Beer: Zealotry, Supersessionism and Schisms

I will start this by admitting self-censorship on this post.

Apart from the fact that this piece has gone through numerous drafts as to its actual nature in my head, the title did originally have the word Putsch in it.  I thought better of it, mainly because was and still am getting pretty sick of Nazi associations.  Where as I like a good hyperbole as much as the next shamelessly needful, clamouring for any form of attention blogger out there I do have to draw a line somewhere.

That said, hate crime and the continual court trials of people for saying rude and apparently nasty things is exceedingly good fascism.

Anyway, this piece is actually going to be rather personal and has become focussed this way purely because of the events of Saturday 21st April 2018.

It was a glorious, sunny but not too hot as to burn my perpetually pallid-ashen privileged white skin, and I’d arranged to meet up with some old work colleges, some I’d not seen since the two and a half years I left my job of over a decade working with them.

Like an old musical group getting back together for the love of music rather than a cheap cash-in, we all clicked and it was like the conversation had never missed a beat.  The faint patters of 2005-onwards, beat out a wonderful rhythm and that this took place in the Marble Arch pub on Rochdale Road in Manchester brought into focus exactly what had gone on in my relationship with “the beer world.”

The fact that a phrase like that exists (world is far better replaced by bubble or echo chamber really) crystallises just what bullshit goes on in the world, the real world, thanks to the advent of social media.

I didn’t join Twitter until 2013, it would also seem that this was the year I also started this blog (I have other blogs that have been going far longer, good luck finding them) and joined CAMRA.

I had though, been drinking in the Marble Arch since 2005 when, on one Friday out of the month, I’d send out an email laced with double entendres that would get me sacked in a heart-beat these days, inviting out anyone who wished to spend a bit of their pay cheque on some beers and food in a few pubs in Manchester centre.

This was back in the day when the brewery was still in the pub, the Smithfield was still a hotel (and very red) and possibly the ceiling to the Crown & Kettle was only just being discovered.

It was the days of original Dobber, lip-stingingly sharp Marble Ginger and Pint, before cans became a chance to generate some fine Brewdog-style, everyone is picking on us, marketing.

It was a time of work mates just drinking, just actual drinking, in pubs, in actual pubs.

7 fucking years before my presence on Twitter.

I’d been going to beer festivals even before 2005.

Rather ironically in the Marble on this 2018 evening I did bump into 2 people I’d encountered on twitter previously.  One guy who runs Beer O’Clock show and I did once rile by claiming (rightly) that the #hopinions segments where getting very desperate.  They were then, who knows what they are like now.  The other bloke I think had just joined BO’C when I removed myself.

I’d asked them where they’d been and what their plans were for the rest of the evening. They’d done a few brew taps (non-existent in 2005, non-existent until about 2013) and that they were thinking of going to the Pilcrow, a soulless place, so desperately in need of a personality that it hadn’t even managed to steal one via osmosis from the “help” of willing slaves that built it from scratch.

I did suggest visits to the Angel, Smithfield and Crown & Kettle (as a route back to their hotel),  I had suggested a quick trip down the hill to Runaway Brewery but that wasn’t really possible given the time.  I do hope they took in those pubs and had a fine time.

They could have been tourists from another country or just unsure where to go next and looking for a pointer or two, instead there were from the beer world, knowledgeable and urbane and these two very nice people meant absolutely nothing to me.

For the five years I put into twitter, yes another odd phrase, I put half a decade of my life “into twitter” – I met and talked to some, nice people.

Not good people.  Good people is an anathema.  They were nice.  Helpful.  Friendly company.

This may be me burning my bridges but that is not the aim.

I left twitter, everyone’s lives moved on.  Next.

And then CAMRA have to do this revitalisation thing and I think I can guess, given the results, or at least THE ONE RESULT, what the reaction is.

It wouldn’t even surprise me if the reaction is very much like Brexit.

Old people.  What do they know?  Head in the sand.  Its OK, they’ll die soon and we can move on.  They don’t represent me.  I’m cancelling my membership.  I’m cutting up my card.  The vote wasn’t fair.  The threshold was too high.  Not enough of a turn-out.  I represent the silent majority.

As far as I’m concerned some would have actually wanted this result, I finally chance to virtue signal about how irrelevant CAMRA is and likewise how very relevant they are. A ha ha ha.

