Breaking the pound barrier

I’d be one of the people to suggest that paying more for beer is no different from paying more for any product or service.  Every time we shop for food, clothes and other consumables we are evaluating the cost benefit.  Will yogurt A enrich my digestive system? or the gammon from the Super Special range start a party on my tongue where a ‘basics’ brand would leave my senses deflated?  Well in some cases this would be true, paying more for food can result in a tastier or more enjoyable experience.  The difference with food is that it is something we really need, but to discuss nutrition and cost opens up a whole other can of worms [pun intended].  When discussing other items we buy, aside from sustenance, non alcoholic beverages, fuel and shelter, everything else we purchase is there to enrich or enhance our lives.  Again, some would argue that the lavish trappings available to us are actually distracting us from attaining true happiness, but for the purposes of this two-bit blog post, lets just say that these non-essential items do enhance our lives.  Consider when you buy new footwear or a coat, we need these items of clothing (and other items of clothing) to keep us warm, keep us on the right side of the law, keep us in employment (where the right uniform or look is important), I’m guessing that the first consideration is how it looks, then “can I afford it”? then “well I’ll just try it on”, then how does it/they feel?, again “can I afford it/them?” yes = purhcase, no = keep looking.  We will often buy something that is more expensive than is required to get the job done and the reasoning can be complicated.  It then becomes even more complicated as one persons cheese is another persons chalk.  I might perceive a benefit in something where someone else may not, noone is right.  It’s just a matter of opinion.

So when considering beer in the same way, and before discussing the purchasing of beer in terms of class, (something I’m not going to do, because I don’t consult my ‘class’ when considering to do anything – my class is something that is important to government office and marketeers), we should acknowledge that beer is not essential to us.  But if we do choose to dabble, then as with the argument for clothing, there are many different types of beer and ultimately they will all do the job that the product intends.  But where the consumers intention is not just to exact a temporary lobotomy, then this opens up a world of possibility in terms of taste and social activities.  Life enhancing? I would say yes.

Zak Avery discusses/plays devils advocate re: social class, or more to the point ‘craft’ beer and snobbery, on his blog and as an extension to Boak and Bailey’s post.  As someone who has an interest in beer and enjoys trying different beer which is sometimes expensive, the notion that people buying fancy, rare or expensive beer to communicate their relative importance or sophistication to those who don’t is something I don’t recognise in myself.  There could be people with this motive.  The only way I can think to describe this from my point-of -view is that if I have some spare time, which is not very often, then I make sure I use that time to the full.  It’s not always used on beer related activity, but when it is I choose to drink in certain pubs and try beers that interest me.  On occasions my choices can cost £9 a pint, more typically around £3 a pint, but my decision process does not include a superiority enhancer.

At times I am a little uneasy about the cost, but I know when I can afford to get involved and when to take it steady on my beer budget.  Cost is not the driver when I buy a beer, it is a consideration, and usually a split second thing, no premeditation or class snobbery here.

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Good Morning, How May I Appear to Help You?

Choice is important.  No-one really wants to eat or drink the same thing over and again.  Many of us take this a step further and crave the new and interesting.  We look to combine food and drink which compliment each other.  Pairing food and drink is nothing revolutionary, but right now in the beer-sphere there seems to be more interest than ever before, which may have something to do with beer and its increasing recognition as something more than just a vehicle to cerebral annihilation.

Britain now has a healthy micro-brewing industry alongside the ever-present national and international mass-producers.  Look on the beer aisle in most supermarkets these days and there is an attempt to supply something for everyone.  The problem with supermarkets trying to be ‘all things to all men’ (and women) is that this approach to retail generally dilutes the quality of a product range.  Being faced with so much choice can lead to indecision and a higher chance of selecting something you didn’t want in the first place.

