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

Monday, 28 June 2010

The Carling Home Draught System.

Without banging endlessly on about my love of receiving free beer, I do feel an obligation to proffer an opinion on the grog nice people are kind enough to send me. I was going to save opening my 10-pint keg until the big football game on Sunday, but I could wait. It was like it called to me “cookie, open me, open me” So I did. It was chilled cold beer and I simply couldn’t resist.

The instructions for opening were clear and cracking open the first pretty simple. The box fitted in the fridge nicely, a feature arguably not present in other home keg products. By storing the keg on its side in a box with an easily accessible tap it was already beating other similar products on the market. I’d never tried Carlsberg’s home draught product which since appears to have left the market as it appeared that you had to fill up your entire fridge with a big plastic keg, then load it into a dispenser that would then purport to keep it cool like a thermos. Making an interesting feature for parties, but finicky for drinking over a period of time as you took it out to re chill. Likewise the Heineken keg appeared a tad unwieldy for the fridge, and refrigerator keg dispensers unstandard, expensive and not widely available. This Home Draught System appears to have had a bit of thought put into it and maybe I’d have tried one with my own money had I not got given one. It ticks the boxes of being practical. In the kitchen fridge there was also room for other things.

As you can see from the pictures the first pint jetted out with a fair bit of froth. I thought at first this was my own cack handiness and to be fair I got better at pouring a pint when I had a second. I managed a pint as you can see from the other picture. But what’s the beer like? Spanking gorgeous. It’s Carling. It is pointless to describe the taste of a pint of Carling, as I doubt there is a person in the country that can say they have never necked one. Pong drinker or not, at some point you’ve had a Carling. You are free to slag it off because it doesn’t pong, and free to prefer other beers that do pong, but consider the following scenario.

You are a beer geek. A work mate invites you to a party. You like your work mate and wouldn’t mind an evening in his company or for that matter a party. You accept the invite. You turn up with the obligatory bottle of cheap wine as a gesture to find a busy house and party in full flow. You know no one, your mate shows you where the booze is and invites you to help yourself all night rather than him spend his evening playing host. You pour the missus a glass of plonk and open the fridge looking for a beer. You see the fridge is full of Carling or any other regular lout. Not a craft beer or bottle of pong in sight. Do you turn around and leave and go to an old mans pub for a pint of bitter? Do you crack open a lout and mingle, introducing yourself to people and enjoy the party? You might not have a squeeze. There might be ladies there. Ladies with no one to dance with. A can of lout will put you in the mood to talk to them.

I don’t think any beer geek is that much of a beer twat, you’d crack one open and say “Hi ya” and talk to any stranger that didn’t look weird (like someone that wasn't a beer geek). You’d probably have the thought “actually this isn’t bad, there is nothing unpleasant about it, its okay” And you’d be right and not being at all unfaithful to the Campaign for Pong. It’s okay to have a pint of lout. It is not a crime. It’s also okay to dance with ladies. So long as the lady is single and you are. If you have a squeeze and get pissed and start dancing with a lass whilst your squeeze is girl talking in the other room expect to be in the dog house all the way home.

Swigging the lout, the beer is less fizzy than a can and pretty much as you would buy it in a pub. Lovely. No better than a can, no worse, just slightly different in a draught kinda way. I don’t get what is not to like about a gorgeous pint of Carling. I understand those that prefer a more full on hop flavour and consider Carling bland, but I find it a quality product I quite enjoy. It’s a nice uncomplicated consistent drink of loveliness. I was only going to have the one. Just to try. But I had two. Lout is like that, consistently beckoning you into its realm of delight. I resisted the third. Some friends were coming round to watch the game on Sunday and I thought it would be something the chaps would like so better leave some.

Carling is the product that does appear to polarise opinion among beer geeks and represents something to be deeply disliked. A mass-produced product of a global brewer and the ubitiquous national favourite brand available everywhere. For some it represents a lack of discernment among “the masses”. All of this I find to be a combination of snobbery and ill thought out opinion. Stick your snobbery, the people of Britain are discerning people and what is popular is popular because actually it’s pretty good and fair value.

As for what the chaps thought of the keg. A couple of my mates and some chaps dating friends of the squeeze, and even those ladies all saw it and thought it the dogs bollocks. Given the choice of various wines, beers & louts all wanted a pint of Carling and all wanted to “have a go and pour one themselves” Novelty value maybe but the overall verdict was “pretty cool” As a result it ran out pretty quickly and when it ran out the last one to squeeze the last bit out seemed disappointed to be opening a regular common or garden can of lout to top it up. A metaphor for the disappointment of the game perhaps. We were crap. That is the only insightful football opinion I have. We were crap and they were quite good. But with lout to go at, you cannot be disappointed for long. The time for despair is not losing a football game, but when the last drop of lout has been drunk dry.

