A Look Back In Anger. And Every Other Fucking Direction

The Terrorists will not change us…

Except when it comes to delaying our election process, delaying democracy.

Except when it comes to the state wanting even greater powers to actually hack into its citizens private communications.

Except when it comes to freedom of speech because apparently 80,000 people want The Sun banned in Manchester because they are brain-dead twats living in an irony-free zone.

Except I don’t full know how to express myself in words, so here are some emojis.

Except I want people to lose their jobs if they make a joke or say something possibly defamatory.

Except now I’ve got a tattoo – solidarity brothers and sisters.

Except when it comes to being able to actual discuss just what the fuck is going on in the world.

Standard Response

Following the events at the Manchester Arena on the 22nd of Many 2017 there followed the usual, typically predictable response to a terrorist attack.

The #PrayFor and #NotAll hashtags fly like winged monkeys, the avatars changed to accommodate the latest geographical victim, well one that is in the West at least, you’d never have a static avatar if you had to commemorate everyone blown to bits in the Middle East.

The UK press wait a day or so and then dwell upon the attacker(s) because for some reason it feels that the public need to know their name(s), their background, their history because that doesn’t detract from the victims at all.

We also have to preach the mantra that terrorists don’t represent Islam but merely a warped view of it and it has nothing to do with religion.

That last point is bollocks, always has been, always will be…

Give it a week and then the police will release a report about an increase in “hate crime” – quite what being blown up, run over, shot or stabbed is if it isn’t hate is beside the point in this most Orwellian-like crime, but if you’ve been called a nasty name that too is a crime apparently on a par with loss of life and needs as much media focus.*

Above all it is pushed by all and sundry that we should “carry on” and that was should not let “hate beat love.”

Hate

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion.

This past fortnight has all been about love, or people’s versions of what love is, not even Foreigner knew what it was and needed it showing to them but either way its was all about love.

One big, homogeneous, nondescript, identity-less Love.

The avatar changes, the bee tattoos, the candle-lit vigils do nothing but focus on the individual and their suffering, which is nothing, it is absolutely fuck-all to those that were actually killed, their next of kin and those who actually could have been victims.

What, so you didn’t “love Manchester” before you changed your avatar and you will stop loving it when you change it?

Your bee tattoo and graffiti, possibly a nice symbol of solidarity is really just look-at-me narcissism, less about love and more a constant reminder of carnage.

You only have love? You have no hate, because hate is all terrorists have and you are better than terrorists?

Not killing people makes you better than a terrorist, not having any other emotions makes you an unthinking drone.

And this is the problem.  I don’t hate you for changing your avatar or getting a tattoo or painting a picture, or singing a song or lighting a candle.   Grief, if that honestly what it is as opposed to relief, is something personal that we all deal with in our own way.

What I do hate, apart from delusional, murdering fucksticks is the rest of the response; that we carry on as normal and yet we still modify our behaviour, our language, our ability to ask questions or offer up answers and even opinions.

In the Kübler-Ross model there are five stages to dealing with grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

There seems to be a collective brain-fart at work that we avoided the 2nd stage and just focus on the 3rd and 5th.  The world of social media seems to turn into Rimmer after he has had his first meeting with the Polymorph in Red Dwarf.

You neither have to bargain with terrorists, because you can’t and you certainly don’t have to accept it, regardless of what Mayors of London say.

I have love and it doesn’t need mood slime to help flourish, but I certainly have hate too.  The hate won’t keep me any more safe that those apparently without it but it is my response to events, along with continuing to question and to use the same language.

Hate is OK.  Hate is a valid human emotion. It is all about how you channel it.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

*Hyperbole but it does seems as much gravitas is placed on “hate crime” statistics than any other crime.  Crime is hate, all crime is a hate crime.

Cans – Festival Drinking for the Craft Wanker

So I’ve decided to start reviewing drinks I have at home?

No, not really. Mainly because there are enough beer blogs out there, full of people with far better taste buds than me.

But I figured, seeing as Sonisphere has one of the best metal/rock line-ups in a good 6 years (not the Friday though) that I’d actually go to a music festival and stare-down the annoyance of a lot of other people and the experience that is camping.

