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

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The best things in life are free


Absolutely the greatest thing about beer blogging is nice people sending you an email and wanting to send you some free beer. It’s great. It’s the single greatest thing bar none. Well, apart from the beer arriving. That's even better. Free beer is more than just a free bottle of grog. It informs you the world is a wonderful place of wonderful people. You cannot maintain a cynical or pessimistic view of the world whilst there are nice people from nice breweries wanting to give you some free grog.

I understand that not all my fellow bloggers feel the same about this. Some may feel it impinges on impartiality or integrity, and some in this example here obviously have an issue with the marketing of a particular beer, namely Spitfire. With its arguably jingoistic approach to promoting a traditional English Ale. My own opinions on the Spitfire marketing attempts are thus. I suspect it may appeal to a certain demographic of the UK. Daily Mail reactionaries that vote UKIP. Daily Star readers and people that think Freddie Starr’s impression of Hitler is the height of comedy. It doesn’t appeal to me, though it doesn’t offend me. I’m not the type to be offended on behalf of others. I would guess it is up to our German cousins to decide whether they are offended by jingoistic references to an historical war.

I have to be honest. Whether offended or not by the actions of a brewer, if they were kind enough to offer me free grog I’d say “How lovely, how kind, thank you very much”. If Spitfire were to torture kittens in there adverts and offer drinkers a free sack to drown unwanted kittens in a river with, I’d still say “How lovely, how kind, thank you very much” to the offer of free beer. Not that I’m in favour of torturing kittens. In fact I’m quite against it. I just wouldn’t let my moral standpoint on the torturing of kittens to stand in my way of some free beer. Both are distinct, mutually exclusive occurrences and quite unrelated. I could separate the two enough to enjoy the free beer.

Thankfully Badger Brewery are not involved in either torturing kittens or for that matter insulting Germans. They are just a nice group of people that make some lovely beer and wanted to send me a free sample. And did they. Take a look at that load. Crikey, that’s corking. 12 bottles. An example I would guess of the whole range. In a posh presentation box with descriptions of everything. What lovely lovely people.

If you don’t beer blog. Start straight away. You don’t have to be any good at it. I mean, look at this load of tripe I knock up. Barely literate, inarticulate tosh. But still nice people want to give you grog. It’s win win.

The trick in part is to understand subjective morality and whether it imprisons or frees the human soul, but also to understand that for everything there is a price. If you set the price too high it may not be met. The only way to actually ensure you get an opportunity to sell out is by setting your price low. Set your price at a free beer and you can guarantee you'll get the opportunity to sell out. Thus what we have here is not pongy old man's ale, but fine craft beer, from a fine traditional brewery making modern ales for the modern discerning palate.

I appreciate there is a marketing purpose to this. Whilst under no obligation to be nice about the grog, I’ve no reason to not like it. It looks lovely. As the grog is top stuff I’m bound to be nice about it. Whether that reflects well on the brewery is another matter. I haven’t developed a reputation as a discerning connoisseur and I’m sure for some, me saying how nice the grog is would have the opposite effect as intended. Luckily this rubbish is barely read, and only by people who obviously need to find something better to do, so I guess they figured it is fairly low risk that anyone would be put off by me saying the beer was nice. There isn’t much by way of consumer reach to this tosh.

And at the end of the day, would you rather have breweries spending money on tosspot advertising companies creating duff adverts about Germans, or companies instead spending the marketing budget sending out free beer to those that love free beer?

I really don’t know where to start with this lot though. I guess sticking it the fridge is a good place to start, and necking it one bottle at a time. The lady Squeeze is a little incredulous at my assertion that I got it for free and wanted to know the name of the blog I write. I told her I write Pencil and Spoon. Any suggestions, geekery or otherwise, on how to enjoy it are welcome. Whether its food that suits, the correct size of wine glass to neck it from, or simply that I ought not to neck ‘em all at once are welcome in usual comments block. The world is a wonderful place.

And so is Sid Boggle, possibly one of the finest examples of humanity you are likely to find beer blogging and a more decent man there are few.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A crafty pint

It is possible to potter through life and remain unaware of the dark evil forces that permeate this world diverting man from the goodness of cheap lout and into the realms of beer geekery and drinking things a normal man would gag on. Then like a glimpse in the corner of your eye you catch a hint of beard, a flash of tankard and you realise it’s a battle out there for the heart and mind of man. There I was pottering around town, I’d made my excuse for a bit of man shopping and thus was no longer required to follow the squeeze around like a lap dog to look at shoes or stand looking forlorn and lost outside the changing rooms of clothes shops. I was free to look through the HMV bargain bin of cheap DVD’s, enjoy a crafty pint, then potter back upon receiving a text to assist the squeeze in putting bags in the back of the car.

