Tag Archive: Essays and Alcoholisms

For All The Beer In China: The Mainland and Hong Kong Beer Scenes.

So, as you have probably guessed from the title, I am splitting my quick look at the beer scene in China (Based on my admittedly limited experiences in one trip) into Mainland and Hong Kong. mainly because they are two very different scenes and two very different places culturally. As always, these are based on a short couple of weeks away, so feel free to chip in with anything I missed or got wrong.

Mainland China:
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Lowering into Saxony: Musings on the Germany – Lower Saxony Beer Scene

We all know the German beer scene, right? It is pretty much an icon of lagers around the world. I don’t really need to do one of my post trip round up notes do I?

Maybe, maybe not. I’m not going to claim my week in Hannover and the surrounding area made me an expert on Lower Saxony, let alone the entirety of Germany – however a few things out there were a bit different than I would have expected, so figured it is worth doing one of my usual musings.

Now, a lot of what you expect is true – Germany has bloody excellent lagers. People joke about “Eurofizz”, but you know what, if you want lager done well – Germany is in the top three places to find them. Exactly what is around will depend on your locale – Many places seem to have their regional lager, like the Herrenhauser in and around Hannover, but generally you will find a good range of good quality lagers in the different pubs. Jever, Paulaner, et al. Supermarkets similarly have usually 20 odd different Germany beers in cans and bottles. It isn’t all pilsners either – nearly every pub and supermarkets we went to had a nice mix of dunkels, weisse, and so on – a few even going into heavier weizenbocks. So, base quality has always been good in Germany – its the range and variety that has usually been the let down. Even that seems slightly harsh – as indicated before there are a lot of weisse beers, some places even having the less common berliner weisse for sours.

What I think people are noting is that there is very little coming in from beer styles or breweries from outside of Germany. However even that is starting to break, in my recent experience. If you search, you can find craft beer shops and pubs – with an emphasis on Belgian and USA imports from what I saw, mixed with a growing local craft scene. Now, this has nowhere near the level of public penetration as in the USA, or even the UK these days – you have to go looking specifically for bars that tailor to your needs, rather than them just being available on your average tap or restaurant, but there does seem to be a fledgling craft beer scene going on.

What hasn’t penetrated at all, that I could see, is any sign of a Real Ale scene – not a surprise, outside of the UK I very rarely see them – a few in Sweden, a few rarely in craft beer in the USA, but it is not a surprise to me that German craft beer scene seems to be doing either craft beer takes on the traditional German styles, or following the hoppier USA styles which would match easier to the more keg friendly Germany scene.

The biggest impact seems to have been the IPAs, which always seem to be a popular part of any craft beer scene – particularly the New England IPA style which was bloody everywhere while I was there. Admittedly that could just be because the New England style is booming everywhere at the mo – so may not be representative of the general German scene. Also with Stone Berlin opening up, their beers are starting to get wider, if still not super easy to find, distribution. I think Stone Berlin still need a bit of dialling in on their brewing though – they are good, but don’t quite match those from the USA yet – though that may just have been the few I tried. Like all of these thoughts, I am extrapolating from a comparatively small sample.

The difference in cost between craft and the more local German beers is pretty heavy as well – your standard lagers and weisse beers are ridiculously cheap – while your craft beers approximate main city costs of craft that you would find in the UK. So pretty expensive, but not stupidly so.

What is very useful for the beer traveller in Germany however is the public transport which is plentiful and very reasonably priced. Our main travel out of Hannover was a day pass which allowed use of trams and buses in it and most surrounding cities, and trains that went as far as Hamburg. Cost was just over 20 quid for one person, but only 4 quid extra for each additional person which soon made it brilliant value for groups – It puts most places I have visited in the past to shame and made it very easy to head over to Goslar to try their distinctive local Gose beer. I’ve mentioned it before, but the salted and spiced German wheat beer was originally created on Goslar – and unlike the Leipzig version which for many a year was the only other goze available, is not particularly sour. Well worth trying for the oddity if you are in the area – the gose style is having a resurgence worldwide at the moment so it is nice to be able to try some of the originals.

