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

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Game of Lout

As everyone who knows 'owt about beer knows, the great titanic struggle of the age is between Accountants and Brewers. Those suit wearing toss pots that only want to make beer as cheaply as possible whilst all wearing identical boring grey suits versus the true heroes. Those bearded lumberjack shirt wearing good guys that care passionately about beer and only want to make the best beer possible and damn the accountants. Damn them to Hell. Hell, if it wasn’t for the complexity of a corporation tax return we’d put them up against the wall and give them a good talking to about hops or some such shit until they sacked off accountancy and started up a craft brewery.

Accountant. Bastard.

Craft Brewer. Hero.

In proper Game of Thrones fashion there’s a new player in town. A new army in the fight for the Beery Throne. The Marketeers. They aim to sell beer and whilst they rarely use dragons they sometime use tits because we all like tits and those that say they don’t are lying. Tits are great except when it’s sexist to like tits then they are not great and tits should not be used to sell beer. Not ever. Why not sell some beer to people with tits? What do people with tits like? Well if those tits are man tits what they want is to lose a few pounds, be less of a Jabba the Hutt so they might pull a lady with real life lady tits and that’s where diet products come in. The narcissism of the age being to look good for a selfie, less calories = Better!

Who should be designing beers? Accountants? Brewers? Nope, Marketeers. They've done surveys and stuff and know what you want. You want to be thinner.

Wanna come down Spoons, Jon Snow,? I'll show you my dragons. And yes that's a euphemism, I mean my tits. 
Have they got Draught Bass on?
You know nothing, Jon Snow.

You’ve got diet pop, low fat yogurt, sugar free chewing gum and now finally low-calorie beer! Not now finally. You could write a history of low calorie beer on the UK market and it would be a history of failure. Decades of products going past their sell by date & being dropped. Whilst the product has caught on in other countries with a plethora of “Lite” beers those products have crashed and burned in the UK. But you know, God loves a trier and when I spotted this cheeky little box of low calorie lager in my local Tesco I thought I’d treat myself.

330ml of 4% lager with fewer calories, fewer carbs and gluten free. Brewed by Camerons Brewery of Hartlepool under contract of a company, Skinny Brands, that appears to specialise in low calorie booze products. It’s an adjunct free (all malt) lager as per the bottle info and comes in at 89 calories. That’s lower in calories than a Bud Light.

What’s it like? Duh. It’s a light lager. It’s lagery. Lighter than a Carling (and stronger than that 3.7% classic). More to it than a Bud Light. On a par with a bottle of Corona but with a smoother finish and arguably a better beer. I liked the stuff.

Tastes like lager. Nice. None of that craft muck.

It won’t trouble those that like to sniff beer and talk about hops but I’d prefer to pick one of these cold ones and neck it whilst watching telly than a lot of regular lagers. You can chuck one down your neck without it touching the sides nor troubling your taste buds with considerable ease. If you like a Corona, you’ll like one of these. If you think Corona is Mexican piss, you’ll think this is English piss. Fine proud English piss of God’s own England.

The lass did ask why I was necking what she thought looked like ladies’ beer but I just called her a sexist and refused intimacy until she changed that sexist attitude to teach her a lesson. There's no sexism in this house. It’s £10 for a box of 12x330ml in Tesco. It’s alright, I liked it.

*I bought it with my own money I’d earned from hard graft and not received it for free, in case you’re wondering

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Pub Men of Erlangen

A fact unknown to most beer communicators is the “The Tandleman” is not in a fact just a beer blog or communicator or a blogger but a title given to the first beer communicator that first wrote about the Inns of England in Roman times when they first sprang up along the Roman roads of England. Back then of course beer communication was done on parchment, not the internet and contained lots of “ye olde ale was ner sparkled and ye gods did thee not drinketh it with anythee joy, but necketh it I did”

Over the generations the title has been handed down from Tandleman to Tandleman in a ceremony shrouded in mystery and esoteric mystic practice among a group known as “The League of Tandlemen” that both appoint & anoint the next beer communicator. Think not so much like a new Pope being invested but if any of you are familiar with the Frank Herbert book “Dune” it is an unacknowledged fact of literature that the practice of appointing a new Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother written in this book was based on rumours he had heard of the League of Tandlemen and the mind-altering effects of extreme bitter consumption.

Pongy old man bitter has an effect if you truly pickle yourself in it so it becomes the very liquid that you sweat. When consumed to that degree it is said that you can transfer memories from one Tandleman to another so the line of memory and consciousness in regard to dumpy pubs and pongy bitter goes back to those first pints of substandard ale in that Roman Tavern that was too warm and cost too many groats. It is said that current Tandleman holds the memory as a real lived experience of that first pint of unsatisfactory murky unsparkled ale drank in the very first pub that ever existed.

