Wednesday 30 September 2015

Art exhibition and CD launch - Ray Rooney

Ray Rooney, local songwriter and artist, is exhibiting his art and launching his latest CD on Saturday 17 October at the Art House, Eastbank Street, Southport from around 7.00pm. Ray will also be in the gallery in the afternoons of 15, 22 and 24 October to sing a few songs and to discuss his work. All welcome, and admission is free.
You can click on the poster to enlarge it.

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Tuesday 29 September 2015

Spam (and it's not another Cameron joke)

I've been getting a bit of spam recently, which is slightly irritating. It's never posted on the most recent entry on the blog; always on an older one, so I presume they think it is likely to remain there undetected. Don't they realise we bloggers get an e-mail alert every time something is posted on our blogs, even on the oldest of posts? This one, the most recent, is fairly typical:

Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us. nail art

'Nail art' was a link, now deactivated, to a website which unsurprisingly is about nail art. As always with spam, the text is worded in a general way to try to sound interested in the subject matter, but is so neutral and non-specific that the whole thing can be cut and pasted into a blog about anything at all. On a previous occasion, a link took me through to the website of a London escort agency: much as I liked the idea that these beautiful women were fascinated by my view of the temperature of the beer in a Liverpool pub, for some reason I was unconvinced. 

Apart from being irritated, I sometimes wonder whether someone takes the time to go through blogs actually posting these adverts themselves, or are they posted at random by a computer programme?

Monday 28 September 2015

A pint too far?

I e-mailed the CAMRA Marketing Team about the concerns I had about the Campaign's promotion of Punch's free pint offer for Cask Ale Week (see previous post of 26 September), seeing that they had just agreed to sell 158 pubs, including the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, to a property developer. I'm not really convinced by their reply, but I'll let you judge for yourself. Here it is in full:

Thank you for your feedback, all comments received from our members are appreciated and considered.

Punch have played an active part in Cask Ale Week, a UK wide event championing real ale. This promotion is supporting the Punch pub leaseholders by driving CAMRA members into their pubs during Cask Ale Week, these are the very pubs CAMRA has been campaigning to help over the last few years in regards to the tied pub issue. Whilst some of CAMRA's aims and activities conflict with that of Punch's, we encourage a healthy dialogue between us when goals align. Keeping the lines of communication open also allows us to raise and discuss issues when they do not.

CAMRA is also committed to four Key Campaigns..... one is to encourage more people into pubs and another to drink a range of real ales. This scheme can help with both of these Key Campaigns.

I hope this explains the thinking behind our relationship with Punch and the associated Cask Ale Week promotion.

CAMRA Marketing team

Keeping lines of communication open is one thing; acting as their unofficial promoter is quite another. I have questioned the value of CAMRA's May Is Mild Month campaign. Perhaps similar arguments apply to Cask Ale Week if promoting it means we have to compromise basic principles of saving real ale and real pubs just so members with a smart phone can get a free pint in a Punch pub.

Saturday 26 September 2015

CAMRA accepts 30 pieces of silver

It's Cask Ale Week, apparently. I can't say I would have noticed, except that I received a gushing e-mail from CAMRA promoting it. They point out that the 'week' runs from 24 September to 4 October, helpfully explaining that this is 10 days, although it's 11 by my reckoning.

There's a free pint promotion from Punch Taverns, although you have to have an internet enabled smartphone to access the offer. That doesn't bother me too much. The fact that CAMRA is promoting a Punch Taverns offer does.

Last month Punch agreed to sell 158 pubs to New River, a property company with a record of converting pubs to other uses. This sale included the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, one of only five pubs in every Good Beer Guide, and the only one north of Cambridge. I've written about this issue and the local campaign on 31 August, 6 September, and 13 September.

My question is: why is CAMRA promoting an offer by a pub company that is no real friend of the Campaign, whose record with pubs is scarcely exemplary and who has put a cherished local at risk? It's a punch in the face for local campaigners who are trying to prevent or limit the damage this business is causing.

