Thursday 13 December 2012

"The UK is ripe for a beer-drinking revolution" - 2001

Here's a piece the Daily Telegraph did on Microbar from August 2001. I dug it out while searching for quotes for a press release for Steve's brewing venture "Out There Brewing Company."

Some of the quotes from Steve and I were subject to some journalist license. Certainly neither of us said the words "personally, I blame most of the acts of random violence in the north east on Stella Artois", although the words "Stella Artois", "violence" and "north east" are likely to have occurred in a Pickthall jeremiad about the then-woeful state of British beer drinking.

I particularly like the quote that appears at the end: "Woolly CAMRA-types don't like what we're doing because we don't sell real ale." Again, we have been awkwardly paraphrased. This quote doesn't really capture what we were trying to express. A better quote would have been "Woolly CAMRA-types don't like what we are doing because we don't buy into their narratives. We don't use the term 'real ale' preferring instead 'craft beer'."

The line "with evangelists such as the Pickthalls working to promote craft-made beers, British beer-drinkers should before long have an alternative to lager that is not just real ale" is an interesting one. The reporter seems not to have grasped that we were pro-[good] lager and that our disavowal of the term "real ale" in preference for "craft beer" was in part motived by our desire to de-demonise lager. Also, could this be the first documented British use of "craft beers", albeit appearing as "craft-made beers"?

Click to go large and legible.

Friday 9 November 2012

SIBA Beer Judging – Not Fit For Purpose?

I recently judged at SIBA’s Great Northern Beer Competition at the Mercure Hotel in Manchester.

SIBA is an organisation I respect.

I have considerably more respect for SIBA than I do another beer organisation that possesses a pseudo-Marxist perspective on the beer market, is notoriously dogmatic and intransigent, and promotes the fallacy that all real ale is good beer and its corollary, all non-real ale is bad beer.

I judged at the same SIBA event two years ago. It was a dispiriting experience. I witnessed incidents of spectacular beer-judging cluelessness.

SIBA adopts the position that beer judging should reflect the preferences of the kind of people who consume its members’ beers. No particular credentials are required to be a SIBA judge other than being a beer drinker and being somehow connected with the trades of brewing or selling beers (with a few random “dignitaries” requiring smoke blowing up their arses.)

Two years ago, two particular incidents occurred which stick in my mind. In one round of judging there was a bloke in a faded Pink Floyd t-shirt and mullet who decided he was the table’s expert. He told us he’d been working at beer festivals for thirty years etcetera ad nauseam. He pronounced his verdict on every beer we encountered. I soon realised he was the taste equivalent of cloth-eared when he failed to mark down a beer that was strongly diacetyl.

The second incident was similar. In a later round a chap in a brewery polo shirt (it transpired he was an employee of the brewery) appointed himself as the table loudmouth. In a round of worthy-but-dull pale golden beers we encountered one with a vivid fruity flavour. Mr Loudmouth announced “that’s my kind of beer” (his exact words stick in my mind.) Unfortunately the flavour was the unmistakeable (to me) green apple tang of acetaldehyde.

In both cases I could see the more inexperienced judges re-assess their scores upwards after hearing the mistaken praise from the know-alls. There was one very nice couple on the second table who had won a “win a day judging beer” competition in a pub. I watched them do what a lot of inexperienced judges do – picking up clues from others before forming their opinions. They marked the acetaldehyde beer highly.

I didn't judge last year but this year I was persuaded to judge again by Jon Kyme of the wonderful Stringers Beer of Ulverston. It wasn’t without trepidation that I travelled to Manchester.

My trepidations and reservationswere warranted. I found myself on a table judging premium bitters (if I recall correctly.) We encountered four or five worthy but dull beers. No glaring faults but nothing very interesting. Two of the beers were more vivid,  possessing a hop character that suggested an American influence. They were both well-executed and intelligently conceived without being mouth-puckeringly bitter. A fellow judge declared “they smell, my customers wouldn’t drink them” and presented a histrionic grimace. Her body-language was as if she’d been offered a dog-shit sandwich. As the loudmouth of the table, more timid, inexperienced judges lapped it up and the beers scored badly. I was tempted to offer a spirited defence of the beers and a critique of her ability to judge beer, but I felt it not worth the risk of the red mist descending. I kept schtum.

