Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Sun will be out tommorow

Or at least I hope it will.

Ive almost had my first full calender month of the Solar panels. So heres the  Month 1 Report.
From an average day in February for a system of my size and setup based in Edinburgh should supply 3.84 Units a day.

So day one was a whopping 7 units and everything looked promising. I then had a few disappointing days before logging a whopping 8.5 units on Feb 7th some more poor days and then a 8.8 (our best since records began) immediate followed by 0.8 (our lowest since records began) and then it went all down hill. By the 20th I had only had an average 2.87 a day nearly a whole unit less per day. Next few days were ok but did nothing to get my Average up. But the last few days forcast was looking good, and so it was on the 24th I managed a respectable 7.7 and then on the 25th a 7.5 then on the 26th I got a new record of 9.5

This morning I got off to the best start with the most units prior to 9am and the skys to the west was pure blue, absolute perfect, but by 11am the clouds had moved in. Still this wasnt enough to ruin the day and I managed to score a great  but not record beating 9.3, taking my Daily average back right on track. Spot on at 3.84.

So now were looking to see if I can beat Feb average, but its all down to tomorrow. So here hoping that the sun will be out tommorow.

Assuming an Average day tommorow that will give me a Total of 108 Units, assuming half of these units were used and half sold back to the Grid, I have generated a first month profit of  just over £51 pounds, and is 4% of my projected Yearly total.

Next report at the end of next month. Will I manage to Average 6.8, only time will tell.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Have you been Dog-washed

Recently ive been meeting more and more people that seem to have convinced that Keg is the only good beer. Now dont get me wrong Keg beer can be good and definitly has it time and its place (see my earlier post on this)

But its really starting to wind me up. Mostly this persuasion is come about by Clever marketing by Brewdog, and again dont get me wrong here. One of my Favourite beers are Brewdog beer, and i just love AB:04

But Keg isnt the only good beer, Its not true as has been claimed that there was no good beer in Scotland before brewdog, and its certainly not true now.

So once again the Cry goes out for Good Beer and ALL good beer.

Or have you been Dog-washed and think the Only way forward is Keg

Thursday, 10 February 2011

craft beer why its right name?

In response to this request
I give you my thoughts.

Simple. I dislike it. In fact i dislike it a lot.

The problem is i dont think it means anything, or maybe i think it means too many things

Cooking lager posted this in the comments

"A distinctively flavored beer that is brewed and distributed regionally. Also called craft brew, microbrew."

as opposed to

"any beer which is allowed to ferment in the cask and which when served is pumped up without using carbon dioxide"

For me the Real ale is a definition, Its clear.
But the Craft beer definition has ambiguity. What is distinctly flavoured beer. Bud Chedla is pretty distinct.
What is a region. Many micro brewers in the UK, distribute nationally all be it they may sell more locally, and if you asked most people to name the main 'Craft brewer' in the UK? most people would probably say 'Brewdog' who sell to the US, Norway, Sweden ...

So moving away from the dictionary. How might i try to define 'Craft beer'
well question
1) can it include Real ale.  For me it should but would it for other, and if not why not. To exclude real ale implies that there is no 'craft' in brewing real ale. So lets assume it has to.
2) is it all Real ale. No probably not. Not all real ale is good or well made. Problem here is who decides on quality.
3) Do we make some distinction on brewery size. Well again. Its true that the biggest brewers tend to not produce a craft product. But that doesnt mean they cant and we should not refuse to accept craft whereever it exists. Are we going to eliminate White shield, Bass #1 or P2

I just cant word a definition that doesnt use words like 'good',  'flavoursome', or 'quality' and all these terms will mean different things to different people.

Even in the US they are struggling with what this means, and on the whole the closest i can gauge it means is not produced by a multi-national company. With discussion cropping up debating if brewers like Sierra Nevada or Boston beer company of Samuel Adams fame are craft brewer.

