Alcohol, Money and Duty of Care

Following on from this posts and the comments it prompted I found myself dwelling on the nature of cash.

I’m not a complete Luddite (not that only using cash is Luddite behaviour), I have used card to pay for a few things, mainly shopping but this is because I do like have money on me, just a card is a bit odd and very much like eggs in one basket.

When I was on twitter and known by my handle and this blog, I was one for keeping private, as such even when I went to beer shops I’d pay cash so the people, even those I frequently talked to, did not know who I was and if they did, then they would not have my details.

I suppose wanting to be private can lead to paranoia but I like paying in cash in on the whole.

How do you tip if you just pay by card?

Of course, an establishment only taking card does not mean that the customers don’t have cash on them but I’ve never much liked tipping jars, I like to give to the individual.

I suppose what it does remove (apart from apparent lower insurance costs) is the need to check balances and not have to accuse people of creaming money out of the till, or of patrons by over-charging/short changing.

The loss of mental arithmetic

In that there London over the August bank holiday I found myself in The Carpenters Arms, Fitzrovia.  They took cash but the barman (very good service I will say) looked all a bit confused and the wait for getting my change, despite being in big numbers on the till, took some time.

Of an evening the club I frequented, which was busy, after I’d said my drinks request, was met with a sometimes rather sharply thrown card machine in my direction.  This was met with a smile and a flash of a note (again, faultless service).

Any over reliance on technology, as complimentary as it can be, does have its downsides.

Loss of Customer Service

Everything seems a bit mechanical, if all you do is give your order and then tap your card it seems that you, and the server, lose a bit of human contact and interaction.  The automation of one part of service seems to turn us slowly into automatons.

Contactless doesn’t just describe the method of payment.

Addiction and Duty of Care

Don’t serve drunk people, or those who have clearly had enough.

Don’t serve those you suspect are under age.

Don’t serve those you suspect may drive afterwards.

Bar staff really are the front line between people and the harm they can cause to themselves and others and whereas it seems obvious that a server would have no idea if the person they are serving it spending they’re last £20 in cash or by card, speaking from experience, you can get a feel for a customer and their habits more from cash.

In the end it comes down to personal preference and especially personal responsibility; the physical nature of cash, going out with an amount you are willing to spend all ready in your pocket (yes, yes you can top up at a machine) is a far better way of monitoring your own finances than hot chip on pin action.

Plus I’m not having the state tracking and cataloguing my drinking habits…

 

Comments welcome below.

Thanks for reading.

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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.

A Brewery Gets Woke…Now Going Broke…

In writing this piece I will probably expose who I was talking about in the quoted piece below, meh, so be it.  In fact if you didn’t know who I was writing about back then, you will pretty much gather who it is if you’d have paid enough attention to Manchester’s brewing/twitter bollocks over the last few years.

 

2014

Start brewery in a Piccadilly archway brewing a very niche style of beers.  Employ one renowned blogger to handle PR (twitter) while you brew.

2015

Get Woke.

Complain about offensive t-shirt at Manchester Beer Festival.  Take over PR of brewery.

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Try and control “Piccadilly Beer Mile” and in effect Manchester beer scene but run up against both sensible people/brewers and someone who can be an even bigger virtue signalling fool than you can be.

Get into a spat with a bloke from London who is in Manchester for a while.  Maybe police were involved, maybe they weren’t.  What larks, eh Pip?

2016

Warn that offensive t-shirts should not be at Manchester Beer Festival (they aren’t but you’ve set a precedent to virtue signal so you’ve got to play the game).

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Hint that Tesco has approached you to sell your cans, simply so you can signal how you won’t be signing up.

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Further alienate customer base and others within the brewing world.

Call for the assassination of Trump

2017

Employ and release a few people for various reasons.

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Further alienate customer base and others within the brewing world.

2018

Continue beer sexism rants on twitter.

Harass all stockists of Robinson’s Dizzy Blonde.

Employ and release a few people for various reasons but mainly because they are men.  Then employ women with now proven experience of commercial brewing.

