Did you know that moving house sure is expensive? There’s deposits, new bills, and various things you didn’t realise you didn’t own. If it wasn’t for the several hundred books myself and the housemate own, my beloved cafetiere and an old mini fridge from freshers Number 42 would be a tad tragic.
There’s something about the British pub that sits firmly in the history of the working classes. A respite from a hard day’s toil. Now, I’m not even close to that particular genre of poverty but it works the same no matter your paycheck.
Outside of The Move I’m usually a tad broke, rocking it below the “living wage” in spite of being in job I downright adore. But with a bit of forward thinking in the good weeks my beer supply grows and I get to enjoy something delicious and forget for a moment that I’m doing my washing in the bath tub.
But now my supply is dwindling. It’s the dregs of my collection, Christmas beers and such. There’s a bottle of Raging Bitch IPA that I’m saving because once I drink it there’s nothing new, nothing exciting left.
Wanting to write about beer is harder when you’re too broke to buy beer.
Every now and then I find myself clasping a glass of some tasty beer or other and I get to enjoy that moment, geeking out over dry hopped goodness or the opacity of a good porter (“Look, Nik! It’s like fucking tar!” “Is this good?” “YES!” I roar.) much to the eye rolling of my friends - sat on a collection of folded duvets and blankets we call the “second sofa”. I don’t care. In that moment I lose myself in the lovely niche of beer geekery. Give me a tasty brew and my favourite company and I don’t care that we can’t yet afford to get a telly.
Having worked in both the delightful Wetherspoon’s and a Stonegate pub (that, in its defense, had a fantastic knack for real ale) I’ve oft times heard moaning regarding the price of a pint but invariably from old boys propping up the bar throughout the day sinking a multitude of £2.50 pints.
You’re drinking double my food budget for the week over the weekend, gents. I don’t beseech you that but you’re really in a different world to me.
I really don’t mind splashing out four quid for a pint. It’s a treat to me at the moment and to me, sitting in a bar with a great atmosphere, great people and a delicious new beer is worth that. Sinking six pints of Ruddles (it’s only £1.95!) throughout each morning isn’t anything special.
Last Sunday I finished a long shift (a long weekend for that matter) with a sudden burst of energy and found myself in the latest bar in Lincoln offering a good keg selection. It used to be a Varsity but the Mailbox’s revamp has done it no end of good. Stood at the bar I had such a delicious set of options I was already pleased with my Sunday night treat. Then, behind me appeared an old friend from my last job, then another. This ended in sitting in the beer garden at 1am with a group of people I hadn’t seen in a while with a much appreciated pint of pale ale.
To me, that was something special.
And yet, I have so many aspirations for this blog. All of which involve trips around this gorgeous isle. Even a trip home to see my favourite brewers is a hefty train fare and it’s disheartening to push aside ideas constantly. I feel there’s so much I’m missing out in London and around the country. I’m stuck behind the action on Twitter and missing out on the fantastic community of beer geeks in the UK that I can only dip my toe into (Metaphorically. If and when I eventually meet the lovely beer folk I talk to online I won’t try and insert my toe into them.)
In the end, I guess I’m lucky. I happen to work in an industry where I get to follow my passion. With new beers in every week I get to try some fantastic concoctions and spread the love with my customers.
But sometimes you just want to sit on the other side of the bar with good friends for the evening.
These are gorgeous. This guy, Trevor Carmick has been making GIFs of his favourite craft beer labels. This is why I appreciate good design on my beer. (I’m looking at you, Flying Dog)
Binge binge binge, more irritating that “twerk” “yolo” and slow people walking in front of you. More infuriating than when it rains and your washing’s still out, more irritating that that advert that always plays in your favourite show - you know the one - and more distressing than an attractive gas man coming to check your meter when you’re still in your pyjamas with your hair sticking out in an uncouth direction and you can’t even find the gas meter and it looks like you don’t know where anything is in your house (It’s been a long morning, okay?).
Back to binging. It largely meaningless, it’s used far too often by news agencies as a scientific term and, according to an armada of squiggly red lines on my computer, it’s not a real word.
This week my delightful (¬¬) local paper sent out this wonderful article.
Make sure to read the comments (no response from the Echo, of course). Nice one, Aaron.
This wonderfully skilled piece of journalism is illustrated, of course, with this TERRIFYING photo of a pint of real ale in the “binge” drinker’s favourite: the dimpled pint glass.
Have a scaremongering snippet:
Almost one in four adults in Lincoln are binge-drinkers, new figures show.
More than 150,000 people in Lincolnshire are hooked on booze or drugs, according to data in Lincolnshire’s Alcohol and Drugs Strategy.
And a total of 18.5 per cent of adults regularly binge drink across the county – while the figure for Lincoln is 24 per cent, four per cent higher than the regional average.
At no point in the article do they offer a definition of what “binge drinking” actually is. Drinking every day? A couple of drinks a week? Once a tramp bumped into me and I smelt Crème de Menthe on his breath?
After much waxing lyrical about the “misuse of alcohol” (I once cleaned a cut with cheap vodka… does that count as misuse?) the article quickly turns to the issue of legal highs and various other narcotics… a completely different kettle of drunken fish.
Yes, there could be a countrywide drink problem but this is not evidence of that. This is a local newspaper fishmongering… I mean, fearmongering… to get clicks.
"1 in 4 Lincolnshire residents drink at least 2 drinks each night" is a news story. "1 in 4 Lincolnshire residents drink an unknown amount that we don’t approve" isn’t.
"If it falls short, we can correct this with pure alcohol."
— Lewis Shand “Spin Doctor and MD” ¬¬ of Brewmeister.
Well done, Lewis. Quite the spin doctor, you are. Amidst lab tests and controversy you’ve added another string to your despicable bow.
Lab tests courtesy of The Beer Cast show “65%” Armageddon to have an ABV of 22.86% which backs up a Swedish test from February 2013 that placed the beer under 25%. Brewmeister admit that their tests of the fourth and fifth batches tested at 15.25%. And where is this product recall notice? Did they not think to double check their before before snatching £60 from their customers?
What really unsettles me however, is the addition of “pure alcohol” to their below par Snake Venom to get it up to the correct ABV. Beer not strong enough? Just chuck in some ethanol, that’ll sort it. Clearly they care about flavour and ingredients…
"Only 4 ingredients" …and sometimes pure alcohol if we cock it up.
"No chemicals" …These chemicals we’re using aren’t chemicals, right?
"100% Scottish Spring Water" …Is tap water okay?
"Our beers are naturally carbonated" …Quick, Lewis! Get the SodaStream!
And I think we can all question the awesomeness of the taste of something topped up with pure alcohol.
From Richard Taylor:
The thing about tipping raw spirit into a beer is that it immediately affects the amount of duty payable. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs clearly state this
; “…If you mix beer with spirits that produces a recognisable increase in the alcoholic strength, even if the majority of the final product is beer, you will have to pay duty on the final product at the Spirits Duty rate.” And later; “If you mix spirits with anything apart from water, you must have a compounder’s licence.
The team at Brewmeister could apply for these licenses (if they don’t possess them already), pay spirit duty, and amend the labelling for Snake Venom – and all would be fine.
Although we can obviously question Snake Venom’s claimed 67.5% ABV. Read in more details over at The Beer Cast. This stuff is important. We have a wonderful brewing industry in this country and breweries like Brewmeister are a disgrace.
Quick, someone release a low alcohol beer called Armageddon.