Monday 28 March 2016

News in Brief #42

Will not get you drunk. Honest

Low ABV Drinker Feels Virtuous

Drinker and serial barstool occupier Dave Smugbucket today sat in his local, sipping a half of 3.1% beer while basking in his own innate goodness and unimpeachable behaviour.

"See this lot around me?" internally monlogued Dave "They're all drinking the stuff that's 4.5% and above. Those are the ones who give pubgoers a bad name. Not me. I'm sensible."

"I'm not here to get worse for wear, or even to feel the effects of alcohol on my system. I'm better than that. No, I'm here to be part of the community in an important British institution." he continued to himself while sat alone on the end of the bar.

His reverie was broken by the barmaid "Another pint of Dogwater Pale on your tab, Dave?"

"That'll be seven on it if you do."

"I'm curating an ongoing dialogue between liquids and glassware"

Hipster Gets Regular Bar Job

Shoreditch cliché and Crafty type Luke Lumberjack-Shirt last week began his new job as a part-time barman at The Green Dragon, Whitechapel. "I'm, like, waiting for my new bean-to-bar chocolate 45rpm record company to reach it's crowdfunding target. It's to help ends meet, man."

"I turned up for my shift at 7pm, and this red faced old guy came up to me and asked for a pint of 'bitter'. I, like, panicked for a minute." confided Luke "Thankfully the Landlord told me it was the second handpump on the right."

"I had no idea anybody drank bitter anymore, man. Nobody I know drinks it anyway. It carried on all night. People ordering, like, Lager and Guinness and even looking as though they enjoyed it. It's a completely different world here. You'd never guess it was EC1." he incredulised

"I mean, dude, it's almost as if flavour and awesome trends weren't the most important things about beer for some people!"

They'll put RFID chips in our BRAINS next

Campaigner Stashes Away Cash Reserve

Living anachronism and dog-with-a-bone opinion type Mudgie Mudgington yesterday slammed the increasing tendency for drinkers to pay by contactless card. "To do so in pubs is folly" he claimed "You never know how much you're spending."

"I once forgot to bring cash to a session" ranted Mudgie "And I ended up drinking the pub out of bitter that night. It's no wonder Landlords like contactless. They want you to spend more money."

"Also," he continued while shaping a roll of bacofoil into a shape reminiscent of headgear "if your money is all electronic, the Government will know what you spend it on and have you taken away for 'Re-Education' by Health Fascists if you dare to even buy that third pint. It's a slippery slope we shouldn't be going down."

"This will lead to the Prohibition Gulag. History will tell you that!"

Meanwhile, government record keeper and GCHQ snooper Clive Wiretap told us *Mudgie? Yeah, we know about him. We patch into the CCTV at Wetherspoons. We've no concerns about him. He appears to spend all his time Tweeting about the forthcoming death of everything he holds dear."

"And looking at cat pictures, obviously."

Monday 21 March 2016

Drinking in the Panopticon

Artist's impression

You make not think that Preston is massively endowed in the coolness quotient, but that hasn't stopped the Council. Presently, they're engaged in an ongoing project to turn Lancaster Road (which it mostly owns) into hipster central.

They've given over the Guild Hall lease to a private developer who has turfed out most of the existing leaseholders to put in trendy bars, and given one of their buildings to Ham & Jam, the premier white-walled and low seated place to be seen in town. Walking down the street, the feeling is of a 'work in progress'. No doubt the sex shop and the Golden Cross (the roughest of rough pubs) will be the next to go.

The most recent addition to Lancaster Road is The Guild Ale House, Preston's entry in the micropub stakes. I went in last week and found it fairly typical of micropubs, except for the Beavertown Gamma Ray on Keg. "Local" beers, thick carpet, and lots of middle-aged men talking about the Real Ales.

The thing about micropubs is that they're a reaction against the clichéd "Craft Bar" ethos. Soft, rather than hard furnishings. Local Real Ales instead of Craft Keg from who knows where.  Grey haired, comfortably dressed men instead of self-aware and posing youngsters. Intimacy instead of echoey spaces.  What will happen when it's targeted clientele get too old to go out and drink is another question entirely.

Personally, micropubs do little for me. I find them like drinking in a Panopticon. Everyone can see and hear everything you do. They don't provide even the modicum of privacy that a regular pub or even a Wetherspoons can give you.

I'm sure it'll do well. I saw the local CAMRA Branch Treasurer in the GAH a week before opening, presumably negotiating the discount. So they'll be plenty of Real Ale Beardy Types in there. But as it's not open on my days off I'm unlikely to find out.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

News in Brief #41

What? You just want a quiet pint? This is 2016, man

Communicator Announces Event

"Are you fed up with so-called 'Meet The Brewer' events? Where the pub is full of people trying to buy and drink beer, talking amongst themselves, and not even listening to the admittedly poor communication skills of the Brewer in question? If you are, then join me, Curt Mattis, at the Marquess of Granby in Highbury on 23/04/16, for the next generation in events. MTB : Reinvented.

