Thursday 5 July 2018

Life isnt Black or White

Now i dont blog much these day, generally only when i get worked up over something, as anyone who knows me knows my Grammar and Spelling Suck. But anyone that follows me on Facebook or twitter will also have seen that I've got worked up of late over BeaverGate. (and for the record i had the same reaction when everyone bailed on wicked weed festival, i just wasn't as invested)

 Now its taking me along time to realise why i got so worked up until i read a  post today  saying

"Sad to see what some see as the craft world descending into polarised hate , a bit like US politics"

And suddenly it all fell into place. The World is not Black and White (Insert Babylon 5 reference Here : It was the First TV show i saw where the world in depth was shades of grey)

Theres no doubt in my mind Big Buisness on the whole is not a Force for good, Tesco's squeezes farmers, and undercuts local grocers, Amazon undercuts everyone and massively avoids paying taxes, Facebook spy's on us all. Big Beer squeezes out using unfair practices the smaller breweries, and drives toward bland beer. Not going to get  any argument from me their.

But its not as simple as that , we all accept the  how much the Convenience of Supermarkets of Amazon or the advantages that Facebook bring against their spying we choose what shade of grey we are happy with

Now Beer is no different. We need to choose what we are personally happy with. But some people don't want us to have that choice they want to make it Black or White. Last week Beavertown was White and Great today they are Black and Evil.

This first reared its head in UKCBF where i was told in clear terms that if beavertown sold a share to big business it was no longer craft and could not be discussed their.  So first off we have long have arguments over what is craft but i refuse to accept that everything being equal something is craft if its funded with 40M of Dads money, or 40M of Private Equity , but not if its 40M of a different breweries money. But lets avoid that old argument.  My problem is one day its good the next day its evil.  Black or White

Once again i got  frustrated, this time when  Cloudwater pulled out of Beavertown Extravaganza.

Beavertown are running a invite only festival, they invited Cloudwater (amongst others) who accepted, thus allowing Beavertown to advertise that Cloudwater were attending. With out this permission they could not have advertised Cloudwater . So one day Cloudwater were happy Beavertown were white and ok, but the next day Beavertown were evil and they were forced to pull out of the festival. Black or White

Nothing about the festival had changed. Cloudwater just decided that Beavertown were no longer white so went back on their agreement, not just with Beavertown. But to all those people they allowed Beavertown to tell they were going.

They effectively want to remove the shades of grey, they us to decide that either  Beavertown is good or Beavertown is bad. Their can be no middle ground. Black or White

So will Heineken investment be Good or Bad, If it results in Gamma Ray in bars that only carried mass lagers, that widens choice and i would see that as wholy good, if it results in Bars not gettign Beavertowns specials without selling Heineken Lager that would be wholey bad, Now life isnt link that , its not Black or White, its Shades of Grey so only Time will tell, and while i suspect it could be  more bad than good, i would rather wait and see than jump to any snap conclusions. The World is not Black or White.

But the world is not Black or White i believe its possible to dislike someones position,  while at the same time respecting that everyone has the right to make their own decisions. Be that Me shopping with Amazon cause its just convenient , or Beavertown deciding that Heineken  offered them their best option for growth.  Respecting that position doesn't mean you need to work with them going forward, but respecting those that you would probably have called your friends last week  (white) isn't dropping them them this week as they made a different decision than you (black). The World is not Black or White.  So i want to say thanks to all those Brewers who are still going to the Extraveganza,  and im particularity grateful to Wylam and Northern Monk who have Said exactly why they don't think we should have to choose Black or White

Thursday 8 June 2017

Industrial Sabatage or Just Vandalism

I hadn't planned on writing any more on this but late last night I discovered One Brewery has decided to respond to InBevs taking a minority share in Ratebeer with what I consider Industrial Sabotage.

This was posted on their Twitter feed

Linking to their Instagram feed

Leaving Ratebeer looking like this at the time I found it. (It has since been fixed)

Childish, maybe even funny if you do something like that to one of your mates, But remember this is one business doing it to another business. So as I see it, deliberately setting out to damage someone elses business, with clear intent that's Industrial Sabotage at worst and certainly a clear case of vandalism at best,
and it would seem that in response to concerns over InBev Manipulating Ratebeer data,  Noble Ale Works has decided to do exactly that and go a step further and actually alter the Data.

How they did this is clear, Brewers have always been allowed access to their own beer names, so that they can if they desire ensure the information is correct, and they decided to abuse this permission in an attempt to damage Ratebeer. I've heard one person comment that they gave them permission so there's nothing to answer. But I dispute that, It's the equivalent of a Brewery employee deliberately setting out to label all the beer with the same label, and I dont imagine that employee getting a pat on the back.