In a later round I found myself once again on the same table as this Bet Lynch. Amongst the array of worthy but dull beers there was one that was strongly diacetyl. Junior Bet Lynch commented "Ooh, that’s nice, it’s kind of…” Her words tailed off and I filled in "butterscotch.” "Yes, that's it!" This time I had to explain that the flavour and aroma of butterscotch was undesirable. The existence of the unmistakeable oxidised flavour of damp cardboard in the finish confirmed to me this beer was fucked. Bet Lynch deferred to my superior wisdom. Wise.

I insisted the beer was off. Our runner took away the offending jug of beer and returned with a replacement. The runner told us that the brewer of the beer was helping behind the scenes and that he had spotted his own beer being returned. The brewer was told his beer was suspected of being off. We were told the brewer had responded “it’s supposed to be like that – malty.” Our second jug was similarly off. I gave it a rock-bottom score. I don’t suppose it scored highly with my fellow judges, but I might be wrong.

On my final table of the day I found myself judging with a large domineering chap who worked for a brewery, and a couple of his chums. Mr Bellicose chose to chunter audibly through his judging – "eeh, I couldn't drink six pints o' that" or "I could drink that all night" and scored the beers accordingly. The beers he favoured were the blandest; the beers he marked down had more flavour. "Well Mr Bellicose," I wanted to shout, "we don't give a fuck what you would choose to pour down your fat ignorant neck."

After the judging I was talking toWill France of the marvellous Port Street Beer House. He made similar observations about conspicuously bad judging. As manager of a trendy crafty beer catwalk outlet he knew his customers wouldn’t be too impressed by an insipid 3.8% session beer, just as Bet Lynch’s customers wouldn’t be impressed by a 6% hop-bomb. 

In one corner there are judges like Will and myself: familiar with a wide range of styles of beer, knowledgeable about common off-flavours, unperturbed by big flavours or high strength. In the other corner there is Bet Lynch and Mr Bellicose: their judging defined by narrow parameters of acceptability.

This raises a question: which kind of judge better serves SIBA’s desire to award prizes to the best beers by its members? Will France and I or Bet Lynch and Mr Bellicose?

It’s not hard is it?

The profusion of the the Bet Lynch and Mr Bellicose type of judge is letting down SIBA. SIBA’s policy of turning beer judging into a jolly for all-and-sundry is lowering the standard of judging and undermining the validity of its competitions. The results may well reflect the views of many ordinary drinkers, but ordinary drinkers aren't necessarily capable of making sound judgements.


P.s. To whom it may concern in SIBA: biscuits for cheese are NOT suitable palate-cleansers. Sugars and fats of Hovis biscuits and TUCs have the opposite effect.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

"All Lager Tastes The Same"

In my local CAMRA newsletter, the Furness Innquirer (geddit?), I spotted this:

The irksome sentence occurs in a contributor's beer-related observations in an account of a holiday to India.

This sort of utterance boils my piss.

All lager does not taste the same. It doesn't; it really doesn't. The writer offers the caveat "to my tastebuds" but in doing so undermines his own status as a beer aficionado that is conferred by having his words published in a CAMRA publication. If the author's tastebuds are so deficient that all lagers taste the same to him then all ales must also taste the same.

The likely scenario is that the author simply hasn't tasted good lager and only got as far as Coors, Carling etc. – lagers that are designed to have minimum flavour.

What irks me is the possibility that a neophyte beer lover may read this and get the idea that there is some truth in it, after all it's in a CAMRA publication and CAMRA knows about beer, right? The neophyte may miss years of ecstatic bottom-fermented pleasure because of this horse shit. 

I know how that feels. It only dawned on me after ten or so years of beer drinking that lager may after all have some merit. I was a victim of exactly this sort of low-level brainwashing. I missed years of beery pleasure because of the anti-lager meme – and I've never even been a CAMRA member.

The standard Tandle-onian defence of this sort of hogwash is something like "they're only well-meaning amateurs, just overlook it." But no, I can't overlook it. It bothers me that this kind of anti-connoisseurship message carries the CAMRA imprimatur. It is a disservice to good beer.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Leeds International Beer Festival

As I type, the Saturday evening sesaion of the Leeds International Beer Festival will be in full swing. My brother Steve and I attended last night.

