Thursday, 6 November 2008

Sad news

This is a Local Brewery for Local People:

or Bitter Tetley men (and lasses)

I don’t write that much about drinking mainly because if your best and oldest friend and is a Britain’s Leading Beer Writer you get enough of that at home, as it were and also he’s really good at it. See his piece on why Stella’s gone down hill to see what I mean.

So I’m only writing this because another bit of our culture is being wrecked and because it comes from the none “Norman”* side of the tracks it’s going virtually unreported in the media. The Tetley brewery is going to be closed and in the way of these things moved to Northampton.

Pint of Pride please mate.
Now I could be called traitor in this as I live in London and I have deep fondness for Fuller’s London Pride (don’t worry I will get to Tetley’s) which to my minds is one the top five beers in world. At the end of the day when I walk into a London pub the thing I want most is a pint of Pride. Thanks to BBLW I’ve drunk beers literally from around the world I’ve sipped the most expensive and strongest ale, gingerly sipped bottles of IPA from 1860’s, I’ve supped beers fresh from the Brewery with the guy who made it and they were all interesting, tasty and enjoyable but when the skies flat grey and the taxi lights are playing in the cut glass windows and bouncing of the nicotine stained plaster cherubs somewhere near Soho and your is hair damp from” that fine rain” and you’ve sat through 2 meetings what is the most perfect way to mark the change from work to the rest of your life than a pint of bitter, in my case Pride.

But if I’d just walked down the Headrow into the centre of Leeds and the buses where a different colour but the pubs still wood and etched glass palaces I’d order a pint of Tetley. It would be slightly different from Pride still hoppy but fuller bodied with distinct full almost half inch Yorkshire head. As you take the first sip the beer will spread out and quench your tongue, the foam pleasingly adding to the experience. You might have to wipe the odd fleck of spume from your lips with your hand and then slowly things start to improve. It’s not the alcohol that takes longer to work, it’s some sort herbal chemical physical thing. I do think the functional quality of beer that quenches thirst is part of it’s appeal**.

Being an English session beer you can take a gulp of the first inch or so and wait for distinctive flavour to kick in and so goes the rest of the pint, by the time your halfway down you friends will have arrived and you can put down the paper, you can swop stories and the old jokes can start, fairly soon another round will be in order. Maybe you can then get a table now things “are quieting down”....... well I won’t go on you’ve all been to the pub and hopefully you know where I’m coming from an remember pubs aren’t just for after work there’s Saturday lunch & Monday afternoon and and .... .

Bastions of everyday cheer
Suffice to say pubs are precious institutions quite different from bars, cafés, restaurant, bistros, noodle stands all of which have their place. In recent years pubs have got less blokey and some sell more food which is a good thing but the best still offer a mix of a warm welcome with good things to drink which to my mind should include British local beer.

The fact that my beer of choice is made 5 miles down the road is important to me, I’ll happily argue with people from Leeds or Oregon that my local brew is best and they will do the same and we will all be right. I’ve said it before and will sadly say it again but can you imagine the Kentucky authorities allowing Jack Daniels to close or in France a champagne house to fold. But the government in Britain is under the sway of the wine drinking olive eating Tuscan Bland People and doesn’t care about beer or pubs so stands by and lets Young’s move out of London and now is letting Tetley’s go from Yorkshire.

The shame and terror of on the piss Britain?
They can get rid of Tetley’s partly because we’ve swallowed all the guff about booze Britain “oh why can’t we drink like Mediterraneans” what sit in a strip light lit narrow bar watching petang on a flickering portable tv, drinking indifferent coffee while wearing a vest just outside some pimply 12 year old is loudly revving his Vespa while in the corner some old gaffer finally dies unnoticed save by his flatulent dewy eyed dog yeah provincial French bars are great aren’t they!

Have you tried to find a good place to drink to anywhere outside a big city in Italy on mid week night ohh and last time I was in Madrid there were plenty of teenagers getting wellied on cheap red wine and coke. Here’s a thing I’ve been drinking for over 20 years and do you know I‘ve never had a fight in a pub. Most of the places I go to rarely have any trouble. Sure you see people worse for wear on the tube and there was unfortunate confused street drinker in Camden last night. But the solution to people who takes things to excess isn’t to diminish the lives of the majority and in fact normal everyday pubs aren’t the place people abuse alcohol they do it at home were they can’t be seen they do it after buying cheap strong cider or cheap white wine. Ridding Britain of local beer and the Pubs that go with them will make Britain a worse place to live, it will remove a unique and worthwhile part of our society and leave us watching property programmes on our laptops pecking at bland ready meals with strange names washed down with mediocre half pints of rose brewed in cold bleak sheds in some of distant New Zealand trading estate and here’s the killer there’ll the same amount of drunks in Britain as there ever was.

God’s County
All this I haven’t even got onto Yorkshire’s essential unique character, what other county in Britain has it name sung by football fans? At the match on Saturday after singing our allegiances to the mighty reds and our hatred of W*dn*sd*y chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” sprung up, I’ve never heard this from any other county. It’s a cliché to say that Yorkshire people will say they are from Yorkshire before the name of their town but it’s true, it may sound arrogant I suppose but I think it’s endearing, it points to people who see themselves in a wider context. It helps produce different forms of art, culture and beer it helps move the centre of gravity away from the capital. You can’t buy Taylor’s Northamptonshire Tea can you?
This sort of local character is important and its things like Tetley bitter, local sport, local nature, local industry, obscure names for alleys and bread rolls that form it. If we loose local distinctive cultures we are all diminished even fancy Dan Londoners.

So can I start another campaign, Pride drinkers “say keep Tetley local in Leeds?”
God I need a pint now

*Normans: jumped up Vikings who moved to Northern France and took to drinking wine and stealing other people’s land and who have spent the last 1000 years lording over the rest of us from Parliament, from the pulpits of the Anglican church and from the food and wine pages and columns of the broad sheets. This weekend try to find any mention of Britain’s 400 breweries in the editorial of your weekend rag, see how many beers they recommend on Saturday kitchen to go with their locally grown food!

** I have always wondered about hot countries like Spain or France, do peasants slake their thirst with wine? It’s not a drink to drink like that to my mind.


ally. said...

i've gone all teary and shall be popping into the blue posts in a couple of hours to raise a glass

Knut Albert said...

A wonderful post!

BLTP said...

thanks Knut
nice to have you along.