So, still the land of excellent lager and weisse, and still with a very solid baseline of quality – there does not seem to be much mediocrity to horror of John Smiths or Fosters to be found – and now it is building on the flaws the scene used to have, with more experimental beers and more range coming into play. The scenes seem to be developing in the same way that the craft beer movement evolved alongside and intermingled with the Real Ale scene in the UK, but here with craft and lagers – no bad thing. Hope it continues to develop well,

If any locals, or anyone with more experience than me disagree, wish to add or correct any points let me know – I’m always happy to learn. Until next time – Enjoy your drink!

Ok, Disclaimer out of the way up front. I am a Brewdog shareholder. Which makes recent week’s events even more annoying for me. They’re pushing the latest wave of the whole Equity For Punks thing so they can expand faster and they turn out this vid.

Now, at the time I found it pretty tone deaf. The co-owners of a brewery that is worth millions comparing themselves to begging on the streets. It inspired a shake of my head but nothing more.

Thing is, a few people it proper pissed off. And I can see that, it didn’t offend me, but I can see why it offended them. So, a petition popped up asking them to take down the vid as it was, to their eyes, mocking trans people, sex workers and the homeless.


Now, again I was not offended myself, but yeah, I can see that viewpoint – it wasn’t my reading but I can see that. So, best of luck to them.

Now this is where things turn shitty. Because all Brewdog had to do was go “Crap, sorry, didn’t mean that, we trod on a few sore nerves we didn’t intend to by accident. Thanks for letting us know. We shall get on that”

And all would be happy. Cos, frankly, all people generally want is to be heard and respected. Treated like human beings, right? And that is what I expected them to do, as, well, years ago they did a video where they used “gay” as an insult, and when I pointed out that was pretty darn harmful to people growing up working out who they are, they changed the video. Cool on them. So, did they do that?

No. No they didn’t.

What follows are a few screenshots from the Equity For Punks shareholder forum.


So, James, co founder of Brewdog decides to compare this to being offended by mayonnaise. Because of course dehumanisation of mayonnaise is a common problem that leads to people being violently assaulted, raped, and killed. Oh wait, no it fucking isn’t.

So, then James decides that this petition can’t matter because.

James Stats 1

Oh, ok, no one has watched the vid, so they are just going by what they are told, except, well the video is in multiple places on the internet and one of them has 24K views. So what does James say when informed that his assumption was incorrect – does he acknowledge his mistake?

James stats 2

Hahah. No. Apparently we can assume no one has watched the video because. Well James says so. With no evidence whatsoever. This is where I am starting to genuinely get annoyed myself. It is one thing to make a mistake, that happens to us all. It is another to completely ignore voices against you, dismissing them as basically rent an offended who haven’t even watched the video, just because they disagree with you. Sex workers,trans people and the homeless are often people denied a voice, and when they speak out and people speak out for them – you dismiss that voice? That genuinely offends me.

So, what we see next is what seems to sum up James’ misunderstanding of the situation in my mind.

James Social Justice

This is, of course, referring to the fact they did a beer against Putin’s anti LGBT polices and donated money to LGBT causes. Which is great. Genuinely great, Except… Doing good things in the past doesn’t negate bad things you do in the future. Doing bad things in the past doesn’t mean you can’t do good things in the future. Every act stands alone.

There is this pervasive idea in out culture that there are the good people, and the bad people, and any criticism is trying to put you in the bad people box. There aren’t. There are just people. Complete racists can have one friend of a different ethnic group they look out for. People who fight for social justice can slip up and say something offensive, or hold bigoted views on immigration.

None of us are 100% perfect and none are 100% monsters. When people point out you have done something wrong, they aren’t generally on some great kick to label you a monster worse than Hitler. They just want to be heard. All you have to do is listen, and learn from your mistakes, that is all.

It is worth noting that Stonewall, who are one of the people who you donated to, are asking you to cut that shit out.


You respect their opinion right? That is why you donated to them, not just as some cheap marketing gimmick for publicity right? Then please listen.

Your response Brewdog, is just basically a bunch of words making out that the people against you are just offended for fun, and again, dismissing the voices you once claimed to stand for, because suddenly it is inconvenient.


Your defence is often that you are a punk, fun loving brewery – well, to quote Anti flag

“You’ve mistaken the punk scene for the Republican convention”

The video was tone deaf to me, your response has genuinely pissed me off – and I say this as someone who has a long history of being a fan.

