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301 Wakefield, West Yorkshire


These glasses were probably made by United Glass of Castleford.


This particular glass holds a story. In the late 1980’s Watney’s attempted to McDonaldise its pubs (before McDonalds arrived in the UK) by adopting a uniform interior style and signage outside, along with marketing Red Barrel. The new thing was keg beer which was dispensed from pressurised aluminium kegs instead of wooden barrels. Keg became a term of abuse among beer aficionados; it was not real ale and the campaign against  this corporate style beer and pubs was vociferous. After a heroic struggle, the Goliath of Watney’s was brought down by the massed Davids. At least the pub styling was abandoned. I remember reading graffiti written above the urinal explaining that “…all this is piped to the nearest Watney’s brewery to be made into Red Barrel.”

Keg beer is pretty well the norm nowadays but, of course, has been overtaken in popularity by lager. Fortunately real ale still exists, thanks to CAMRA and others who have kept traditional bitter alive.


Monty Python’s Flying Circus, episode 31, has a wonderful rant from Eric Idle as a tourist on the subject of Spanish package holidays. www.organgecow.org/pythonet/sketches  The insults are a little dated but the incipient xenophobia is, perhaps, not. Here is an excerpt. In the complete version Red Barrel is mentioned three times:


Tourist: And being herded into endless Hotel Miramars and Bellvueses and Continentales with their modern international luxury roomettes and draught Red Barrel and swimming pools full of fat German businessmen pretending they’re acrobats forming pyramids and frightening the children and barging into queues and if you’re not at your table spot on seven you miss the bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item on the menu of International Cuisine, and every Thursday night the hotel has a bloody cabaret in the bar, featuring a tiny emaciated dago with nine-inch hips and some bloated fat tart with her hair brylcreemed down and a big arse presenting Flamenco for Foreigners.

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