Thursday, 19 November 2009

Unbreak my heart........

A Spanish study has found that regulalry drinking alcohol of any type could cut the risk of heart disease by almost a third - at least in men anyway.

According to the study those drinking moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol had around a 50% lower risk of coronary heart disease following a study of more than 40,000 adults over ten years.

The optimum result it transpires is for moderate drinkers who drink 5g and 30g of alcohol a day - the equivilent to 0.6 and  3.75 units a day or nearly 4 pints a day of standard lager - where the risk of heart disease was reduced by 54%.

Sounds like good news for alcohol right...wrong apparently and doctors in The Times were quick to heap scorn all over the findings, challenge the methodology and generally dismiss it as piffle ( I suspect there was much furrowing of brow and blowing of cheeks involved) rather than accept that maybe the current guidelines on alcohol consumption may be out of date.

Sad news for me is that the effect on women is unproven but I think I'll have a beer anyway just in case

Monday, 16 November 2009

38 sleeps..........

With only 38 sleeps till Christmas I've been thinking about what I might like in my stocking this year and there are a load of alcohol inspired presents to choose from.

Mini Prosecco on Ice Set

Over at M&S they have this sweet Mini Prosecco on Ice set

Veuve Clicquot Indulgence Box SetT

The Food Store have this gorgeous Veuve Clicquot Indulgence Box Set
Or John Lewis have this stylish Rose Champagne and white chocolate truffles set.

So with all these stylish booze related pressies about what little gift could you find for your lady to show her that beer is indeed a stylish and sophisticated choice for women this Christmas..................The Silly Beer Glass.......obviously

Silly Beer Glass I Love Beer with Pink Bell
Nothing says "I love you" more than a pint tankard with a bell on........................

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Make love not war.........

At the risk of this blog turning into a sycophantic fan site,  Pete Brown wrote a great piece this week on how the beer industry should be working better together (that's not exactly how he described it but I'm too much of a lady to repeat his actual words!) and I couldn't agree more with his sentiment.

Despite recent good news on ale sales the harsh facts are that the beer category has been in general decline since the 1980’s and the short term trend has accelerated over the last 2 years. 52 pubs a week are closing, beer is only found in 5% of supermarket shopping baskets and more than 1 in 5 adults claim never to drink alcohol so we have a LOT of work to do as an industry if we want to reverse this trend.

Something new that's been blogged about recently is myBrewerytap a brand new website that delivers real ale from local breweries direct to your door. To me this is a great idea, anything that makes different types of beer more accessible is a great idea and offering small breweries the opportunity to reach more consumers should be applauded. Their website is good and they obviously know their stuff and have outreached to a number of bloggers (Pencil and Spoon Reluctant Scooper and Pete have all written about them). They also offer the 52 Week Beer Club, a subscription beer club that's a great way of discovering some of the best ale that Britains independent breweries have to offer.

All in all a great offer until I received this email from them.........

We are a brand new website that was launched in September so we are a new face in the real ale market and our goal is to convert younger pub drinkers from fizzy bland " cooking lager" over to flavoursome, lovingly made British real ale by bringing the brewer closer to the customer.

And this for me is the problem. Forgetting that by sending this to me they've obviously not done their research very well, having a pop at lager to sell their wares is tiresome to say the least. In a market were 60% of women don't drink beer EVER, I couldn't care less what gets women into beer, a pint of Carling or a real ale, what matters is we need to get women into the category and out of wine. Let's at least get them in and then we can have a bun fight about what type of beer they should drink, this type of behaviour gives the whole category a bad name.

Putting a pint of dark, chewy Olde Ferret* in front of a woman, watching her struggle to drink it and then telling her why she's wrong will not show that beer should be the most sociable, inclusive drink around.

So myBrewerytap you have a great website and it looks like you offer a good service, stick to doing what you do and doing it well, don't cheapen yourself by having a pop at lager.

*apologies if there is actually a beer called Olde Ferret out there, I'm sure it's lovely I was just trying to make a point

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Sun is shining.....

Well who would've thunk....a positive story on the beer category in today's Sun.....blimey!!

So  Ale is in growth which is great news, as Pete Brown (a big Cobra Bite Fan) recently wrote in the Cask Report, Cask Ale is in good growth in 2009, in fact outperforming any other beer with both volume and value growth in 2009 in what is a very tough beer market and this is clearly having a knock on effect to the Ale category as a whole.

Since I work for the country's biggest lager brewer I should probably take the chance to trot out some facts about lager performance (and believe me I have loads) but I won't, because that's not what matters here for me. Not only do we brew some great ales but the important thing here is seeing a positive story about the beer category in the papers, which after a 2 week expose on 'binge Britain' in the same paper makes a very refreshing change from pictures of drunk girls with their knickers round their ankles.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Sexy Beer.......

