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

Friday, 27 November 2009

A bit of politics

The interesting aspect of news is often in the smaller stories. An empty drum makes the most noise and all that. This little piece caught my eye, today, after Mr Davis’s appearance on the political show that is Question Time.

There is much talk, hypocrisy and nonsense in the world of beer in regard to the thorny issue of minimum pricing, whereby the government would apply a minimum price to a unit of alcohol. The supporters of such a move are those that think the health of the nation would be improved if the proletariat (me) drank less, those that want to ban booze altogether, and those that think the fate of the pub industry would improve if the cheap grog I enjoy at home cost me more.

However the question remains, if a 40p can of lout suddenly becomes £1, who gets the 60p? The brewer? The supermarket? The government?

Here I think we have the answer. It would be the government. An answer I find more acceptable than the other 2, what with the country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. No one in their right mind thinks that taxes will not rise, regardless of the colour of the government, after the election? The country is broke, something’s gotta give, what usually gives?

Booze, like petrol and fags, is most defiantly in for a kicking. It is unavoidable, and given the choice between higher grog prices and higher income tax, I’d personally prefer what are known as sin taxes. You can avoid indirect taxes, you cannot avoid direct ones. Whilst they are regressive, hitting the poor hardest, the poor like everyone else can avoid them by not sinning. And enjoying yourself is a sin, it’s in the bible and stuff. All that is fun, Boozing, shagging and what not is sinful. It would not be as much fun if it wasn’t. Sin adds spice to already fun things making them more fun.

Here’s the rub. Once my cooking lager costs me more, I might very well choose to neck less of it. I doubt I’ll be tempted to go and pay £3 a pop in a pub any more than I do now. The behaviour of the less responsible among us will not change, but the preloading argument will no longer hold water. Pubs and bars will be seen for what they are, the source of the 3am kebab shop fights. That’s the point the price of a pint in your pub will be hit.

Even if taxes are raised first on my cheap lout, we will be on a countdown to a leap in the price of your pongy beer. In such times I expect the number of cooking lager enthusiasts to grow.

Sadly there is nothing to be done. Prices are going up, so I shall stock up of cheap lout whilst I can. I implore you to do the same. Cooking Lager lasts forever. Fill your garages with a decade’s supply and sit it out, till better times emerge. Tis an ill wind I tell you.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

War, war is stupid, 'cos people are stupid

Been letting the cooking lager side down a bit of late I feel, by not blogging so it’s time to up the ante.

Firstly I am looking for a fellow beer blogger I can have a “war” with, as this appears common in the beer blogging world and I’ve no one to fight with. Rules are like this. We start by making abusive comments on each other’s blog and take it from there. We call each other fat and such. That’s the idea. Applications below.

Oh and before I forget. The smoking ban. It’s great isn’t it? On the rare occasion I lower myself to step into a pub, aren’t they a lot nicer now the filthy dirty smelly smokers are kicked outside into the cold? Who cares that they are all empty? At least you can get a seat. I really couldn’t give a toss about the rights of smokers. They can’t chase you to thump you. They all wheeze with emphysema if they run a yard. Buggar them.

Disagree below, with abuse, and let battle commence.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The journey is the reward

The world of beer blogging is alight with the fire of lager at the moment. Beer styles, CO2 dispense methods, the point of CAMRA; it’s all exciting stuff, the sexiest of which I enjoyed here. But cooking lager isn’t a political movement, isn’t a matter of opinion, it’s a love. A great love that if you’re lucky will span a lifetime. It isn’t a journey to a different beer place, of new and exciting beer; it’s an acceptance of where you are, what you are doing, and who you are.

A great philosopher once said that before enlightenment the world is just the world. During enlightenment the world is no longer the world, and after enlightenment the world is just the world. That is cooking lager. Lout is lout, Life is life, and getting pissed for next to nowt is not only our birthright but our duty, whilst we take the journey all living things take to the same destination.

Upon this journey, yesterday evening, I purchased the cheapest box of grog I’d bought in a while. 18 bottles of Becks 5% 285ml for, now wait for it, £2.74. Yes folks that’s right. The whole box for less than the price of a pint. How did I manage this?

Well in part because I am a gracious and modern gentleman that accepts the joy of joint nectar card point’s accumulation. This means the points on the nectar card accumulate rapidly with every bit of tat the lady squeeze buys from the supermarket. You know, milk, bread, food, all the none essentials of life. Then every so often there it is a free fiver to spend. Combine that with a half price box of lout offer and Bob is your proverbial Aunty. Grog for next to nothing.