Friday 25 September 2015

Thursday 24 September 2015

Lager still leads the way - Cask Report 2015

The 2015 Cask Report has been published. Rather than summarise the whole thing, I'll pick out a few points that caught my attention.
  1. It's estimated that cask ale is available in 70% of pubs. 
  2. Cask ale sales grew by 0.2% by volume in 2014, whereas total on-trade beer sales declined 1.1% by volume in the same period.
  3. Cask accounts for 17% of all on-trade beer (including lager).
  4. Cask accounts for 57% of all on-trade ale; keg is therefore 43%.
My view of these figures is (in order):
  1. Many of the pubs that don't sell real ale are disproportionately spread, often in areas of economic deprivation. Having drunk in such areas, I know that real ale is rare, and cheap keg and lager is the norm. Real ale tends to be in middle class and better-off working class areas.
  2. It's the third successive year of cask ale growth, which looks rather good against a background of pub closures and declining on-trade beer sales, but sooner or later, loss of outlets will inevitably impact upon this small increase. The room for growth is finite, and shrinking.
  3. &  4.  Although cask is outperforming keg, these figures tell us that lager makes up approximately 60% of all on-trade beer sales. As Fred of our local CAMRA branch is fond of pointing out, without lager drinkers, there'd probably be no real ale. This is one good reason why it is rather silly of a minority of real ale types to mock and belittle the beer choices of non-cask drinkers. 
With the exceptions of the ending of the beer duty escalator and a few small cuts in the levels of tax, the threats to pubs haven't gone away; consequently, despite the positive elements of this report, there still isn't much room for complacency. If anything, the threat to pubs from property speculators is increasing, and although obtaining ACV (asset of community value) status for a pub is certainly a help, it's not a silver bullet. It seems strange to be a doom-monger when there are so many real ale breweries and so many pubs selling their products, but unfortunately the foundations of this situation are, to quite a large extent, built on sand.

There's a lot more detail of the report in this article, which also reproduces the introduction written by Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden. You can see the full report here.

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Stocks for Churchtown

The site of Stocks, a new micropub for Southport.
Photo from Google street view.
It looks as though we may be getting another micropub, or beer shop, in Southport, this time in the northern urban village of Churchtown. Subject to planning permission, Stocks will be opened on Manor Road, near the roundabout with Botanic Road, and will sell "a variety of high quality bottled beers, cask ales and keg beers for consumption on the premises and for take away". While they intend to stock beers from around the world, they say there will be an emphasis on local brews. Wine and soft drinks will also be available.

Churchtown isn't a beer desert: there are two old pubs within five minutes' walk of the proposed site of Stocks: the Bold and the Hesketh. I wrote about them both here last year. Both serve real ale, but neither has a particularly adventurous range. I assume what they supply suits their own customers, but there is a different type of customer to whom beer shops or micropubs such as the Stocks tend to appeal: drinkers of real ale, craft beer and increasingly available unusual bottled beers for whom the familiar regional brews have a limited attraction. I can't see that either existing pub need have much to fear from this new beer outlet: on the contrary, it may make Churchtown more of a destination for drinkers with three pubs within a short walk of each other, especially as they are on a direct and frequent bus route (the 49) from the centre of Southport.

The name Stocks is after the set of stocks dating from 1741 that can be found by the wall of the nearby St Cuthbert’s Church which overlooks the village green.

This is part of a series of articles that I am writing for the CAMRA column in our local paper, the Southport Visiter. Previous reviews are here.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

The Guest House, Southport

A minute's walk from Southport's Lord Street is the Guest House on Union Street. The impressive exterior is half timbered, and inside the walls are wood-panelled, so people often assume it is much older than it really is: just over 100 years old. There are three separate rooms and a drinking area around the bar. Above the bar there are glass screens which many years ago used to be pulled down at closing time, but are now fixed. The interior is mostly unaltered and the pub has just been listed in CAMRA's National Inventory, a record of pub interiors worthy of both protection and celebration, the only pub in Southport with this distinction. Outside there is seating to the front of the pub and in the attractive courtyard to the rear, which has a covered area for smokers.

At the weekend there are 11 handpumps serving real ale, although this number may go down to 8 or 9 during the week. Theakstons Old Peculier, Jennings Cumberland and beers from the Caledonian range often feature, but there is always a changing selection of guest beers, often from local breweries such as Southport, Formby and Parkers. The pub is regularly in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, which is based on beer quality.

There is also an extensive selection of malt whiskies. You can have a coffee, and they serve a range of light, reasonably priced snacks at lunchtime; sometimes in the evenings free nibbles are placed on the bar.

Thursday night is a popular quiz night, and there are two unamplified folk nights each month in the
front room: the first Monday is mostly songs, while the third Monday mostly folk tunes. They also have a solitary television. Generally, though, this is a pub where people go to meet friends and have a conversation. The clientele is fairly mixed in terms of age, gender and interests.