I see little gems like this and I can't think why it is more women don't drink beer and think it's the preserve of loutish, puerile, sun reading, lager louts.........You can buy this little beauty over at Amazon for a steal at just £5.50

According to the blurb.........
Beer Bottle Holder

"This is the sexiest way to enjoy your favourite bottle of lager! We all know that man's 2 favourite things are Beer and Boobs, now this bottle holder has ingeniously combined the two! This will provide an overwhelming amount of happiness for any male user! You can hold onto any part of the big busted babe's body while sipping your beer, without even getting so much as a slap!"

Classy, the gift for the man who has everything.......except taste

Affligem Blond

I'm slowly working my way through the Belgian Blonde mixed case I recently purchased from the super Beer Merchants contianing 20 bottles of Belgian Blonde beers ( 10 different types) and a fab Beer Merchants glass to drink them from.

I'm a big fan of the idea of a mixed case becuase I think it's a great way to trial new stuff. Whilst I love the idea of new things I can be a bit of a lazy shopper and tend to default to what I know (I've been eating crispy chilli beef from the Chinese for the last 10 years) sometimes rather than be disappointed. So to have someone go to the trouble of picking new beers for me that I wouldn't otherwise try is brilliant (that's why I loved the idea of BeerSwap so much).

My favourie so far is this, Affligem Blond, Abbey beer, 6.8%. It pours a hazy gold (sorry, really must start taking better pictures!) with a tight, white head and straight away you get a lovely spicy smell, cloves, nutmeg, slight hint of cinnamon and a sticky apricot sweetness.

That sweetness is there when you drink it with lovely honey flavours (I'm a sucker for anything with honey in) a hint of banana a very low bitterness.

All in all a very nice, drinkable beer that I'd choose again.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

King of pants............

Look what I found over at ebay, a Budweiser G-String that's "lined for comfort" - thank God for that, all that nylon looks like it could chafe.........

Drinking in French France..........

Since I've started this blogging thing I've not said much about the beers I work on, not really sure why, could be the barage of abuse I get from the beer blogging fraternity (although I think I can handle that!) but I suspect it's more because I take them a bit for granted.

It's not that I don't drink them, I do (well if I'm honest not Stones or Albright) and last night  I revisited Kasteel Cru Rose, a lovely beer of ours that I last drank in the hot tub at The Sanctum Hotel at a party with Kimberley from the Pussycat Dolls (honest, there's pictures of it here too)

Kasteel Cru Rose is brewed with the natural soft waters of Alsace (I didn't write that bit, I stole it from the sales presenter but it's true!) and flavoured with elderberries and elderflowers.

It pours a bright, salmon pink with a bright white head and for a very delicate lager, it packs a lot in, with elderflower flavours at the start moving on to lemon and red apple, but with almost no hop bitterness at the end.

So it's s surpise that I haven't had one in such a while if it tastes so good but I blame it on France. Or more specifically  a 2 week camping holiday this summer with my good friends the Walsh's
One balmy summers evening pre holiday Mark and wI ere waxing lyrical about all the great beer we would seek out on our holidays, Kate suddenly piped up "the only beer I like is Kasteel Cru Rose, shame you can't get that in France, I'd love to drink that on holiday, if only  there was a way we could get some of that out there........"

If only, I must have been the only car making the crossing from Dover to Calais loaded up with booze!! But Kate wanted to drink Kasteel Cru Rose and drink it we did, and there lies the problem. It became a 'holiday' beer, relegated to the San Miguel cupboard of beers that taste great while you're on your jolibobs but are never quite the same unless you are sipping them in the early evening warmth watching the sun set over the vinyl of a Eurocamp tent.

And so I haven't really had one since the summer but last night I just fancied something a little lighter, a little sparklier than normal - it was a Saturday afterall - so I opened a bottle and it was delicious, especially with a handful of black olives (for complimentary food matches think pink - Salmon, Prawns).

Saturday, 7 November 2009

What if White Shield made a lager.....

Well they have and he's called Bob...........

I was lucky enough to get my paws on a couple of bottles of Best of Burton, a bottle conditioned lager at 5.3% that was brewed by Steve Wellington to raise money for Mencap and it is magnificent.

For some the very idea of a lager would be blasphemy but for me I like lager and I love Worthington White Shield but my only criticism would be that the low level of carbonation and big explosion of hops make it only suitbale for the occasional (but well deserved) treat so this for me is just about perfect.

The beer offers a perfect balance of maltiness and bold hoppiness, that is less of a challenge than the big smell suggests. It's more tablet than treacle with a soft butter finish to the caramel flavours. The finish was clean with citrus notes and superb mouth feel. I had it with a chicken curry and the extra carbonation did a better job of lifting the flavours and cleanising the palate in between mouthfulls than White Shield would. This to me is a perfect Friday night beer and would be just amazing with fish, chips and curry sauce!!