I have been trying to join this esteemed body for many a year but unfortunately if you don’t go in pubs enough or drink enough old man bitter they don’t let you in. They let you knock about with them occasionally when you run into them at beer festivals and they are not a bad bunch but never will you get the desired accolade "Pub Man".

To make my case for entry into the esteemed League I thus met up with one of its American members, Erlangen Nick, who when he isn’t bullying people in a sexist manner over the internet goes in a lot of pubs, drinks a lot of ale, mucks about on twitter and lives a few miles up along a train track from where I am, in a town called Erlangen.

Meeting people you know from the internet & twitter can always be a bit of an unknown. What if they lure you into a sex dungeon and lock you up for years in a basement with no lager? I had met Nick a couple of times before in Manchester & the Tand had assured me he wasn’t as far as he was aware a serial killer so it was off to Erlangen for the day and to discover how membership of the League can be maintained via necking lager.

Lovely lager

So off we start on an afternoon of the lout. A nice one too this one but from the off I am informed of official League practice.

League members always measure the temperature of the lout and record it. Why? It’s just what they do. To join the league, you must too.

If in any doubt you can be assured it becomes habit. A natural thing to do when heading out to Pub Man it

Lovely Golden Lager

But how can you truly seep yourself in old man bitter, if you neck mainly lager? Here was a truth revealed. Not all lager is golden & fizzy. Some of it is brown and what not, and so long as you neck enough of the brown stuff it has the same mental effect on you as if you necked brown old man bitter. Hence you can be considered a pub man. 

Brown lager which ensures you maintain your League membership.

It really is all about drinking enough brown liquid in pubs wherever you are in the world. That is the key to entry into this mysterious league that meet in secret, practice weird esoteric pub based ritual & ultimately once in a generation select the Tandleman.

 How do you know when you finally attain League membership? When in the comments you are told "You are a proper pub man"

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Ain't no mountain high enough, to keep me from lager.

Having settled in, got the lie of the land & know enough to not get lost it was time to do some of the outer reaches of the book. I could say bollocks to the book and stick around Domanikaner straße (where all the decent gaffs are) as I was very far from bored with most of those. I had personally named the street in my mind as piss alley. Not because it was covered in piss but because of the high density of piss artists getting pissed. That and the fact that I hadn’t quite made it to the final destination last time made me think of a second stab but starting later so as to pace myself.

But bollocks to that. It’s the afternoon. I’m in foreign parts. What time is it? It’s get out there and get yourself a pint time, that’s what time.

I’d plotted my route to the brewery museum & the kellers, gartens (gaffs) around it. In the Michaelsberg area of my map. Now I know enough German to know that berg means mountain. I had congratulated myself earlier in the market for knowing bergkäse was mountain cheese. Cheese of the mountain. Not to be confused with Glockendkäse. Not ever. Under any circumstances. If ever offered the latter by a moustachioed gentleman in a beer garden, politely decline for if you check your watch you would discover it is not in fact brotzeit and never will be. Bergkäse, on the hand. Knock yourself out.

My Berg error was only a minor error, for Michaelsberg was hardly a mountain. More a steep hill. The type of hill that would have my dear old elderly mother wanting a cup of tea and a nice sit down at the top of it. Not Ranulph Fiennes complaining that he needed another toe amputating. My bottle of coke zero was still ice cold by the time I’d got there and a few swigs and a “blimey, by ‘eck, I’d of run up that 20 year ago, look at me now” I was as right as rain.

I did the brewery museum first. 4 euros and as long as you like to look at a fine collection of old brewery tat collected over many years and lovingly presented for your delectation. If you like looking at this sort of crap then it’s worth the crack but even if you don’t it’s worth popping in it to see if you can find the new addition I added to one exhibit. A printed off picture of the TAND with the caption. Why not visit and see if you can find it. I doubt they’ll remove it. They don’t look like they dust the gaff that often.

The Tandleman
Der Vater des modernen Bierschreibens und der Bierkommunikation im elektronischen Zeitalter.
The father of modern beer writing and beer communication in the electronic age.

The gaffs around the museum were worth a look as was the surrounding area. As you might expect when you climb a hill, you get a view of the lower down bits and the pick of the places to sit would be the Michaelsberg Café & Restaurant. Nice sunshine, nice ice-cold lout. Building work was occurring in an around the area so there wasn’t much to be seen.

That's German for Man Beer. A fact that had me quite literally shaking with rage.