Nuance is dead.  Facts are dead.  It is and always will be us verses them but for some reason we can’t ever be the bigger people, shrug and move on, we have to, just have to move even further to the other side to address some hypothetical imbalance.

 

It is with no small irony that, being an actual active CAMRA member, I was thinking of leaving the organisation last year.  But life got in the way and I didn’t cancel my direct debit.

Why would I leave?  Well it is a nonsense really.  I give my Spoons vouchers to my mates.  I know enough people at all the local beer festivals I volunteer at (to get free beer, like everyone else does) to guess I can continue to volunteer at them (mainly because I’m quick, helpful and not as drunk as most of the other volunteers working behind the bar) and it just seems like a unnecessary folly.  A folly I am at least making use of in actual involvement.

In the Venn-diagram of CAMRA vs craft and everything in between, the bubble peak point because in my time out of it, I drink, I enjoy myself and I’m surrounded by real people free of beer bullshit.

On 21st April 2018 a vote happened.  A few people on social media got upset.  A few people on social media were OK with it.  A few people on social media fell out with each other because of it.

In the real world.  With real drinkers. In real pubs.  Drinking was done and no shits were given.  Let the beer egotists argue amongst themselves.  Whatever fills up your day.

The bubble is inflated by the hot air of elitist, all of which needing their own and their adversaries bullshit in order to justify their own reason for being in the bubble.

Of course this post is part of the bullshit.  Here is hoping it is the one final turd that causes the shit-show to slurry as a giant shit-tide out into the fucking sea.  I somewhat doubt it.

I raise my glass to you all.  It passed the time.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Hey…CAMRA…

Low Strength Beer and wine could increase alcohol consumption

The continued bashing of beer (alcohol) being bad has led to a drop off in pub visits, with pubs shutting constantly, as each new generation drinks less than the one previous.

So my initial message to CAMRA and its revitalisation is, don’t bother.

The beer landscape is changing; less people are drinking, let alone drinking in pubs and those that you may seek to bring aboard with whatever “forward thinking” you may hope to propose will never be enough for people that give no shits whether you exist as is, exist but change, or disappear completely.

Your best bet is just to play it out for another 40 years as you’ve done previously, your membership will naturally fall as members die off but to be fair, there will be few pubs to protect and few people actually drinking by the year 2058 so all of this bullshit, all these talking heads and chatterings and tweets really make no difference.

 

And I’m being optimistic here, thinking that the world will survive till 2058.

 

Fuck Keg, keep on with the cask beer (and cider and perry if you must), keep the Wetherspoons vouchers but maybe treat your festivals as the adult entertainment they are and lose the massive Big Brother messages because the vast majority of people at them at pearl clutching, offense takers.

 

I’m Boozy Procrastinator and this is my manifesto for election to the National Executive.

 

Thanks for reading.

Chatting in Micro Pubs/Bars – A Guide

Inspired by this post from Richard Coldwell and the initial comment from “Dave”

First of all we need to define the difference between what is a Micro Pub and what is a Micro Bar

“All pubs have a bar but no bar has a pub”

Note: this guide assumes the location of said micro outlet is in a small-to-medium sized town, not a city or tourist trap/destination.

Micro Pub

The Drinks

The emphasis is on cask beer and generally session strength at that.  If there is any keg dispense it is usually a lager because the founder understood who his core clientèle would want to drink.  There will also be a red wine, a white wine, a Prosecco and some spirits (usually gin or whatever is on trend) all in order to increase footfall over the weekends.  Cider may also exist in known bottled varieties or boxed “real” ones.  Soft drinks will be dispensed from 2 litre plastic bottles blatantly purchased from the closest supermarket.

The Drinkers

What you’d find in most macro pubs, with slight variation depending on how close the nearest bookies is.

They are the kind of people who’ll walk into a micro bar and complain about the prices.

The Décor

All wood but that is because it was the cheapest material, a lick of paint here and there but pretty much like a macro pub, only it looks like your 50 year old twice-divorced uncle has simply converted his spare room.  Has one toilet.

The Landlord

Your 50 year old twice-divorced uncle who wanted to do something different.

The Wildlife

No cats. Cats are not found in micro pubs.  Dogs are allowed; they will be hulking beasts curled at the owners feet and fed occasional crisps or hog lumps.  Drool will be present.