As a non-CAMRA event the format seemed a little strange – brewers manned their own stands and dispensed their own beer. And as a non-CAMRA event cask breathers, keykegs, and regular kegs were on view.

Among the festival goers there were lots of women and young people – evidence of the way beer has come out of its long-standing cultural ghetto.

Being a warm evening many people chose to sit outside on the front steps of the proud Victorian town hall. Surprisingly there was an absence of finger-wagging stewards – and festival-goers were allowed outside with their glasses. Disasters failed to ensue.

It was an enjoyable event but I have one major complaint: the name "Leeds International Beer Feer Festival" suggests international beer should be a prominent feature. The only imported draught beers we encountered were by Odell and Sierra Nevada*. There were a few more bottled American beers but where were beers from Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy and elsewhere? Very disappointing.

*Sierra Nevada's Saison was sublime.

UPDATE: I've just had a flashback: I recall seeing some Italian beers. Still, my point stands, for an "International" beer festival there wasn't much foreign beer.

Monday 20 August 2012

CAMRA-Bashing from 2001

Another dusty clipping from my archive.

CAMRA attacked in consumer poll 

16 August 2001

Liverpool brewer’s research concludes real ale group is out-of-touch
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has again been attacked for being out of touch with today’s beer drinkers.

New research by Liverpool brewer Cains found that confusion over the terminology used by CAMRA to describe real ale means drinkers are becoming alienated.

The report comes just two weeks after CAMRA was widely criticised for its decision to ban two Greene King ales from the Great British Beer Festival and has fuelled claims that CAMRA is no longer representative of ordinary drinkers.

Cains conducted its research in and around Liverpool to identify the strengths and weaknesses of its brands.

It discovered that there was “widespread co nfusion” about real ale. Many drinkers thought it was the “obscure stuff drunk at beer festivals”.

But the most damning part of the research came in responses that mentioned CAMRA.
Many of the respondents referred to CAMRA in a negative way, claiming they would not drink real ale because it “is the stuff drunk by CAMRA members”.

In fact, Cains concluded that “rather than making real ale widely appealing, CAMRA may now be helping to make it exclusive”.

This criticism is ill-timed for the consumer group, which is already under fire from Greene King supporters for banning Old Speckled Hen and Ruddles County from this yearís Great British Beer Festival (GBBF).

But CAMRA has defended itself strongly against the latest criticisms.
Spokesman Tony Jerome said the new NaturALE pha se of its Ask if it’s Cask campaign, which features nude models, had gone a long way towards changing people’s perceptions of real ale.

“The campaign has used stylish images, including young male and female models to emphasise the natural aspects of real ale,” he said.

He added that CAMRA was now concentrating its marketing strategies on appealing to all drinkers and had employed a membership officer to target different age groups.
Mr Jerome also challenged brewers, such as Cains, to get behind the CAMRA campaign.
“We are targeting female drinkers who are usually ignored by brewers’ laddish marketing strategies,” he said.

“The Ask if it’s Cask campaign is challenging the bigger brewers to put some of their large marketing budgets behind real ale to target the youngsters.”

Before "Craft Beer"

I have all sorts of old stuff lurking in my documents folder. Lots of old beer-related clipping from as long ago as 1998 which was about the time newspapers were starting to publish on the web.

Here's an article I found recently. I've tried googling chunks of the text but to no avail; I don't know where or when it appeared. The phrase "the Millennium effect is expected to halt the rot" would date it to the late nineties.

How the beer market has changed and how the tone of beer coverage has changed with it.

No longer ale and hearty

Beer must become the new wine says Richard Neill

SOMEHOW, the beer-belly-and-facial-hair stereotype has got to be erased and replaced with a sexier image

Despite little change in the average darts player's girth - normally around about the eight-pint pregnancy mark - the average Briton is actually drinking less beer than he used to.
Recent figures released by the Drinks Forecast show that beer consumption has dropped in the past five consecutive quarters and, although the Millennium effect is expected to halt the rot, the decline is expected to continue once the New Year hangover subsides.

