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

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

I'm at home necking a can of lout because it's Cask Ale Week

I'm at home right now. I cracked open a can of Foster’s from the fridge, brewed in a giant brewery plant somewhere in the UK. It's a gleaming gold with a thick head of foam. Not much on the nose, no bread and thankfully no dried fruit. It's a real thirst quencher, light-bodied and smooth, a backbone of distant caramel and an almost absent finish of hops. It's not complicated, it doesn't need me to write detailed tasting notes, it doesn't challenge me in any way, it's just a great drink, a classic to-the-style can of lout, wonderfully chilled and spot-on enjoyable.

There's a certain amount of pride which comes with drinking a can of lout like this. I look around the world and I see glasses of wine and pongy pints of cask ale. I'm sitting here with my lovely can of lout, raising the glass and taking deep, satisfying mouthfuls. I am proud to be drinking it.

It's Cask Ale Week and that means we have an opportunity to ignore this load of toss completly. Sure, we can drink cask ale every week of the year, but that's not the point, this is about not drinking British beer in the pub and celebrating the glory that is a pint of real ale, but having a can of lout instead.

I think I'll have another.

Dredgie, I love you. National cheap supermarket lout week is next week.

Monday, 29 March 2010

I love supermarkets

I was about to write up my views on an interesting bottle of lout I necked over the weekend, but I’m going to leave that till tomorrow.

My thanks must go to Roger Protz for enlightening me on his Blog and doing me the courtesy of answering a question I posed. He gets a lot of flack in the blogosphere does Rog, but I like the guy and enjoy his blog. The answer can be found here. Rog is the daddy, have some respect.

Now I make no claim to know the ins and outs of the pub trade. I am reasonably knowledgeable in regard to general business practice. I am no socialist and have no problem with people making a profit, but when it comes to drinking I am a punter, a customer, a drinker and an occasional pisshead.

My question was how does a 2p a pint tax increase become a 10-20p a pint price increase over the bar? The answer is simple. Brewers, pub owners and landlords take the opportunity to cash in with a general price rise. The business term is “maintaining ones margins”, or the percent gross profit per unit of product sold. Thus a cost increase becomes an exponentially increased price increase if a business chooses to operate with any given margin. It was said by the lad Mudgie on Dredgies blog that business needs to maintain its profit margin to remain viable.

Actually they need to maintain their overall profitability in absolute terms, not percentage terms on product cost. They need to maintain sales, customers and profit levels.

Not all pubs appear to work on a requirement to maintain a specific high margin. The Spoons appear to do startlingly well out of a low margin supply chain. Meanwhile the supermarkets are maintaining a low margin supply chain and offering customers excellent value for money.

I don’t get why that is wrong, irresponsible or evil. As a customer I want value for money. Cheap stuff stretches my pay packet all the farther and makes me a more prosperous individual. Unlike Dredgie I have no desire to work all week and piss all my money away in pubs. The lady squeeze is more than capable of pissing our hard earned money away on tat. I gather she considers shopping to be some sort of hobby instead of a necessary evil required in order not to starve. I like to divert a chunk into savings accounts and my nominee share account. I work to make myself rich, not others.

When you look at the least wealthy in society, and there are a fair few of them (more people earn less than the national average wage than above it), the pile it high sell it cheap business model affords the widest prosperity the largest group of people. People who can afford to celebrate with a bottle of Champagne because the likes of Tesco flog them cheap, but otherwise would not. Knocking the poor appears to be the current zeitgeist of society. How else do we explain the acceptability in referring to people of low income whose tastes may appear vulgar as chavs? You can possibly explain my own dislike of middle class values as having their origins in my own working class childhood. When it boils down to it, university, a professional occupation, a posh lass under the duvet does not alter the tribe to which you belong and I remain one of the chavs and if I’m honest I enjoy offending people with the vulgarity of my freedom of choice. I like that people don’t like it.

Many in the pub industry believe they have a divine right to my boozing quid and seek to kybosh those low margin retailers offering me bargains. All hail Tesco, Sainsbury & Morrison’s! We ought to have a national supermarkets week, at some point.

If pubs wish to cut their own throat by maintaining ridiculous unsustainable margins, that’s there look out. I’m not about to start caring, just look at these bargains!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

What is wrong with beer bloggers?

The poll on the left is closed, 43 people could be bothered voting. 72% would prefer to sit in a dumpy traditional boozer necking a pint of dark murky pong, than sitting in a smart urbane modern bar, discussing post feminist female empowerment with the lovely Alesha Dixon, and enjoying a golden delicious ice cold fizzy pint of lout?

