Monday 27 April 2015

News in Brief #18

The view from inside. Keeps pesky unwanted types away

Pub Refurb Meets Campaigner Standard

Nineteen Fifties dwelling Canute figure Mudgie Mudgington this week put his seal of approval on the recent refurbishment of the Bull & Bottle, Cheadle Hulme. "It's nice to see, for once, a sympathetic redecoration of a traditional pub." he said to his possibly imaginary legion of acolytes.

The formerly open pub interior has been subdivided into 27 separate rooms, all painted dark brown and furnished with a bench seat and a small wooden table. "All the better for quietly reading the Telegraph on a Tuesday afternoon with a pint of best" says Mudgie.

The pub now also has a strictly no-families and no-music policy. However, an infinite number of cats are allowed. We couldn't help noticing, though, that Mudgie himself had been the only customer all day.

"That's quite alright" he burbled "I hear Home Bargains are looking to buy the place next year."

"The beer will be even cheaper then."

Easier to get to than Aberdeen, anyway

BrewDog Looking to Buy Country

Self-aggrandising sellers of fizzy hop water BrewDog announced their 6th expansion plan of the week to their hordes of willing suckers Equity Punks.

James Watt proclaimed in his usual modest manner "Yes, we're presently in negotiation to buy one of the smaller European countries. Maybe Liechtenstein or Andorra. When that goes through, we intend to turn it into a Craft Beer Paradise."

This will involve changes in the State's infrastructure "We intend for all houses to have hot and cold running Punk IPA." wittered Watty "All the agricultural land will be turned into hop gardens, and the restaurants will serve nothing but pulled pork and artisan pizza. Maybe artisan pulled pork pizza too. Flat caps will be incorporated into the national costume."

Asked whether a mid-size craft brewery had any expertise in administering a country, James reassured us "Thankfully, many of our staff have experience in running governmental organisations, so we don't for see any problems there"

"Though that's the reason they left those jobs to work for a brewery. But that's business, I mean, the path to Craft Enlightenment."

"What do you mean you don't think I drank this stuff before 2010?"

UKIP Announces Policy For Pubs

As Election Apathy Fever sweeps the nation, the sole acceptable face of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage revealed his plans to save the pub industry from its ever increasing spiral of decline.

"It's true we've announced that we intend to allow pubs to install smoking rooms for the benefit of their patrons," handwaved the former City Trader and self-appointed man of the people "but after further discussion, we realised it didn't go far enough in the cause of freedom."

"We at UKIP propose to allow publicans to set aside a room for the use of heroin and crack cocaine.  There's no evidence I can find that use of these items present a threat to the health of either staff or other pubgoers."

"As these things don't come from the Continent, it means they're OK." he continued entirely non-prejudicially "The USA and Afghanistan are important trading partners of ours."

"And if you don't agree, you can go and live in Brussels with those meddling Eurocrats".

Sunday 26 April 2015


Popping out for a quiet one
One of the main objections to opening a licences establishment these days (and the rare times it happens, it's usually a Spoons), the the fear of "alcohol fuelled disorder". It's one of the main motivators of the wowsers behind Alcohol Concern. Even the Drinkaware posters typically depict the downside of alcohol consumption with a photo of a (badly staged, and thus usually blurred) drunken fight.

But how prevalent are boozy brawls these days? Maybe I go to the wrong places, but I've never seen anything worse than arguments.  It's probably true that I, along with most other beer bloggers, are unlikely to go to places where we're likely to get beaten up, as we (allegedly) go to taste the beers rather than get tanked up on them.

It may well be true that a certain level of trouble happens in city centres with a large concentration of clubs. But the typical patrons of these are students. The combination of immature brains, poor alcohol capacity and a raging sense of entitlement can be a heady mix. A certain level of disorder is likely, but it's nothing that kids haven't been getting up to for centuries.

My opinion, as always, is that the Ruling Classes do not want the Lower Orders drinking, as it reduces productivity and gets them talking about stuff that they'd rather not be discussed.  How better to put them off than to basically scare them away from pubs by telling them they'll be beaten senseless if they set foot in them?

Alcohol consumption can have it's downsides, yes. But it's far more likely to result in a raging hangover and a sense of bitter self-recrimination than a trip to intensive care.

Monday 13 April 2015

News in Brief #17

"I suppose the Pedigree's off, then?"