The reason for me commenting on this topic is in response to a recent article on the Guardian’s Word of Mouth blog.  Sophie Atherton reports on the state of information provided by supermarkets when selling beer.  On the one hand we are delighted to see supermarkets respond to our demands, we ask for real ale and they stock real ale, we ask for locally brewed beer and they stock it, and so on.  Once they have an aisle full of beer we (the general ‘we’) scratch our heads and protest that there is too much choice, “how are we supposed to choose the beer we’ll enjoy”?  Well, Sophie has information that suggests that supermarkets like Morrisons and Asda have the solution.  Both businesses are looking to put computer systems in stores to assist shoppers with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions.  Brilliant you might think, however this is where I start losing interest.  I have benefited from the supermarkets muscle power and ability to react quickly and buy big to quench our thirst, but I am now of the opinion that maybe ‘they’ [the supermarkets] are in over their heads.  What they are trying to solve is the customers want or need to be able to seek advice on their drink selection.  Corporate beasts like Morrisons and Asda could, if they wanted to, provide a proper sommelier service i.e. a person, with knowledge, waiting to talk to you.  But instead they buy some software and some more touch screens.  Job done.  They then get back to the important business of deciding where they’ll move the photo booth to this week so they can shoehorn their new range of 99  shoehorns in.

It’s my opinion that supermarkets should leave this kind of beer sales to the experts in our independent retailers and specialist shops.  If we want to know which beer to try or what food to pair it with, we should find a business that actually cares about the product and take it from there.  There are also a number of excellent blogs to turn to and real-time advice if you happen to Tweet.  I realise that what I am saying here may contradict the notion that supermarkets selling micro-brewed or ‘craft’ beer is a positive step, and I’m certainly not suggesting that everything they are doing is ill thought out.  They should just know their limits.

Zak Avery blogged about this too over on The Beer Boy and makes the point that we should use the specialist retailers or risk losing them.

International IPA Day in West Yorkshire

For anyone who is not aware of the International IPA Day celebrations on Thursday 4th August 2011, then please find a run-down of what’s going on for the lucky folk of West Yorkshire, including;

  • Mr Foleys Cask & Ale House, Leeds
  • The Grove Inn, Huddersfield
  • The Sparrow Bier Cafe, Bradford *updated 29/07/11*

Mr Foleys Cask Ale House, Leeds

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August 4th has been designated ‘International IPA Day’ and Mr Foleys will be holding one of the biggest events in the country to celebrate! IPA Day was conceived as a social celebration of craft ale and lovers worldwide are encouraged to take part and interact via social networking such as Twitter.

International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles; the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with it’s broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories and regional flavor variations, making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice. #IPADay is not the brainchild of a corporate marketing machine, nor is it meant to serve any particular beer brand. #IPADay is an opportunity for breweries, bloggers, businesses and consumers to connect and share their love of craft beer.

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 Getting involved is easy; the only requirements are an appreciation for great beer and the will to spread the word. Anyone can participate by enjoying IPA with friends, making some noise online with the #IPADay hashtag and showing the world that craft beer is more than a trend!

At Mr Foleys we will have some of the finest examples of the style from some of Britain’s best brewers. Our beers will include four keg IPAs; two from Brewdog and one each from local West Yorkshire breweries Summer Wine and Magic Rock. We will have six cask IPAs coming from Thornbridge, Buxton, Kirkstall, Roosters, Hardknott and Red Willow. If that’s not enough for you, we will have a dedicated IPA fridge serving you some of the best from America, as well as a couple more rarely seen British brews. (confirmed list below)..

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KEG
Magic Rock ‘Human Cannonball’ Summer Wine ‘7C’s of Rye’
Brewdog ‘Hardcore IPA’
Brewdog ‘My Name Is Ingrid’ (UK exclusive, brewed for Scandinavian market)

CASK
Thornbridge ‘RyePA’ (first pub to have it on sale, name may change)
Buxton ‘Axe Edge’
Kirkstall ‘Dissolution IPA’
Roosters ‘Underdog IPA’ (brewed exclusively for us by Ol Fozzard on the test kit)
Red Willow ‘Peerless’
Hardknott ‘Code Black’

BOTTLES
Odell Myrcenary Double IPA
Maui Big Swell IPA
Stone Cali-Belgique 2010
Victory Hop Devil IPA
Victory Hop Wallop Double IPA
Red Willow Ageless IPA
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Odell IPA
Goose Island IPA
Brewdog Punk IPA
Brewdog Hardcore IPA
Brewdog AB:06

Oh, I almost forgot.
DOGFISH HEAD 90 MINUTE IPA (only 4 bottles, first come first served!)

