Any Pump Clip You Want – As Long as its Plain

There is a logical fallacy known as slippery slope, thin end of the wedge, or domino theory.  Only when it comes to public health it seems to be playing out exactly as predicted.

Start with banning smoking in public.  Then hiding cigarettes.  Then making the packaging not look to appealing to anyone who has the misfortune to lay their eyes on it and have a such weak and feeble mind as to be convinced there and then to tack up the habit.

And then when we start “saving lives” but losing tax revenue it’ll be time to find something else to blame to keep the coffers full.

Salt was a big thing a few years ago but the sudden push on sugar in foods, with soft drinks being the first industry to be heavily punished with levies which subsequently led manufacturers to change their recipes so they now taste shit because of all the artificial sweeteners used to replace sugar.

I went into my local the other day and as I was with a designated driver they were on the soft drinks.  All options were; light, diet, sugar free or “max” – a water was ordered, well done pub you’ve just cost yourself some cash because you didn’t give adults the option of a full and free choice.

The populace is being conditioned (nudged) to be use to the nanny state looking out for the best interests so much so that it was only a matter of time till this happened.

Call for plain packaging for unhealthy drinks and snacks to combat preventable disease

Beer will be next.

Articles with a clear anti-alcohol bias have been around for ages but the temperance movement, emboldened by the nanny state have gone into overdrive, much like this article

Girl and Tonic blogger: ‘Giving up booze helped me buy my house’

The more truthful and sensible headline would be “Idiot realises that saving cash will help in future purchases” but instead we have to get a feature on a lifestyle twat and their stunning and brave decisions.

Nothing is more aesthetically unpleasing as walking into a bar and seeing a hand written pump clip, well perhaps jaggedly cut fluorescent flashes for drinks promotions but nothing puts me off buying a beer more than a lack of pump clip.

Then again pump clips are expensive, so sending out hand written paper clips would help with the margins, meh, get the bar to do it themselves and save even more cash.

This reminded me of the clash between Tiny Rebel and the Portman group over the design of one of their cans.

Just think how much money Tiny Rebel would save if their new cans were just had plain.

 

In fact all breweries may get in on this.  It could be a good thing in the long run for all micro breweries.  What a sight it could be when the shelves of independent beer shops could look like this.

It’ll be a brave new world

 

Writing this I thought of “Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd and then in popped another song of Dark Side of the Moon and stayed there all day.

 

Thanks for reading.

Vegan Haze and the Murky Zealots

I hate waste.

It is one of my pet peeves the amount of food that is wasted and a lot of this waste is down to not only confusion but an unnecessarily strict adherence to use-by/sell-by/best-before dates on food items.

We humans evolved (no apologies, creationists) a fair few senses to recognise when something that was edible probably wasn’t really edible any longer.  Sadly in this day and age the one sense that should have precedence over the others, common sense, has been for gone in an age of comfort and easy.

When it comes to beer the dominant sense would clearly be; what does it smell like, what does it look like and what does it taste like, though I’m sure there must be some Cicerone tweedle or CAMRA twaddle who reckons that can hear the beer as if it was some sentient being.

If you’re reading this that it probably goes without saying that anything you drink that is cloudy really does have to be appraised fully before its complete imbibing, milk based drinks aside.  And beer was no exception, a cloudy pint would, decades ago, indicate that it would be pointless to even continue with the purchase of the pint.

And so, finings of various nature but mainly the fish-orientated, vegetarian repelling Isinglass, was added to beer in order to draw all the murky causing bits out of it (yeast, proteins, etc) to give a nice pin bright pint.

As an aside, a sealed cask of nothing but beer will last a good few months in correct conditions, it is the addition of said Isinglass which shortens the longevity of it.

Beer is funny in the alcohol world in that respect.  You don’t expect to see a completely clear cider or perry and these days everyone loves a gin with all manner of things floating in it.

But this is about beer and its appearance and in my opinion I don’t care that much what it looks like as my other sense will tell me about its suitability to actually consume.

Though I will admit that adding Isinglass to a beer (an addition other finings) is not my most favourite part of brewing.  Adding anything to a beer at the casking stage, even additional hops, will always slightly increase the possibility of an infection.

Fruit puree, lactose (not suitable for vegans), spices, liquid flavourings and syrups; all manner of things added to a beer that isn’t during the boil will always heighten my science brain that whatever can go wrong, probably will and no manner of sterilising will stop it.

Having said that, beer is actually quite hardy too, especially given the state of some of the containers I’ve seen it delivered in.

This is off point though.  I don’t mind a hazy pint.  I don’t mind a cloudy pint.  I don’t really mind a murky point.  The chicken soup pint is pushing it but I’ll still drink it if it meets the standards of my other senses.

What I feel has happened with the boom in breweries is the accompanying arms race to brew all matter of things under the sun.

And another facet of the schism between “older” (experienced) and younger (modern) was opened in what a beer could look like.

Maybe I’m creating another straw man for the sake of writing this piece but what appears to be happening now is that the zeal that the older drinkers have for having a clear pint, and clear pint = good, hazy = bad, has been met with a 3rd law of motion in modern drinking circles in that murky = natural, clear = chemicals.

Of course the murk debate is, erm, clouded by what the beer “is supposed to look like” as the brewer intended verses the reality of what is actually served and yet again, no amount of brewing integrity to get a beer that is as clear as possible and as suitable for vegetarians is going to survive poor cellaring practices.

 

Use all your senses and drink what you like.

 

To provide a public service and for the fussy drinkers out there is your beer vegan?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Manchester Public Transport Part 1 – The Scourge of Guardianista

I’ll get this out of my system first because Part 2 (whenever I get around to writing it) will be actually about the public transport system in (Greater) Manchester but as things stand now, I’ll just take this moment to laugh at a typically deluded Guardian journo, who now seems to be on a bit of a crusade after the shock of bus fares in the county hit home.