What is wrong with you people? Is it Alesha? She not your cup of tea? Prefer a bit of Lucy Pinder? Go on tell me, it’s okay. You could sit there with Ann Widdecome if you like. If that is your bag. It’s okay if you don’t like girls, it’s the 21st century, no one is going to mind if you’re a friend of Dorothy, but I’m sure Alesha would have some like minded male friends she could introduce you to. If you're a lady, pick Gerard Butler or someone. Even I accept the lady squeeze is trading me in, if Gerard comes a knocking. I know my place. But sit in a dumpy old mans pub?

Really, what on earth is going on, what is wrong with you people? What is it about these dives that could possibly be more appealing than Alesha Dixon? The beer blogosphere is truly as mad as a box of frogs.

Please, answers below. What is it about these places?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

What I think of the budget

A Budget response from a cooking lager enthusiast.

Following the recent none budget (there will be another one after the election) and in anticipation of the all the tedious “it’s a kick in the teeth to pubs” crap that I can expect to fill the blogosphere, I thought I’d offer my own views on Mr Darling’s grog price increase.

To rip off proper journalism at the beeb, the key points are

Cider duty to rise by 10% above inflation from midnight on Sunday.

Wine, beer and spirit duties to rise by 2% from midnight on Sunday and further 2% rise planned for two years from 2013.

Now it takes no reminder that alcohol duty is the same for both on and off trade. It is no more a kick in the teeth for pubs than supermarkets. The tax difference between on and off trade is in the VAT, and only different because pubs charge rip off prices. The higher the price, the higher the VAT. What with VAT being a percentage of price. Money grasping landlords that moan about their taxes have a simple route to paying less tax. Charge Wetherspoons prices and lower your VAT bill.

Cider has been comparatively taxed lower than beer, for no good reason, and increasing cider taxes is perfectly fair and above board.

The idea that small craft producers require tax breaks is nothing more than regressive tax nonsense from people that want taxes to be put on others but not themselves. Tax what I don’t buy and don’t tax what I do. Sod off, the country is bankrupt and you can expect to pay your share. If you don’t like it, don’t vote Labour. Vote Labour and you can expect the country to be left bankrupt, and to be left with the bill.

The economy is not best served by offering tax breaks to small inefficient production. Would we accept tax breaks on bespoke suits? Ought chav office workers like me pay a premium on a cheap off the peg whistle whilst my betters get a tax break on an expensive craft product from Saville Row? Ought drivers of industrial mass produced motor cars pay a tax premium whilst drivers of hand built craft TVR’s get a tax break? Calls for tax breaks on small scale craft production are regressive measures that benefit the well off at the expense of the less well off. It is immoral.

Though you might think that personally I don’t give a toss for craft cider makers as I have no intention of necking their nasty pong regardless of how cheap or expensive it is.

Now if you wanted to differentiate between craft and mass produced grog you could do so if there was a basic difference in ingredients. Cooking lager and craft ale are made of the same things. Craft cider is I believe made from apples, whilst cooking cider is made from high fructose corn syrup. You could tax fermented corn syrup at a different rate. That is you could if you are a middle class snob that thinks you ought to pay no more for your grog and all those nasty people on benefits ought to be taxed more for there’s.

You can claim no difference in regard to secondary fermentation, in tax law or any other law. It would be a competitive advantage to UK producers at the expense of our European cousins. Cask products are a regional anomaly of the UK market, which is no longer an independent country but a region of the EU. Moan about that if you want to moan, moan about never being asked. Personally I'm happy to be an EU citizen, and have little desire to be a subject of this crown or any other. My only gripe is that the freedom and democracy our American cousins assisted us in keeping appears to have been pissed away. I'd like the EU to have the same freedom and democracy as the Americans enjoy without the Americans having to give it to us like they did last time a jumped up German decided to build a European super state.

The country is bankrupt, taxes have gone up, moan about it and keep on drinking. Just spare me any crap about pubs going bust, being kicked in the teeth, and pubs being the centre of the community. I expect my cheap lout to remain cheap, maybe not as cheap, but still cheap. That is what matters.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Tesco French Lout

A nice weekend of responsible moderate drinking this time, and all due to steering clear of uncontrolled irresponsible public houses and necking a few bottles of lout at home at a time of year when all cooking lager enthusiasts are looking forward to Easter. There has been a dearth of good supermarket offers on of late. Recently I had to buy a 10 pack of Stella 4% for £6, that’s 60p a can! All because that was the cheapest lout I could find in Tesco. For someone used to paying 40p a can the checkout was painful. Thankfully Sainsbury’s had Carlsberg Export on, 18 bottles for £7.99, which is a lovely offer on a decent lout, so I ended up with a small stock up on a nice drop to neck. Easter should see the 18 bottle boxes of Beck’s at 3 for £20 though. Or even 24 packs of Carlsberg or Fosters on for a tenner. Might not see Carling going cheap for a while as I gather Coors are unhappy about the low margins on flogging cheap lout to likes of me. Easter should be time to stock up and replenish dwindling supplies of lovely lout if your brand flexible. And I am.