So would I buy one? Well I like cheap grog. The last Carling I bought was a 15 pack with other louts in a 3 for £20 offer. 44p a can or 59p a pint. I saw one of these kegs in Sainsburys at £18.99. £1.89 a pint. It’s a fair mark up for “draught”. Still cheaper than the near £3 you find it in pubs, and a popular novelty for a party but the can is the perfect home system. Each unit is a portion and you can put as many or as little in the fridge. The use by date for cans is a year in advance and opening one doesn’t mean necking all of them within the month. A can of Carling is just as gorgeous. There is so much right with this draught keg making it better than previous attempts to sell draught products for the home, getting right the practical shape and size. Unlike other products that hang around for a year or two and disappear, it ought to succeed and have as they say “legs”. The price is the only factor that hampers it. If I were stocking up for a party and saw a 3 for £20 offer I’d buy 3 boxes of different beer, one of them Carling. I might buy more depending on guest numbers. Would I spend near £20 on one 10-pint keg of Carling? Sorry, I doubt it. I accept the challenge of marketing is to convince the customer to pay more for the same thing, and even that it might cost more to package these kegs than the canning line.

However the correct price comparison is the special offer Carling. Lout is only ever full price for a short period of time to allow the supermarkets to claim the cheaper price as a “discount”. I never buy it at full price. When it’s on full price I drink my stock. When it’s cheap I stock up. Therefore the product price is the cheaper discounted price. Therefore the keg looks expensive. It is a new product, you’ve gotta convince people it’s worth a price before discounting and creating a bargain. Maybe it will go on special offer. When it’s on half price special offer I might buy one for a party more than regular home boozing. A few buttons more per pint, but I liked the novelty.

Friday, 25 June 2010

No matter where you go, there you are

I once read an axiom that it is better to travel than to arrive. That is, in my humble opinion, complete and utter bollocks. Travelling is piss poor. Once you have arrived at your destination life is okay. Once you are home, life is even better. Getting from A to B is by and large a wretched experience. Airport queues that are designed to make you walk through tat shops (of course, that is what I need, a tin box in the shape of an obsolete red phone box with 50p’s worth of jelly babies in for a tenner), waiting around for every stage of the miserable process, screaming children on planes, crap airline sandwiches, fat people sat next to you that do not fit into their own seat and dithering old people standing right there and blocking everyone’s attempt to move forward until they have found what piece of pointless crap they want out of their bag . The only part of it I enjoyed was getting free beer on the plane in the economy class that my humble means afford me. I got one as she moved up the plane and necked it quick enough to get another when she moved the other way. Warsteiner if you’re interested. Not bad lout. Neckable.

As for my experiences in the nation of Germany, what can I say? In business terms it was another partial success, to paraphrase Viz comic. I got some work, but not enough to escape the shackles of wage slavery and working for the man. There is a recession on don’t ya know? Age of Austerity and all that. Ought to be grateful I’ve got a job. Whatever. On the positive side, when I wasn’t attempting to prostitute myself I got pissed up on some pretty decent stuff in some nice places with some nice people. You can’t argue with that. The Weiss remained my favourite, the Eisbock made me want to heave. I could start being poncy and mention the aroma of banana with the aforementioned bananarary aftertaste but frankly I barely managed to neck the bottle of 12% sugary muck. I necked it, I’d paid for it, and it was booze, but I cannot say I liked it nor wanted to practice till I liked it. A Maß of Helles was by and far the easiest way of getting skulled. The Dunkel was too much like Newcy Brown. About 90% of what I necked was either Helles or Weiss, and had I known better the other 10% would have been too. When I found myself necking a halb for brekkie I realised that I could live off grog here. It was good enough to live off and relatively hangover free. I say relatively, you have to neck a real skinful.

I could mention breweries, but to be honest, it was all good. None stood out of the crowd but none of it was poor. If I had to be critical I’d say the beer is arguably a poor imitation of cooking lager. As if someone tried to emulate the magnificence of proper cooking lager but with pure and natural ingredients and a long established traditional brewing process. This produces lager beers that are arguably good, but are not proper bona fide lout. It’s as if they have never heard of cheaper fermentable sugars, reduced lagering time & heading chemicals. With the lack of bona fide proper cooking lager I’m not even going to mention the breweries, but what is worth mentioning is the bizarre and unusual drinking culture of Germany. I’m not sure it is healthy. It is impossible to get pissed up and get into a fight outside a kebab shop with a tattooed thug vomiting on his shoes. What a weird place. They have appeared to have subverted the natural order of boozing and eliminated the ability to get paraletically drunk, vomit and fight. It’s what you might call “civilised” but frankly it’s unnatural.

