Archive for March, 2012

March 31, 2012

How do you open yours?

I’ve got the simple but essential task of bottle opening pretty much covered. With the magnetic opener stuck to the fridge door, the keyring opener for when i’m out and about and the top of the corkscrew when there’s wine and beer to opened i’ve got all bases covered.

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There’s even the Aidan Moffat, Little Beer Song opener for when I want an Indie serenade to accompany the hiss and metallic clunk. Should disaster strike however I needn’t panic as I’ve had instruction in improvised techniques the Kiwi way.

March 30, 2012

Q&A: Johanna Basford, Inky Evangelist

This weeks Q&A takes a different angle as we focus on Illustrator, Johanna Basford. For many of us, a great beer find isn’t just the beer itself but the label design, pumpclip and brewery branding. Johanna’s work can be seen on Brewdog special editions.

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copyright: Johanna Basford

 

Blurb…

I’m an illustrator and ink evangelist who prefers pens and pencils to pixels.
I create intricate, hand drawn illustrations predominately, although not exclusively, in black and white.

Your design ethos…

Inky Monochrome Magic

First beer experience & beer epiphany…

First beer experience was helping my dad bottle his home brew when I was 3. He always had a big bucket of yeasty smelling beer fermenting in the airing cupboard.

A beer epiphany has to be meeting James Watt in 2007, a few weeks after BrewDog brewed their first batch of beer. Up until then I though beer was something old men drunk in tankards and young men drank with a wedge of lime. Let’s just say I’ve learned a lot in 5 years. In the interest of clarity, I should also mention that the aforementioned scamp is also my boyfriend.

copyright Brewdog / Johanna Basford

Best beer find of the last year…

Cantillon Framboise on tap at BrewDog Camden – I like a 1/3 pint in a Teku glass.

Does alcohol have any place in the creative process…

I don’t drink and draw, but I’m sure plenty of my best ideas have percolated during a tasting session.

Sounds to be heard in the studio…

Radio 4. I like listening to the shipping forecast. What I lack in cool, I make up for in nautical geek.

If I wasn’t a designer I’d be…

A florist or the proprietor of a boutique tea shop called Teacup.

Favourite thing about what you do…

Drawing every day.

Pub heaven…

Connect 4

Pub hell…

Hen Parties. They scare me.

Favourite local pub…

BrewDog Aberdeen.

Favourite non local pub…

Mikeller, Copenhagen.

What makes for a great beer logo…

Owls. Pretty much love anything with an Owl on it.

Design you admire…

Hitachino Nest Beers, Pukka Teas, Wallpaper* City Guides, Apple products.

What’s on the horizon…

Battle Owl for BrewDog, my first book and lots of other inky bits and bobs.

March 29, 2012

F*** your blog

Anyone who regularly blogs, whether in a space like this or via Twitter will have those moments where they’re challenged by family, friends, co-workers or total strangers. The question will often be variations on why and what? Why do they blog, what do they get from it, why do they think their opinion is valid, why they do something which is essentially unpaid (I often get asked whether I make money from blogging… My answer is a piggy snort and a I wish). It’s often those who don’t read blogs, whose only exposure to Twitter is mainstream reports using tweets, whether that be the Arab Spring or a D-Lister flashing his bits via DM. Where I can, I try to explain and without sounding pompous, educate. I was once a sceptic myself but now I’m an advocate for social media – done well. Which is to say interesting and engaging.

I’m learning and at times I’ll get it wrong but I try to stick to a few basic rules and often censor myself. It is what I’d call my f*** your blog moment. The reference being to a t-shirt I saw a few years back which said just that. It comes down to the fine line between blogging output which satisfies your audience and output which is just self satisfying. The sentiments of that t-shirt have spread. With the launch of a new burger range, Grill’d, an Aussie burger chain, are declaring war on Foodies and celebrity chefs. The company say on their website (of the their burgers) that foodies love them but we really don’t care what they have to say…because we made these delicious burgers for YOU.

courtesy: mumbrella

It’s tongue in cheek – the PR stunt not the burger – but opens an interesting debate about how we blog, what we blog, how much we blog and whether it’s relevant to our audiences and those we blog about. I’d like to hear your views whether a blogger, or not, you own a business, or not… You get the picture.

March 28, 2012

I like pretty cups

I like them – pretty cups – they make me smile. This isn’t a confession it’s just a statement of fact that I as a 33 year old man sometimes like fine porcelain as opposed to a thick workman’s mug or an interesting vintage glass to something I got free with petrol.

I like having unexpected things in them whether it’s a sazarac, oeuf en cocotte or popcorn. If you’re the same (there must be some of you out there?) then here’s a few links to feed the habit.

copyright: Booze In Pretty Cups

Booze In Pretty Cups is two Perth bartenders who like booze, in pretty cups (surprise!) and document this with minimal words and great photographs. I recently had my first Sazarac after reading their post. I named my hangover in its honour.

