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

Friday, 29 October 2010

We want information... information... information

Cheap lager appreciation is all about hunting out the bargains and finding a decent neckable drop for the cheapest you can. There can, however, be disappointment. Inaccurate information can send you on wild goose chases and it’s a bugger but pointless trips will occasionally occur. I’d like to have a moan about popping in ASDA for a 3 for £18 offer, and not finding it actually on but that’s part of the game. Duff information occurs.

I read many of the beer blogs and do see that among beer enthusiasts in the UK there is a point of view that brewers & pubs are some sort of charity case and people need to be encouraged to go out and spend their money supporting them. The stats speak for themselves, pubs and beer are declining and for want of a better term “craft” micro brewers are bucking the trend and growing. The growth of these small outfits in no way matches the overall decline but heh ho.

I am not anti pub or anti brewer. Good luck to all, well done to the successful and sorry pal to the unsuccessful. I’m a punter and I like bargains. Many points of view are put forward for the overall decline of pubs and I have no definitive answer but I would ask one question. What was the appeal of going to the pub in 1970 and what is the appeal of going to the pub in 2010? Has the appeal changed? If the only reason people went to the pub in 1970 was because it was the only place to go and the availability of high quality cheap grog from supermarkets offers punters a choice they actively choose then the market is efficient at meeting consumer requirements. Attempts to buck the market with price controls, or in this case here, illegal price cartels, are doomed.

If pubs think they can increase the price of a pint beyond inflation year in year out and still have me the customer thinking a trip to the pub represents a good deal, good luck with that. When I look at the prices I paid less than ten years ago for anything from a loaf of bread, to a can of beans, to a burger and chips the prices now are slightly higher. The price of a can of lager is about the same and the price of a pint in a pub has doubled. Heh ho, good luck with that. I hope the army of beer campaigners seemingly willing to put up with it because they think supporting pubs is an intrinsic good worth ever increasing amounts of their hard earned money is enough to keep you going. For me though, I wish you no harm but I’ll spend my money elsewhere, and use your expensive service sparingly.

One aspect that has arguably changed over the last ten years is the access I have to information. I can check prices from the comfort of my computer and make consumer choices accordingly. It’s not only pubs that are struggling. Every shopping area of every town has changed. There are fewer music and book shops for a start as it’s all cheaper on Amazon and if I wanted to I can bit torrent music illegally and for free, or buy it off iTunes. A music single was £3.99 when I was growing up. They are now 79p to download legally and free otherwise. CD Albums were £14, now around £8. A more efficient market is good for me the buyer regardless of the squeals and howls of sellers.

This access to information got me thinking. I check supermarket prices online and I read the leaflets put through my door and every so often I see a telly commercial. Do I have all the information I need to find the cheapest grog? It got me thinking an Android app for phones is required to link into the web services of sites like My Supermarket so you can make decisions on the move, get back in the car and go get your cheap grog elsewhere. When faced with duff information I still want to get my groceries and cheap lager but I don’t want to go home first.

The barcode scanner application on Android allows you to compare prices by scanning the barcode with your phone camera but in my experience this shows me alternate prices on Google and there’s little information on whether these boxes of lager are on multibuy. Multibuy is when a box of beer may be £14, but 2 boxes are £15. I think I can see a little project if those nice chaps at My Supermaket are willing to send me documentation on their web services.

There is a “cheap booze” application on Android, but it doesn’t seem to work. I twittered a while back asking people to let me know about booze & pub applications on Android and some nice people replied. Thanks to all that did. Of the applications out there, Bar Finder and Cask Marque are worth a look and do link into Google maps. Both are free to download. Wetherspoons are developing there iPhone app for Android so soon that’ll be all you really need. Why go anywhere but your nearest spoons and pay more? There is a CAMRA beer guide available but at over £4 they can keep that. If they want to tell me about the better CAMRA approved pubs near me they can tell me about them for nothing. Even found a free Oktoberfest guide. All of this though is pub and bar information.

There is little for the off trade bargain hunter. If you know of any apps, let me know, otherwise I’m seeing a gap to help and assist the cooking lager enthusiasts of blighty. I don’t know how easy it is to develop an android app or whether my supermarket want third parties linking to their web services. I know this; sites like my supermarket find their data by linking to web services hosted by the supermarkets. It is all technically possible to let me know on my Android phone where the cheapest box of Carling is and where that supermarket is on Google maps. It’s an exciting world.

Number 6: Where am I?
Number 2: In the Village.
Number 6: What do you want?
Number 2: We want information.
Number 6: Whose side are you on?
Number 2: That would be telling. We want information... information... information.
Number 6: You won't get it.
Number 2: By hook or by crook, we will.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Ponderings upon a twissup

This post comes from a discussion I was having on the twissup with blogging legend Tandleman over a pint of pong. It isn’t a recounting of the conversation as I was half cut at the time, but an attempt to more articulately express my point of view having thought about it a bit more. It fits in with a post written by Hardnott Dave here and 2 subsequent postings, here & here, from a blog which I hope is going to be renamed shortly to “cooking lager talk’s bollocks”. Please, I’d love it, and be honoured.