They seemed to have done this by establishing drink as a natural and healthy part of life. Something to be enjoyed with friends, strangers and food. Drink is the social lubricant of life and not a tool to get pissed up and escape life. Not something demonised and unacceptable. Waiter service as the norm rather than exception adds an air of civility. It creates a weird mix where strangers talk to you. Rather than the natural fear (which we pretend is a national trait of simply being reserved) of talking to strangers that comes from knowing they probably want to get pissed and fight, when you take that fear away people talk and strangers become friends and the next thing you know some American students, a German lawyer and an Italian divorcee are all adding you to their facebook friends list and you are agreeing to meet them tomorrow to watch the football game. Is this natural human behaviour I ask you? Where is the natural fear and apprehension of talking to strangers? German friends assured me this was normal, nothing unusual about it. At a late night kebab shop in the early hour’s people sat and ate and drank a last beer before calling it a night. They smiled and laughed with each other and there was no sign of blood, piss or vomit. What is this madhouse, I silently screamed inside?

I looked around the supermarkets. Beer ranges from 35 cents a can for the pisswater I like to 85 cents for a bottle of something decent. Cheaper by a factor of 3 or 4 from the bars, kellers, pubs and what not. The bars were thriving. The smoking ban was no different here in anywhere I went, but mention of bars where smoking was allowed was mentioned. A cancer stick puffer tried to drag me to a kolsch club where smoking was apparently permitted but we never went there in the end because we got invited to a party by some pretty German girls. I cannot tell you whether the smoking bars prosper. Smoking bans, supermarket prices? Tell you what; there might be a market for civilised places with decent beer and decent food here in England. Once I’d got over the weirdness of it, it was quite appealing and arguably better than the dumps we suffer in Blighty.

EDIT: back home, taking the squeeze out to a Chinese restaurant she likes, we get off the bus in town, simple journey, not worth a cab, it’s a nice summer evening. We walk past a traditional British boozer, I spot a drop of blood on the steps, what appears to be piss up the side wall, flaking paint, a tatty exterior, shaven headed tattooed aggressive looking types having a fag outside, a sign informing me a pint of Foster’s is only £2. It is somehow reassuring that I am back in a normal healthy aggressive drinking culture. However I walk past, not into, the boozer.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Delayed gratification

In my short time on this planet I have arguably learned little. As less as I could get away with and still earn a quid. Learning stuff is difficult and ignorance is indeed bliss. One thing I have learned, though not through choice, is the pleasure of delayed gratification. I say not through choice as by and large I arguably prefer instant gratification, however circumstances do not always lend themselves to instant gratification.

The example that most springs to mind is one of being a single man embarking upon a date with an object of affection, as I did occasionally before I met the delight of my life. Very occasionally, mind, as I have never been a champion puller of the ladies. Always wanted to be, never could be. At least before I cracked the lady squeeze. How I managed that I'll never know.

When embarking upon a date, I did wish to get to know the lady in question better; I am not a complete animal. However I also wished to rattle her senseless and preferably on the first date. As wonderful as the overall personality of the lady in question may very well be, the reason for dating the girl is that you find her sexually attractive and you don’t really know her well enough to know either way about her many other attributes admirable or otherwise. Occasionally one is fortunate and manages to embark on a date with a lady of flexible morals that you can rattle on a first date, and occasionally the girl makes you wait a while before dragging you into her boudoir. You can try to speed it up by chucking wine down her neck, but it isn’t always to be recommended if the lady isn’t a seasoned boozer. You can find yourself chucked out of taxi cabs and carrying your young lady over your shoulder. It is the waiting for the 3rd or 4th date that constitutes the delayed gratification. The desire to rattle her within minutes of meeting her and the week or two that passes before you manage it. I would even go as far as to say delayed gratification can make the final gratification all the more pleasurable, but that does not stop me from preferring instant gratification.

And so it is with the lager product that I am currently excited about. 10 pints of gorgeous draft Carling. I want one now. I wanted one 2 minutes after it arrived. However it needed chilling, and low and behold I’m out of the country for a few days until mid next week. Germany of all places. Talking bollocks to Germans for a few days. On my tod, drumming up work. I shall enjoy the trip; I usually do as it’s a nice country, with or without the longing to be at home with my lovely keg of Carling and feeling a regular pang at missing it. I’ll also miss the lady Squeeze but I can talk to her on the phone. I can’t talk to my keg of lout. I shall not get to taste the chilled fizzy delight of cooking lager until next week. I will have to wait. Until then I will have to satisfy myself with German Helles Bier & Weiss Bier and the like, all the time dreaming of a proper pint of cooking lager. The wait will be worth it, and the pleasure intensified exponentially, but that does not quell the pain of waiting. Occasional readers of this rubbish will be aware that the lovely people at Coors sent me a free one, and specifically the super lady that is Kristy. I’d like to think because they are wonderful human beings. It cannot be marketing as bugger all people read this tosh and of those that do even less are likely to agree with it. It is just that they are wonderful.

