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

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Chalky's Beer & Cheese

Beer and cheese. Cheese and beer. Beer and beer. Cheese and cheese. All wonderful matches, but picking the right beer with the right cheese requires a deep contemplation. I’m a big fan of Tyson’s Beer and Cheese Blog, and with the words of the Buddha in mind:-

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the masters. Seek what they sought”

A bit of beer and cheese matching ought to be in order. I’ve a fair amount of Pongy Ale knocking about the house, what people kindly sent me gratis, so I thought I’d crack a few. This stuff was from that nice chap Stuart from Sharps Brewery, who has his own blog here. I will get round to proffering my thoughts about all the grog I get sent, but you know, it takes time and all that.

Arguably one of finest cheeses on the planet is the cheese string. It’s the cheese that’s stringy, no less. You can play about with your food, offering a distinct advantage over lesser “traditional” cheeses that pong and suffer from “cheese flavour”.

This cheese was ideal with a delightful bottle of Chalky’s Bite. A 6.8% Classic aged beer. The bottle tells the story of Stuart & TV Chef Rick Stein attempting to create a beer like you find in Belgium and makes mention of 3 hops and a 3 month aging. One wonders whether they had thought of the option of just buying a Belgian beer, but heh that’s my inbuilt propensity to laziness passing unqualified judgement on 2 creative gentlemen with a passion.

The grog itself had a crisp fresh smell with a subtle sweetness that grew in flavour as you drank it. No harsh bitterness but a subtlety on the aftertaste that dried the mouth out. A lovely rounded quality that really brings out the joy of taking stringy cheese, pealing some off, and swinging it about a bit before you eat it. Bang on Stuart.

After that I was in the mood for a bag of crisps. Not just any crisp. McCoy’s bacon crisps. Man crisps. Crisps what men eat and not just because they were half price and cheaper than Walker’s. Chalky’s Bite, 4.5% aged beer with ginger is just the thing for man crisps.

I did read the bottle, but words like “the ginger works in synergy” remind me too much of an ex boss of mine who was a ginger and used words like " synergy” so I didn’t read further. This has a fruity smell, with a light subtle taste and lacking in strong flavours. Perfect with man crisps.

Both beers are bottle conditioned, which appeals to those that like faffing about letting beer settle, keeping it upright and pouring it gently. Bit of a bummer for louts like myself looking to neck beer without the faff. Still, it’s decent enough stuff.

So there you have it. 2 nice beers with 2 wonderful foods for the modern gentleman. Both beers knocked up by a nice chap with a brewery after talking with a celebrity chef and named after the chef’s dead dog.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Pong Report

Doing the rounds of the beer blogs today, it is worth mentioning the much respected and venerable worlds 2nd greatest beer writer after Zak Avery, Pete Brown, and his Cask Ale Report. You can read it all here. Top blogs include Tandy, Woolly and Beer reviews, where all the debate is occurring.

A couple of thoughts spring to mind. It’s not looking good for cooking lager enthusiasm. Pong has 15% of the market now. Crikey, at this rate of decline for lovely lout, Pong will be up to 20% of all beer within 50 years. A feature of arithmetic is that growth from a small base produces a large percentage but ever bigger subsequent increases are required to maintain that growth as the base is reset every year.

Thankfully we are not long off Christmas, and the cheap lout offers will offer the British punter the opportunity to stock up before the New Year VAT rise.

Can cooking lager claim to be the national drink of Britain if it falls to those depths of only being 4/5 of beer necked?

There is hope on the horizon though. With volumes of pong static, but value up, it seems the growth isn’t actual people drinking more pong but those drinkers being stung more money for their unusual and frankly odd habit of going into and drinking in pubs.

Considering the consensus view that pong isn’t expensive enough, and ought to be dearer to encourage more people to drink it, reversing most established economic theory regarding supply and demand we will have to wait and see whether pong “value” continues to grow.

My thoughts? Google what the average wage is in the country. I can make no claim to be particularly poor, just as tight as a knats chuff. 2 adults, 2 wages, no kids. I like cheap lout because I like to keep my money and not give it to others, but there are, I gather, those that drink cheap because its that choice or not drinking.

