Thanks for reading.
Beer in general got its own 10 Commandments issued in July of this year, curated by those that know better than everyone else who drinks.
And now our betters; those that
write communicate beer to the public; in such a way that they needed to form their own club with their own private invite system. Those that sometimes getting to flash their knowledgeable heads on Sunday morning Channel 4 toff programmes now get to dictate to not only their members but plebs like me who may wish to blog about beer every so often.
Of course this may sound like sour grapes but that long-standing quote by Groucho Marx seems most appropriate for this situation…
“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
I suppose where CAMRA led with it Revitalisation Project so too all other off shoots of the beer bubble must follow. Everyone “in” beer has an image to portray and this must be upheld at all times. Even if they are preaching to the converted of an ever decreasing congregation.
The less said about the scruffy oiks that drink the stuff the best.
It is a brave new world.
Viva Le Schism.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Apologies if you were expecting NPC-meme related content, it is a disposable as each passing beer fad is.
Well that was an interesting day out in Manchester and so now let your favourite performing monkey and conduit for your own negative opinions vent so you don’t have to.
I like Beatnikz Republic and I like Northern Monk. I’ve been to the NM refectory in Leeds and visited the tap at Red Bank that is Beatnikz’s gaff.
The places themselves are OK. Despite one my friends describing it as “like Terminus from Walking Dead” I preferred BR’s space. Clean and simple, still with far to much “industrial chic” that makes it look like every other place that opened an IKEA catalogue and stuck pens in items while wearing a blindfold, I thought that it was well laid out and, most importantly, the board was bright, easy to read and straight forward. It shares it’s space with Idle Hands – a coffee house.
Oh and the beer was good too but I’ll come to that later.
Northern Monks gaff was a bit more, meh. It was never going to recreate the school canteen surrounding of the Leeds branch and to be fair the staff, bar one I recognised previously from Piccadilly Tap, showed very much nous about service. Then again I was never a big fan of Kosmonaut, which itself fell is standards massively after what would appear the main man that ran it so well went over to run the then newly reopened Smithfield.
Northern Monk Manchester is about 30 seconds from Beatnikz and it next door to Takk – a coffee house.
NM’s beer list is small and though clear a bit too far away for the size of the letter used in the spelling out of the beers on sale. Couple that with a vibrating bar floor (hi-vis jackets were seen so I assume this was short term building work) and glasses that were like the stupid butt-plug one but without the base (the glass of choice if you ordered 2/3rds) again the beer could not really be faulted, but I’ll come to that later.
It was then off to the all Caucasian, racially pure paradise that is Grub. I can’t comment on the beer as such but I will say, if you are going to serve anything in semi-darkness on a high blackboard please, for the sake of sanity…
WRITE THE SALE ITEMS IN FUCKING BLOCK CAPITALS.
I then raced around to try out Ol Nano Brewery on Oxford Road. Its in an area under the Mancunian Way that became a bit of a tent city, so thankfully all of the scruffs and bums have been moved on to be replaced by card payment only wooden enclosures – and a coffee house.
I then went in The Salisbury, had a nice pint of well kept but typical Robinson’s fare to the tunes of Pantera & Megadeth and all seemed right with the world. I was away from the zombie hordes of students and no cash places, of wood and metal and twatty glassware and dicks who think coming into Manchester to spend money on tat from Christmas market stalls that aren’t even from the local area is a brilliant way to spend a Saturday. I don’t know how far I was from a coffee house.
I then went round to The Brink, was treated to the last remaining cask and kegs of Cloudwater’s takeover (takeovers – pointless) and then settled down with a nice cask pint of something from Pomona brewery.
I’ve written before about keg beer sometimes (most of the time) being too cold for certain beer styles and this day proved to have no deviation from that train of thought.
Or rather, all the cask beer I had pissed on it quality wise, which should in fact speak highly for all the places mentioned who did indeed present their cask beer very well.
Case and point was the Torrside Dogs of War presented on keg at Grub. A solid drink, kindly bought by one of my friends and at 10% it isn’t something you can put on cask and hope to sell in a 12 hour period (maybe a pin perhaps) so keg makes sense financially but stylistically it did a disservice to the beer which no amount of hand warming could help.
Also, for the record, I’m wasn’t all that taken by the Cloudwater India porter on cask, preferred their keg offerings, speaking from the point of view of a lover, not an authority, of porters.
“A brewery bar, a brewery bar, wood and metal and a brewery bar
Coffee House, Coffee House
Wood and metal and a brewery bar.”
Thanks for reading.
So the 9th of November 2018 marked the final time I expect to see Slayer live.
I’ve seen Slayer a good deal of times, though the last time they toured (2015) they played the Manchester Apollo and a baulked at paying £50+ to see them, despite the venue being me favourite place for live music.