Quite frankly I'm furious about this, and if I owned Ratebeer i would be taking legal advice over this act. But it's not only the act itself that left me raging, but the praise the brewery is receiving for an act that if not criminal is clearly immoral.  It would appear that where InBev is concerned no one else can do no wrong, and as I said in my original post when you act like this you are no better than InBev and in this case arguably worse.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Why i Love RateBeer

This is a blog i probably should have written a long time ago, but spurred on by #RateBevGate here it is.

Those of you that know me, probably think it's that addiction I have, you know the one, that has the clue in the name. Yeah that Ratting addiction, and don't get me wrong, that's part of it. It's the Reason I joined (before it became an addiction) but that not the BIG reason the big reason is the Community.

Ratebeer is more than just rating beers, there place information, interesting stats, and FORUMS. Its these forums that have built the best online community I have been part of.

So at the Risk of a bit of Dick waving, I'm just gonna list a whole load of cool things that ive experienced being part of that community.

I've made  many good friends on ratebeer, these are people i call friends not just acquaintances.

Through ratebeer this group of friends are here in Edinburgh as well as in  England, US, Denmark.

But as well as  these friends i've made
acquaintances that i keep in touch with through Ratebeer, Facebook and Twitter.

 I (and my Family) have stayed at several ratebeerians houses, and had ratebeerians stay with me,  I've held tasting with people traveling in Edinburgh, and been invited to people house to have tastings while traveling.

I have given away  beer, and had beer given to me. One Texan, left 30 bottles with me (after attending a tasting) and refused to take any money despite my best efforts.

I've been driven (along with the whole family and another local Ratebeerian)  from Orlando to Tampa and all-round the brewpubs and then back to the hotel by a Raterbeerian, i'd never met. TWICE (well obviously the 2nd time i had met him)

All this based on the friendship we had built up via Ratebeer plus I've had another Ratebeerian drive 2 hours each way to trade beer with me when my side trip got cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

I've met so many people at Festivals, and attended gatherings across Europe with other Ratebeerians, Being Shown the Highlights of Pilsen and Rome by locals who knew all the right places and people.

I've had brewers contact me asking how I got their beer, and being delighted that their beer had got as far as Edinburgh, Ive been introduced to brewers by other ratebeerians and had brewers share rare beer with me.

On a Trip to Three Floyds Dark Lord Day, I had over a dozen people seek me out in the crowd to share a special beer they had brought to share specially with me.

I've shared rooms in hotels with guys i've never met. Which oddly is a lot more fun than it sounds and not even a little sordid.

So in short, I've made friends, been places and tried so many beers I would never have had a chance to try if it wasn't for Rate Beer.

There's no place else like it.

It's been a part of my Life for Over 10 Years and despite recent developments i hope it can continue to bring me many more years of joy.


Recently it was announced that Zx Ventures some of shoot of InBev took a minority stake in Ratebeer, now i have to say that im not wholly comfortable with it, but ive never understood how Ratebeer stayed afloat, and have seen many threads in my times where someone complains that feature X is premium only. This where premium member ship rocks in at a Whole $13. So i can see why Joe decided to take some money when it appeared.

I had intended to just keep my thoughts to myself until i see how it all panned out once the dust had settled. But Yesterday Dog Fish Head called for all their reviews to be deleted.

Now as far as i'm concerned DFH can get Fucked. It's not their data to be removed, removing this will just cause a flood of other requests and suddenly ratebeer is of no use to me.

In fact the more I think on this, the more i'm convinced that what DFH (and others who have come out and said the same) are doing is no better than what they are trying to fight against.

What they are doing is interfering in another's business and setting out to Destroy it. Because have no doubt if Ratebeer were to remove DFH, they're would be a flood of other brewers asking for the same thing, and Ratebeer would cease to be useful to those who use it.

As i said I've got serious concerns myself about this investment, but we all make compromises in our daily lives against what we believe in, be that using the likes of Google, Facebook or Amazon, Shopping in Walmart/Asda(with their control over what's acceptable in the music industry)  or buying Nestle product we all make our own personal choices. What DFH have set out to do, is remove MY choice to decide for myself if I am happy using Ratebeer now that InBev have a share.  No one asked DFH years ago if they wanted to take part. Thats not how consumer reviews work.  If it did im sure INBev would have wanted they're consistently low scoring product removed.

Now i am almost totally convinced that DFH have no legal leg to stand on and that Ratebeer choosing to remove brewers who ask would destroy the site/business. So don't see it ever happening, but by doing so Dog Fish Head have shown themselves to be no better than InBev.