Please, Brewdog, James, Listen to people. You used to do that, when did you become so big that you decided to stop? Apologising, learning, doesn’t make you lesser, It makes you the better person. Please listen.


So, to not end on such a down note. Scroobius Pip has done an excellent podcast with Tall Dark Friend, which covered her music and trans topics.


It also has her excellent tune “In Heels” on it – check it out


Notice I did not put “aboot” or “eh” in that title. Attempting to avoid cliché and stereotype. Anyway, since I have had a few weeks to collect my thoughts about my two weeks in Canada I thought I would do a quick bluffers guide on what I encountered. As always I was only there a short time, and only in Alberta and British Columbia so do not take this as a definitive guide.

Most obvious thing I saw? Beer serving sizes vary wildly. When offered a “pint” this could be 16 fluid ounce, 20 fluid ounce, or in one case oddly 18 fluid ounce. So 473ml, 591ml, and 532ml respectively – assuming US fluid ounces. Also I saw .40L and .45L offered. So, yeah expecting standardised measures is waaay out. I always heard Canada was inclusive and they seem to take that to mean they should include every measure under the sun. Not a big deal, but worth being aware of. Incidentally, for reference a Brit pint is 568ml.

Vancouver definitely had the most booming beer scene, but in my entire time I didn’t stay somewhere without a Brewpub nearby – for those of you who like to drink local there will generally be something to find. In most places they kept a good range of beers, but nothing too experimental, though this did change in Vancouver where sours and odd infusions broke out. Also definitely tended towards the lighter coloured beers, far more places had their own lager than I am used to in the UK, also lots of love for the hefeweizen, especially fruit variants, but less love for the darker beers. In fact tart fruit additions to the lighter beer seems to be one of the twists that is popular no matter where you go, and is one of the experimentations that is seen often outside of Vancouver. Though this could be because I visited when it was stupidly hot.

ABV seemed pretty tight around the 5% mark for the most part, I was amused by session beers coming in at a whopping 0.5% abv lighter. The exception to this was IPAs which stood at robust six to seven percent for the most part, as they should be – and in that put a lot of UK IPAs to shame. Speaking of UK comparisons, while keg taps were the standard, the old traditional hand pull was not exactly absent – with one or two hand pull taps poking out being seen at about half the brewpubs I visited. I am ashamed to say I didn’t try any of those, so I cannot speak to the quality. maybe next time. What is nice, and was near everywhere, was a vast quantity of information on the beer you were about to drink. ABV, IBU, OG, hop usage, some times even malt usage. The UK, and frankly most beer scenes could do well to learn from this – an informed beer drinker is often a happier beer drinker with their pint – of whatever size that may be.

Also, I am starting to wonder if Britain is the only place where people go to the pub and don’t generally, intend to have food. Maybe we just really like getting drunk. that may say bad things about us as a culture. Most places I went were offering food, and seemed about as busy as restaurants as they were as pubs. The food was bloody good for the most part as well, standard expected items – pizza, mac and cheese, poutine, steak, burgers, etc – but done incredibly well in most places I hit.

banff beer

Where Canada did seem behind the UK, was in bottle shops. I did a bit of hunting, and found a few good bottle shops, but they seemed less common, and generally had a smaller selection that I was used to. When you did find a good one they usually had a quality, but not overly large selection. Also, the habit of selling stuff in six packs seemed common here as well as the USA. Not bad for locals I guess, but as a beer traveller it did mean I couldn’t experiment as much as I am used to. You also rely on specialist shops a lot more, I didn’t really see much bottled or canned beer being sold outside of specialist stores, though in what I did see canning seemed the more popular route. If you want to try a good range of Canadian beer you will be relying on the tap houses more than in most places.

What really stood out, in both the beer scene and general, was the friendliness – as a sometimes solo drinker, being plonked sat at the bar can often be a tad awkward- but here there was always some beer friend willing to strike up a random conversation. Always cool. The friendliness comes behind the bar as well, samples are often offered and generous in proportion, tabs are often started up automatically with a level of trust unseen in most UK pubs. In fact, they come with a modesty that actually caused problems some times – I was raring to try the local Canadian beers and the staff kept recommending me the USA stuff as awesome. Still, when it comes to the end of the night, remember that friendliness and tip. 15% is standard (before taxes) and with a good exchange rate the beers are not bad value. When looking at prices I kept thinking they were a bit steep but not insanely so, then realising I hadn’t converted them into pounds. So pretty ok value. Food especially.

