Zwanze – Beer Fools and their Money

This is a piece about observations and should not reflect on either the business or the brewery and their practices as they can do what they want.

Just like people can spend their money on what they want but this event just confused me, that is was something I’ve never heard of should suggest that I write from a place of ignorance, so be it.

Wiki History

I’d gone into Manchester, the first time in a while, for a drink and a large bite to eat.  On a tour of brewery taps, mainly due to location this was Runaway and the first and still the best Blackjack

It was here I bumped into a man who knows his beers and he mentioned he was off to Pilcrow for a beer tasting he’d got a ticket to.

I’m no fan of the Pilcrow.  For all its hand-made, locals-gave-their-time-and-labour ethos, it has always struck me as cold and efficient and all very, very cynical but as one of the party I was with hadn’t been, for the sake of plurality we trekked along and I was surprised at what I saw.

First it was busy, heaving in fact.  All seats taken inside and it was also very full in the courtyard.  I got a drink (as expensive as I’m sure the rent for this place is) and sat outside mulling it over when I bumped into yon mon again.  He’d been to a separate token bar and treated himself to a couple of other Cantillon beers and the Boon.

 

That’s £2.50 for a third but if you’ve been to IndyMan you’re used to this pricing structure/one measurement only thing.

The beers were nice; I realise nice can seem like it is damning with faint praise but that is all they were nice, above average but then again this wasn’t the main event.

Not knowing what was going on I was then surprised to see a queue start forming, snaking out of the door and around the table I was perched at.

It was a queue I’d not seen since the likes of Port Street and any number of other bars where people have a curious notion of what it is to wait at a bar for service.

It was then explained that it was 8pm and this is when the Zwanze 2018 goes on sale.

The queue went pretty fast as people with blue wristbands came out with their lovely branded glasses and their 1/3s of this brand new beer.

The cost of this little extravaganza…

£12.

Twelve quid for 1/3 of beer (5.5%) and a glass that some would end up forgetting.

Though some were lucky enough to have got to the newly opened Northern Monk gaff and had a suitable tote bag all ready bulging with glassware.

My beer expert pal was totally under impressed.  Being rather wry about the experience he did mention that he probably could have got it a damn sight cheaper from the places he regularly visits in Belgium but where as he was happy to attend he wouldn’t do it again.

It was at this point I was asked by a bloke with a most unsubtle Yorkshire twang where Victoria Station was.  I motioned it was a minute away, then thought that if you were planning a night out, always work out how and where you get home from.

Then I thought that given the bullshit with striking guards and the incomplete timetable Northern Trains are currently working to because of this (and numerous other UK train crap bollocks shit nonsense) that it probably would have been cheaper and quicker for said Yorkshire gent to have gone to Brussels to try the beer.

Fifteen minutes later was when then next and most startling observation occurred.  The whole place had emptied.

The inside was still well seated but no one was standing about and the outside looked like something from the Walking Dead.

It was eight thirty in the PM and that was Zwanze day.

A collective shrug was given as we said our good byes and went off to a far better drinking establishment.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Advertisements

A 1977 Watneys Calendar (NSFW?)

Disclaimer 1: These images are used as part of fair use, with thanks to the original providers.

Disclaimer 2: Due to me suspecting that nude images will be flagged, I have edited the photographs in order for them to be “acceptable”

 

So, without getting into any kind of political rants at all, I simple present some pictures I found of the way beer was advertised in the 70s.  These are presented only for historical record, they may be of interest to anyone that likes charting beer marketing throughout the ages.  All comments are welcome below.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading.

Brewdog, The Sun and Craft Beer Hypocrisy – Part 42

Let us get this out of the way first.  Being raised with family friends who were miners I was brought up (there are stickers in my mum’s loft still) to not have anything to do with the Murdoch press.  To that end I’ve remained true.  No money of mine has ever paid for The Sun, The Times, the former News of the World or any printed press.

Then again, I’ve have had Sky once, for a few months (though of course I also watch it in the pub, and being a fan of rugby league, his money is much needed) and I regularly watch films from 20th Century Fox.

Damn, boycotting is difficult when it means missing good stuff, just look at all the satellite dishes in Liverpool, but they don’t buy The Sun so that is definately #JFT96

And I am most definitely, unequivocally100% not a fan of Brewdog

But I have drank their beer and been to the bars.

