Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Time to Grow Up?

In the last week or so I have read a couple of links posted by people that are young, intelligent and know quite a bit about beer.

The first was a blog post by Rowan Molyneux about the now infamously recalled CAMRA young members recruitment leaflet and how sexism is still going strong amongst the ranks of CAMRA members.
Had CAMRA actually paid any sort of attention to the young people it had asked about how to portray potential members in the leaflet would have been very different and almost certainly not have to be recalled over a very public shaming of the organisation.
The young CAMRA members told the HQ that the leaflet was not fit for purpose but HQ went and ran with it anyway. Putting it as kindly as i can at this point....Muppets.

Secondly was a link thrown onto twitter by Matt Curtis. The link was about a local CAMRA branch defending a pub that was putting on racist entertainment and Matt made the point to me on twitter that CAMRA HQ probably had no knowledge of the event and wouldn't have known about the branch defending the 'entertainment'. Fair enough but as a Branch Secretary and Festival Publicity Officer he's probably helped book the entertainment, of course he's going to defend it!
The language used to defend it is interesting too, it's quite belligerent and unapologetic, not an image that the membership(in my eyes) portrays generally.

Now as you may know, i am not a CAMRA member and i never will be, it has no real appeal to me and i cannot see that changing so you may see this as a bit CAMRA-bashy but i'm really trying not to be.

That said, isn't it time that these sorts of occurrences became an odd slip-up rather than an almost weekly event?

Considering the average age of the membership i find it ironic that the organisation needs to grow up, not just a bit either, quite significantly in my view. If it doesn't the organisation will be marginalised in the very beer industry it worked so very hard to help save.  Let's face it, without CAMRA the beer scene in the UK would not be anywhere near as interesting as it is at the moment!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Castle Milk Stout

So Thursday is apparently one of the two days a week that the cleaners come into the apartment so i had to make myself scarce for a couple of hours this morning and off i went to the shops.

I had to buy some milk for Lucille anyway so it all worked out well. She'd also pointed out a bottle shop to me and said that they sold beer as well as wine so in I ambled.

The fridges for the beer were decidedly disappointing but something caught my eye as i looked at the rows of six packs of bottled of Fullers ESB and London Pride the cans of the much maligned Castle Lager....Castle Milk Stout...?

What is this canned creature that dares rear it's ugly head in the fridges of a posh little bottle shop? I mean look at the picture below, that is one UGLY can! It's like it hit every side of the canning line on the way out! ;-) ok that didn't work but it's a horrible looking thing.

I was hooked though, I couldn't look away, I really wanted to try it but I didn't want to waste any of the money in my pocket. What to do? What to do? Intrigue got the better of me as I reasoned with myself that as someone who professes to love beer and keep an open mind I should buy it. So I did.

I don't even really like Milk Stouts I said to myself as I meandered home. Its a style that I generally find too sweet.

It says on the tin: Rich, Dark, Smooth. Rich yes, dark certainly, smooth it aint. It's just too fizzy to be smooth. It's not unpleasant though and i'm really, really glad about that because I like a good stout from time to time and I thought that somewhere so hot and sunny(most of the year) might struggle to produce a decent one. I was doubly glad because I'd also found a Milk Stout that I liked that wasn't made by Left Hand Brewing Co!
The head collapsed in the glass a little too quickly and as I said it was a bit too fizzy but i'll be drinking this again without a doubt!

Tasting notes : Rich, lots of burnt malt in there, little too fizzy with a sweet, cloying after taste that lingers just long enough to not be unpleasant. Pretty nice actually.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Two Days In, Two Excellent IPA's Later

As I sit here looking at the table cloth of cloud cascading off the mountain overlooking this wonderful city I'm struck by one thing.


Not only have I quit my job and told everyone I'm going to write a book, I have no fucking clue how to accomplish this.

But I'm here and I have time on my side; I'm going to have to start the research again because the last lot was shockingly amateur but then, avid reader, you'll know just how shite my writing is so why should my research be any better?

My plan is to write something everyday and it may come across a bit diarised but I need to get the old grey cells working. You may with to tune out some(or most) of it will be garbage!

At least I've found my writing spot. Somewhere in the apartment that I'm comfortable.

I've had two IPAs from two different breweries and both were excellent. The first one was Skeleton Coast IPA from Jack Black's brewery which at 6.6% abv and in a 440ml bottle it packs a wallop(no nobody hit me over head with one!). They recommend that you pair it with lamb or spicy veg curry so I might try the 2nd bottle with dinner in that case as we're having ostrich chilli!

The second I had was so good I had a second pretty quickly after the first. it was from the Devils Peak brewery and it's called The Kings Blockhouse IPA. What sprang to mind whilst drinking this was 'Wow this could fuck you up so very perfectly!' It's so very drinkable that you don't realise you're drinking a 6% beer which, incidentally is better than Goose Island IPA(another favourite of mine).

Anyway my better half is on her way home so i'll leave you for now.


Thursday, 25 September 2014


Now, as you're aware i'm not one to have a rant.....ok that's a lie, here's a rant.

I got a bit angry this morning when a brewer who is trying to break into the London market told me that he had a 'gentleman's agreement' with another wholesaler. Previously i had contacted him about putting the brewery on our wholesale list and he'd been quite open to it. Now this.