It is difficult to remember the details of a conversation when slightly half cut from an afternoon of irresponsible pub based binge drinking, but the gist of my opinion was that I accepted the pongy cask conditioned ale I had been drinking all afternoon was both a quality product and an enjoyable one. However that did not mean I was incapable of enjoying a can of Stella. I cannot really remember whether Tandy was agreeing with me or not. He can speak for himself, but I suspect it might be either “partly” or “not at all”.

Here, oop north, There are a number of regional breweries alongside micros, and in my view both the micros & regionals do not represent any form of brand. A brand is important not because I wish to buy into a lifestyle or want a logo on my clothes, a brand is the trust and liking I place in a particular product. Anything I buy has different manufacturers competing for my custom and brand value is no more than my preference for one over the other based on quality & price.

In the case of micros it is for the simple reason I have never heard of them and have no idea what their beer is like. In the case of regional’s I have experienced poor quality from them. I understand, I think, the mentality of the beer enthusiast in seeking out information on small scale producers and what are the better pubs to drink from the regional’s are, but I personally simply do not possess the desire to do so myself. I do not consider myself unusual in this. In fact I think most people are like me. On the rare occasion I go into a pub it’s because it’s near work, near home or I’m on a night out and not because I’m seeking out a particular beer.

There are a number of regionals within the area of “oop north” I reside, Hydes, Holts, Robinsons, & Lees are all I can think of and their pub estate represents quite a motley bag. If I leave my office with my work mates and head left the first pub we encounter is a tied pub of a regional brewer. For the cask ale drinker there is a choice of 3, mild, bitter, strong bitter. All are pretty decent and within the pub these 3 cask ales are cheaper than the Carling, Stella or Guinness.

If however I head right I encounter a string of pubs from the same brewer and the cask beer can only be described as varying between piss poor and rank with a wince inducing gag reflex free with every pint. It’s the same beer with the same pump clip and the same brand. Can you blame me or my work mates for not thinking that brand of beer represents quality? Do you really expect us to be beer geeks and buy a book off CAMRA to hunt out the recommended establishments to drink this brewer’s grog or do you expect us to simply make a judgement as we find it and decide the Carling is a safe bet?

The Carling is a safe bet. One of the first things said to me on the twissup was “you’re an ale man, really, aren’t you?”, to which the reply was “no, I’m just a beer drinker” I could have added I am a beer drinker that believes price is as important as quality in a purchase decision and I am a consumer and drinker and not a supporter of brewers, pubs, beer or even supermarkets. I really do just want a glass of something neckable that is also cheap. But that would have been a long winded answer.

For me a pint of Carling represents not the adverts of mates together or any image Coors wish to create, it represents a drinkable pint of 4% grog that isn’t going to make me wince, whether at home or in any of the pubs that flog it. It may be the Big Mac of beer, but Big Mac’s are also quite nice. I like Carling and I like Big Macs.

As for the regional beer, I get all the arguments about localism, tradition and the beer being potentially nice but basically each and every one of them cannot guarantee me that. I could take the gamble and complain when they serve me rot, but there are pubs in the regional estates that only serve rot. An actual campaign for ale wouldn’t worry about the price of cheap lager; it would worry about the quality of the beer it is campaigning for. Rather than support a regional brewer and promote its better pubs it would give a critical assessment of the dumps and tell the regional brewer it is damaging its own brand value by continuing to sell pongy rubbish cask beer in places where the beer stinks. It would celebrate a crap pub dropping cask beer and serving smooth flow keg because regular drinkers would not then suffer crap cask beer and be put off it. It would place consistency above the importance of guest or seasonal beers because it is the crap beer that is damaging the brand. If campaigning for beer is something you want to do, then the experiences of regular drinkers matter more than your own personal boozing or pushing a message, because we educate ourselves by our own experience. The interesting seasonal beer may be of interest to beer geeks but for me it represents another step into the unknown of not knowing what you are going to get when you part with your cash or whether you are even going to like it.

This leads on to micro brewers. Rather than possess the negative brand value of regional brewers they possess little or no brand value. I have never heard of the brewer or beer, it could be dark it could be pale, it could be bitter, it could be sweet. All I know from the pump clip is that it is 4.2 % and has a daft name. Fancy a gamble? If I take the gamble and like it I may remember either the brewer or beer name depending on what is most prominent on the clip. If I see it again I might have another go of it. If it tastes different next time I drink it I will either still like it or change my mind. I am not going to think of it as trustworthy though. I am going to wonder what it is I’m throwing down my neck, and why it’s different from last time.

Oh and please don’t think that I need educating about cask beer. That I need to appreciate that you cannot give me reliability and consistency and I should just accept that and learn to love it anyway. I just want a pint of something decent. If I step into a pub it’s not for the beer, it’s because I got dragged there by mates to watch the game, out with workmates or taking a break from an afternoon of shopping with the squeeze. My criterion is a pint of something I will like that doesn’t require a second mortgage, because I am conditioned to think a pint is manly and a glass of red wine would make me a ponce. Oh and whether you are educating and informing people through a blog or within the articles of newspaper or magazine know this. I only read a fraction of any newspaper I may buy if I bother to buy one rather than gander at the internet. Especially at the weekend. Half the supplements get thrown in the recycle bin unread. If I read an article on beer I already have an interest in it. You are reaching nobody that doesn’t already have a pre interest in the subject.

