An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Friday, 28 August 2009

All things Aldi


As the bank holiday approaches it’s time to look at the special offers the supermarkets run over these long weekends, to see whether there is any dirt cheap cooking lager to stock up on. 24 cans for a tenner is the nirvana, and I thought we were in at Tesco with this bit of excitement. However checking out this, it appears a red herring. More like 15 cans for a tenner. Checking out Sainsbury’s and 2 boxes of 15 for £15 on the Carling doesn’t look too shabby, but I’m likening the look of Morrison’s here, 3 boxes of San Miguel for £18. That’ll make for a little bit of holiday fun right here in Blighty.

However when I broke my lager fast, it wasn’t for a can of delicious refreshing British cooking lager it was to drink German cooking lager. The lure of cheap drink is international. Every country has its cheap grog, and when our Germanic cousins of the master race steer clear of the bier gardens and stay to drink cheap lout they drink a little known lout called Oettinger. Nice little article here, though it’s from 2005, explains that why the beer is popular with the Hun, but if you don’t fancy reading I can summarize it with the word “cheap”

I will let other beer blogs wax lyrical about obscure foreign beers bought at great expense. Here we drink cooking lager, so as you would expect, when looking at little known foreign beers it kinda has to be foreign cooking lager.

Where to buy this nectar? Aldi. I love Aldi, it’s a cheap German supermarket taking off in credit crunch Britain, because, well, because it’s cheap. It’s not just cheap, though, it’s cheap and fairly decent. The lady squeeze cannot stand Aldi; it has few brands and little choice. The lady squeeze likes ummming and arrring over the trivial. She likes taking time and going down every aisle of Tesco. I like the place though. I like the fact that if you want cornflakes the choice is the box they have got or not having cornflakes. There is no choice of brands and choice of sizes of box, there is the one brand and the one box. You cannot have a big box, but you can have 2 boxes. I like it, it’s simple. There is no standing in the aisle trying to decide. Shopping is putting your list in the trolley, paying and going and when you pay you’ve saved a few bob. When you open your faux brand of cornflakes you discover they are quite nice and the equal of anything more expensive.

Now for the lout. It’s gorgeous. 4.7%, Reinheitsgebot and all that so no adjuncts, but even so it’s a nice light easy going beer. The ingredients are in every language but English, but despite my rudimentary comprehensive British education which leaves most British illiterate and innumerate I manage to read the German and discover that its water, barley malt and hop extract. Ooo hop extract, that won’t please the beer purists. Interestingly the polish ingredients also state that it’s pasteurized as you’d expect from a can of lout, but that’s unmentioned in other languages. The only English bit is the information that it’s 1.9 units. It’s a gorgeous swig, though. Beery, but not too beery. You might be thinking cheap alternative to Becks or Holstein, but I’d go for this even if it wasn’t cheaper. The Hun has it. Cheap cooking lager that hits the spot. Has me wanting to invade Poland and annex Austria.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

They're here already, you're next


As I've been off the pop due to the trousers getting tight and not wanting to turn into a fat bloke, like most beer fans. (Yes even cooking lager has calories, not only pongy ale) what to blog about?
One of the joys of beer blogging is commenting on the news. Whenever a beer related news story occurs you have your own forum to offer the world your opinion. When I read this yesterday I had to laugh. I also read this and deny categorically that I was in fact saving myself the £3-4 for a copy of the magazine and gorping at Sienna Miller in her smalls online for free. Other bloggers have offered there opinion here and here, though I can appreciate opinions that take it more seriously than my chuckle. Why would I want to steal nasty plastic glasses? I’d have to buy beer glasses for my drinking. Would the freaks with the pewter tankards be barred? When you take it alongside the Oldham measures, it really does appear that that there is a government plan to make pubs and bars as deeply unappealing as possible.

If we take the view that everyone is broadly the same, then anti social behaviour is the fault of society and the solution one that everyone must accept and pay for. That would make you a bit of a guardian reading socialist though. If you take the view that not everyone is the same. That people are unequal in ability, intelligence and basic decency, you conclude the view that decent people behave themselves and crime is committed by criminals. That leads you to the conclusion that criminals ought to be targeted in terms of crime prevention, and decent people informed how they can avoid being victims without being victimized by the measures.

So if you want pubs and bars that are civilised environments, like what you enjoy in continental Europe, what type of people do you want to attract to into bars and what type of people do you wish to discourage from bars?

I’ll say only this. I consider myself a fairly decent law abiding sort of bloke. If I have to go for a night out my aim is to rattle the lady squeeze at the end of the evening, not fight or glass someone with a Ben Sherman shirt on, shaved head and tattoos. Or god forbid ear rings. I even saw a middle aged bloke the other day with an ear ring. What’s that about? Homosexual or pirate, you decide.