Sadly this is a one off run although if it went on sale i would buy it for sure. That said you may have noticed that Bob was one of twins and there's still one left in the kitchen. Maybe, just maybe I could be tempted to part with it for BeerSwap..........

*sorry about the quality of the pictures, may well treat myself to a new phone if I'm going to make a habit of this (any excuse for shopping)
** thanks to Beer Merchants for the glass, if you want to buy beer go to them, they're the best

Friday, 6 November 2009

Love it or Loathe it.....

I'm not sure if this will become a regular feauture as I'm not sure I can come up with too many gems like this one.....the Heineken disco ball.

As far as I can see it does no more than look slightly easier on the eye than a naked keg - don't think it chills it, it could be that the thickness keeps the keg cold but I can't find any evidence that that's the case.                                 Anyways - what do you think? A thing of beauty or the beer equivalent of those dolls your nan used to put on the toilet rolls?

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Dear Santa, please can I have............

Clearly I'm all for anything that gets more women choosing beer but sometimes I stumble across things that even I think are a step too far.

So here's the thought process.......ladies don't like beer but they do like jewellery so if you combine the two the ladies are bound to love it wrong, very wrong.

The first little gem I found were these delightful Beer Cap Earrings  - aren't they just gawjus!!

I'm all for recycling  but seriously, what would you need to be wearing and where would you be going to think "what would look nice with this, I know the Stella bottle top earrings"

And it doesn't stop here. Obviously if you were wearing your beer cap earrings you'd want a beer bracelet and beer ring to go with it...........

Fortunately D-Licious Jewellery is here to help with that. Apparently "Dana creates beautiful jewellery using aluminium beer cans and sterling silver"

Put down the Immac

It's Movember, a  month-long celebration of the moustache, highlighting men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer and we're all encouraged to grow our own moustache.

If you, like me, think that maybe growing your own tache is a bit above and beyond the call of duty but want to show your support for this very worthwhile cause then fortunately help is at hand. Why not snap up this necklace from Tatty Devine and help make more men aware of the risks of prostate cancer.


Or for just £5 Punky Pins have these very cute moustache earings.

And while I may have a dig or two at Brewdog lately they have done something I very much approve off and brewed a special Movember beer with 25% of the sale price being donated to this very worthy cause.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cheap Tricks

Hot on the heels of Brewdog's questionable use of totty it seems that the beer industry is not alone when it comes to objectifying women to make a quick buck. PepsiCo has been forced to apologise after it was accused of stereotyping women with an iPhone app for its Amp Energy drink that helped users "score" on a date.

The app features 24 types of women, including "nerd", "foreign exchange student" and "treehugger", and offered possible pickup lines including "Wasn't I in Space Academy with you?" and "You know the Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. I wonder what else she shaves?"

I'm no puritan or a bra burning feminist, I have even been described as having a "bawdy" sense of humour (am still trying to work out if that's a compliment) but seeing this kind of cheap tat from a company that claims "Win with diversity and inclusion" and "respect others and succeed together" immediately begs the question......"seriously, what were you thinking?!"

The drinks business is an incredibly competitive market place and it's increasingly diffixult to come up with creative and innivativce ideas but any idiot could see that this would cause complaints for a bargain basement brand never mind a company on this scale so someone at Pepsico clearly needs an arse kicking.

 Taking of bargain basement brands I also came across this from Skinny Blonde, a low carb 5% beer from Australia that fortunately is yet to grace our shores. They have come up with a marketing campaign straight out of the pages of FHM using thermochromic ink on the bottle label so that 'Daisy's" bikini comes off as you warm up the label......classy.

What really bothers me about this (apart from the blatant sexism obviously) is that it continues to perpetuate the myth that beer is solely the preserve of men (and peurile adolescent ones at that) and not only makes a lot of women cross but alienates them from the beer category. And it makes beer look cheap and dirty - would a wine brand ever do this, or a gin brand - obviously not and while there are beers like this that will it makes it tougher for the rest of the market to show beer in a good light. I have no idea what this beer tastes like but my gut feel is that it's probably not great or they wouldn't have resorted to a low rate stunt like this.

In their defense the people behind Skinny Blonde claim, wait for it...........

"This generation of Aussies have grown up on the beach and topless girls in bikinis are commonplace. The label and website is in no way meant to offend women or anyone else, rather embrace the Australian beach culture."

Lets hope that it never makes it over here, I don't remember seeing too many 6 foot, blonde women topless on the beach during my childhood holidays in Canvey Island. Mind you if they swapped Daisy for some of the women on the beach there we'd certainly be seeing more beer served ice cold............