Howay. I’d done in a couple of hours what I thought would take the afternoon.
So, I headed down the hill to go for a beer at Klosterbrau, a brewery. I chose the beer garden and blimey. A rough Wetherspoons beer garden had nowt on it. Tables of lairy drunk German blokes shouting whilst older couples were getting up leaving. I decided to stay and watch it in case it all kicked off. Usually they don’t tolerate this sort of stuff but apparently here they do and sadly for my entertainment all I got were some weary sighs from the waitresses and the opportunity to hear German “bantz”

Then on to another Berg, Stephansberg, to check out a few bier gartens. The Spezial Keller for the first and without spoiling it the better one. I had something to eat to go with a Spezial Rauchbier and even got into a conversation with a nice German family. A young university student taking his mum & dad out who were visiting and checking up on him and making sure he was eating properly and only dating nice girls and not knocking around with slappers. Beyond where you from, England? Etc they inevitably asked me about Brexit. There’s a conversation that stretches your language skills beyond where they are & has you dropping back out into English. I think they liked my explanation that beyond whatever your opinion of the EU you might have, in England there isn’t the European identity you notice in Germany. People would never describe themselves as European. Those that advocated remaining made a technical case that whilst the EU was shite, we had opts out from the worst of it whilst those that advocated leaving made the case that it wasn’t worth the money. Meanwhile most of the country, of whatever side, accepted it wasn’t a trading club but a US of E, with the remainers thinking it was a better if that was lied about or not mentioned rather than the merits advocated. Try saying all that in German. On your fourth Rauchbier. There were no fallings out though I think I might have altered their opinion that Brexit was not going to happen, an opinion common in the German media. Surprising to me what their opinion that they were quite sad about it & seemed to think of it as a family member leaving not just a cheque book. You live and learn when you talk to people & I appreciated hearing a different view to what you get in England.

The Wilde Rose Keller next and now it was dark. I’d stopped in the last gaff, talking Brexit. Here was self-service with a 3-euro deposit on the krugs. They must have known I was in town. I sunk one but couldn’t really taste it after all the Rauchbier but I’d least I’d got the tick whilst up the hill. That’s the main thing. Getting the tick.

Not a bad day’s work, tick wise. I had come to realise a truth. Ticking from a book gives order, structure & purpose to your piss artistry. Without it, it lacks structure and is just a random jaunt. Leave you with that thought to ponder.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Lout & About. Necking Lager, Part 2

For the first full afternoon of pottering around some pubs I got out of a book about pubs and beer I realised I’d been out of this beer blogging game for a while. Time to take some inspiration from the new kids on the block. The exciting & dynamic contemporary voices of beer communication. So, taking note of Simey, who for reasons best known only to himself is pottering around drinking in pubs CAMRA wallas have put in a book I figured was thus leading the way for all off us. I realised I needed the following articles. Pictures of pints, pictures of pubs & a daft garish pair of trousers to wear whilst I did it. I’d forgotten to get a daft pair of trousers but like to think I redeemed myself with a garish and unnecessarily red pair of trainers to potter about in.

The first thing I did, which is basically the first thing to do is to find the tourist office. This is for 1 reason only. You can often pick up a free map in these places. A proper one, with street names, not the scribble you find in the back of a book about beer. What’s more they are often than not free.  Whoopee do, they were a whole load of them. I’m assuming they were free. They had no price on & no one stopped me when I took one & left. I’m assuming they would have stopped me if I had in fact nicked one.

 A book map
A proper map

The first potter was going to be the low hanging fruit. A handful of gaffs all near each other and thus allowing a quality chunk of ticks to be made efficiently. Realising that once you’d started on the Rauch, that was it for tasting beer, I started off at Alt Ringlein & followed it up with Kachelhofen. In the first one I had my first ever Ungespundete lager. Go on, have a bash at pronouncing that one. What’s even worse is “a u” is meant to be an easier way of asking for one, but isn’t when you try it. A flatter type of lout with a little more sweetness if you are into tasting and sniffing beer. Cold enough to slip down without touching the sides if you are not that sort. Top marks for the staff at Alt Ringlein too. The Keller bier at Kachelhofen ticks all the boxes for appearance if you like your craft beer, just the right amount of murk but unfortunately it tastes far too nice so on that score isn’t proper craft.

Picture of a pub

Two down, it was across the road for Rauchbier and the acceptance that I would likely stay on that. The Schlenkerla I had done the previous day but I allowed myself a second go. This time to go to the self-service hatch. A Geschenk in local parlance, where you queue up to get a beer and then plonk yourself down or stand outside and end up in peoples’ tourist photos. This is a street the tour guides go down so there are groups stopping to photo the pubs. I would hope those photo’s end up on blogs about pubs, as it should be, but cannot be confident in this. A downside of the Geshenk is there is a deposit on the glass & you have to join the same queue again to get your money back.

