Wednesday, 29 July 2015

News in Brief #25

Blood is thicker than water, but thinner than Craft

Ultimate Murk Achieved

Increasingly-desperate-to-be-noticed hipster hangout The Proliferating Bushbaby in Camden today announced an exciting new addition to it's artisan and ethically sourced food menu. Edibles Curator Mike Woolyhat expostulated "Today we Announce the ultimate in pub food -The Pulled Beer Platter."

He went on to explain, whether we liked it or not, "It all started when we go this, like, new beer in.  The bloke in the lockup garage next door brewed it for us."

"When we poured it out, it was so opaque and viscous we found we could cut it with a knife. It's the final triumph of Craft, man. We serve it cut up with a fork and garnished with Naga chillies and Single Estate chocolate sprinkles. £16.95 a plate"

Local enthusiast Curt Mattis exclaimed "It's awesome, dudes! Can I write the menu?"
"Do I look like a CAMRA member?"

New Cricket Tie-In Beer On Sale Now

Following the 'success' of Marston's Jimmy Anderson beer "King of Swing" (now available at £1 a bottle from your local B&M Bargains), Accrington brewery Big Clock have teamed up with another Lancastrian Ashes Hero Graeme Fowler for their own cricket-themed beer "Foxy's 3am Pint"

"Everyone worships Foxy Fowler in Accy," burbled brewer Bob Tenuous "We all stayed up until 3am listening to his 37 in the 1982 Adelaide Test. All of us here hope this is a suitable tribute to a great cricketer."

We tracked down Foxy at his home in Durham for further promotional info "Big Clock?" exclaimed Fowler "never heard of 'em. Anyway, it were West Indies I had to play against when I drank them 3 pints in the early morning. Guinness too, not Real Ale."

"Just because I got this big grey beard now doesn't mean I drink cask. What do you take me for?"
"Don't come near me. I bite and scratch. Honest"

Pub Cat Looking for New Opportunities

The most famous denizen of the Red Crown pub in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire this week expressed his dissatisfaction with his lot in the hospitality industry. 4-year-old tuxedo cat Tigger complained "It's like people think I'm a performing animal or something."

"Every night I have to deal with pissed up wankers." whined his Catness "When I'm trying to sleep on that padded stool, they put pork scratchings in front of me to get my attention. Honestly, do I look like someone who would eat that? Some of those pissed up twats even try to put me on their lap to take a Cat Selfie. When I started here, the landlord never told me about this."

Tigger muttered under his breath to us "I'm thinking to do something less demeaning. Maybe howling outside a window at 5am, or hissing mangily at passers by in the street."

Visiting Pub cat obsessive Mudgie Mudgington said upon seeing the unhappy and possibly aggressive  feline "Aaah. Who's a cute widdle kitty witty den? Aaah."

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Angelica Pickles of Beer Bloggery

Talks to both Babies and Grown Ups

The longer I do this thing, the more I become aware of the Generation Gap in the beer blogosphere.

On the one hand, there is the Crafty brigade. Usually about 25, urban, digital and social media savvy, highly educated and wanting to express their connoisseurship of everything they're into.  Tends to drink awesome juicy bangers at the local Craft Bar. Generally disparaging of traditional beer and pub culture as chapeau vieux (as they no doubt do not say in France). Run blogs with photos showing themselves and their alarmingly similar friends drinking Evil Keg at a big table.

On the other, there are the Veteran Pubgoers. Usually about 55. Been in CAMRA since the late 1970s. Can usually work Blogger and Twitter but not much else. Likes pubs on quiet afternoons to drink 4% brown bitter. Generally disparaging of Craft Beer as overhyped and unbalanced, and Craft bars as uncomfortable. Run blogs with photos showing themselves sat with a couple of friends at a country pub or biergarten in Germany.

But what strikes me most is how little there is in between.  Sure, there's Boak & Bailey who drink both the Evil Keg and the Boring Brown Bitter, but they're doing it for the record (and their blog will become an important historical document if some way is found to preserve it), rather than simple personal amusement. But what is being done my my generation, those around 40?

