Friday 29 March 2019

'Spoons vouchers: It's that time of year again

One of the blessings bestowed upon members of the one true catholic and apostolic beer consumers organisation is £20's worth of 'Spoons vouchers each year.

This boon granted to the faithful is not without controversy. Some of this can be dismissed as the bleatings of the petty beergeoisie or scheming of servants of Satan, but I do occasionally ponder if they have a point.  Before once again deciding "no".

Sadly for me the vouchers came out after I'd stopped regularly drinking in a 'Spoons so I've never got the most out of them. I did use to try and remember to take them with me if a trip to a 'Spoons looked likely, and then I'd blow that quarter's £5 in vouchers in an evening by sharing them with my friends. But many went to waste which was deeply unsatisfying. So I now give them to a mate who visits 'Spoons more often than me and can make the most of the discount. I don't think it makes him visit them any more frequently, it just means he spends less money when he goes to them. Which is really why I find those who are so opposed to the vouchers they destroy them so hard to understand.

Now I can understand not liking 'Spoons. They generally have all the atmosphere of a waiting room and must surely damage the trade of other pubs. But even if you can't find a friend that drinks there anyway and so deny Tim Martin some of their money you could always punt them on ebay and spend the cash somewhere you find more deserving.

Sunday 24 March 2019

Gassing quickly in Liverpool

Despite the fact I once lived in Liverpool I don't think I've ever been to a pub there. I was only a baby though so I've got a decent excuse. The other week I returned for BeerX, SIBA's annual get together. For those unfamiliar with the British brewing industry SIBA are a beer wholesaler with a side line as a trade organisation representing the interests of their executive. 

A few enquiries made before my visit showed that Liverpool is a beer oasis and the list of pubs I'd been given to visit looked an impossible task. It looked like it would be fun trying though, so I made a start as soon as I'd arrived. 

First on my list was The Fly in the Loaf, a bizarrely named pub owned by Heron and Brearley, the parent company of Okell's brewery.  

Disappointingly H and B had merged it in with Market Town Taverns, a pub chain in Yorkshire they bought. This meant it served a wide range of guest beers with only one Okell's beer on sale.

Part of the plan of buying MTT was to sell more of Okell's beers, but with the Okell's pubs in England now mainly selling guest beers it looks like they're actually selling less. Management decisions, eh? I did my bit for Manx brewing by having a delicious pint of Okell's bitter and then I was off to find some gents to take photographs in.

The photogenic bogs were in the next pub, and sadly this furtive photo was the best I managed of the legendary gents in the Philharmonic:

Annoyingly someone was dicking around with their phone at another urinal rather than getting on with the business in hand so I couldn't get the bogs in all their glory. Never mind, the rest of the pub was impressive too...

...and I enjoyed the beer from Oakham:

 Next stop was the Roscoe Head:

Where I was delighted to see they had Landlord on:

It was a cracking pub, I could certainly see why it's been in every edition of the Good Book. That they're selling "Save The Rosecoe Head" T-shirts is a very worrying sign though.

Then I was off again, following in the footsteps of the local anarcho-syndicalists on my way to The Dispensary.

Sadly this was a bit of a disappointment after the quality pubs I'd been in that night.

The place was almost empty and the Pale Rider was no Landlord.

Oh well, you win some, you lose some. And after this promising start my exploration of Liverpool pubs mostly fizzled out as things got in the way. Certainly the few others I did manage to pop in to aren't really worth writing about. I must write more about the SIBA do though, the AGM was mostly dull but I did find the talk on Health and Safety interesting and it be good to get my notes up.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

In search of auto-vacs

It may be considered slightly odd to travel over 400 miles to find beer served with auto-vacs, but I take my Continuing Professional Development seriously. For those not familiar with the devices they suck beer out of the drip tray and recycle it back into your pint.

I have a certain morbid curiosity about them dating from when I briefly worked for a company that owned some pubs with them. God, that was an strange job. But not as strange as some of the people I worked with. The Technical Services Manager was sound as a pound though, and whenever he got the chance he'd remove them. This did once lead to us getting sent an email of complaint from one of the customers. Recycling beer that's run down the glass and fingers of the server may be unhygienic but some of those in thrall to the sparkler actually like the effect in has on the texture of the beer. The sucking round and recycling that is, hopefully the running over the fingers of the server doesn't affect the texture. Though that might depend on what's on their fingers.

After last years Heriot-Watt reunion I found out I'd been drinking in pubs with auto-vacs without even noticing it. It seems I'd been doing too much networking and not enough CPD. So this year I was determined to to seek them out and investigate their effect on beer.

When we got to the Blue Blazer I was ready but they'd actually put a tea towel over the drip tray:

So near but yet so far!

The view in the Bow Bar wasn't as good so I may have had success here but as I'm not certain I don't think I can really tick it off.

Nice clear view in the Guildford Arms though!

Where's that beer going?
So success was definitely achieved! As to the effect on the beer, I did think the it had some of the life knocked out of it. So a bit like sparklers really but with added hygiene issues.