Monday 30 June 2008

Interesting Concept

Here's an interesting concept for a pub – the en-suite water-feature beer garden.

Thursday 26 June 2008

Sublime beer and food matching moment

Bearing in that beer and food matching is quite the thing these days my tastebuds are always alert to combinations that have the 2+2=5 effect: the whole taste experience is greater than the sum of the parts.

I'd met a couple of friends at the Harp (by Charing Cross Police station just along from the Chandos).

For the past 2 or 3 years this has been my favourite West End pub - the theme is "proper pub" and a high turnover of cask ale guarantees a decent pint.

The bar offered Harvey's Bitter, a Mordue (can't remember which), TT's Landlord and another that escapes me completely.

We ordered our beers and some nibbles. 

Where most salty snacks dutifully do their job of satisfying humankind's universal base craving for salt, fat and carbohydrate, Smith's Scampi Fries possess gustatory qualities above the norm.

In an impromptu tasting session our panel of three instantly recognised that Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter and Smith's Scampi Fries are made for each other. 

Put that in your books Oliver/Beckett/Novak et al!

(The Mordue was excellent but the Landord was past its best b.t.w.)

HOT NEWS:  In my "research" for this entry I've discovered that arch-rival Golden Wonder Scampi and Lemon Nik Naks are back on the market.  Let the good times roll!

Monday 9 June 2008

Image Problem

Real ale has an image problem.

A mantra of CAMRA is "we want real ale to appeal more to young people and women", or words to that effect.

Ask younger people and women their perceptions of real ale and what do we hear?

"It's for old men"
"It's warm and heavy"
"It's flat"
"It's got bits in"
"it's very strong"
"It's old-fashioned"

We could go on.

None of these perceptions is terribly accurate. These comments represent the popular image of real ale. (B.T.W. Contrary to another view common among camra types, non-real ale drinkers are aware of the existence of real ale)

When the subject of image comes up in the presence of camra sheep there is generally a loud chorus of "IT'S WHAT'S IN THE GLASS THAT MATTERS".

At this point camra sheep will bleat about people who are more concerned with image then they as being "shallow", "easily led" and "victims of advertising".

This is a head-in-the-sand attitude and does no favours whatsoever to the real ale cause. The immutable truth is that image is of huge importance.

Quit the patronising and ask yourself how you can contribute to improving the image (i.e. marketability) of real ale!

[CAMRA research published 2002:

* Over one fifth (22%) of women don't drink real cask ale because it isn't promoted to them
* 17% of women think it is "old fashioned"
* 29% don't try it because their friends don't drink it
* 17% think it will make them fat!
* Only 23% of women have tried real ale in a pub
* 19% of women would try real cask ale if it were served in more stylish and fashionable glasses]

Cyclops - Why?

I notice that the world of real ale often demonstrates an inability to appreciate what the "outside world" may think of it.

Real ale is already saddled with an unappealing "brand image" - bushy beards, woolly jumpers, sandals - need we go on? - yet CAMRA is willing to add to the roster of inelegent and unappealing imagery.

For example: the promotion of "Cyclops" (Ho, ho, ho it's only a larf innit?) - a system of noting an individual beer's colour and appearance, aroma and flavour invented by Everards (if I recall correctly).

Entirely needlessly, the visual representation of this system is an eye, a nose, a mouth.

NOTE - it's one eye. WHY, when most of us have two?

The choice has been made in order to giver it a jokey name - "Cyclops". Although the legend of Cyclops is not known for having any direct relevance to beer, it has been decided to plonk it into real ale imagery.

It wouldn't be so bad if they'd actually employed a decent graphic designer to create the Cyclops image rather than the inept "design" obviously knocked up in a word processor using clip-art.

I can fully understand the need to reduce the amount of guesswork in the selection of a beer by those of us not gifted with encyclopedic knowledge and photographic memory but is this the best they can do?

Wednesday 4 June 2008

Classic pub-talk overheard

Historically, my favourite example of pub-talk is " you can cut glass underwater with a pair of scissors. My mate's done it he has."

But I fear it's been knocked off the number one spot by this example eavesdropped in the pub last night: "there's a mountain in the Himalayas that's taller than Everest, it's never been climbed: the locals don't want the outside world to know about it."

Ok, I'm prepared to be corrected by geographers: let's wait and see.