The Guest House is near all the main bus routes on Lord Street, and less than 10 minutes' walk from Southport railway station. Street parking only. Enquiries: 01704 537660.

This is part of a series of articles that I am writing for the CAMRA column in our local paper, the Southport Visiter. Previous reviews are here.

Monday 21 September 2015

Two fingers from Brewdog

I wrote on the 3 September how Brewdog's campaign to wrest money from their fans to fund their business had caused offence: they've been accused of mocking homeless people, trans women and sex workers in their video, with the message: don't force them [i.e. Brewdog] to do such humiliating things to raise money.

Despite 20,508 signatures on the petition, Brewdog are unrepentant. Their response was: "If you believe we are ridiculing [trans people, homeless people, sex workers], you are either misguided, ill-informed or out of your tiny mind."

They're so full of themselves, they just don't get it, do they? Their intentions aren't really the point; if you cause this kind of offence inadvertently, the best thing to do is apologise. By accusing 20,508 petitioners of being misguided, ill-informed or out their tiny minds, they have shown a breath-taking arrogance, especially as I am sure they can understand why some people are upset, even if they think they are wrong to be so.

To give an analogy: I have in the past been politely stopped by women friends when I used the term 'girl' to describe a young adult woman. My response was to say sorry and correct myself. No offence intended or caused. If I had persisted in saying 'girl' in front of those women, then it would then have been clear I was deliberately trying to cause offence. This is in effect what Brewdog has done.

If they'd just said "sorry, didn't mean to upset anyone" and withdrawn the video, they'd have gained some respect for listening. As it is, they've shown what they are: arrogant wealthy businessmen who refuse to accept they may have made a mistake. This suggests to me they actually believe all their own hype, so you can add the word 'deluded' to the mix.

That tells me all I need to know about them really.

P.S at 4.22pm: 20,524 signatures now.

Friday 18 September 2015

Delivering in West Lancs

A view of the canal from the beer garden
of the Ship in Haskane
I distribute the local CAMRA mag, Ale & Hearty, to certain pubs. As I have a car, I've agreed to cover some of the West Lancs pubs, most of which are either hard or impossible to get to by public transport from Southport where I live.

My friend Alan agreed to come along on yesterday's trip. I say 'agreed' but why would he say no to someone offering to drive him around half a dozen pubs? As well as being company, he was my surrogate drinker: I don't like diving into pubs with a pile of magazines, and then shooting out again without buying a drink, but I have to do that, or end up over the limit. In the event, I had three halves over five hours, but Alan had something in every pub. Neither of us had a bad beer all afternoon.

I had also decided to make notes about each pub and take pictures for the articles I've been writing in the Southport Visiter, which I also post on this blog (previous articles here). Someone once asked my when I'd agreed to start writing advertorial. The answer is I haven't, but I won't be writing negative comments about pubs for the paper for two reasons:
  • The articles appear in the What's On section of the paper, and I believe the paper wants positive recommendations of nice pubs to go to. If I visit a pub and don't like what I find, I simply won't write about it. So far, I've made that decision once.
  • Real ale for us is part of our social life - for licensees, it is part of their livelihood. For that reason, even if I can't stand a pub, I won't criticise it in the paper, assuming the editor would accept such an article. I reserve the right to write what I like here on this blog, but even then I'm not keen on being too damning.
The pubs we visited were:
  1. The Ship, Haskayne.
  2. The Kings Arms, Haskayne.
  3. The Martin Inn, Ormskirk.
  4. The Farmers, Burscough.
  5. The Slipway, Burscough.
  6. The Heatons Bridge, Scarisbrick.
Pubs 1, 4, 5, and 6 are canalside pubs, and 2 is very close. 

We were given a friendly and hospitable reception in all of them. Next week, I have a few more places to deliver to. I'd like to say, "Tough job, but someone's got to do it", but I'll be driving! Still, it is nice to visit them and bring myself up to date on what they're like.

My articles will appear here, as well in the Visiter, over the next couple of months.

Thursday 17 September 2015

Liars, damned liars, and health campaigners

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Mark Twain, who attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli. The point has never been that statistics are inherently bad: it's that their value depends how you compile them, what you include, what you leave out, and whether you have cited them in an appropriate context.