Rachel Khoo’s new show The Little Paris Kitchen is the first cookery show I’ve been able to engage with recently. It’s natural, she’s natural and importantly it doesn’t feel like it has been over produced (maybe just a sign of good production?). Oh yes and of course she uses pretty cups for oeuf en cocotte.

Finally in a bit of shameless self promotion I like popcorn in pretty cups. Popcorn with maple syrup, smoked paprika and salt, sometimes even bacon. A bit more on that here.

Popcorn

copyright: Good Bite In

More statements of fact next week.

March 25, 2012

In Transit: Arizonan Interlude

Sipping a Bloody Mary at Harry’s Bar in Changi Airport, I’m sleep deprived, my body tells me it’s one time, my watch back on UK time tells me another, but it really doesn’t matter. The bar is open so it must be acceptable to drink… right?

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A Bloody Mary or a G&T is often my drink in the airport or at 30,000 feet. The craft revolution hasn’t reached most airports, though perhaps the words revolution and airport don’t sit well together. Let’s just say that my revelation wasn’t expected… in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Having headed from the Grand Canyon we arrive early at Flagstaff en route to LA and the last days of our trip (not the trip which brings me through Changi… keep up). Any thoughts about avoiding crowds are unwarranted as Flagstaff seems to be a runway and one building, smaller than some of the Las Vegas bars we’d drunk in days earlier. Our 2 hour wait until take off is now actually 30 minutes, the flight having been changed without notification. That famous American service seems to stop short of airlines as the check in woman shrugs it off, leaving us to hurriedly hand our bags over and walk the 20 or so steps to our gate. Perhaps the attitude is “well either way you made it so what’s your gripe?”. Had we stopped along the route for more than gas and jerky we would have been getting to know Flagstaff better or heading to LA by road.

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Good beer will sometimes find you in the most unexpected places and when you could most do with it. The airport diner come bar advertises happy hour and local craft beer… Two things I’m very glad to see. Las Vegas had been mostly a desert of bland beer but the Lumberyard, Flagstaff IPA at Blu Moon is anything but. While not quite up there with the San Francisco offering it’s a very welcome departure from blandness.

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A quick hop to Phoenix should see us connect to LA but we now have extra time to spare. Approaching the American Airlines desk and the two stern older ladies behind it we check whether we can get an earlier flight. I’m not holding out any hope after the unapolgetic shrugs of Flagstaff. They take pity on us and we are offered a flight, though our bags will follow later, leaving us to wait at LAX arrivals. We decline the opportunity to watch the carousel for two hours and with a smile we are told to head to Barfly. We obviously look like we are in need.

Barfly is a busy terminal bar, the back wall is a floor to ceiling image of Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood (on a private jet), the music is peppered with Brit rock and pop (think Oasis not Spice Girls) and again the beer is local. It’s a round of Four Peaks Kiltlifters and Barfly burgers to start. Between IDing us and taking orders our waitress asks where we are headed, enthuses about beer and recommends bars in Santa Monica; going as far as to call a friend to check the name of one. This is almost unimaginable in a UK airport but if this short trip has taught me anything it’s that you can be surprised and one day maybe i’ll say the same of Heathrow or Gatwick (I did say maybe). What I expected to be an uneventful trip from the Canyon to LA actually turned out to be a memorable Arizonan interlude.

March 21, 2012

Q&A: Sara Carter, Brewer, Triple fff Brewing Company

Pub Diaries Q&A this week comes from Sara Carter of Triple fff Brewing in Hampshire.

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Which 5 words sum up your brewing ethos…

Fun, Creative, Local, Excellence, Value

First beer experience…

I grew up in a pub in Yorkshire so beer flows through the veins! My first beer memory was helping my Dad check the beer after he had cleaned the lines from when I was about 10 years old

Best beer find of the last year…

Williams Bros – Profanity Stout
.
What sounds are to be heard in the brewery…

The steam boiler, pumps, Rammstein and baa baa black sheep… don’t ask.

If I wasn’t brewing I’d be…

Drinking too much, seriously!

Before I was brewing I was…

A live music sound engineer for BBC Radio 1 & 2

Favourite thing about what I do…

Developing new recipes, using ingredients that I haven’t used before, then the anticipation of the first taste.

Greatest brewing achievement to date…

From a personal point of view it would be winning Overall Champion at a London and South East homebrewing competition in 2008 with my Bombay IPA

Which brewers do you look up to…

Derek Prentice of Fuller Smith & Turner, who has such passion for the craft and is a fantastic brewer.