One emergency cheap lout I picked up was 8 bottles of 4.8% French lager in Tesco for £2.79. Similar I thought to the 8 stubbies for £3 Sainsbury’s have on, I blogged about here. Chilling them and necking them, it’s a different lout altogether. Less malt and more maize in the Tesco one, but the ingredients are clear from the label, and coming in as quite a nice Peroni or Stella style of lout, and 21p cheaper than Sainsbury’s French lout. Lovely stuff. Enough to keep a few cheap louts in the fridge whilst you’re sitting it out for a bargain, refusing to pay full whack for a box of branded lout.

Cooking lager enthusiasm, you see, isn’t just about loving the lovely lout; it’s about loving paying buttons for it. Buying it dirt cheap is part of the fun. If you pay full whack, that’s not true cooking lager enthusiasm. Now you can do that if you’re training up as a cooking lager enthusiast. There is no harm in it, other than to your bank balance. If you want to get a taste for it, it’s all fine and dandy. It is a benefit especially if you are a pongy ale drinker looking to make improvements to your life and get into cooking lager. You’ll find it cheaper than the premium pongy ales, even at full price. However when you get into the hobby, you’ll want to buy your grog as cheap as possible. That’s when events like Easter come in. Like bank holidays, there are those that claim it has some sort of meaning. Usually religious or some other such supernatural bullshit, but cooking lager enthusiasts are not anti the God squad. We need more religious holidays to observe. More events for the supermarkets to try and sucker punters in with cheap lager. Now it’s stretching it slightly to imagine Tesco offering cheap lout to celebrate an Islamic religious date, but there are plenty of Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu events that deserve a public holiday and supermarket offer of cheap lager. Frankly I think it disgusting the supermarkets don’t. I might send Tesco a letter claiming to be a red sea pedestrian and demanding the cheap lager my Christian cousins get for their religious holidays. So long as I don’t have to show them my uncircumcised knob, I’ll no doubt get away with it.

Even so, waiting for the cheap lout offers of Easter, keep abreast of the flyers that come through the door, often with the free local paper. These tell you where the cheap lout is. Until then, if stocks are running low, Tesco French lager is cheap enough, and neck able enough to see you through.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Girl's Beer - Cobra Zero

Not beer blogged for a few days as I’ve not been drinking beer. Been in the lady squeezes bad books since Sunday due to some irresponsible binge drinking. Now I didn’t vomit anywhere or piss in a cupboard. All I did was spend Sunday with a stinking hangover and in her words spoil Sunday’s Mother’s day lunch by looking ill, eating very little, not saying a lot, and sitting silently sipping iced mineral water. It’s not like I’m the life and soul of the party on a good day. Sitting silently is what I do best.

Most of my drinking is safe responsible drinking. That’s because I do it at home and away from irresponsible uncontrolled pubs. At home you can stock up on lots of cheap lout but there is no social pressure to drink anymore of it than you want. A few is my limit as I tend to be more interested in coaxing the squeeze upstairs. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin but with a different pipe.

On Saturday I got dragged into irresponsible and uncontrolled pub based environments where socially irresponsible landlords want to sell you as much beer as possible due to a lack of social conscience driven by the profit imperative. Pubs are irresponsible places. There are rules in pubs. Rules about drinking in rounds, standing your round and matching your mates pint for pint, drink for drink. You can’t opt out with a soft drink, to do so makes you a puff. You have to get smashed; it’s like the law or something. Pub landlords are happy to serve you, regardless of how smashed you get, and if you find yourself in an incapable state then it’s all the fault of Tesco as the incorrect assumption is made that you were drinking before you went out. No one in their right mind would drink before meeting up with my pals. Actually no one in their right mind would drink with them full stop, but that's the way men make friends. You meet some people at school and university and these people become your friends and stay your friends regardless of whether you still have anything in common now you're all grown up. We don't really make friends as adults as we don't really want any, as the initial requirement based on childish insecurity no longer exists.

