Letters – July 2019

All readers – not just CAMRA members – are invited to submit letters for publication to London Drinker but please remember that the letters column is intended for debate and constructive criticism. The editor reserves the right not to print any contributions that are otherwise. Please e-mail letters to: ldnews.hedger@gmail.com. If you do not have e-mail, hard-copy letters may be sent to the same address given for subscriptions on page 3, addressed to London Drinker Letters. In both cases, please state ‘letter for publication’ so as to avoid any misunderstandings.

Whatever happened to National Beer Day? Little publicity or announcement! But magnificent celebration on 15 June at John Hatch’s Ram nano-brewery in Wandsworth, including his excellent stout for the day. As a past CEO of Young’s apparently said to John long ago ‘why couldn’t you brew ales as good as this when you were at Young’s?’! John’s comedy nights with his superb free ales are deservedly thriving and have enabled him to keep his promise in 2006 (to John Young) to maintain a brewing presence at the Ram Brewery site in Wandsworth following the sale of Young’s brewery. Please follow John’s example in future and have more promotion of National Beer Day – and also more promotion please for May as the Mild month?
Tony Bell
Editor’s note: I have sympathy with Mr Bell’s view here. National Beer Day, also known as Beer Day Britain, is sponsored by a number of major organisations in the beer industry including Britain’s Beer Alliance, the Society of Independent Brewers, the British Beer & Pub Association and CAMRA. Not all of those organisations have aims in common and, as far as I can see, no-one takes the lead. I received no copy about it for the last edition.

The report in the last edition of CAMRA North London Branch’s afternoon session prompted the thought that it is a time of day when pubs can draw on a steady income. It comes from old folks whose trade unions got them a decent occupational pension scheme. We’re not rich. We’re not standing in the way of younger folk. We just have enough disposable to be able to pop into the local after a lunchtime round the shops. We’ll spend time doing crosswords, planning tomorrow’s washing and ironing, following the progress of our investments in livestock futures from the 1.30 at Haydock to the 5.30 at Plumpton, or just put the world to rights with our fellow drinkers. Very strong beer isn’t the best accompaniment for this. We need session bitters. I was disappointed to see that the advert for the Bricklayer’s Arms’ Timothy Taylor extravaganza said that it covered their full range but didn’t include their bitter. I looked it up and discovered they’ve stopped brewing it. The same has happened to Slaters, whose bitter used to provide a refuge from Milton’s golden range when it guested at the Pembury in Hackney. And so on across the board. Sharp’s used to do a basic bitter that they sold to the Betjeman at St Pancras but now it seems they only sell Doom Bar or Coaster. Oddly, in the Spice of Life, just along from the Coach & Horses whose turmoil you report, I discovered that McMullen’s now categorise their AK as a bitter, so you can’t even trust the names! Mind you, Shepherd Neame’s Master Brew seems to be a range of beers that vary from barrel to barrel. My local in Bow sells a pint of Master Brew and a pint of Oranjeboom for £7.60. We bought a pint of Master Brew and a pint of San Miguel in a Sheps pub in the City and it cost £10.50. I’m not saying that my post-prandial sector of the market only wants, or can only afford, Wetherspoon’s characterless boozing barns but that price isn’t going to get me back in again. This is not to denigrate other people’s tastes. Another weekday afternoon regular is the group of mums waiting for their broods to be released from the child preserve sharing a bottle of Prosecco. It is just to say that this reliable bit of the pub market is worth catering for.
Nik Wood
Editor’s note: I’m pleased to report that the second of North London branch’s afternoon events was also a great success.

Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful pub. Around 1973/74 I think that the original bear was still alive. I went there with my dad and sister after teaching my sister to drive. On a second visit there was no bear but the pub had a wonderful garden with other animals for the children. Sadly, I can’t remember the beer, only the pub. It’s a shame that it cannot remain the Bear.
Mr G Durrance

Thanks to reader John Devlin who sent me a copy of a letter which he spotted in the Daily Telegraph. It follows some debate about there not being a British national drink. Mr David Astin of Taperoo, South Australia, commented, “It has been my experience on my annual trip to Britain that a decent pint of real ale would suffice as a national drink – whatever the weather.”