OTLEY PUB CLUB: SEPTEMBER MEETING
THIS MONTH’S MEETING, WEDNESDAY 5th SEPTEMBER
Yes, that’s right, keeping you on your toes every single month by switching the day of the meeting! [So watch out for the AGM in October, which will be on a Thursday again!] Back to Wednesday this month though – even though I don’t set foot back in the country until about 2pm on the 5th. We’ll still be basking in the success of the Yorkshire Celebrities pub renaming project, while at the same time panicking about how to fill the Secretary and membership Secretary roles when I withdraw from them in October. See below for the roles that will be up for grabs next year and what they entail, so that if you’d like to take on one or the other you’ve got plenty of time to get in touch and ask questions before the AGM. Why not come to the meeting and have a chat?
Anyway, you get a few minutes extra fresh-air time walking from the town centre to the first pub this time – The White Swan [19:15 meeting, followed by social chat]; moving on to The Bowling Green [20:45]; and then The Old Cock [21:30]
WETHERSPOONS BANS DOGS FROM SEPTEMBER 10th – FROM ALL PUBS & OUTSIDE AREAS
As from Monday September 10th ALL dogs other than support animals will not be allowed into any JD Wetherspoon pub – or even into the pub gardens or outside areas. [See this Daily Mirror article.] So if you do usually take your pet down to The Bowling Green in Otley, you might want to get ready to make alternative arrangements! [Or go to one of the many dog-friendly pubs in Otley – we do have a great choice!]
In the same way that the chain covered all bases when it barred all its branches from having separate social media accounts [- was it really because of trolling, or because staff were spending too much time on maintaining the accounts?] it has quoted two separate reasons for the ban. One is that staff are fed up with cleaning up dog mess, while the other is that dogs can be dangerous and unpredictable – especially around the many children who come with their families to JDW pubs. Whatever the real reason, the ban WILL come into force next month, and will be strictly enforced. [Pity the poor staff who have to keep going out into pub gardens and telling anyone with a dog that they have to leave – especially if they’ve just ordered a full round of drinks and food! And don’t forget – the ban does apply to ALL dogs, even Arkwright’s new dog! [John Smith’s bitter ‘New dog’ advert deleted for copyright reasons, but available on the internet.]
Why, oh why did I have to mention the ‘success’ of Bradford Brewery in getting SIBA accreditation! No sooner had I sent out the August Newsletter containing that news, than I got an email back saying they had now closed! [As confirmed in this Morning Advertiser article.] Both the brewery tap in Rawson Road and their second outlet The Exchange Ale House on Market Street were selling off the last of their stock on Friday and Saturday the 17th and 18th of August. At the time of writing this, the council were still trying to find ways of keeping the brewery open, and there was no specific reason given for the closure. One always assumes financial reasons are behind any closure, although they had only been trading for three years – but equally it’s always dangerous to make assumptions! Maybe the refurbishment and running of The Exchange proved less profitable than expected, or maybe while bringing their paperwork up to date to meet SIBA requirements they discovered something unsustainable. Perhaps we’ll find out later, but it’s a shame to see them go. [Thanks to Brighton Bill, from Baildon beer festival, for letting me know about this.]
NOT ENOUGH FRIENDS OF HAM?
So is the local/small/craft brewery/trendy craft bar bubble about to burst? You wouldn’t think so, when you see the number of different breweries that are still cropping up, and the number of bars that are still opening. [We’re waiting for two more in Otley, that might or might not appear.] Anyway, it seems from this article that the Leeds and Ilkley bars ‘Friends of Ham’ have now gone into administration. The first bar opened in Leeds in 2012, and after expanding there and opening a spinoff ‘Ham and Friends’ in Leeds, a second venue was opened in Ilkley in 2015. Now it seems the financial strain of the additional two locations and less than expected footfall this summer at the main site has caused the owners to call in the administrators. The good news is that the company was bought by local property and investment company Glentrool, and “all of the remaining employees from each of the locations have been retained.”
