Saturday 22 October 2011

Tax me I'm sick

The cleaner spilt my tea on my lap top and fried my hard drive so I have a shiny new PC. I used to think my old Synaptics touch pad was crap until I tried to use the improved version. I am aware that people in Africa can’t find enough water to survive but I still feel hard done by and incandescent with rage when something which costs a load of money and is supposed to be an improvement causes me to lose half an hour’s work. It is clear to me that Synaptics and the gas monitor company Crowcon are run by an evil genius responsible for all thirst, famine, pestilence, shitty touchpads and personal CO2 monitors which continually fail to calibrate.  Shame on you!
Aside from my battle with the forces of evil it has been a customarily full week. The first of our new range of bottled beers (Massive Ale) is now enjoying a worryingly-leisurely secondary fermentation in CT17, steadily nibbling away at the 10% ABV target in the midst of 20 sacks of dry aroma hops. The customs men, I am sure are salivating at the prospect of their pound of flesh from the strong beer tax.
On Thursday I popped (70 mile round trip) into the Falmouth Beer Festival to enjoy a few good beers swimming in an ocean of hazy beers with more off flavours than an effluent sample. I know that the staff at the festival know what they are doing when caring for the barrels and all of my beers were as I would have wanted so I would discount this as a source of the faults. I do have an extremely sensitive nose and very little tolerance for haze but some of what was on offer was what is technically known as toilet. Whenever I try beers at festivals I tend to put myself in the shoes of the new drinker who is encountering beer for the first time. If the beer is unintentionally not bright, smells of drains and/or is astringent I suspect that the first time drinker is liable to head to Tesco for a cheeky bottle of Echo Falls. Even if they are not as picky as me I wouldn’t expect that the smell of farts and sour milk will be welcome on a drink.   
Does rotten egg, butterscotch and haze where it is not intended put you off a beer or do such ‘idiosyncrasies’ add to beers’ rich tapestry?  

Sunday 16 October 2011

Au revoir Monsieur

Last night was emotional. I had my last bottle of Monsieur Rock. Stocks at the brewery had run out in early September but I had a few left over in the cellar. I am not one for aging beer and Monsieur Rock was never designed to benefit from time in the bottle so last night was time to say goodbye. 

The temptation of brew another batch is strong and the clamour for the beer seems to have grown throughout the year since it was conceived but I like to think that making it once off makes it that much more special. I have however decided to make an ale analogue of the beer as this year’s Sharp’s Single Brew Reserve. This year it will be all about Saaz with first wort and dry hopping with the noble Czech. Rather than lagering the beer I am going to condition it at cellar temperature with dry Saaz before sending it for bottling. Perhaps if it wasn’t called Single Brew Reserve it could be called Madame Rock.

Saturday 8 October 2011

England Sleeping

Well, England are out of the world cup so my phone overfloweth with texts from all nations except my own reminding me that I am from inferior stock. To add insult to injury Wales are through which means my life at the gym for the next 7 days will be punctuated by huge grinning Welshmen telling me where we went wrong and predicting Wales to beat New Zealand by 80 points in the final. I will wish them well, principally because I value my teeth.

I hope the gloom of England rugby ineptitude excuses this very negative non beer related post.

I am passionate man. It is safe to that I am easily annoyed. Some things which others are able to ignore or which some people actually get pleasure from, make me want to commit mass murder. My most acute annoyances tend to change according to my environment. Currently in my top three in order of increasing irritation are;

3. Those adverts where actors playing real people talk about products in a disproportionately passionate way
For example a string of people from Birmingham who appear to be on the verge of orgasm because they have saved £4.28 on a £300 shopping basket in ASDA compared to the same one in Tesco. The worst one however is the conveyor belt of the unhinged in a shopping centre telling the shiny man that Colgate Sensitive toothpaste has mended their broken lives. I suppose what irritates me is not the adverts but the fact that they must be effective. Who is stupid enough to not be intellectually insulted by these ads?

2. Intrusive music
I can’t go to a shop, to a restaurant, sports match or watch a documentary without hearing music that I don’t like, often so loud that I can’t ignore it. When I go to a sporting event they even employ a tart or a twat to ruin the spiritual experience of hearing  50,000 of your countrymen sing the national anthem by warbling over it. I don’t take a PA system and subject people to the music which I enjoy so why do I have to endure what they care to broadcast?   