Anyway I digress; I dislike bars and pubs at the best of times. Two drink limits, post office style queues, plastic glasses, it all adds up to the following. If it were the norm I would never venture out for a pint. My infrequent visits would reduce to none. So who would be out and about in the pubs and bars accepting this crap? Yobs and thugs and the type of retards that accept being infantilized.

Want to go for a drink in a bar where bottles of alco-pops and Beck’s lager are already served in plastic bottles? Check out the The Office in Concert Square, and the old Arena Bar both in Liverpool. Not that I ever been in either. It’s just that my Huggy Bear, word on the street, told me it’s already happening. To paraphrase Invasion of the Body Snatchers. “They're here already, you’re next”

Monday, 24 August 2009

Kegging


I spent a bit of the weekend, to investigating whether the choices for the home drinker were restricted to a choice of bottle’s or cans. Every so often, out of the corner of my eye, I see a gadget advertised that promises “draught beer” in your home. I love beer, I love gadgets. Kind of ideal you might think. Now I suspect these types of gadgets are evil to the ale jihadists as what we are talking about are big kegs of lager stuck into a dispenser and served ice cold and gassy. My cup of tea. What prompted me to consider these is the weekly debate with the lady squeeze in regard to the purpose of the fridge. My view is that its purpose is to keep my beer cold; her view is that it is for food. As I enjoy having sex I, by and large, accept her point of view and let her put food in the fridge, though at no point conceding the principle that the true purpose of the fridge is to keep my beer cold.

The first and most obvious gadget I googled was the Carlsberg draughtmaster. 55 quid or thereabouts from Argos. With the kegs 13 quid and 15 quid respectively for 5 litres. So for half a litre of export would set you back £1.50 now there is the rub. Even if I were the type to buy Carlsberg at its regular price I wouldn’t pay that for it. Add in the fact that if your canny with your can buying you will stock up with a special offer (bank holiday coming up, Tesco will have lager galore on the special). After the novelty has worn off, would I use it, considering I can drink the lout cheaper in cans? Just as I’m talking myself out of it I read the reviews. This gadget doesn’t even chill the keg, you have to chill it in the fridge then put it in the draughtmaster to stay cold. Can I see the lady squeeze letting me put a keg in the fridge? The draughtmaster is binned off.

Next up, the Krups Beertender. For use with the Heineken kegs you see around far more often than the Carlsberg ones. The Heineken ones are everywhere, so you might actually be able to find a keg to put in your gadget in 6 months time. Now Heineken is very rarely on special offer these days, but I have seen the kegs for as little as £11, though the regular price is nearer £15. Heineken used to be prime cooking lager, and then they ruined the brand. They figured the rest of the world considers Heineken a premium brand but not in the UK as the beer was 3% piss. So they introduced an export version but people just though it was the regular piss with more alcohol, and not a premium continental lager. So they rebranded again and the export became regular Heineken and the regular Heineken became Heineken cold filtered. Eventually Heineken cold filtered was dropped and the only Heineken for sale is now the continental lout. I even think they make it in Holland and dropped knocking it up in the UK. What all this means is Heineken have bugger all share of the UK lager market but at least can say they have a quality product.
Pricing the beer, it comes in again at £1.50 a pint, so I go off the idea. But Heineken tends to be that price anyway. The cans are never on the special so there is little disparity. The machine actually chills the kegs, but is a pricier piece of kit (around the £200 mark) and from my googling difficult to get hold of in the UK. A drawback is that it takes a while to chill the kegs. The only keg on sale in the UK is Heineken, though I gather there are importers of other beers that would presumably sting you top dollar. I sack the idea off.

I then spot this, 2 other chillers at around the £200 mark. The Phillips and the Wunderbar. The Phillips looked a nice bit of kit, with a nice range of beers. At £180 plus prices of £20-£30 for the kegs, only available on the internet, I smell a rat straight off. The proprietary kegs are presumably the reason why the beer is pricey, but usually the hook is a cheap gadget. Not here it isn’t. I opt out for that reason.

The wunderbar looks better as a generic keg chiller suitable for a range of kegs including the Heineken one. At £200 it’s as tad pricey but I like the fact it chills and is none proprietary. I could get the odd pricey beer off the internet and use it when the Heineken kegs are on special. Nice for parties. I’m talking myself into parting with 200 notes. I Google around and see it’s sold out pretty much everywhere so even if I want one I’m buggared.