So it is with the cost of alcohol use to the government in England, including the NHS, the police, the criminal justice system and the welfare system. The Institute of Economic Affairs is a think tank that promotes free market economics; it has recently issued a discussion paper called Alcohol and the Public Purse. The IEA is not a source I'd normally quote, but it is undeniably influential and, as far as I know, not known for any bias concerning alcohol per se either way. Its author is Christopher Snowdon, a libertarian opponent of state intervention in matters such as alcohol, smoking and obesity.

The report runs to more than 40 pages, but some of its conclusions include:
  • The £20 billion cost of alcohol use to the UK quoted by public health campaigners is "extremely misleading, conflating social and economic costs (most of which are paid by individuals and businesses) with the costs to government departments (the cost to the taxpayer)".
  • "The best estimate of the gross annual cost of alcohol consumption to state-run services, including the Department of Health, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the Home Office, is £3.9 billion in 2015 prices. This consists £1,954 million to treat alcohol-related injuries and ill health, £1,626 million to tackle alcohol-related crime, and £289 million paid in benefits to those who are unable to work as a result of alcohol-related mental or physical health problems."
  • The IEA has previously said UK alcohol duties should be halved to make them less regressive and bring them closer to duties elsewhere in Europe. This would raise a total of £5,206 million, more if sales went up as a result. Even if they didn't, government income would comfortably exceed government expenditure on alcohol-related problems. 
Cutting duties isn't so unrealistic as it sounds, seeing that UK drinkers still pay 40% of the EU's entire alcohol tax bill, but we'd have to accept that it is politically improbable at present. 

You can find the full report here.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Will teetotaller Corbyn close down pubs?

Is this the only beer we'll have
under a Corbyn dictatorship?
In recent weeks, a few people have been saying to me: "You do know Jeremy Corbyn doesn't drink, don't you?" Well, yes, I did actually, and I'm not particularly worried. If he becomes prime minister, we will not be entering a new era of Prohibition. Although he has strongly-held political principles, he is a consensual politician who will not be setting murderous Stalinist gulags, as Toby Young ludicrously but indisputably insinuated on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions. In the 70s, Corbyn's politics were not particularly far to the Left of what was then the centre ground: we have all slept while the so-called centre ground has moved sharply to the Right.

I see no threat to pubs, drinking and real ale if he should take power, for the same reason that if I were in a position to become prime minister, sport would be safe, even though I have no interest in it whatsoever. Corbyn's teetotalism is a personal choice, not a political principle. Only zealots and bigots try to limit other people's legitimate pleasures simply because they don't share them.

The Morning Advertiser has published an article showing how over the years he has supported a wide range of pub-related motions in the House of Commons during his career, pointing out that: "In the last parliament, he was a signatory for many of Save the Pub group chair and Liberal Democrat MP, Greg Mulholland’s early day motions. Broadly speaking, he has put his name to parliamentary business which is against large pub companies, and has been a signatory for motions supporting licensees, music in pubs and community pubs in general."

I appreciate that not all drinkers will want to vote for Corbyn, but I don't see that anyone needs to be worried about pubs and beer should he win a General Election.

The full article listing many specific measures he has supported can be found here.

Sunday 13 September 2015

Roscoe Head demo

Carol Ross heads the demo outside her pub
(click on the picture to enlarge it)
Big day in Liverpool yesterday for the Roscoe Head with a demo in the street supporting this threatened pub (I've written twice about this issue recently on the 31 August and the 6 September). Liverpool CAMRA had called the demo, and it was attended by its own members, along with members from neighbouring branches - six from my branch, Southport and West Lancs - pub regulars and some representatives of the media.

The street had been blocked off for the occasion, and I was pleased that two Liverpool councillors addressed the event; it's good to see local politicians recognise the significance of pubs like the Roscoe Head to the community and to the attractiveness of Liverpool as a destination for visitors.

I had known that the pub was one of only five to be in every Good Beer Guide, but was surprised to learn it is the only one north of Cambridge. Copies of CAMRA local magazine, Mersey Ale, were waved in the air for the cameras, along with letters of protest to be signed and sent to the boss of New River, the property company buying this pub from Punch Taverns.

When it was all over, most of us went indoors with the altruistic aim of boosting the pub's profits, although quite a few stayed outside in the street to enjoy their pints in the sunny weather. If there's a better way of showing this pub's popularity, I can't think of it.

Here again is the petition to Liverpool City Council to list the pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), and here is the report of the event in the Liverpool Echo.

P.S. I hear that the council as agreed the ACV, although this is subject to the agreement of the Land Registry.