Now you might think there is a little friction in using up all the nectar points on cheap grog, and you could be right. But this is where the cooking lager enthusiast uses his extensive knowledge of female psychology to ease the path of wholesome and healthy cooking lager enthusiasm. The trick with the lass is to keep her sweet. I don’t really pull my weight around the house. I’d be lying if I said I did. But you see, thats what makes it exceptional when she comes home from work to see that I’ve cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and hoovered the stairs and around and stuff and even had time to do some shopping and prepare a meal. It’s a nice and unexpected surprise. If it happened daily it wouldn’t be so sweet. How is she to complain, seeing all that and then moan about more yet cheaper lout and the card points used up?

Cheap lout, happy lady squeeze, life is sweet. The only cloud on the horizon is the lady squeeze’s own enthusiasm for celebrities in the jungle. Might be worth texting a mate and suggesting a visit to a local grotty pub after all. What was I saying about pubs being for losers? When celebs are in the jungle we are all losers.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Chemical Piss


One of the most heart-warming features of the beer blogosphere of recent days has been the emergence of arguably the better halves of bloggers. Here and here. Not to be left out I asked the lady squeeze whether she would pen something under the name Mrs Cooking Lager. Now that was a mistake. “Mrs Cooking Lager?” she responded, “Is that a proposal of marriage?”

“More a proposal that you tell the world what is it like to be shacked up with a cooking lager aficionado and all round love monster. The highs, the even greater highs, all that”

“So you don’t want to marry me?”

“Umm, well I do, you know I do, but what’s the rush, treacle, you’re not knocked up are you?”

Potential ring on finger crisis averted, she looked sceptical and said she would rather have teeth pulled than and I quote “talk to nutters, sexual perverts and social inadequates on the internet”. When I explained that the world of beer blogging has relatively few sexual perverts, only harmless nutters and nice people who you could never describe as social inadequates her only reply was “you mean apart from you”

So that’s that. No Mrs Cooking Lager explaining why it’s the best thing ever to be stepping out with a cooking lager enthusiast. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it’s pretty much as good as it gets, if you’re a lady, to have a chap that knows his way around the cheap lout aisle of all the local supermarkets.

Talking of cheap lout, this weekend I actually drank some bona fide chemical piss. An unfair, inaccurate and snobbish criticism often made of cheap lout is that it is chemical piss. It isn’t. It’s just mass produced bland grog of perfectly natural ingredients. The world of cider however is different. Cider is by and large undrinkable without chemicals, as anyone who has drunk real cider will attest to. Real cider, unlike real ale which by and large I don’ mind and sometimes like, is absolute nasty and foul bog water.

Thank god for chemicals that makes it drinkable. I was necking strongbow, a 5.3% cider made with bitter sweet apples and containing sugars and sweeteners to make it drinkable and remove the gag reflex that drinking the real stuff will give you. The main chemical in this grog is saccharine, a sweetener, and the grog is all the better for it. A couple of cans of this fizz and I’m nicely mellow. At 40p a can a nice way of relaxing.

Even if drinking cider has too many connotations of tramps and under aged drinking. Cider remains for me the drink of tramps and kids with asbos. It’s post Magners reinvention as an expensive and exclusive trendy drink has been lost on me by and large because I don’t really do either trendy or expensive.

But as far as cheap piss goes, Strongbow has a lot going for it. Difficult to drink a lot of, with a nice appley belch if you swig it too quickly, it gets the thumbs up as a cooking cider not for tramps, though possibly for asbos.

Friday, 13 November 2009

The shadows of our feelings

Sat on the sofa last night, can of cooking in one hand, scratching my balls with the other, I found myself having thoughts other than romancing the lady squeeze upstairs and under the duvet. It’s not often I think of things other than this. I am a simple soul and once calculated that out of the 16 hours awake time in any given day I spent approximatly10 of them thinking about rattling the missus, another 2 thinking about rattling other ladies (anyone from celebrities to work colleagues to the girl that works in the chippy near work) and the other 4 on general mundane matters of life like where am I and what am I doing here, I need a dump, I feel hungry, I have to piss around with a power point presentation for a work meeting, my shoe lace is undone.

