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Wetherspoons autumn cask festival: good, but good enough?

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2017 by kmflett

I’m aware that for a variety of reasons Wetherspoons is not the favourite location of many  beer drinkers (myself included these days). Some seem particularly exercised about owner Tim Martin’s support for Brexit, which I think, politics aside (not that these are unimportant), was probably not the most astute decision for the future of his business. We shall see.

However if you object to entering a pub because the owner is right-wing you probably need to have a quick look at the history of the Beerage and perhaps consider temperance, which was a strong motivating for some for avoiding drink.

However all this aside Spoons remains a major seller of cask beer in the UK, with the all issues that this entails.

Its regular autumn beerfest is on now until 22nd October.

There are 30 beers in the Wetherspoons festival an event which ten years ago I looked forward to with a degree of anticipation. Most are specially brewed but often the most interesting thing now about them is the name and pump clip. As is in recent years international brewers have produced beers on the kits of some major regional brewers. These are not collabs but a way of producing quite large scale volumes of cask beer from breweries that otherwise would not. These beers are worth a try but the brewer quite often seems to struggle to escape the brewing frame of the regional they have been at.

Of course there are some exceptionally good beers too, such as Adnams Tally Ho.

Unfortunately the Wetherspoons festival in most of its pubs has become not exactly a festival but simply replacing the existing range of guest beers, with festival beers. Stillages are few and far between so if you want to try anything like a range you’ll need to find a very large Spoons such as the Crosse Keys in Gracechurch St in the City.

This was indeed what I did on Tuesday evening (after attending a TUC rally on the public sector pay cap). The Crosse Keys is in the centre of the City of London, is huge (a former banking hall) and invariably packed even early in the week.

I tried two beers in pints (£3.35 each) a Cerveza Fort oatmeal stout (the Barcelona brewer had gone to Caledonian to make the 5.5% beer which was perfectly drinkable and to be fair tasted nothing like Caledonian beers) and a Young Henry’s Newtowner (a 4.8% ‘golden’ ale- whatever that is- brewed at Adnams. Again decent and drinkable).

Service was good, the beers were in good condition, but exciting they were not.

The Crosse Keys had 15 or so of the 30 festival beers on and while it was a pleasant couple of hours you do sense the world of beer is moving on a little.

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From Wetherfest to Collabfest: tap takeovers & beer festivals. Things aint what they used to be?

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2017 by kmflett

From Wetherfest to Collabfest: tap takeovers & beer festivals. Things aint what they used to be?

The autumn Wetherspoons beer festival runs in all its pubs until 22nd October, while the Brewdog Collabfest is on this weekend, again in all its pubs.

Of course the former is all cask and the latter all keg, but I get the feeling is neither is what it was.

There are 30 beers in the Wetherspoons festival an event which ten years ago I looked forward to with a degree of anticipation. Most are specially brewed but often the most interesting thing now about them is the name and pump clip. As is in recent years international brewers have produced beers on the kits of some major regional brewers. These are not collabs but a way of producing quite large scale volumes of cask beer from breweries that otherwise would not. These beers are worth a try but the brewer quite often seems to struggle to escape the brewing frame of the regional they have been at.

Of course there are some exceptionally good beers too, such as Adnams Tally Ho.

Unfortunately the Wetherspoons festival in most of its pubs has become not exactly a festival but simply replacing the existing range of guest beers, with festival beers. Stillages are few and far between so if you want to try anything like a range you’ll need to find a very large Spoons such as the Crosse Keys in Gracechurch St in the City.

The Brewdog Collabfest I think (but we’ll see) may also have seen better days. Collabs brews in craft beer are now very common often between UK and international brewers. Rather different from when Brewdog started the festival.

Nowadays by contrast Brewdog focus on collabs with mostly smaller and comparatively less well-known UK brewers. Good for them of course but I suspect the results will be somewhat uneven. I may be surprised and if so I will certainly say so..

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Tony Benn on the October 1987 storm: ‘it was like a day that didnt exist’

In Uncategorized on October 16, 2017 by kmflett

Tony Benn’s diary for 16th October 1987 suggestions by omission one of the great things about the storm of 15th October 1987 compared to how such matters go on now.

Weather warnings there may have been from the Met but there were no websites to carry them and no social media to  repeat them. Unless you had been watching the TV weather on the evening of 15th October (when Michael Fish suggested that a hurricane was not on the way- he was technically right, it was a storm) you might well not have known much until the morning.

The impact on North London was relatively limited, but there was little transport in the morning. Certainly I couldn’t get to work, and in the day before e-mail and mobiles, getting to work meant physically attending a central London office.

I’m pleased to say however that by the afternoon matters had improved enough for my late father and myself to be able to get a bus to the Pigs Ear Beer Festival which back then ran at its original autumn time and in the first venue, Old Ford Town Hall, Bethnal Green

In the middle of the night we had the worst storm since 1703, with the wind speed in London reaching 94 mph. Trees were torn up all over the place. In Kew Gardens it will take 200 years for the trees that were lost to be replaced to maturity. The weather men never predicted it, though it was actually a hurricane. There are trees lying all over the streets. Caroline has been staying at Stansgate, where there was a power cut. Enormous damage has been done. The whole thing was unreal; it was like a day that didn’t exist, one of those days that has a special character of its own.