If you want to write to New River, you can click on this letter, save it on your own computer and print it off. Don't forget to add your own name and address.

Friday 11 September 2015

Rat Brewery Rata Nui

Picture borrowed from brewer's twitter feed
At my acoustic song session last night in the Lion in Liverpool, I came across a beer new to me: Rata Nui from Rat Brewery, a 5% hoppy golden ale made with New Zealand hops. The brewery is a six barrel micro in Huddersfield and is a subsidiary of Ossett Brewery. They specialise in rodent-themed beers, although I do hope this refers only to the names rather than the ingredients.

I found Rata Nui to be strongly hoppy, with some citrus but not a lot, and quite heavy: you would not mistake this for a light citrus summer beer. Once I'd discovered it, I stayed on it for the rest of the evening. I hope to see it again – good prominent flavour and in my favourite strength range. 

It was a good turnout for the music session too, with an appreciative couple who just happened to be there enjoying the music so much they offered to buy us all drinks. Always nice when that happens, but unfortunately I had to rush for my train.

Thursday 10 September 2015

Ormskirk Beer, Food & Wine Festival

This festival is being put on jointly by The Cricketers and Ormskirk Cricket Club. The Cricketers is currently the CAMRA Pub of the Year (West Lancs area). More details and tickets here.
Click on the poster to enlarge it. 

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Liverpool planning a late night levy

How our moral guardians
see late night drinking
Liverpool City Council wants to introduce an annual charge of between £299 and £4,400 on any licensed premises if they want to stay open after midnight, along the lines of what Newcastle-upon-Tyne introduced in 2013. The council says that about 800 premises would be affected. The police state that it costs around £540,000 a year to cover the city centre between midnight and 6.00am, so some of the money would go towards that.

I posted my thoughts about late night levies in some detail a couple of years ago; I had serious misgivings about the real intentions and purposes of the levy, which on the surface sounds innocent enough - click here to read what I wrote then. These levies are payable when premises are licenced to be open after midnight, regardless of whether they actually stay open then or not. Some pubs have late licences which they use only occasionally, and they would have to have their licences changed to closing by midnight or they'd incur the levy: already a spokesperson for Wetherspoons has said that "If it were to be introduced in Liverpool, we would have to consider the closing times of our pubs."

I also wrote in 2013: I'm worried about the "foot in the door" effect: if taken up widely by cash-strapped councils, the policy will be declared a success. Who can be certain that the time limit might not then be moved from midnight to - say - 11.00pm? It would require no more than a simple adjustment to the Act - fine-tuning they'd call it - to bring most pubs within its scope.

I still wouldn't put it past them.

Here is the BBC news report.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Greetings from the bar

Recently I was walking home with some shopping. A young woman who was walking behind me caught up with me and said, "I thought it was you!" It was one of the barmaids from the Mount Pleasant, who is always very cheerful and friendly when I go there, and who would no doubt pass Tandleman's stringent standards for female bar staff - she's even well mannered enough to smile at my jokes. We briefly chatted and went on our separate ways.

This reminded me of a few years ago when my sister from Hampshire came to visit. We were walking down Southport's Lord Street when a young woman called across, "Hi Nev!" I greeted her in return, and my sister asked who that was. I told her it was a barmaid from the Falstaff.

Five or ten minutes later, another young woman called "hello" across to me, and I replied again. My sister asked who she was, so I explained that she was a barmaid in the Guest House.

My sister commented drily: "I'm beginning to see a pattern developing here."

Sunday 6 September 2015

Roscoe Head sale - update

A sign in the Roscoe Head
Further to my post on Monday about the Roscoe Head in Liverpool, CAMRA Liverpool Branch are taking very seriously the risk to this pub, one of five nationwide, and the only pub in the North of England, in every edition of the Good Beer Guide.

On four separate occasions, Punch Taverns refused to sell the pub to the licensee Carol Ross because, they said, the Roscoe Head was part of their core estate. Suddenly, and with very little notice to Carol, it was redesignated non-core and sold to New River, who are a property development company with a record of closing and converting pubs. The only assurance New River have given is that there are no plans to redevelop the Roscoe Head or any other pubs they've recently acquired into convenience stores "at this stage". There is no guarantee about conversion into something other than a convenience store, or how long "this stage" will last.