PINTS IN POLYCARBONATE?
Also in The Morning Advertiser was this article about glass drinks containers being banned in Darwen after 9pm, following the death of a young man who had been stabbed in the neck by a broken champagne flute. The council haven’t implemented the law yet, and although a family friend of the dead man is quoted as saying “Alcohol tastes (the) same out of carbonated glasses” I suppose a number of questions still remain. I don’t know, for instance, whether polycarb containers cost more, or less, than glasses. [Local funding of £10,000 has been announced to help clubs and bars pay for the additional stock.] Neither do I know how often they can be washed and re-used, in comparison with their glass alternatives. Next, is there a polycarb alternative for every style of glass [dimple pint mugs, for instance]? I believe polycarbonate ‘glasses’ are recyclable, so that’s not an issue, but are they brittle – if stamped on for instance – thus producing sharp shards of hard plastic that could still be used as a weapon?
The idea of a 9pm ‘curfew’ for glass also seems questionable. If all the above questions can be answered favourably, why can’t all pubs and clubs just use polycarb ‘glasses’ all the time? Or, as the incident in Darwen happened after 1am, [and if you want to read the brief but shocking details, they’re on the Lancashire police website ] why not make the curfew hour midnight? Please don’t misunderstand me – even one death under these circumstances is one too many – but when you’ve been in as many pubs as I have, you very soon realise people can be outrageously drunk at any time of day, and some people just love picking fights for no reason whatsoever. Banning glass might be a way of making pubs safer, but if it is it surely shouldn’t just be undertaken as a knee-jerk reaction in one small Lancashire town.
THE BEST OF EVERYTHING BEERY?
I know I’ve said many a time that not everyone who reads these newsletters will be a fan of CAMRA. But even if you’re not, maybe you like lists. Or possibly a good competition? And “the CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain is one of the most prestigious beer competitions in the world.” [Even if they do say so themselves.] So when the winners of the annual gold silver and bronze awards for six different types of real ale plus one supreme champion are announced, the industry sits up and takes notice, even if not all the beer-drinking public do. This year’s supreme champion [which makes it sound as though it should come from Cruft’s, so perhaps they won’t be selling it at Wetherspoons!] was Broken Dream Breakfast Stout, from Siren brewery in Berkshire. Their own description of the beer goes –
“A 6% breakfast stout with a gentle touch of smoke, coffee and chocolate. Broken Dream is deep and complex. She lurks in your imagination. She binds smoke and coffee aromas with chocolate, milk and oats to create something thick, velvety and slick. She will draw you towards a land of flavour, passion and colour.”
[Yes – they are a ‘craft’ brewery. Of course they are.]
Only 2 of the 24 awards went to beers from Yorkshire – so what do CAMRA know anyway, eh?
“NO ALCOHOL IS SAFE TO DRINK” – BBC
You might have seen banner headlines like this based on an article published in The Lancet recently. That wording actually comes from a quote by the Chief Medical Officer of the UK back in 2016, which apparently this current study provides “strong support for”. What the study really proves is that ”Based on weighted relative risk curves for each health outcome associated with alcohol use, the level of consumption that minimises health loss due to alcohol use is zero.“ Semantics maybe, but the word ”safe” in this context seems a little inflammatory! The article itself is even headed “No level of alcohol consumption improves health”, which is not the same thing at all! It feels as though we’re heading into Mad Hatter’s tea party territory here, where you might as well say “No car is safe to drive” is the same as “Driving a car will not make you live longer”!