I’ll finish on this. There are 2 car manufacturers. One produces decent reliable cars. The other produces excellent cars but only half of them end up decent by the time they are delivered to customers. You’d buy a car off the first and laugh at the notion that you need to be educated to better understand and appreciate the traditional methods of production and distribution of the second, you need to take the rough with the smooth and accept you will occasionally buy a duff car. You'd laugh and buy the car that doesn't break down.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Why Lout Rocks


For me it’s the moment when I walk into supermarket and see a stack of boxes 3 for £20; there’s a sense of the bargain, the excitement of mental arithmetic as I work out which of the boxes offers the cheapest neckable grog. Unlike the sting of paying upward of £3 a pint in a pub for weird pong of variable quality, these boxes represent something different, something consistent and reliable, a known quantity, something which only need lugging into the boot of car and chilling so that it’s in perfect condition for necking. Standing in front of the tall stacks of cooking lager I spot the brand that is cheapest today and say to myself “Oh Yes”. The checkout girl pushes my box over the scanner and I say “6 boxes of that treacle” and with expert customer facing skills she asks for my loyalty card so I can collect points from my purchase. I scoot home with excitement knowing I have enough grog to either kill an elephant or last me months. For mere buttons I have my own personal river of lovely lout to neck at my own pace. When I get round to cracking one open the gleaming gold liquid slips down a treat. Raising it to my lips I notice the exquisite lack of pong and a background of easy drinking delight, but it’s the first mouthful which wins it; ice cold on the tongue, a powerful fizz, never so gentle you don’t notice it but enough to produce a manly belch; it’s got wet, cold and then a belch which leaves you craving another gulp.

From the moment I had my first can of cheap lout I knew that things had changed forever and never would a pint of pongy, overpriced, inconsistent, small scale produced ale taste the same again. I remember where it was, what it was and who I was with. It was different – cold, not cool. It was fizzy and not lightly carbonated. It was easy to drink and pleasurable with each mouthful. It was brewed efficiently in a giant brewery miles away. It was golden and delicious. It hadn’t got any of that pongy flavour and there was no aftertaste that was unpleasant (I later realised that that was the lack of hops). I learnt the brands that were the cheapest and could trust, I learnt what my favourite price was, cheap, and that ingredients didn’t much matter. Over time it all changed. My tastes went from 4% to 5%, then back to 4%. I got interested in beers from other supermarkets that might be cheaper; I tried all the bargains and knew that you could eat all foods with the beer in my hand, because it didn’t matter. The richness of this dinner would work well with lout; the spice in this needs the fire fighting cool of lout; all louts would be amazing with everything; this lout needs a pie on the side if I feel like a pie.

And then one day I realised that the romance had turned into something greater. I wanted to get better cheaper bargains and had butterflies when I went somewhere that sold lout cheaper than I’d ever seen it before. It’s something I can still feel, an excitement, a heart-pounding thrill. I went to different supermarkets and bought a box of Foster’s, I discovered the Foster’s of Morrison’s, the Carling of Sainsbury’s and the delicious Carlsberg of Tesco, the best louts of Britain – the best beers which I can drink all the time. I drank it all because it was all so cheap. And I was writing about it too, on this rubbish. I had no interest in beer geekery so I chose what I was most interested in: winding up those that wanted to put the price of cheap lout up. I wanted to write about the sensations of the senses, the joy of a bargain; to put words to what I was experiencing, an orgasmic thrill.

Lout is British and it’s brilliant. I might like all beers but I keep coming back to British Lout as it keeps getting cheaper and more exciting - some of the best louts in the world are brewed here. Whether it’s 4%, 5%, bottle or can, it’s made with precision to a quality standard, dirt cheap and there’s a lout out there for everyone. Lout rocks and it’s turning the heads and hearts of young and old - its reputation is rapidly changing from wife beater to simply a reliable and consistent beer you can trust and I’m proud to be grabbing bargains from the front line.

Dredgie disagrees, but he would.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Sparklers



Sparklers, What is there to say about sparklers? Always a topic of strong opinion in the beer blogging world.

My own views are these. I like sparklers. I think they are great fun for adults and kids alike. However it is important to be aware of the safety aspect of sparklers to ensure the kids don't get a burn. Tell the kids to hold them properly and don't burn anyone else with them.

I don't see much debate, as bonfire night approaches. Let's enjoy sparklers and keep the kids out of A&E. End of, no debate required.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Twissing it up.


I have spent a bit of time pondering what the collective noun is for a group of twitterers on a twissup. I decided upon twonk. This Saturday a twonk of twitterers were meeting up in sunny Manchester to drink pongy ale and discuss pongy ale with like minded pongy ale drinkers in an event known as a twissup. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to join them. Possibly part anthropological curiosity and an opportunity to see the lesser spotted beer geek in close proximity and view their strange habits up close. Also it was an excuse for an afternoon pint and all the decadence of drinking in the afternoon, and possibly even a desire to meet people that write beer blogs I so enjoy.

