Monday, 28 December 2009
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Friday, 18 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
One aspect of the Xmas season that has me shouting “bar humbug” and being an all round Scrooge is that this is the season of the Xmas office party. I’ve often wondered why the word Scrooge is used to mean a person without the generosity of spirit to enjoy the Xmas season, for you can correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the moral of the Dickens story “A Christmas Carol”, that far from being ungenerous of spirit, Mr Ebenezer Scrooge becomes the most generous man in all of old London town and more than any other man knows the meaning of Xmas? By the end of the book Scrooge is one of the good guys. No one uses the word Scrooge to mean that do they? Now it’s a while since I read it, but I do watch the Muppet Christmas Carol whenever it’s on the box and it’s pretty much the same story. Better than Dickens if you ask me, because Chuck Dickens never thought of putting ice skating penguins in his version.
Now I suspect much of the office party shenanigans will be avoided by your common or garden real ale jihadist as it involves pubs, bars and restaurants where there is no pongy real cask ale. Your average ale jihadist will therefore presumably refuse to go and miss out on all the fun. Well the fun involves getting pissed up on grog that you can buy in Tesco for tuppence, at £3+ a pint, with people that you share only one thing in common with, you work with them.
So how can you get rat arsed for nothing at these dos? How do you avoid being stung for overpriced grog?
If you’re lucky you’ll get a free bar. The food at these types of things varies between piss poor and just about edible. The free bar is the nirvana of the evening. One job I had involved a bus trip to head office, free hotel and a free bar between 7pm and 2am. Therefore one sat in the room watching sky sports until 7pm and then you joined your colleagues using the excuse that you were exploring the hotel facilities rather than avoiding paying for an overpriced round of grog. At 5 to 2, hit the bar for 6 pints of the strongest lout on offer, on a tray, and you are then set up till the early hours without paying for diddly squat. Just make sure none of your workmates snaffle them. Those six pints are yours and yours alone.
This year involved a restaurant near the office. The rules of this game are simple. Pal up with the boring none drinker tee total types, and sit as far away from the boss as possible. You might think none drinkers are boring, nothing could be further from the truth. None drinkers are quality. You can get a bottle of the red and another of the white at your end of the table with no competition for the necking of it. They are no more boring than anyone else you work with and if you’re lucky they will tell you about their rampant alcoholism and regular AA meetings. The alternative involves drunken colleagues snaffling the grog and crying about being dumped this close to Xmas and spending Xmas day alone.
That’s 2 bottles of fuel to last the evening. When they come round with more, put your hand up for another bottle of anything and you’ll never need to hit the bar. If you do, follow the boss. He or she will feel obliged, by way of rank, to buy you a drink. Steer clear of any underlings as they will expect you to pick up the round. You can do this as you have plenty of grog on your table.
The goal of this evening is to get gently pissed so you approach the point of enjoying yourself and thinking that actually you are glad you came. If you’re lucky one of the office hotties will have her eye on you, and if you have my luck one of the office notties will try and molest you and you will realise that no matter how pissed up you are there isn’t enough grog in the world to snog some people.
Pray the photos don’t end up on Face book and the evening is a winner.
Friday, 11 December 2009
Thursday, 10 December 2009
It has never been a better time in Britain to be a bit of a gastronome. The nation’s reputation for bad food is firmly a matter of history with Michelin starred restaurants, gastro pubs, farmers markets, ethnic delicatessens and supermarkets with product ranges in the thousands, the length and breadth of the country.
With all this choice it can be difficult to choose. Something expensive on a square plate? Something complicated that requires obscure ingredients? today’s choice of fine beer gastronomy comes courtesy of a Sainsbury’s basics chicken and mushroom flavour 23p own brand Pot Noodle type snack paired with a can of Carlsberg poured into a pint glass with a dash of lime cordial.
The own brand Pot Noodle is clearly not a rebrand, but an import from the exotic land of China, differing to the English Pot Noodle in so far as it’s cheaper than the 69p of the branded variety and the Pot contains plain noodles with the flavour powder in a separate sachet. No sachet of soy sauce. Preparation is similar to the regular Pot Noodle though be careful of the unclear fill line. The taste is delicate with a lower count of the dried soya and vegetable that comes from the bona fide Pot Noodle, but with an overall flavour of spanking gorgeousness that rivals it’s more expensive rival. A definite thumbs up. Paired with an ice cold can of cooking lager, playfully spiked with a dash of lime cordial we get a flavour pairing that brings out the best in all parts of this gastronomic treat. The noodle, the sauce, the sweet citrusity of the lout top, are a tingling delight of flavourful joy upon your palate.