So I pack my mini wheeled suitcase, dig out my passport and find my spare Euros. Every so often I go to the fridge, open the door and say “I’m going to miss you, I’ll be back soon” It awaits my return. The lady squeeze has promised not to open it until I get back. She said if she fancies a beer she’ll have a small bottle of lager. I have a photo of it on my mobile. Time will pass, we will be together once more. Not long my love.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Make it the Maximum !

I've come to gather one or two people might be reading this tosh, on occasion. So I've decided to ask a favour of you. Please sign my on line petition, here. I shall be emailing Dave Cameron with the results.

The petition states :
The price of dirt cheap cheap supermarket lager is rising whatever anyone says. We believe government intervention and a Maximum price of 50p per unit will ensure a free English persons right to get as pissed as he/she likes for the princely cost of buttons!

A maximum price of alcohol will ensure a more socially cohesive society where pubs and bars are unable to charge high prices in the hope of keeping the chavs out. It will put the kybosh on expensive posh exclusive gaffs. It will not only protect cheap supermarket lout but ensure more pub based bargains of the type here, where Mudge discovered a boozer more than capable of flogging him a pint below 50p a unit. It will ensure boozing and getting pissed up remains affordable for all in society, regardless of wealth, social class or attitude. Further more it encourages the types of boozers that everyone is welcome in and no one feels stung by. It makes for an all round happier and shinier world. Don't be one of those beardies that say "At £2.90 it was very good value". Instead say "Why isn't the 99p a pint Spoons offer on all year round and offered by every boozer, and why aren't the cheap lout offers in Tesco on continually?"

Please sign, you know it makes sense.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Free beer is great

As the world cup kicks off I’m feeling it’s time for a bit of a metaphor about life being a game, and wondering whether anyone ultimately wins. I treated myself yesterday to some new tat, all in the interest of relationship harmony. My lovely delightful squeeze has a peculiar attitude to the fridge, thinking it to be primarily a repository for food. Without being sexist, I suspect most women think like this. However we all know a fridge is nothing more or less than a device to keep your lovely lout ice cold.

As I’m about to get through a fair amount of lovely ice cold lout over the next month, fridge space is required and if the lady squeeze is insistent that we need things like vegetables, salad and bottles of milk & mineral water then in the interest of conflict avoidance I clearly need a beer fridge. A fridge solely devoted to my beer, leaving the kitchen fridge for the stuff the squeeze wants to put in it. I was expecting a response of “Good idea, that’s what we need”

Instead I got the response “Where are you going to put it?” and “Are you really going to put a beer fridge in the living room?” I did suggest putting it in the bedroom for the purpose of a half time can of lout when we are engaged in matters of a romantic nature, but that idea was immediately kyboshed.

It’s bought now. Out of the box and filled up with 24 cans I got for a tenner. She’s still sceptical and off the view that it’s a bit common, when the practicality of it dawns on her I am confident she will see it as the essential household item it is. That the fridge is now free for putting food and what not in, and I can get a fresh can without my eyes leaving the telly box and missing a crucial moment of footie. Now to talk her round for a pool table, table football and a dart board. It’s what every living room needs. The subtle blend of her fine taste in home furnishings contrasting with all a lad needs for a night in. Lout, game of darts and a tasty squeeze to carry upstairs.

I’m also excitedly expecting the arrival of these to put in it. Rubbing my hands with glee. The lovely Kristy from Molson Coors offered to send me a free home draught box of gorgeous Carling. Top stuff. Does life get any better? A beer fridge and some free lout to put in it? Beer blogging is great. Lovely people offering to send you lovely free beer, and an exciting innovation in cooking lager appreciation if ever there was one. Free beer is, I have decided, one of my favourite things in life. Second only to rattling the squeeze. People that send you free beer are clearly among the finest examples of humanity on the planet. If there is a heaven, they have their place, secured by the happiness they have created.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The World Cup

Wahay, the world cup kicks off this weekend, and I love it. Love it I tell you. Beautiful or not, the one and only true world cup. Many sports claim to have a world cup, only association football actually has one due in no small part that in order to have a world cup, you’ve kinda gotta have a sport the whole world plays. No point in a world cup when you’ve got a sport that the majority of the planets inhabitants are unaware exists. Some dumb shit with a stupid shaped ball for fat blokes, or a game with a bat and ball that goes on for an endless stream of tedious days broken by tea breaks and is called a draw when it rains. What you’ve got there is a tournament of a dull sport, not a world cup.