Overall, well, this write up may seem slightly more restrained than most of my world trip guides, and I think it is because the Canadian beer scene is equally balanced. It seems to have elements from many different beer cultures, and a gentle polite delivery of its own. Nothing too out there, but welcoming. It doesn’t have any items that makes it a must visit beer scene, like for example Belgium, but there are many other reasons to visit Canada, and while you are there – the beers will not disappoint. As always this was from a short visit, locals and regular visitors feel free to correct me or let me know what the rest of Canada is like. Heck if the rest of Canada is much different I may have to visit again, ya know, just to check. It is a hard life.

Oh, and GO LEAFS!


Essays and Alcoholisms: Working With The Grain – A Girvan Trip

Enjoying Whisky

Single Grain. It’s a term that has been popping up on the outskirts of my whisky hunting experiences over the past few years. From the first few encounters at whisky shows, to rare special releases, to highly recommended bottlings being pressed into my hands at local pubs – a lot has happened to make me look again at what has oft been considered as the weaker end of the blending mix. A lot that has really shaken up my preconceptions. What I have never had though is that story, the bit of ”Useless Knowledge” that, as Bertrand Russell pointed out, is not useless but in fact an integral part in increasing our enjoyment, in adding context to an experience and making it feel all the more.

All of which is a very circumloquacious way of saying I was recently invited by Anonymous Artists to head up to the Girvan Distillery for a tour, some tastings, and some background on the whole enterprise. Which is also a good a point as any to bring up the full disclosure that they covered cost of transport, accommodation, food, whisky, etc for the trip. As always I will try my best to be unbiased, but feel full disclosure is important as, well, unlike gamergate I actually do believe in ethics in journalism and don’t just use it as a term to harass people with. I also made sure before the trip I could write whatever I wanted, and was given no hassle at all, for which I thank them

So, where to start? I think one thing that captured the two aspects of the trip, and defined them well was a comment from Kevin Abrook (William Grant & Sons’ Global Whisky Specialist) who lead the tastings and much of the experience, a comment I shall paraphrase here. The difference in Single Malt to Single Grain comes down to a perception of craft and romance on the side of the Single Malts, and engineering and science on the side of Single Grain. The idea that the single grain is taking the adaptability and customisation of the column stills and using them to fine tune the spirit to their needs.

However, as I mentioned in the opening, I am a sucker for the useless knowledge, the context and, yes – the romance – which despite that statement turned out not to be absent from the history of the grain. So, if you will indulge me my foibles, it is there I shall start,

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Container Wars

Have you ever noticed that we, the human race that is, tend to be a tribal bunch? Frankly, as statements go I would hope that to be pretty uncontroversial, yet give it time and I’m sure two sides would emerge – dug into their entrenched positions and arguing the hell out of it. Even odder the tribalism seems to be almost fractal, at every level you have smaller and smaller tribes breaking out.

Drinkers vs. Not Drinkers. Wine vs. Whisky vs. Beer. Craft Beer vs. Real Ale. Hops vs. Malt. So on and so on.

So, beer containers. They make a difference. Kegs, Casks, Cans and Bottles, plus probably others, but I’m keeping it simple(ish) here. However, for all of the fact I called this article “Container Wars” (Mainly as a geek reference to the upcoming “Combiner Wars” comics. Because I am a geek) I’d rather this not be war, more an examination of the benefits of each type.

Now I’m not a brewer, so this won’t be from the brewers side, more a set of views of someone who has drunk a hell of a lot of beers. Just a look at what seems to work better in each style – as always I happily invite feedback from people better informed than I. By necessity these sets will go by generalisations, for nearly every one I can find exceptions, but there do seem to be trends.


The old favourite, cask ale, most often hand pumped or served under gravity. For a long time cask ale was my main go to for quality ale. Well I say cask ale, cask lager is a thing, if not an overly common one. However for the most part cask and real ale are used synonymously so that is what I will be concentrating on here.