Many people think fine food is a complicated affair requiring effort to source ingredients and effort in preparation. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from watching Heston Blumenthal is that it’s all a lot of bother. Supermarkets have it all. Fine food, fine can of lout, bargain bin dvd of The Thick of It. Good living.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
It can be said, though by whom I have no idea, that when one tires of the beer blogosphere, one is tired of life. Luckily it is impossible to tire of the beer blogosphere as its capacity to enlighten and entertain knows no bounds. This blog proudly stands nowhere on the wikio ratings, proudly has won no awards, and more proudly is both written and presumably read by people who really ought to have something better to do, than this sort of bollocks.
The British guild of beer writers (yes there is such a thing) recently awarded a number of the beer blogger spheres brightest and best talents, and the fullest of congratulations to them. It can be churlish to mock deserved achievements, and I do enjoy the blogs awarded. I shall not name and shame the culprits that bang on about their wikio rating or awards, both out of previously mentioned respect and also out of the fact that I love the whole idea of it, and want them to continue. Though I suspect the intention is not to amuse. Thus a fine line must be trod. I find myself wishing to mock, but not wishing to sound churlish. I also feel that in allowing people to see themselves through my eyes, they might be prompted to alter the behaviour that amuses me, and thus my amusement will fade.
However I cannot help it that the whole idea of an Oscar ceremony for beer writers forces a smile to form upon my face. I cannot help it. I find it funny. It is no disrespect to those involved; I cannot help it and am unable to suppress the snigger.
With all the prestige of a TV quick, a British Soap award, or Britain best butcher award, the British guild of beer writers manages to amuse and entertain by the simple fact of its existence. It doesn’t really have to do anything, though having award ceremonies is icing on the cake. The simple fact that it exists is enough to make me smile and be happy that I live in a country that would have such a thing. Even better than that though is the giving out of gongs to people who write about beer. I want it streamed live on the internet, that’s what I want. I want to hear the acceptance speeches; I want to see the quality of celebrity giving out the gongs. I want to see Kate Thornton on ITV2 at a back stage party interviewing the winners and losers.
I am unfortunately unable to join such an outfit as the guild for 3 reasons. I wouldn’t be a member of anything that would have the likes of me as a member, I wouldn’t pay money for it, and I can’t be arsed. Though if it involves free grog I might reconsider. Is there free grog?
I did think of creating the British guild of cooking lager writers and awarding the good people of the blogosphere for their sterling efforts with a bit of a tat certificate I knocked up on PowerPoint as you can never have enough self congratulatory back slapping. In today’s world everyone has to be a winner, no one can fail, so I did think of awarding a medal to pretty much everyone.
However the only people who deserve an award are the select few who bother to read this tosh. To paraphrase George Hamilton, you can waste your money but you don’t have enough life to waste your time. And you choose to spend time, precious parts of your life you will not get back, to reading shite on the internet. Tis you, you select few, who deserves and award, so I tip my can of lout to you, may you never find something better to be doing than pissing about reading crap on the internet, written by inarticulate and poorly educated idiots like me.
I have been racking my brains thinking of a way to say thank you, and thought the best way was to have a beer and rattle the missus. Not to do it for any old reason, but to do in your honour. The beer chosen for this thank you was Leffe blond. A usually pricey beer, much derided by beer enthusiasts due to it being a fake Belgian abbey beer knocked up under licence by Inbev at their Stella factory in Belgium. I have a bottle, however, from a beer gift pack. A lovely spicy 6.5% grog that most defiantly puts you in the mood for romance. So last night folks, the lady squeeze got a treat and it was all in your honour.
Monday, 7 December 2009
More food and beer matching, folks. You see beer is a working class drink of the proletariat, and in order to make it aspirational we have to copy wine drinkers and drink it out of wine glasses, match it with food, generally ponce it up and care about provenance.
A while back I pondered what beer would go with a doner kebab pot noodle and got the answer off Curmudgy that I ought to try an Efe’s Turkish lager. Now I couldn’t find one. I admit I didn’t look too hard, but nevertheless never got round to digging up a can of Efe’s. Instead I matched it with a Peroni, as I had a couple of bottles out of a beer gift set I acquired for the poncy glassware.
As is the norm, in the beer blogosphere, I have to tell you the recipe of this culinary highlight of delectable cuisine.