 

Micro Bar

The Drinks

The emphasis is on keg beer and generally bastard strength at that.  If there is any cask dispense it is usually one pale and one bitter because the founder understood what his day trip visitors would want to drink.  There will also be a plethora of red wine, white wine, Prosecco and a massive choice of spirits, at least 25 gins. Soft drinks will be dispensed from 100mL glass bottles.  Lager may also exist but in bottle form, from some obscure German brewery, this is in order to increase footfall over the weekend and then hope they never return.  Probably also doubles as a bottle shop for retail purposes.

The Drinkers

Beer bloggers, overly-agitated graphic designers and those who’ve wandered in on the recommendation of some lifestyle journalist who wrote that piece by plagiarising what the aforementioned beer bloggers wrote about the place.

They are the kind of people who’ll walk into a micro pub and complain about the lack of choice.

The Décor

All wood but is was massively over priced because of the patina effect, a lick of paint here and there but pretty much like the railway arch the beer was brewed in.  Has one toilet.

The Landlord

Your 50 year old uncle who has always had that funky beard.

The Wildlife

No cats. Cats are not found in micro bars.  Dogs are allowed; they will be small, fluffy, lap-based things brought along by the owner in order to kick start an interaction.

How To Have A Conversation

Close proximity and bench seating demands conversation be had however this still depends on where you are.

In a micro pub, assuming most of the people aren’t doing all they can to avoid eye contact, let alone conversation because they most likely lie on the autism scale somewhere, you are in for a simple and quiet drink.  Talking may occur over the clarity of the pint in front of you.  You will only drink a pint (568mL), a half is acceptable if you’ve kept your coat on because you’re going to be racing to catch a bus/train/you are driving.

In a micro bar, you will get talked at, those doing the talking even know the brewer, they are on first name terms, or at least have over heard them talking to someone else, once.  You will drink a pint as your first session ale and loosener but then progress on to halves and then thirds inversely proportional to the ABV of the drink.

Talking in the micro pub may stray on to politics, you might get offended with the frankness of the views expressed and the terms used.

Talking in the micro bar may stray on to politics, the overly-agitated graphic designers will sulk off in tears or demand you leave their safe space.

Talking in micro pubs is a rare thing, generally kept between those who recognise each other.

Talking in micro bars because massive ABV’s plus immense egos results in verbal diarrhoea.

 

Use these pointers wisely; know your surroundings, know your adversaries and your conversations, or lack thereof, in micros up and down the UK will be blissfully symphonic or wonderfully, silently golden.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Samuel Smiths – What a Fucking Rotter

I was late to getting the news that Samuel Smith’s brewery has issued a decree across its entire estate of pubs that anyone found to be swearing should be turned out of the premises, whether they will be barred seems to be up for debate but seeing as ever news piece I’ve read on this links to another article, which links to another and another and another, it is pretty hard to guess what the exact truth of the matter is.

I’ve read precisely one blog on this, saw a few comments on the #hopinions thread that Beer O’Clock run every Sunday

 

 

and I saw CAMRA’s response to the news

 

On this matter I don’t particularly care in one instance; if a private business wishes to enact its own policies about what is “good behaviour” then by all means go ahead.  People cheer when the private companies that are Facebook and Twitter remove members that are abusive (within their own definition of what abuse actually is) but heaven forbid a private company should refuse to, for example, make a cake saying something they disagree with, oh no.

It is rather odd that Sam Smiths has chosen to focus purely on swearing, I can only assume that they are OK with someone in their establishments saying nigger or faggot so long as there isn’t a four-letter word in amongst said possible drunken diatribe but what constitutes a private conversation in a public place?

Then again the current state of the world is pitted against itself in what exactly is and isn’t a “bad idea” what is and isn’t “hate speech” and more pertinently, what is or isn’t “offensive.”

Within the beer bubble itself there are points of view on certain subjects (for example pump clips) that go against the new orthodoxy and while all these little games and battle of wills are being played out, governments world wide are monitoring and recording their citizens communications under the pretence of security and protection.

 

The last thing anyone needs to be protected from is words, rude or not.

 

Thanks for reading

 

On a separate note, here is why some people actively boycott drinking Sam Smiths beers and so for some a swearing ban is neither here nor there…

 

SpinningFields Manchester – Spreading the Disease

It seems that separate bits of Manchester architecture comes under threat at the same time in an almost cyclical fashion.

In January of last year I ranted about the sad state of some of the proposed decisions facing the heritage of central Manchester.