Oh and beer doesn’t have a world cup. End of. If it did a pint of lout would win.

The world cup is also a wonderful time for snobs to look down on us chavs for wearing soccer shirts or sticking flags on our cars, but being a chav myself it also allows me to display my sneering aggressive contempt towards my betters despite no desire to obtain either the overpriced nylon shirt or tatty flag. The nation is celebrating, join in or go home and watch a DVD box set.

Association football is the one true meritocracy, and I love it. I don’t love it enough to pay money to see it during the football season, when it’s cold and raining and costs £40 a ticket, or even play it, but free on telly it beats watching miserable cockneys whisper menacingly at each other in a grim soap opera. It is the sport everyone has played, everyone has had an opportunity to play, and those that showed a bit of talent are able to play it well enough to make a decent living out of it. I am uninterested in sports a small section of society play, and whenever such sportsmen pull on an England shirt, whoever they claim to be representing they are not representing me. I wish such sportsmen no ill or misfortune, only apathy and disinterest at their endeavours. Running and jumping? Tennis? Golf? Archery? Dressage? Cricket? Do one. Keep it and do one.

Football is different in every sense of the word. It is the only time I am at all interested in my Englishness, because I choose to and not because someone tells me to celebrate my Englishness. I shall watch every England game, and any others that look decent, like Brazil. I shall neck a skinfull of lout and appal the polite sensibilities of others shouting “Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo”

I shall be watching it at home, with a few cans of lout, occasionally pubs with the odd pint, and in the unlikely event of England doing well at parties people put on. If you want a quiet pint, stay at home until it’s over ‘cos the likes of me will be shouting “Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo” and annoying the crap out of you.

Any tossers that tell me “they are a bunch of overpaid nancy boys” will get a lesson in economics. Off of me I tell you. A lesson in supply and demand and scarcity of resource. That footballing talent has economic value because people are willing to pay to see it due to its entertainment factor. That economic value is dependent on scarcity of resource and the market determines their remuneration. That no one gets the job because they went to the right school, have got the right certificate, know the right people or know a funny handshake. They are where they are because they can play, and you are not in the team because you can’t. Meritocracy, guv. It ain’t unfair. It is nought but snobbery and jealousy to be unhappy that a thick lad from the rough end of a rough town with no GCSE’s who can kick a ball earns more in a week than you or I do in a year and is rattling a pop star bird. Good luck to the uneducated incoherent lads. In the words of James Brown “I got mine, don’t worry about his”. Want to moan about professional sport, the lack of Corinthian spirit, the lack of amateur idealism? Have a read of this, then moan. Professional sport is how the people took the game off the idle classes. Professional sport is the key to its accessibility, how the working man played and beat his betters, its whole meritocratic nature.

And among this glory sits the supermarket special offer lout to enjoy the games with. 24 cans for a tenner in Sainsbury’s. 3 boxes of 15 for £20 in Tesco. All dirt cheap loveliness with Sainsbury’s winning on the basis you get 48 cans for £20 opposed to 45. Yes 24 for a tenner is back! Beautiful, sheer unmitigated glory! Surely an omen of unlikely success for our overpaid nancy boys.

You’re not getting a quiet pint for a month, just accept it, you can’t beat ‘em, get some lovely dirt cheap lout and join ‘em. Proper lout mind, proper official lout, not some pong a dodgepot ale brewer has knocked up that ain’t official. Oo no.

Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo. Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo. Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo. Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo. Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo. Eng ger Land, Na Na Na. Eng ger Land, Vindaloo.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The code of the CAMRA steward.

I am not a regular at CAMRA beer festivals. But on occasion, any activity that involves getting pissed I am likely at some point to try. Over a year ago I got a glimpse at a rare and intriguing example of humanity, the CAMRA beer festival steward. Stood idle lurking on the fringes of the festival, high visibility jacket over a leather waistcoat with badges on, cowboy hat, mirrored shades regardless of sunlight level, ZZ top style beard and engraved pewter tankard holstered on his waist like a gun. This mysterious and shadowy example of my fellow human species intrigued me. At my next opportunity I knew I would have to investigate this strange sub culture in more detail, and that to fail to do so would leave me ignorant of a shadowy sub culture operating not only on the fringes of beer festivals, but I assumed on the fringes of humanity itself.