In fact in London over this August bank holiday I was indeed in a Brewdog bar and I did visit a Craft Beer Co. establishment too.

I also happened to have paid for a drink that would equate to £18 a pint.

So it amused me that a quick read of the tiny microcosm that is beer twitter (still not 100% weaned off prodding that infected tooth) that both Brewdog and The Sun (and Craft Beer Co and the price of beer) were making the rounds of the self-important and self-anointed.

Link to the Sun (beware hypocrites)

I do wonder if any Equity Punks have cashed in, or if they really are under some illusion that they can inform better marketing from the business they bought into.

I mean that is the trend these days isn’t it, BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions?  Vote with your feet and your wallet.  Disagree with something, overtly offended by something, then they don’t get your cash. Simple.  Just ignore it. It will go away.

It must be hard when you’ve created the monster yourself and then it starts to devour its own.  It is a small facet of the current behemoth that is liberal thinking in this day and age.  Intersectionalism all round.

Those same people who scream that satire (not that they actually understand the concept) should only punch up and not down; but when it comes to the Sun and especially their readers, they are fair game, the stupid, racist Brexit voting, easily duped sheep.

Oh and Wetherspoons drinkers are scum too

Everyone is a target, just don’t think you’re any better than anyone else just because of what you drink, where you drink and what you can afford.

That is called snobbery and it isn’t, ever, a good look.

 

Long live the schism.

 

Thanks for reading.

Cask Beer – Too Much Like Hard Work

I should preface this piece by saying I have nothing but respect for those that brew beer for a living.  Those that actually brew, not those that tour around the world promoting themselves and writing think pieces about the state of beer, or think because they’ve dug out a few mash tuns while getting their name on a collaboration beer that actually know how the world works.  No, it’s the hands on, up to your elbows in boiling hot trub kind of people.  The, lungs stripped of all sensation by peractic acid, kind of people.  The, I’ve got so many caustic soda burns you’d think I’d know when to wear gloves, kind of people.

If a brewery has chosen to not cask beer then fair play, that isn’t where the market is and it is very hard to do and get right.

Likewise those selling it, especially those in the micro pubs and bars popping up around the country, if you can sell cask, even just one line, and keep it well, then fair play to you.

What I would like to do is just walk through why cask beer, from my own experience, is an absolute twat to brew, sell and keep.

Let us start with the cask itself.  Metal and plastic are the main varieties.  We can leave wood, it is very rare thing, mainly used for ageing, selling beer from in at The Junction pub in Castleford, or to hide impurities while charging a small fortune for it.

The Cask on the Outside

People of all stripes don’t seem to respect the physical nature of a cask.  Yes, they are built to last, to cope with being thrown around, rolled around, stacked and dropped but that doesn’t mean that always has to be the way they are treated.  Dints and bangs, chips and scratches are part of natural life, especially when things need to be expedited but the state I’ve seen some casks in beggars belief.  All casks are the property of someone, you wouldn’t go round beating up things because they could take it on a daily basis (unless it’s a punch bag) because society would view you as some kind of sociopath, so a bit more respect wouldn’t go amiss.  Use just once and destroy, the story of Key Keg.  So I suppose Cask Beer is the more environmentally friendly one.

The Cask on the Inside

Talking of respect, once a cask is finished, just how hard is it for pubs and other holders of empty casks to simply stopper up the empty holes (shive or keystone).  It isn’t difficult, paper towel would be good enough if you don’t want to stretch to corks, bungs and spiles.  If you want to learn just how a little thought goes a long way, in this small heatwave the UK is having, try getting millions of welded on fly eggs out of an empty, open cask.  And leaves, cigarette butts, litter and other general detritus.  Not something you have to do with a Keg.

Sterilising The Cask

Once you’ve cleaned the inside and outside of a cask (metal is easier but more expensive, hence why there are quite a few rental options for them) you sterilise the thing.  Sterilising, in my experience can be carried out with chemicals (and then copious amounts of water to remove the chemicals) or steam. This includes the shive and the keystone.  Nothing is 100% fool-proof and contamination can occur in even the most sterile of environments, which breweries aren’t.  Not something you have to do as laboriously with a Keg.

