Thursday, 24 December 2009
Last-minute Christmas Shopping
Monday, 21 December 2009
What Am I Looking For? (My Beer Of the Year Award)
|From GBBF '09|
Friday, 18 December 2009
Festive Beer And Food Matching
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Writing About Beer Is The New Rock'n'Roll: Backstage After-Party With This Year's Sensation
You know the cliche: such-and-such is the new rock'n'roll? Comedy, fashion, politics, knitting, you name it, it's been the new rock'n'roll.
The "beer is the new rock'n'roll" triteness (tritism?) has been lurking in my mind for a few weeks now, largely inspired by that popular beat combo Brew and his Dogs and their fanclub, er, shareholders.
I was reminded of it last week when Pete Brown was celebrating winning Beer Writer of the Year.
Late at night, with a group of friends away from the public gaze and already under the influence of a heady intoxicant, Pete was witnessed on his knees partaking of some unseemly ritual involving a sharpened implement and a substance known to this underground culture as "wax". With a smile on his face he went on to allow his guests to "sniff" the contents of a phial cryptically marked "Bass King's Ale, February 22nd 1902". He later poured out a syrupy liquid for his guests to consume. Soon they could be heard uncontrolably and deliriously drooling words normally reserved for flavours and aromas. Exactly what substances are being used by this dangerous counter-culture is anyone's guess. The police have been informed.
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
I Fancy a Fictional Beer
Tonight I got it. It's "Heisler".
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.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
A Scary Thought.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Wetherspoons Enters Never-Ending Sparkler Debate
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:
Friday, 30 October 2009
The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
It didn't just make me wince, it made think of the film "Falling Down" – with me in it.
As I don't know where to get any guns or explosives, I thought I've got to do something a bit creative.
I've had an idea lurking for some time – a collaborative blog dedicated to improving cask ale's brand image by collecting images of dismal pumclips and the like. Hopefully we would knock some sense into the brewers thusly named and shamed.
Here it is.
BTW The beer name that pushed me over the edge was "Dognobbler" by Wylam Brewery. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising the beer, just the name. I regularly enjoy Wylam beers when I'm in the NE and John Boyle is a jolly decent chap but...
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
"The incoming people would spend some of their own money on making it what it needs to be. We are cutting back on non-essential spends."
"Householders bought [pub] leases at the peak of the market to release equity, but the market plunged."
"Pretty much anything you want to sell, we can get"
"Most of the brands of cask ale being brewed"
"We can get all the [imported] beers most people want"
"We get all our wine from Waverley. If you're doing well with wine we can use Bibendum"
"We don't brand our pubs at all"
"[our wholesale prices] are not necessarily higher than the open market"
"The tie system has been in place for generations"
"You agree to sell so much of their beer in a fixed period and in return they'll do up your cellar or garden or something"
"It's no good whingeing down the line you've been ripped off."
"It's very good for working out staffing levels. You'd be a fool not to use it"
"The economy is not a material change in circumstance"
"I wouldn't like to put a term on it"
"Managed houses are not viable for us – too costly"
Thursday, 22 October 2009
My mother called to let me know a leaflet had been delivered to her house which she thought must be for me because it was about pubs.
"Enterprise Inns is coming to your area in the next few weeks, to answer all your questions about running a pub business and to tell you how they could turn your dream into reality [read: 'redundancy money etc into thin air']."
"At these forthcoming information days you will meet our Regional Managers, who have many years of experience in the pub trade. They will talk to you about what it takes to run a successful pub business and will tell you about all the training and support offered by enterprise Inns that will help you get started. They'll also show you full details of all the available pubs in your area."
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Survey Result – Some Correlations
I have colour-highlited some pairs of figures I find particularly interesting.
What's a correlation I hear you ask?
Monday, 28 September 2009
Survey Results – the Average Respondant
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
Beer Politics Survey Preliminary Results
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Monday, 14 September 2009
The Political Compass
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
No Good Breweries in California?
The Daily Mail's Redeeming Feature
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Is the North of England Devoid of Good Pubs?
Sunday, 30 August 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
I Just Got Dem Recession Brews, Oh Yeah Baby!
To save me poring through countless websites and publications could you kind people provide me with names of any UK breweries that have come into existence in the past year or so since the credit crunch thingy?
I suspect it is a lower number than in previous years or CAMRA would have been trumpeting it as evidence of the alleged success of their "campaigning", instead they chose to trumpet that they have recruited (or bamboozled) their one hundred thousandth member.
[BTW 100,000 in base 19 is EB03. Doesn't sound quite so exiting does it?]
Saturday, 22 August 2009
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Monday, 10 August 2009
Which Evil Foreign Beer Style Is The Odd One Out?
Saturday, 8 August 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Breweries With Visitor Centres And Shops
Monday, 27 July 2009
Undoing All The Good Work
And A Good Night Was Had By All
After twenty or so years away I don’t know many people in my hometown of Barrow-in-Furness. One Barrovian I do know is TV’s Dave “Hairy Biker” Myers. Of course he’s a food geek in a big way but he’s also partial to beer, and lots of it, especially if it’s Belgian. I originally knew Dave as a customer when I worked for Utobeer at Borough Market. We had one of those “I know your accent” moments while he was buying some bottles of Kwak. I later interviewed Dave and his telly partner Simon King for Beers of the World.
