Archive for the ‘Lifestyle’ Category


October 11, 2013

This Craft Beer Bible is an infrequent review of American Craft Beers that I enjoy. Often but not exclusively, sourced from The Ship in a Bottle

Actors: Brooklyn Brewery 

Plot:  Brooklyn Brewery has rekindled this age-old recipe first utilized by industrious early American Pilgrims, who employed the plentiful root vegetable in cooking and brewing. This beer is a new, seasonal treat and the pumpkin beer does not disappoint. The beer is available from August to November, clocking up at a very moderate 5%. Brooklyn’s website recommends it as “The perfect beer for holiday dining, roasted ham and turkey, root vegetables, macaroni and cheese, mascarpone and Thanksgiving dinner.”

Conclusion: A very palatable lager with a hint of pumpkin spice. I was completely unaware of this beer style although other beers I have tried have bestowed spicy flavours which are subtle here. However the real success of Brooklyn is their ability to try new styles while always keeping it simple in ways that (much more daring but not always as pleasing) contemporaries such as Goose Island and Flying Dog* don’t.  Brooklyn Beer is the Man Utd of American Craft Beer, albeit under the Sir Alex Ferguson Era.  Other seasonal Brooklyn favourites include Brooklyn’s Chocolate Stout 10% which comes to the fore around the Yuletide period.

*The Flying Dog Imperial Pumpkin Ale is a huge miss and if I would have tried that first it may have put me off the style completely. Overpowering and aniseedy & a hefty 9%.


I, PA: A Drinkers Guide to India Pale Ale

January 11, 2013
Something new here, 2012 for me in alcohol terms at least, would be the year of the IPA or India Pale Ale, I became a fan in mid-March I believe and carried it through to 2013. Previous favorite ales have included German Weißbier and Belgium Trappist ales (see potential follow-up articles, maybe).

I.P, eh?

What is it? It’s India Pale Ale but not the stuff your Granddad’s mate drinks i.e. Greene King – which I’ve never tried. Traditionally made hoppier for export to India and hence they developed the distinctive taste.  The old-fashioned English IPAs tend to be weaker than the American-craft counterparts.  Which have seen a resurgence in the American micro-brewery revolution of the last 20 years. The American style is a development of the original recipe from the 1800’s. When the craft beer movement kicked up proper after years of prohibition, the first beer to reach infamy would be the tepid pilsners such as Budweiser. Brewers had little to draw on to begin with apart from historical ales of England and lagers from Germany and alike. Gradually as Americans started experimenting with homegrown ingredients they developed something which no longer fitted the original definition, thus American craft beer as we now know it was created.

Why P.A?

India Pale Ale was originally created in the first place for successful, delicious transport to the colonies of India from England, the problem facing the British was that beer did not keep well on long ocean voyages and would often arrive flat, spoilt or sour. The beers lacked shelf life furthermore the darker ales such as Porter that were fashionable in London at the time weren’t, it is said, as popular in India.  Step forward George Hodgson, brewer at the Bow Brewery in East London,  who deduced that more hops and a higher alcohol content  would protect beer from the souring associated with trans-Oceanic travel. Hodson was resoundingly vindicated in assertion and the East India Pale Ale was born.

My P.A

Top five American style IPA’s for your consideration, in no particular order, are as follows:

  1. Brooklyn East India Pale Ale – 6.9% (New York) – The Brooklyn take on the IPA is an excellent one, more rounded and reminiscent of their lager than the other IPA’s but a very drinkable effort.
  2. Goose Island IPA – 5.9% – (Chicago) The premier IPA as far as I’m concerned down in part to its ubiquity but also its versatile drinkability (see food below) there may be better IPA’s on the market but this is resolutely my favorite. I would also urge fans of this to try the excellent Goose Island Honkers Ale.
  3. Brew Dog Punk IPA – 5.6%  (Scotland) The only non-American entrant in to the top five and a noble effort however it taste slightly watered down in comparison with its American counterparts, a decent beer but probably the least of the set.
  4. Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA – 7.0 % (California) An excellent brew, it’s hard to find (you can get it here) but definitely worth as far taste goes it ranks only behind Goose Island and if it were more readily available on this side of the Atlantic it’d no doubt be as popular.
  5. Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA – 7.2 % (California)  Sierra Nevada also specialize in the Traditional Pale Ale but this has the edge, it weighs in at an impressive (for non-Belgian Trappist standards at least) 7.2% but in fact what you can taste is a very bitter, pine-like and citrusy ale. It’s better than it sounds but incredibly distinctive and not one you’d drink in great numbers.

Try P.A

I accidentally combined a few Goose Islands with blue cheese over Christmas and it was a taste sensation and one that I will soon be repeating. Other recommendations are available on the Goose Island website.  I am also looking forward to sampling the La Chouffe attempt at an IPA, if you haven’t tried their excellent blonde beers you should.

Happy Drinkin’…….

Why I Unfriended Facebook and Why No One Cares

July 1, 2011

I recently took the drastic step of deleting my Facebook account. I realised on the bus after no conscious thought that this was unregrettably the right thing to do. Like a dog that had to be put-down, only not a dog  and more a diseased looking Jeremy Kyle contestant and not so much put-down but just moved over there out of my olfactory range. I realised after weeks if not months of building antagonism towards the global juggernaut one-size fits-all social networking giant. I mean just imagine the things I could now with my time, instead of the mindless trudging through the flaccid endless status updates from former school-goers, worker drones and university class acquaintances, like LEARN JAPANESE…

Now obviously I’m not going to learn Japanese as I’m far too lazy but the idea of adding up all the time I spent on Facebook and converting it magically through the medium of positive thinking into productivity is a fantastic one, as is shitting gold, or jizzing out Playboy models (although would that be counted as incestuous?…don’t think too deeply into that one and read on.)

