Tuesday, 24 November 2009

I Fancy a Fictional Beer

Every time I watch My Name is Earl I try to catch the name of the bottled beer the characters drink in the Crab Shack. The label is usually partly hidden by the character's hand.

Tonight I got it. It's "Heisler".

Of course, I expected Heisler to be entirely fictional. What I didn't expect, as revealed by Google, is that Heisler has appeared in dozens, if not hundreds of TV programmes and films.

The Germanic name may be a nod toward Budweiser, but the graphic design says to me "craft beer".

Everybody seems to drink straight from the bottle so we don't get to see the fictional colour of the beer. I'd like to think it's an amber, something like Anchor Steam. I'd drink it.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics

A few weeks ago I ran a survey examining political beliefs, CAMRA and the tie system.

Unfortunately I’ve been delayed in analysing it as I’ve Excel hasn’t been working on my iMac since I installed the “Snow Leopard” OS. That’s’ fixed now, thanks for all the help Mr Gates. Not. GoogleDocs was excellent for the data gathering but clumsy for playing around with it.

I’m not sure what the survey was intended to illustrate. Vaguely, I hoped it would illustrate my critique of CAMRA.

Here’s a quick synopsis of my view of CAMRA:

CAMRA’s perspective on the beer market is essentially a Marxist construct. For cask ale beers/brewers/consumers read “exploited proletariat”: for mass-produced beer and its brewers read “capitalist business oligarchy, cynical exploiters of the proletariat”.  Most CAMRA’s activities and outpourings seem based on this model ­– its organisation mimics trade unions and its favoured vernacular including “threats”, “protests”, “boycotts” and “campaigns” apes the language of political activism. A key motivator is the fantasy that, one day, campaigning and activism will overthrow the capitalistic mass-produced beers and re-install proletarian cask ale to its rightful dominance. And this model, or modus operandi, has failed the cause it holds dearest.

Here, I’m tempted to digress deeply into what I consider to be a more reasoned vision of the beer market, cask ale's position in  it and what CAMRA ought to be. But I won’t, so let’s have a look at some survey results instead. Again I emphasize I don’t consider this survey to be in any way scientifically or statistically sound, so do go levelling that accusation at me. All it is is a talking point.

It occurred to me that analysing the stats of those giving CAMRA a high score to those giving CAMRA a low score might be quite illuminating. Of the 79 complete surveys, looking at the “Please indicate your view of CAMRA” field, I’ve compared the top 15 results with bottom 15.

Anyone who is particularly clued up on stats, significance etc is welcome to a copy of the Excel file to have a play with – you can download it here.

1. Here we see that those who gave CAMRA high ratings tend to be slightly more left-wing, and slightly less liberal than thise who gave CAMRA low ratings. There was also a difference in fondness for the tie system.

2. CAMRA high raters tend to be older than CAMRA low-raters.

3. Those giving CAMRA a high rating are more likely to be CAMRA members.

4. High raters are more active CAMRA members.

5.  Low-raters are more likely to be professionally involved in the brewing or selling of beer. What could be going on here? Does professional involvement in beer inoculate the individual against CAMRA? Do beery professionals see enough of beer at work to bee bothered with amateur beer activism?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

A Scary Thought.

Is this the sort of thing UK neo-probs are fantasising about?

Also here and here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Wetherspoons Enters Never-Ending Sparkler Debate

Last night my brother and I popped into the Union Rooms in Newcastle Upon Tyne to try their festival beers.

I ordered a Schwarzbier (can't remember the name) and Ste a Woodforde's Dragon Hall. The barman apologised the Woodfordes had finished so, rather graciously, I turned round the pumpclip for him (I how this simple task often escapes them). This was revealed:

Note the staff instruction: "Use Southern Sparkler".

Eh, a what?

Since you were wondering: The wotsit Schwarzbier was agreeable but unmemorable; York Brewery Coppergate had "tantalising hints of niceness but otherwise vegetal yuk" according to Ste; Toshi's Amber spoiled by obvious oxidisation.

We moved onto the Bridge Hotel were we discovered a brilliant beer: "Hadda's Autumn" by Vale Brewing Company. It tasted like a lower strength version of Anchor Liberty Ale. And that is a very big compliment. Liberty is one of my desert-island beers. Tremendous.

Disappointingly, we encountered no atrocious beer names all evening.