The study, and its associated article, contain such easy to understand phrases as – “A paucity of estimates from meta-analyses identifying appropriate reference categories, adequately accounting for survival bias and other confounders, has meant previous assessments of the harm of alcohol have been POTENTIALLY [my emphasis] inaccurate.” And “By implementing a novel method to establish a counterfactual level of exposure across varied relative risks that does not need to assume zero exposure, the authors present tangible evidence for low-risk drinking recommendations.” I don’t claim to understand any of it [although I do recognise the individual words] but I worry that by creating different methodologies from those used previously, the authors might be producing results that support their own subjective view of expected outcomes. “Counterfactual” for instance means relating to something which didn’t actually happen, but which MIGHT have happened! So does that mean we’re back Through the Looking Glass, where Humpty Dumpty says “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less”? In any event, The Lancet is one of the most well-respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the UK if not the world, so I suppose we have to take it at face value.
I still couldn’t shake the feeling that there was an element of subjectivity in the report though. It says “Alcohol is a COLOSSAL [my emphasis] global health issue” supported by saying 2.8 million deaths worldwide each year can be attributed to [ie not directly caused by?] alcohol, and the best way to stop this is “reduce affordability through taxation or price regulation, including setting a minimum price per unit (MUP), closely followed by marketing regulation, and restrictions on the physical availability of alcohol”. By the same token, the best way to prevent the 1.8 million deaths and 20-50 million injuries and disabilities caused by road accidents worldwide each year would be to make cars so expensive that no one could afford them; stop all car advertising; and close down all car showrooms. You know it makes sense! And while we’re at it, how about completely closing down all international arms production immediately? At least drinking has innumerable social and societal benefits, even if we are all very well aware of its capability to inflict damage. What possible benefits are there from slaughtering people in armed conflict? Or, you know, malaria? Why not eradicate that first? Or any of a million other things I’d rather see stamped out, that don’t stop me enjoying a beer.
BE THAT AS IT MAY [before I get completely carried away – in all senses of the word!] – here’s the link to the article and study, if you’re interested in reading it yourself.
JUST BECAUSE I’M PARANOID, DOESN’T MEAN . . .
. . . they aren’t out to get me! When a humorous advert like this one for wine on the London Underground gets banned because it’s alleged to be promoting ‘excessive drinking’, the world really has gone mad. Alcohol Concern complained – an organisation that already campaigns for the complete prohibition or at least tight restriction of alcohol advertising in any case – as did 3 individuals [who might or might not work for Alcohol Concern, I suppose]. So the advertising Standards Authority banned it – on the basis of 4 complaints, out of the millions of views it must have had on the Underground during April and May this year. I’m beginning to feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.
While we’re talking about complaints, here’s another – this time from just 2 members of the public – that has been upheld by the Independent Alcohol Complaints Panel. According to this article from The Morning Advertiser, the two complainants believed that the tagline “Beer for Girls” on the advertising for BrewDog Pink IPA could make the beer appeal to under-18s. The panel acknowledged that the phrase was not only meant to be ironic, but was also intended to generate discussion around the gender pay gap for International Women’s Day. [See BrewDog’s own website for their explanation of the branding, and a description of the money they donated to women’s rights groups from the sales of the beer.] However, they ruled that because the dictionary definition of ‘girl’ is ‘a female child’ they had to find in favour of the complainants!
Now you might remember that I’ve been less than complimentary about BrewDog in the past, and wonder why I seem to be sticking up for them now. Well so do I! Because their response to this decision is sort of what you would expect from a now almost £1billion-valued company, whose allegedly ‘punk’ ethos seems to have somehow morphed into classic capitalism – A ‘spokesperson (full marks for the non-sexist nomenclature!) for Brewdog’ said “We’re as bothered about this Portman Group ruling as we are any other – that is, not at all!” I wonder if they felt that way about the case below as well? Read on . . .