What was this great thought that I had of significance to the human race? I was pondering why beer prices are as they are. Why, for instance when you enter a pub is the cask beer the cheapest grog and the Guinness the most expensive? Why are the cooking lagers more expensive than the ales (both cask and keg)?

Why when you enter a supermarket is this situation entirely reversed? The cooking lagers are the cheapest grog in the place. There is little difference, with the offers, between the 5% grog and the 4% grog. The ale is generally dearer and less frequent on the offers. The keg ale marginally dearer, and the obscure premium or “real” ale priced the highest along with the imports of beers you don’t see in pubs but might have encountered on your foreign travels. How does Guinness stay premium priced in the supermarket (it’s a rare one for the giveaway offer) whilst other brands are pretty much permanently on discount?

It wasn’t a question of why supermarkets are cheaper than pubs, that’s fairly obvious. Its customer service. Supermarkets are also cheaper than Restaurants. However in a restaurant the more expensive dishes tend to have the more expensive ingredients, as you’ll notice if you go to a supermarket and compare the price of mackerel to sea bass.

The question was more why the price structure is completely reversed, from pub to supermarket aisle? Is it nothing more than pile it high, sell it cheap? What is popular shifts stock, so a lower margin is acceptable? Is price a representation of value? If so who has it correct? Is the supermarket flogging Foster’s at 40p a can or the pub stinging people £2.80 a pint? How can a pub think a beer is a premium brand in a pub environment, when elsewhere it is cheap piss?

Luckily these thoughts were only fleeting. The lady squeeze got up off the sofa, and I caught a glimpse of both thigh and shapely arse. My thoughts returned to their more natural state and baser level without ever reaching anything by way of conclusion.

I would though be interested in the perspective of any of those daft enough to read this bollocks. Feel free to enlighten and educate me.

Oh and the title?

Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings - always darker, emptier and simpler.- Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Carlsberg


To my dismay I’ve not covered this beer on this blog yet. I have done the export version here, but not the regular cooking piss. A true shame as this is one of the best cooking lagers in the country. 3.8% British brewed attempt at Danish grog that is cold, fizzy and quaffable without troubling the taste buds. On a bizarre note this stuff is 4.2% when on draught in a pub.

This type of stuff gets slightly on my tits. A standard product ought to be reliable enough to be standard, with variants clearly branded as extensions. Not a fan of the notion of different ABV’s for the same brands depending on where you drink it. It is piss poor.

I remember a while back, when I was in short pants, this beer marketed as a discerning choice. Of a TV commercial involving a modern chap of the day with smart clothes, job and apartment coming home and cracking a tin. What today would be referred to as a metro sexual. Not these days, Carlsberg is firmly in cooking lager territory. It’s the cheap lout of choice in the Spoons, it’s the £1.99 lager in the Greene King estate, and it’s 40p a can to those of us sensible enough to do our boozing in the comfort of our own home where you can sit in warmth and not have to rub shoulders with the type of undesirables that hang out in pubs.

I’m not sure whether over the years the taste of this grog has changed or whether my own taste has changed. Years of cooking lager enthusiasm as enabled me to develop a taste for the subtle tastes of beer. The blandness of cooking lager enables the connoisseur to identify the delicate notes not apparent in nasty pongy robust full flavoured beer, which ruins your palate. I remember it used to have a more prominent flavour of the carlsbergensis yeast it is brewed with, giving the beer a crispness not apparent in other mass market lagers. Like the crispness of a Pilsner Urquell but milder, a beer also brewed with this yeast. None of that was apparent in the can I swigged. Nicely bland is how I’d put it. My memory could be faulty, though. Maybe Carlsberg was never like an Urquell and I’m mad to think it was.

The beer is an all malt beer (no wheat, rice or maize), with a hint of caramel added to darken the colour slightly. Back when I was in short pants, lager wasn’t as popular as it is today, but the past is a foreign country. Carlsberg was and remains brewed to the standard ABV of a standard UK lager and was darkened slightly to appeal to the British drinker unwilling to drink something the colour of piss. The same reason, so it goes, Budweiser was introduced to the UK as a bottled beer, rather than draught, was a decision that they would have to darken it to sell it on draught. Instead they opted for drinking it from a bottle where the punter doesn’t see the beer.