The Ambrausianum is also down as a brewery pub and I thought it a slightly nicer gaff but it seemed less popular for whatever reason. They did their own Hell but I was Rauchbiering it. On a nice day it’s nice to sit outside but if you do like looking at shiny copper brewing vessels as I’m sure some of you do there is one to take a picture of in the middle of the place.

Picture of a beer

I finished off at Stilbruch. I was a bit pissed at this point. I had a couple of mugs of U & a Hawaiian pizza. I’m sure it was nice, I don’t really remember much of it. It’s hazy but without that sense of dread that you might have embarrassed yourself and best not go back there until they’ve forgotten you. None of that. I just remember the beer & gaff was nice. For some reason, I don’t quite understand, the waitress wrapped up the quarter of the pizza I didn’t manage to finish and handed it to me as a take out when I left. Go figure. A trendier gaff for the kids with contemporary music than the traditional Keller but no the worse for it.

I looked at my book. It had ticks. I’d done some pub ticking. As a wise old china man once said, or it might have been the Tand. The journey of a thousand pubs begins with just one pint in a gaff from a book about beer.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Pottering around Germany, drinking lager, Part 1

This blog doesn’t get much action of late as what more is to be said of beer geekery and the nonsense, hubris, self-importance & general idiocy that goes along with elevating the inconsequential to something of serious importance? Not a lot. I still enjoy reading beer blogs, though. The dafter the better. 

One thing I was long meaning to do, in order to immerse myself into beer geekery, was to take a beer trip. These are different from other trips. Normals. Regular people. What I still pretend I am. These people go to places for a more usual purpose. A business meeting, a desire to take a holiday, get some sunshine or experience a culturally interesting destination of baroque architecture, climb a hill & see a view or something or other. Beer geeks go places for the beer. That is the reason for going, no other.

I happen to be familiar with a few beery type destinations. Munich and its surroundings being one. It is one of 2 cities (London being the other) where the tube map is more or less a matter of memory. Something I cannot even say of the Trams of Manchester. The thing is I never went there or anywhere else for the beer. I went places out of interest, for business, for sunshine, to see friends, to romance a lady friend (a dirty weekend, in colloquial English). Never specifically to drink a beer. This experience is missing from my life. Time to correct that error. Time to graduate.

If I’m going to be able to say I understand beer geeks, it takes more than going to a few beer festivals, volunteering once or twice to experience that side of it, attend a CAMRA meeting, do a twiss up (an internet organised meeting of beer enthusiasts organised via twitter), go around multi beer pubs and try different types of bitter. 

So, I’m doing Bamberg. There are reasons. Those are, I’ve never been here so I have no reason to be here other than to drink a beer. The legend that is Tandleman reckons it’s a decent enough beer destination. There is an actual published beer guide of the area, showing other beer geeks have noted & documented its gaffs. I bought a copy to tick off stuff with. I’ve a couple of weeks between gigs. What’s to do? Tick off stuff in a book about beer. That's what.

So, I punted up to Bamberg. With my guide book. Where did I go first? I went where every beer tourist probably goes first, I punted up to Schlenkerla & had a Rauchbier & a Bierhaxe (Schweinhaxe but with beer gravy) in the beer garden. It was quite nice. I liked it. The Rauchbier is the dark smoky lager. Bit of an acquired taste. Ungewöhnlich is the German for unusual and the German lad sat at my table appeared impressed I knew that word whilst agreeing the beer was ungewöhnlich. Unusual though it is, I quite like it. I first drank it in Manchester at the beer festival the Tandleman organises and liked it there.

I made sure I ticked it off in my guide book. It had been a long day travelling so I pottered back to the hotel via the Spezial and tried the lighter Rauchbier in there. More chuggable stuff is my expert opinion on that one as I carefully noted it's lighter smokiness. I ticked off the gaff having had one in the beer garden and one in the gaff itself.

Dead exciting this innit? Feeling like somehow, I could now consider myself a fully graduated member of the beer geekery elite. A communicator, a sommelier, a curator, I pottered back to the hotel to have a kip and map out the next few days of wandering about, talking to German people, drinking beers, eating pork based meals and generally chill axing away from the cut and thrust of dynamic entrepreneur life.

I might even do a follow up post on other places I tick off and even give mention to Erlanger Nick, an American drunk, resident of these parts, twitter beer tweeter & member of the League of Tandlemen when I pop to Erlangen on the train.

One tip. Put the DB Bahn application on your phone if you do stuff like this. Makes train tickets dead easy.