Beer ought to be cheaper. All beer. Make it the maximum.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club

There is no clearer indication that there is nothing on the telly of interest than the offer from the delightful lady in my life to “watch what you like, there is nothing on”. It was in these circumstances I chose to watch “Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club” on ITV4 last night.

Now there are a few clues that the show might be a bit poor prior to tuning in. The fact the show is on ITV4 is one of them. The fact that it involves Richard Bacon is another. The fact that Tim Lovejoy was on the show a further indication of the show’s potential to disappoint and generally be considered a piece of shit.

Ever since the BBC decided to take its car show “Top Gear” and no longer make it about cars but make it about “blokeish banter”, there appears to be a view among television executives that as a man I am interested in watching my fellow man engage in “blokeish banter”. I am not. If I were I’d go down a pub and actually engage in blokeish banter. The fact that I am disinclined to do so and prefer to sit on my couch with a can of cheap lager watching the telly ought to indicate that “blokeish banter” is not my cup of tea. There is a plethora of this sort of shite on TV.

A potentially interesting show about boozing called “Oz and James Drink to Britain” on telly a while back was nothing more than lazy unappealing uninformative unentertaining “blokeish banter”. Forced, scripted banter at that. I wouldn’t mind watching a show on telly about beer. Even if it was geeky and had Zak Avery in it. I’d watch it on the basis that it might be informative and interesting.

I got through about half of Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club then I put Newsnight on. What type of telly do I want to see? Filth, basically. I want to see more filth on the telly. I’m even prepared to sit through nonsense involving vampires if there is a promise of a bit of filth in it, like there is in True Blood. Either that or a football match. A proper football match, mind, with decent teams. Manchester United versus Bayern Munich. Nothing involving the likes of Scunthorpe.

Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club, it is the type of utter shit that makes turning the telly off and going to the pub appealing. Avoid as you would a toothless crack whore.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Chemical Fizz

Join the great "Chemical Fizz" debate here.

It means signing up to the CAMRA forums, and really I should not be encouraging that sort of thing, but it means you can express your view on whether lovely ice cold lout is indeed "Chemical Fizz", and if so how?

It is your opportunity to debate with the venerable and much respected CAMRA icon, Richard English, who can be relied on to articulate the CAMRA perspective eloquently and accurately. If there is anything about CAMRA you need to know, Richard is your man. Join in the fun.

Please however, beware of them CAMRA types. They are an odd bunch and take whatever is on their website with a pinch of salt, lest it discourage you from gorgeous cheap lager.

What am I doing on there? It's all Mudgies fault as he post links to this forum on his blog, from time to time. It's free, you don't have to bung 'em the £20 CAMRA joining fee, buy a pair of sandals, grow a beard or wear a "what are you afraid of lager boy" T-Shirt.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Am I a beer geek?

I have a short question. Does the following experience make me a beer geek? I kinda hope not, but you never know. I’ve been reading beer blogs for well over a year and some of it I suspect has been sinking in. I’ve been necking none cooking lager from time to time and even dare I say it enjoying it.

Occasionally I travel abroad. Recently I’ve been for a week abroad to sunny Spain with the lovely squeeze & a short business trip to Germany as part of my never quite entirely successful plan to work not “for the man” but for myself. On a previous trip I got some work by way of an old colleague and upon my last trip was delivering the deliverables to his direct boss. A nice enough chap who was pleased with the work I’d done and kindly wanted to offer me more work.

The business meeting was a tad unusual in taking place in a Sauna. Not something I’d ever done before, but after the initial eyebrow raising of being told in English “we go into the sauna naked, everyone is naked” after my host assumed I hadn’t understood him the first time. I had, but wrongly assumed that you wear a towel or shorts or something. I’d seen saunas on films and no one was sat there with their cock out in the film I saw. A scene from “Team America: World Police” briefly entered my mind. You know the one, the one were the actor assumes he’s going to be asked to go blow someone in a limo, but I made the presumption it was all above board and went along with it.

Whilst culturally beyond my northern working class expectations of life, I found it to be indeed all above board. The searing heat of the 90 degree room took some getting used to and being told to rub salt and honey into myself wasn’t really my idea of fun, but business is business and work is work, and actually when everyone else is naked it really isn’t a problem. Even the presence of naked ladies didn’t give me an embarrassing boner. Overall it was quite a relaxing way of discussing his future requirements and the massage at the end where a stern East German shot putter type pummelled by back into putty was strangely enjoyable.