Give it exactly 3 years and stick them in the larger venue and them retiring (hmm, I’m not convinced) and the £50+ is something I’ll happily part with.
The last time I saw Slayer live was at Sonisphere in 2014. It also remains the last music festival I attended. Seeing Slayer without Jeff Hanneman, who died in 2013, caused tears for me and my brother, not something you’d associated with Slayer but emotion got the better of us. The departure of drummer Dave Lombardo more or less sealed me not wishing to see them again for, as much as I respect Gary Holt and Paul Bostaph, without the original guitarist and drummer you are only getting 50% Slayer.
Plus, thanks to neck surgery, it is still very not seeing frontman Tom Araya head-banging like a madman.
Having watched a 7-song set by Anthrax and left feeling a bit empty that they weren’t the main support and that their set wasn’t longer I went to look at the merchandise. Cue myself and my mates sounding like old-time curmudgeons as we berated not only the stuff for sale but also the price.
Some years ago I saw, at the Manchester Apollo, “Priest Fest” – Judas Priest supported by Megadeth and Testament.
It was an excellent concert but for all the fine songs and performances on display the one thing that stuck in my head was the 60-minute countdown timer I could see during Megadeth’s set.
Flick back to 2018 Slayer and they just blasted out songs, as usual, little crowd interaction, no encore just straight played through for nearly 90 minutes and then pissed off stage.
It was again an excellent show but it just seemed a bit deflating. Too structured, too professional.
That is gigs in general these days, money really is the bottom line these days now the market has fallen out of record sales and it shows in a lot of the more recent gigs I’ve been too.
Plus £5.20 for Fosters…fuck off.
I doubt they’ll be a year from now on that I don’t even watch live music but either I am officially getting old or it really is just too polished these days.
Maybe I should stick to pub cover bands.
Thanks for reading.
Not that they need defending, or that I’m the one to do it, or that I’m going to, I’m just throwing my own thoughts on to the sophistry fire created by
gig journalists freelance beer writers.
There are a few things that do annoy me about Untappd, aside from its a free app that is tracking you and probably selling your data on to 3rd parties but they are privacy issues that even I’ve put behind me because as private as you want to be you can never go off-grid. Or that they kowtowed to the permanently offended.
I digress. If we forget those twitter accounts that continually auto-tweet each check-in, or even more strangely, the brewers and bar owners that retweet these most intellectually amputated of reviews then there is one bug bear I do have.
Its the less than 2.5 (50%, out of 5 star) reviews of beers that the user always says “not really my thing.”
Don’t rate if it isn’t your thing. It isn’t hard, you don’t lose out on scaling badge mountain by not rating something you’ve had but not really liked.
I’ve chastised some of my friends for this. One friend doesn’t like dark beers but will have them when offered (all hail the taster badge) and then rate them at about 2 stars, like a vegan eating a bacon sandwich, not really their thing but I suppose you then don’t have to listen to self-righteous views of why it shouldn’t be your thing either.
My mates love lager. Wholesale macro, corporate, multinational, lager.
They went to the odd beer festival and tried a few casks but would always gravitate to either bastard strength bottled stuff or any generic foreign lager that was for sale. Then they joined Untappd and the gamification (sorry) of drinking appealed so much that they not only now drink anything and everything but they go everywhere and anywhere to drink anything and everything and they shop everywhere and anywhere to buy anything and everything to drink.
This isn’t to belittle them, they have and always will drink lager, as will I and I can guarantee they spend more money and time in beer and in pubs that any other beer writer, brewer or snarky twitter user out there, so damn right they should get a badge or two…thousand.
There is a certain sneering that can accompany any “normie” drinker. There are twitter accounts dedicated to laughing at the odd reviews some people leave and whereas these can be entertaining, there always seems to be some sort of belittlement in the reviewer simply because they “don’t get” the beer they review.
Thankfully, we still live in a democracy (for now) and Untappd it very much the demos in effect, unbound, unfazed and unimpressed.
All hail the Untappd user, fucking up your average beer score since 2010 (and that isn’t including the brewers fake checking-in to boost their score and lower their rivals – beer people are good people).
Talking of reviews – back when the internet was actually fun there were reviews for this Paul Ross Canvas that I’d visit to get a chuckle from. It still works its magic to this day.
Thanks for reading.
….ooh dramatic ellipsis after a click-bait title…
Choose your own subtitle, it was either going to be:
…they can save themselves.
…neither can CAMRA.
Now, on reflection since I started penning this I’ve thought is might be…
…they could destroy it.
I should hasten to add that this piece is not anti-Cloudwater, they are just an exemplar of the perceived problems with cask beer, or not as the case may be.