Now I’m not one for pubs, but the occasional crafty pint is more than just a beer. It is the whole craftiness of it. It’s not a regular pint, it’s a crafty one. One you’re not supposed to have. One you’re having when you have told your loved one you are doing something else. It is a forbidden pleasure. A crafty pint is a taste of striking a blow for male liberation. It’s wearing the trousers in this relationship. Whilst deciding upon the venue for my crafty pint I heard a familiar “Aright fella” and turned to see a chap I hadn’t seen in a while. I was actually pleased to see him. I quite like him actually. I can’t say that about everyone I know, but this chap is a reasonable enough bloke. We hadn’t spoken in about 3 years, so it took 2 and a half minutes to catch up before realising his plan was identical to mine. He’d escaped the clutches of buying tat with his missus and was embarking upon “the crafty pint”.

With a partner in crime we embarked together upon our mission. It was then I realised that my associate had gone over to the dark side. Seductive and alluring is the dark side but once you choose it, forever will it determine your destiny. He suggested popping in the Spoons to use his CAMRA tokens up as there was a beer festival on. What has happened to him? When last we spoke he drank lout, he wore soccer shirts. Now he’s wearing hush puppies and a corduroy jacket, and has the first signs of a man attempting to grow a beard. The signs were all there I guess, but now I was having a pint with a beer geek. He was going to suggest I drink a pint of the pongiest ale at the bar. I just felt it in my bones.

We got to the Spoons and there was line of forbidding cask pumps, using up valuable space that could be used for flashy bright and attractive ice cold lout fonts, and among the cask pumps sat “Lakeland Cask Lager, 5.0%” You what? Cask Lager? What’s the point in that? When he asked “What you having?” Seeing my chance to possibly avoid the pong I asked “Do your beardy weirdie tokens cover the cask lager?” “Yeh, oh I hadn’t noticed that, I think I’ll have one of them too”

I saw hope for him. He hadn’t turned completely. He was capable of enjoying a pint of cheap lout. We moved into the beer garden. “Pound fifteen a pint with the tokens this stuff, I don’t usually come in here but I fancied using them up. They don’t check ‘em properly so I can use up out of date ones” Hope for him indeed. Not only lout, but cheap lout. He hadn’t turned completely. The inner lager lout was within him still, struggling to get out within the veneer of middle class professional respectability he had adopted as his current image. The grog was a strange brew. Not quite cold enough to be proper lout and not at all fizzy enough. Not bad though. Perfectly drinkable. Just not at all benefiting from having been cask conditioned. A decent lager strangled by the demands and prejudices of the beardies. Bit of fizzing and super chilling it would have been a top quality pint of lout. As I went to the bar to get my round in, my associate gave me 2 of his tokens. “There out of date and you’re only meant to use one a visit, but they never check in here. Get a quid off, might as well use as many of these up as we can get away with” Nice one. I guess thanks to CAMRA are involved for these tokens. I guess the dark side isn’t that bad after all. Or am I being seduced along the path? Is my heart and mind in danger of being diverted from a love of cheap lout? But then again, tokens that allowed 2 guys to sit in a beer garden for an afternoon drinking cheap lager and turning a crafty pint into a bit of a session? Nice one beardies. Well done, keep it up. Why doesn’t he use his cheap beer tokens up? Apparently there is a multi beer house with 20 cask ales on that he likes to go in to. Oh dear oh dear. Is such a thing really mainstream? Is it just a popular niche that reveals to us the social segregation of our nation? CAMRA ought to send the token out to none members, then they’d be used up. There is hope for him though. He recently returned to town from working away down south where southern types have obviously warped him. I guess he’s lucky to still be heterosexual. A world cup is about to start. The chaps will lure him back to ice cold fizzy lout and watching soccer on big telly’s. His pong drinking will be curtailed over the coming months as he returns to hanging out with the fellas and gets a pint of Stella down him. I consider it my duty to meet up with the boys and put my friend back on the straight and narrow.

This was enough of a session that upon receiving the text message “where are you?” I phoned the missus up and confessed all. “I’m in a pub; I’ve had a few pints. I ran into an old mate. Would you like to join us?” Another rule of lying. Only lie when you can get away with it. If there is no chance, fess up. Soon my drinking associate and I had company. Our respective squeezes arrived to be placated by a bottle of cheap wine as we disguised our apathy and pretended to like the purchases we were shown with comments “that is very nice, it suits you”. Sunshine, booze. Neither of us was in the doghouse for long. Cheap lager on a summer’s day. Lovely.

