Category Archives: beer

Beer! (and other good things)

You don’t have to be my most devoted follower to know my general attitude to the season of humbuggery.  In summary, I don’t hold with it.  I don’t send cards, I don’t give presents (except to children), and I try hard to discourage anyone giving me such things.  If I should happen to get you a present, it’ll be a random time of year, and probably opportunistic.

This year for the first time in many, I’ve had a genuinely pleasant surprise with a present.  A coffee-table book[1] entitled simply “Beer” amused me when I first opened it, and I think it’s going to be a delight to have around.  Thank you F. !

Also for the first time for a while, I’ve overeaten in company on this day.  I know my host is a regular reader (and would probably have been eating meat if I hadn’t been there), so thank you again for a truly delicious lunch and entertaining company.

[1] Any normal book I’d rather have in electronic form than on paper, as I lack space to store the latter.  Music is an exception.  The coffee-table book is another, that hadn’t even occurred to me before!

Where’s the larder?

I’ve just had a pint of good English beer with my meal. As one does from time to time.

It’s a premium beer with a great flavour. But not, alas, at its very best. In this season, my kitchen – in common with the rest of the flat – is rather too warm. English beer is famous for being “warm”, but that really just means warmer than refrigerated, not summer temperatures. My kitchen in winter keeps beer at an excellent temperature. Alas not in summer, and keeping it in the fridge is no solution, because that’s far too cold for English beer to retain any decent flavour. That’s one reason I drink more Weizenbier in summer: it’s great to drink well chilled on a hot day.

Traditionally, the right place to keep English beer is a cellar, but ever fewer of us have any such thing these days.

All of which reminds me of the time in Italy, when I had to replace the fridge/freezer provided by my then-landlord, after it had packed up once too often. I went to a big superstore selling lots of white goods, to take a look at what was available. What I picked up had not just fridge and freezer sections, but a third compartment which was kept at about 12°, notionally for fruit and veg in the Italian summer. Great – in that climate, a larder was really useful!

With our English summer, it’s less necessary than in Italy for our fruit&veg – though it would nevertheless be nice. But a store at 12° would be ideal for English beer, too.

Why don’t we see those 3-compartment fridge/freezer/larders here in the UK?


… is it that a Wetherspoons pub[1] can charge £1.59 for a pint of good beer, while other pubs charge more in the region of £2.59 for what is rarely as good and sometimes vastly inferior?

Their food may be a halfway-house between real food and fast food, but in any case I was too late to be eating it.  But that beer … well, tonight instead of either of my regulars there[2], I tried an unknown brew whose name I forget – dark and rich and delicious.  In comparison to other pubs, it would be good at twice the price.

[1] The one on Mutley Plain (Plymouth), being a good place to wait for my bus home.

[2]  Marstons Pedigree and Abbott.

#apache-helpdesk meet

Just back from meeting some of my regular online colleagues in person. Specifically, from the #apache and #apache-helpdesk IRC channels on

pctony, yango, noodl – great to put faces to the names (OK, I met noodl briefly once before). Not to mention yango’s lovely better half, Andrea, who is with him on a short holiday in Blighty.

Worth a mention: this was yango’s first exposure to trad. english warm beer. We had pints at two different pubs, of which the first was good and the second disappointing. If that second one had been our visitor’s first exposure to it, I suspect it might have been his last, leaving me slightly embarassed (again) to be a Brit. I wonder how many foreigners get a bad first pint and confirm all the worst they’ve heard about our warm beer?

Fairtrade Beer

I just had a beer with my evening meal.  In pouring it, I noticed it bears a Fairtrade label. Fairtrade supposedly means following certain ethical practices in dealing with third-world farmers.

Hang on! WTF????

Beer is a very traditional drink, brewed from locally-grown ingredients. It’s something the English do well, both historically and today. Where the **** does anything foreign, let alone third-world, come in?

Reading the label in more detail, it says “Contains min. 23% Fairtrade Certified Ingredients”. Erm … that looks like 77% non-fairtrade. Isn’t beer more than 77% water? So does that mean the brewer imports water from the third world? Good grief!

Anyway, it wasn’t a good beer. I won’t be buying it again.  Nor will I try the other beer from the Wychwood brewery that sits alongside it on Morrisons’ shelves.