Pumpkin Beer

Starbucks have got the red cups out, the coke advert must be on the telly anyday soon (holidays are comin') but I'm refusing to accept just how close Christmas is so this year we've tried to prolong the Halloween festivities as much as possible.

So after the annual Pumpkin carving (Jorge did it all by herself for the first time this year, I was relegated to cleaning duties) I was left wondering what culinary delights I could whip up with the pumpkin flesh. Obviously nothing, am more domestic slut than goddess so I put the lot in the bin and decided to try some pumpkin beer instead. 

It seems that the Americans are much more recpetive to Pumpkin Beers than we are and have a much wider range - I found this top 10 list most of which I've never seen but have tried the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale  and was very disappointed - more cinnamon than pumpkin and very thin and watery, and with a slight carrot cake aftertaste - I would expect a Pumpkin Ale to be much more full bodied than this and I'm sure there are much better examples to be had. I would love to get my hands on some of our own Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale but sadly we don't have it in the UK (and I'm not sure the expenses policy would allow a round trip just to try some!)

But I'm not one to give up easily and after finding many brew your own recipes (that I should maybe pass on to Cooking now he's gone over to the hairy sandal brigade) I manage to track down some Badger Pumpkin Ale which was surprisingly tasty. Lots of sweet pumpkin flavours mixed with cloves and a nice hint of ginger. Only cristism would be that after all the sweetness it left a surprisingly dry and bitter aftertaste but enjoyable nevertheless. 

I also found this on my Pumpkin Beer search Pumpkin Beer Ice Cream, and it sounds scrummy, although I might  wait until it's ice cream weather before I give it a go......brrrrrrr

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Sorry Miss, The Dog Ate My Homework.......

Whilst I realise this bandwagon may have sailed out of town a little while ago, I thought I'd try and jump on board and do my book review of Pete Brown's Hops & Glory (sorry it's late miss).

Now this is a first for me, I've never read a whole book about beer before and I'm not a huge fan of non-fiction either, usually the only thing I tend to read cover to cover is Heat Magazine but having pestered Pete for a meeting for weeks I thought I best at least thumb through it in readiness for our get together. So no one was more surprised than me (except the author himself I expect) when I enjoyed it, really enjoyed it.

So what's so good about it then? Well, on the publisher’s website it says this..........

"A raucous, rollicking history of the original India Pale Ale -- the finest beer ever brewed

For the first time in 140 years, a keg of traditional Burton IPA has been brewed for a voyage to India by canal and tall ship, around the Cape of Good Hope; and the man carrying it is award-winning beer writer Pete Brown. Brazilian pirates and Iranian customs officials lie ahead, but will he even make it that far, having fallen in the canal just a few miles outside Burton-on-Trent? And if Pete does make it to the other side of the world with 'Barry' the barrel, one question remains: what will the real IPA taste like?"

So a book about beer, travel and history, only one of which I'm interested in, in a genre of book I don't like, wasn't exactly setting me on fire and I did wonder if I was taking my pre meeting prep a little too far.

But I was wrong, very wrong. This book will have you emitting wry smiles on page one, disguising chuckles as coughs on page two (if like me you read the first few chapters on the Dover to Calais ferry) and is laugh out loud funny well before the end of the first chapter and throughout the entire book.

I'm fortunate to have some insider knowledge of some of the early story (and access to the company photo library)so it was great to read about the efforts of some great colleagues of mine, the legendary Steve Wellington, the lovely Lisa, the gentlemanly Rudgie (currently waving the Molson Coors Flag in Canada) and feel by association that maybe I was somehow involved in getting this project off the ground (tenuous I know!!). Pete's knowledge and research is outstanding and evident throughout - I'm ashamed to say he knew much more about the history of the company I work for than I did but delighted to have learnt so much as a result of reading this book.

This book is an entertaining and engrossing tale about Pete's trip by barge, train, plane, cruise ship, tall ship and finally container ship from Burton to India (not forgetting the trip down Burton High Street with Carling the Shire Horse), following the historical route that IPA's travelled over 140 years ago.

Nobody travels that route by sea any longer, and reading about the ordeal Pete puts himself through I can see why!
There is a lot of historical information throughout but interspersed at just the right times with a good dose of self-deprecating humour that keeps it engaging to the end. If you're a fan of non-fiction you'll like it and learn a lot about IPA and the colonial history of India (that sometimes makes for uncomfortable reading) but you also get  a ton of laughs along the way that makes it a great read for anyone.

I'm sure Pete didn't just nearly kill himself for fun and would love more people to invest in his retirement fund so why not hop over to Amazon and get it for yourself, it's well worth it.