The round system has another effect on pubs and bars namely making them incapable of policing any form of responsible approach to alcohol. One example being on one evening not long ago, one pal of mine passed out by the dance floor of the Krazy House in Liverpool, and was coaxed awake by another pal in order to be handed another pint of strong lout. He vomited but felt a lot better for it and was able to continue drinking. Nice and as I said, all the fault of Tesco.

As you’d expect, I awoke pretty wretched on the Sunday and not really in the mood for much really, with the squeeze in a bit of a sulk in regard to my state. Sorry to disappoint the ladies out there looking for a cooking lager enthusiast to get with (we tend to be better dressed, clean shaven and generally more hygienic than real ale enthusiasts and we have our own hair conditioner and moisturiser and will not steal yours), but she didn’t give me the Spanish archer, just a bit of the silent treatment which when you’re feeling like crap isn’t that unwelcome.

My reward, as I discovered when I raided the fridge for a beer last night, was the disappearance of my lovely lout and the appearance of alcohol free lout in its place. A short discussion about me cutting down on the booze and the assurance that my lovely lout hadn’t been chucked away but instead been put in the garage, and I thought “why not, let’s give it a go”

So Cobra Zero, what’s it like? Actually quite nice. I was expecting a vile nasty tasting piss like Kaliber, but found this to be drinkable. Now I have questioned before the point of Alcohol Free beer. Why would you want to drink it when you can drink something nice like Vimto? To be honest I haven’t the answer, and you can get Vimto in pubs these days, but drinking it in a pub would no doubt involve paying through the nose for it and being called a puff by your mates. I love Vimto, I’d describe it as my favourite drink, bar none. Maybe I’ll start a Vimto blog.

But Cobra Zero was by the standards of Alcohol Free grog, not that bad. My only experience of alcohol free grog before was nasty Kaliber and a not bad (though not good) Alkohol Frei Schneider Weiss German attempt at grog free grog. By both standards, I like the Cobra attempt.

It had a malt sweetness on the first swig followed by what I can only describe as a carbon aftertaste. Not entirely like beer, but not entirely unlike it, and quite pleasant. The ingredients mentioned water, barley, hops, yeast, colour e150c and modified hop products (like what?). The e number I found to be just plain old caramel.

I’d guess that it is fermented and then a form of distillation removed the ethanol alcohol to be flogged to aftershave producers and then the resulting liquid is made to look and taste as much like beer as possible before being fizzed and bottled.

As we are in an age that considers 40% alcohol beer to be beer despite the impossibility of fermenting to 40% and thus having to up the alcohol content either by grogging or some form of distillation process (heat or cold), who’s to say this is not actual beer?

By the end of the bottle, I was quite in the mood for another. I quite liked it. At £2 for 4 it wasn’t that bad but I told the squeeze that she should have bought Becks Blue as that’s £2 for 6. I might be trying that if she buys some. I won’t be buying it as I’m not a puff but if she puts it in the fridge I’ll neck it.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Freedom Lager - Lovely Lout

I was going to write and post this yesterday, but I couldn’t be bothered. Wasn’t in the mood. But Wednesday night I did actually get to watch a football match on telly and polish off the free beer, the glorious people at Freedom Brewery gave me. It’s nice when people take pity on a cooking lager enthusiast existing on a diet of cheap grog and gift him some quality stuff to neck. The final 2 beers being a 5% Pilsner and a bottled version of a 4% lager available in 50 litre kegs. Getting back from the gym, plonking in front of the box, cracking open a bottle of lout, switching the footie on. It’s what life was invented for.

Unlike the previous 2 beers, neither of these made any claims to being organic, so overall I was more inclined to like them before the first swig. Noticed this in the paper today about organic stuff. About a fella done for flogging none organic eggs as organic. Notice how he came a cropper? Not from punters eating the eggs and noticing they didn’t taste “organic”, but from whistleblowers in his supply chain. Says everything you need to know about the organic industry. There is at least one story of this nature a month if you read Google news. Often doesn’t make the national press, but you’ll find one in the local rag of any small town paper.

Anyway, the football and a beer. Of all the sports to watch on telly, footie is the one to watch in the UK if you are a beer fan if only for the commercial breaks. UK TV has a big problem attracting a male audience. Much of TV appeals to a female audience, apart from sport. So it’s on the footie where you get all the razor blade, car and beer commercials. Want to know how the lout hawkers are flogging lout to the masses? Watch the footie.