My day didn’t start auspiciously, and I only set off an hour after the meet up at the station. Thank goodness for twitter. Hardnott Ann had twittered they were all in a pub called “The Marble Arch”, and a look on google maps gave me directions from the train station. I twittered back in the hope that if they moved on someone would be kind enough to update the location.

The walk from the station was a bit of a traipse and I pondered that they would be better off in a nearby Spoons. That’s not a traipse from the station and it’s a cheap pint to boot. One dumpy pub is much like another, what’s the big deal?

Upon finding the pub I was sweating like a rapist and scooted in for liquid refreshment. Anything would have done at that point. I looked around and saw the familiar faces of beer blogging. I was in the company of masters. I felt my beer knowledge increase as I walked through them, as if by osmosis. The first person I met was Rabid Glynn followed by Dredgie. Charming fellows all. They were all heading off but with such a large group; a fair few hadn’t drank up. A half of some dark pong called “chocolate” something. I said hello to Mr Zak Avery and saw that he was drinking out of a regular pub glass. Eh? A nice chap that didn’t glass me. With large groups of people it is difficult to remember names but it was interesting to put faces to many of the blogs. From this pub we went on to another. Why I don’t know, there was nothing wrong with the last one, but I guess there might have been different pongy ale on in different pubs. That’s the nice thing about lout, it’s no different anywhere you go so there is no reason to want to drink it in lots of different places. I drank one of the pongs, can’t tell you which one. Oh and I got given a twadge. A badge with my avatar on. Very nice, I will treasure it.

I thought I’d neck pong for the afternoon for a number of reasons. Lout is a bargain in supermarkets but often a rip off in pubs. I suspected the pong would be cheaper and it would enable me to fit in as a beer geek. In my travels I have noticed if you embrace local customs, drink and cuisine you are more readily accepted so a go of the pong was in order. It wasn’t that bad, very much like beer but more hoppy than it needs to be, not undrinkable. This had some thinking that cooking lager is a wind up and not a genuine campaign for cheap lout appreciation and I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or offended at those that thought the campaign for lout to be amusing. In the second pub I got served quite quickly so that place gets a thumbs up. The third pub was nice enough but I didn’t manage to skip the long queue in there and had to wait my turn. They had a beer in there called “twitter and busted”, so it had to be done.

I was quite enjoying it and thinking that beer geeks are quite nice and dare I say it normal. I’m not the most sociable of people but on rare occasions you can quite enjoy sitting in a pub and talking to people almost as much as sitting at home necking cheap lager. It was interesting to see the difference in motivation for bloggers. Some building a career in beer writing, some just having a laugh, some wishing to campaign for pong in the same way I wish to campaign for lout, some building a brand for whatever purpose. Mr Hardnott Dave didn't bite to my comment "I don't see the point in brewing stuff when you can buy cheap grog at Tesco", and I largely failed to offend anyone.

When people buggared off to Huddlesfield I was pleased some hung around, and I pottered off to a different boozer with the one and only Mr Tandleman. To be followed by other bloggers not up for Huddlesfield. I got given a taster of “interesting” bottled beer and sadly realised I hadn’t converted anyone to cheap lout. However the sight of beer geeks spending all their money in pubs does invigorate you to raise the joy of keeping your money and enjoying cheap lout and as Tandleman left under orders from Mrs Tandy I had a hope he’d pop in a Spar and treat himself to a can of Stella for the journey home. One last one with Mr Baron and I was off home myself. Glowing rather than drunk. The smell of pongy ale upon me didn’t offend the squeeze but I did have to wait for the telly programme to be over before throwing her over my shoulder.

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon with nice people. I’d do it again at some point. Thank you all for a nice afternoon.



Friday, 22 October 2010

Twissup


Crikey, the twissup is tomorrow. I am actually a bit excited. Sitting in a pub, drinking pongy ale, in the company of ladies and gentlemen who write beer blogs what I read. People to apologise to for winding them up, people say thank you to for sending me some free grog, people to argue the toss with, people to have a laugh with. All good clean innocent fun. I have a pink ticket off my good lady that gives me permission to sit in a pub and drink beer in the company of beer geeks. I am quite looking forward to it.

The details are all on Dredgies blog here, if you've not heard about it before, got nowt on tomorrow and are going to be in or around Manchester.

I suspect it'll be top dollar for a pint of pong in these proper pubs, but I'll be there to suggest we pop in the Spoons to pre load on cheap stuff. I don't know about you but I'm expecting responsible drinking in a controlled and responsible pub based environment. I'd be most disappointed to discover any binge drinking.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Beer Styles


Beer Style, does it matter?

The answer is quite clearly no. Lots of things matter, your missus, your kids, your job, your health. Beer is clearly in the general category of something that does not matter. Not one bit. Not in the slightest. Pretty much everything else in the world matters more than beer. Whilst beer experts may have 133 differing styles of beer, there are only 4 styles actually in existence

Neckable and cheap

Neckable and pricey

Unneckable and cheap

Unneckable and pricey

Now anyone in their right mind would express a preference for the first style, but there are those that for whatever odd reason might express a preference for the second. Whether that is insanity, snobbery, having more money than sense, wishing to "support pubs and brewing" or any other weird point of view you can imagine. It’s a free country, it takes all sorts and all that.