I think many of us blogging on the subject, will actually have a very similar gut feeling of what is and what isnt a craft beer, but i think that is because we all have the same frame of reference, but im not sure our definition is clear enough to be valid to people outside our reference.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Why Pubs dont sell more high ABV beers

Recently i got into an interesting discussion with @HardKnottDave over the pricing of beers in Pubs. It started when he suggested the Recomended Retail price of his Infra Red (6.5%) should be £3.70.

Now in the Grand scheme of things Edinburgh seems to be at the top end of the beer price range of the places ive been in the UK, and I had the impression that i rarely pay over £3.40 a pint. So while i thought expecting £3.70 was being a bit optimistic, and in fact some one had actually just tweeted that they had paid only £2.90.

Now while i dont really want to pay more for my beer, i  got to thinking what is reasonable. What do i actually pay. So lucky for me the Bow Bar had just had a festival and had a good range of different ABV beers.

First off. A quick check of the boards in the Bow Bar  and Cloisters (the two places i drink most) confirmed that mostly i pay between £3 and £3.40 Excellent my gut feeling was right. But then asking in the Bow about prices of the different ABV beer, showed that i do indeed ocassionally pay above £3.40. Its mostly that i rarely see beers above 5.5% and thus rarely pay above £3.40

So in Edinburgh £3.70 doesnt seem far away from what i might expect to pay for 6.5% However im still not convinced in other parts of the Country, where the average Pint is closer to £2.50, that you could sell a 6.5% beer for £3.70 (not that im suggesting that its not worth it)
But heres where i got really interested.
Thinking more on the information i had gathered. The price for a half pint of Green Jack Baltic Trader (10.5%)was £2.50 and the price for Highland Orkney Porter 9% was £2.30 both of which was considerably over the £3.70 a pint (but were higher ABV than the Infra Red)

Quite dear for a pint all told, except it isnt. The Highland Orkney Porter retails for £2.30 for a half pint bottle, So the pub was actually the same price as a shop bottle, and considerably cheaper than the same bottle would cost in the pub.
The Green Jack 750ml bottles retails for over £8 which is more than the same beer costs (for the same volume)  in the pub.
Contrast this with almost any 4-5% beer which mostly retail for £2-2.60 considerably less than the same beer would cost in the pub.

So the question is now why do we pay more for 4-5%  beer in the pub, but pay less in the Pub for 9-10% beers.
Are pubs charging too little for the higher ABV beers. I suspect they must be. But i also suspect that they cant charge more, as the market (at least at the moment) is much smaller for the high ABV beers, and thus if they wish to shift the cask before it goes off, they must price the beer much more competitively.

Unfortunately i think this is the reason more pubs wont regularly sell a higher ABV beer. So next time to see a beer thats a little more expensive than normal, consider that you may actually be getting a better deal.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The Session #48: Cask, Keg, Bottle or Can...

Ok lets get it out the way CASK is best. There you go. Simple.

But read on because maybe its not that simple.
For me Cask is best, i love the condition of a well kept cask beer. I love its body, its mouthfeel. I LOVE cask beer. Almost every beer that i have tried in multiformat is better on Cask. Yeah Cask needs looked after, yes the beer develops over time, meaning that a beer may be  the following or  the preceding day. But when the Cask beer hits that sweet spot its sublime. Others bloging on this subject suggest that some styles are better in dispensed via one method or another, and for many people this may be the case. But I've yet to be convinced.  Whether it be a Mild, Bitter, Double IPA, or Imperial stout, where I've had it in multiple methods i prefer Cask.

Does that mean i dont like Bottle or Can(I am going to treat these as one, as in most cases the beer inside is conditioned the same.) No it bloody well doesn't. For one i like drinking at home, having a beer in the evening while watching tv or having a bunch of people round and trying a load of beers. But more importantly the Pubs dont always carry the style of beer i want. I cant guarantee when i walk into a pub that i will find a cask of Imperial stout or a cask of a Double IPA, in fact im gonna struggle to find them at all.