Local Pub Blown Up Overnight

Residents were shocked to hear of the destruction of a beloved local last week. A Grade-2 listed building, The Lady Godiva, Coventry was blown to pieces by a 200kg bomb planted by the intended devlopers, at approximately 3am last Wednesday.

Owner/property speculator Ron Callousdisregard ranted to us yesterday. "I know many people wouldn't have seen this as the ideal solution, but I was forced to take this course of action.  The fact is that I have had to blow up this pub, along with the six adjoining properties, two sets of traffic lights and a post box to show up the intransigence of local planning regulators who objected to me wanting to build an Adult Cinema and Erotic Accessory store here."

Coventry Planning Department official Dave Wristslap emailed us to say "We condemn Mr. Callousdisregard's actions in the strongest possible terms. We've sent him a letter saying he's been a naughty boy, but to be honest it's a bit late to do anything now, isn't it?"

"Oh well, can't stand in the way of progress, can we?"

Oooooooooooold. Just the way it should be

CAMRA Activist Puts Motion to AGM

This weekend, Nottingham will be overwhelmed by a large number of men in late middle-age with little else to do but talk about the Serious Business of Beer. Yes, it's CAMRA AGM season.

Bob Leathertankard, 72, an Activist since 1973, will be there to put forward his wide-ranging motion on the future of CAMRA. "CAMRA is at a crossroads" he rambled tipsily through the haze of six pints of Old Hooky "The membership is aging and there are fewer of us every year doing the important stuff at the grassroots."

"So what I suggest is limiting membership to the over-55s. I know that seems counterintuitive, but I keep hearing about all these young people under 40 talking about Craft and things. I know I should be bothered about keg fizz or some such, but I'm really old now and just want a quiet drink with other old men like me. I don't want arguments about what is or isn't real beer."

"The whole thing has become a tedious bore, to be honest. Just let me die in peace with a pint of lightly carbonated beer in my hand."
Coming soon to a City Portfolio near you

London Brewer Sells Crowdfunders

Excessively entrepreneurial London brewer Random Brick today announced it's latest investment plan, involving selling the 2000 crowdfunders who helped provide the startup capital to it's newest investor, a Hedge Fund based in the Cayman Islands.

Damien Fixedgear, CEO of London Debt Repayment Ltd. trading as "Random Brick Craft Brewery" muttered offhandedly to us "It's true that our crowdfunders helped get us going, but frankly they're a drain on administration now."

Fixedgear continued "Most expect updates on progress. Some say they would like a free bottle or two. One even contacted me about the chances of a return on his outlay, the fool.  So we've decided to flog them off to Consolidated Fund Management And Third World Exploitation Inc. It's the best thing for the future. Mine, anyway."

Hopeless optimist and serial Random Brick Kickstarter Daisy Headinclouds was asked how she felt about now being owned by a rapacious financial institution "It's a good thing for the Craft Beer Scene. Yes it is. A good thing. Yes it is. A good thing. Yes...."

Friday 10 April 2015

Craaaaaaaaaaaaft. Hoooooooooops

I wouldn't even say "Hope over Expectation" to be honest.
Feeling in an unusually forgiving mood this week, when I saw the local shop were newly stocking Old Crafty Hen and Old Hoppy Hen, I decided "Well, why not?". It's been a hard week, and I was in no way convinced by the amount of Customer Rewards I'd gain by buying them.

I got them home and stuck them in the fridge. Still, I erred on the side of optimism. "When," I thought "have Greene King ever lied or been misleading about their beers? Surely they must be at least slightly Crafty or Hoppy, right?"

And so, dear god, I tried them.

I had the Old Hoppy Hen first, I detected a slight citric edge to the expected "clear bottle aroma", but that was all. After a couple of mouthfuls I decided this was basically GK IPA with a few drops of Industrial Bittering Agent #1 added in hope of convincing the uneducated.

Downing it, and moving swiftly on to the Old Crafty Hen, I found the same old " clear bottle aroma" as before, only with a finish of sugar this time. By now I was distinctly unsurprised to find it tasted like GK IPA, but with a few spoonfuls of treacle added.

Let it be written here - those who think beer blogging is a piece of piss can be assured it isn't. Sometimes even those of us who spend our time indulging in easy mockery have to suffer.  But we do learn things. Occasionally.