Selling the Cask

Beer, once placed in a sterilised cask, can have a pretty good shelf life, especially without additives like finings or adjuncts.  Key kegs will last longer.

Preparing the Cask

Stillage the beer and let it settle for at least 48 hours before tap and vent/serving.  A luxury in a cold room/under bar where space is a premium or turn over is high.  Plug in and Play, the Keg Beer story, part 2.

I’ve been to places (and festivals) that serve less than 24 hours before selling, it is called taking the customer for granted.

Serving the Cask

You’ve got about 5 days (maybe longer with the best conditions/cellar skills) to sell this beer now it is open and oxygen is waging war with the beer inside the cask.  Do not move it, do not knock it, keep it between 11-14°C (52-57°F).  Taste it all the time, check the clarity all the time.  Its been 3 weeks and the Key Keg has been on and off its line a few times now, still tastes quite nice.

I’ve been to places (and festivals) that serve blatantly green beer and even ones with easily spotted spoiled characteristics, it is called taking the customer for granted.  Then again, if they like the taste and smell of TCP, why question the practice.

Just keep your keg beer cold

Dealing with the Cask

“That doesn’t taste right.”

“That doesn’t look right.”

“The beer isn’t clearing.”

“There isn’t much condition to it.”

One of the best and nicest brewers (and human beings) in Manchester, whose brewery is keg only, once explained to me the decision not to ever do cask (from the outset, not give up a few years in) was that he wished to remove all doubt that once the beer had left the brewery, any in a poor condition could not be levelled as a fault with the brewery.

Granted you can get a duff keg, things can go wrong with them but the trouble with cask is that everything can ultimately end up falling on the brewer.  And we are back to point one.  Once a beer is out in the wild, a whole number of things can happen to it.  Flung around.  Dropped.  Not kept at the right temperature.  Not vented for long enough.  Kept on too long. All of this is all out of control of the brewery and yet if the beer is considered to be pants it all falls on the brewery.

Cask beer is too much like hard work for those who actually sell it, it would seem.  Perhaps it is a facet of the modern age, a lack of personal responsibility in these interesting times we live.  A need for something new, now and as cheap as possible, if not free.  Something that requires a bit of effort, a bit more time, a bit more care… meh.

LPs vs CDs

CDs are virtually indestructible, they last forever with minimal looking after. Vinyl needs to be kept upright, dust free and at a suitably ambient temperature.

CD covers are tiny, you can get very little information on them and you can’t see all the intricate detail.  An LP cover can be a work of art.

CDs are compressed bits of data, with a Long Player you can experience the full dynamic range.

CDs are now being replaced by the mp3 or the stream.  LPs are having a bit of a revival.  And you can’t hold and smell and marvel at a byte of music.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Northern Ireland – Beer and…Bass

Just a brief write up of a recent trip I had around Northern Ireland, hopefully not mentioning politics (past or current) and with no pictures of The Dark Hedges, Giant’s Causeway, boats, mountains, flags, sectarian gift shops and murals.

 

Larne

 

Larne is an odd place, eerily quiet on the Saturday night when I visited but the first thing I saw on the high street set the tone for beer (kind of) for the rest of the trip.

If you are ever in Larne, eat at Carriages, they feed you well, the feed you very, very well.

Portrush

The wondrous thing about many of the bars, pubs and restaurants I went into across the nation was that as well as the usual macro beers that everyone knows and loves the representation from local breweries was very well represented.

To dine (as opposed to takeaway) in Portrush is to seemingly have a choice between 6 restaurants all owned by the same company but the food was great as were the choices of beers but this place came alive when I found a place called Kiwi’s.

All towns (big or small) in Northern Ireland seem to work on some daft one way, pedestrianised system which directs cars on the longest route possible to find the smallest amount of car park spaces, not good if you are there for a few hours, makes sense if you are staying overnight.

Lacada brewery is the community brewery based in Portrush (community brewing seems to be big across all of NI) and to their credit, and that of many of the other businesses in Portrush, their beers were to be found in most outlets.  Kiwis itself has a wide selection of beers micro and macro plus the obligatory gin selection too.

Portstewart

People here can not drive and that is all I have to say, they also don’t like working late either so just stay in Portrush.