Never mind eh?. At least the bank holiday is coming up and the supermarkets will be flogging cheap lout galore. Maybe a regular glass fronted beer fridge will do the trick? Somewhere to store my cans of lagery delight and leave the lady squeeze the sole use of the fridge? Off to do more googling.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Like they do in civilised countries


I have extolled the virtues of Stella on this blog before. A fine crisp lager, reassuringly cheap, and flogged for 30p for a 284ml bottle. Around 60p a pint, folks. Pub lovers claim the pub is a responsible and controlled environment, but there is a feature of pub life that takes that argument and flushes it down the toilet. That is pub culture. In British pub culture men drink pints and buy rounds, forcing the slower drinker to keep up with the fastest. It’s why the foreigners can handle strong lager and it turns the town centres of Britain into a vomitorium on a Friday night.

Thus you may want to drink less, but if you are in the company of 4 or 5 “mates”, you will drink 4 or 5 pints. Everyone has to buy a round. Those rounds will invariably be pints. You can try to opt slightly out by going for a bottle of lager. Half a pint for the price of a pint, but bizarrely acceptable to have when just saying “make mine a half”, would have you ridiculed as a “poof” despite being the only one of the lads that lives with a bird and has had sex with a bird that week (the same bird, mind, but a tasty piece if I say so myself). You can opt for a weaker beer without being a poof (probably why piss weak lager has a market in Britain but nowhere else), but god forbid if you ask for a shandy.

Shandy is a lovely drink of beer and lemonade. I will confess that bitter shandy (an ale lemonade mix) is better than a lager shandy but drinking shandy in Britain has you labelled a mega poof. What a mega poof is I don’t know. Do mega poofs look at regular poofs and think “that’s not poofy enough, they are practically straight”. I don’t know. I don’t know enough about gay culture, what with not being a part of it. All I know is what I’ve seen off the telly and what the lady squeezes gay pal tell me. The fact that I grimace my face when he get too detailed in the anatomical description of his latest squeeze encourages him to a greater discretion in my presence, saves my blushes, but ultimately leaves me ignorant and ill informed.

The Krauts don’t have this problem. Drinking radler isn’t a poof’s drink in the land of the hun(radler is German lager shandy named after cyclists who drink it to avoid getting drunk). In Europe drinks are gender neutral. A lass can have a beer and a chap a glass of wine without sexuality assumptions. I can drink a cocktail in Europe. In blighty if I drink a cocktail it is assumed I’m not the lady squeezes chap but that I’m her gay mate. I like cocktails. The ones they drink on Sex and the City. The cocktails are the best bit of that god awful show. Watching such crap is the price of having a lady squeeze and on balance probably worth it as long as I can have the football on.

All of this is one of the reasons I cannot stand pubs. The ridiculous pub culture. I don’t mind standing my round. I’ll buy my mates a drink. But I really don’t want 4 or 5 pints of Stella. I want half a Stella and that’s it. Why can’t we all just sit around, order what we want and settle the bill at the end? I'd have a beer or two, and others can drink quicker and more if they like. Like they do in civilised countries.

I can have half a Stella, lay on my couch, for 30p, throw the bottle in the recycle bin and call it a night. Nice.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Beer and food matching


Beer and food matching is a curious mix. No two people’s palates are the same. However there exists a universal food loved by all. That food is known as chips. Chips are great. Not just because they are cheap. They are great anyway. The best chips? Chip shop chips. The humble chippy does the finest chips known to man. Not French fries, not oven chips, not god forbid gastro pub chips that are stacked like a game of jenga. Chip shop chips. Anything else is a poor substitute.

What to have with chips? Well I opted for the steak and kidney pie and gravy. Chip shop gravy is a strange thing. Gravy is the juices of cooked meats, seasoned and reduced and often containing a dash of wine or chopped shallots to add flavour. Chip shop gravy is more of an odd warm brown thick liquid with a vaguely meat flavour despite its ingredients being a slight mystery save for the knowledge that it is not the product of cooked meats, more the product of corn flour, salt, caramel and chemicals. It is also delicious.

So what beer to match with this feast? The wonderful secret about cooking lager is that all cooking lager goes with everything. However I choose Foster’s. I choose Fosters because I have a fridge load of it and Foster’s is fizzy cooking lager heaven. See here. A lightly hopped amber beer that is high on satisfaction and low on challenge.

A feast of angels. A hearty delight, filling and at £2.30, a bargain. Why no mushy peas? The chippy near me does not do proper mushy peas, they do bullet peas in green water, so I give there peas a miss. Otherwise proper mushy peas would be a fine addition to add colour to this dish of kings.

Halfway through my feast I ponder that I have hit upon one of the best gastronomic combinations known to humanity. Cooking lager and chips. To taste it is to fall in love; such is the intrinsic romance of chips.

Chips are the dish you sat on a park bench and shared with your first girlfriend as you gazed into each other eyes, the sizzling of the vinegar on the hot chips being drowned by the sizzling of your heart, as you realized that after the chips you would in all likelihood cop a feel of lady boobs. You’d cast aside the chips now, but your gentlemanly concern must allow the lady of your teenage desires to finish. Ah chips. So many memories, so many times chips have brought a salty and vinegary delight to my life. Chips are life and life is indeed chips. A swig of the lager and a smile comes to my lips. Life without chips is not a life.