Then were onto the Tricky one. Keg.
Well first we need to break this down. As i recently discovered there are 2 keg types, What i tend to think of as Fizzy Keg and  KeyKeg.

KeyKeg is basically a container with a Bag inside it. The beer is placed into the Bag and conditioned by the brewer. The beer is dispensed not by adding Gas to the beer, but by pumping gas between the container and the bag, forcing the beer out of the bag. If the beer is conditioned right (something the brewer has more control of than having to rely on a pub cellar man) then the beer can be just as good as cask.

With the more Traditional Fizzy Keg, well more or less i hate it. Why? well all told I dont like fizzy juice and I dont like fizzy beer and all told when this dispense method is used, its nearly always too carbonated for me.

And this is where i fall in line with most people who I've read bloging on this subject. Is Keg beer bad. NO. Can quality beer come in Keg form. YES. Is good beer being served in Keg form a good idea. Hell yeah.

Just recently 2 of the best pubs in Edinburgh replaced  nondescript mass produced fizzy beer with Punk IPA, then they followed suit by replacing Guinness with Black Isle Porter on the same gas mix. Not only are these beers better than the predecessors, but they're local and smaller(well maybe Brewdog wont be smaller for long, the way they are growing) and id rather support a good small brewer than a Multinational chemist.

So all told Cask being better than Keg is a personal preference. Not an absolute. Good beer is good beer, regardless of how its dispensed. Yes the dispense can and will make a difference to the experience. But the dispense method is not going to make a bad beer good or a good beer bad. All it is going to do is tinker round the edges.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Lets not Fight

This piece is one of the reasons that i though i should start a blog, and its been brought to the front recently with another blog post

And thats the constant bitching within the Beer Scene.

Now anyone who knows me, will know ive been a member of Ratebeer for the past 3 or so years, and every year sometimes 2 or 3 times someone will start a discussion about how CAMRA is doing x,y and z wrong.
Every year i find myself having to defend CAMRA position against often unjustified complaints, as well as justify why im a CAMRA member

More recently ive been coming across the same sort of unjustified complaints about Ratebeer and i find myself having to justify Ratebeers existence and why im a member of Ratebeer.

Now dont get me wrong i dont think Ratebeer or CAMRA are perfect, far from it. In many ways i have my own complaints against both. But the the point is they are what they are. They both do some things very well, they both could be better in places.

I've seen the stupidity of CAMRA(Campain for Real Ale)  being accused of promoting Cask (real ale) ale over keg. Now i have nothing against good keg beer, but my preferred dispense method is Cask. Almost every beer ive had in both forms is better in Cask, and while i think CAMRA will over the long term be better serves by Championing ALL good beer. Complaining that they Promote Cask beer is just plain silly.

On the Other side just recently when a brewer was advertising that they had 5 beers in the British top 10 in the Ratebeer best, some one suggested that that achievement was worthless and anyway they had CAMRA award where much more relevant for UK beers. My understanding  is that the Brittish Top beers is formed from Brittish ratings, and thus is just as relevant.

In the Grand Scheme of things both represent quite a small user base. What with the Vast majority of beer drinkers wanting Fizzy cold lager. The fact that they both might represent different user bases should be cause to celebrate the diversity of the beer lover. Not reason for complaint. Just because someone enjoys beer in a different way from you, is no reason to think your better, and that your way of enjoying beer is the "one true way"

I dont know why people cant just take what they want from the beer scene and allow others to enjoy beer in their own way.

Some people only want to drink 1 or 2 beers, and are not interested in trying new things, while others want to try as many beers as they can.

Some people only want to drink 1 style of beer, where as other want to try all the styles.

Some people want to drink Big ABV beers, where as others want to drink 4% bitters.

No one person or group of people are right, the beer scene and the world on the whole is much more complex than that.

To each there own enjoyment. We all want the same thing in the end. To enjoy good beer. All be it each of our definitions of good beer may vary and even then not actually by that much.