For hundreds of years, beer has been the nation's favourite tipple - even Elizabeth I used to have a quart of ale every breakfast - and that legacy has created a unique drinking culture. American tourists travel thousands of miles just to soak up the pleasure of sitting in Ye Olde Tourist Trappe with a pint of Ru …sty Widdle, while watching the classic evening migratory pattern of the thirsty British male. This normally involves a random series of movements from bar stool to loo to bar and back to bar stool, that reaches a perfect synchronisation of participants with one simple shout of "Time, gentlemen, please".

Yet if the current downward trend continues, this culture, these habits, and - most important - these flavours may well disappear for good. The number of village pubs is declining as fast as the number of post offices; regional breweries are closing down everywhere; and famous ales are being wiped off the corporate balance sheet and replaced with lagers, and ales that taste like lagers.

This year alone, Mitchell's of Lancaster, Ward's of Sheffield, Vaux of Sunderland and Alloa Brewery have all ceased production and, unlike distilleries (which can often be revived), they will never brew again.

Some of our older readers might remember drinking Old Dambust Ãer, Strong's Country Bitter and Blackpool's Best, but memories are all they are now. These and many more great beers have been axed for good. And if that is not suficiently depressing, just consider the following facts. Almost one in 10 pints drunk in this country is Carling lager; more than 80 per cent of all beer produced comes from just four giant breweries; and the most popular name for new shopping centres is The Maltings (after the breweries whose sites they now occupy). It is enough to make you cry into a pint of creamy, flavourless nitrokeg.
But blame for the demise of the ale drinker cannot just be directed at the corporate policy of a few big companies. Changes in tastes and social behaviour have as much to do with shrinking ale sales as anything else. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when the rot set in. England rugby player Colin Smart's memorable post-match decision to drink a pint of aftershave instead of beer is one possibility. Bu «t the session-drinking male is definitely a dying breed.

The "pint after work" has been replaced with the "gym after work" and even that most reliable of ale drinkers - the rugby prop forward - has changed quaffing habits. With the arrival of the new super-fit "total rugby player", you are more likely to see Jason Leonard swigging Badoit than bitter these days.

Iain Loe of Camra, whose membership, ironically, is at an all-time high of more than 50,000, believes the increasingly fickle behaviour of drinkers has also contributed to the problems. "People are just not loyal to one particular favourite beer any more," says Loe, who also blames the lack of generic promotion for real ale.

Perhaps in response to the alarming sales figures, Camra has switched some of the emphasis of its campaigning away from negative sniping at the latest Firkin Forgettable or All Bar One Decent Pint towards a more positive approach of highlighting the good things about real ale. With the survival of beer (whether it is a microbrew or big brand) at stake, Camra knows that promotion is now more vital than protectionism.

So what is the solution? How can the brewing industry turn around its image and get more young people excited about Fuggles and Golding Hops, instead of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon? The answer lies in these two grape varieties. To make itself more popular, beer's best option is to reinvent itself as the new wine.

Over the past two decades, wine consumption has grown to the extent that it recently overtook beer in off-licence sales. Thanks to its healthy image and our gradual switch towards more Continental eating and drinking habits, this once-maligned drink has had a turnaround in fortunes of Martini cocktail pro ßportions. You only have to compare the size of beer and wine ranges in supermarkets or look at the relative grain to grape consumption in the new "gastropubs" to realise how wine now reaches the parts that beers used to dominate (never mind reach).

The challenge that beer faces is very different to that faced by wine 20 years ago. While wine had to escape its elitist trappings, beer has to break free of its working-class associations and become more sophisticated. Somehow, the beer-belly-and-facial-hair stereotype has got to be erased and replaced with a sexier image.

And it is happening, albeit slowly. If you had walked into Safeway's recent press tasting for its new ßbottled-beer range (and had not looked at what everyone was sipping), you would have thought you had walked into a wine testing. The same sniffing-and-spitting routine was going on, the same scribbling of notes on colour, aroma and taste.

Having crusaded for years to bring wine to the masses, our supermarkets now seem determined to do the same for good old ale, and the efforts being made by Safeway, Tesco and others could be the best chance of a bright beer future.

Who knows, if real ale really does manage to change into new clothes and return to being the nation's favourite form of lubrication, the great British beer gut might not be forced into extinction after all.