Friday, 23 April 2010

You can stick St George’s day

I got told today that it is St George’s day. Really? Whatever. I’ve never once celebrated St George’s day and I’m not about to start. Especially not if Billy Bragg says I ought to. I’ve never put a St Georges flag on either my home or car and if I see a St Georges flag outside a pub, it is for me a reason to not go in there. Not even when the footballs on. I enjoy football as much as anyone and would like to see England do well in the forthcoming tournament. As enjoyable as that tournament may be, it seems to me a poor excuse for emotive misplaced patriotism.

I can understand why other nations celebrate their Saint’s day, specifically our Irish cousins. They have a reason to. With a history emigrating to other lands in search of prosperity I can fully understand why people the world over wish to mark their Irish heritage. I’ve got an Irish great grandfather apparently. Along with grandparents of other nations. As has the Squeeze. In an interconnected world I suspect most either have links to other countries, or even find elements in foreign cultures they admire. I’m not sure whether the Scots make much of St Andy’s day, though have noticed Burns night appears to have become Burns Week through an increasing Scottish identity.

One aspect of Paddy’s day I quite like is that it isn’t an insular celebration of all things Irish, but an invite to the world to party with the Irish. As an Englishman I’ve never felt the need to celebrate my Englishness. Not with either my fellow English or the wider world. There seems something distinctly un-English about doing so. Arguments that I should tend to come from reactionary types with a chip on their shoulder about anything from immigration to political correctness (always gone mad and never just the basic politeness of using language as a tool of communication rather than offending your fellow man).

I am certainly not going to start celebrating it as a marketing exercise from English beer producers that happen to notice Paddy’s day is an effective marketing tool to flog Guinness; therefore can’t we have something to flog English Ale? Have they not noticed the beer of England is Carling? 100% British barley. Lovely lout is the beer of England.

St George’s day will go unmarked for me. That is the expression of my Englishness. My Englishness is celebrated daily, by my gentlemanly behaviour, reserved nature, the union jack shorts I wear in foreign climes, the insistence I have that foreigners speak English to me in foreign lands and serve me chips, and joy I take putting HP sauce on as much food as I can.

I really don’t want to hear any crap about how we don’t celebrate our Saints day and that we should because other countries do, or even that we should have a bank holiday. I don’t because I’m English.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Beer for lasses

Despite the alarming trend for guest blogging that is appearing with people not only commenting on each other’s blogs, but writing on each others I’ve decided to join the cause of getting more women to drink a lovely cheap ice cold fizzy can of lout. At least until someone offers to guest blog this tosh and write some rubbish to post here and save me the trouble. Go on you know you want to.

Why get birds into beer? I don’t know. It just feels right. I’ve been wondering how to do it.

I’ve figured out that patronising birds doesn’t get you anywhere with chicks as last time I referred to my bird as “my bird” I got the following response “I have not got feathers, I do not tweet, I do not eat worms, I am not a bird, yours or otherwise, and if you want to have sex again you will not refer to me as your bird” So I haven’t. At least not in front of her.

I did sit down and design a beer for lasses. I sat down with the Lady Squeeze (not bird) and asked her what she was looking for in a beer. I got the answer “Something that looks like, tastes like and smells like a glass of Chardonnay. In fact I’d like a glass of Chardonnay. You can keep your lout, and when you go get yourself one you can pour me a glass. Emmerdale is about to start so no more dumb questions until the adverts.”

I pondered how to create a beer that had all the qualities of a glass of chardonnay. Kind of like creating a patronising clear beer that banged on about its calorie content, on the assumption that lasses are incapable of enjoying the range of flavours present in a lovely can of lout so instead I designed chardonnay beer. I did away with the malt and hops and instead wrote down “must use grapes instead of malt and hops”

After a bit of googling to see whether anyone else had invented this lady beer I discovered I’d only gone and accidently invented wine. Bugger. Back to the drawing board.

Then it dawned on me. What do girls like? Fluffy animals? Recipes? Gerard Butler? Light Beer? Clear Beer? Patronising beer? What lasses like I reckon is knitting. What to do to get lasses interested in beer? This lady has figured it out here. That’s how you get chicks into beer.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I am a cider drinker

The Pub Curmudgeon is quite correct to comment that the drink of cider gets little attention from the beer blogs. This I suspect is because cider is by and large complete muck. However this beer blog prides itself in the glorification of complete muck, so long as the muck in question is drinkable and gets you pissed. So today’s blog is about the noble grog of cider. Oooo Arrrrr. The Wurzels etc.