With business concluded, eating and getting pissed was in order. A Weiner snitzel and a couple of weissbiers did the trick and I felt myself slightly smug and pleased with myself. This chap was alright. The sauna was a bit weird, but I’d got more work, got fed, got a beer or three down me and so long as I went with the flow the deal was unlikely to be unsealed. The whole seeing each other’s cocks business whilst we sat in a steam room sweating like rapists could be put in a corner of my mind never again to be accessed.

As the evening progressed my old colleague turned up, alongside some of the staff from the office I’d either spoken to on the phone or emailed and the evening was turning into one of those enjoyable sort of do’s where you are enjoying yourself but still conscious that you wish to maintain some sort of professional reputation and thus don’t really want to let your hair down.

The evening took itself to a bar called Sausalitos. A Mexican cocktail trendy bar type place where happy hour was progressing and it was time for “jumbo cocktails”. One thing on the menu I had to try though was a “tequila beer”. Now there is a brand here in Blighty called Desperados, which looks similar. I can’t tell you whether it’s the same sort of stuff as I’ve never had one but for some reason I had to try a beer I hadn’t tried before. It tasted neither of Tequila or Beer. Like an odd tasting shandy.

That’s a form of beer geekery I’m thinking? That it is time to worry. Seeing a beer and “having to try it”. By now my colleagues were as half cut as I was and the boss chap in particular appeared to disprove of my choice of grog. He explained to me that I was drinking crap in the home of the greatest beer in the world. I saw no reason to argue with a bloke offering me work so I asked him what the greatest beer in the world was.

It was Kloster Andech's Dopplebock by all accounts. My excuse for the decisions I made subsequently were that I was pissed. Not that I am a beer geek desperate to try this beer. Nope, I was pissed. The upshot was I delayed my flight by 24 hours, stayed in the hotel another night, my new best mate took a day off work, and we got a train to Herssching, hiked up a big hill for a hour, then drank a skin full including a couple of Helles, Weiss’s & the fabled Dopplebock. Was it the greatest beer in the world? It was alright I suppose. Better than the tequila beer.

So does that qualify me as being a bona fide genuine beer geek? Hiking up a hill for an hour (the sign said it was 40 minutes, but it wasn’t, it was an hour) in order to drink a beer I’d been told was the world best?

Please tell me I am not. That normal people do that sort of thing too. That I'm am not destined to grow a beard, wear sandals and refer to keg bitter as "chemical piss"

Monday, 20 September 2010

Going Green

I read something in the papers recently that didn’t appear to be covered by the usual suspects in the minimum price debate. By usual suspects I mean pub industry commentators, alcohol charities and beardy pong drinkers. I saw a proposal for “bottle deposits”, intended not as a way of hiking up the price of my lovely dirt cheap lout but as a “green” measure to help the environment. Now you can’t argue with the “environment”, it is one of society’s sacred cows. We all must be in favour of “the environment” for sure. However the effect would be an increase in the retail price of off trade booze, at the point of sale. An increase of around 50% of current per unit prices (20p on a 40p can of lout?)

I have long recycled the bottles and cans my passion for cheap lout generates. Well before the council made it easy by giving me a special bin solely for the purpose. At least when I’ve not lived alone that is. I admit it, when I lived alone I recycled nothing. But with the house mate I lived with prior to my current squeeze & the current squeeze it is easier to recycle than be moaned at for not recycling. So stuff gets put in the right bin. It is good for the environment and it is good for a quiet life.

However can a “green” deposit really be argued with? Sure it will up the cost of my lout at the point of sale, but I’d get it back when I handed the empties back? Comedy right wing commentator, Richard Littlejohn, kind of a poor man’s Glen Beck, and proof that we in Blighty are not as good at producing nutters anywhere near to the standard of our American cousins makes quite a decent case for it here, painting a picture of enterprising children collecting litter for extra pocket money. Though I apologise for putting a link to the Daily Mail and promise to never do it again. I’ll put a link to the Daily Mash to say sorry. I promise I haven’t been reading too much of the Mail and suddenly think all the ills of society are created by immigrants, benefit scroungers & single mothers. Though I have my suspicions in regard to the death of Princess Diana.