I will continue to use Ratebeer as a site that has brought : YEARS of Joy,  has brought me countless friends, some of who i count as close friends, has brought many beers to my attention, and has the best online community I've ever been part of. Of course I will keep an eye on what happens now and if i ever think that me or my ratings are being manipulated for InBevs gain, you can bet I will shout about it.  But its my choice, Not InBevs and not DFH. Mine and Mine alone.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Children in Pubs

Ok im not gonna make appologies for the fact im quite militant on this issue, BUT in no problem with this nice blog from Tandleman

But i thought id follow up just why i feel like i do.

I suspect it all started when i first realised how different the UK was from the continent. When ever i asked if kids were allowed in a pub on the continent i always got a funny look that took me a while to realise was they just didnt know why i was asking compared to the UK where i often got turned away from 2-3 pubs before i found one i was allowed in my my Kids in the UK.

So i started to think on this issue more. The more i thought the more i came to think that in the UK its plain and simple AGE DISCRIMINATION.

Now dont get me wrong, some of my favorite local pubs dont allow kids, and i understand some of their concerns (and some issues are totally out of the pubs control) but i still think their wrong.

Children like any group are not all the same, and grouping them together and making a blanket decision is judging by stereotype, and i think thats wrong.
Good well behaved kids should be just as welcome as good well behaved adults, and just because some kids misbehave doesnt mean that all kids should be banned just in the same way that pubs have to deal with drunk misbehaving adults yet dont seem to ban all adults.

Yes its harder for pubs to deal with problem children, and i think thats the problem, some choose to ignore the issue and let it continue, some choose to bar all kids. But neither attitude helps. But if pubs took the same approach to Problem adults half would close and the other half would not be where most people i know want to go. So if parents threaten to go else where let them. If a drunk causing trouble said well im not coming back, would the pub care

Yes kids bring extra problems but they also bring extra business. Im the Profit heavy soft drink, maybe even  extra on the crisps plus what ever the parents are also spending.

I think the reason Children ale welcome on the continent is that Children are expected to behave. We can only get there if venues expect and insist on that behavior, and well behaved kids should not be discriminated against because some venues cant be bothered to demand their patrons behave.

I hear many arguments,and while i am not saying its on the same scale its got echos of part discrimination.

My patrons dont like kids in the Pub. Just like we used to hear about no women in public bars, of the Infamous No blacks, or Irish signs of guest houses.

Why dont we have some that are and some thats not (well apart from the trouble of finding which are and which arnt) this just strikes me of the racial segregation of US buses.

But my biggest problem, is not with the Pubs that choose not to have children(much as i dislike it and disagree) It with the Bloody Stupid licensing authorities that say, no Children because a pub doesnt have baby changing facilities etc. As i parent i have changed my childrens nappies in all sorts of weird place (and no thats not on a restaurant table). I learned to do this on my knee in a toilet cubicle the back seat of my car etc. So i dont need some random body deciding im not allowed in some where based on a facility i might not need, and can manage without. Esp as half thee time the same councils have been closing public toilets right left and center.

Its easy to discriminate against children as they have no real voice in society but that still doesnt make it right.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Toddler Tantrums

As a parent I’ve seen a few, and the one thing i quickly learned is not to give in to them, that just encourages more.

The Last few days I’ve seen what i considers toddler tantrum from Labour MP's

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership contest there’s been a steady undercurrent deliberately undermining him, and all reports suggested that no one could beat him in a 2nd leadership battle.

So knowing they cant win, what they have resorted to is a tantrum, doing as much damage as they can  knowing that neither Jeremy or the Labour party can stop them.

Then when a 2nd leadership election is called, members are left with a stark choice. Replace Corbyn and hope the tantrums stop, or Re-elect him and face further damage by the Tantruming Toddlers, sorry MPs to the Part.

I personally home the members stick by their guns and Re-elect Corbyn cause nothing ever good has come from giving in to a tantrum.

Friday 1 January 2016

My Life in Beer : The Gospel according to Ratebeer

Due to some cool back stage works by the people at RateBeer i now have access to some cool stats for every Year i have been using RateBeer. So i have trawled this information and compiled it into my Life in Beer.

I started Adding Beers to the Rate beer Database back in 2007 so while the first year probably reflects 3-4 years worth of beers(the notes i took prior to Ratebeer), after that it more or less reflects my life in Beer

How Much I Rate

As can clearly be seen the longer ive been on rate beer the more beers i seem to manage to try every year. I suspect this is a bit of my continuing Ratebeer addiction and the increasing availability of new beer.

Here we can see the number of different breweries i have tried each year, this i think shows the increase in number of breweries available

This Graph shows the Number of newly opened breweries that i rated in each year, reflecting once again the growth in new breweries

Where What I Rate Comes From

The below Graph shows where i mostly Drink beers from, showing all the countries that show up at least one in my top 5 countries of each year.