In certain circumstances it is worth training the palate for the third style, when the option of the first is unobtainable. It is possible to learn to like all manner of weird grog if you persist in necking it. You can acquire a taste for all manner of nasty stuff if you are persistent. This explains the existence of CAMRA and all those that like pongy ale. The fourth style arguably exists but it is one of those great mysteries as to why. A mystery on a par with crystal skulls.

So there you have it. Beer styles explained in a concise and informative manner. For more check out Ade, Pete, Fuggie, or Dredge, then ignore it and get down to Sainsbury’s where 2 boxes of grog are £15. All of it neckable and cheap and right up the cooking lager enthusiasts street.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Under the influence


Beer blogging gets a mention in a lads mag. Ask men UK. Crikey. Is beer blogging influential? I have to say this, but I hope not. I really hope not, otherwise the world will fill up with people with beards drinking unusual grog from preposterous glasses. The world could not cope.

Tandy & Zak, spotted it first but can I suggest this page to be a better bit of the Ask Men UK, website? Alternatively you can never go wrong with Nuts Magazine, if it's lads mags you are after. More knockers for your pennies. Alternatively, this is the link to stick into your favourites if you're an Ask Men reader that's decided to look at beer blogs.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

500 Beers


Firstly a confession, my intention in doing a review of Zak Avery’s500 beers” book was a naked attempt to find an excuse for lots of Zak links in a quest to push Mr Avery’s blog up the beer blog league tables and then offer to pass the book on to any other blogger that wanted to do the same, as part of a Team Avery attempt to fill beer blogging with Zak RSS feeds. However Zak has been kind enough to comment that he doesn’t wish vote rigging so I shan’t.

I appreciate if Zak takes the time to read this his first impression might very well be to slump his shoulders and think “Jesus wept, can you not take the piss out of someone else, my wine glass isn’t that funny for Christ sake”, despite the fact that it is. It is unfair to pick on Zak, especially when there is Pete Brown, Protzy, Dredgie & Cole etc to have a go at. Sorry to disappoint but this isn’t a piss take. I read the book and thought I’d say what I thought about it.

Firstly it’s quite small. I was expecting it to be a bigger tabletop type gubbins, but it is quite thick, has lots of nice pictures and I’m sure qualifies as my money’s worth. The first picture is a nice pint of lager, so it starts off promising.

After a short introduction and guide on how to use the book (erm, read it and try any beer you think you might like?) the glossary is unusually at the start. This is quite informative, I learnt that funk is the proper term for what I have been calling “pong”. I thought funk was a type of urban dance music, and funky a term for trendy trainers, but it has another meaning in the world of beer. But armed with this glossary I read on and into an informative and engaging explanation of the main ingredients of grog and the brewing process. The style adopted is to write in detail without ever patronising and written in an accessible style that breezes along as at an enjoyable pace.

As I got into the selecting, storing and serving chapter I felt I was getting the measure of the piece. I felt I was reading not a promotion of pongy ale or a CAMRA manifesto but one mans love poem to his great passion. It is impossible to sneer at such a thing. The only possible reaction is to go with the flow and enjoy the journey. I’d go as far as to suggest such a style is possibly more effective if the intention is to get the reader off the Fosters, than the cheery beery campaigning tone of a lot of beer writing, but as I said it comes across as nothing more or less than a chap sharing his considerable knowledge and deep passion and would be an engaging read whatever the topic. I’m sure if the book was about steam engines, if written in such a style, I would find it interesting. In the storing beer paragraph, mention is made of bottle conditioning and I suspect Zak’s opinion is more informed than the CAMRA one.

On the tasting beer page he makes mention of his oversized wine glass, and I found the explanation that different glasses affect perception and aroma convincing enough to feel suitably ignorant for making fun of giant wine glasses. But then I remembered I don’t taste beer, I just drink it so figured I could ignore this bit, it wasn’t for me. Likewise with the beer and food matching section. Despite the helpful table I remain of the view that rules are for wine ponces, have what you like with what you like. What I like is a combination of whatever food is in the fridge matched with whatever beer is in the fridge. Followed by cake. I like cake.

The chapter on lager I found to be interesting and without many of the ill informed prejudices that many beer experts hold. I particular liked the bit about quickly produced large-scale lager not being bad beer, even if it is qualified with the view that a slower process produces a fuller flavour. Nothing to argue about, you get what you pay for.

Then we got to the first mentioning of the beers. I liked the page layout with 5 beers a page but prominence given to one beer. This gives the “geek curious” types like me all you really need to know to try the beer style in question. Neck the one with the green background and if you like it you might want to try the rest. The different classifications of pilsner are well thought out and as we trot along we see that beer geekery involves some beers you can get at Tesco. You can’t argue with recommending crisps to go with Heineken. I find crisps go with all beer. Peanuts too. The mention of Stella is fair at “decent enough”. I personally have never claimed it to be the best beer in the world, only a neckable drop and a bargain when sold for buttons.