After a session in the gym I fancied starting on a proper hit of lout, so the 5% Pilsner was cracked open. Now I’m a proper beer blogger, a giant wine glass was the receptacle I had to drink from and retain my kudos in the world of beer. Zak Avery sets the standards and we all follow. Like apostles of a beery messiah, forming a church of Zak, the giant wine glass is our symbol of devotion and adherence. The giant wine glass affords the truest way of appreciating good beer, and even if it doesn’t it looks poncy enough to help us look like we know what we are talking about.

Swirling the beer around the glass, inhaling deeply and ignoring the raised eyebrows of my loving squeeze I detected a light aroma promising a crisp and fruity delight. The first swig revealed a dryness that gave way first to a fruity sweetness and settling upon the citrus acidity. Fantastic lout. The best so far. An authentic pilsner more in the style of a German than Czech Republic pilsner. Who says the English cannot make decent lout? The multidimensional layering of flavour revealed the lagering process it had undergone. A beer with real depth and complexity. The ingredients revealed the beer to be an all malt lager, evident in its taste to be honest. Upon polishing it off my considered opinion would be that this pilsner would be my preference over most of the imported premium pilsners on the supermarket shelf, and if ever I see it and am in the mood to pay more than tuppence, I’d certainly buy some. Though I am rarely in the mood to pay more than tuppence. The cheap Stella 4% offer in Sainsbury’s it is for me then.

This got me thinking as to whether I’d have ever tried this beer had the kind gentleman at Freedom not gave me a free sample. I usually buy cheap lout as I quite like bland one dimensional pisswater and I quite like paying tuppence. If I venture to the single bottle aisle, it’s usually a special offer and I’d usually be tempted by foreign lager brands rich in lager heritage. A Pilsner Urquell for example. But here I have a lager brewed in a country not known for decent lager, and I probably would never have tried it. Glad I did. How to market this beer among lager drinkers? Get ‘em to try it. Simple as or easier said than done, I could not say. Once a punter has swigged one, its quality is self evident.

The 4% Lager I was especially honoured to receive. The other beers are available for purchase, though to be honest I’ve not seen them around the supermarkets. The 4% is a draught product; I’d presumably have to go into a pub to drink that. Considering the beer distribution in the UK I expect I’d have to go into a craft beer pub full of bearded types drinking cask ale in order to neck it. Somewhere lager louts like me wanting to watch the soccer tend to avoid. As a beer connoisseur, I poured the grog into my giant wine glass and did the whole swirling and sniffing. “Are you going to do that every time you drink a beer?” the squeeze asked. “Yeh I am, ‘cos I’m a beer enthusiast and beer blogger and it’s what we do. What’s more I’m going to jot in my notebook about it”

The main aroma of the beer is a malty sweetness with the first swig revealing a sharp crisp taste. A surprising amount of flavour for a 4% lout, drinking more like a full flavoured 5% glass of golden heaven. The crispness gives in to sweetness, revealing the beer as another of this multidimensional flavour experience you discover if you pay more than 20p a bottle. Arguably not as complex as the Pilsner, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. A delicious golden session able lout I’d be happy to neck a skinful of. I say I’d be happy to neck a skinful of it, but again I’ve not seen it about. I expect a small craft lager brewer faces a big challenge when it comes to distribution. As a punter I’d neck this 4% lout in a pub as a preference over any of the national brands, so long as they didn’t take the piss price wise. It wipes the floor with Carling & Foster’s and beats Beck’s Vier on not being German.

Any multi ale free house cask ale beardy weirdoes pubs looking for a quality lout to put on draft could do a lot worse. As a craft product it must tick all the hippy prejudice boxes against multinational industrially produced lout, and despite being a craft product it’s quite nice and not a glass of pong and thus normal people will like it.

Get it into pubs, I will drink it. Get the Pilsner in to Tesco; I’ll occasionally treat myself to it as a change from cheapo lout. Get the distribution, get punters to try it over a familiar brand, and the product speaks for itself. Lovely Lout.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Freedom Lager - The best lager, and not probably

The best things in life are free. Indeed they are. And what is better than free beer? That’s not a rhetorical question, really what is better than free beer? If Alesha Dixon and the Irish one from Girls Aloud were to knock on my door and hand me some free beer personally and the lady squeeze had no problem with them coming in to neck it with me, I doubt it would be much better than getting some free beer in the post. What are probably the finest living Englishmen our nation possesses at Freedom Brewery in Staffordshire either wisely or unwisely offered to send me some free lout. In a decent country these men would have knighthoods.