Derry (LondonDerry)

For my sins I only passed through Derry, on the way to the north part of Southern Ireland, it looked like quite a nice place to stop off, maybe next time.

Newry

 

The Stoke of Northern Ireland, a place simultaneously bustling and run-down. Welcoming and hostile. Where the Tesco sells a fine mix of many local breweries.

3.7% – who knew?

Mourne Mountains / Warrenpoint

Visit the Silent Valley – take insect repellent and a few beers.

Comber / Newtownards

Again many nice pubs and restaurants, quite a few carrying local beers from Bullhouse and Farmageddon.  Lots of ancient ruins and scary locals off the beaten tracks so lock your doors when you drive around Ballydrain.

Belfast

Driving into Belfast I could smell beer being brewed.  It is the exact smell you get as you drive into Cheetham Hill (Holt’s) or back down the Irk Valley (Blackjack & Runaway).  Sometimes I even mistake it for the smell of cooked liver.

Lovely pub.  And the only cask pint I found (Hilden Brewery, take a bow and the pub, it was a great pint).

Obviously a capital city has many pubs to choose from and also a wide choice of beers.  Apart from The Sunflower I was very taken by the John Hewitt and of course, The Crown

I’d take pictures of the inside but I’m more interested in the drinking, quite ethereal in here.

Bass

Bass (keg) was prevalent in many of the places I visited.  There seems to be some tie in to Tennents, possibly when both were on by InBev.

So there you have it.  Northern Ireland; a place of fine natural scenery, good hostelries, many, many flags, red triangles, big red T’s, fake retro Guinness pumps, potatoes, so many potatoes and me trying not to sing out loud lyrics to Stiff Little Fingers songs.

One final thing…

 

Public signs for dog fouling seem to all have to display the actual mess, either falling out or a steaming pile of it next to the cartoon dog…it is the small things in life…

 

Thanks for reading.

Today in Craft Beer Wut – The Capitalist Communist

My “I’m not on twitter but still read specific twitter feeds every so often” (mainly actual brewers, for information without the white noise) does really pick up around now as its Manchester Beer Week and while I currently pen a response to the “”Diversity” Manifesto” I stumbled across this thread of tweets from Liverpool’s Mad Hatter Brewing, which could indicate that someone is ingesting mercury somewhere amongst their food and beverage intake.

In a thread of 22 tweets it starts off sensibly and logical…

Paints a good background of a fledging brewery starting up mixed in with real world situations (kids, bills, housing, etc.)

Then, halfway through it starts to go off a bit…

Wut?

Is this worse than the nightmare of cake?*

What. The. Fuck?

Ah…

Are we taking the piss now?  Is this a parody?

I hope you paid for the microphone you just dropped.

I hear Venezuela is a nice place to open a brewery, good socialist and communist principles over there.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*Its a Brass Eye reference

 

The Whining Cunt Song

*Rock that riff hard on F-Sharp*

 

Ah, ahhhhhhhh ah.

No…..C……O…….Twooooooo ooooo

 

We come from the land of the weed and blow,
Our red star logo makes beer twitter tears flow.

Hammer of the gods will drive our deals to new hands.
To fight the hordes, in Tottenham Hale.
Beavertown, I am coming.

Always scheming, buying craft breweries.
Our only goal will be the largest market share.

 

Ah, ahhhhhhhh ah.

Cam….a….ra…….aaaa

 

We come to the lands of the beards that grow,
Where food and beer matching makes stupids money flow.

How soft your breweries so green. Can whisper tales of smooth pour.
Of how we calmed the blogs that bore. We are your overlords.

Always seeing, we’ll soon buy more,
Our next goal will probably be FourPure.

So now you’d better stop and rebuild all your morals.
For success and investment can win the day despite of all your losing.

 

Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh
Salty. Tears.
Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh.
Ooh. Ooh. Ooh. Ooh.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

P.S. Article 13 (and 11) of the EU Copyright Directive have passed the initial reading and will be voted on either later in the year or early 2019.  This would effectively make this piece, in fact most of this blog and many other blogs, subject to deletion.  Please contact your MEP (see link) to stop this from being enacted.

P.P.S. I didn’t really need to alter the lyrics that much, the originals actually sum up the whining of the crafterati and the general haughtiness of those that are part of the bubble.