Step 1. Boil a kettle
Step 2. Take the lid off the Pot Noodle and remove sauce sachet from pot.
Step 3. Pour boiling water into the Pot Noodle to fill level marked on the plastic pot.
Step 4. Wait 2 minutes.
Step 5. Stir
Step 6. Wait another 2 minutes.
Step 7. Add sauce sachet to taste
Step 8. Wolf down.
The doner kebab Pot noodle is truly one of food science’s greatest achievements. In today’s health fascist world it is one of the few places you can acquire your daily recommended amount of monosodium glutamate. Monosodium glutamate has been removed from the flavours of much of the pot noodle range, but thankfully remains in this one. The flavour is hot and spicy, and whilst it is entirely artificial in flavour, actually has a hint of lamb to it. Most artificial flavours taste nothing like what they are supposed to. Beef, chicken or prawn cocktail crisps anyone? Lamb crisps actually taste of lamb. The laboratory whizz kids are getting better. Matched with a Peroni beer, its mouth after mouth of spicy delight. The Peroni perfectly matches the spice of the Pot Noodle with the delicate astringency of maize beer. My taste buds are in heaven. I admit it feels slightly dirty eating Pot Noodle, but that’s part of the thrill.
Peroni is a 5.1% Italian lager, indistinguishable from Stella, but through sales in restaurants rather than pubs, and not discounting in supermarkets, has managed to remain a premium brand. The ingredients on the bottle inform me it contains Italian maize. Is Italian maize any better than any other countries maize? Are Italian cornflakes considered better than any others? Go figure, but it’s a glass of cold fizzy lagery delight with a taste familiar to any Stella drinkers. One complaint about the beer gift pack was the bottles were 330ml and didn’t fit into the half pint glasses. Ill thought out, but a feature of many of the beer gift packs that fill the festive supermarket shelves.
I doubt I’ll be drinking any more Peroni. Nice enough bottle of lout but generally not cheap enough. Love the glassware though, very chic.
Friday, 4 December 2009
The lady squeezes Dad has been knocking about this week. A mellow old soul, who since he stopped hating my guts I’ve started to quite like. He has a dry sense of humour, a canny insight, and despite being a posh git is less of a twat than I have previously considered him to be. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he either likes me or is happy I’m shacked up with his daughter, but he seems to have accepted that whilst he doesn’t like it, he can lump it. Why he’s knocking about our gaff I presume is related to his recent early retirement and not having much to do and willing to do the bits of DIY I’ve been wriggling out of. As those little jobs are a monkey off my back, I really ought to welcome the old dodderer.
One thing he noticed in the kitchen was my 2 gallon plastic keg of experimental homebrew that I knocked up here. When I told him what it was he seemed quite keen to try it. An unusual response to be sure. Homebrew is usually by and large rank, unless the individual doing it is a real hobbyist with all the kit to hand, and my approach in the homes of others is to avoid if possible in favour of a can of cooking. You can’t always manage it, though. However the old boy seemed keen, and as it’s more or less ready, the time had come to crack open the keg and try the beer I’ve named “In honour of Wurst”, after a true artist and gentleman.
To recap, the beer is a can of a cheap homebrew bitter kit brewed to 2 gallons rather than 5, and without the bag of granulated sugar. This recipe came about from previous experiences with homebrew kits where I figured that whatever you brewed it tasted of homebrew and bore little relation to the beer style attempted. Drinkable but an acquired taste. That a lager kit tasted like an ale kit and the only real difference was the colour of the beer. This I presumed was due to the fact that most of the fermentable sugars would be sucrose rather than maltose. I could have bought a bag of dried malt or a can of unhopped malt extract but figured as I wasn’t too sure about it, 2 gallons would be better than 5. I opted for an ale kit rather than lager figuring that it was the best chance of something drinkable, as I could not be bothered to lager the grog produced, only let it clear naturally before necking. The main lack of authenticity to the grog is that it is malt extract, I’ve sparged no wort. However malt extract is little more than concentrated wort. The point at which it was hopped (before or after concentration), whether hop extract was used (whether it was actually hopped) and the chemical changes created by concentration will affect the ingredients. However this will result in a difference, not necessarily a poorer or better beer.