The Roscoe Head is a popular, attractive and well-maintained pub. None of the usual arguments about pub closures - run down, not well used, economically unviable - apply here. There's no doubt that many pubs sit on prime sites that can produce a bonanza if redeveloped, but that fact alone isn't a good argument to redevelop them. The Roscoe Head is very much a locals pub near the city centre, and is popular with a range of pub goers, not just real ale drinkers. Regrettably we live in an age of rampant capitalism that defines everything by its monetary price, with little regard to its real value by other, more human measures.

Here is a petition to Liverpool City Council to register the Roscoe Head as an Asset of Community Value (AVC), whereby planning permission is required to change a building's use or to demolish it.

There is a demo planned outside the pub at 2.00pm next Saturday 12 September. I suspect there may be some refreshment associated with the event.

Friday 4 September 2015

Scotland - up before the beak

I've written about various aspects of minimum pricing for alcohol many times before, including the Scottish Parliament's passing of a law enacting it in Scotland. Specifically, three years ago I wrote "Drink lands Scotland in court", after the Scottish Whisky Association made a formal complaint about the minimum pricing proposals to the European Commission. Following this battle has been rather like watching an unavoidable car crash in slow motion, with an entirely unsurprising result

The European Court of Justice advocate general Yves Bot said the move risked infringing EU rules on free trade, explaining that could only be legal if it could be shown no other mechanism could deliver the desired public health benefits, such as taxation. This latter point, which allows that the policy could be legal if no other measures can achieve its declared aims, means that this is not the final word. The SNP government is pinning its hopes on this, supported by Tennent Caledonian, renowned for their utterly mediocre beers; their managing director said: "Minimum pricing is an important step in addressing the very specific but damaging problem of strong, cheap alcohol. It would be a lost opportunity for Scotland if it were not introduced."

In reality, it would be a lost opportunity for Tennent Caledonian, whose profits would be boosted by a reduction in the availability of cheaper booze. Two thoughts occur to me: if Tennent Caledonian are genuinely concerned about the health risks of booze, why are they in the business at all? After all, dearer booze isn't safer in health terms. If - more realistically - they have leapt onto the health bandwagon for purely protectionist reasons, they could protect their business by brewing better beer. Of course, there's no chance that will ever happen, but I loathe their opportunistic dishonesty.

Politicians like simple proposals like this because they are cheap and give the impression of taking action while actually doing nothing about the problems they are meant to address. I also dislike the fact that it will mainly hit people without much money, and certainly won't affect the better off. The SNP government can take some solace in the fact that the statement by the advocate general is only an opinion, but it would take compelling additional evidence and arguments for the European court not to endorse it. This is a serious setback to the policy, but it's going to take some time before we hear the final word.

The Pub Curmudgeon wrote about this news from a different angle yesterday.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Capitalist 'Punks' offend again

BrewDog, officially the most irritating brewery in the world*, has offended again with their latest attempt to raise cash to the extent that a petition has been set up to demand that they withdraw it and apologise. The petition states:

BrewDog beer company claims to be "beer for punks". They claim to be ethical. Yet in their new crowdsourcing video they mock homeless people, trans women and sex workers. They say, "don't make us do this" whilst performing as offensive caricatures of people, many of whom already suffer discrimination every day. They are mocking the lives and experiences of people who real punks would be defending and helping. Worse, this is a fundraising video - they're using these images in an exploitative manner to make money.

I regard the video as rather vain and quite childish, but I can see why some people might find it offensive, so I've signed. I've done this aware that BrewDog will probably regard this petition as a badge of honour, because they claim to be punks.

Except they're not really: they are no more punks than Richard Branson is a hippy. You'd never seriously put them alongside The Clash, The Sex Pistols or Siouxsie and the Banshees, would you? There's 'iconoclastic' - and there's 'silly'. If you want to sign the petition, it's here.

* Source: Rednev's ReARM.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

IPA - Wagner or Gaugin?

It's good to see that Beer magazine, published quarterly by CAMRA, has made it into the prestigious columns of Private Eye number 1399, specifically into Pseuds Corner. Here is the text that has been so honoured:

"To my mind the English style IPA is deep, brawny, muscular, a baritone booming out, sparks flashing through the air amid the ringing of the hammer off the anvil. It's Wagnerian, compared to the bright citrusy, tropically fruity, Paul Gaugin luminescence of the IPA that a lot of brewers are currently making."

So, who was the writer? Step forward Adrian Tierney-Jones, secretary of the British Guild of Beer Writers, freelance contributor to various newspapers, magazines and journals, and author of the Called To The Bar blog.

Pity about the mixed metaphor.