If ever there was a reason to beer blog, this has to be it. Nice people hawking their lovely lout at you. Now some fellow beer bloggers might think there is something underhand about freebies, but I’m of the opinion that I never claimed to be honest, possess anything by way of integrity and absolutely and unequivocally love free beer. I love to receive it, I love to drink it and wholeheartedly welcome anyone that wants to give me anything by way of free grog. If you want integrity read Protzy’s blog on Freedom Lager. Such integrity is a feature of a bygone age. I am a product of Thatcherism and Blairism and it’s not my fault as I never voted for it. You get the generation you create and thus deserve.

Out of the four I started on the 4.7% Dark Lager that promised a Smooth Toffee Taste. I like toffees, but my reason for starting on this one was I thought it might be the one I liked the least. Start there and build up to the ones I expected to prefer. The bottle informs me I’m drinking a refreshing hand crafted organic lager rich in flavour and aroma. Brewed direct from a pure Staffordshire spring. Ingredients, water, organic malted barley, organic hops & yeast. Vegan approved & soil association marked.

Now these types of labels are meant to inform me I’m drinking a quality product and for the target market I suspect it would work. If you are going to market a premium product, you have to make it distinct enough from the generic so as not to market on price. I however as a devout follower of cheap grog tend to be put off by the words organic and the promise of flavour and aroma. Aroma tends to mean “pong” and “organic” tends to mean a con aimed at yogurt weaving, hemp and sandal wearing, guardian reading, prosperity guilt possessing, and environmentally concerned middle classes. Having no guilt in prosperity and being rather proud of my working class chav vulgarity despite a middle class professional occupation, in large part due to consecutive governments educating the lower orders, the word “organic” has less than zero appeal to me. It is usually something to avoid. However, this is free grog, so it’s time for an open mind and time to consume something organic. The absence of safe and scientifically researched pesticides in the agricultural process won’t harm me, after all people did live before pesticides. Not as long as they live now, but it didn’t kill them instantly. Time to put away trepidation that it might be pongy as proper blogger Lager Frenzy, who blogs properly and doesn’t write tosh like this rubbish warned me.

After a short discussion with the lady squeeze where I was informed I would not get to see Ice Road Truckers & a Horizon show on Dark Flow in the universe I settled down for a bit of What Katie did Next, and a show about a maternity ward, freeview+ing the Horizon show. If I was a real man I’d be an Ice Road Trucker. That’s a real man’s job. Not sitting in an office, sipping tea and avoiding work. I offered the squeeze half the bottle, to garner the female perspective on my free grog and another short discussion began regarding “People are sending you free lager because of some rubbish you write on the internet? Good God. At least it’s not porn. I guess I should be grateful for that”, before quickly ending as Katie Price began showing us her glamorous life.

The first thing to note is the colour, which comes out poorly on the photo. A light brown rather than the red tinge of my bargain basement digital camera. The colour of a light bitter beer, lighter than a Municher dunkel. Think of a can of Stones Bitter, that’s the colour. A sweet maltose aroma dominates but does not overwhelm the senses. This is an aroma, a fragrance, and nothing you could describe as a pong, and pretty enticing. Necking the decent stuff here I think. My mouth watered in anticipation, and the first swig did not disappoint. A rich malty lager and absolutely fantastic. I’ve not drank a wide variety of dark lager so have little to compare it with, but whilst say a south German dunkel beer kind of tastes like a Newcastle brown ale, this reminded me of a lighter and unpongy Old Speckled Hen Ale whilst retaining the essentials of quality lout.

Many pongy ale brewers think that they can appeal to lager drinkers with blond ale, thinking the darkness of ale is what puts punters off, so brew rank pongy golden ales with lager malt which has the effect on me of wanting a nice pint of Beck’s Vier. This dark lager is the opposite. As if someone thought, how can I make a lager that appeals to ale drinkers and copied the nicest aspect of ale, the mouth feel and sweet maltiness of crystal malt, and added that to a quality refreshing lager. The hybrid logic works better this way. A distinctive beer, uncommon in the market, with a wide appeal. I cannot image a beer drinker that wouldn’t like it, and if Woolpack Dave is still trying to find a lager he likes, give this a go fella. Further swigs had me thinking there might even be a surprise to the hopping, beyond the usual Saaz, Hallertau or Hersbrucker common in lagers, but frankly my taste buds are not up to that level of analysis, and to train my taste buds thus would involve growing a beard and wearing sandals myself. So I’ll stick to descriptions of drinkability and balance, of which this grog possessed in spades.