Given the begging letters you see when you ever visit the “newspaper’s” website, I take it that expenses are a bit short for the Guardian’s staff these days.  Either that or they themselves aren’t employees, meh I don’t care, it’s your life.

 

It’s the self-flagellation that always gets me.  The unnecessary virtue signal and moan about first world problems and then the moment of realisation that, all your own morals are expendable when broken down into the realities of hard cash.

Damn this capitalism, nationalise everything all ready.

I’d have slightly more sympathy for her supposed plight if she hadn’t followed it up with this:

“How can I possibly be expected to walk a bit in order to pay over the odds for bog standard food at restaurant prices when I’ve had to fork out for a bus an Uber.”

Life is what you make it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

My non-Usual Drinking History…So Far

As I make my way through yet another Bent & Bongs Beer Bash a wave of nostalgia hit me that I feel best to recount, perhaps to realign this blog briefly into a less political state.

I started drinking at around 13 on the fields near mine and my mates houses (parents houses obviously).  Back then it started on stupidly strong stuff like Kestrel Super and Ice Dragon cider, the former of which should never really be drank by anyone with functioning taste buds so as a starting point it could poison your idea of beer from the very start.

We were away from the public, actually quite quiet and respectable of our surroundings.  It took me a long summer of finding the right cans before I first got drunk; two cans of Strongbow did the trick back then, my mates were may ahead having spent each weekend seemingly trying to increase their tolerance a can at a time.

That I’m still mates with most of them, or rather they are still mates with me, highlights that the only evolution on that scale has been that we now go out drinking together in the pub, or around each others houses (our actually own houses because we’re all sensible and grown up and have responsibilities now).

We moved into drinking in pubs at around 16-17, after all there is only a certain amount of time your growing body can get used to drinking alcohol while playing football.

I’m tempted to suggest that my pub experience started in the 2nd wave of keg beer.  After Red Barrel and Double Diamond, I drank up in the Smooth Flow era.  A time of a seemingly Irish beer invasion, where it wasn’t just Guinness of off but Murphy’s, Beamish (red and black), Kilkenny and Caffrey’s, which back then started out at 4.8%.  This went along side Boddington’s launching a “Gold” version, while you could also get Thwaites Smooth, Tetley’s Smooth, John Smith’s Smooth and the personally missed Calder’s Cream Ale.

Can drinking was awash with cans with “widgets” in them; for an authentic creamy pub head in your own home, or in the case of Carling Premier, then need to mop the floor each time one was opened.

I honestly don’t recall much, if any cask at all, nothing of note anyway, that phase only entered my life when I went to university in Bradford.  A place of Flowers IPA for £1 a pint, or the premium offering of Directors (when it didn’t just taste of syrup).

Bradford had the Biko Bar, at the time it was sold as “the only student bar in the Good Beer Guide” – they regularly served cask Moorhouses’ Witches Brew (again before it tasted of syrup) and Younger’s No. 3.

Fun smoking fact about the Biko Bar; it had a no smoking section that was on a raised platform to the rest of the pub.  The pub was basically a rectangle, the platform near the windows and opposite the door, so naturally all the smoke from the rest of the pub went over the non-smoking area and out through the windows. Genius idea.

In fact back then they did a pub quiz on a Sunday, where once a team name was called “What kind of crap pub has a no smoking section” – how times change.

A pub near my halls called The Shearbridge (now a curry house I believe) had regular beer festivals and always sold Skull Splitter and Dogs Bollocks as part of them.

This brings us up to starting going to beer festivals (Bent & Bongs I’d been aware of since my dad started going from its inception) and the fact that I still didn’t really care what I drink, style wise.  Back then it was – oh what’s this 14% beer, Sam-something-or-other.

I write this piece because I’ve realised only necessity has made me “have” a preferred drink. Cans as a kid was lager or cider.  Pubs at the beginning was generally lager, sometimes Guinness.  Cost as a student meant it was Flowers or some random lager.

Going into pubs now, with the choice far more varied than it was, I still don’t have a drink, I’ve never got to hear the bar tender ask “the usual” and I’m wondering if anyone does any more.

Though I think I’m just happy that my usual is the places I go and the people I go with.

 

Thanks for reading.

Mark The Date – I Defend Jamie Oliver

I am not a fan of Jamie Oliver

And although he is quite easy to ignore on a personal level, his random food campaigns which have such a high influence on government policy, can not be ignored.

The holier than thou one does like to pillor (pillar) the poor with his constant attacking of their choices of food and drink and then the subsequent legislation handed down by government the only way it knows, put taxes on it to nudge people off it.

It is social engineering and its most base; carried out, enforced and cheered on by the snobby elite.

But just because I don’t like the guy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t defend him from even more spurious attacks.

Jamie is currently under tweet attack for cultural appropriation

Rice is the problem.  Microwave rice.  Microwave Jamaican Jerk rice to be precise.

Launching this attack was Dawn Butler. Heiress to the throne of Diane Abbott, David Lammy without the penis (yes, I assume her gender to be female).

White people can’t do Jamaican dishes.  Behind the scenes of every Pizza Hut and Dominoes there are hordes of Italians slaving away.  Yep, even in those kebab houses the pizza’s are only cooked by Italians, the kebabs by the Turks and the burgers are only prepared by Germans, specifically from Hamburg.

Though we can walk this back and away from slurs of racism and just make it about the ingredients.

Gate open.  Horse bolted.  And is now being prepared for consumption by someone who is hopefully French. Or South American. Or whatever.

 

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.