I liked some of the creative classifications like “un-lager” and Zak makes a decent stab at informing us what he means by that. On the Oktoberfest grog I was surprised to see Hofbrau & Paulaner not given a mention. At least one that you can get at Tesco would have been nice, and I spotted a beer I’ve necked on the Vienna page. Freedom lager. Also more surprised Augustiner didn’t get a mention in the Helles section as that is always the beer I get handed when invited back to the home of German friends. It’s decent lout that the locals drink. Can I really comment? Zak has 25 years of beer knowledge, which is exactly 25 years more than me. So maybe Zak knows more about what to put in his book than I do.

Black lager and Bocks follow before we hit English Ale. This goes through bitters, milds etc and oddly has a picture of pretty German girls wearing the dirndl and necking maß glasses of lager before we get to Scottish beer. You can’t go wrong with pretty girls and if I was to be critical, the book could have done with a few more, I’m not suggesting it should have become a beer version of Nuts magazine, but pretty girls every few pages add to the general flow and keep the reader going.

The wheat beer section covering both witbier and weissbier covered the topic well, and when we got to the Flemish stuff & the lambic pong I developed the impression we had entered the territory of the authors love for beer, that carried through to the Belgian grog. With a diversion into IPA & American beer we were back in Belgium where I learnt there was more to the country than finding an English pie shop, a glass of Leffe, thick stew with bones in it and chatting up girls in a combination of broken French and German. The Barley wine and old ale sections weren’t really my cup of tea so I skipped forward to learn the difference not only between Porter and Stout, but the many different types of both. I could have happily lived without this knowledge, but heh why not?

No mention that if you go on a lad’s weekend to Dublin and drink nothing but Guinness your shit turns jet black, but then I wasn’t really expecting such unnecessary crudeness. I was quite surprised German regional beer like kolsch comes under “oddities”.

What is the best beer to drink whilst reading it? A can of Foster’s. And that is that. I enjoyed the book. I’d recommend it. An enjoyable and informative read. If Zak turns up on the twiss up I’ll ask him to autograph it for me. Even if he writes “Cookie, just fuck off, I mean it, fuck off, love Zak” in it.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Lovely Aldi Lager


Every so often I bother to check the email address I stick on the bottom of this tosh. One thing I’ve noticed among the emails inviting me to buy discount Viagra and consider a penis extension are the number of beer related junk emails. Emails from companies highlighting something or other, whether it is a beer festival in Alaska or a beer award in Japan. I read these, in fact I welcome them, they can be interesting, but they rarely inspire me to mention any of it on this rubbish.

I received a nice email from a chap at Aldi supermarkets highlighting the available beers the supermarket were putting out to coincide with the Oktoberfest. It appears Zak Avery pointed him in my direction. It was interesting and it did get me thinking that I’ve not been in the discount supermarkets for a while like Aldi, Netto & Lidl and I really ought to check out the cheap lager. You can get lazy relying on my supermarket dot com and flitting between the mainstream for bargains. I mean, look how long it’s been since I checked out Oetinger &Galahad, and they don’t even flog Oetinger anymore.

It wasn’t intended as rudeness but I didn’t reply, it was marketing bumf and actually it did get me a thinking I’d been lazy in my sourcing of the cheap high quality lager that is the very lifeblood of the cooking lager enthusiast.

A second email came a few days later off the same gentlemen offering me some free lager. Free lager you say? Did I hear that right? Free Lager? Ooooooo Free Lager, my favourite thing not including an affectionate romantic suggestion off the lady squeeze. Why thank you, that would be delightful. If you don’t have a beer blog yourself, you really ought to start one. It doesn’t have to be any good. I mean, look at the incoherent tosh I get away with, and people still send me “free samples”. In fact the advice offered to all cooking lager enthusiasts isn’t just to check out the cheap offers in the supermarkets and avoid pubs but to start a beer blog and wait for someone to offer you some free beer.

A six pack of Steinhäuser, a bottle of Staroslav & 2 Finchley Ales, Golden pale & India. Tidy, wahay. Ideal to sink a few in front of the football. Then I realised it was England playing and thought, ideal to sink watching pretty much anything else.

The Steinhäuser, a Dortmunder/Helles brewed by Dortmunder Actien Brauerei (Oetker Group) for Aldi supermarkets comes in at a 5% lout in a 330ml bottle. 6 for £3.79, or 19p per 100ml. Reasonably cheap and better value than most smaller beer packs out there, but not quite as cheap as when the bigger boxes of lout are on the special. The bottle makes mention of the 1516 German purity law and makes mention of the law defining only water, barley malt, hops & yeast but the allergen information warns of “contains wheat & barley”. On taste I’d guess it was an all barley beer with the barley stored with wheat in the brewery for use in other brews. Kind of like buying something that doesn’t contains nuts but warns it might. The beer is a refreshing crisp beer with a slightly bitter astringency in the aftertaste and smacks of lovely lager flavour. Top stuff, I loved it. Lovely drop of lout.

The Staroslav Czech lager is brewed in Bohemia and comes in a 5% lout in a 500ml bottle. Why not read what the beer nut thinks of it here, To my taste, however, I found it packed with lovely lagery goodness. A fragrant smell, a sweeter maltier balance. Lightly hopped & flowery with only a slight bitterness on the aftertaste. The ingredients are unclear but the taste suggests an all barley malt beer without adjuncts or hop extracts. Really nice stuff.