Pub heaven…

Warm and welcoming with a decent selection of hand pulled ales in top condition and there’s always a seat next to the open log fire. Beautiful view of our superb countryside. Oh and an old man smoking a pipe in the corner. I like a pipe.

Pub hell…

Loud music, loud locals, fruit machines, mass produced tasteless ales, no loo paper, hand dryer doesn’t work – oh and it’s Karaoke night.

What advice would you give any aspiring brewer…

Learn as much from the internet and books as you can then brew at home and enter competitions. Prepare yourself for more cleaning than brewing!

What’s on the horizon…

Triple fff ales finally in bottles and five new recipes planned for 2012

March 19, 2012

The Stanley, 294 Cambridge Street, Wembley, Perth

The small bars of Perth are the closest thing for me to the pubs I love back home. Characterful, independent and not a bottleshop or TAB in sight. The Stanley in Wembley typifies what I like. It’s mismatched chic and indie soundtrack are perfect for Sunday drinking. If we didn’t have dinner plans the option of a Flipside burger delivered from next door would take the edge off working through their small but well formed beer list.

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The bottled choice seems more interesting to me than the German draught option and by far the highlight is the Endeavour 2011 Reserve Amber Ale.

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It’s described as “rich and full with slightly toasted caramel and spiced resinous aromas that combine with sweet brooding dark fruits to deliver a layered and complex bouquet… The palate is malt driven and full bodied. Layered with herbs, cinnamon and a warm earthiness, it is balanced by assertive bitterness and fine minerality. Complex and refreshing, herbal, whilst still retaining the citrus and passionfruit acidity”… And my verdict? Yeah what they said.

The background of Endeavour seems to be mainly wine based which in a country with such an industry you can see the natural move that people would take from grape to grain.

The experience of drinking beer at The Stanley is more akin to a winery as well with the stemless wine glasses making me savour not swill. On my returns to Perth it will be a regular haunt I’m sure.

March 18, 2012

E-petition: The beer duty escalator

We British love a good petition. That simple act of putting your name to a cause which turns a whisper into a scream. All without taking to the streets and being all French about it.

I’ve recently signed the e-petition against the beer tax escalator and I would urge you to do the same.

The escalator increases tax on beer by 2% above the rate of inflation each year. Scrapping the beer duty escalator should ensure that pubs and consumers aren’t further squeezed. Take a minute and add your voice unless of course you want to pay more and more each year to HM Treasury?

Click here to sign

March 15, 2012

The Hyde Park Hotel, 331 Bulwer Street, North Perth

The Hydey is a legend of the Perth music scene. One of those pubs that fostered the ambitions of bands that wouldn’t otherwise emerge from the bedrooms and garages of WA. Everyone I speak to enthuses about the Hydey they knew – a dark, graffiti strewn mosh pit come pub.

The Hydey that I visit is far from this description. It’s undergone an expensive corporate refurb which to me has stripped it of any character it may once have had.

I think about the venues, both dives and otherwise that I’ve known, where for a couple of quid you get entrance and the possibility a gig you’ll remember for years to come and discovering a band that becomes part of your soundtrack. Places like the Luminaire in Kilburn, the old Bardons Boudoir in Dalston (both now silent) and countless others. I feel a strange degree of sadness for the loss of a place I never knew and the ones I did.

March 14, 2012

Five, Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, Perth

On my last visit to Perth back in 2010 the charms of 399 won me over. The relatively new bar had the perfect mix of service, style and character. On my return to Perth it’s Five, from the same team that once again impresses.

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Set amongst the sprawl of bars on Beaufort Street our taxi driver isn’t quite sure which bar we are talking about. Luckily I have the Meister, to guide us to Five. It’s a bigger venue than 399 but the service and charm isn’t diluted. Our barman is nothing short of excellent, pouring water as we take a seat at the bar, offering a small sample of the Feral IPA when we show interest and shares his knowledge of the beer being served. This would have scored highly with me alone. Then comes the clincher. We are directed to the bottled list which is more than just a handful of big name European beers and a few Aussies for good measure, which I’ve seen alot elsewhere. It’s a great list whether you are looking to keep it local or want to taste the wares of a who’s who of European brewing (i’m particularly excited to find Mikkeler) - it’s the best of both worlds.

It’s Victoria’s Mountain Goat, Hightail Ale for me and a taste of Scotland for Meister with a Brewdog 5am Saint.

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Further visits to Five only go to cement my view that this is a true Perth gem. Our barman Shane, recognises me from the previous visit, talks confidently about the beer and is able to make local recommendations. You may want to ask him to do his “London walk”. It’s pretty accurate.

With Feral’s Hop Hog IPA on tap and Jerry Fraser, Perth’s Oyster King in residence there’s no choice opn our final visit but to settle in for a Sunday Session.

Five, Beaufort Street, Mount Lawley, Perth

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