Slag off lager.

Slag off local newspaper in a battle of the brain-trusts.

Launch crowd funder. Always a sure sign.

2019

If you make it this far, I’ll be surprised.

Go Broke.

 

Disclaimer: All time lines are non-specific and everything else is gossip.  None of this is personal, this piece is merely a warning.  If you aren’t of a significant business size to be woke, you are in no sensible financial position to draw your lines so deep in the sand as to not be able to come out the other side with your business still intact.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Craft Beer Gets Its 10 Commandments

The Everyone Welcome Initiative

This is one of those pieces where you have an internal debate about whether you wish to write about something or not because this only exists inside a very small world, for now at least and this one world is the beer bubble

But I suppose forewarned is forearmed and as I would never miss the opportunity to castigate threats to free speech and free thought I may as well have at it.

First read on the Manchester Beer Week website about being the launch of a “diversity manifesto” I wondered what the audience would be like…

So diverse…

It’s almost like they had to bus in white people from that there London, Liverpool and Sheffield just to bump up the attendance.

Anyway, that is an easy shot, that it took place at Fairfield Social Club, a place where hipster racism exists in God’s own image should have been a clue.

“But what is wrong with the 10 Commandments?” I hear you cry, “you’ve mentioned it in the title, get on with your point. I can’t see anything wrong with rules which are basic common sense and good human behaviour.”

No.  This is true.  Taking Commandments 6 to 10 most seem logical.  Given this is the bible; it is amazing that people leading up to its writing and publication weren’t just murdering and robbing each other because they had no set of rules (holy or otherwise) to follow.  That there were enough people around to write this stuff it’s fair to say that a great many people have a certain innate morality.  Perhaps we should credit that to our supposed creator(s) too but what is life without actually written rules and therefore surely there is nothing wrong with this manifesto?

Rules are about control.

The infantalise those that feel compelled to follow them and therefore the followers feel compelled to compel others.

My main wondering is how far this goes.  No compulsion, but are we then suppose to think that all venues not displaying this list are horrible, evil, squalid places?

Any place that doesn’t have these rules won’t have them because, they will think they are bollocks, they don’t care and they are quite open enough as it is but mainly because those that wrote them and the acolytes that adhere to them, won’t and would never have gone in those places in the first place.

Woke CAMRA of Bolton were quick to get in on the act…

Makes you wonder if this CAMRA branch will actively boycott pubs and bars that don’t display these rules, other than the 10 pubs of their area they actually bother about.

Long live the beer schism.

 

Much like the 10 Commandments, the first 5 about an all-powerful yet strangely paranoid and vindictive God.  That this initiative sets it stall out, before its rules, by actually talking about it NOT being snowflakey, PC-gone-mad and virtue signalling all seems quite self-evident about the actual intentions.  Me thinks the authors doth protest too much.

More than anything, this sets up businesses and their employees as those beholden with the keys to kingdom.  An army of poorly trained and at the very least completely oblivious workers who now have to police what people say and how they act.  It is a sham and an absolute nonsense.

It creates borders and boundaries, it creates individual groups and sets them off against each other in some faux war that apparently needs to be won in the name of bringing people together.

In the Koran (like all religious texts, rip offs of each other), it state that there is “no compulsion in religion” – which is cool, until the ultra-orthodox play the convert or die card.  Just like gay-conversion therapy and other shit, zealots of every stripe are the ones to be wary of.

Then again I would say all this; I’m an alt-righter, a privileged man, with white skin, scared that his controlling patriarchy is collapsing.

Meh, we can all play the victim card if we choose, some are better at it than others and the really good ones can make money from it.

It plays into a bigger part of the so-called “culture wars” (wars, again, everything is about fighting).  Growing up life used to simply be about; believe what you want, just don’t let it interfere with anyone else’s life.

It seems that those that preach secularisation of religion seemingly need to replace one belief system with another, their lives unable to function without rules and an orthodoxy to follow.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading.