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

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The Sink Pour

Observers will note this blog ran out of steam some years hence to be revived only occasionally if I thought of a way to amuse myself by being rude about the patently ridiculous hobby of “beer enthusiasm”, one of many ways middle class people intellectualize getting pissed to draw a line between themselves and working class people, some of whom also like getting pissed, but do so in a vulgar manner.

The actress, Dana Wynter. For no reason whatsoever. I could not think of a photo to go with this and recently watched the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers of which she is in and wondered whether there was a way of shoehorning a photo of her drinking a beer into a blog somehow.

It has dawned on me that my years of study of beer geekery have presented me with some knowledge both of beer enthusiasm and its ludicrous adherents. Further such a hobby is gaining more and more enthusiasts. Especially among millennials that have no hope of acquiring the symbols and objects of wealth and success of their parents and seek a way to feel better about still renting homes and travelling on buses long after full time education by making a symbol and object of an overpriced beer. I mean, tweeting about the vulgarians you have to share public transport with can only get you so far. You need the security of knowing you drink pricier beer than the Primark clad unwashed fuckers and their Lynx Africa aroma.

Are you are one of these millennials wanting to fit in and uncertain how? You’ve got the skinny jeans, cultivated a stupid beard you wrapped in an elastic band and are sat in a brew dog bar paying £8 for small glass of beer but feeling a bit of a fraud. Maybe in those moments of angst and regret during a stinking craft hangover? (Different from a regular hangover in that if its craft you can pretend you are not an alkie)That someone will discover you don’t really mean any of this lifestyle, that it’s just an affectation you hoped would pull you that sulky Goth chick you want to notice you? That people will realise you’d rather just wear sports casual and have a pint of Kronenbourg?

Fear not I am here to explain how you convince others you are genuine beer enthusiast of discernment and taste. In a series of posts I will explain in detail various aspects of beer geekery to practice and understand. By no means comprehensive but enough to grasp more than the basics and put into practice. Before you can say “Jesus Christ, how much? it’s only 2 beers for fucks sake pal” and give the game away I will have you leaving that unsatisfactory job in an office selling office supplies with an employee of the month award on your desk in shape of a paperclip that did not come with any actual money alongside it and making a living as a self-employed beer evangelist/communicator/blogger, part time barman, and reliant on the generosity of your parents well into your thirties.  The type of job that gets the girls and will require the acquisition of a shitty stick to fight them off with. A craft shitty stick whittled by a retired accountant from an artisanal shop. Not one you found in the park.

Lesson 1. The Sink Pour

This is most counter intuitive lesson of all. It’s not about what you drink it’s about what you pour down the sink. You think being discerning is about pouring something you think of as better down your neck? No, nada, nein, non, nope. It’s about what you refuse to pour down your neck.

As a species we have evolved a sense of smell and taste to identify rotten food that might make us ill and therefore avoid it and by survival, increase our chances of procreating prior to death. For this reason it’s not a bad idea to utilize this evolutionary advantage and throw away rotten food that might make you ill. Food in the fridge a day or two past its use by date? Bit of a whiff coming off something? Why take the chance? Why gamble with spending the following day on the shitter regretting every minute of “not wasting” something that in the first place cost buttons? For fucks sake, it was 50p from Aldi. Bin it, buy another.

Take this beyond that simple principle and beyond even that. Far beyond. Your palate is so precious, so cultured, a tool of your beery hobby, a vehicle for your discernment that you could no more pollute it with substandard fare than you could procreate with your own mother. Allowing something as crude, as vile, as filthy, as something you don’t much care for past your lips is a betrayal of a palate you have been carefully training and developing over many years. A palate you ought to get insured for a million pounds lest you accidently ingest an Iceland or Farmfoods canapé at a working class cousin’s engagement buffet.

Now most people may upon opening a beer they don’t much like think, heh it’s not going to make me ill, I just don’t much like it. I’ll make it into a shandy and neck it. I doubt I’ll buy it again but it’ll be a pity to waste it, considering I paid money for it and all. Actually it makes a decent enough shandy, this is nice. I’ll finish off the other one too, and then it’s gone. So long as it’s not going to make you ill, it’s just a matter of taste and opening a can of Sprite Zero into it isn’t a crime, surely?