I have to say this about Carlsberg. It’s been a while old friend. I’ve flirted with other cooking lagers and had a romance with Foster’s, but Carlsberg will always be a love of mine, from the first swig to the final belch. Cooking lager heaven.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Another Beer Book


Had a corking weekend, and even enjoyed a social event. Don’t often enjoy social events, I more often than not tolerate them with a view that if I don’t sulk and pretend I’m enjoying myself, the lady squeeze does not get annoyed and I get a bit of how’s your father.

None of this is relevant to the beer blogosphere, though. The relevant bit is my pal Greek Dave popped round on Sunday. Greek Dave is not Greek, he’s a cockney. He’s a cockney oop north, and as you would expect a popular lad among the boys, not least for his usual greeting towards the chaps of “Any of you northern monkey’s fancy a pint?” I have never asked him why he’s called Greek Dave. Greek Dave popped round because he’d lent my wallpaper steamer and decided upon returning it along with a gift.

Greek Dave nabbed a beer book I’d been propping up the sofa with, one I reviewed here, and wanted to give me the sequel on the basis that I’d be interested in reading it. Nothing could be further from the truth but as it was the same thickness as the book he nabbed, I figured I’d have it as a replacement sofa proper upper. Why would I want to read a book about beer? Why would anyone?

Thinking about it the world is full of books that no one in their right mind would want to read. Celebrity autobiographies. Sporting autobiographies, Thrillers about conspiracies in the Catholic Church, books about cricket. Who in earth buys and reads this shit?

However, this of course affords me the opportunity of a beer book review. What’s to say about “Three sheets to the wind, one man’s journey into the meaning of beer”? Well I can tell you the meaning of beer without the need to read a book. Beer is a device for getting drunk. Well that’s saved me the bother, but as I had little else to do I decided to read it. It’s about a fella who has an amazing idea. The idea is to travel the world, drinking beer, at someone else’s expense, then write a book about it. Top stuff.

That gave me an idea. I could travel the world, at some else’s expense, and write a book about it. All I needed to do was find a subject that enough mug punters are interested in enough to buy a book about, then get an advance off a publisher, sod off on a free jaunt, and type up the tosh as some sort of spiritual journey.

But what subject? Beer has been done, obviously. Though there are enough mugs about that want to spend good money on beer books. Football maybe? Loads of mugs are into football. Nah, I can’t stand football. Sex tourism? Well I can’t see the lady squeeze being happy with that. Then it hit me. Travel the world eating “Triple Whoppers”. A world wide tour of the triple whopper. I travel the globe eating junk food and write about how the burger tastes the same everywhere I go. A travelogue for people that don’t want to have to engage with, interact with or in any way deal with the foreign culture they find themselves in. Along the journey I can have some sort of Buddhist like awakening into the nature of self, throw in a few jokes and Bob is your aunty. £8.99 a copy. Kerching.


Time to write some letters to publishers, asking for an advance on what looks like the travel book of the 21st century. Pete Brown I thank you. Not only have you sorted my wobbly sofa, but gave new meaning to my life.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cooking Bitter


I have to confess to a particular affection for this grog due to one particular reason. Melanie Sykes. A model and TV presenter and star of the following TV commercial parodying the arty beer ads produced by the likes of Guinness. She’s a bit long in the tooth these days, and prone to advertising cheap shoes (link to Wynsors world of shoes removed but if you want a pair of shoes for £4 that last 2 weeks before falling apart feel free to google them) but she remains a guilty pleasure. An older bird that you would. Interestingly an ale advertised to younger drinkers. Something that doesn’t really occur much these days with the current national ale brand, John Smiths, targeting middle aged men. This beer was my first pint of ale, as an under aged drinker, and I remember quite liking it. Thankfully most advertising these days to the likes of me is lager related, so I’m only rarely tempted towards ale, usually only when I have to go into a pub and realise the ale is the cheapest grog in the place.
The beer is usually disparaged by beer aficionados. It’s nitro keg, produced by Inbev who closed the Strangeways brewery it originated from and started brewing it in Wales. Though it was never much liked by the ale jihadists even when it was the cream of Manchester, despite being the subject of arguably one of the best songs ever to originate from the band, The Macc Lads. There is a cask version knocking about, I believe brewed in Manchester, by Hydes. But I could be wrong. Drinking that would involve going into a pub, and that’s for losers, so let’s not go there.
This brand used to be pretty much the national ale brand of Britain. Widely advertised and available pretty much everywhere. Now you hardly see hide nor hare of it. There was even a spin off, Boddingtons Gold, a stronger version that appears to have died a death in Britain but is marketed in foreign climes as Boddies Pub ale, as fellow blogger Arielle looked at here, an American lady of beer appreciation.
But it’s the cheap English grog I’ve been necking. At 3.5% I think it’s weaker than it was. I remember this being 3.8% on keg and cans, and about 4% on cask. As it’s ale I needed an ale glass. The official glass looks like it’s for nonces so I could not be bothered nicking one. Not even for the purpose of blogging so I drank it out of the one and only dimpled pint pot I possess. I can’t remember where I nicked this one from. I think I nicked it because I wanted a dimpled pint pot, and for no other reason. I tried googling the Devonshire Ales logo, but presumably it’s a long defunct brewery. Still, it’s a can of bitter in a dimpled pint pot. Old Skool.
The one remarkable trait of this grog is that despite being described as “bitter” on the can, there is nothing actually bitter about it. It tastes nondescript. I loved it. None too fond of the bizarre creamy foam but loved the clear nutty brown colour, lack of aroma and ice cold absence of taste as it slipped down. At 24 cans for a tenner, it’s a bit of a bargain. I shall enjoy the rest.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