In fact the initial subtitle was only based on reading an interview with yon mon Jonesy in Brewers Journal (Vol 4. Issue 6, July/August) before reading the October blog post but then that is how quickly viewpoints change within a business and when looking in from the outside.
I’m impressed with the health and safety of the glasses, less so about the pose, anyway…
It was Tandleman’s post that piqued my interest, rather ironically the last blog post I read from the Manchester Messiahs was when they talked about themselves binning off cask. How times change. That post also feature some rather childish political epithets and where I’m obviously never going to suggest people just “shut up and brew” (or “shut up and stick to business” in this case) as that isn’t a ringing freeze peach endorsement, you should never be surprised when nailing your colours to a mast when it comes back to butt fuck you. Which it did.
Still, upon reading Tand’s post my first thought was “they must be desperate” (*cheerfully withdrawn by request*) – but to be fair there may well be gaps in the market for premium cask beer.
What is a premium cask beer? Well personally I’m only going with a price band. There is talk, most of it with some merit that the advent of Wetherspoons has forced the hand of other cask pubs to demand a lower price for their cask, couple this with SIBA and their tied trade pubs and don’t it becomes increasingly difficult for a brewer to make a good profit on cask.
There is in general a lot of smoke and mirrors about what JDW actually pay and, just how fresh the actual product is but truth be told, there is a fair whack of cask beer that is sold off cheap just to get it out there and not be ullage. The hard point of this is that regardless of what “best before date” is placed on a cask of beer by the brewery there is still little reason for it not to be in good nick when it is on the bar, because most obviously as with many products a “best before date” on any foodstuff is not a science and it really is up to the customer to use all sense to discern whether the product is fit for consumption.
Of course the difference between short coded food items reduced in a supermarket, that bit of cheese you find that is 3 weeks out of date but you know if you cut off the blue mould it will be fine and cask beer is quite vast. The latter being that you are being served it from an establishment you expect to sell it to you in at least some respectable state.
So let us talk price points (exclusive of VAT in all instances). £50 seems to be the general figure banded about for Wetherspoons cask.
I know of many breweries that can and do sell their beer at around this price and up towards £69. That is a stock price, across a range, with little variation when it comes to ABV.
Though the beer duty escalator does have an influence on the price once the ABV goes over, what was it, 4.2-4.5%, some breweries do have the capacity to keep their prices lower.
Of course it is a total joke that I know of one Manchester pub that pays no more than £60 per cask. Now with line cleans and lost beer even if you were only getting 60 pints out of a firkin but charging Manchester centre prices of £4+ you can see just how much profit some pubs can make on cask beer.
So, again what is a premium price for beer. Some prices I’ve seen are clearly not based on ABV but clearly the cost of the ingredients needed to make it, so these beers push around £100-£120.
But as the launch of Cloudwater cask comes around I noted that one cask of their 5.5% beer is being sold to pubs at *cheerfully withdrawn by request/correction*.
I’ve written about the difficulties of cask beer previously and really though it all falls on the brewery, it really is the pub that should bear primary responsibility.
It is said that a rising tide carries all ships, that Cloudwater seem to only wish to sell their cask to reputable pubs with excellent cellaring is logical and sensible, though I do wonder if they are going to send out staff to check, a Cloudwater Marque if you will. Given the customer facing nature of the brewery I expect them to know full well if a cask of theirs isn’t up to par and that should make for interesting bantz between punter, pub and Paul.
Therein lies another strange schism that could develop but this is the second day of writing this post and I’ve realised I don’t really care that much. Something about pubs willing to pay for big premium cask; something, something, turnover, something, something would people pay £5+ for 2/3rds of a session strength beer; something, something, beer goes off regardless of how much you’ve paid for it.
As an aside, would a punter solely used to keg know any minor faults in a cask beer, would the general, natural differences between cask and keg delivery of beers cause confusion.
Do people even fucking care?
CAMRA could of course be trying to do more for the sale of cask beer and its quality but they seem to be rather confused at the moment, where press releases don’t really seem to match the general feeling at a branch level.
Plus Manchester Beer & Cider festival organisers are shedding a tear now they can’t trumpet their own festival as having “last Cloudwater cask,” for the 3rd year in a row. Shame.
Of course cost is not equivalent to quality, it can be said and I will say it too, that people are quite happy to pay over the odds just to be seen to be paying the price along with what they are drinking and where they are drinking it. It is a status symbol to some. I bring it up only so I can post this line from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (time stamp, 7 mins 50 seconds)
Thanks for reading.
06/11/2018 – Post edited on request – I’m now in the odd position as to whether to approve the comment with the request in for full transparency or keep it anonymous out of respect for the poster, in this instance I’ve chose the latter as it would then seem to undermine the request, but that is their choice and can be changed if need be. Still it is good to know my blogs are still be read by the great and powerful. Go me.