Happy bingeing

Appar­ent­ly today is the day most cho­sen for Christ­mas par­ties, and there­fore the day when ambu­lance crews are most poised to pick up the pieces. I seem to remem­ber that last year there was a lot of hys­te­ria in the media about this, but there aren’t so many sil­ly sto­ries this year, per­haps because soci­ety did­n’t in fact break down and the streets did not run with blood as pre­dict­ed.

The Evening Stan­dard and oth­er relat­ed papers are hav­ing a go, though, with the sto­ry that Lon­don­ers are esti­mat­ed to spend £120m on booze in two days (today and yes­ter­day). How­ev­er, that’s only £20 per Lon­don­er (assum­ing 6m adult Lon­don­ers*), spread across two days. £10.00 does­n’t buy you many drinks in Cen­tral Lon­don these days, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a wanky City bar (bot­tle of Becks – £4.20!!!!!!!!!**)

Giv­en the hys­te­ria about binge-drink­ing at the moment, £120m seems sur­pris­ing­ly low.


*Fig­ure derived from the Office of Nation­al Sta­tis­tics esti­mates in 2006. The fig­ure of 6m includes the over 16s (because appar­ent­ly they’re all drink­ing a bot­tle of wine a week) and excludes short-term migrants.

**That’s about a mil­lion dol­lars for our read­ers across the pond.

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…


Why the Galicians are the Irish of Spain

WARNING: Con­tains gen­er­al­i­sa­tions pre­sent­ed as facts with­out evi­dence to back them up.


Gali­cia is a fas­ci­nat­ing part of Spain, tucked away above Por­tu­gal. It has its own lan­guage (between Por­tugese and Span­ish) and some uncan­ny par­al­lels with Ire­land.

  1. It rains all the time and is con­se­quent­ly very green.
  2. It’s bat­tered by the Atlantic.
  3. Weird sim­i­lar­i­ties in tra­di­tion­al music.
  4. Accord­ing to some, there are more peo­ple of Gali­cian ori­gin in Amer­i­ca than Gali­cia, due to famine and pover­ty in the 19th cen­tu­ry.
  5. Get­ting onto the beer angle. Their major beer is seri­ous­ly over-rat­ed. Estrel­la de Gali­cia is prob­a­bly my least favourite beer in Spain. How can you man­age to have smooth flow lager? I also tried their 1906 “Reser­va” which was actu­al­ly worse than the nor­mal lager.
  6. The rep­u­ta­tion for being twinkly-eyed, salt of the earth types. Par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to bars. It’s a broad gen­er­al­i­sa­tion (I warned about those) but Gali­cian bars in cities like Madrid and Barcelona are often extreme­ly friend­ly places, with very good ser­vice and excel­lent atmos­phere. What’s inter­est­ing is that I think we’re see­ing the start of the “Gali­cian theme bar” (i.e. like O’Neil­l’s in the UK), cash­ing in on this rep­u­ta­tion. I cer­tain­ly vis­it­ed one in Bur­gos.

The food choice tends to be more excit­ing in Gali­cian bars than Irish bars though…