Monday, 30 April 2012

Beer-writing cliches

Ok, I'm not a great writer. I know that. Every time I click send or publish, minutes later, prompted by newly-spotted clunkers, forehead-slapping ensues.

I reassure myself with the reminder that I'm probably a better reader than writer.

Today I read a blogpost by an author who shall remain unidentified. He is a self-declared "creative writer". As a "creative writer" he should be ashamed of himself for using the exhausted boxing metaphor "weighing in at" when describing a beer's strength. It is time the phrase was retired. Or banned with a punishment of ten years consumption of Fosters for its use.

Which words and phrases would you ban from beer writing?


*Thanks to

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Brewdog Newcastle

There's much I admire about Brewdog.

I particularly admire their realisation that selling beer to younger people and women is not the impossible fantasy that exists in the minds of those mired in the real-ale mentality. Divest your beer of twee traditionality and parochialism, give it contemporary branding, and bang on about being part of a backlash. Hey presto - otherwise hard-to-get-at demographics drink the beer you want to sell them. I know it because I've done it. 

I looked forward to the opening of a Brewdog bar in Newcastle, a city I'm fond of, having spent the late eighties and early nineties there. My brother and his family live there now and I'm a frequent visitor.

Steve and I paid our first visit to Brewdog's Newcastle bar last Tuesday. Having particularly fond memories of rather beautiful 77 Lager a couple of years ago that's what we went for. Both pints were served distinctly short. We politely requested top ups. With "don't waste my time you ignorant plebs" body language the barmaid took them back and went through the motions of topping up the pints. They came back to us still distinctly short. The beer line had gone up by a millimetre, or possibly not at all. We put this shoddy service down to teething troubles, the bar had only been open a week.

Two days later I babysat while Steve and his wife Jane went out. They went to the Brewdog bar. The same thing happened. Ste's pint was distinctly short. Jane had a problem-fee half in a lined glass. Ste requested a top-up. The barmaid turned the glass such that the Government Stamp was facing him. She pointed at the etch and said "it's a pint to the top of the etch; that's the way we're trained to serve pints." Steve persevered in his polite request for a top up but he says when it was delivered it was with "bad grace."

Here's a picture of the style of pint glass that we believe was being used. As you can just about see, the etch is some way down the glass and the absence of a line indicates that it is a pint-to-the-brim measure.

Steve, evidently annoyed, asked me to Tweet the annoyance.

Scandal: @BrewDogNewc barstaff trained to fill pints to the top of the etch. @s_pickthall is mighty furious.

Minutes later a reply came from @BrewDogNewc :

Well, @BrewDogNewcastle, I have news for you: when we pay for a pint, we pay for a pint of liquid. You are allowed a -5% error, which must be corrected if requested by the customer. And a request for a top-up "should always be received with good grace and should never be refused" in the words of the BBPA. A deficit of greater than 5% should be corrected automatically and should definitely not be served as a matter of policy. Newcastle Trading Standards will be delighted to have a word with you about the rules if you are in doubt.

The following day Steve and I were in the Free Trade Inn "Newcastle's Poshest Pub™". The subject of the new Brewdog bar arose. There various people including the FT's barstaff also commented that they'd experienced short measures from BD. A bespectacled barman whose name I don't know said he had even been refused a top up.

There are two possibilities: 1) An enterprising bar manager has decided to impress his employers with high yields from his kegs, 2) Short measures are Brewdog's corporate policy. Either way,  short measures are shoddy and deceitful and illegal.

Brewdog: sort it out. Don't take the piss out of your customers.

BTW, Steve and are not CAMRA pedants and we do not support the organisation's Full Pint campaign, so don't go tarring us with that brush. We just know a short pint when we see one.