For many cider has associations with underage drinking and tramps. Presumably because the person in question is or has been either an underage drinker or a tramp. My own underage drinking exploits were more alcopop than cider, so my personal prejudices are very much in the cider is for tramps camp, rather than cider is for children camp. A summer or two ago cider became a bit of a trend, with rising sales of the brand Magners. A number of reasons can be attributed to this. Firstly it was quite a nice drink and quite unlike the frankly rank foul tasting “real” ciders the beardies like to hawk. Secondly it was a nice summer, and Magners is a pleasant enough light summer drink. Thirdly, the possibility that younger drinkers like myself do not associate cider with getting teenage kicks all through the night. Fourthly the possibility that alcopops have suffered a harsh tax regime and booze producers thought a cider alcopop drink a more tax efficient way of flogging sugary ethanol alcohol to kids. The Magners trend by and large passed me by for one reason only. It was a premium priced product and I like getting pissed cheaply.

However, this weekend I put in my supermarket trolley a drink that could only be described as ambrosia. A nectar of the gods that provides 8.4 units of alcohol for £1.32. That’s 16p a unit. And the drink is quite pleasant and doesn’t make you gag. So in that sense it’s possibly quite unlike cider.

Sainsbury’s Basic Cider promises 2 litres of light golden and refreshing cider at 4.2% alcohol. The picture on the label even has a drawing of a couple of apples by the word cider so there might even be some apples in this to blend with the fermented high fructose corn syrup that provides a cheap, clean and healthy form of ethanol to sooth the soul. The drink itself is lighter in colour than you might assume, upon looking into the bottle it isn’t clear. There is a light golden tinge to the bottle hiding an altogether lighter product. The drink itself is light and refreshing and comes across as a bit of a watery lighter version of familiar commercial cider. The label promises a full refund of your £1.32 if you don’t like it and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

I liked it, and won’t be seeking my £1.32 back. In fact I loved it. The drink is kind of like cider but actually nice. Cider is a strange drink. In its natural “real” form, it is one of the nastiest ways of getting drunk imaginable. I’ve been trying to find a way of describing how bad real cider is and have come up with the following. Imagine you are Will Smith in “I am Legend” or Charlton Heston in “The Omega Man”, in so far as you are the last man alive. Now in those stories they spent a bit of time alone and then they discovered a hot chick you’d be quite happy to repopulate the earth with if you weren’t that bothered about finding a cure for what has wiped out mankind. Now imagine instead of a hot chick, you found the only bird alive was Ann Widdecome. The human race is doomed.

That’s cider. It’s the Ann Widdecome of grog. Most discerning people would rather take the pledge and go teetotal than drink it. However not all cider is “real” cider. Through the use of modern chemistry it is possible to make cider taste okay. It is possible to enjoy the odd Strongbow or Magners. My metaphor collapses a bit here as I’m uncertain what science could do to make Ann Widdecome attractive, but the metaphor is unimportant.

But suffice to say, science has surpassed itself. In the pursuit of the cheapest grog known to man, a really drinkable cider has been produced, that you can neck and not wince. Top stuff. All that remains is to think of a food to match with this fabulous grog and I can think of no better match than a Sainsbury’s basic Scotch Egg. In scotch eggs it is also, just like cider, important to go cheap. If you are not careful you can end up with free range eggs and all manner of poncy nonsense. By going cheap you ensure cheap battery, factory farmed eggs. Goes perfectly with the finest and cheapest cider known to mankind.

Edit: fellow cider drinkers here.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Vote for Pedro

One of the better aspects of the beer blogs has been the absence of election based tosh. Until today. Kristy let the side down by not ignoring the election and the activities of thieves, spivs, liars and charlatans. Poor form, old girl. I was expecting a fair bit about people’s opinions in regard to what is good for pubs, beer (pongy or otherwise) and the various vacuous promises of the political classes. It’s been thankfully short coming. Yeh for beer blogging.

Sorry to spoil it, but I’ve been reading though some of the tedious crap of political news with a view to deciding who to vote for and I have to confess that the price of my lovely lout or even pubs & beer, are far from the list of issues I’ll be deciding upon. I’ll be deciding upon what I think is best for my overall prosperity over the next few years on the basis that I’d like to remain employed, keep a roof over my head and have a quid or two to enjoy myself.

My only political opinion is it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always get in and that this country is a bit of a dump really, it would be nice if it wasn’t and other countries appear more civil and generally nicer. I’m here due to the squeezes attachment to friends and family. If she managed to be as detached as I am, we’d be richer and more prosperous elsewhere.

So there you have it, beer exists as a matter of importance to me pretty low down the list. Possibly just above things I really don’t give a monkeys about (The poor, the old, and the vulnerable. Benefits scroungers all of them) but below more or less everything else. About as important as a text message I just received informing me of an impending visit from my future mother in law, who you might be surprised to discover I quite like, get on with, and don’t consider to be half the tosser her husband is. In a certain light, she’s not bad for her age either. I think she knows I think that, and I think she likes that I think that.

