Prequel: If Beer Was…

(originally published on April 11th 2017 – reposted to make a point about Article 13)

 

If Brewdog Was…

They Live

This past weekend, a reincarnated ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper took a trip up to Aberdeen, Scotland.

 

 

On the way there he was given some sunglasses which caused strange things to be seen when he tried them on…

 

 

 

He then found his way to a meeting of, well he didn’t know what to make of it…

 

 

 

He snapped at the gathering…

 

 

The more loyal members of the fan club became enraged and went on the attack…

 

And sadly Roddy and his morals were no more…

The moral of the story is, you never know what you are buying in to…

…or who you are drinking a beer with…

 

Thanks for reading…

 

 

 

 

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If Beer Was…

(originally posted 27th Sept 2016 – reposted to make a point about Article 13)

JAWS

jaws

 

 

 

Beer in the shape of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) descends on the small, seaside town of Amity bringing confusion and panic to the locals.

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The local chief of police, Brody, does not know what to make of this new arrival, after years of complacency all of this just crept up on him.  He is aware that this force of nature can be harnessed but at the same time is also a massive threat to his way of life and to the status quo.

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Unsure of how to tackle this new foe he enlists the help of two men.  The first is the salt-of-the-earth Quint.

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Quint has been dealing with the tribulations brought on by sharks for decades.  Battle-hardened, wistful and with a lifetime of experience he can sometimes come across as a little insane and immovably stuck in his ways.

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Obsessed with taming sharks only by the use of barrels.

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Quint could possibly be accused being a bit too casual about sharks.

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The second man to come to Chief Brody’s aid is the quiet and university educated Hooper.

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Possessing a wealth of knowledge gleamed mainly from books Hooper is a man who is initially intimidated by Quint and is therefore prone to antagonistic behaviour.

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Which can sometimes be excused given how the locals of Amity seem blissfully unaware that different types of shark exist.  In trying to explain he realises he really isn’t going to convince everyone that he knows more than most regular, as he would call them, bozos.

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And later, when he find just how irrational Quint sometimes behaves, never listening to reason and ploughing on regardless.

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However Quint and Hooper do bond slightly when they realise that they each have something to bring to the table given their past dealings with sharks.

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Brody, the outcast between the yin-yang of Hooper and Quint’s knowledge of sharks seems more concerned about gas and always wanting things to be bigger.

 

 

For the sake of everything, these three men come together to try and get a grip on the shark and after some effective use of barrels it appears the three men may be victorious.  But the exertion of it all is too much and via a stray gas cylinder, Quint meets his fate in the jaws of the shark.

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Hooper, after one trick too many also appears to succumb leaving only Chief Brody left to do battle, which he eventually succeeds at, using another gas cylinder.

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As Brody surveys the scene of victory, of a shark tamed, he is startled then relived to see Hooper did in fact survive, and as they lament the passing of Quint they had back to the shore.

But as the credits roll it is not the two survivors but the rough and ready Quint, with his history evoking stories that linger in the memory.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

A word about the sequels:

Jaws 2: Something original always has inferior follow ups.

Jaws 3-D: The painful exploitation of that latest techniques and styles that quickly outstays its welcome.

Jaws, The Revenge: Horrible cash-in that only swells the coffers of a small few.

Untappd Tapped

Note – All artwork in this post is in the public domain and as such used under fair use in the piece.

Note 2 – apologies for the formatting, it just won’t sort itself out.

It is worth pointing out in advance that this post may contain a…

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It has been a strange few hours in the world of the gamification of drinking beer, especially if you are on Untappd.

In the endless drive for equality among the sexes, the people behind the site have listened to feedback and change a couple of badges:

What was “Brewnettes have more fun”

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Is now “Bravo for Brown”

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Likewise “Blondes do it Better”

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Has changed to “Fields of Gold” – which should immediately cause offence to those who hate the musician known as Sting.

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But these aren’t the only badges that are offensive and I will detail some of those that still exist “for fun” for which Untappd should consider a rename and/or redesign.

The “Heavyweight” badge is offensive to fat people.

Heavy Weight

 

 

 

 

 

Next are the following badges with apply a male gender to what should be an androgynous beer bottle:


bdg_AltBier_lgbdg_saison_lgbdg_ConcertVenue_lg lagerjack


 

 

 

 

The presence of men in these badges

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Next up are the most offensive of cultural appropriations

bdg_CincoDeMayo2014_lg bdg_italy_lg Rising Sun

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bdg_canada_lg

 

 

 

 

 

The Matador badge, which is not only cultural appropriation but also promotes a bloodsport

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The Flamenco badge, more cultural appropriation along with pushing gender stereotypes while enforcing the view that women dance for the pleasure of men.

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The “Hey Honey” badge, which promotes unwanted advances against women.

