Sunday, July 27, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Point of Brew: An American Briton

By
From page A7 | January 05, 2012 |

There are extensive stables at the Hook Norton brewery; the horses are used on a daily basis to deliver beer to the company pubs in the neighborhood. The curious backwater location of this old brewery is based on historic reasons: Hook Norton was first important for quarrying the ironstone rock of which the Cotswold villages are built, and then served the early days of the industrial revolution when the area was a center for building railroads and canals. These activities assured a large local population of very thirsty workers. These days it’s just one of those delightful British oddities. Courtesy photo

I am usually very comfortable in Britain. After all, I spent the first one-third of my life there and grew from a twinkle in my father’s eye to a married man there; I spent all those years fully engaged in the social, cultural, physical and educational fabric of Britain. I am familiar with the place; it is embedded in me.

Therefore, I have never been able to engage with or quite understand the images and anecdotes and oddities of Britain reported by the hordes of American tourists who visit my home country every year.

Until this last trip. Now I get it.

MichaelLewisW
For the first time on this latest trip in December, I observed Britain through the eyes of an American tourist and experienced Britain as an American might. I can boil these impressions down to four main things: the beer (of course), driving, history and scenery.

Beer: British beer, that is real British beer, that is cask ale, served through a hand pump into a pint glass actually is flat and warm. In 50 years of visiting Britain on a fairly regular basis, this is the first time I agree with that perpetual complaint of American tourists about British beer.

I would previously retort that the beer is sufficiently flavorful and carbonated for the style and is at cellar temperature, not warm. Now I would simply say — “You are right: the beer’s warm.”

Of course, there is an ample supply in every British pub of highly carbonated and cold beer of the lager variety. Very good beers they are too, by and large. But I spent most of this trip drinking cask ales and frankly, they are indeed flat and warm.

This doesn’t make them bad beers but they sure could use some gas and refrigeration; that simple idea might, in fact, revive these mostly comatose brands; it would turn them into a version of Amercan microbrews.

In particular, I had the opportunity to visit the Hook Norton Brewery in the village of that name in the Cotswolds, “Where progress is measure in pints.” I was told I could not miss the brewery and, to tell the truth, brewing architecture of the 19th century is quite unmistakable; nevertheless, signage was so poor that I found the place only on my third pass through the village. Turns out, this tower brewery was built in a hollow among the hills.

The core products of this brewery, sold in all 47 of its pubs, are called Hooky something: Hooky Dark, Hooky Gold and Old Hooky. The brewery is tiny, by almost any commercial standard, but is a delight to see because it is so traditional in design and operation, including Clydesdales.

For example, they only recently decommissioned the original Buxton & Thornley steam engine that powered the plant and, even now, the new electric engine drives the brewery through the original part-wooden cogs and drive shafts.

The Hook Norton brewery is a museum piece.

Driving: I learned to drive in Britain on the wrong side of the street with roundabouts and rickety roads that led you from one town to the next until you reached your destination. The first motorways (freeways) were appearing as I departed British shores; in fact, my first-ever drive, on sections of the M-1 in 1960, was to London to get my emigration visa.

Much has changed. Now, there are featureless roads that dash about the countryside, unavoidable and tactless bypasses and ring roads of uncommon complexity and roundabouts of stygian proportions often with traffic lights that one navigates with the whiff of fear in one’s nostrils.

For the first time ever, I took the extra insurance with my rental car; I was glad of it.

History: On the other hand, I gazed with a new wonder and a new appreciation at the sheer ancientness of Britain. Britons do not spend much time contemplating their historic surroundings; they are just too engaged in making life work. They take it all for granted; ho-hum, except perhaps when it’s Westminster Abbey on TV at royal weddings or funerals.

But I marveled in those ancient and historic spaces as an American tourist might whose local ancient monument is Sutter’s Fort, and I reveled in the possessions of the National Gallery and the British Museum.

Scenery: The villages of the Cotswolds were quiet this time of year, not traffic-jammed and tiresome hold-ups on the way to somewhere else. So we could wander the narrow streets and poke about in the antique stores and enjoy those old buildings that, perched so perfectly in their farmland setting, simply glowed in the low yellow light of the winter sun.

And the old pubs, with a hint of woodsmoke in the air from the roaring fires, seemed to be forever open and always had a gracious pint of Old Hooky waiting for me; that was familiar and unchanging.

And, flat and warm though the beer be, that alone was worth the trip!

— Reach Michael Lewis at cymro@sbcglobal.net. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Zombies by rail: It’s not just a show, it’s a trip

By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Fatal Covell Boulevard crash recalled in court

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

Humphrey Fellows will host Global Forum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Community gardens stretch food dollars, study finds

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wildfire spurs evacuation of 700 homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
State can’t say if it’s meeting drought goal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Rairdan joins race for Davis school board

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Ukraine launches offensive to retake Donetsk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Israel extends Gaza truce through Sunday

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

New ordinance aims to prevent nut thefts from orchards

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Biggest book sale to date opens Friday at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Luna family matriarch turns 100

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
 
Discussion of oil by rail EIR planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Mace Innovation Center is focus of meeting

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Freeway crash injures two drivers

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5

Museum wants your old Davis High School yearbooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Affordable housing forum planned in Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Protesters gather at Primate Center

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8

 
State awards $40,000 for historic property survey

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A8

Free blood pressure screenings offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Vanguard hosts economic development director

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

Get a sneak peek at documentary trailer

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Davis Chamber Choir sings short summer program

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9

Tasting event benefits Yolo Land Trust

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A9

 
At the Pond: From Davis, it’s easy to get back to nature

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Tickets on sale now for DHS Hall of Fame dinner

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
.

Forum

Feels like a million miles away

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A7

 
Here’s what you need for a perfect wedding

By Marion Franck | From Page: A7

 
Check doctors’ vitals before they check yours

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Husband’s let himself go

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A14

 
Questions on water rights

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

Campus turns on the tap

By Our View | From Page: A16

 
So, what’s in a week’s worth of waste?

By Michelle Millet | From Page: A16

Pat Oliphant cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A16

 
Golf tourney was a big success

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A16

We can do more to help

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

 
New playground is wonderful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A17

Just Us in Davis: Little Rock Nine hero to celebrate with Davis youths

By Jann L. Murray-Garcia | From Page: A17 | Gallery

 
.

Sports

Sutherland presents 1st clinic; golf column on its way

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
New Korematsu teacher is an American Ninja Warrior

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Furyk opens 3-shot lead in Canadian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Gray wins 6th straight, A’s 4 HRs beat Texas 5-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Kershaw throws 2-hitter as Dodgers beat Giants 5-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Nibali set to cruise to Tour victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Area sports briefs: River Cats take Game 1 of doubleheader

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

 
.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

Companies will collaborate on crop insect control

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A13

 
Developer’s commitments: affordable and green

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A13 | Gallery

Lagerstrom represents Davis at Mary Kay seminar

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

 
UC Davis Health System earns ‘Most Wired’ award

By Charles Casey | From Page: A15

Bartholomew hires new associate

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
Yolo County real estate sales

By Zoe Juanitas | From Page: A15

Go back to school with Great Clips

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

 
.

Obituaries

Carlton Hope Meister

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Jonathan Eric Hollander

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, July 27, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A6