Over the longer term I’m aware the lady squeeze is serious about getting married. She isn’t joking. It’s not a wind up. I’m over the fear, I’ve accepted that there is a price to pay, in liberty, for keeping a top piece of totty under my duvet; I’d just prefer not to be asked what I think. I don’t think. I’m happy with whatever. I don’t need a democratic voice. I require the benign dictatorship of someone with my best interests at heart. Since she started telling me what to do with my life, my diet has improved through the introduction of vegetables, my career has gone on its uppers and I dress better. As for input into these wedding decisions, I care not for cakes, dresses, locations, or invite lists or anything. Even if some of the sums of money mentioned make me swear and blaspheme (I’m fond of Jesus Arsing Christ, as my current blasphemy. I never really got putting H in there). As far as my involvement goes, I put money in the joint account, she can have what she likes, and I’ll turn up on the day without a hangover. Much like the house we live in. She seems to think asking me about furnishings and decoration and kitchens is somehow relevant. It isn’t. “Whatever, how much? Christ, how much? Okay then”, is the sum total of all I need to be involved. An extra £3 a week through the tax system for being married is buttons, but in all honesty I rather have those buttons in my pocket. £3 is a 2 litre bottle of White Star 7.5% cider from the co-op. Putting £3 in my pocket instead of cheap cider drinking dole scroungers is possibly one of the more socially responsible things a government could do. I can spend my own money better than the government, thank you very much. I can spend my own money on what I want, not what people tell me to spend it on or government doing it for me.

I’m aware she would like to, at some point, have kids and realise that when one person wants something and the other isn’t bothered either way, the person with the desire gets what they want. I’ll put my foot down and attempt to say no if she wants to breed a new tribe, but otherwise whatever.

Mine is the philosophy of whatever.

So the idea that it is possible to get your kid into a decent school where they might learn how to read, write and add up and not get lessons in economics from drug dealers without me having to pretend I’m a religious sexually repressed nutcase will figure far more highly on my list of priorities and not pubs, beer & cheap lout. Having said all that, God knows where I’m putting my cross. Does it count if you draw a knob rather than put a cross? So long as the cock and balls is clearly indicating a preference for one candidate and is in one of the boxes and doesn’t cross over into another, it ought to? I think Dave is more appealing than Gordon. I prefer Cable to Darling, but prefer Darling to Osborne. I am entertained by UKIP and Nigel Farage’s impression of a pub bore, son of gypsy immigrants Nick Griffin gives me the creeps with his freaky eye more than offensive view of the world, but it’s not really a popularity contest is it? Not even a contest on which leaders’ missus is more nailable. But on that score, Nicks missus (after 4 Stella’s), Sam Cam (after half a box of cheap white wine), and then Mrs Brown (after a bottle of Tesco value vodka mixed with class A drugs). You had to know.

But what at the end of the day, after all this toss I’ve read, what do I think is good for cooking lager appreciation and the availability of cheap lout? Or even pubs and pongy beer? Your guess is as good as mine. I suspect it’s more to do with the prosperity and economic wellbeing of the larger population than tax or duty rates or allowing dumb people who don’t properly consider the contract they are signing to get out of the tied supply contracts they’ve freely signed up to, or even dumb schemes to bung my taxes at mug punters so they can piss their life savings away buying failed pubs they are not going to manage to turn into successful enterprises in a month of Sundays. Roll on May 5h. The day it’s all over and we can get back to proper news, like for instance what Jordan or Kerry Katona have been up to recently.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Of Barbeques, beer world cups, and foreign climes

My beer blogging today was going to be a bit of a rant against the killjoys and snobs that are against cheap supermarket lout. At the risk of labouring the point, this blog is about entertaining myself, and the lovely cheap lout, entertains me so. I was distracted by the beer world cup, blogged about by the fragrant Melissa Cole and possibly even more fragrant Zak Avery. I couldn’t suppress a chuckle. A beer world cup? I had a mental image of a subbuteo game with cans of lout dressed up in mini soccer shirts. With Zak playing for England and getting knocked out on penalties in the semi finals by our German cousins. Then I got to thinking. It’s actually not as ridiculous as I think. Beer is a global product. Everyone in the world likes a beer.

The famous Frank Zappa quote says it all. “You can't have a Real Country unless you have a BEER and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER.

The whole world plays soccer, so you can have a world cup in that game. The whole world likes a beer, so you can have some sort of competition too. It’s less stupid as having a world cup for games the whole world doesn’t play, like rugby, cricket or World Series baseball. If the world doesn’t play, it ain’t a world cup.

But unlike soccer, where the world plays to the same set of rules (although may interpret them slightly differently and accept blatant diving in the penalty box which is only okay so long as it is us diving), I doubt the world plays to the same set of rules when it comes to beer.