As can be seen the UK is a beer market as a whole despite Ratebeer separating out each of the UK regions. and the sheer number of English breweries ensures that they always eclipse Scottish breweries. Though the Graph does clearly show in Explosion in Scottish beer. With 2015s massive peak down to the creation of the Alpha Project beers from the Hanging Bat and the Expansion of Stewarts into there Craft Beer Kitchen range at the brewery tap. The Italian peak was due to a RateBeer gathering in Rome where i went wild. Though in the middle years 08-11 i did a fair bit of trading for US beers, its clear also from the graph(even after taking CBC into consideration) that the availability of US beer in the last few years has sky rocketed.

What I Rate

We now look at the Styles of beers that i have rated over time, again the styles were chosen on the ground of each style having made it into the top five styles for at least 1 year

Several things jump out at me, the most obvious being the meteoric rise of IPA,s  and the emergence of Saisons in 2012, alongside the rise of the American Pale Ale. What is less explainable if the persistence of Golden Ales while bitters and ESBs die off.

Who Was Best

This Table shows the Best brewery of each where i had tried at least 5 new beers from that brewery that Year.
Year UK Brewery of the Year International Brewery of the Year
2007 Harveys(3.7) De Struise(4.24)
2008 Marble(3.72) New Glarus(3.98)
2009 Marble(3.8) Mikkeller(3.82)
2010 Thornbridge(3.85) Narke(3.83)
2011 Magic Rock(3.98) Firestone Walker(3.84)
2012 Hawkshead(4.03) CigarCity(3.98)
2013 Moor(3.82) De Struise (3.86)
2014 Hawkshead(3.95) Cycle Brewing (3.78)
2015 Hawkshead/Buxton/Loch Lomond(3.78) Avery/Alesmith(3.86)

Interesting to Note that Colin Stronge and  Dominic Driscol both were at Marble with Dom making the move to Thornbridge in 2010 and Colin reappearing in the chart with Buxton in 2015

What Was Best

This is where it gets messy as we often have a top equal each year. So Listed below are the Top UK and International beers for each year based on my Ratebeer Score. With multiples listed if they scored the same

Year Top UK Beer(s) Top International Beer(s)
2007 Old Chimneys Good King Henry Mikkeller X Raspberry Brown 2007
2008 Bass No 1 / King’s Ale New Glarus Raspberry Tart
2009 Swannay Orkney Porter Kuhnhenn Fifth Dementia Very Old Ale
De Molen Mout & Mocca (-2011)
Mikkeller X Imperial Stout Calvados Barrel Aged
2010 Deeside Talorcan
Swannay Old Norway
Thornbridge Bolvig Saint Petersburg Deluxe Edition
BrewDog Abstrakt AB:04
De Molen Hel & Verdoemenis 666
2011 BrewDog / Nøgne Ø / Mikkeller Black Tokyo* Horizon Nøgne Ø Dark Horizon Third Edition
Samuel Adams Utopias
2012 Wild Beer Wildebeest Fanø Chocolate Lava
2013 Wild Beer / Burning Sky / Good George Shnoodlepip Struise Black Damnation I - Black Berry Albert
2014 Siren / Evil Twin Bourbon Barrel Even More Jesus VIII Coffee
Redwillow Thoughtless
Swannay Barrel Aged Orkney Porter (Isle of Arran)
Arizona Wilderness American Presidential Stout
Lervig Once You Go Black
New Glarus Strawberry Rhubarb
2015 Magic Rock Bearded Lady Dessert Edition Cellarmaker Imperial Coffee and Cigarettes

2012 was an odd Year as my top 2 drinks were not Beer.
But and Ice Cider La Face Cachée de la Pomme Neige Récolte D’Hiver and a Mead B.Nektar Cherry Chipotle.

But what is most interesting to me is the Lack of what is arguably my Favourite Beer, the Old Chimney Good King Henry Reserve. Knocked out of the Top spot by My First Experience of the Kulminator in Antwerp and the 1981. Now ive had the kings ale a few times since and never enjjoyed as much(though generally very good) but on that first encounter in that place it was clearly the beer of the Year. So sadly the GKHR loses out.


Whats very interesting is that Before i researched this and for the last few years if pushed to pick my favorite breweries it wouldnt and couldnt be a short list but the first two id mention would always be Hawkshead and Highland (now Swannay) So its interesting to see them both appear Prominently in the lists but in totally different ways. Hawkshead dominating my Best Breweries List and Swanney appearing most in my best beers list. Yet neither appears on the other list.

Its nice to know my gut feeling backed up with hard figures all be it with a twist.