The most obvious thing with cask ales is that they have no added carbonation, and are served at cellar temperature at the coldest. Because of this I find they tend to work better with more restrained hop levels, and more malt. This isn’t hard and fast, but cask ale seems very good at having flavours last and linger on, due to texture, lack of carbonation and warmth. Hops give great flavour but large amounts tend to get sticky in a way that the other types don’t and so can wear out their welcome quicker.

The main advantage I find with cask ales is the merging of flavours, cask ales tend to allow the flavours to mix together, the malt and the hops merge when used well, each aspect influencing the others. It is a great way of holding beers that are made to be well integrated and benefit from the complexity you can get from that.

Another unique aspect is the feel, a hand pulled cask ale of any type does not feel like any other kind of beer. There can be very natural characteristics to it, a slight sourness to a bitter, slight sulphur, organic elements. In a lot of the newer style beers these can seem out of place, but used well they can create a rustic feel or can be used for contrast to the other main elements.

For these reasons, the oft maligned bitters and brown ales find a natural home, there can be a slight sourness to a bitter to make it refreshing, or a very natural blending of flavours to a brown ale which cannot be easily achieved in other ways. Even style originally foreign to the storage method, such as German inspired wheat beers can find new expressions when made with cask in mind, allowing for the extra thickness and merged flavours to create Anglo German hybrids. It is the oft overlooked choice in the new wave of brewing, but there are a lot of tricks up its sleeve. It is possibly the hardest to use though – I have seen a lot of foreign beer styles made for cask with no idea of how they will alter, resulting in lacklustre beers that seem pale imitations rather than inspired new twists. Also, cask ales need to be stored carefully, served when just right, and used quickly before they go off – at every point there is a lot that can go wrong, and cask ale with a yeast infection excessive acidity seems an ever present risk in bars without the knowledge on how to handle them.


For years the maligned cousin of cask, now keg is standing up on its own two feet here in the UK, inspired by the USA craft beers the keg has become the beloved choice of much of the new wave of brewing in the past few years.

Kegs tend to produce sharper clearer defined flavours, there is little of the merging that you see with cask, instead each element seems to stand by itself. This can be great for where you want each element to stand alone, but not if you want the elements to complement each other more closely. Most tellingly this can be seen with hop bitterness – in the same beer tried side by side from cask and keg, the keg beer will often seem a brasher hop punch. With stouts and dark ales the chocolate and coffee notes will be clearer. This is not to say that keg ales cannot be complex, far from it, but there is less intermingling between elements, you can often sense where the malt ends and the hops begins far more easily.

As indicated before, the chilled character and carbonation often allows keg ales to play with bigger flavours that would become overwhelming in cask. This is part of the reason, I feel, why IPA beers are so popular in keg. That and they rock. Of course keg beers play a big part around the world, and a lot of beers styles around the world are native to keg and so find that as their natural habitat.

While I am concentrating on ales here, and while cask lager is a thing, I would be remiss in not pointing out that for most of the world keg is the native home of lagers – that the carbonation works to make the crisp refreshing beers that have far more flavours that the bland mass market examples back home are shamed by. Experience in Prague tells me similarly that the bottled and keg lagers show very different characteristics, which deserve to be examined, but I do not feel qualified to do so at this point. Also, while non pasturised and unfiltered beers is required for casks ales, some keg ales also can non pasturised and unfiltered, and generally are superior like that – though I have not done enough exact comparisons to say exactly what differences are, just that they tend to be cloudier and fuller flavoured.

While not as complex to keep as casks, kegs have their own quirks. Carbonation is one such issue, many pubs that are unused to craft ales seem to over carbonate their beers, resulting in Fosters like soda stream effects. In American various pubs even boasted about the exact gas mix in their carbonation – not something I could speak on myself, but you can tell a distinct difference between a well carbonated and overly carbonated beer.

Container Wars 2


Bottles, or as I call it – 90% of the home drinking selection (though probably not market which I’m guessing may be dominated by cans). Real ale in a bottle is a thing here in the UK, and of the two take home containers I’m guessing only bottles could handle that. I would guess it is do to the fermentation in the bottle, which would not work well in a canned container. As of such the bottle market is the place to be for your real ales you would otherwise encounter in casks.

However they are definitely not just cask ales – for better and worse. Let’s face it, Trappist ales, Hefeweissens, Lambics and IPAs all come bottled, some with bottle fermentation, some without.