If this was the one I thought I’d like the least I cracked open the Organic Lager 4.8%, promising a Golden Caramel Taste (I love Cadburys caramel so thumbs up) with an almost indecent eagerness. This poured out with a golden hue that is neither the piss yellow of say a Bud, or the slight caramel hue of say a Carlsberg. A sparkly glass of golden delight. The aroma has a slight burnt dry quality which is reflected in the first swig. (Beer ought to be swigged, never tasted and never sipped. It’s beer). The dryness came through around the cheeks and top of the mouth, promoting another swig soon after. I swigged this one pretty quick. Dry beers tend to have a quality of wanting more. I could have necked a lot of this, had I been in the mood to get pissed. The dryness reminded me most, and it’s no insult, of the hop extract in an Oettinger Pils. Whilst Oettinger in known as being one of the cheaper German louts, it’s a quality beer. The ingredients of this bottle were the same as the previous, no mention of hop extract, so I presume Freedom have achieved the same effect by actually hopping the beer. Gorgeous stuff.

I have to pick a favourite, and whilst both are top grog, my prejudices were shattered and I confess to preferring the first darker beer. I might even be inclined to view the word “organic” with less general disdain after necking these brews. I shall be necking the Pilsner and 4% lout tomorrow night. Possibly in front of the football if Katie Price isn’t on the telly, and the squeeze lets me, and am looking forward to both.

In a shameless attempt to hawk more free beer off more nice people, I am insanely happy to receive free beer and happy to blog about it. It’s not much of a marketing opportunity as only half a dozen or so people read this rubbish, none of which are inclined to go out and buy any beer I recommend, but at least you’ll feel happy in your soul that you’ve brought pleasure to the life of a fellow human being. With so much conflict and disagreement in the world, the world would be a nicer place if more people gave free beer to other people, and someone has to receive free beer in order for someone to give it and I’m happy to receive it. If anyone else wants to send me free beer, yes please and thank you very much.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

King of Beers

Today I’m blogging about a very special beer in the world of Cooking lager. One beer sits alongside the eponymous Carling as the representation of all that the Pongy Ale enthusiasts dislike. It is disliked so much you’ll see it referred to by its amusing nickname “Dudweiser”. You’ve guessed it, it’s a bottle of Bud, or Budweiser to give it its due respect. Not that fake Czech Republic muck that parades itself as Budweiser, but the genuine article. American Bud. Brewed under contract in the EU of course., and the famous beer that replaced Coors in Smokey and the Bandit II. (Coors featured in the first, in the second Burt drank Bud)

Wiki has this beer as a 4.2% Pale lager, in the UK it’s brewed to 5%, and a fascinating bit of wiki it is too. Brewed from the choicest hops, rice and barley malt and aged in Beachwood. They are unaware of any beer that costs so much to make and believe that the best beer ought to be fresh and inform you of the date the beer was born. The general view of most of the beer world is that this beer is bland muck. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s why I dedicate this post to my top mate Dicky English, a big fan of Dudweiser (though he would never say) I’m sure. (The personal abuse on the forum was referring to Ricky as Dicky as he didn’t like being called Ricky. Please don’t think for a moment that it was actually personal abuse, I’m not one for calling people rude names, especially not a top geezer like Dicky. Respect dude!)

The most distinct tasting note that comes from this beer is sweetness. An odd sucrose sweetness rather than a maltose of unfermented caramelised malt that may exist in a darker beer, or even a fructose which you can find from time to time in even the expensive grog others like to neck. Odd thing for a beer. Now I cannot say whether it is sweetened or not, but the first bottle is undeniably sweet. Not unpleasantly so, but enough to not fit in with my expectation of what lout ought to be. Now I poured the first one into a glass. A 1990 Middlesbrough CAMRA beer festival glass to appeal to any CAMRA members that read this tosh and as a gesture of beer brotherhood and sincere friendship. The glass was nicked, but that doesn’t alter the sentiment. I wanted to look at its colour as I was told that the main reason Bud was marketed as a bottled beer in the UK was that trials as a draught product informed the brewer that the UK punter was put off by its “piss like appearance” of light yellow. I cannot say it put me off, nor did it appear greatly different than any other lout flogged. Maybe that’s an urban myth, who’s to say?