At the risk of exposing myself as a beer geek I once went on a brewery tour. This tour was in a foreign land, and my excuse was I was there on business and I had a free day before my flight. So I got on a train & bus and went to a brewery of a beer I had gotten quite a taste for during my stay. It was recommended to me by some lasses I met in a beer garden, and a couple of them joined me on the jaunt. I wasn’t fooling around. I’m a good boy. The squeeze has nothing to be concerned about. But when you are in a foreign country, having a beer with your new project colleagues, and some pretty girls talk to you, it is possible to make platonic friends with beautiful young ladies. Now if I were single, I would be telling a different story.

On this tour came the inevitable tasting of the breweries products and I talked to an Austrian couple that had travelled specifically to do this tour. Austrian beer geeks. Of this couple were an extremely knowledgeable beer geek lady (who collected bottle caps, go figure) and her slightly bored lady friend, lesbian lover, life partner. Heh it’s the 21st century. Now I took a liking to them both. Nothing pervy. Two pretty foreign lasses, who are at it, do not have me thinking lavicious thoughts. Okay so I lied there. Yes I did spend part of the conversation thinking about them at it with each other, but I also paid attention to the lady beer geek’s views on beer. Namely that the beer we were drinking was the world’s best beer (it was very good, but no it wasn’t) and her view that English beer is by and large terrible (a lot of it is undrinkable piss, though not all). I’m no defender of pongy ale, but I got her point. The flavour profile of UK ale is quite different and when it comes down to it, it is a matter of taste.

With no common rules in regard what beer ought to be made of, taste like, look like, smell like, can you have a world cup? The game is different in every country it is played. Is not one Austrian lesbian’s nectar, another’s bland industrial pop? Uncle Zak Avery’s superb full flavoured IPA would no doubt make an Austrian lesbian gag.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the tour, and was quite disappointed the 2 pretty girls I’d gone along with, were not lesbians. I’ve not been on any other brewery tours. I’m not a beer geek. I might go on another in similar circumstance of wanting to fritter away a day of my life, but that won’t make me a geek either.

I am still laughing at the notion of a beer world cup, though. Aren’t you glad such things exist?

I’m no longer in the mood for my cheap supermarket lout rant. Suffice to say I had a delightful weekend, enjoying the lovely weather and yesterday saw me attending a barbeque in a friend of the squeezes garden. Cheap burnt meat, salad, cheap wine, cheap lout, and I loved every minute of it. Maybe it was the weather, but being in the company of people isn’t that bad when the sun shines.

The country seems to be full of small minded prosperity guilt riddled middle class tossers that dislike the notion of people enjoying themselves in the sun, with a barbeque of cheap steaks, salad and cheap grog. They would prefer it to cost twice as much. They would prefer it if matured organic beef were to be burnt to a cinder on the barbeque rather than a tray of cheap steaks from the supermarket. They would no doubt prefer it if the cheap lout and cheap bottles of wine cost an arm and a leg more. They might even think we all ought to have jolly well gone down a pub. You may think that yourself. If you do, bugger off and leave us to enjoy the little sun we get in this country, and the ability of people to throw an informal get together of friends that doesn’t cost a packet. The day was delightful and would have been no better for more expensive fair. Sit in your gloomy pubs, have a moan, and let cooking lager enthusiasts enjoy all that is cheap and cheerful. Pathetic rant really. Not got the energy in the sun.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Romance


The sun is shining, spring is in the air, National cheap supermarket lout week is a roaring success as pubs are still shutting across the land whilst the tills of consumer champion Tesco ring and I am in the mood for romance, for romance is the essence of life. Romance for me is pretty much sex, but with one important difference. Rather than just pounce on the lady squeeze, throw her over my shoulder, take her upstairs, throw her on the bed and jump on her, I romance her. Romance her by pouring her a glass of wine; talking to her for a bit about the drivel girls like to talk about. Her day at work, which one of her mates has a new fella or sacked off a fella, or been dumped. Then when she’s necked the wine, she gets pounced on and that’s where romance generally resembles sex. The weekend officially starts.

But as romance is in the air, I'm thinking let’s merge national cheap supermarket lout week, with national be nice to beer geeks week. During national be nice to beer geeks week, it’s okay to have a beard, wear sandals, read the guardian, drink rank pong and comment on the deep roast chocolaty notes of whatever grog you like to get pissed on. The people have spoken, the poll is in, and 71% of the odd balls that choose to read this tripe think beer bloggers should be nice to each other. Whorst has been busy making up the rest of the votes and I thank him for his persistence.