I think that opportunity for secondary fermentation is possibly its biggest advantage though, unique to bottles, and bottles can also be sized up – with larger bottles allegedly being better for some long term cellaring. Bottles do seem to be the go to for beers to be aged.

What happens to a beer when bottled depends on what it would otherwise be – real ale styled seem to come through smoother than their cask brothers, which can benefit some ales – they tend to have that smooth intermingled flavours, but just a touch better defined, and a lot of the beers with a wide range of hops and malts in the ingredients seem more easy to express in the bottled versions, where the cask versions can seem muddy as they try and mix too many elements. Bristol Beer Factory’s Vintage Ales are a good example of this – the wide range of elements used really don’t come through in cask, but are much better defined in bottle, without losing the ability of malt and hops to merge and benefit each other. Bottles do lose that unique feel and flavours that seem to come with cask though.

Beers that would come from keg instead tend to lose that freshness, but at the trade off of controlled carbonation levels. In each case it seems to be a compromise between the parent containers. I would say that keg oriented beers in bottles seem to differ less than their cask counterparts, hewing more closely to the parent container.

Even this is a very incomplete description. Bottled trappist ales often have secondary fermentation while I presume the keg versions do not, the trends of the UK beer scene does not map well to the wider world. However it is the beer scene within which I am most familiar, so I hope you will forgive the somewhat UKcentric view of this piece. Perhaps after more beer travelling I may return with more views of the fine beers from around the world and how they compare.


Cans were, for a long time, considered lowest of the low. Real ales that got mutilated for cans were nearly always crap. The canned lager availability was also poor. So we thought cans were the issue, not the beer that was in them.

We were, of course, wrong.

Cans have turned out as the take home younger sibling of the keg era, the recyclable metal container of the craft beer wave. The keg is therefore most definitely the closest cousin for flavour comparisons. They have similar more distinct clear elements, as of all the containers I’m guessing this would handle fermentation in the container worse. I’m not sure it is currently possible with cans. I could be wrong, but I feel their entirely sealed nature would be a pressure nightmare for additional fermentation. However this sealed nature is also cans advantage. No light, less ways for the beer to spoil. Hopped beers are preserved very crisply in cans, which is what has made them beloved of the craft scene.

So IPAs, APAs and the like come out very similarly to kegs with the can diversions, very crisp hops, very clear defined flavours. Stouts and the like don’t seem that different, and possibly psychosomaticly the bottle versions seem to be more complex. Pale beers seem to be the cans friends and their raison d’etre. They are, however, the least well examined so far of the four so I have a lot to learn on them.


You may notice I am studiously ignoring growlers up to this point, but before I go they do deserve a slight mention. Just starting to show up on the UK for the past few years, they have been a solid entry in the USA for a long time. The thing is, for flavour, they seem the weakest entry to me. As soon as they are filled you have a risk of air contact (newer technology seems to be working on this issue) – If you drink over the next few days it should not be an issue, but in every case, you are taking keg or cask beer and adding an additional element of potential infection. On the other hand they are the only way to get those beers home with you, so they have a place – but you will never get an equivalent or better experience than a fresh pulled pint.

Final Thoughts

No you can’t carry beer in thoughts. Yet. I am working on it. Though there is an argument that the beer only truly exists in our mind, so maybe, anyway I digress. Any thoughts? I’m sure many of us have had different experiences, and those of you with a bit more hands experience on the production side can add a lot. let me know what you think, and until next time…

– Enjoy your beer!


 Back In Japan!: The Japan Drinking  Scene.

So Japan and beer. Not words that you tend to see together in the international press. In fact from conversations I have had, a lot of Japan doesn’t seem to know they have a growing craft beer scene. Now Japan and Whisky, the world has got its head around that. After quite a few awards you would have to work very hard not to notice it. Their local beer however is still a well-kept secret for the most part.

That is however changing.  So here we have, based on my short visits, an outsider’s view on the Japan drinking scene.  For any locals of Japan who read this, feel free to correct any mistakes I make. This is based purely on what I saw during my travels and I claim no great expertise.

