Pump Clip Parade – Putrid Puritanism

This post was caused by some funny timelines; I saw this post on the Allgates Blog last week, but it is from May of 2014.

Allgates, by the way, apart from doing very good beers, write some excellent blog pieces so I was quite annoyed with myself that I’d missed this one on its original publishing.

For those who don’t know Pump Clip Parade, which itself started as a blog and has recently updated to its own .com is a website that, well I’ll let their spiel tell you:

Why, when there is the continual background murmur “we want more people to try cask ale”, do brewers keep giving their beers cringeingly bad, wince-inducing names and wilfully amateurish artwork?

It makes us, the drinkers, reluctant to drink the beer, however good it is.

It must stop!

Only by naming and shaming the culprits can we encourage brewers to improve the presentation of cask ale.
The focus is on British real ale, but occasionally foreign beers deserve the humiliation of a post on Pumpclip Parade.

This blog is not motivated by political correctness or anti-sexism. It is about bad marketing.

Mary Whitehouse could not come up with better subterfuge for her campaign of moralistic outrage.

 

What got me was the final line in the Allgates post:

“Just checked the site to make sure we weren’t appearing! We do, but only for awful clunking wordplay on our Caskablanca clip! But hands up as I think we had a few dodgy clips in our early days.”

Sure, if they wish to make some odd sort of apology because they’ve been “named-and-shamed” about a pun then by all means have at it…I just hope Pump Clip Parade doesn’t see their Twitter Banner picture or they’ll be for it…

 

Now the subject matter of the Allgates post above and what oddly Pump Clip parade denies it is mainly about is the issue of sexist pump clips.

I’m not going to talk about those in this post as that whole subject labelled as #beersexism is worthy of many posts and is far too intricate to debate about now.*

One aspect about Pump Clip Parade is that it is user-generated.

The campaign not only relies on the moralist need to nudge people into “good behaviour” but to keep a growing army of the perpetually offended on the look-out for anything else that can possibly raise the hackles of the fellow pseudo-virtuous.  The online version of the lynch-mob, pitchfork days of old.

The puritanical nature of this website is as patronising as every bit of health “advice” we receive on a daily basis for self-appointed “experts.”

The nannying associated with curbs on free speech is a thin end to the control of thought and the fear of seeing something that might offend leads to the closed mind and brain death from a lack of ideas, critical thinking and cognotive reasoning.

The final thing about the site is that it is a personification of everything that is currently wrong with the gentrification and snobbery associated with beer.  Heaven help the working-class bloke that gets a chuckle from a bad pun, some crap art or a bit of smut; the middle-class liberals are here to purge you of your soiled mind and clothes and invite you to join in the beer utopia of a world full of clean corporatism, where each pump clip as relentlessly dull and sterile as the other and drunk in a place filled with IKEA’s finest offerings.

Vive la différence.

Choosing to buy (or not) a beer because it has an image on it that can be seen to be derogatory is one thing, but not buying one because of language is just as silly and as immature as the puns used on the pump clips.

What is funny is that the justification for some of these pump clips, apparently (as the tag cloud helps you with) is “it’s just a larf innit?”or “a bit of fun.”

Which I’m sure would be the defence for the faux-violence in the website tag-line “…but bloody hell, some brewers should be tied up in hop pockets and beaten with malt-shovels.

But that is the problem with self-appointed moralists…they are full of bullshit.

There is one thing I like more than beer and that is free speech.  Of course this piece itself is full of hyperbole and faux-outrage which may lead to some sort of Streisand effect but it’s good to go down to someone else’s level once in a while and play the hypocrite.

 

“And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”

 

*I suppose somewhere in that sentence I was meant to, at the very least denounce sexism…

3 Colours Smithfield

Red

It was around 2005 when I was introduced to the Smithfield (Hotel).  Inside it was all red carpet, an oddly placed pool table, wobbly chairs and short-tempered dogs.

It did have a vast array of casks and was a massively charming boozer.

Then it closed rather suddenly.

 

Purple

It reopened in about August of 2014 and as the photos on its then twitter account @smithfieldmcr1 shows it was very purple inside.

Sadly during its overly long closure it had lost its footing on the beer scene, over-taken by the likes of Crown & Kettle, Castle, Fringe Bar and slightly further away, the Angel and the Marble Arch.

Still, it had cask beers, but these were not consistently available and the decor had really stripped away most of its original charm to the point that it felt worse than any generic place you’d find in Printworks or on Deansgate Locks.  Still pubs can only be as good as what you bring to them yourself and it was ok when I was in there, if rather depressingly quiet most of the time.

