Accountants and breweries

Accountants get a lot of stick from home-brew books, beer blogs and the like. Apparently we’re responsible for everything bad that has ever happened in beer, such as the move from cask to keg in the UK, use of rice as an adjunct, and the development of high-alpha (i.e low-flavour) hops.

I’m fed up with this laziness. Firstly, as anyone with any business experience knows, the job of the finance team is to support the goals of the company. If the company wants to sacrifice quality for profit, that’s the board’s call. And of course the board will take that decision based on (a) shareholder opinion (b) analysis of the market. So it’s all the fault of the consumers really…

Secondly, in my experience, real-ale lovers are well-represented within the accountant population. Maybe not that surprising given our reputation for being pedantic bores.

Thirdly, we just don’t have the (diabolical) imagination for the crimes we’re accused of.

Now the marketing team — that’s a different story…

Boak

Irish pubs in Spain

guinness.jpgI used to avoid Irish pubs, particularly when abroad, thinking they´d be full of tourists. Then I discovered that in a lot of places they´re actually really good places to meet the locals thanks to (a) the bizarre belief that Irish and British things are just inherently cool (b) the fact that they´re shunned by self-righteous tourists like me. So I became more tolerant, and stopped going into a sulk everytime someone suggested going to an Irish pub. But now I’ve been in a few here in Spain, I find myself very unnerved by the fact that they are, here at least, another weapon in the fearsome armada of Heineken International.

Salamanca has at least four Irish pubs and for various reasons I’ve now been in three of them. They´re all Heineken beasts so you get Paulaner and other delights such as Adelscott and Desperados. You may also come across an advert for the local Octoberfest franchise, a subject I blogged about a couple of months ago.

More sinister still (I find) are the various efforts to make the locals drink more and more. Special offers for large drinks, for example. Even the pub quiz turns out to be a syndicated marketing effort.

The very things about the drinking culture in Spain and France that the Government in the UK want us to emulate — moderation and smaller measures — are an anathema to people in the business of selling.

It’s not all bad news though — some of these Heineken outlets do have a guest beer from another brewer. Guinness. Sigh.

“Kids running round screaming”

There’s a long-running graffiti debate on a cubicle wall in the toilets at the Pembury Tavern in Hackney, East London — some day, I’ll transcribe the whole thing.

One comment blames the pub’s “downfall” from an apparent heyday in the 1980s on “bearded CAMRA members”, which has prompted someone else to reply:

“No, not the CAMRA c***s — the f*****g child-friendly c***s.”

That’s just one bit of evidence of how angry the subject of children makes some people. Angry in an English way, that is. No-one says anything or complains — they just sit rolling their eyes and tutting. In Britain, there really does seem still to be a belief that kids should be “seen and not heard”, hence the ultimate passive-aggressive sign, popular in pubs a few years ago:

Quiet children welcome.”

Let’s translate that:

“Children who behave like children not really welcome.”

Why should kids have to stay at home? Or, worse, sit on the step outside with a Panda Pop waiting for their parents to emerge? Or, worse again, sit in the pub in absolute silence, bored to death, in case they annoy a nearby curmudgeon and embarrass their parents? I don’t have kids of my own, but I don’t find it hard just to ignore them. I just concentrate on having a nice time with my friends, engage in a conversation, read a book, or whatever, and soon forget they’re there.

Sometimes, it’s even nice to have them around — like in the Pembury, in fact, which can be a little sterile otherwise.

I hate hi-ball glasses

tumbler1.jpgThe Greenwich Union – Meantime Brewing’s “brewery tap” – serves half pints in clean, simple, “tulip” stem glasses. Fuller’s recently introduced similarly elegant glasses for Discovery and Honey Dew. They serve everything else in tall, fairly narrow tumblers, with room for a head. The Pembury Tavern in Hackney Downs, again, used taller than normal half-pint glasses, with room for a head.

Not all pubs are doing this kind of thing.

I’m really getting fed up of ordering a half and getting what looks like a tooth glass, full to the brim, with a grey scum instead of a head. The pints in these pubs look fine, so it’s not the beer, or the technique – just the glass.

I’m kind of used to that with ale, but last night I was served a half of Meantime’s Helles lager in a straight, short, half pint tumbler, with no head. It tasted fine, but looked dreadful. Like urine, frankly.

This wasn’t a dodgy pub next to a railway station, with fly-blown windows and an incident board outside: it’s in the good pub guide.

Landlords – get nicer glasses!

Photo from glassware supplier barmans.com