Now I’m thinking there will be a cost that finds its way into my pocket. Asking supermarkets to process the bottles & cans will find its way into prices. However this would presumably be a cost removed from my local taxes as councils no longer collect my special “cans & bottles” bin? Is that naive? That a cost placed on my shop is removed from my tax burden?

One thing is clear. That 20p on a bottle or can will put £4.80 on my 24 pack of lovely lout. £4.80 I’ll get back when I bring back the empties? I’ve not decided whether I’m for or against. I know only this. My perspective comes from the absolute and unequivocal view that lager ought to be as cheap as humanly possible. That the market system delivers cheap lager to me. That hasn’t left me wedded to market economics. In the same (but opposite) way the beardies would like the market controlled to increase the price of my lout, I would be happy to see state subsidisation of lout. For the government to subsidise cheap lager to make it even cheaper. I guess it is the politics of pragmatism rather than ideology. Let the cheap lager flow.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Developments in the minimum pricing debate

I do like to follow developments in the minimum pricing debate, even if the arguments made tend to be repetitive and dull. One news story got me a thinking. You can read it here.

Local minimum pricing. Umm. Isn't the flaw obvious? People have cars and if some people are prepared to hop onto a ferry and go to France for some cheap grog, driving to the next town will not be an issue.

Have no fear, if no one else does it, I will. That is knock up a website where you can stick your postcode in and find out where the nearest cheap grog shop is. I promise.

If the supermarkets don't get in on the act, there might even be market for big warehouse booze shops dotted about. All depends if Tesco have the guts to open one or not. Guts to ignore the moral minority. If they don't someone will.

It only has to be outside "state lines" to be legal. Time to watch Smokey and the Bandit, maybe for tips on transporting cheap lager across state lines.

Would I open a warehouse grog shop? It means running a business and working. There may be an opportunity to buy land previously fairly worthless that has scope to gain value when it's use as a cheap grog shop becomes apparent. Why sit and be a wage slave when there's an easy quid to be made?

This is one element of the minimum price debate worth following, idiot politicians distorting the market. I follow it avidly.

Pictures? A dedicated cheap grog shop in Germany, to guide us towards the future. They may not have minimum pricing, but their "offies" are a tad more impressive than our local Threshers.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Cotswold Lout

I appreciate I’m guilty of banging on about free beer that people send me, but I just happen to love free beer. Recently I necked some lovely lout that Glynn was kind enough to send me. At the time I think he was hawking some sort of lager festival at his gaff, The Rake of old London Town.

I’m not adverse to craft lager, and especially not adverse to free lager and it is interesting to have a go on it. Though my opinions will naturally not just be whether I think the beer is any good or not, but whether it is worth paying more for than cheap lout.

First up, Cotswold 3.8 Lager. As the name suggests a 3.8% lager. The Label makes mentions of the 1516 German Purity Law & Saaz, Syrian, Goldings & Cascade Hops & Optic malted barley. All fascinating stuff I’m sure. I guess if you wish to flog more pricey lout you have to make mention of such stuff to give it an air of quality.

Overall all I though it a cracking swig of lout. It had a bright fresh smell and a complex series of flavours. A depth you honestly don’t get from a can of Foster’s. I was quite surprised it was only 3.8%, it drank stronger. In all honesty a beer worth more than a 40p can of Foster’s. I’d pay upwards of 60p a bottle for it, a whole 50% more. Thumbs up for craft lout.

Cotswold Premium Lager comes in at a more expected 5%. More mention of the German purity law alongside the information of 4 weeks lagering, Liberty & Hellbruker Hops & Maris Otter malted barley. I’m not going to become the type of geek that recognises the differing flavours of hop & malt varieties, but heh, it does add an air of sophistication.

Overall I preferred the 3.8. It wasn’t that I didn’t like this one, it was fairly decent, but the previous one was more to my taste. It had a fruity, slightly medicinal smell. A well rounded sweetness interjected by moments of sharp hop. Sweetness was the dominant characteristic. Was it better than a 46p bottle of Beck’s? I’d pay about that for it, with a preference for the Beck’s.

Cotswold Dark Lager 5.5% describes itself as a tawny (that means brown) lager with a smooth finish. British Bramling cross & American cascade hops with Munich & chocolate malts & more of that optic malted barley.