Still not enough? We will have brewers or brewery representatives from every brewery mentioned above and each will be holding mini ‘meet the brewer’ segments to promote their beer to the assembled crowd. We will also have guest appearances from beer writers Zak Avery and Mark Fletcher, who will be talking you through the history of IPA, why they love the style and some of their favourite beers.

With all this beer we will be in need of food. Curries will be supplied by the fantastic @manjitskitchen.  We feel that top quality Indian cuisinenot only fits the history of the beer, but that beers big in bitterness and hop character are the perfect accompaniment for spicy dishes.

So join us on August 4th at Mr Foleys Cask Ale House (159 The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5RG) for an IPA extravaganza! We can be found on twitter @mrfoleys, by phone 0113 2429674, email mrfoleys@mitchellsinns.co.uk or on our blog www.mrfoleyscaskalehouse.blogspot.com

The Grove Inn, Huddersfield

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International IPA Day featuring BUXTON BREWERY
Thursday August 4th has been declared International IPA day! And as you well know, here at The Grove we love IPA, so who are we to turn down an opportunity to showcase this most hop-tastic of beer styles? We don’t expect you to take our word on it though, so we’ve called in some friends who know a thing or two about brewing IPA…

We’re delighted that Head Brewer James ‘JK’ Kemp and Director Geoff Quinn from Buxton Brewery will be joining us on the evening to talk about the brewery, their beers and most importantly, IPA. Buxton are, in our opinion, amongst the most exciting and interesting breweries in the country at the moment and we’re delighted to have them joining us. We shall have 3 of their own IPA’s on the bar – Black Rocks, their 5.5% Black IPA, Axe Edge, a 6.7% hop monster, and for the first time their brand new IPA – WILD BOAR (5.7%).

That is not all! As well as these excellent IPA from Buxton we will have up to 9 other IPA’s on the bar, from cask and keg, featuring more of our favourite breweries from around the world, Including… Magic Rock, Thornbridge, Gadds, Liverpool Organic, Marble, BrewDog, Flying Dog, Great Divide, and more besides! And that’s before we even get to the bottle delights that will be filling up the fridges…

We will be running a tasting card scheme on the night to allow you to sample as many of the draft IPA’s as possible for the best possible price, as well as putting on some Indian themed nibbles to help soak it all up.

Those of you who are social media ‘savvy’ should get involved online on the day, using the hash tag #IPAday to help us all loudly spread the word of IPA and above all great beer!

LONG LIVE IPA!

Contact us on Twitter:
@GroveBri
@GroveChloe

The Sparrow Bier Cafe, Bradford

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International #IPADay is a grassroots movement to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, bars and brewers worldwide through social media. On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize craft beer’s social voice.International IPA Day featuring Saltaire Brewery
A global toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: INDIA PALE ALE
On Thursday 4th August The Sparrow & Saltaire Brewery will be celebrating International IPA Day.

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*FREE samples of Saltaire Stateside*
*Saltaire Brewey talk*
*5 draught IPAs*
*Over 10 bottled IPAs*

DRAUGHT:

  • Saltaire Stateside *updated 29/07/11* – the cask in question has had some additional dry-hopping attention over and above that which Saltaire Brewery normally dry-hop their Stateside IPA. Rather than the usual Cascade Hop plug (approx 13-14g) the IPA Day version will include a blend of Double-Cascade hop plugs with more than double Amarillo & Nelson Sauvin
  • plus 4 other beers to be announced soon including a black IPA and a double IPA.

BOTTLES:
Maui Big Swell (can), Great Divide Titan, Goose Island, Odell IPA, Brewdog Punk & Hardcore, Flying Dog Snake Dog & Raging Bitch, Sierra Nevada Torpedo and more!

Contact us on Twitter:
@theSparrowbd1
@SaltaireBrewery