Personally, i never ask for exclusivity on a brewery; why? because i think it's unfair to the brewer to restrict their trade in a city the size of London. Also we don't supply every bar, pub, hotel or offie in London as we're not the biggest of companies and it would be unrealistic to try. I find that wholesalers and indeed bars who do want exclusivity are a bit small minded and not really looking after the customers best interests. Breweries that do so are cutting their nose off to spite their face by showing such a lack of foresight.

Also, don't tell me one thing, one week and something else literally two weeks later! It's bollocks, it's stupid and it's bad for your reputation!

Exclusivity is one of the reasons we don't stock one of Britain's best breweries very often and one we get asked for a lot at wholesale and retail and no i won't name them because despite their decision to go with one wholesaler they are still nice people.

Thankfully instances like this are few and far between but it does make me glad i'm getting out of the business, at least for a little while.

Rant over.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Good Guys

This week amongst getting filthy in the warehouse and doing my usual ordering nonsense i've been putting together a list of suppliers for whoever takes over the purchasing role for Utobeer when i leave in 5 weeks time.

I have also been putting together a list of suppliers that i would never use and should never, ever be contacted.

I'm glad to say that the list that IS used is almost 20 times longer than those who we will never use and that really brings it home that beer and the brewing industry is generally one of the friendliest businesses to work in.

It does restore a bit of my faith in humanity, at least in some small part of my cynical, blackened soul.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The Drinkaware App

Well my notification of this app was through my daily morning update on the PMA website. As someone who's never going to get on with this sort of thing i thought i should give it a chance to at least prove me wrong.

It didn't.

First off you have to set your average levels of what you may drink daily. So if you have 2 pints of 4% beer on a Monday and 7 pints of lager on a Friday then you enter those figures into the app. At that point you can also enter 'No Drink Days' where you'll get a reminder on your phone that you are about to have a no drink day (on the appointed day) and it asks you the day after whether or not you were able to stick to that, in a totally non-judgemental way of course!
If you're like me and you like having a good time with your friends rather than try and drunkenly enter what you may have drunk into a phone that may or may not have signal, then this app is not for you. After all, you can catch up on Untappd the morning after and look like a total legend for drinking such hardcore beers that early!

The really annoying thing about this app is the lack of precision. When you are entering what beer you've had you can enter specific brands but it won't let you enter them manually so you may have to chose a beer that's nothing like the beer you've just drunk and may not even have the same abv! That's the main issue with this app, inaccuracy. not unlike the way Drinkaware tend to publish results, no?

When you're putting in your results you get given a risk (Lower risk, Increasing risk or Higher risk) rating by the app which obviously tells you what risk you are at of being an alcoholic (i think) although the correct terminology is like this 'If you drink no more than this amount there is (whatever) risk of alcohol affecting your health.

You can also set goals for yourself which could help you keep track of how awesome a drinker you are.....sorry, I meant 'help you cut down the amount of alcohol you drink'.
These goals are set out in three categories...

No drink day.
Drink one less.
Drink within guidelines.

Just like apps like Untappd you get awards for sticking to the goals that you set yourself.

I find the first award you get to be a major hippercritical one because it awards you for making your first entry. Basically what it's saying is if you're a non-drinker, you'll never win anything!

The app will also help you identify 'weak spots' or places where you may require a little extra support from your new best friend, the Drinkaware app. You can tell the app your weak spots and it'll make sure it's right there with you, or you could stop being so fucking unfaithful to your Untappd app, delete the Drinkaware app and get on with enjoying life one drink at a time.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Cape Town Bound

Anyone that knows me well enough (or stalks me on twitter) will know that between October 2013 and May this year Lucille had a TV job in Cape Town, this was a great opportunity for her and i fully supported her decision to do the job.

Anyone that actually knows me knows that i did not enjoy the experience in the slightest and I know that Lucille struggled with it at times too. Being apart from your spouse for that length of time puts a strain on your marriage and your sanity! I'm quite lucky in that i have very good friends that i know i can count on to help keep me sane and the dinner invites and couple of pints in the local (as crap as it is) really did help keep me going.

So Lucille is doing the job again this year and we decided because being away from your husband/wife/significant other/better half is utterly shit that i would go with her....to Cape Town....for seven months...So after 6 years working for Mike and Rich, my resignation as Operations Manager of Utobeer was accepted on Friday and I leave on October 10th.

*Lets that hang there for a bit*

It was a case of do I take a sabbatical or resign and my post will need to be filled for 7 months and if the replacement does well then it's only fair that they get given the opportunity to continue with it. I may be back at Utobeer in some other capacity when I get back and i may not be back at all, it really is exciting times!

My family, friends, colleagues have reacted positively although one brewer said on twitter 'Hang on, who's going to order beer off me? *panics*' Well, there are other people within Utobeer who can do this and so i doubt you'll even notice the difference IN FACT it'll probably be better for my absence, after all i was just making it up as i went along!

What will i be doing? Writing a book, I hope and exploring another exciting and burgeoning beer scene in another part of the world. Cape Town has some terrific breweries and bars and i'm looking forward to a bit of a change in pace too.

They say everyone has at least one book in them...let's see if they are right...