Cooking lager and chips and a feel of lady boobs. It’s all a man really needs.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Grolsch


Had my first blighty bottle of cooking lager last night, and I can only describe the sheer ecstasy of gods own ambrosia tricking down my throat as “bliss”. What cooking lager caused this rapture? Why it was a bottle of Grolsch. Had a box in the garage for a while, but good old cooking lager is pasteurised and lasts forever, not like nasty pongy “living” beer. On my telly box was a dismal England playing footie with the Dutch, so if not a Dutch lager at least a Dutch brand is my spirited gesture of international brotherhood.

I say not a Dutch lager, because Grolsch is brewed on this fair isle to 5% ABV (I think the Dutch stuff is slightly stronger) so as it’s a British brewed version of a foreign lager, not to the authentic ABV it is most definably cooking lager. The ingredients on the bottle however display a worrying purity. Only barley malt and no adjuncts.

However after the first swig, my worries were gone. It has beeriness to it, but not too much. It tastes like a proper lager, but not too much like one, and I would rate it highly. A bit of a crisp bite, indicating hops have been used but thankfully not too much. Swig out of the bottle. With beery beers you are better off necking from the can or bottle as you get less of the whiff.

Real genuine cooking lager contains fewer hops and malt and more adjunct and chemicals but this attempt at cooking lager really is okay, despite its evident purity. Don’t let it put you off. I bought it a while back, and recall at the time a price of 30p per half pint bottle. Not too bad.
There is also a point to be made here about how cooking lager and footie is man’s territory. I’ve been reading a lot about lasses and beer, specifically here. Whilst Melissa is arguably a tasty bird, it only confirms what I’ve long thought. Ale, whether real or not, is a girl’s drink. Cooking lager is a man’s drink. It’s like that and that’s the way it is.

Ale may once have been the preserve of men, but like many things they have allowed themselves to be emasculated and now it is one for the ladies. It would not surprise me to see ale drinkers swigging with their little finger pointing out.

Now there are lasses that drink a pint of lout, but these are called ladettes. Ladettes are lasses that like to behave like blokes. This means that even though the occasional ladette may swig the odd pint of Carling, it remains a man’s pint.

Ale, white wine, blue wicked = Girls
Lager = Men

It’s official.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Poxy Evening News cooking lager banners!


Back from the hols, so what about the beer in Espana? Cold, wet, fizzy and delicious. Like proper beer ought to be. Nothing dark, nothing pongy, nothing warm, no unwanted “flavour”. Ice cold crisp golden heaven in a glass.

Now I’m more an egg and chips kinda guy but the lady squeeze drags me to “quaint local restaurants” that serve all manner of bizarre crap. Things from the sea that really look like they are not to be eaten. Some of which is oddly not only edible but fairly nice. Go figure. Keep her sweet and get some, it’s the way it is. I may want a pukka pie, but the lady gets what she wants and later on I get what you might call “it”

This got me thinking. Always dangerous. Time to slug another San Miguel. The main difference between us Brits and our continental cousins? They know how live, we know how to survive. That’s it in a nutshell. The only place you queue up in a bar is an “English style” pub. Elsewhere, people are happy to fetch you stuff. I bloody well love it. Let’s have that here. Let’s do away with pubs and go continental. Stick tradition up your arse, the foreigners have got it right.

Back in blighty, I discover more bullshit that seeks to deny a free Englishman’s right to cheap and refreshing cooking lager. This toss makes my blood boil. Cooking lager is not a privilege, it is a right! Glad to see the comments by and large stand up for the right to neck cheap lout. The time is approaching when cooking lager enthusiasts and aficionados will need to take to the streets, to fight the forces of killjoys. There will be blood.

There is one question I don’t understand. In the hotel I feel the skin burning and dive in the pool, swim up to the bar and sit in the shade. “San Miguel por favor” (you’ve gotta make an effort, like). These 2 German birds speak to me. In English, the union jack shorts tell it to the world. I spreche a bit of the old Deutsch back at them. I bit of Ich heisse, Ich wohne and Ich arbeite. Only what I learnt for GCSE, not really up to discussing Friedrich Nietzsche in Deutsch. Well I couldn’t in English either for that matter. Anyway the lass is fuming.
What am I doing chatting them up? She asks. Now wait a minute, treacle, oh apple of my eye, that’s not chatting birds up. She speaks to all manner of people, even people from Birmingham for crying out loud. I talk to some strangers and I’m in the dogs house. She often says I’m anti social and the minute I talk to some strangers I’m “chatting birds up” what the Jesus hell is that all about?