Wednesday 15 August 2012


I can't be bothered with doing any of that "I drank such-and-such a beer" stuff, so here are some pictures instead.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

DO try this at home

Ten years ago, running "Microbar" one of the UK's earliest overtly "craft" bars*, my brother and I would try to enhance customers' appreciation and enjoyment of the beers we sold by carefully considering the order in which they would be consumed.

Many customers would peruse our ever-changing beer list. This would give us the opportunity to have a chat with them. We'd try to work out what beer, or beers, they would enjoy with some gentle interrogation: have you had a drink already? Do you normally prefer light or dark beers? Stronger or weaker? Have you eaten or will you eat later? Do you need a thirst quencher?

After gaining an impression of the customer's needs we would make our suggestions. A typical "three course" suggestion would be: a pint of something quenching such as a Pilsner or Belgian wit; A juicy British or US IPA; something strong and Belgian, such as my favourite Trappist beer, Rochefort 8.

Steve and I are still firm believers in getting the order of consumption right. Too often we see people plunging straight into big hop IPAs then disparaging more modest beers such as Pilsners and British session-strength beers as being "insipid". You morons!

Sorry, I'm turning a bit ranty about this so I'll quickly get to the point that inspired me to think about the importance of drinking beers in the right order:

You must try Pilsner Urquell immediately followed by Budvar. 

The savoury quality of the Budvar explodes after PU has lit the fuse.

(I love PU, and I love Budvar. PU is the more austere of the two, Budvar the more flamboyant – the Bert and Ernie of the beer world.)

*North Bar in Leeds was at it it from 1997, we opened in 2001, but without social networking we didn't know of each other's existence.

Friday 11 May 2012

UK Craft Beer Marketing Ten Years Ago

In my garage, in a box, between the pages of a book, I've found a flyer my brother and I produced for Microbar*, our contribution to the new wave of beer appreciation and beer selling.

* Not to be confused with this Microbar in Manchester. They stole our name. If I cared, I'd do them. Just don't confuse us, our operation was far more stylish.

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.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Your last chance to contribute to the greater beer wisdom

Way back in October (was it really that long ago?) I set the ball rolling on some original something-ological beer research 

I'd really like to embark on some analysis. I was looking for a minimum of 100 responses to my survey. Currently we're on ninety-something. So, if you haven't done it already, take my survey, and please pass it on to your beer-drinking friends. The more responses I get, the better the overall data will be.

Here is the direct link to the survey.

Just shoot from the hip. Select responses that feel the least wrong to you. Don't dwell too much on the subjects of some of the questions - I'll explain it after I've closed the survey.

Friday 2 March 2012

The Most Drunk I've Ever Been - Without Alcohol.

On Wednesday morning I was at my desk doing some preparation for the Lancaster Beer Festival.

I've had an annoying head cold for a couple of weeks. You know the kind of feeling - like someone's stuffed a cushion into your head.

While entering data into a spreadsheet I was struck by a strange sensation. The cushion seemed to expand and shift suddenly to the right. This preceded what, had I been standing,  would be described as a collapse.

I picked myself up. On my feet I crashed into doors, bannisters and furniture while my vision swirled anti-clockwise around a central point.

The calm and rational voice in me told me a head-cold can affect the magical workings of the inner-ear, the mechanism that looks after balance, amongst other things.

My inner-caveman grunted "PANIC: something terrible is happening!" while the calm and rational self looked on disdainfully.

I called a local friend who whizzed round and drove me half a mile up the road the A&E at Furness General Hospital. I staggered to the reception desk and hugged it close to keep me upright. As they took my name a wheelchair appeared behind me. In the waiting room I struggled to stay upright in the chair; I needed to be horizontal.

I was wheeled into a cubicle and heaved onto a trolley* with the cot-like side rails up.

Nurses plugged me into a machine that goes ping and inserted a catheter cannula at my wrist. I was asked if I minded medical students being present. The doctor delegated my examination to the students who were very thorough while being friendly and chatty. I suppose when a chap like me collapses they've got to think about serious things like heart attacks, strokes and aneurisms.

Despite the room spinning rather alarmingly and an increasing nausea I remained entirely lucid.

During the examination I started to feel sick. I've never witnessed the phenomenon known as "projectile vomiting" and I doubted such a thing existed. My doubts were banished. Several times.