Possibly the reason is we came of drinking age in the early 1990s. There wasn't any Craft in those days, and even back then a 20 year old would have regarded Real Ale as a middle-aged man's drink. No, we drank Lager. And it seems a lot of us have stuck to it. Plus, most of us have families and careers and so have little time for bloggery and social mediasing.

As for me, I have no family and few commitments to speak of.  So, I can spare the time for this sort of thing. I'm young enough not to have the baggage against the Craft, but old enough not to be swept away with enthusiasm about how awesome it all is. Not being the greatest of social bunnies, too, helps me maintain a detached perspective on beer matters. No mutual reinforcing feedback loops for me.

As I always say, if you don't really fit in anywhere, then embrace your difference.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


A human being has many needs. The need to sate hunger, slake thirst, satisfy sexual urges, and most importantly finding somebody, anybody to look down on.

As someone who is, to put it mildly, at some distance from rest of human society, I see it pretty much everywhere. I've often been the victim of it myself, obviously different as I am. Oddly, the places snobbery seems most prevalent are those that must trumpet their open-mindedness and inclusivity.

Down the years, I've seen many instances of sneering elitism at the trendier end of the beer fan spectrum. The blanket dismissal of cask ale as "boring brown bitter", the deigning of certain populist pub chain as hangouts for the plebs, and of the drinker of " insufficiently Craft" beers as dupes of big business.

This school of thought reaches its apogee in this blog post from an Awesome Beer Curator in London, where he sees a beer brewed by one of his top faves in a Wetherspoons, and slags off the general public for probably not knowing who the brewer is or how good his other beers are.

I can only assume this is because Crafty Beer Fandom is mostly populated by middle-class and University educated people in their mid twenties. People of this background have, since the age of sixteen or so, usually only ever had extended exposure to people just like them . This produces a feedback loop of mutually reinforcing views and behaviours, meaning they can be as condescending as they wish to those who they consider inferior without any risk of real comeback.

So, instead of seeing things they don't like as things to be tolerated, ignored, or avoided, they see them as Problems that must Be Solved.  In practice this means retreating to the local Crafty Bar, and blogging and tweeting about the Right People And Things to your mates to the exclusion of much else. Except to vehemently disagree with it.

I can live with this. As I found out gradually, people don't stay in their mid twenties forever and eventually grow up. Who knows, one day they may even end up like me.

I hope this blog is an antidote to snobbery. I'm fair, as I slag off everyone.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

News in Brief #24

"10p for a can of Beavertown, guv?"

Reducing the Strength Proclaimed Success

Legally dubious health initiative Reducing the Strength today announced that they have successfully removed 1 million units of alcohol from the retail market in areas troubled by street drinkers.

We asked Wolverhampton corner off-licence owner Ron Underagesales what he thought about all the potential business he's lost this year. Unexpectedly, he said. "It's been great! No longer am I bothered by strange-smelling, unshaven and shabbily dressed types wandering in and demanding high strength beer.  My normal customers have told me this a much better place to shop now."

We were about to ask where he thought the homeless alcoholics had disappeared to, but he carried on. "So yes, I'm glad I got rid of that craft beer fridge. Damn hipsters."

"Now I can concentrate on my core business." said Ron "Flogging Super and Spesh to the mentally ill itinerants outside."
The drink of our cockroach masters in the year 3535

Cask Stout Enters Third Week On Bar

Yorkshire wet-led town pub, The Sheep And Bicycle has claimed the world record for a dark beer being kept on the handpulls despite nobody even contemplating buying it.

Living Cliché licensee Barry Shortmeasure hooked up his barrel of Barnsley Sludge, a 4.7% cask stout on the 2nd July.  Despite having only sold 2 and a half pints in that time, he has no plans to dispose of it.

"I've been trying it every day," confided Barry "and it's been getting slowly more musty and acidic for the last week or so.  I've told the staff to give it a bigger push. After all, real ale drinkers expect cask stout to be sour and tasting of boiled cabbage. Nobody seems to want it though."

