Over the years most of my research has been about science fiction and related genres, or film, and whilst this has required researching new topics or periods, a lot of information has just seaped in over the years.
Whilst this project is not entirely from scratch, there’s an awfully lot of things I feel that I need to know even if it is never relevant (although I have various facts already acquired):
pubs (taverns, inns, alehouses, beerhouses)
locations, names, publicans, ties of specific pubs
I’ve found half a dozen interesting pubs in London, mostly in the King’s Cross area, a couple London Bridge, but I’ve hit the probably-need-something-for-the-journey-home stage of incipient alcoholism. There’s Sourced Market at St Pancras and Uto Beer at Borough Market, but neither are convenient for central London if I’m wandering around Oxford Street. There must be other places to buy bottled beer, right?
Waitrose seems to have a local beer – so there’s Meantime – and you’d think the food halls of Selfridges or Fortnum and Mason would help. A couple of Camden Town ales and something new that I forget right now (Rocky Head Pale Ale) in the former, and what I bought didn’t have a bar code so led to all kinds of till chaos.
So, off licenses. Yesterday I dropped into about twenty of them, or food and wine shops, and the selection is generally Hobgoblin, Badger, Newcastle Brown, Spitfire, Brakspear Oxford Gold and that’s about it. Three food and wine shops in a row, exactly the same stock. Wines from all over the world, but no local beer. Last week I found a whole shop devoted to Adnams, but I’ve yet to find anything within, say, the Circle Line. More research is needed, but I know a lot of the brewers in London do sell bottles.
There’s an old Time Out listing – but, again, none of these are central. Am I missing anywhere – aside from buying a take out at a pub itself (a Partizan Pale Ale from new brewery Partizan with citra, pacific jade and cascade hops, and very nice, too, since you ask)? Or are the economics of central London such that its own heritage is not available?
I make it twenty-seven or twenty-eight or twenty-nine breweries in Kent, depending on where precisely you draw the boundaries, and I suspect that this is a number which has grown by a third in ten years. When googling breweries, I keep finding newspaper stories of hobbyists who want to take it to the next level, and I sometimes wonder if the current apparent boom in brewing (a thousand different breweries) is sustainable. Do people who like beer and have cash glimpse a gap in the market and invest unwisely? A boom will bust. What is now trendy will become old hat.
Thus spake Eeyore.
There has been a long history of takeovers and buyouts, so that what appear to be different brands are in fact Marstons or Whitbreads, and choice of beer has been more limited than it has appeared – Fuller’s or Gales’? Same difference? Plus it’s one thing to supply your own pub (The Black Cat, The Foundry, Farriers Arms etc), quite another to scale up to supply several pubs or produce sufficient beer for TesMorrRoseBury’s.
I don’t know precisely what is going on with The Royal Tunbridge Wells Brewery, but a Facebook post this morning stated “the brewery is currently shut. I have several options for the future of the brewery which I am pursuing. Plans are to be back up and running in due course.” I’m hoping that the brewery can continue.
The brewery is based in Tunbridge Wells (obviously – but then Whitstable isn’t in the Bubble) and started in 2010 as a collaboration between Simon Lewis and retired brewer Ian Dormon, from the previous Royal Tunbridge Wells brewery, closed 1983.
I’ve had a number of their beers – I think there was a green hop, but I’ve also had a Dipper (3.7%), a Royal (4.1%), a Beau (4.8%), a Helles (5%) and, most recently, a Golden Ticket (5%), I think my favourite. I hope they can continue in some form.