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The “Iron Man” badge, no representation of women at all.
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“I’ll Be Bock” which is offensive to all cybernetic organisms with neural net processors that have the capability to learn, become more human and strive to help prevent Judgement Day.

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This is not an exhaustive list and much like Pumpclip Parade it can only be changed for the better by people seeking out badges that are likely to cause offence of any kind and shame the makers into making their site and app a more inclusive and sensitive experience.

 

Thanks for reading.

Smile…CAMRA is being Candid

In a flu ridden state I am quickly writing this.  Having observed all week chatter of what CAMRA was planning, really you should think, as a member, I would have known about this in advance.

Last December I wrote a piece suggesting that CAMRA may well evolve (it is there, in between the ranty stuff).

Reports of the death of CAMRA are greatly exaggerated but they haven’t helped themselves with self-published articles like this

Of course that is the idea; to get people talking that the biggest consumer group may be coming to an end based on some article that has that pissant question/non-question title.

If CAMRA move from solely being about real ale and instead are revitalising their campaign then the shift of focus does mean the acronym is not correct, but that is mere pedantry.

The organisation I’m a part of has been changing over the years anyway, with the dawn of the Asset of Community value, pubs are trying to be saved and so when the BBC writes “Should there be a crusade to save British pubs?” (oh look, there is that twatty question mark again), the answer is that there already is.

You also get poorly researched articles like this (oh look another question mark) – but that is the standard of random journalism about beer these days – take a hand full of clichés, sling in a few names of breweries, add the word beard and suddenly you too can become a freelance journalist with little knowledge of any subject to back anything up, but the pay check is in the hand so who cares, modern paid journalism isn’t about getting across facts any more, it is about clickbaiting.

Anyway, as far as I am concerned that gap between “old” and “new” beer drinkers is still a bridge too far and something that CAMRA isn’t going to build on its own, especially when it comes to saving pubs.

*Insert relevant Hilaire Belloc quote here*

People who deal only in “craft” beer do not care about some dirty old pub and the dirty old people who are in it and the dirty old community that it holds together.

I’m still of the opinion that most are following a scene.  A scene that is still not inspiring people to go out and drink, as on the whole the entire “night-life” industry in on a downward spiral.

The nature of drinking, in the home or on the town, is changing.  People don’t go to the same places and are unlikely to be coaxed back into them.  It is all about trend and maybe in that respect CAMRA and pubs should consider themselves to be like heavy metal.

There are off-shoots and little cliques that raise the profile once in a while but once these are spun off there is always a faithful core that remains, always open and welcoming to both the original purpose and future evolution.

It won’t ever go out of fashion because it has never been in fashion.

 

Thanks for reading?

Its Meet the Brewer not Reinventing the Wheel

A while back I saw a tweet from a Guardian lifestyle journalist which went along the lines of “What *is* a meet the brewer?”

Of course Guardian, lifestyle and journalist are also mutually exclusive terms that bear no relevance, as individual terms or as a collective, to sensible people and their enjoyment of life.  But I suppose they have a function if someone is willing to pay for that nonsense.

The thing is what *is* a meet the brewer (MTB)?  It seems I’ve been very lucky in all the ones I have attended.  On each occasion I’ve always actually met the brewer, listened to them talk about their beers, their brewery, their history and their future plans.  This is usually accompanied by food of some kind and a fair amount of beery samples to kick-start the discussions.  They are also always attended by home & commercial brewers alike.

Over the years it would seem that MTB events have either been misrepresented by the establishment hosting them (really they are a tap-takeover, a beer launch or such like) or the brewery has sent along a marketeer who knows lots about “brand brewery” but not much about anything else.

I suppose these in and of themselves would be quite irritating and a let down to those who were expecting something far more involved.

Of course what you don’t need is an over-priced event.

Forced food pairing with morsels probably made from ambergris and Zuzu’s petals to further justify an inflated ticket price.

 

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And who honestly gives a fuck about any specially selected music either?

There is a certain pretension that doesn’t so much creep in as is at an event’s core and for me too many events can only exacerbate the pretext that “craft” beer is elitist.

It is obvious the MTB’s are less about the brewer and more about the attendees and an over emphasis and curation of a whole session of what is and isn’t consumed creates a claustrophobic scenario that is as unhelpful as any poorly constructed meet.

 

Thanks for reading.

3 Colours Smithfield

Red

It was around 2005 when I was introduced to the Smithfield (Hotel).  Inside it was all red carpet, an oddly placed pool table, wobbly chairs and short-tempered dogs.

It did have a vast array of casks and was a massively charming boozer.

Then it closed rather suddenly.

 

Purple

It reopened in about August of 2014 and as the photos on its then twitter account @smithfieldmcr1 shows it was very purple inside.

Sadly during its overly long closure it had lost its footing on the beer scene, over-taken by the likes of Crown & Kettle, Castle, Fringe Bar and slightly further away, the Angel and the Marble Arch.