An anti-nausea medication was injected via the catheter. A CT scan and blood sample were sent off for analysis.

The test were fine. Other problems were ruled out and labrynthitis confirmed. A very unpleasant ailment but far from being life-threatening. About three hours after arriving I was discharged. I was given a packet of prochlorperazine should the symptoms recur.

I missed the judging at Lancaster BF.

*The thing Americans call a "gurney". A word I find faintly disturbing.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Wanna Judge Beer? - Update

Here's the list of beers to be judged on Thursday 1st March for the Lancashire Cup. There will be others (including keg lager!) but being from outside Lancashire they don't qualify for judging.

Could those people who indicated via the comments on the previous post that they might like to judge please contact me by email to confirm? Thanks.

Bank Top Gold Digger 4%
Bank Top Dark Mild 4
Barngates Red Bull Terrier 4.8
Barngates Pride of Westmoreland 4.1
Coniston Blacksmith's Ale 5
Coniston No9 Barley Wine 8.5
Coniston Infinity IPA 6
Coniston Special Oatmeal Stout 4.5
Coniston Bluebird 3.6
Cross Bay Zenith 5
Cross Bay Winter Moon 3.6
Cross Bay Dusk 4.5
Cross Bay Witching Hour 4.4
Cross Bay Sunset 4.2
Cross Bay Nightfall 3.8
Cumbrian Legendary Ales Langdale 4
Cumbrian Legendary Ales Loweswater Gold 4.3
Fallons Hex Original 5
Fallons Angelic War 3.8
Fuzzy Duck Cunning Stunt 4.3
Fuzzy Duck Pheasant Plucker 4.2
Greenodd Best Bitter 4.1
Greenodd Citra 4
Hopstar Smokey Joes Black Beer 4
Hopstar Dizzy Dannyale 3.8
JW Lees The Governor 3.8
Kirkby Lonsdale The Dark Arts 4.7
Kirkby Lonsdale Stanley's 3.8
Lancaster Red 4.9
Lancaster Black 4.6
Lancaster Blonde 4.1
Lancaster Amber 3.7
Mayflower Lancashire Stout 4
Mayflower  Lemon Head 3.9
Moorhouses Blonde Witch 4.5
Moorhouses Premier Bitter 3.7
Prospect Brewery Nutty Slack 3.9
Prospect Brewery Blinding Light 4.2
Rossendale Brewery Halo Pale 4.5
Rossendale Brewery Glen Top 4
Rossendale Brewery Floral Dance 3.8
Stringers No2 Stout 4
Stringers The North Will Rise Again 4.9
Three B's Stokers Slate 3.6
Three B's  Bobbins Bitter 3.8
Thwaites Brewery Lancaster Bomber 4.4
Thwaites Brewery Wainwright 4.1
Thwaites Brewery Triple C 4.2

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Wanna Judge Beer?

Once again I'm leading the judging for the Lancaster Beer Festival awarding the "Lancashire Cup".

This beer festival was formerly know as the Lanacster Round Table Beer Festival, and it is now in its 23rd year.

The dates are March 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Here's the website:

The judging will take place at Lancaster Town Hall on March 1st – and we have vacancies for judges.

If you can be in Lancaster (at your own expense, sorry – it is a charidee gig) on March 1st and you feel you know your beer then get in touch.

Some things I look for in a beer judge:

Open-mindedness: If you've ever uttered something like "all lager is rubbish" or "all keg beer is rubbish" then you should think again. As it happened, last year we had no lager or keg beer but nonetheless, to be an open-minded beer judge you will NOT have written off beers in these categories purely because of some dogma you have swallowed.

Open-mindedness: If you live by restrictive self-impose rules, e.g. "I never drink beer that is over 4%" or "I never drink stout", you're probably not cut out to be a judge.

Open-mindedness: you are intrigued by every new beer you encounter, regardless of style or country of origin.

A willingness to treat beer judging seriously. If, upon reading this, you thought something like "great, that'll be a laugh, pissing it up on free beer for day, count me in" then we don't want you.

Friday 27 January 2012

Friday 20 January 2012

National Winter Ales Festival

Some pictures.

It was a beer festival. Beer was consumed.