1.  People who have recently incorporated a throaty growl into their speech because the Americans on TV do it
In the 90s the Australians gave us the relentless use of sentences which ended with a questioning intonation. This seems to have been eased out recently by the idiot growl. It’s not so much the sound which winds me up it’s the idea that adults change the way they speak according to a fashion. Surely we all left the pseudo-American accents in the playground? 

There we go, that’s that off my chest. Before you say it’s because I’m getting old, I assure you if anything my tolerance has increased with time.

Monday 3 October 2011

Coach Trip

We have a VIP party of 20 or so from our local CAMRA branch visiting on Saturday so have been through my personal cellar, pictured here (I wish!) gathering together some special beers for their delectation. I hope they appreciate it.

I have done a good many CAMRA group tours and they are generally very enjoyable. Most attendees are knowledgeable, pleasant and friendly people with whom to share a beer or two. One tour however did not go quite so well.

I gave up my Saturday afternoon to host a coach load visiting a brewery that I won’t mention a few years ago. I walked with them to the brewhouse to begin my explanation. Barely had I started talking when a large, red faced gentleman in a leather waistcoat interrupted, apparently offended at my use of the word enzyme. “you’re speaking gobbledygook man!” he proclaimed. I stopped and pointed out that for some on the tour technical information will be of interest and that he should respect their needs as well as his own, to which he replied “PAH!”. I carried on. More noises of exasperation followed as I mentioned the Maillard reaction, the need for oxygen for cell multiplication and more or less every other bit of technical information. When we got to the bit where I explain how conditioning is used to reduce the concentration of diacetyl and hydrogen sulphide he shouted “rubbish”. At this point I stopped, turned to the rest of the group and asked if they could do anything to either stop his outbursts or whether he could sit out the tour in the bus. The leader of the group looked at me as if I had violated his grandmother and said that my suggestion was inappropriate and quite offensive. I calmed down and carried on.

In the racking hall I started explaining how because our beer is triple fermented it does not need to be left to condition in the cellar and in fact with our cask beers, fresh is best. At this point the waistcoated beer expert said “I’ll stop you there. I have been running cellars for 40 years and I know a great deal more about beer than you. What you are saying is completely wrong. I won’t even broach a beer until it is past its best before date!” You can imagine my demeanour at this time. I could feel every vein in my body bulging out and could barely see over my chest it was so overinflated. Both my fists were aching they were clenched so tight.

I calmly (probably didn’t come across in that way) led the group to the back door of the brewery and said “This, ladies and gentlemen is where the tour ends” and shut the door. As I drove past them milling about in the car park on my way home I think it dawned on them that there would be no sampling for their tour!     

Saturday’s tour should be a much more savoury experience. As follows is what awaits them after the gobbledygook and rubbish.. If you’re in Cornwall and a CAMRA member why not come along?       

CAMRA Kernow Visit to Sharp’s Brewery 2011
Beer Menu

Cask Beers

1.       Cornish Coaster 3.6% ABV

2.       Doom Bar 4% ABV

3.       Autumn Red 4.1% ABV

4.       Sharp’s Own 4.4% ABV

5.       High Gravity Eden Ale 4.9% ABV

6.       Sharp’s Special 5% ABV
7.       Chalky’s Bite 6.8% ABV

Sharp’s Bottle Conditioned Beers (limited supply)

1.       Chalky’s Bark 4.5% ABV
2.       Dark Saison 6.8% ABV
3.       Cellar aged 2006 vintage Chalky’s Bite 6.8% ABV
4.       50 hop IPA 7% ABV
5.       Honey Spice IPA 7.5% ABV
6.       Chilli double IPA 7.7%
7.       Chechen Grand Imperial Stout 8.5% ABV
8.       Citrus Tripel 8.8%
9.       2 year old Soured Abbey Double 8.9% ABV
10.   Honey Spice Triple 9% ABV
11.   DW 9.5% ABV
12.   Massive Ale 10% ABV
13.   Trappist IPA 9.5% ABV

William Worthington's Bottle Conditioned Beers (limited supply)

1.Worthington's E 4.8% ABV
2. Worthington's Red Shield 4.3% ABV
3. Worthington's White Shield 5.6% ABV
4. P2 Imperial Stout 8% ABV
5. Worthington's Gold Shield 8.5%ABV