Realistically it’s not going to happen, however I still stand by decision to delete my 2nd most visited bookmark almost one hour later and the reasons are thus:

1) Unconnectivity– ‘The’ Facebook is supposed to be about getting people from all over the world connected – and admittedly I had my friends from America, Korea and Australia on there. But how often do I speak to them after the initial couple of weeks when I saw them last summer? Well practically never. I said ‘happy birthday’ to some of them, Yes – but ‘connectivity’, the whole world at the touch of a button? That would be stretching the reality pretty thin. I really only have three  friends: two who don’t have Facebook – one deleted his, the other was steadfast in never having one and who happens to be my girlfriend (which is annoying because as she doesn’t have Facebook she is deemed by many to not exist, which is one of the ways FB recruits people – like a pyramid scheme or a cult, “It is a good system..”) and the third person who still has his but seldom uses it. My main form of communication is either SMS texting, face-to-face or phone calls. The only people who I interacted with on Facebook tended to be a very small group of work/uni pals who  I had similar interests with but seldom socialised with in the real world.

2) Mongbook – When I first signed up for Facebook it seemed genuinely new and exciting, a rival to MySpace a scalp which it would ultimately claim and surpass. I mean are we the ‘Facebook generation’? I shudder at the thought but it would seem to be the case. Now like anything, the morons have taken over. In the weeks before I pressed the dreaded red button that sent my social network into a vast mushroom cloud of viral smoke, burning my precious photographs, statuses and ‘likes’ in an invisible atomic gas, I noticed the decline in almost every aspect of the experience. Facebook groups once were admittedly a mixed bag but contained some genuine moments of wits, reminiscence or aesthetic value, now boiled down into the most basic form of emotion – the ‘like’. Akin to the over-fed oaf grunting his approval at things that stimulate his pituitary glands, they have become a largely inane – endless stream of “Nan *insert something inappropriate jokes here*” (probably outdated and replaced with something equally droll by the time you read this) to the downright almost racist ones that many of my so-called friends were gleefully liking  and as a result making me really like them less.

3) Unpopularity – My annoyance at my lack of popularity, I’ve seen girls with upwards of 120 ‘likes’ on pictures of them in a bikini and while I understand the reasons for this and don’t believe a picture of me in the same bikini would provoke the same response it still annoys me that nothing I could ever do within my own very small realm of popularity could ever achieve such lustre so I’m backing out now, almost like a football supporter who can’t play football as well as the team he goes to see nearly every week but can criticise the star forward by saying ‘ooo he’s not very good at kicking is he, and for all that money too, boooooo.’ I’m removing myself from the field of play so I can criticise from the sidelines without being part of it.

4) Unfriends – The whole idea of ‘friends’ as mentioned earlier I have about 3 non-family people who I speak to daily, followed by a wider circle who I speak to on a week-to-week basis, yet I see non-famous people with upwards of 2000 friends. Which make me wonder where do they get the time to maintain these various friendships? I struggle with the few I have  and this leads me to the  ”happy birthday’ conundrum’: e.g.  people I haven’t spoke to for over a year but feel obliged to say ‘happy birthday’ to for when  the inevitable chance encounter soon after their anniversary of their birth results in a dreaded awkward situation. Only to realise that they haven’t said it to me 8 months before!! The bastards. I should delete them……But best not. Just in case.

5) And finally the endless email updates, which obviously I could have turned off but then what If I missed something vital?

Oh well now that this article is finished I can post it to my….oh.

Facebook  Alternatives:
Twitter for status updates only better..

StumbleUpon for pointless links etc.
Tumblr for pretty pictures to gawp at.
Google+ cos facebook will only last so long before it becomes MySpace.

Comedy Festival 2011: Jake Mills & James Redmond

May 2, 2011

At first glance an unlikely pairing, yet James Redmond (formerly of Hollyoaks and now various reality TV Shows) and Jake Mills (formerly a resident of the Croxteth area of Liverpool and now a resident of various local comedy clubs) make for a complimentary pairing.

James Redmond a self-professed “Z-lister” starts off the show, It is clear from his polished slightly scripted seeming performance that James has honed his comedic talents as a compare for various comedy clubs in recent times. Ironically however the best moment was an unplanned one in which James falls off the stage, which Jake later takes great delight in drawing attention to. James’ comedic style is anecdote-based drawing on his various celebrity past, in very much the cringe-inducing manner of shows such as Peep Show & The Inbetweeners. Often James is the unwelcome recipient of the public’s attention both good and bad, which makes for the basis of his act.

Jake on the other hand has a more casual comedic style, very dry and observational. Fans of Curb Your Enthusiasm may notice not just a small amount of Larry David in Jake’s routine. Jake’s act can be seen as very family friendly in fact even he is aware that any type of Russell Brand-esque sexual humour would not go down well as it would be to quote Jake himself ‘unbelievable’. Jake’s self-deprecating wit and observations on modern life put him in that bracket of ever inventive comedians such as Ross Noble & co, in fact the entire routine seems very free-flowing and apart from one set-piece where Jake tries to get one over his co-star, the act seems very naturalistic throughout.