To add to this joy and gaiety and air of romance I propose the following. I’m not much of a one for pubs, but from time to time I’ve been known to show my face in one. I won’t complain about my beloved Spoons being full of beer geeks due to the beer festival, and the queue to get a cheap burger, chips and lovely ice cold pint of Tuborg, as it’s be nice to beer geeks week, but I will say this. Isn’t it about time we banned smoking in beer gardens? Beer gardens ought to be nice, fragrant areas with a bit of greenery. A place to enjoy the sun, ice cold pint of lout and ogle lasses in flimsy tops. Instead they’ve become dirty ashtrays where the cancer brigade go to poison themselves. Ban this filth!

Oh and visit this blog. It is the greatest beer blog ever.

Monday, 5 April 2010

National Cheap Supermarket Lout Week !


After the amazing success of cask ale week and in particular the tireless endeavours of beer bloggers who managed to save cask ale from extinction for another year its time to focus on National Cheap Supermarket Lout Week. This is where people the nation over celebrate their free right to buy cheap grog from supermarkets and tell the likes of Clarkey’s dodgepot beer club to stick minimum pricing up its chuff.

If you’ve used the Easter Weekend properly, like a true cooking lager enthusiast, you will have stocked up on cheap lager and have enough to last until Christmas. There’ll be no need to step into dumpy pubs and buy overpriced beer. There’ll be no need to do that until cask ale week next year, when the band of beer bloggers will again drink a pint or two of the pong and save it from extinction.

If you’ve still to stock up with enough cheap alcohol to fill a reservoir, check out my supermarket dot com and it might not be too late to grab a bargain. All there is to be done is to buy some cheap grog, cheaper than you expect, grab a bargain and neck it. Respected beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones is first on the roll call of honour for buying some cheap lager from ASDA. Well done Sir!

Bag some cheap grog & blog !

Well done Clarkey, added to the roll call of honour, Sir!, thank you to the piss it up the wall guys for the photo. Here diamond geezer Clarkey enjoys a lovely can of lout and shows us how much money he's saved on a cheap box of lout.

Well done Zak, World greatest beer writer and a man that knows the good stuff.

The CAMRA guys are comming out of the woodwork!, well done Tandy! On the roll call, my friend.


Sunday, 4 April 2010

A Tale of Two Bars.

For someone who prefers to sit at home with a cheap can of lout, I ended up visiting a fair few bars this Easter weekend. My first experience left me feeling that whilst a lot of the beer snobbery that appears to exist within the blogosphere is just that, snobbery, I at least understand it.

I quite like Wetherspoons. I like the fact that the bars are generally smart, the food is edible and the prices are cheap. They will win no gastronomy awards but you can easily pay more and get less. Burger, chips and a pint doesn’t cost an arm and leg and hits the spot. The Spoons represent a decent enough deal it is difficult to beat. Popping out early on Saturday to buy an Easter present for the love of my life I did something I have never before done. I went into a pub before noon. I went into a wetherspoons pub at 9am for a fry up and cup of tea, thinking I’d give it a go and making a change from a greasy spoon café. At 9am there was a queue at the bar. I was the only one to order food. The whole queue was buying pints of beer at 9am. I’m no puritan, but you cannot say they were all shift workers. The place was full of pissheads at 9am. I enjoyed my fry up and cup of tea. I was joined at my large table by 2 old codgers (40 or 50+) drinking pints and enjoying a conversation where every other word was the word “fucking”. I pondered why when in mainland Europe I might strike up a short conversation with people that joined my table, but here in the UK I am more inclined to ignore them and just read a newspaper. It was the unnecessary profanity. Profanity when used well is a wonderful way of expressing a passion for what you are saying. As a general adverb it marks the user as thick. Why talk to thick people when you've just realised that you are as much of a snob as those bloggers you disagree with?

Despite the nice décor, good service, the decent enough fry up, the nice cup of tea, I was overwhelmed by a sense of snobbery. I’m not proud of that. I still love the Spoons, but fair is fair, I get the snobbery so many others express. I still think it is snobbery and I’m not proud to think it myself, but I understand the criticism. I guess the test of a libertarian attitude is when you find things you don’t like, but do you no harm. Do you want to ban it? My choice is simply that I won’t be stepping in any more pubs at 9am. Even though I liked the bacon. It was chargrilled, and I smothered it with 4 sachets of HP sauce. Live and let live.

The next bar worth blogging about came about due to friend of the squeeze getting a new fella. I avoid girls’ nights out. When the squeeze goes out with her mates I leave them to it. It’s not my cup of tea. I have no trust issues, she goes out with her mates, comes home pissed, and whilst I’m sure no shortage of scrotes will try to chat her and her mates up, I’m the one rattling her. However one of her friends was dragging her new guy out on the girls night out so I got dragged along to be a bloke he could talk to. Not the best choice as I’m as anti social as I claim to be. Bloke talk is all football and cars and bores me to tears. I’d like to go out for a beer with a bloke that wants to discuss efficient market theory versus value investment theory, but that’s because I’m a little odd.