It is, my friend, it is. You are not most people. You are a beer enthusiast. Shandy? Oh good god. You don’t even call it that; you refer to it by its German nomenclature of Radler. You did not train your palate to drink shandy. By logical extension then the more you throw away, the more things you wouldn’t let past your lips, the more refined and discerning your palate is. By “sink pouring” every craft beer you buy you automatically become the most discerning craft beer communicator of them all. More than those vulgarians that actually let it past their lips and drink it. You win.

So my friend. Wanna convince ‘em you’re the real deal. Pour it away. It’s fit only for the sink.

Next Week. Lesson 2.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Pub Men

Blogging about blogging is when another blog inspires you to write a post of your own. Mathews cracking blog about the decline of pubs is what’s done it. Have a read of it here.

Whilst I’ve never been that sentimental about pubs, seeing them as businesses and no different from any other, I do get how people can be sentimental. I was never that bothered when Woolworths went the way of the dodo and whilst there’s a couple of pubs I quite like and go in enough that the barmaid asks me how I am, I’d survive and find somewhere else to sit and read a paper whilst the squeeze potters around the shops, if they shut. A shrug of the shoulders rather than a placard is my response to the death of the pub. I did feel sentimental enough to pop into C&A when I spotted they are still going in Germany and did even buy something. An umbrella as it was raining. Not enough to campaign to bring C&A back to the UK, though.

Think about it. We redefine this field as a pub then us Pub Men can go stand in it with her, and she has a spare beer she doesn't need that she might give you. Win win.

Then I got thinking about what a pub is, whether I will ever gain the accolade I most desire of “Pub Man” from the TAND. I figured not as I don’t fit the criteria. That of going in pubs a lot and liking them. I have more a utilitarian use of them which limits the former and precludes the latter.

What if we recognised that a pub is just a room people sit or stand in to socialize, have a drink or occasionally read the paper and be left alone? Does the drink have to be booze?

What if we redefined coffee shops as pubs? People sit in them and drink coffee and read the paper? They are doing much as am on a Sunday afternoon when I drink a pint of bitter in a pub and flick through the torygraph? What if gyms were redefined as pubs? Many people seem to go there to stand around and talk whilst drinking a cheesy tasting milkshake that is apparently full of protein from the addition of whey, a cheese by product?

If we did this then pubs are no longer in decline. Pubs are in rude health and increasing. Pubs are enjoying a renaissance! Pubs are safe and relevant to the kids too!

But they ain’t pubs, I hear you cry? Really? What about the CAMRA award winning pubs with a Maitre d' that ask you whether you are dining and don’t let you have a table if all you want is a pint and packet of cheese and onion? Them’s pubs are they? So long as it looks like a Victorian or Edwardian living room it’s a pub is it? Even if it’s actually a restaurant? Howay with you.

Anything can be a pub. A pub is an idea. It is ethereal. A pub is of the mind, not of the physical. Anything can be a pub. A private shed can be a pub. Anything you want to be a pub can be a pub. That, my friends, is freedom.

What is more, if we accept that anything can be a pub, I can say my sofa is one and then the TAND will have to acknowledge and credit me with the honour of “Pub Man”. He will just have to.

Saturday, 16 January 2016


It’s time to get excited about the biggest event in craft beer history, where the worlds beer communicators, evangelists, bloggers and writers congregate to hear the words of the very first blogger. That would be THE TAND and the event? #TANDCON16


Back when all this was fields, when computers were a hobby for those with soldering irons and digital watches were amazing, one man had a dream. That dream was that every man, woman and transgendered person would one day have their own beer blog. Though no one at the time knew even what a blog was. People would reply “Eh? A blog you say? What’s one of those?” On those blogs people could write about the bitter they were drinking, moan if it wasn’t through a sparkler and reveal the temperature of the beer in their local pub. They would take pictures of their pint on a phone they carried about with them. People laughed at that dream, but it is now reality.

That man was the father of beer bloggery, THE TAND.

Scottish actor, Gerard Butler, who would play THE TAND in the story of beer bloggery, when it becomes a film.

That vison is now a reality, for the gathering is upon us. Like in Highlander all beer communicators are drawn to a far off place. The Manchester Beer Festival, where THE TAND is usually to be found propping up the German lager bar whilst skiving. Unlike Highlander there is no requirement to sword fight and chop heads off. Instead you only need to prove you are a beer communicator by publically showing your sparkler and ask THE TAND to sign an autograph and take a selfie.