The first thing that seems odd to an outsider is the opening times. In the UK the lunchtime pint is a thing of tradition, going around America I found places serving at ten in the morning and the refrain, “Its five o clock somewhere!”.  In Japan most craft beer bars didn’t seem to open until 17:00/18:00 hours. On the other hand they did then run to obscenely early o clock in the morning, so it is a trade-off.  You will find some bars, usually brew pubs, doing a short lunch open, but for the most part I would advise to keep bar drink hunting to the night and plan to other things in the day.  You will be in Japan therefore I will presume that this will not be in any way difficult. Continue reading

America. Or more precisely the USA. Possibly the most wrongly maligned beer country in the mind of the general populace and one of the most sought after beer scenes by aficionados. The land where prohibition took place, and one of the largest craft beer scenes in the world. 50 states, each at least the size of Britain and with at least as much cultural variance between them as between Britain’s member countries. How do you even start talking about that?

Well first I’m going to pour a pint. Not because I want a pint. Ok, not just because I want a pint, but also it’s the first interesting difference. The USA pint is smaller. 568ml for UK compared to 473ml for USA.

Which explains why you lot in the USA are all lightweights who think you can drink more than you really can.

I jest.


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Drinking in the Shadow of the Five Rings

The Great British Beer Festival. Usually the highlight of the year for London beer drinkers, where they would congregate at Earls Court. This year, well someone decided to run some small piddling athletics thing called the Olympics in there so we got shunted over to the Olympia.

Seriously I’m fairly sure there are more people who have a pint once a week than there are people who do exercise one a week. That’s all I’m saying.

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Essays and Aphorisms: Shenanigans

Now you may get the impression from my writing that I am a very serious respectable journalist. Actually, that’s fairly unlikely, especially after the beer/sex act joke. Anyway, just in case anyone has made that mistake somehow I thought I would share some oddities from recent nights out.

It had been a quite fun night so far, my random writings and photo taking had resulted in a nice chat with the locals about what I was doing, and I had been making some recommendations of good whisky to try.

Then my good friend Dylan noticed they had something new.  Some weird Jeremiah Weed drinks. Now one was kinda ginger and root beer styled and the other Sour Mash kinda bourbon styled. I was wary, and those many whisky bottles on the wall kept catching my eye. However I am nothing if not open to experimentation. So my tasting note done I decided to join them in sharing two bottles of these new beverages between us.

Dylan and Will started on the ginger one, and made vague appreciative noises.

Huh, now that’s a phrase that looks wrong out of context.

Anyway.  I tried the Sour Mash one, reasoning it had a least a passing wave to my preferred style.
For feck sake why do I do these things?

It was as if someone had taken the vaguest whiff if bourbon and drowned it in water. If I wanted to ruin perfectly good spirits I can do that myself without having to get a fancy jam jar looking glass to do it with.  Shortly after my two amigos decided that the ginger one wasn’t actually all that either, something I could have told them a long time beforehand.  Then Dylan, very reasonably bowed out of drinking more than the small sample he had tried. With the reason being that he was the driver, leading to the following exchange

“God damn it, you ordered these pieces of shit and now you bow out?”

“Well yeah I’m driving”

“Ok. You have a good point. And we hate you for it”

“Well you wouldn’t want us to crash and die in a ball of flame”

“Yes, but only because that’s not the way we want you to die” “We have a list, a long one”

(DISCLAIMER: Despite the preceding piss take, we agree completely with Dylans choice and respect his decision. Drink driving is fucking stupid. Don’t do it. Seriously)

This was then followed by an example at the bar of exactly how bloody posh Bath is. A couple had come in and ordered Jagermeister Bombs, which if you are lucky enough to not know, is Red Bull with a shot glass of Jagermeister dropped in. By which I mean dropped in while still in the shot glass.

However this is Bath, so we couldn’t have that, no indeedy. Instead they dropped a shot glass of Woods 100 Old Navy Rum into a glass of Red Bull instead.  A concoction rapidly called The Bath Bomb, or The Bath Dambuster instead.

All with the Star Inn’s amused bartender looking on and joining the fun.

Anyway, then I ordered a measure of Dalmore 15. The silliness didn’t stop, but at least I had quality whisky to enjoy it with.

So why am I writing all this? Because it’s easy on a night out to get lost in the wonderful whisky and great beer and forget – booze is great, but it’s the people that make it special.

Here’s to all you out there. Share a glass with me would you?

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