In honour of Wurst

You can call me a faker, call me a hypocrite, but all this beer blogging malarkey has inspired me. Specifically the art and science of the great man that is Wurst. For the last week I’ve had a crack at home brewing.

The challenge, as far as I could see, was to have a crack at it, see if I got anything remotely drinkable out of it but stay true and loyal to my cooking lager principles.

Those principles are that the beer must be drinkable, must be cheap as chips, and it must be a piece of piss to knock up requiring buggar all real effort. For I am a lazy soul. True laziness isn’t as easy as you think. There are often good reasons for doing things and thinking of a reason not to do them often requires a considerable amount of mental exercise. Some of the excuses I have to come up with to get out of DIY jobs around the house beggar belief. The lady squeeze is a canny devil and often has me logically cornered to the point of having no good reason not to do something. What is required then is a can of cooking lager, some thought and a later response of why I shall not be doing the task at hand.

So for this exercise I employed the power of thought, but first I made the mistake of talking to my neighbour Trev, who does homebrew and whose beer I looked at here. This was a mistake. It is always a mistake to encourage someone to talk about a subject they have as a hobby or great enthusiasm, they bang on, and you cannot escape them. Still, you live and learn. I escaped none the wiser but having been bored to tears about something called wort.

So then I applied thought to it and bought a beer kit. Beer kits are cans of hopped malt extract with a sachet of yeast. Which one to buy? I bought the cheapest. Just like I always buy the cheapest. It’s all just cans of malt extract, with different instructions. One kit was over twice the price and contained 2 cans of the treacly muck.

One aspect of brewing that is quite scary is home brew shops. They are run by strange bearded types with peculiar jumpers and a mad look in the eye. Even weirder than the types that drink real ale and go to real ale pubs. As weird as the guy was, he flogged me a cheap starter kit, and I wondered whether being able to look in 2 directions at once was an evolutionary advantage in home brewing. Despite my concern that he was the type of fella that would do this type of thing, I would actually put him slightly above your common or garden ale enthusiast in the normalcy stakes.

I got thinking as to why I’ve tended to dislike homebrew. Reading the instructions it said to pour in a bag of sugar. Now if you ferment sucrose you’ll get something entirely different from fermented maltose. I was figuring as to why it tends not to matter what beer kit style you buy it all just tastes like homebrew. It would do, regardless of whether its a lager or ale kit, if the main ingredient is a bag of sugar.

So I didn’t add the sugar and fermented it to 2 gallons rather than 5. The kit I chose was a bitter kit, cos Wurst and the rest of the beer bloggers tend to do ale and this is a homage to the great man. Some grog with which to toast his health.

It seemed to ferment out and I barrelled it yesterday in a plastic keg what my new mate “weird Pedro” sold me. I don’t know whether his name is Pedro, but my nickname for him is weird Pedro of weird Pedro’s home brew shop. In a week I’ll know if it’s any good. Wurst, this is one for you and in your honour I offer the naming of the grog to you.

Make sure is has the words "olde" and "bollocks" somewhere though, as we are now in unpasturised ale territory. Get me my pipe.