I bumped into Dave at the weekend in the town centre and our chat drifted gradually to an almost telepathic “fancy the pub tonight?” meeting of minds. The pub in question was the Prince of Wales at Foxfield, ticker paradise, beer geek nirvana.
On the train on the way up we talked about Westvleterens. Dave hadn’t had them. I had. After a couple of pints to warm up our palates we started to browse the bottle list. I asked the barman if the list was up to date. “Er, not quite. It’s a bit obscure, you might not have heard of it. We’ve got some bottles of Westvleteren 8.” Crikey, we thought, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Although, as a bar-owner, I’d stocked the full range of Trappist beers I’d never got round to doing a side-by-side comparison of Rocheforts and Westvleterens. I’ve long had a suspicion that Rocheforts are better and that Westvleterens, although utterly excellent beer, play a trick on the minds of drinkers by their rarity and cult status.
We all sampled the Westvletern 8 first – yup, we all confirmed, brilliant beer. The Rochefort 8 was opened, poured and passed around. Blimey! The fruit! The hop character! The malt! The finish! Rochefort had comprehensively trounced the Westvleteren. First round knock-out. The tasters: me; Dave Myers; Dave’s partner Lil; Lil’s son Serg and friend Ben Steel (big Rochefort fan) agreed unanimously – victory to Rochefort! I suppose, on reflection, a busy, bustling pub with lots of background distraction isn’t the place to studiously taste legendarily complex beers: the subtleties of WV may have fared better in quiet surroundings. Nonetheless the margin of victory was large.
We went on to enjoy several more beers and miss the last train back to Barrow (10.15pm). Dave Bailey had turned up and kindly offered to go 40 or so miles out of his way in his monster truck to get us home. Telly Dave and Lil invited us in for nibbles and a coffee. We tucked into an array of sublime smoked salmon, duck and chicken from the smokery at Haverigg Prison (you’ll be hearing about this in future). Forgetting the cuppa we sampled beers from Brewpub Dave’s very promising trial-bottling of his new beers. A “Red IPA” would seem to be a stunner but at 1.30am after a cracking night in the pub tastebuds were jaded. The drink moved on. Lil – who is Romanian – insisted we try a shot of the 60% abv plum spirit “Palinca”. It had turned into one of those nights. The kind of night you should have grown out of by the age of 25. It was brilliant.
[In the bleary cold light of the following day I found I'd left a note to myself: it said "Swinefever Ratzenberger". Go figure.]
Friday, 24 July 2009
I don’t generally post beer reviews on this blog. I can’t be bothered. Had ratebeer been around in the mid to late nineties when my appetite for new beer experiences was at its most voracious I think I may well have become an uber ratebeer nerd, not a ticker mind you, flavour was always the big thing for me, not the list. Although I’d been introduced to good beer in my teens it was until my late twenties that I became a fully-fledged beer geek – buying beer books, traipsing around obscure beer shops and planning jaunts around local beer availability.
Anyway, I’ve started this post with a digression. What I really wanted to talk about was ongoing, all-consuming quest to understand the psychology, economics, anthropology, sociology and a whole host of other ologies – pertaining to beer: who drinks what, where they do it and why they do it. At this point I'd like to work in a gag about "what makes people tick" but I'm not sure how.
And so it was when I had a week in Egypt back in April. After a couple of days on the tourist trail I realised I was rarely weeing, and when I did it was almost like passing honey (OK, too much information). I was very dehydrated. I was turning into a human prune. 35C and 12% humidity had got to me. Mad dogs looked on in admiration.
I got to thinking about alcohol’s role in desert societies. Islam – often described as “the religion of the desert” – prohibits the consumption of alcohol. Also, alcohol is a diuretic: it makes you wee more than you put in at the other end. Water is scarce in the desert (that’s what defines it as desert of course). Could there be a link between Islam’s prohibition and alcohol being a diuretic?
I’m a life-long atheist (I even had to leave cubs because I refused to go to church parade). Nonetheless I’m utterly fascinated by the phenomena of religions – in the same way I’m a-CAMRA-ist but fascinated by it. I think a lot about things like this.
Islam and Judaism share a prohibition on the consumption of pig meat. This isn’t coincidence. For a large part of human history, any many parts of the world pigs have been hosts to fluke (I’m more than willing to be corrected on this). Getting fluke from eating infected meat is not a good idea. Simply attempting to spread the word (“psst, don’t eat pig, pass it on”) to hungry, illiterate peasants wasn’t good enough. “How do we make the message more forceful?” thought some enterprising Rabbis and Imams. “I know!” they chorused “we’ll call it a commandment from god or the teaching of a prophet or summat.” “Yes that’s it – if you eat pig, god won’t be happy with you and he may arrange something nasty for you in the afterlife. That’ll do the trick.”
And so it came to pass that the prohibition on pig consumption gained its status as religious dogma. Being religion though, rationality is discouraged. Fluke has long been eliminated in most of the world so Middle-Easterners can now tuck into pork with impunity. They don’t. The rule has stuck. Religion’s like that.
So, back to Egypt. I had a thought. Could Islam’s prohibition on alcohol have occurred in the same way – leaders wondering how to deter people from drinking booze in order to prevent dehydration and preserve water supplies? I reckon so. I’m not sure how Judaism escaped the same prohibition though. Perhaps it was because of early migration into Europe where there was lots of water.
I’ll leave you to ponder. I’m off to the pub.