Further bottles revelled dryness as my mouth became accustomed to the sweetness and the beer took on a more conventional appeal. I was never one for Bud; though a lover of lout it was never my cup of tea. This cheap six pack changed my mind in regard to Bud. I enjoyed it and enjoyed it tremendously. Nowt wrong with the grog. Whether 30% rice or not, its top lout. I eat Rice Krispies, so there is nothing wrong with rice. It’s a commodity grain like any other and if Inbev want to flog me dirt cheap Bud they are very welcome. More power to them and less power to those that dislike Bud. To slag off Bud is not to insult this fine beer but to insult the millions that drink and enjoy it worldwide, all of which I’m sure are discerning people. It’s a nice bottle of grog, top marks.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Spar Dutch Lager

When I look into the glorious majesty of a glass of cooking lager I feel I am glimpsing the very essence of human progress, of millennia of human endeavour to create perfection in getting cheaply pissed up. From the origins of beer as a murky pongy porridge like drink the Egyptians only necked because they hadn’t invented lout yet, to traditional pongy ales that were only ever popular because no one had invented lout yet. For millennia mankind has drank whatever grog is cheap and thought “Crikey, what is this muck? We can do better than this nasty pint of pong surely?” Spurring human endeavour and ingenuity to make less of a pongy muck and more of a crisp clean golden delight of pleasure in a glass, each generation has improved beer to point whereby it’s damn near perfect. A perfect can of lovely cheap lout to sit in front of the telly with and get a little pissed up. Golden in colour, refreshing of taste, all of heavenly pleasure available in the current life for the price of a few buttons.

That’s what happens when you drink a drink as fine a brew as Spar own brand 4% Dutch Lager, sat on the couch, watching people doing up houses or cooking on the telly. You figure out that the world is a pretty decent place. Sure there is lots of ropey pongy muck out there to drink, and odd balls that want to force you to drink it by putting the price of your lovely golden nectar up, but these people are losers. Like Charlie Sheen says to Jennifer Grey in the all time classic film Ferris Buellers Day Off, “The problem isn’t Ferris, it is you”. The problem isn’t cheap lout or the people that love it. The problem is in the hearts and minds of those that don’t.

So with this I have a challenge, to enunciate and explain just how fine a grog Spar Dutch lager is. Well it’s fizzy and golden and lovely. No pong to make you wince, no aftertaste to make you go “ewww”. Just ice cold pleasure, poured into a glass. A fine admirable and quality can of cooking lager. Upon the final swig, just as I was about to help myself to another can, a thought hit me. A sad thought. What does man do when all the progress to be made has been made? What now for beer, now the perfect beer has been made? Atrophy, decent, a return to dark pongy grog? Or will mankind simply wait and take a while to appreciate this plateau before embarking upon the next climb of progress? Time for another can to ponder this issue.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Beer comedy of the week

The first and possibly last in an irregular series of drivel. Today’s’ beer comedy comes courtesy of those nice chaps at Beer Here. Follow this link here.

Other great suggestions for mother’s day gifts are a Halfords socket set, Nuts magazine subscription, car pressure washer or pretty much anything from Boys Stuff.

Come on lads. You can do better than suggesting we buy our mum’s something they don’t want so we can neck it ourselves.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Skol : Make March Piss!

A special treat in the world of cooking lager. The very special beer that is Skol. A delicious light and refreshing 3% piss brewed by Carlsberg in the UK. Famous for the Skol song:-




And Hagar commercials, but seemingly a brand in decline in the UK. Well the time has come to turn that around. Tandy recently asked the question how to measure or define greatness and here in a can of Skol we have the answer. True greatness in the form of a can of fizzy piss. It’s easy enough to brew a great 5% lout but brewing a decent glass of fizz at lower abv’s is certainly more challenging. A challenge that has been met in this glorious brew. There was a day when many light lagers graced the UK market, but in recent times 4% appears to have become the standard, with 5% defined as a continental style. Brewing a nice drop at 3% has to be a sign of brewing excellence.

I’ve put thought in how to re energise great iconic beers like Skol, and concluded the following. Like CAMRA are doing in an attempt to save the dying piss that is a pint of old man’s mild, cooking lager fans need to save piss weak lager. Just as the German brewing industry is attempting to overcome falls in volume beer consumption by attempting to flog leichtbier (light beer) there is an opportunity to promote the lower alcohol and calories in piss weak lager. I’ve decided quite arbitrarily to define lager styles in order assist.

Under 4% will be defined as “piss”; 4%-5% is cooking lager & 5%+ is lout. Thus we can have a “make march piss month” to promote this delicious refreshing cold can of fizzy goodness and make sure iconic weak lagers do not disappear.

Lay down your pint of pong, my beer blogging brothers. For March is “Make March Piss Month”. Get yourself a lovely pack of Skol, stick it in the fridge and enjoy!