"And I'm sure you're fed up of clichéd food matching too.  Well, I will not only be matching the food to the beer using my awesome expertise, but also the music, pub decoration and even the air you'll be breathing.

The brewers themselves, Dave from Flower Garden and Paul from Random Brick will be asking each other questions for your listening to keep the whole thing pertinent. Expect major revelations, such as what they actually think of big brewers. They will not be answering questions afterwards as everyone will be drunk

So, come to MTB : The Right Crowd And No Crowding. (c) Curt Mattis 2016"
Regulars can bugger off. For that day, anyway

Private Party Invades Local 

Last Friday, an 80-strong party of office workers from Garrets Insolvency Ltd. of Bicester, Oxon, booked a private room at a local pub, the Princess Alexandra. "Much easier for everyone than going to Wetherspoons, where anyone could get in" said organiser Roger Bison.

"Everyone turned up at the same time, and the bar was crowded.  There was the room with "Private Party" stuck on the door. But nobody wanted to go in there. John from accounts told me it was the first pub he'd been to and he wanted to feel like a real pubgoer and stood there blocking the bar"

Friday night regular Bob Barfly told us "I know these things help keep the place open in quiet times. But they could at least keep a path open to the bar and the toilet."

"Or even allow me enough room to raise a glass to my lips."

Ironically never reached "Admiral" on the fishing boat

"Punk" Brewery Boss now Admiral

BrewDog co-founder and self-aggrandiser James Watt this week promoted himself in his own business. "I know I've always referred to myself as 'Captain' of the brewery, but my level of responsibility now needs a more important title. I did consider 'Commodore', but none of our bars have vintage computers yet.

" So, I am now the Admiral of BrewDog. The hat I've got for this is much cooler than that flat cap, anyway.  The anchor and everything means I get the respect I deserve. Even from TV documentary makers who would never portray me in a bad light or anything.

"It's great. I can stand on this balcony and proclaim the latest wonderful news about our Punk revolution in Craft Brewing. Not that I want to be surrounded by crawling yes-people or anything. What do you say, fellow Beer Punks?"

"Yes, James!", they replied.

Monday 7 March 2016

News in Brief #40

Ambience Is More Important Than Choice? RIGHT?

Beer Free Pub Wins CAMRA Award

In it's latest headline-grabbing move, South East Grizedale CAMRA branch awarded it's quarterly Pub Of The Season award to the Pig's Bladder, a place that has not sold Ale since 1996.

Branch Treasurer Greg Steakbake announced in the local magazine, Pints West "For too long, CAMRA branches have been hung up on how many real ales are available at pubs. We now look at how welcoming and hospitable pubs are, rather than sheer volume of choice"

"The Pig's Bladder has a well behaved middle aged clientele, lots of quiet corners for CAMRA Members to sit in, and is decorated in a suitably muted and shabby fashion. We decided it was an excellent place to escape our wives and families, which is why we joined."

"If it can do all that," triumphalised Steakbake "then who needs Real Ale? Or any drinks whatsoever."

Local campaigner and tightwad misery Mudgie Mudgington concurred "There's a B&M next door. So I just take in my close-to-BBD purchases in and drink while sat in my regular dark alcove"

"This is the future of pubs, I'm certain of that."

Who has roasts these days anyway?

Wetherspoons Axe Day Of The Week

Middling-to-low quality booze and food chain JD Wetherspoon this week rocked the pub industry by announcing they were abolishing one of the seven days of the week.

"Sunday has never done it for us." admitted Spoons figurehead Timbo Martin "It doesn't fit our business plan any more, to be honest."

"Let's face it, who comes into our pubs on Sundays? Middle aged men who have two pints at lunchtime and go home before their wives notice.  Families with kids who come in for food who always leave before dessert because the children are acting up. We've never made any money from them. So we're axing Sundays and going straight to Monday to sell more Burritos"

Spoons habitué Bob Barfly told us " I'm OK with this. I don't eat that day."

"The Jobcentre Plus isn't open Sundays anyway."
Craft? Craft isn't here and NEVER WAS

Craft Over

Due to the saturation of their market, Craft bars across the country are converting themselves back to normal pubs in an effort to erase the mistakes of history.

Former hipster hangout The King's Head, Islington (formerly The Fulminating Llama) this week was busy ripping out all the slate and girders and replacing it with dark wood and garish wallpaper. "It's the future, apparently." sadly opined manager Luke Lumberjack-Shirt.

"There's too much Craft in the world now.  People of had enough of hopfucks and weirdo beer with odd stuff in them. I'm converting all my Craft fonts to Smooth and Lager now. That's where the money is."

"In fact," confided Luke "I'm shaving off my beard and getting a buzz cut so I can look hard. All the hipster waistcoats and skinny jeans are going in the bin. I've got a wardrobe full of trackies and chunky jewellery now. It'll be awesome."

"I mean, it'll be bang tidy. Innit?"