In this quest I knew I had to gather as much information that was common to the species as possible. Were they all the same species or were they split into sub species? It required the observational skills of Darwin, but as he’s dead and as Dawkins presumably has better things to do annoying the God squad, the anthropological study would have to be conducted by myself. I am pleased to discover a beer blogging CAMRA steward and take my hat off to you Sir. You appear quite normal, I shall follow your blog as you continue to steward and see whether you are absorbed into the strange cult. If you are, humanity would benefit from the documentation of the process.

First a study of common traits. Obesity appeared common among the species but not universal. Universal traits appeared to be a lack of social ability, bad teeth, long hair, leather waistcoats with badges on, a super duper amazing utility belt, a CB radio and the icon that identifies all, the tankard. Not in the hand with beer in, but holstered on the waist, like a gun waiting to be drawn. Mental images of Sergio Leone films entered my head as Clint Eastwood gazed menacingly at Lee Van Cleef. Eli Wallach’s eyes darted from side to side, sweat dripping off his brow. The music reaches a crescendo and they draw. Draw tankards of pong to their mouths and swig. Doodley doo, wah wah wah.

The physical traits were more difficult to pin down. Most in possession of the size of beer gut that will hamper their chances of reaching 50, but not all. There is certainly a fear of barber shops and dentists among this tribe, or maybe this tribe is in an eternal war seeing dentists and barbers as their natural enemy or predator? However these traits do not make a steward, by avoiding barber shops and dentists for ten years you cannot pass yourself off as one. It is all in the uniform.

I knew I would have to take the plunge and speak to one. Then the opportunity arose. Sat drinking in the stands of a small football stadium, where a beer festival was being held, a friend lit up a fag and there he was standing, towering over us in his magnificence, beer gut thrust phallically forward, hands on hips. “You can’t smoke here mate, smoking area is down there” As my friend scooted off for his cancer stick, those of us planning on living long enough to claim a pension remained and an opportunity too good to miss stood before us.

“I like your tankard, that’s a good one” I said.

“Thanks, it’s engraved with my handle” he replied

“Handle?” I enquired

“Nickname, I got it engraved” he explained

“It’s cool, why have you got two belts on?” I enquired further

“Ones my trouser belt, ones my utility belt, it holds my tankard and everything I need to steward the festival.” he explained

“It’s better than Batman’s” I assured him “He had useless tat on his belt; you’ve got a tankard on yours. Why haven’t you got it out with beer in?”

“Can’t drink on the job, mate. We have to stay sober to manage security. We are the last line of defence” he clarified

“We expecting terrorists?” I enquired

“Terrorists, criminals, anyone really. More usually drunks puking up in the bogs after drinking the cider” he assured me with a knowing look.

By this time I had talked to this nutcase enough, but I suspect they don’t often get to talk to people. I suspect most people shun the peculiar and unusual, but steward man was already talking to me.

He continued. “I’m having a new tankard made as we speak. Out of leather.” He said it with pride, as if this was a status symbol. As if there are grades of tankard, and only the select few get a leather tankard. “When you drink out of them, all you can smell is leather.”

“Isn’t it porous?” I pondered

“No”, he said with a dismissive gesture “It is lined, but the beer will taste and smell of leather”

“That’s really good” I comforted him

He wandered off to protect us all from terrorists and drunken pukers. Had I known about the existence of Viking drinking horns I would have asked whether he had one. We had shared but a brief moment, but I feel I had the measure of the gentleman. A colossus standing astride the festival. From the outside we see only odd peculiar people, we assume an unusual obsession with things like Dr Who or World of Warcraft, we assume they live at home with their elderly mothers and have no lady squeeze, but inside the cult there is a code. The tankard is the status symbol that denotes rank and is understood only by those privy to the secrets of the order. An order more secretive and possibly more powerful than the freemasons. If there is an illuminati, these guys have the black helicopters.

As he left a thought occurred to me. A dark one I am loath to repeat. When we look at our own species it is easy to see an enlightened species of science, art, philosophy and mutual human empathy, but their lies darkness with our species that has left its stain on history in the form of the worst that man can do to his fellow man. As school children we learn about these events and ask how people can be so inhuman and how anyone can simply “follow orders”. Then we grow and our experience of our fellow travellers through life informs us that there are many men that are capable of the gravest deeds, not only able but willing to cede their morality and judgement to others and to follow orders. As my tankard owning pal walked on I had met one such man. A man that has and will continue, in all probability, to live a good and moral life, to the benefit of all, protecting beer drinkers everywhere there is a CB radio to play with. Just so long as someone gives him the right orders. Though he might have a sex dungeon with his sister locked up in it, for all I know. Either one of those two possibilities really.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Mudgies Pong and Vinegar Extravaganza