A quick word that the beer of the festival is Trooper Ale, an unholy (in a most metal sense) alliance between Iron Maiden and Manchester’s Robinsons Brewery. I have nothing against this beer. I’ve had it in bottles and on cask and while its something I’d call average, it is certainly more welcome than Carlsberg/Tuborg or Strongbow.

But of course I will only be drinking that in the arena section, so what will I be drinking on the camping site?

In days of yore, it was just pallets full of Carling, Fosters, those small kegs of Heiniken and in my latter festival years, boxes of cheap red wine and rum & lemonade hastily pre mixed in plastic because of the “no glass” policy.

But I’ve grown, I’m older, I have an income to which I don’t have to subject myself to cheap, bulk buy crates of mass-produced lager.

Now I can be not just a #craftwanker in my own home, or in central Manchester (or Didsbury, or Chorlton) but now in a field of mud and shit surrounded by 60,000 followers of the metal subculture and all its offshoots.

It also gives me a chance to expand my tastes beyond the usual dark side I’m more prone too, take on some more American Brewers and also see what this beer-in-a-can thing is all about.

The majority of the beer was bought from The Liqour Shop.

But once I’d got home I realised that on a few occasions on trips to Wetherspoons, procured cans from Sixpoint Brewery. You know, part of the Wetherspoons “posh pub” rebranding, which sees them able to offer Yankee “craft” beer at below market rates, leading to some speculating as to whether the over-pricing that is rife in this market will finally come to an end. It won’t.

I thought I’d shoe-horn the 3 beers from Sixpoint into this review. And since they are reduced in a “Summer Sale” to £1.99 maybe they aren’t performing that well, but it depends on your core clientele.

So, my two rules for this were:

Room Temperature – I can’t chill them at a festival, so they will be at ambient (not warm though, I’m not a total heathen).

Out of the Can – the first and last mouthfuls were taken from the can, prior to pouring into a glass, because I’m still at home, I want a photo record (#photocraftwanker) and I’m not drinking out of plastic or completely out of the can unless I have no choice.

All cans, as far as I know, were 355ml.

First off was the much heralded All Day IPA by Founders Brewing (age verification nonsense). At 4.7% I don’t suppose you would drink many of these in a day, its not a “session ale” in the English sense of the word. Very enjoyable. Put it one my festival list.

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What? I told you I don’t do tastings. If I get an overiding sense of something I’ll write it down, but with these things it’s all hops of a muchness for me. It’s either a yarp or a narp.

And I’m not going to go on about IBU’s either.

Next was Dale’s Pale Ale by Oskar Blues Brewery. 6.5% and not my thing. Narp.

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Ska Brewing were next up with their Euphoria Pale Ale. Now I found their Modus Hoperandi IPA to be rather lacklustre. But the 6.2% Euphoria was very nice. Marked on my list.

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Flying Dog Brewery seem to be the most ever-present of the American brewers I’ve seen represented. They even had a permenant place in the fridge in one of my regular haunts (and at damn sight cheaper than you’d find it even in a bottle shop, how I don’t know). Not had a bad Flying Dog brew yet and the 7.1% Snake Dog IPA was no exception. Yarp.

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The Big Swell IPA by Maui Brewing Company was next. 6.8%, smooth and enjoyable. Not my favourite on the list, but on the list nonetheless.

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I then tried The Crisp by the aforementioned Sixpoint. Chilled (in the pub) it was palatable. At ambient it tasted like a mass-produced, slightly tart and too sharp lager. Nope.

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Back to Maui Brewing Company for their 6.0% CoCoNut PorTeR. I’m still in the camp that thinks that whereas IPAs are something Yankees (and Aussies, again I will review their beers soon) have got almost down pat. But I still approach their darker beers with a sense of trepidation. True to my taste buds, I didn’t get much in the way of coconut, toasted or not. Not a bad beer, on my list, but I’ve had far, far better porters, which is not a slight as it is my favourite style.

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Bengali Tiger next. Imagine going into a pub and asking for a can that hasn’t been in the fridge. I think it’s an indictment of some staff in Wetherspoons that I wasn’t asked to leave. This beer, also had chilled and not all that welcoming at ambient is 6.5% and utter gash.

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Finally came the final Sixpoint brew called Sweet Action. 5.2% and I actually like it; chilled or at room temperature. It appeals to my tastebuds. On the list.

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So, there you have it. 9 canned American beers.

