 4 years ago, the landlady of The Spread Eagle pub in East London was so worried about the effect the word ‘vegan’ on the menu might have on her clientele, that she considered dropping it completely. Now things have completely turned around, and she runs London’s first 100% vegan pub, its sales pitch very much based on an absolute boycott of animal products – including its cask ales. OK, the pub is in Homerton, which is very much part of the ‘hipster’ community in London, as described in this article in The Guardian online, but could a similar venture attract customers in a traditional meat-eating farming community like Otley?
Well, ‘The Cheerful Chilli’ seems to do alright, with its completely vegetarian and vegan menu, and I know of two cafes in Otley that now serve vegan cakes alongside gluten-free and lactose-free options. All major coffee chains also now serve a variety of non-dairy whiteners, and I was in Zizzi’s restaurant in Bradford recently, which has vegan options for starter, main course and dessert. The main thing is for vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike not to feel ‘threatened’ by each other or by the variety of choices on offer. It must be almost 40 years ago now that I first heard someone at a garden barbecue say quite aggressively to a vegetarian friend “So why don’t you eat meat then? I bet if you were starving and there was nothing else to eat, you would!” I was sorely tempted to say “If you were in the desert with nothing else to drink, you’d possibly drink your own urine, but it doesn’t mean you would choose to do that all the time!!” Likewise, the first time I was aware of ‘radical’ vegetarians was about 25 years ago in my office canteen, when someone in the queue was quite literally screaming at a member of staff, because they didn’t have a completely separate set of utensils for serving meat and vegetarian options.
Like it or not, tastes, and times, change. Meat used to be a luxury item for the vast majority of the population. Prices fuelled by global demand [like the deal the UK is currently trying to agree with China] are likely to mean that non-poultry meat makes up less of most families’ weekly menu in future as well. Allegedly, 100,000 people gave up all animal products for ‘veganuary’ this year – a thirty-fold increase in just 3 years. Food for thought?
VICTORY ON MUSIC VENUES
You might remember that I told you recently about Kork’s Wine Bar closing in Otley – a loss not only to drinking and dining Otliensians, but also to those who liked the regular musical events in the back room. Now I have no idea whether the ‘noise’ from that back room could be heard by anyone who lived nearby, or whether those residents ever complained. But I do believe that The Junction, which is not a million miles away from Korks [next door but one] had to fork out a substantial sum of money to provide soundproofing for that very reason. The good news is that if Korks were to be sold for conversion into residential units, it is likely to be the developers themselves who would have to pay for any similar protection from ‘noise pollution’.
The BBC website reported in January that “The music industry is hailing a major victory after ministers vowed to change planning rules in England to protect venues from complaints about noise.” The Music Venue Trust had warned that the problem was not confined to music, with complaints being made about the ringing of church bells [haha! Does anyone ever complain about that in Otley?] as well as about noise emanating from speedway stadiums and even farms. Now, what is known as The Agent of Change Principle will mean that if developers are given permission to build near an existing premises, they will be responsible for identifying and solving any sound issues. BTW, Paul McCartney is being touted as one of the ‘stars’ warning about this problem, but I’d like to thank Frank Turner for raising the original petition and organising the ‘thunderclap’ project that helped get this principle accepted in Parliament.
THWAITES FREEZES BEER PRICES AGAIN
Last year Thwaites froze the price it charged its tenants for their beer. This January, those prices were frozen again for the second year in a row. Director of Pubs and Brewing, Andrew Buchanan, said it took the decision after feedback from tenants about costs pressures they are facing, including food costs, labour and utilities: “We know anyone running a pub is continuing to face challenges – from the impact of the National Living Wage to rates re-evaluations and there is no need for us to add to that worry.” Thwaites is continuing with its ongoing investment work, with £2.5m earmarked for its pubs in 2018, in addition to the investment in its new purpose-built brewery in the Ribble Valley which is set to open later in the year. This means the new brewery, stables and head office are coming together on the same site for the first time in its history. [Information copied from Thwaites website]
As you probably know, the only brewery-tied pub in Otley is owned by Thwaites – The Manor House on Walkergate. What’s more, the Thwaites dray horses will be coming to Otley carnival on Saturday the 16th of June, so we’re all looking forward to that.
EVERYONE’S SEARCHING FOR ‘THE NEW GIN’ [& RHUBARB]
Somebody in the trade in Otley swore to me this month that rum was going to be ‘the new gin’, and just a couple of weeks ago Fiona Beckett [yes, the same one] was asking “Is whisky the new gin?”. She reported in the Guardian that sales of whisky in some supermarkets at least were outperforming those of gin at the end of 2017. Mind you, I was also talking to someone in Otley who was about to suggest to one of the pubs in town that he should run a regular gin tasting event for them. Gin isn’t going to go away any time soon, with the range of flavours, additives and cocktails increasing all the time. The Aagrah restaurant in the centre of Leeds is even having a gin and jazz and curry night this Tuesday, Feb 6th. Personally, I just go for anything with rhubarb in it – gin; vodka; rhubarb and [vegan] custard . . . and with the Wakefield rhubarb festival coming up in a couple of weeks’ time [Feb 23 – 25] I’ll be over there to restock my drinks cupboard with my absolute favourite Rhucello liqueur! Just a word of warning. If you’ve never seen the 1751 prints by William Hogarth of Gin Lane and Beer Street, I’ve included them below. You’ll see that the happiness and contentment coupled with love for one’s fellow man induced by beer is completely opposite to the illness, addiction and poverty caused by the evil gin! Beware!
OH MISTER – PORTER!
You may remember that I mentioned Adrian Tierney-Jones was named beer writer of the year last year. If you read this article about the fall and rise of porter, you’ll understand why. It’s not my favourite drink, but after reading this article in originalgravity.com – at 11:15 in the morning! – I just wanted to rush down to the pub and get a pint of Harveys 1859.
HOW’S YOUR LANDLORD, LANDLORD?
I’ve shared stuff from the beer-bloggers Boak & Bailey before. They’re based in Bristol but wrote this piece after travelling [and drinking] through Leeds, Harrogate and York. Their main observation is that Timothy Taylor’s Landlord can taste decidedly different in different pubs [and I have to agree]. One possible reason is explained in the comments, from a contributor called ‘qq’, which I’ll let you read for yourself. B&B also discuss ‘the essence of Yorkshire bitter’ and why Northern pale-n-hoppy beer is more to their taste than London or Bristol takes on the same style.
AND FINALLY, WELL DONE JENNINGS!
Just a quick mention that Jennings Brewery [now Marstons, like so many others] celebrates having been in the brewing business for 190 years this year. To commemorate that, its flagship golden ale, Cumberland, has a shiny new pumpclip to show off. If you see it on the bar, why not have a pint to toast their success?
04 February 2018