The title of this blog is courtesy of the man Mudge, and in no way meant to be a derogatory term for an event I found to be quite nice and enjoyable. Upon writing this I thought about how I could take the piss and denigrate the efforts of my tankard swigging bearded brothers in beer but found it difficult on the grounds I rather enjoyed the evening. On the beer front there was no shortage of pong, but I drank nothing that could be described as vinegar. In fact I rather liked what I necked. Of all the substances to get trolleyed on, a pint of pong is, I found, very far from being among the worst options. Now there is nothing quite like lout when you fancy getting kaylied. It’s lovely, it’s light, it’s cold, it’s fizzy, you can throw a skinfull down you without feeling bloated, and the next day’s hangover is by far one of the more tolerable feelings of slight nausea and headache. The lout remains the discerning choice of the modern 21st century pisshead. The worst things to get smashed on I have found are the obscure spirits of foreign climes. Stuff like grappa or weird things that taste like aniseed rock. You are never far from a hangover when paper umbrellas are to be found in your drink. For the worst hangover a bottle of green fluid with a plant growing in it, from Spain is to be recommended on top of a jug of Sangria, several San Miguels and a large Seafood Pizza. Upon necking the nasty green stuff that has no name, you can wake up the following morning and wish for death. A night on the pong and fair skinfull left me with no worse a hangover than the lout.

My emergency lout was left in my rucksack to enjoy another day and I found the pong to be more than neck able. My thanks go to the kind commentators that recommended certain brews. I didn’t member it all, but remembered names like Marble and Thornbridge and had a crack at those. They varied from being okay to quite nice. As it’s a beer blog I’ll mention the beer. I’m not a geek and cannot say that any of the names mean anything to me, but I quite liked Marble Pint. The Dark Star Espresso one tasted of cold coffee. You can rave about coffee tasting beer, I shall not. When I have a beer, I have a beer, and when I have a coffee I have a coffee. I have no desire to mix the two in the same glass. I quite liked Fuller’s London Porter. Dark but not so bad. Quite nice. The beer wasn’t warm but personally I’d have preferred it super chilled. I tried one called “sunshine” I quite liked, and liked because of the pong and not in spite of it. Maybe I was getting the taste for it by then. Get me a tankard. I necked all that found its way into my glass and enjoyed most of it. The odd one that wasn’t so great got necked anyway. I necked nothing with the words “chocolate” or “cherry” in the name.

My friends and I swigged a few of these pongs in the seating room before a band started to pluck aimlessly at their instruments, presumably in search of a tune. Upon their clear and unambiguous failure to find the tune they were looking for, we sat out in the stands on a pleasant evening. I didn’t try the food; a friend in our party did and described it as “fuel”. Chippy prices, mediocrity in a polystyrene tray. Edible was the verdict.

Every so often we ventured to the bar to find the place heaving with fat bearded blokes propping up the bar and pontificating in regard to the pong of choice, and creating more of a queue than necessary. I do not know whether they were pontificating ignorantly or in an informed fashion, and am pleased not to know, just leave the bar free for people wanting to buy one eh fellas?.

My friends and I are not ones for pontificating about the floral aroma or bitterness of our grog and most of the conversation of the evening was taken up by the dilemma of one friend that has fancied a lass he works with for ages and now she’s dumped her fella he made the mistake of asking the lads both when and how he should make his move. None of the advice he received was any good, in fact it was piss poor, including the advice I gave him to leave getting a regular lass until the Sex and the City film had left cinemas and he wouldn’t have to watch it. But what do you expect? The lads are the last place anyone should go to seeking advice of a romantic nature. Or advice of any nature.

The event had a broad range of people, not just weirdoes, but no shortage of odd folk you would kindly describe as eccentrics. All appeared to be enjoying themselves. As I was. It was a fun evening. I enjoyed it. I’d come again.

Nothing much to moan about. I could moan about the entrance fee, programme fee & glass hire taking £7 off me before I’d even sunk one mouthful of pong but overall I had a good night out. You will be pleased to note I wasn’t converted. I neither bought a tankard nor any of the tat on the tat stall. I bought one of the charity beers and steered well clear of the cider. Last night I had a can of Foster’s in my souvenir Beer Festival glass. I will treasure the free Morrison’s bag I was given to take it home in forever. I got nicely pissed, on a nice summers evening, what can be bad about that? Thank you Mudge and Clarkey for a nice night out.