While the situation with the Fire Station on London Road is resolved in so much as Britannia have finally attained their 30 pieces of silver and like wise the Ancoats Dispensary reached its funding targets, just this week Bruntwood put forward their plans for the redevelopment of Oxford Road Station, which made no mention of its plans for the listed Salisbury Pub (or Grand Central for that matter).

Other news was that another historical pub The Sir Ralph Abercromby (petition) was also being tendered to be flattened along with a few other buildings in the area.

There are a few places in Manchester I don’t like to go to drink; namely the Printworks, Deansgate Locks and Spinningfields.

As banal as Printworks is and as loathsome as the Locks are they are at least honest and exist in such away as to work well with the area they have been created in (unless you are the Police).

The same I can not say for Spinningfields; a place as fake and phony as the wankers that go there and the food, drinks and “culture” that exists between the artificial grass, cold steel and empty glass.  It is a lifeless, soulless place.  A cut-through between Manchester and Salford and a place now deemed worthy of expansion by taking a wrecking ball to more of Manchester’s places and sites & sights of interest.

As plans and rumours keep swirling it may well be that most of the buildings will remain and be renovated but the Sir Ralph will make way for, it would seem, a car park, which given Manchester’s history will be horrendously overpriced parking in a bid to drive trade away from local and small businesses and seemingly push it towards that other soulless place that is the Trauma Trafford Centre.

Councils are not my favourite group of people.  From some reason, no matter the size of the council or the make-up that may consist of apparently local people the continually make decisions that run against popular opinion

This piece is not about the politics (or football) of red and blue, merely another hair-pulling exercise about the short-sighted decisions made by our increasingly untrustworthy public officials and that whereas jaw-jaw is preferred to war-war they all fall to more-more.

I hope you find time to sign the petition(s).

 

Thanks for reading.

The Tipping Point

A while back on twitter I asked what people thought was an acceptable tip to had over to a bar hand.

I raised this question because people had long told me the unwritten rule was 20 pence (it’s how much Leigh fans bought a flute for when they had some sense and about 50 cents in US monies).

The answers I got back ranged from confirming the 20 pence “standard” to saying that some might go up to a quid, but would usually expect about 50 pence as a maximum.

My mum (a former bar maid) and a friend who is one also confirmed they would take 20p, though my mum would point out that 20p back when she worked was worth a hell of a lot more than it is now.

There are of course stories of customers putting an actual drink on behind the bar for the staff once the shift has ended and other such pleasantries.

I hate the 5 pence coin, so if I ever get a drink that is between 5 to 15 pence short of the whole pound I’ll let the staff keep it.  But in my twattish way I won’t actually say “round it up” or “call it £X,” I’ll just walk away from the bar and hope, as has happened, that I don’t get chased down by some worried employee determined to had over the loose change, which in this day and age of the easily offended and of litigation-happy people I can quite understand.

There was also a discussion about how let the bar keep know you wanted to tip them.

“And yours” seemed  most popular, I go with “(and) one for yourself” – which last year in London lead to a novel situation.

Having spent about 4 hours in one bar marvelling over and obviously massively indulging in the beer selection I felt it only proper to tip the bar staff.  As an aside I don’t wait four hours, I have no set time of when I tip or indeed if I do, this is not some moralist hang-wringing piece nor is it a rant worthy of Mr. Pink.

So I got my final drink(s) and said “one for yourself,” to which I was then surprised as the bar (man in this instance) picked up his clean glass and proceed to inspect what he had been selling before informing me he’d have a half of one of the drinks I just ordered, he then gave me my change.

However I didn’t find this to be a giant piss-take.  It was a first and it has never happened since but the guy could have gone full on £11-a-pint if he’d wanted to but instead merely matched my drink.

Which also married up with a lot of “warnings” about how people take the inflections of the phrases used to instigate a tip in different parts of the country.  Not that I wish to infer that this practice is either common or exclusive to London.

But back to my original light bulb moment, I asked about tipping because I was in a Greater Manchester pub and after sitting down with my first drink I could hear the distinct sound of pound coins hitting the tip glass (fashioned out of a pint nonik rather than the usual half or shorts glass).

Now either the punters were very generous tippers or that was how much the bar (maid in this instance) thought that is how much the tip should be.  Whether this was a conclusion she had come to herself or it was a direction from the pub got me thinking about who informs on bar staff how much to take for a tip.

When you think about it, given that a pint in this pub was an average of about £3.50 that works out as approximately a 30% tip.