So to try this beer, what’s it like? As you can see from the picture, it’s pretty dark stuff, and lively. Could only fit half a pint into a pint glass. The pint glass chosen for this occasion had to be a Fuller’s ESB one I nicked from a boozer on a trip into the city centre. They seemed to be poncing up the glassware, with a stemmed pint pot, so it had to go in the lady squeezes handbag. She’s not keen on nicking stuff from pubs, so I sneaked it in there when she bobbed to the lavatory (or powdering her nose, as she says. Do women do that, powder their nose? Why? Why not just say “off for a slash” like we do?), and got an earful half an hour later when she complained about beer dregs over her mobile phone. I’d like a phone that smelled of beer, but there is no accounting for the strange way the mind of a woman works. They are another species altogether.
The darkness understandable from a kit intended to be made to 5 gallons. There will be plenty of dark burnt malt caramels in there to create the brown colour in 5 gallons of water. It will be darker over 2. Same with the hops. The beer was bitterer than most bitters, but not so bitter as to be undrinkable. The beer was as bitter as a very bitter bitter. That’s beer writing. None of this nonsense about chocolaty notes, astringent qualities, mouth feel, spicyness. It’s either bitter or its not and if it is, it’s either bitter or very bitter. I liked it though. Packed a punch that hit you all round the mouth and in the nose.
The malt really came through as a predominate flavour. Clearly a malt extract beer, but a rich malty taste. Liked it. The soon to be father law loved it, declaring it “corking stuff”. He’s a pongy beer drinker, so if he likes it, it cannot be all bad. One thing of note. I was unsure about the ABV of the grog, and didn’t bother measuring its original gravity prior to fermentation, as I could not be arsed. I figured it would either be weak, average or strong. After a about 3 or 4 pints each of this stuff, we cleared a gallons worth slightly over half the barrel, we were fairly pissed. More pissed than either a 4 or 5% grog would get me. I’d guestimate it at around 6%. The old geezer’s quite a laugh when he’s pissed, and the agreement not to tell his missus that the reason he kipped in the spare room was I suspect the start of the manly bond of friendship. I’m glad he still doesn’t like enough to drag me to his golf club though. I’m happy with the pretence of being middle class, but there are lines you don’t cross if you want to be able to at least claim you are really working class come the revolution.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
December is here and for cooking lager enthusiasts it’s the Xmas season. Cheap lout abounds creating a season of goodwill to all men. I’ve heard it often said that society ought to rediscover the true meaning of Xmas, but always thought it was no more than god botherers moaning about the commercialism that drives our economy, creating jobs and keeping people out of the poor house. The true meaning of Xmas is filling the car boot up with boxes and boxes of cheap grog and going home to neck them, hoping the door bell does not ring so you don’t have to share any of it with so called friends.
In the supermarket this week I spotted Carlsberg Export on 18 for £6.99. Too delicious to resist. I’ve been necking a fair amount of this grog lately and I don’t seem to tire of it. When ice cold and crisp it is a lovely lout.
No mention of Xmas can go without looking at the beer gift sets. I’m in two minds about these. More often than not it’s an attempt to flog you one or two overpriced bottles of piss, with a glass thrown in that you could easily nick from a boozer. However there are people in this world that don’t like to nick things from boozers, so this is one way to acquire the branded glassware that puts the icing on the Xmas cake of cooking lager appreciation. And if you get one, it is better than socks.
Sainsbury’s have them 3for2 at the moment, £8 each, 3 for £16. For cheap grog, these things are a no go area, but even I was tempted by the prospect of some interesting glassware I’ve been unable to illicitly nab. The Innis and Gunn ale box (3 bottles+glass) seemed the best one for actually getting some grog, the Cobra and Leffe had but one bottle, and the Peroni 2 bottles+2glasses. Not to forget the mass of Guinness related tat.
Had to go for Cobra, Leffe & Peroni with the Cobra one given away to a curry and lager liking work mate for secret Santa. Still, got some interesting glasses, if a lousy amount of beer.
Oh and I fancy a rant. The picture has my new stylish way of necking 30p a bottle Beck’s, but what is with the label? The whole box had bizarre labels. Wolves howling at the moon, references to music, and on this one a declaration to love music and hate racism. Now I would agree the two go together. The BNP lot do like there Wagner, displaying not only racism but an obvious dislike of music. But do I need this on a beer bottle? Why? What is the point? Has it changed me? No, not one bit. I wasn’t a racist before my bottle of cheap lout and I’m not one now. Is this a badge to proclaim my right on opinions, or a reminder to the German’s that make it not to start rebuilding gas chambers, or a view that the cooking lager aficionado’s of this world need to be to be reminded to be decent members of society? I have a horrible feeling this nonsense has cost me about a penny on my bottle of lout and am unimpressed.