Tony Benn Diary
Friday 16th October 1987

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The Chartists are coming & so is a storm in London…

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 by kmflett

The Chartists are coming & so is a storm in London

Hurrah for old England and liberty sweet,
The land that we live in and plenty to eat;
We shall ever remember this wonderful day,
The Chartists are coming, get out of the way.

The Chartists are Coming, Ballad, 1848

According to the weather forecast while the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia is due to cross the British Isles in the next couple of days, with potentially serious impacts, these are not likely to be in London and the south-east.

That of course was not the case exactly 40 years ago when a hurricane did indeed cause considerable damage in the Capital.

You dont need a weatherman to tell you that in recent times severe weather in the Capital has been infrequent. Indeed unless the storm is noticed in London it may well not quite make the lead item on the news even if the devastation it causes elsewhere is significant.

However the anticipation of some dreadful event taking place, whether natural or human made is an important feature of London life and has been since Victorian times.

In the revolutionary year of 1848 for example the Chartists did indeed come, on April 10th 1848, but actually they were rumoured to be coming far more often than they actually arrived. The same is true of bad weather in London. Reports, often word of mouth or on social media, will note that bad weather is around and will appear soon. People will look anxiously and make travel plans accordingly.

The threat of bad weather and the Chartists two of the great imponderables of London life

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Leading folliclists start to shave opponents in Beard of Autumn poll

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 by kmflett

Beard Liberation Front press release
Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266
15th October

Leading folliclists start to shave opponents in Beard of Autumn poll

The Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers, has said that with just days left to vote for the Beard of Autumn 2017 a group of leading folliclists is starting to shave opponents.

England footballer Harry Kane currently has a narrow lead over broadcaster James O’Brien with cricketer Moeen Ali third and leading beer writer and Good Beer Guide Editor Roger Protz fourth.

The Beard of Autumn poll closes at midday on 19th October with the winner announced on 20th October. It is the last of four quarterly seasonal contests which lead to the Beard of the Year in December.

BLF Organiser Keith Flett said, the leading folliclists are splitting hairs at the top of the poll but with 4 days left to vote the contest remains open.

Shortlist
Moeen Ali, cricketer
Evan Davis, Newsnight presenter
Dave Grohl, musician
Prince Harry, Royal personage
Harry Kane, footballer
Joe Ledley, footballer
James O’Brien, broadcaster
Jeremy Paxman, author
Roger Protz, beer writer
Nick Robinson, broadcaster
Michael Rosen, author & broadcaster

Articles

The Ambridge Socialist. Robert Snell & the forces of reaction

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 by kmflett

The Ambridge Socialist
65 Years of the class struggle in Borsetshire

October 15th

Robert Snell & the forces of reaction

A vacancy has arisen on the Parish Council and in the apparent absence of any candidate Robert Snell has been lent on to be co-opted. However even in Ambridge the forces of democracy are at work. Emma Grundy has also put her name forward. The Clerk to the Parish Council Professor Jim has informally intervened to advise Emma that the forces of reaction on the Council are likely to be minded to co-opt Snell. However she need only collect 10 names to force the matter to an election. Duly done.

Industrial action at the dairy brings results
With Clarrie and Susan expected to manage the production of Tom’s disgusting fermented products along with the normal yoghurt and ice-cream but without a wage increase, there was a only one way forward. A go slow soon produced a crisis and a rise in the hourly rate for the job.

Justin refuses to sleep in the single bed
Following the escape of Lillian’s dog Ruby, its capture by Matt and a situation which almost called for ACAS between Matt and Justin in the Bull, Justin has claimed credit for finding the dog and made it clear that he is sleeping in the ‘master’ bed. Leadership in action.

In other news
Alastair is writing his confession about why he killed the horse
Lillian has been at the races with Matt (Cheltenham that is)
Adam has been playing cricket with Henry
David Archer has a new book out

 

Articles

London Socialist Historians autumn seminars 2017. Mon 16th Oct, John Rees, The Leveller Revolution

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians seminars

Autumn term 2017. Monday 16th October 5.3opm John Rees on The Leveller Revolution

John Rees socialist activist and campaigner, historian and beard wearer speaks on his recent book from Verso

All seminars take place at 5.30pm in Room 304 Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, WC1 (fully accessible)

Entry is free without a ticket

Monday October 16th John Rees, The Leveller Revolution
Monday October 30th Merilyn Moos, Neglected histories of the diverse victims of Nazism.
Monday November 13th Christian Hogsbjerg, ‘Every Cook Can Govern’: C.L.R James and the Russian Revolution’
Monday November 27th John Newsinger, From Revolution to Labourism?: Orwell and the Left’
Monday December 11th Dave Hill, A History of London’s Housing Crisis