So there you have it, two nice beers, a nice chap sent me for nowt, both of which I’d drink again. The Steinhäuser in particular being a delicious good value beer that looks cheap when between giveaway supermarket offers.

Are you a corporate suit? Do you want to feature your beer on this load of rubbish and potentially reach my half a dozen or so regular readers with your product? Have no fear, I am a corporate whore that will happily neck any free beer he is given.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Support Team Avery !


What’s better than blogging about beer blogging? Blogging about blogging about beer blogging, that’s what!

The beer blog league table is out again, on Mr Pete Browns Blog, and it’s got me all a thinking. I’m a big fan of Mr Zak Avery. I love his video blogs and his giant wine glass and pretty much everything about Mr Zak. Zak rocks! I don’t love him enough to stalk him. I’m not sat outside his house or anything, but even so I’ve decided that what is required is a bit of competition. Pick your team and get your team to the top.

I’ve decided to be in “Team : Avery”, which means a strategy is required to get Zak Avery to Number one in the beer blog league/charts! It’s not that I don’t like anyone else’s blog, but you’ve got to pick your favourite or there isn’t a game. We cannot let the league stagnate, we have to put a bit of competition in it.

How do we do this? Ripping off wikio :

How are these rankings compiled?

The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. These links are dynamic, which means that they are backlinks or links found within articles.

Only links found in the RSS feed are included. Blogrolls are not taken into account, and the weight of any given link increases according to how recently it was published. We thus hope to provide a classification that is more representative of the current influence levels of the blogs therein.

Only links found in RSS feeds are counted. Blogrolls are not taken into account.

Our rankings are updated on a monthly basis and also include Top Blogs for several categories: Technology, Politics, etc. New categories will be added on a regular basis.

Umm, so RRS feeds are required? Well I’ve added one. It’s in the top left hand corner, "Are you taking the Pith?" Be sure to click on it. Add an Avery RSS feed to your blog if you’ve got one, and support Team Avery!

Together we can change beer blogging for the better. We can have a dynamic league of competition red in tooth and claw. Together we can get Zak Avery to Number 1 !


Edit.

Thanks to Baron Orm,

10 Zak links per post for every supporter of Team Avery.:

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery

Mr Zak Avery


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The irresponsible on trade.


One of the main reasons given by those that wish to see minimum pricing for my lovely cheap super market lager advocate that cheap alcohol is irresponsible and results in pre loading. That is necking alcohol prior to a night out and heading out drunk. I have always considered this a dubious argument. If heading out “on the piss” rather than a sedate civilised drink, the idea of getting pissed beforehand is none to wise. I have trouble keeping pace as it is, starting off pissed is a no no.

The argument has struck me as nothing more nor less than an attempt by pubs and bars to deflect attention from there own irresponsible retailing of alcohol to drunks whilst trying to kybosh what they see as competition from supermarkets. An attempt to make price the determinant of responsibility rather than the action of selling a drunk another drink.

If you want to read stories of binge drink Britain and the outrage it creates in polite society then the Daily Mail must be the paper of choice. A link to a recent binge drink Britain story here.

The usual stuff. Pissed up younger drinkers, vomiting and that recent phenomenon of great public outrage “pissing on a war memorial”. I seek to defend none of it, but offer the view that the article would by its nature concentrate on the few that caused problems rather than the many more that went out, got pissed, pulled if they were lucky, fought with no one and vomited nowhere, and learnt the hard way that the next morning getting pissed gives you a hangover. Young lads and lasses have a nice night out isn’t news. Pissing on a war memorial is news.

I have never been on a carnage night out, and frankly would not want to, but it does remind me of a Club 18-30 holiday I once went on when I was single where one of the excursions was a paid for pub crawl. The lads fancied a week in Ibiza and for whatever reason Club 18-30 was cheap. Cheap because the hotel was a dump, but we had a nice time. I pulled, as did a few mates, and those that didn’t were the lads you were not expecting to pull anyway and can’t pull for toffee in England. I also got pissed every night.

We didn’t go on the paid for pub crawl excursion figuring it wasn’t difficult to punt yourself around the local bars and spend the money on lager. We ran into the excursion and the guy running it collared us with “your drinking from your left hand, you have to down it in one”. I replied “No I don’t, I’m not on your excursion, I’m just out with my mates” When he tried further to engage us in jolly banter my mate Cockney Dave said to him “No offence pal, but we’re on the pull, and we’re in with these scouse lasses, so why don’t you piss off back to the kids that need a guided pub crawl and leave us to it”. He turned and went. That is my only experience of a guided pub crawl, not going on one.

Back to the Daily Mail outrage, I have a few questions to ask.

Aqua Lounge club boss Victoria Andrews told the paper: 'When we hear it is going to be a Carnage night, we despair.'


Really? Why is that then? You don’t have to serve a bunch of kids with carnage t-shirts on, you can ask them to leave. Not let them in. If you don’t like it, don’t co-operate with it. Oh, I forget, you’d like to flog these kids a drink and let them know about your bar because they will be studying in the area for the next few years and presumably will want to go out for a drink again. This won’t be the first and last night out for the new students. This is your new trade. Okay then, but you don’t have to serve drunk people do you?