 

Magnolia

Then out of the blue like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper, another twitter account appeared @TheSmithfieldNQ and it appeared that BlackJack, who’s beers were ever-present in the Purple incarnation, had taken it over.

After a ‘soft’ launch last Thursday it opened properly on the 18th of June (yesterday as I type).

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The Burton Arms is somewhat over shadowed by the other pubs nearby.

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The Heineken sign – the Emmanuel Goldstein of the ‘craft’ beer pub.

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Keg lines, more drip trays required, possibly numbers too.

 

It was very busy last night – possibly due to the buzz of the launch, it was commented that (made up statistic alert…) probably 80% of the people in there had never been to the place in its previous colour schemes.

Still a bit of work needed doing, papering, painting, a way of drying your hands in the men’s toilets, possibly some pictures on the bare white walls.

You get the feeling these days that because the beer scene (errghh, sorry) is perceived to be moving fast that new pubs and even new breweries are open far sooner than they should.

But the beer, the crowds and the dart board is there (no pool table yet, maybe downstairs when that is complete?) and it was a good night.

I’ll leave you with this motto…

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Thanks for reading.

Pub Guilt

I was going to start this off with a lyric that Ian MacKaye wrote when he was in Minor Threat, but that would detract from the focus of this piece.

One of my mates commented that I can now disguise any heavy drinking I do as “part of my hobby.”

A quick flick through the vast ways I can keep track about what I drink (this blog, Twitter, Untapped, photos, good old-fashioned memory) highlights that over recent months I’ve imbibed a lot of beer, but seldom was it in pubs.

I drink bottles at home, bought from a vast array of local beer shops, many of whichthemselves now serve alcohol in the increasingly micropub (or microbar) vane via keg and/or cask.

I’ve been to a hell of a lot of beer festivals and even the breweries themselves and/or associated brew taps.

I’ve been to beer tastings and meet the brewer events, which though held in pubs seldom see me venture into the reaches on the actual pub and purchase anything from the bar.

In fact as I type this (while not drinking) I do think; I could buy myself a laptop or tablet and quite easily stroll down to my local and compose this there.

But that in itself it quite an insular thing – why would I go out to a social environment and then put my face into a big electronic screen for the entire time I was there?

What there is, is a feeling, the pub was and still very much is about a community spirit and about comfort.

I’ve been to beer festivals and some just feel too regimented- you are there to drink, interaction with anyone outside your social circle is minimal.

Many modern bars that just feel empty.  Hollow carcasses where people wish to been seen to be drinking rather than getting any actual pleasure from the experience, but I suppose if you are surround by plywood, IKEA-lite furnishings or the very strange industrial-chic stylings, what is there to enjoy?

Beer can only cover-up so many things.

Some of the newer beer festivals also fall into this trapping and where they may be blessed with having lovely surroundings or interesting opportunities to meet brewers or go to lectures they still just come across as a place to be seen at; something that was read about in some trendy publication and needs to be ticked off some frivolous bucket list.

In writing this I open myself up to my own hypocrisy.  I am an anti-social, social drinker.

I go to places on my own and confide in the warm, glowing, warming glow of my phone until inebriated enough to possibly grumble at someone sat near me, or maybe ask a few questions of the bar staff.

I drink less in pubs since I started “my hobby” that I did before – but a pub is like riding a bike, in which that provided the community is still there, you aren’t ever quite forgotten.

There is one pub in my locale which is possibly the worst when it comes to beer selection.  They had casks for a year and then ripped them out to replace them with more generic keg lagers.  But I can go in and even though my palate might not be satisfied, my soul (and my wallet) and more than comforted.

The theme to Cheers would be appropriate now, but no one knows my name.

The problem is people are treating beer and the social experience it brings as a commodity of lifestyle.  The community feeling is ebbing away, save only for Christmas or those tedious weeks when England play football in some corrupt tournament people don’t seem to go out much.

People drink less, pubs keep on closing, old communities fracture and splinter and  the uptopian vision of amalgamation of new cultures grind is replaced by them wearily jarring against each other.

Of course, these is just the witterings of a sober, pessemistic man – tomorrow I could go out have a few beers and feel the world of the pub is safe; that drinking habits are evolving and they will merely take a while before settling down into the old regime and away from this cliquey glad-handing charade.

This isn’t solely the fault of customer, the pubs have to meet half-way, but that is a different discussion.

 

 

 

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this final thought…

 

pubkill