From Wednesday 20th, if you can blag in with a trade ticket by claiming that beer communicator is an actual job or an hour or two later if you can’t. Beer evangelists the world over will be congregating to follow THE TAND about and drink whatever it is he happens to be necking. And hearing words of beery wisdom like “What really do you lot want?”, “Can’t you go away and leave me alone, I’ve a festival to run” and “Right now, that’s it, will you all bugger off”

Temperatures of beer will be recorded in note books, some beer will be drunk and a relentless positivity will flow around the world of beer communication. Beer sexism will be abolished, Beer negativity will be abolished and in 2016 beer bloggery will be THE cultural phenomenon of the year.

This Wednesday, #TANDCON16. Don’t forget your sparkler.
A sparkler

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The puritans are winning

By now I’ve read most beer bloggers have got off their chest their disdain for Dry January and the new alcohol guidelines. There are too many to post links to all but this article on the Telegraph is worth a look, By Charles Moore.

I add my own two pence not to disagree with anything I’ve read but to add a point I think many have not considered. Off course beer bloggers, evangelists, communicators, writers, pissheads are going to ignore the new limits and try lots of new beers in January to support the great British pub. They will ignore the new guidelines and carry on!

Beer enthusiasts fall into a category I like to call “committed drinker”. It’s going to take the first hospital scare for many to cut out the pop. I’ve had the fortune to meet in person many and the 30 year old guy that likes a skin full of strong beer every night but thinks that’s different from doing the same with the Spesh because it's "craft" and seems to genuinely believe his gout is genetic is always a pleasure to meet as an example of the power of self-delusion. Something I think is more common the better educated and intelligent people are. The committed drinker will pull apart the stats and convince himself he is right and carry on.

The point I’d like to make is most people are not committed drinkers and the market cycles to a new generation every 10 years. People drink from 20-80. A 60 year customer life. Every 10 years a sixth of the market is replaced. The new puritanism will have an effect and it is having an effect. A bigger chunk of people will listen than the small number of committed noisy drinkers alongside I sit. When I was a kid people smoked on the top deck of buses. It smelt horrible and I didn’t like it. Within my lifetime this habit is all but prohibited. The process has been applied to drink and they are well on their way to drinking being as socially unacceptable by the time my nieces are my age.

It’s the kids the guidelines are aimed at. Those not even in the market yet, and from what we can currently see most young people prefer the new temperance bars of Costa and Starbucks to the pubs. So it’s working then. I’ve nowt against Costa, I like their mocha and carrot cake but the hang out for today’s youth isn’t a place with drink. Lager fuelled lads like me were inclined to try out your beardy beer festivals and accept a pint of bitter can be nice, you just need to drink it in a place they keep it well. Not sure how you are going to convince people that don’t drink to come along and try it. People that don’t drink ain’t interested in the more discerning booze you are hawking, pal.

On my first day back in work after Xmas an email greeted me from the HR department of my client site encouraging all the employees to do a Dry January. The people doing it were not exactly boozers to begin with. One chap doing it drinks on average one bottle of wine a week but thinks a January detox is a good idea. What toxins he was trying to expel I didn’t bother asking. I pondered for a moment my first graduate job. We all went for a drink Friday lunchtimes. I’d hover near the boss so that she would buy me a pint. Good strategy that. The grad trainees went out into town a couple of nights a week. Booze was the social lubrication of that moment in time. Today my work colleagues are more likely to go to the gym and have a protein shake. Nobody goes out to the pub anymore in offices. It doesn’t bother me so much, to tell the truth, but it’s a change worth noting. Whether a Friday lunch or after work. Maybe they will live longer, but drink is already well on its way to being a denormalized socially unacceptable hobby.

The puritans are winning and us boozers are losing.

You will resist, you are committed enough to intellectualize the pop and call it a hobby. I will resist but I won’t be mentioning my beery hobby on client site as I don’t want people thinking I’m a pisshead. But maybe it’s time to decide whether you are a puritan or not. Whether you stand with those that think it okay to stop others enjoying something of which you disapprove (buying cheap wine from Asda), or whether you stand with those that advocate the personal freedom to damage your own health seeing as you're busy damaging your own.

Whatever it is you want. Whether it’s a healthy market of craft beer, open pubs selling cask bitter, or simply a cheap slab of beer to sit on your own couch with whilst watching Death in Paradise (it’s good that show). It’s puritans you’re up against, not each other