As for how they got drunk. Are we really saying the problem is a drink the kids may or may not have had before going out? Or is the problem of pissed up kids pissing on war memorials the last drink they were served?

If publicans wish to present themselves as the responsible face of alcohol retailing, they might want to do the following. Stop serving drunk people, and shut the fuck up about irresponsible cheap supermarket lager.

Anyway I can’t write this tosh all day, I’ve got 24 cans of cheap Carling to neck and a war memorial to piss on.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Strictly Lovely Lout

I drank some proper lager this weekend. Reading beer blogs must be rubbing off on me. Didn’t pay for it, mind you. Twas stuff Glynn sent me a while back when he had a lager festival on at his gaff. There’s nowt quite like a drop of lout, when you’re watching Strictly Come Dancing with the missus.

When it comes to watching rubbish on the telly, I have to confess to quite liking Strictly. There’s the odd tasty lass in it, oh and Ann Widdecome. Not sure who the most fanciable one is yet, but Kara Tointon, Michelle Williams & Tina O’Brian all get my vote. If I was inclined to vote, which by and large I am not. I have a suspicion the votes of this household will be going to Gavin Henson, as the squeezes pick.

Sat on the sofa, scratching my nads and picking my nose I cracked open a bottle of Haviestoun Schiehallion Pilsner. (Worlds best apparently) A 4.8% grog. Named from a famous Scottish mountain and made with hersbruker hops, barley & wheat. Reading beer bottle labels, the sign of a geek if ever there was.

Pouring it out it had a fresh citrusy smell with a woody slightly microbrewed craft ale taste to it but without the gag reflex associated with micro brewed ale. This was followed by a more conventional lagered hop dryness. The dry bitterness rounded itself off nicely on the aftertaste into a nice little tongue tingle. Kinda good. I necked it quickly and finished with a satisfying belch. Decent lout.

Another lout? Be rude not to. Mitchell Krause No1 Czech Pilsner. 4.2% and brewed in that well known part of the Czech republic, Workington, Cumbria. All malt, soft water & noble bohemian saaz hops. A lighter more conventional lout. Not much by way of aroma/pong and quite a subtle taste. On a swig rather than sip you get more a hint of bitterness and a satisfying dryness around the mouth. Another drinkable drop.

Two pints down, I opened a smaller bottle before dragging the squeeze upstairs. St Mungo Pure Heavenly Lager. Who thinks of these names? 4.9%, brewed in West Glasgow and adhering to the German purity law and winner of a “Gesellschaft award in 2009”

This was all together more what to expect for a lager. A sharp crispness, light on the sweetness with a lingering loutish pleasure. Proper lout, Bang on. All decent stuff and very welcome.

Friday, 1 October 2010

We don’t need no education


We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the class room
Teachers leave those kids alone
(yells) Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!

I love beer blogs. I love reading ‘em and by and large I quite like what I read. There is a certain perspective that winds me up. Maybe it’s the working class chip on my shoulder, who is to say? Actually it is.

Here’s some random unattributed quotes from beer blogs I’ve read recently. I haven’t named and shamed because I like the blogs, think those that write them are nice people and really am in no mood to pick a fight but here goes

“.....educating folks about Cask Beer is key to its continued growth

However nice and well meaning and middle class you are, education will not make me middle class. Despite growing up in a terrace council house I managed 2 university degrees, swallowed as much education as I could stomach because I wanted the same nice home you nice middle class people live in and a nice bird with nice knockers under my duvet and I drink cheap lager because I like it. Be grateful I chose that route rather than sell drugs to your kids, rob your houses or lead a revolution where I just take the lot off you. Education makes me prosperous enough to make choices but you cannot educate me to make your choices. I know cask ale is nice grog. I drink Carling because I like it and I have no prosperity guilt whatsoever that makes me wish to pay more for chickens, clothes, chocolate or beer.

“do you think it’s a generally positive thing that the nationals are covering real ale, even if the message is blurred?

There is no message. A newspaper has no obligation to promote anything, share your perspective or promote the pongy rot you like to poison your guts with. Why should a nice lady that likes a drop of Pinot Grigio and works for a newspaper when asked to write something about “The cask report” produce the CAMRA manifesto? Be pleased she didn’t say pongy ale stunk and tasted of sweaty armpits. Be pleased she liked it, even if tonight she’s back on the Pinot.

“the less enlightened head for Tesco and Sainsbury for their slabs of yellow fizz

Go on, continue to think your preference for pongy ale makes you any of the following, clever, more articulate, more refined, more discerning or even enlightened. Please continue because it makes me laugh and I like to laugh. But I'm not laughing with you, I'm laughing at you.

If you spot those quotes on your beer blog, please don’t be offended. I’m not picking a fight. I love your blog, that’s why I read it. But that is why the Campaign for Greater Cooking Lager Appreciation must continue to spread the joy of cheap supermarket lager.

Have a top weekend, get some dirt cheap supermarket lager down you and enjoy every drop.

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the class room
Teachers leave those kids alone
(yells) Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!