I preferred this one to the 5% lager, it was bang on. A roasty malt aroma, with a dominant taste of the chocolate malt. A sweet and bitter aftertaste lingered pleasantly making the beer quite moreish. A dryer complexity to the premium. I was expecting more sweetness, like a Munich dunkel, but the dryness really worked. I thought it very nice indeed. I’d go as far as to say the beer is worth at least 80p a bottle. Praise indeed.

However all this nice beer is likely to set you back near £2 a bottle, off trade. Ah well, at least Beck’s is still on the special at Sainsbury’s. That’s a nice drop of lout and by all accounts follows the same purity law.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A new glass

Over the previous Bank Holiday weekend I picked up 24 cans of Foster's for £10 at Tesco's. An offer that appeared to last only for that weekend, so it's a bit useless to mention it now.

I only mention it because this weekend I opened one of them, noticing not only have they redesigned the can but there is a new Foster's glass to nick, as pictured on the box. Is is possible to drink it out of the old glass? I had to test the thesis.

I still have an old one, you can see it here, but a new one is a new one. I have a problem though. I think the new glass is butt ugly. What is going on with that top bit?

Is this a plan by large brewers? Have branded glasses, but make them too ugly to nick? I was thinking of nicking one anyway, but I could never drink out of it. It is that ugly. So why pay £3 in a boozer for an ugly looking pint of lovely lout, and leave the glass on the table?

Please Foster's, bin it and offer me and others, loyal light fingered cheap lager drinkers with a propensity towards petty theft, something nicer to steal.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Don Shenker : Lager Lout

Could it be that when one is tired of beer blogging one is tired of life? Nah, necking cheap refreshing and delicious cheap lout is the very essence of life. But whilst the pleasure and enjoyment of cheap lager is pretty self evident there remains the forces of darkness that either find there pleasures elsewhere or more likely find no pleasure and wish the same upon others.

The minimum pricing debate trundles along with regular tedium, with little new in the way of fresh argument, fresh perspective or new evidence or enlightenment. 45p is the new figure trumpeted. Down 5p from 50p. It’s tiresome though isn’t it? The whole argument. Up the price people will drink less. People are drinking less anyway. It affects all, without targeting problem drinkers, the magic wand of price fixing will save the dying British pub, it is a regressive measure hitting the least well off during an economic downturn. Yawn.

I did find the whole debate worth taking part it in, even if blogging is somewhat akin to standing on a soap box in Hyde Park and ranting to anyone that will stop and listen. The very first blog post of this tosh wasn’t a Mickey take of pongy real ale and its enthusiasts but a simple point that a box of cheap beer from the supermarket is nothing more or less than a bargain to people like me that think it is a bargain. It may not be a bargain to you, because a bargain is only a bargain if it is something you want anyway offered cheaper than normal. That the box of cheap lager didn’t give me a drink problem or make me beat my lady squeeze up. That I was capable of buying a cheap box of lout, and enjoying it over a period of time. That it is irrelevant if you think I need educating about better beer, ought to drink pong, ought to sit in a pub or wear sandals. That me in my living room with a bottle of Stella is doing you no harm, and doing me no harm so why make me pay more?

With news that Mr Don Shenker likes a pint himself, and not a pint of pong as the lad likes the lout!, Beck's. Well done fella. I can only say the following to Don. Get yourself down to Sainsbury’s. 15 bottles of Beck’s, your tipple, for £6.99. A bargain Don. You don’t have to neck it all in one go. You can stick some in the fridge. Let it go cold. Crack one open. Enjoy it. Keep within whatever units you think is healthy. Enjoy another on a different night. Save yourself a few bob in the process. Go on Don, you know it makes sense. And I for one don’t think you are a c**t.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

That’s Life

Always sensitive to reader feedback on this load of bobbins, I thought I’d post something other than stuff about the free beer what I have been necking. It is difficult as this rubbish is all about the cheap grog I neck and free grog is the cheapest there is. If I have free grog, I’m necking it.

However recent travels, afforded some amusement by way of local sites, so I share with you the delight of a genuine bona fide vomitorium, and some decent shop signs. I love abroad. I love seeing bags of crisps called “arse” or "cock". I have to put it on the blog. If the TV show “That’s Life” was still going I’d send them in, alongside any cock shaped vegetables I discovered, but this is only outlet I have.