Thursday, 15 January 2009

Oz And Gluck: A Pint Of Bitterness

Thanks to the iPlayer making the previously eminently missable now fast forwardable I’ve finally caught up with BBC 2’s Oz And James’ Great Free Booze Up. And well, yes, it is mild enough to be inoffensive, mildly education and mildly dull.

The priggish Oz Clarke, and part-time Stirling Moss look-alike, clearly knows rather a lot about booze while James May’s blitherings can amuse. In fact with their clashing voice-overs it is a little bit like a sedate version of Peep Show – but only if Jez and Mark had enjoyed a good private education, and had less disturbing sexual habits. Or at least nothing that can be tried in a caravan.

It’s a light, gentle, warming piece of work - unlike this pitiful cockery from Malcolm Gluck, a man with so steeped in print that he probably squirts ink if accidentally surprised.

But now Gluck has hit the web and he is angry. No tell a lie for rhetorical effect - (why not he does) he’s actually desperate, servicing-the-needs-of-dockers-for-food desperate.

Otherwise why would a once respected copy-monkey even type such wrist-tossed drivel as: “Well, beer is only drunk by losers and sadsacks, unsexy people who care nothing for their minds or their bodies.”

It’s obviously lazy, horribly lazy work. The kind of drivel that would shame a Tourette sufferer's Twitter feed. It is also stupidly short-term hit-garnering of the worst kind, as pathetic as me writing NUDE KITTEN BRITNEY LESBIAN KAKA SEX OBAMA MYSPACE.

The Guardian should really know better, and so should I. NUDE KITTEN BRITNEY LESBIAN KAKA SEX OBAMA MYSPACE should be at the top of the page and include today's celeb stiff-fest RICARDO MONTALBAN and PATRICK PRISONER MCGOOHAN.

Of course rising to his petty bait would be silly, especially if it gets added to his Comments list. Responding would be dignifying his unwarranted poking of the beery beast. Instead it is far better just to leave him to his gutter-dwelling without mentioning that his reference are out of date, his prose is leaden and that is face looks eerily like the weird curly-haired boy who once valued antiques on Wogan and is now a woman.

Just because one wine critic is doing well from himself eh Malcolm?

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Beer Review: Born In A Barn

Art Brew

The decorations are down, the nation is back at work (until their P45s arrive) and the BBC have stopped repeating the festive Doctor Who on a daily basis. Yes, Christmas is finally over.

And to fully embrace the ending of over-eating, over-heating and endless relatives staying over, you need fresh zesty beer that pulls you into the New Year with vim, vigour and a hoppy smack in the chops. Except that it is minus ten outside and even the once predictable pavement is as treacherous as any of Bond's bedfellows.

So actually what you need is a beer that warms, that comforts, that contains enough booze to make every flat slab of un-impeding tarmac feel like an ice-rink. You need a Born In A Barn.

This beer tastes of Christmas, with all the trimmings. There seems to be a bit of everything in this drink, almost as if the brewer brushed out his luxuriant beard after Christmas dinner straight into the mash tun.

The nose is distinctly acidic, not the pickled onion aroma of an off-pint, but a pungent hint towards what lies beneath the loose, pale head. The taste though is warming, the perfect simulacra of port and brandy together. It fuses the soft fruit and raisin flavours of the fortified wine but the alcoholic kick of the spirit. It’s a heady, giddy, heart-warming combination and one of the best of the new brews from this fledgling brewer.

It's just a shame that we are probably going to have to wait another year for another pint.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Clutching At Straw

Welcome to a whole new year, the same as the old year. Welcome to another 364 days when the humble pint of beer can be demonised as the greatest threat to our civilisation since Adolf left the army, little Osama decided against joining dad’s construction business and women/blacks/the poor were allowed the vote.

So two days of 2009 have gone and already J.D. Wetherspoon’s decision to cut beer prices is being hailed as a Licence To Binge by those indignation-hawkers at The Daily Mail. Now I’m not getting involved in the politics behind beer. That isn’t why I periodically mash my face into this keyboard and let the spellchecker pick the bones out. Others can fire-hose opprobrium around, but I just like beer. Anyway I’m sure that you have your own opinions and they are no doubt less fabricated from ill-conceived mouthguff than mine.