"I'm not throwing it away dammit.  I'm not losing money on the stuff and affecting my 75% GP."

"If the worst comes to the worst, I'll put it in the vinegar shakers."
I'll be back when I feel like it, man

Online Community Confused Due To Beer Blogger Holiday

During Britain's oddly warm summer, many of the country's beer Bloggers have taken a rest to recharge their batteries/research for the autumn/disappear abroad (delete as applicable).  But their readers are less than content.

Insatiable blog consumer Sam Notarobot moaned yesterday "I'm used to getting up at 7am everyday and checking the beer blogs before breakfast. But since the Bloggers all went on vacation, my cornflakes haven't tasted the same without being me being able to wash them down with a good helping of spurious conjecture and confirmation bias."

"I've not even been able to drink any beer, as the review sites have been inactive since 27th June." Sam sorrowfully muttered "So I've not been able to choose which beer to spend loads of money on, despite knowing somebody else got sent it for free."

In desperation, he turned to Twitter "And what did I see? A tweet from one of the Bloggers saying 'Drinking Estrella in Barcelona. You have to, don't you? #scorchio #cheapest' "

"It's almost as though they're mocking my pathetic life or something."

Saturday, 4 July 2015

News in Brief #23

New Beer Blog Starts Up

92% of pub patrons not hip enough for acknowledgment

Owing to the shortage on the internet of people expounding their beer-related opinions, East London dweller Curt Mattis has begun his own beer blog covering his local scene.

Intrigued by this exciting new development, we tweeted him (his sole method of online communication) and asked what he'll be covering in his forthcoming posts.

"Yeah, I'll be blogging about the important stuff that's happening in my locality," enthused Mattis "like the local beers my friends and I have been tasting. Not drinking, of course. That would be uncouth. I'll also be talking to local brewers who's beers, views and education I consider acceptable."

Asked if these seemed a bit insular, Curty-boy bibbled "Dear me no. It's not as if we're metropolitan elitists or anything. We just want to talk about the right people and things."

"It's just that I feel strongly that the London Independent Beer Scene is underrepresented in the online media."

Wetherspoons Announce New Offer

"But you'll never sell it as cheap as me!"

Following the "success" of their Craft beer offer, bottom-end drunk-hooverers JD Wetherspoon are attempting to disrupt the market in an entirely new sector of the drinks market.

"Pubwork", as the information boards refer to it, offers the typical Wetherspoons customer the chance to buy a public house in the fomerly-industrial Midlands or an ill-trodden part of the South-East at a heavily bulk-discounted price.

" It's true," expounded Spoons Overlord Timbo Martin "We bought a large amount of these pubs in bulk, and things haven't quite worked out.  So we've decided to clear them out before all the paperwork starts clogging up my office in Watford. And who wouldn't want the opportunity to own The David, Purley or the The Hugo Guthrie in Tipton for £800 and a couple of CAMRA tokens?"

Closed Pub aficionado Mudgie Mudgington exclaimed "I think it's disgraceful. I was hoping to add these pubs to my website next week."

Licensee Expresses Surprise About Bad Beer

CAMRA in Right For One Shocker

Stereotypically chiselling pub owner Barry Shortmeasure yesterday expressed shock and dismay that a large number of his customers had fallen ill as a result of drinking one of the beers on offer at his pub last Saturday.

"I bought that keg of lager in good faith," pleaded Barry "I had no idea that it could possibly be either contaminated or off."

"This bloke covered in paint stumbled into my pub at 2pm on a Thursday when nobody else was in and said 'Ere, mate. Just done a job, and got these barrels to get rid of. I'll take thirty five quid for the pair.' I mean, who would be suspicious about that? The seals looked OK to me."

Customer Jim Undiscerning told us "We did wonder when it poured out dark brown and cloudy. Especially as the the font said it was Beck's Vier. But it was really hot and I didn't like to say anything."

"I had terrible diarrhoea and vomiting the morning after. But on the plus side it took 6 pints to do that than the usual 4 it takes at Barry's pub."