One bar on this journey through trendy bars and night-spots was worth a mention. Simply because it was the type of bar Mr Curmudgeon claims does not exist. The bar in the centre of Manchester was called Taps. A smart urbane bar, with great beer, an interesting novelty, and helpful staff. A bar that the squeeze and her mates all drank beer in. We walked in, got a table and all poured ourselves a taster of what we fancied. The Duvel was decent stuff, the Vedet White was popular though I thought a little fizzy and the Belgian fruit beer not as liked by the girls as I thought it would be with my sexist prejudices in regard to lasses and beer. The only one I had a full glass of was the Amstel as most of the time; a regular glass of lout is up my street. Next up was a cocktail bar, so I won’t mention it. I won't mention that I was enjoying myself, more because I was surrounded by pretty girls and talking to them and not talking to the other bloke than the nice beer on offer.

You won’t check Taps out. It was all foreign keg beer, in a smart modern environment. It wasn’t a proper pub. But I liked the gaff. It is a pity that many fine UK beers wouldn’t fit the profile of urban sophistication of such a bar, or would they? Is it outside the bounds of comprehension to imagine a UK ale on the bar taps? It would have to be a keg product, and a quality one at that, but the issue I fear is one of image. An image created by the bearded twats that enthuse about pongy ale. It's only beer and there is no reason a fine UK beer could not have the same degree of sophistication.

After a night on the piss, I felt pretty okay this morning. Okay enough to keep the squeeze under the duvet for a lie in and even tolerate a healthy breakfast of fruit and museli and not sneak out for a fry up. After spending hard-earned money in bars, a night or two of cheap lout is in order.


Thursday, 1 April 2010

The saviour of cask ale

In a shameless attempt to get on Zak Avery’s roll call on honour for reasons I myself cannot understand. Why would I want to? Does it matter? I think maybe I just love the giant wine glass, that’s why it’s important. Anyway as its cask ale week I had I pint of cask ale. Bitter in fact. A pint of bitter. Like a right old man. For reference the pint in question was called Hydes Jekyll’s Gold. Though it wasn’t gold it was brown. Light brown. Why isn’t it called Jekyll’s light brown?

I was going to take a photo of it or even a short video but my mobile ran out of juice, so you’ll just have to take my word for it and not that I just ripped Dredgies picture off his blog. Which is probably a different beer altogether. But at least it’s brown bitter. I could mention the price, but my boss bought it me after work, so I didn’t pay for it.

It was quite nice. Nothing wrong with it. A pleasant enough glass of easy going pisswater I’d have again. It could be improved. They could make it golden with a lighter more sugar efficient malt. They could chill it. They could use a different hop like for instance Saaz. They could use a different yeast strain to ferment it at a lower temperature. They could rename it lager. They could put it in a can and sell it for tuppance. But that would be to judge it for what it wasn’t rather than what it was, and as far as it went it was perfectly fine. The pub wasn’t that bad either. Not half the dump I was expecting. No shaven headed tattooed thugs with missing ears. Quite respectable people. Quiet unlike a pub. Is it a pub though? When is a dump not a pub? Tandy seems to think it's related to food. Maybe it's the absence of dumpery?

Not sure why a cask ale week is required. In a free country of freedom of choice people are free to make the choice they like. I don’t mind people promoting stuff, its part of a free society. So whilst I don’t see the point I’ve nothing against it. It is when people cease to convince and attempt to coerce it becomes unpalatable. It’s okay promoting pongy old man’s beer. Spreading lies about binge drinking, pre loading, and the dangers of cheap lager in order to have what you don’t like kyboshed amounts to coercion. So as far as the activities of the ale jihadist’s go, cask ale week must rank as one of their more harmless endeavours.

I much enjoyed the discussion attached to Tandy’s blog in regard to the growth and decline of different beers and reached the following conclusion. This pint of bitter was my second pint of cask ale this year. That’s a 100% growth in cask ale consumption. No other drinker in the blogosphere can lay claim to a 100% increase in cask ale consumption during cask ale week. I deserve some sort of prize for that surely? An award for being cask ale’s saviour is the very least I deserve. Has anyone else managed a 100% increase in cask ale drinking? Not Tandy, that’s for sure.

I could drink more but that would lower my increase. Another pint would only be a 50% increase on the year. A fourth pint a 25% increase. I’m seeing the law of diminishing returns here. Every pint reduces my contribution to cask ale week. Better stop whilst I’m ahead. Still, I’ve done my bit. On the roll call of honour please Zak.