These beers, while not in any way good, are certainly instructive. They tell the drinker what Greene King think about "Hops" and "Craft". For the former, ramp the astringency level up. That's all that matters. For the latter, all you have to do is darken, sweetren and up the ABV above 6%. Yes, that's what they really think about the " modern beer revolution "

I say, avoid. Even if it has to be said about Greene King products. Which it probably doesn't.

Monday 6 April 2015

The Acquired Taste

One thing you often hear about beer when it crops up in conversation is "Oh, when I first tried it, I didn't like it at first. But after a while, I got to like it." But why is this, and why do people persist?

My story on here is well known.  I didn't start drinking beer until I was 24. Generally I was a cheap Chardonnay freak. Beer wasn't to my taste for various reasons.   After a few four packs of Staropramen, I managed to get the taste for it, but it took a while.

It happened later to me than for most men of my generation. I was never there, but my guess is that most are invited out drinking by someone who already "has the taste", and drink and continue to drink because they assume it's what you have to do to Be A Man. And after that, they do it simply because they know it's what you do.

Very few people are of the personality that really "get into" beer. To most, it's a means to an end. It's just something you do to get pissed. It takes real effort to acquire a taste for beers like Imperial IPAs, Saison, strong Stouts and the like. Only someone of the "nerdy" persuasion would get the at far.

In fact, the emergence of such "nerd beers" into mainstream is nothing less than a perfect example of the acceptance of "nerd stuff" that there is these days.

Acquiring the taste for normal beer is one thing. It's more about fitting into the prevailing and, dare I say it, masculine drinking culture. The taste for the "interesting stuff" is quite another. I happen to be that kind of person, as likely are you if you're reading this.

The problem in the beer blogosphere is that it's a self-reinforcing feedback loop. Everyone is drinking and looking out for the same kind of beer, and it's easy to convince yourself that the crafty end of the spectrum is what's important and, more perniciously, what everybody should like.

There's no shame in enjoying what you like, but don't forget it may not be other people's experience.  Ignore the mainstream at your peril.

Thursday 2 April 2015

News in Brief #16

Who's your very best friend?
Beer Blogger House Condemned

Dry-yet-popular bloggers Bake and Bowley were made homeless today after they were forced to vacate by Environmental Health.

"I guess it started when we did that Orval blending project." said Bake  "We mixed everything with Orval. Old Peculier, Pride, Landlord, everything.  Christ knows how many bottles of the stuff we opened."

"Then a week later," pontificated Bowley "we wondered why our Goose Island IPA tasted funky. We knew something was off then. We tried everything - Doom Bar, Carlsberg, Red Bull. Even our toothbrushing water tasted suspiciously like cleaning out a horsebox"

In unison, they strangely continued "It's then we had the council test everything. The inspector told us it was the worst case of yeast infection she'd ever seen.  Personally we were happy being a source of constant brettanomyces infection, but the neighbours were starting to complain."

To get the rest of the story, we read their email newsletter : "We're fine. Living in a B&B. Will someone send cloudy saison?"

A great Victorian bloke. In more ways than one
Marston's will Buy your Town

As you sit in your local pub pub drinking your local beer, in Burton-on-Trent, a group of people are plotting to ruin your life.

"It starts subtly," admitted serial takeover merchant, Marston's CEO Mike Stavrosblofeld "we make an offer to do their beer cheaper than they can, what with economy of scale and everything. They think 'yeah, can save a bit here'. That's how it begins."

"We then negotiate to buy their brands. After all, we brew them already, right? We say, you concentrate on your pubs, we do the beer. Of course, we 'offer' them the chance to put Hobgoblin and Pedigree in them. Is it better or worse? Doesn't matter"

"Then we've got them by the balls. We stop brewing the old brewery's beer. Who needs these alleged 'local' brands, when they could drink our stuff that's brewed, after all, in the same place?"

"If only Watneys or Whitbread had thought of this 40 years ago. It's a wonder nobody's started a Campaign."

Flip left to right for future shareholder profit
BrewDog Post Record Profits

End user of hops and marketing company BrewDog have announced record profits for the year 2014-15.

"It's a good 70% up on last year" overenthused alleged brewer Martin Dickie. "We made a whole £42 in surplus. Our turnover may have been £29 million, but we've invested the rest in future growth. I'm sure all those Equity For Punks investors will be happy with our yearly dividend of two buttons, a piece of fluff and a lollipop.

"On the other hand," worried Dickie uncharacteristically "maybe the lollipop was a bad idea. It'll give all kinds of ideas to the haters and satirical websites out there."