As for taking the piss, that will wait. My next blog entry is provisionally entitled “the code of the CAMRA steward” Expect talk of beards, tankards and amazing belts. Shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, enjoy these tankards.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Emergency Lout

I have come to realise that there are times in life when emergency lout is required. That is a situation arises that requires immediate lout. It can be sat in a cinema watching Sex & the City 2; it can be at a beer festival when you’ve discovered there is little by way of decent honest to goodness cooking lager; it can be anywhere you think “Good God, what is required is immediate lout”. I have been pondering this and so far the following is my solution. A cool box with enough space for 6 ice cold pints of fizzy goodness & a packet of techi ice to keep it cold. I can take lout anywhere and never be without my lovely dirt cheap nectar.

No need to pop into pubs when out and about. A seat on a park bench next to a tramp and a cheap can of ice cold fizzy goodness. Pay £4 for a plastic cup of lout at a music festival? Out with the lout. At a beer festival and there is nowt but pong to neck? Out with the lout. I suspect I shall be the envy of all others as I neck ice cold fizzy goodness with the subtle delicate aroma of lout at 43p a can! If asked what is in the glass say “Mudgies Golden Pongalicious”, it is a fine light ale”. Why suffer the ring piece testing properties of cask ale? On a train? Out with the lout. Driving down the M6 Toll? Lovely can of cheap fizzy lout. I can think of no situation that would not be improved by the immediate accessibility of lovely lout.

At the hospital and just been told you’re about to die? Out with the lout. Stood outside the changing room at topshop? Out with the lout. Sat in a boring meeting at work? Out with the lout. How did I live without this? Is a man bag a bit of a camp thing for a fella to have? Not if it’s full of lout.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Next Weekend.

I made a promise on this blog a while back that I would attend Clarkey’s beer festival. It’s this coming weekend. I’ve been looking for lout on the beer list, and cannot find any? What’s going on?

Now I was going to get a £2.60 off peak train to Stocky, punt up with a few mates, have a few pints of the least pongy stuff, try and spot a tankard or two, beer guts, beards and what not to photograph for the blog, see if there are any tasty lasses to ogle (only window shopping, I'm a good boy), and do a review from the perspective not of a beer geek but a lager lout getting pissed with his mates. I could not give a crap how many beers are on, or from what breweries, only that there is enough drinkable piss water to have a skin full and the band is half decent. I appear in the mood to get hammered with the lads, and am in no more a mood for chick flicks, so this appears as good an excuse as any.

I’ve a free pass (permission off the lady squeeze), though not a free pass to get in, or any free beer. Now I have a few questions for any beer geeks that read this rubbish. What’s the best night to go, and what are the more easy going nicer least pongy beers?

I’m not a beer festival virgin, though not really an enthusiast. I like getting pissed from time to time, and am currently in the mood to do so, so why not try something different? My strategy is to try different ones at random. This occasionally works and occasionally doesn’t. You can end up with a nice enough pint, or a really rank one. I did think “go for the strongest” as that will get me pissed quicker, but I appreciate that as a cooking lager enthusiast beer is about appreciating it, not simply getting smashed. I’m thinking go to the bar and ask the geekiest looking one for a pint of Foster’s. Then asking “all this beer and no Foster’s? What have you got that is as good as Foster’s” If I spot a good tankard, it'll be straight on twitter.

Any tips are welcome.

The price.

This has got nothing to do with beer. This is a movie review for Sex and the City 2. It's my blog, I can write whatever rubbish I like. The film is shit. Complete and utter shit. It does not possess a single redeeming feature. It is complete and utter shit. Not all chick flicks are shit. Over the past couple of years I’ve sat through a fair few. Some are better than others. Occasionally one is quite a good film. Not this one. It is shit. Shit with a capital S.

Not even an overpriced bottle of lout in the bar beforehand could rescue it.

Recently the lady squeeze had me sitting through a film called Mannequin on a channel usually devoted to pop videos called Viva. That had Kim Cattrall in it too. It was about a bloke that falls in love with a shop dummy. Yup you read it correct. An example of 1980’s cinema that has you thanking the fact that “they don’t make them like that anymore”. Prior to Sex and the City 2 I thought that was the worst film I’d ever seen. Nope, Kim Cattrall has bettered herself, and made a worse movie. At least in Mannequin she was a tasty looking piece. Sex and City 2 is just a load of old birds in stupid outfits talking crap. The first film was poor. I didn’t mind the TV series. It was TV for lasses but I could cope with it. Can of lout in hand, it was occasionally funny. I preferred Will & Grace, but as far as sitcoms for lasses go, it wasn’t that bad. Sex and the City 2 is shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.

I’m a simple sort of fella. All I want out of life is a fridge full of cheap lager and a tasty lass to play with. There is a price. Sex and the City 2 is the point at which the price becomes high.

EDIT: other shit things I did this weekend, watched the Eurovision song contest, gardening, visited the future in-laws. Cans of lout necked = 3. Next weekend I am on the lout, and that is that.