Then also a while back (as I do take far to long to write these posts), in between a lot of tweets by people with sand in their vaginas I can across this post by Benjamin Nunn and though it wasn’t anything related to the post’s rant it did ring my alarm bell:

“To my mind, this is the equivalent of a 20 pence tip – more insulting than ignoring it altogether!”

With all that has gone on recently about companies taken employee tips either in the full or at a charge if the payment has been made by card it does make you wonder that if 20p is seen as patronising and maybe it is in places where living costs are higher it is, perhaps  we shouldn’t begrudge those taking a bit more than the “standard.”

Would appreciate comments and opinions on this, stick them below…

Mr. Pink, for those who don’t get the reference

Pump Clip Parade – Putrid Puritanism

This post was caused by some funny timelines; I saw this post on the Allgates Blog last week, but it is from May of 2014.

Allgates, by the way, apart from doing very good beers, write some excellent blog pieces so I was quite annoyed with myself that I’d missed this one on its original publishing.

For those who don’t know Pump Clip Parade, which itself started as a blog and has recently updated to its own .com is a website that, well I’ll let their spiel tell you:

Why, when there is the continual background murmur “we want more people to try cask ale”, do brewers keep giving their beers cringeingly bad, wince-inducing names and wilfully amateurish artwork?

It makes us, the drinkers, reluctant to drink the beer, however good it is.

It must stop!

Only by naming and shaming the culprits can we encourage brewers to improve the presentation of cask ale.
The focus is on British real ale, but occasionally foreign beers deserve the humiliation of a post on Pumpclip Parade.

This blog is not motivated by political correctness or anti-sexism. It is about bad marketing.

Mary Whitehouse could not come up with better subterfuge for her campaign of moralistic outrage.

 

What got me was the final line in the Allgates post:

“Just checked the site to make sure we weren’t appearing! We do, but only for awful clunking wordplay on our Caskablanca clip! But hands up as I think we had a few dodgy clips in our early days.”

Sure, if they wish to make some odd sort of apology because they’ve been “named-and-shamed” about a pun then by all means have at it…I just hope Pump Clip Parade doesn’t see their Twitter Banner picture or they’ll be for it…

 

Now the subject matter of the Allgates post above and what oddly Pump Clip parade denies it is mainly about is the issue of sexist pump clips.

I’m not going to talk about those in this post as that whole subject labelled as #beersexism is worthy of many posts and is far too intricate to debate about now.*

One aspect about Pump Clip Parade is that it is user-generated.

The campaign not only relies on the moralist need to nudge people into “good behaviour” but to keep a growing army of the perpetually offended on the look-out for anything else that can possibly raise the hackles of the fellow pseudo-virtuous.  The online version of the lynch-mob, pitchfork days of old.

The puritanical nature of this website is as patronising as every bit of health “advice” we receive on a daily basis for self-appointed “experts.”

The nannying associated with curbs on free speech is a thin end to the control of thought and the fear of seeing something that might offend leads to the closed mind and brain death from a lack of ideas, critical thinking and cognotive reasoning.

The final thing about the site is that it is a personification of everything that is currently wrong with the gentrification and snobbery associated with beer.  Heaven help the working-class bloke that gets a chuckle from a bad pun, some crap art or a bit of smut; the middle-class liberals are here to purge you of your soiled mind and clothes and invite you to join in the beer utopia of a world full of clean corporatism, where each pump clip as relentlessly dull and sterile as the other and drunk in a place filled with IKEA’s finest offerings.

Vive la différence.

Choosing to buy (or not) a beer because it has an image on it that can be seen to be derogatory is one thing, but not buying one because of language is just as silly and as immature as the puns used on the pump clips.

What is funny is that the justification for some of these pump clips, apparently (as the tag cloud helps you with) is “it’s just a larf innit?”or “a bit of fun.”

Which I’m sure would be the defence for the faux-violence in the website tag-line “…but bloody hell, some brewers should be tied up in hop pockets and beaten with malt-shovels.

But that is the problem with self-appointed moralists…they are full of bullshit.

There is one thing I like more than beer and that is free speech.  Of course this piece itself is full of hyperbole and faux-outrage which may lead to some sort of Streisand effect but it’s good to go down to someone else’s level once in a while and play the hypocrite.

 

“And thus I clothe my naked villany
With odd old ends stol’n out of holy writ,
And seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”

 

*I suppose somewhere in that sentence I was meant to, at the very least denounce sexism…