2 average. 2 fucking horrible. 5 worthy of taking up space in my tent.

More will be consumed by the time Sonisphere comes around, in the interest of fairness, these will be written about too.

Rock On.

Love Beer Festival 2013 (Chorlton, Manchester)

A review for the Love Beer Festival in Chorlton which is still on as I type.

Event takes place between 29 November – 1st December 2013.

Its clearly sign-posted from the Metrolink tram stop and should take you 5 minutes of your walking time, if you can resist going into Oddest before hand.

Love Beer Festival Itinerary
Love Beer Festival Itinerary

So you’ve got your glass, booklet and entry for £5, seems the glass was for a beer festival the Cricket Club held but I don’t know, nor do I really care.

Tokens are £5 a sheet, crossed off by the lovely people serving you; measure are pints and halves and also bottles (which I never got to).

This is Chorlton:

Chorlton
Chorlton

Chorlton is a happiness Dragon, he brought happiness to Wheelie World.

This is a review for the Love Beer Festival, which brought happiness to my cold, dead heart and freezing cold hands.

There was entertainment in the form of a male singing artist whose name I didn’t get and Adorah Johnson, both in fine voice with a good selection of own and cover material.

Food was provided by Streatza Pizza (wood baked pizza), VW Lullabelles (cakes by the camper van full) and Fire and Salt BBQ, who I procured a Pulled Pork sandwich with some BBQ beans. I was warned that on top of the chipolte they had added some Scotch Bonnets to the beans. I have Naga chillies in my house (and toilet paper in the freezer) so was not phased by any heat, but it was all very good for £7.

Upon entry I was told I was due a free (being an early attendee) half pint of Shindigger Pacific Pale Ale (4.5%) brewed by two fresh faced chaps who told me this was only the second batch they’d produced and a jolly good ale it was too, so ones to look out for.

Also new on the scene to me is Geipel Brewing. The beers are brewed in Gellioedd, North Wales care of mountain water direct from a bore-hole, head office is in Didsbury and the bloke behind it is from Ohio. I tried both the Zoigl (5.4%) a strong, malty amber ale and the Hefeweizen (5.6%) which was a damn fine wheat beer.

Before all this and while getting my first drink I was reliably informed by the staff that there were a couple of drinks not available, due to explosions, but there were still a vast array of beers to choose from, laid out in alphabetical order, showing the price per 1/2 and pint.  The staff had wrapped up warm in the main tent – a gazebo with the casks/kegs in a plethora of straw on the floor and hay bales to sit on (with the performers on one side).  Roomy it was, and quite cold, there was a bottle bars (Belgian and American brews) and and little bar selling First Chop Brewing Arm on keg that were inside and naturally these were fuller.

I had tweeted that this event had put the festival in beer festival; with its multiple tents and straw and wellie-wearing, triple layered, hoodie-adorned staff and punters, that was just my first impression.  A feeling of love and warmth (not from the weather) that you get when everyone is there all for the same thing (only with decent toilet facilities).  Sometimes you just can’t bank on the weather.  Right festival, wrong time of year?  That isn’t a negative, this was a very well organised festival and a glorious way to while away a few hours on a wet, dank and dark November evening.

The beers, in no order:

Black Jack Brewery have been a constant presence in my pub/festival life this year and Love Beer was no exception, there were two in the booklet of theirs that I had not tried.  Sadly the Pumpkin Saison was not there (this might have been one of the exploded ones).  But there was the Cluster (5.2%) – a good, robust IPA.

I tried the Engine Vein (4.2%) from the Cheshire Brew House and it was a satisfying best bitter.

I’ll now admit that every beer I’ve had from First Chop Brewing Arm (granted, yes, all in bottles; AVA, DOC, TEA) have never been to my tastes, too much hop for me, but I’m not one to write-off brewers based on bottled beers as there was a chance to try them from the barrel and there was a Black IPA in the form of SYL (6.2%) I jumped at the chance to try some.  It appears First Chop beers have a signature hoppiness to them, but I very much enjoyed this, and as there is the DUB and the JAC doing the rounds locally in Chorlton at the moment I figure if I get chance I’ll give them a go to.