“BREWDOG . . CLAIM THEY’RE THIS TOP COMPANY”
Another Morning Advertiser article reports that BrewDog were ordered to pay £12,000 to a former employee after sacking him because he was about to be declared blind. Despite a number of changes being recommended by the Royal National Institute for Blind people which would have allowed the man to carry on working for the brewery, they first suspended him and then sacked him with just one month‘s payment. A mobility officer also visited the site and concluded that the man would be able to carry out his duties with no difficulty if the recommendations were followed. Nevertheless, at his dismissal his line manager didn’t refer either to the RNIB finding, or to the comments of the mobility officer, leading the ex-employee to say “BrewDog try to claim they’re this top company to work for, but it took this tribunal to show what they really are.” BrewDog tried to blame the worker for turning down a different job he was offered with the brewery, and even said it was “clearly . . difficult for the tribunal panel, as their decision . . was split”, but at least they didn’t say “We’re as bothered about this tribunal ruling as we are any other – that is, not at all!”
BEERTOGRAPHY? IS THAT A WORD?
It certainly is now! Search for the hashtag #beertography on Instagram and you come up with about 1.5 million posts! What’s more, I’ve posted using it myself and you get instant recognition and feedback from other craft beer photographing fans. This article from craftbeer.com says “For many of us, we want to share our craft beer journey with other people who love it just as much. Taking photos of the beer we’re drinking helps showcase the cool breweries we’re visiting, the interesting food pairings, and the fun beer festivals. It also describes “10 beertography tips from the pros”. It doesn’t say who the pros are, but maybe they’re people like self-confessed craft beer and beer photography obsessive @beertographee from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Anyways, if you like beer, photography – and Instagram – this one’s for you. [Or, you know – if unlike me you already have a life, you can always ignore it . . .]
THE 50 STATE USA PUB CRAWL CHALLENGE
Looking for a brand new idea for a stag do? And I bet you think you’ve done some mighty pub crawls in your time eh? Starting with the Westgate run in Wakefield? Moving up to the Otley Run in Leeds? Maybe the Guinness bar trail in Dublin? Well, I bet you’ve never tried anything like this. Already registered with the Guinness Book of Records as an attempt at the ‘Fastest Time To Visit A Pub In All 50 US States’, it’s due to take place in May next year – and it looks from the website as though there are still places available. Apparently, this trip provided by Smiling Grape Adventure Tours “will be searching for the weird and the wonderful, inquisitive friendly locals, old diners, Man vs Food challenges, cheap beer and a way of life that hasn’t changed for decades.” Admit it – you’re interested, aren’t you? Well you can find out more on the website!
. . AND FINALLY, JOBS ON THE OPC COMMITTEE!
As promised, here are the descriptions of the Secretary and Membership Secretary jobs [and the titles of a few others, because we’re always looking for new blood, and you can volunteer for ANY role you like – even if someone’s already filling it – we’ll be happy to accommodate you!
SECRETARY OVERVIEW – (vacancy from 03 October 2018)
- Managing all formal correspondence on behalf of Otley Pub Club. Mainly via the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox, but also any forwarded from the membership secretary [qv] from the email@example.com mailbox;
- Managing all less formal correspondence/answering all questions on behalf of OPC, forwarded by the social media manager from all social media accounts – currently Twitter, Facebook and Instagram;
- Organising the location and business of monthly and ad hoc committee and social meetings and AGM;
- Acting as the liaison point for all internal and external communications and projects – making sure everyone on the committee is kept up to date with all OPC business.
MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY OVERVIEW – (vacancy from 03 October 2018)
- Maintaining an email address list for current OPC members
- Collecting/maintaining additional postal/phone information from members as appropriate
- Maintaining a separate list of ‘Premier’ card-holding members
- Sending newsletters, invitations and ad hoc notifications to members by email, from the opcmembers mailbox
- Replying to members’ and other emails to opcmembers mailbox or forwarding correspondence to secretary for action, as appropriate.
OTHER POSITIONS YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING FOR – (just ask for details!)
- WEBSITE MANAGER
- NEWSLETTER EDITOR
- SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
- PUBLICITY/PR OFFICER
- PROJECTS MANAGER
- LIAISON OFFICER WITH OTHER OTLEY ORGANISATIONS
- PUB LIAISON OFFICER [for as many or as few pubs as you like!]
26 August 2018