Still, it had cask beers, but these were not consistently available and the decor had really stripped away most of its original charm to the point that it felt worse than any generic place you’d find in Printworks or on Deansgate Locks.  Still pubs can only be as good as what you bring to them yourself and it was ok when I was in there, if rather depressingly quiet most of the time.

 

Magnolia

Then out of the blue like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper, another twitter account appeared @TheSmithfieldNQ and it appeared that BlackJack, who’s beers were ever-present in the Purple incarnation, had taken it over.

After a ‘soft’ launch last Thursday it opened properly on the 18th of June (yesterday as I type).

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The Burton Arms is somewhat over shadowed by the other pubs nearby.

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The Heineken sign – the Emmanuel Goldstein of the ‘craft’ beer pub.

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Keg lines, more drip trays required, possibly numbers too.

 

It was very busy last night – possibly due to the buzz of the launch, it was commented that (made up statistic alert…) probably 80% of the people in there had never been to the place in its previous colour schemes.

Still a bit of work needed doing, papering, painting, a way of drying your hands in the men’s toilets, possibly some pictures on the bare white walls.

You get the feeling these days that because the beer scene (errghh, sorry) is perceived to be moving fast that new pubs and even new breweries are open far sooner than they should.

But the beer, the crowds and the dart board is there (no pool table yet, maybe downstairs when that is complete?) and it was a good night.

I’ll leave you with this motto…

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Thanks for reading.

Pub Guilt

I was going to start this off with a lyric that Ian MacKaye wrote when he was in Minor Threat, but that would detract from the focus of this piece.

One of my mates commented that I can now disguise any heavy drinking I do as “part of my hobby.”

A quick flick through the vast ways I can keep track about what I drink (this blog, Twitter, Untapped, photos, good old-fashioned memory) highlights that over recent months I’ve imbibed a lot of beer, but seldom was it in pubs.

I drink bottles at home, bought from a vast array of local beer shops, many of whichthemselves now serve alcohol in the increasingly micropub (or microbar) vane via keg and/or cask.

I’ve been to a hell of a lot of beer festivals and even the breweries themselves and/or associated brew taps.

I’ve been to beer tastings and meet the brewer events, which though held in pubs seldom see me venture into the reaches on the actual pub and purchase anything from the bar.

In fact as I type this (while not drinking) I do think; I could buy myself a laptop or tablet and quite easily stroll down to my local and compose this there.

But that in itself it quite an insular thing – why would I go out to a social environment and then put my face into a big electronic screen for the entire time I was there?

What there is, is a feeling, the pub was and still very much is about a community spirit and about comfort.

I’ve been to beer festivals and some just feel too regimented- you are there to drink, interaction with anyone outside your social circle is minimal.

Many modern bars that just feel empty.  Hollow carcasses where people wish to been seen to be drinking rather than getting any actual pleasure from the experience, but I suppose if you are surround by plywood, IKEA-lite furnishings or the very strange industrial-chic stylings, what is there to enjoy?

Beer can only cover-up so many things.

Some of the newer beer festivals also fall into this trapping and where they may be blessed with having lovely surroundings or interesting opportunities to meet brewers or go to lectures they still just come across as a place to be seen at; something that was read about in some trendy publication and needs to be ticked off some frivolous bucket list.

In writing this I open myself up to my own hypocrisy.  I am an anti-social, social drinker.

I go to places on my own and confide in the warm, glowing, warming glow of my phone until inebriated enough to possibly grumble at someone sat near me, or maybe ask a few questions of the bar staff.

I drink less in pubs since I started “my hobby” that I did before – but a pub is like riding a bike, in which that provided the community is still there, you aren’t ever quite forgotten.

There is one pub in my locale which is possibly the worst when it comes to beer selection.  They had casks for a year and then ripped them out to replace them with more generic keg lagers.  But I can go in and even though my palate might not be satisfied, my soul (and my wallet) and more than comforted.

The theme to Cheers would be appropriate now, but no one knows my name.

The problem is people are treating beer and the social experience it brings as a commodity of lifestyle.  The community feeling is ebbing away, save only for Christmas or those tedious weeks when England play football in some corrupt tournament people don’t seem to go out much.

People drink less, pubs keep on closing, old communities fracture and splinter and  the uptopian vision of amalgamation of new cultures grind is replaced by them wearily jarring against each other.

Of course, these is just the witterings of a sober, pessemistic man – tomorrow I could go out have a few beers and feel the world of the pub is safe; that drinking habits are evolving and they will merely take a while before settling down into the old regime and away from this cliquey glad-handing charade.

This isn’t solely the fault of customer, the pubs have to meet half-way, but that is a different discussion.

 

 

 

Anyway, I’ll leave you with this final thought…

 

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