Hornbeam had brought along the White Swan (4.6%) a lavender white beer which was excellent and I’d had previously before, somewhat ironically in Oddest, so I went for their Ginger Domination (5.5%) which was darker in coloured than I expected and I for one couldn’t taste the ginger (but this was after the chilli beans), but I’m not going to split hairs over what subtle tastes I can and can’t perceive, my palate isn’t that sensitive, but this was a good, dark ale either way.

Rapture (4.6%) by Magic Rock was very good.  A red beer that was very much in agreement with me.

All (most) of the Privateer beers were there as they were one of the official partners.  I’ve had them all and I’ve enjoyed them all, so I just thought I’d mentioned them in passing.

From Quantum Brewery I had the Elephant Hawk (6.2%) IPA, which certainly was a beast when it came to the hops (triple hopped) and it tasted somewhat thick, make of that what you will, not for me, but more to my tastes was the Lapsang Souchong Saison (6.4%) which was a beautifully crafted drink with the hint of the added tea. Great stuff.

Tatton Brewery had provided the Tatton Yeti (4.5%) a lovely winter ale, reminding me that as much as I dislike Xmas, tis the season for great beers, of which this was one.

Red Willow and BrewFirst (the Italians) had a collaboration on, no name, despite me pestering Red Willow’s Toby McKenzine on twitter about it (apologises for that) I think it was in the ball park of 6% and it was a very good lager-esque brew that I felt quite privileged to be drinking considering it wasn’t released yet.  Jump on it if you go.

Allgates, ah Allgates and their Mad Monk (7.1%) – I’ve actually had this in fudge form too which I got from the White Lion in Leigh sometime at the start of 2013.  This is a beast of an imperial stout, against my better judgement when I first had it, I got a pint and consequently fell asleep in the pub.  You know the kind of drunken snoozes where pub life continues to happen all around you and you realise you were asleep so try and listen in to a nearby conversation and chip in to make it seem like you were just ‘resting your eyes’.  Apparently chipping in with, or rather shouting “Dimitar Berbatov” only confirms everyone’s suspicions that you were asleep.  Find this and drink wisely.

Finally there were two beers from Brightside Brewing Co in the form of Spice (5.2%), a proper winter ale that warms the cockles and if I may be so crude, colours the burps so you can enjoy the many flavours a second time.  The Inn Crowd (3.8%) an excellent mild and possibly my favourite of the Love Beer Festival.

The festival is still on, so get down and pack the place out as the people involved in it are clearly in love with what they are trying to do.

Thanks to all the staff, food suppliers, venue people, artists and organisers.  Hopefully this can be a regular occurrence.

Peace and Love.

Beer, Metal and Female Appeal

Today is the International Day of Slayer – RIP Jeff Hanneman.

But this allows me to segue into three subjects close to my heart.*

Beer and Heavy Metal.

Subjects I love but am by no means an authority on, so what follows is a ramble full of personal tokenism and anecdotal evidence but will hopefully not sound massive patronising.

Metal music used to be the cliched preserve of the leather/denim clad man. Ages ranging from pubescent teen to arthritic OAP, all generally with dodgy hair. I was the beholder of quite the mullet.

Then came a sea change.  I think best laid at the door of Nirvana and the general ‘Seattle sound’ – here came music the was hard, heavy, fast but importantly had the right stuff to appeal to a broader base of broads (yep, first cheap misogynistic pun).

This coupled up with the Brit-pop guitar movement, a genre that mirrored Seattle only with less talent yet more derivitive, banal bands – and the ‘ladette culture’ saw something very strange.

The mosh pits, once the preserve of about 1 female to 50 males, and usually said female would be of the punk or goth persuasion, was now filling up with girls not part of a subculture.

To cut a long story abruptly short – rock/metal merchandise is now equally targeted at women as it is men.

To me, the same appears to be the case for beer festivals.

It first would appear to be the reluctant wife/girlfriend tagging along.  Usually with the proviso that “there will be ciders to try, or at least lager.”

Now the female of the species is again a target for marketing.

This does tie in, slightly, to the craft and cask wars I’m going to blog about in future – how?…… to be continued. 

But this is how the microcosm of a movement, a business and lastly a society functions at its peak – when men and women are equal in both representation (by merit) and contribution.

And I actually, genuinely mean that last sentence.

 

*Women are closer to my groin than my heart (yep, second cheap misogynistic pun, Wackity Schmackity Doo).