But we need to look to the future for beer. We must - primarily so we can get there before a junior minister sees fit to flop his swollen credentials onto the dispatch box in an attempt to sate an imagined demographic that only really consists of Melanie Phillips and her bubonic afterbirth.

But I have a nifty plan. If we create our own headline-grabbing programme of anti-booze measures we can discredit any future governments plans. After all anything and anyone that appears on this blog is instantly discredited.

So we must create a raft of measures and thus render them all laughable. They must also be radical, they must be draconian too because any Speakers’ Corner driveller can call for curfews or increasing the minimum drinking age to 21.

In fact, someone somewhere on a forum is probably right now advocating the return of National Service for anyone who has ever consumed more than a small gin in a 24-hour period. It might be fun though. After all watching the CAMRA membership run over an assault course would at least be a cheap laugh and somehow more dignfied than some TV programmes.

Go Guantanmo On Their Arses

The Government have already nabbed these high-visibility orange jumpsuits for their Community Payback idiocy but that shouldn’t stop us. Originality is no bar is it Jack?

To further distance the deviants who like the odd glass of ginger wine from the rest of decent, honest, puritan, white society, anyone planning a night out or even a swift pint on the walk home should be forced to wear one of these orange jumpsuit. Not only will it have safety benefits as drivers will know to expect their toddleresque lurching on the way home but now all you need to do is pop granddad into his day-glow romper outfit before he has a Harvey’s Bristol Cream and the rest of humanity will know not to listen to his deranged and racist ‘reckonings’ anymore.

Pedestrian Breathalyser
Roads are a dangerous place to be boozed-up, sure, but what about pavements? Have you ever had to walk too near a crumpled prole or a gutter-hobbit because of their unreasoned foot-stumbling? All we need to do is equip every copper - and borderline authority figure such as teachers/masons/T.A. members- with cuffs, a breathalyser and some weapons-grade sarcasm. Combined with some comprehensive SUS laws, we could even dress it up as part of the fight against knife crime, and the GWAT. Or just introduce it into infant schools from Monday.

Warnings On Booze
Printed cigarette warnings have clearly proven a vast success; there isn’t any evidence to prove this – except that it is a fact. So logically beer warnings must use the same technique of stark slogans and big print. No, in fact the font must be bigger, bolder and the words somehow less nuanced - because remember these people might be drunk. Surely the simple sloganeering of: “No!”, “Bad” and the Alice in Wonderland-themed “Don’t Drink Me” would suffice?

To truly save the youth from the demonic drink perhaps we must take this whole principle further and attempt to shatter the traditional link between alcohol and fun. So from now on all booze should be advertised under the slogan "Party with Shami Chakrabarti”. All we need to do is let Liberty's misery in mascara glower her way through any advert for alcohol and even the delightful Old Purple Tin won’t taste so sweet.

Failing that one in every twenty bottles of Budweiser contains a surprise. Instead of ricey-goodness, each special bottle would fire steel bolts from high-pressure rams up into the roof of the mouth piercing the brain and performing an instant Budotomoy.

Alcoholic-proof bottle caps

Clearly a major problem with these unruly booze-hounds isn't just the quantity of hooch consumed, it is the timing. So by simply adding alcoholic-proof bottle caps to the top of any bottle of spirits, the hours that the grog can be consumed can be cut. Much like the childproof caps on pills, these simple devices would click annoyingly until the next Centrally Mandated Drinking Hour sounds when they would be able to unleash their intoxicating contents.

Start Your Two Minutes Of Hate
Can you do better? Of course you can, you aren’t Jacqui Smith. But why not pretend to take a hammer to the Statue Of Lady Justice yourself with your own short-term idiocy designed to appeal to Simon Heffer and his hellspawn. Type them here. Go on, it’s that or talk to your co-workers.