The big three double O..

300xThis is my 300th post, a bit of a milestone for me and long overdue. Much in beer has changed since I first sat down and decided to start blogging under the Beersay handle around five or six years ago..

Brewdog opened their first bar in Aberdeen sometime during my first year in blogging proper. My own first visit to a new-fangled “craft beer” bar came I think a year or so later when I walked through the doors of Mr Foley’s in Leeds. 

Mr Foley’s rapid rise to fame came largely in my view at least, as a result of the vision of it’s then manager Dean Pugh. His potential quickly spotted, @BrewDogBarDean as he is now known, became manager at Brewdog Manchester, before helping to establish the brands UK flagship 40-tap bar in Shepherds Bush. Then bringing the timeline bang up to date. Only a few weeks ago, Dean packed his bags and moved to Berlin, and he’s not just going over to watch better football. 

Although saying that, currently the only team doing “wurst” than his is my own.

In that time of course Brewdog’s massive expansion has been mirrored by a huge rise facial growths of the beardy variety, many other things grown too, breweries, bars, beer columns in the press, full-on “quality” beer publications, podcasts, twitter beer shows, blogs and more.

Beer Festivals are no longer purely the domain of brown, there is a now veritable rainbow of colour choice, cloudy is acceptable and if a beer is sour, it won’t necessarily always mean “it’s off, sorry I’m sending it back”.

The once awful catchphrase uttered by a landlord, “here’s a fruit based drink for your good lady” doesn’t have to mean he’s being sexist, but only if he’s just handed you a bourbon barrel aged imperial apricot and mango saison. If not, he’s still a twat.

Beer is on TV, hooray! OK it still needs work and will get better, but it’s getting there.

Loads of the beer writers that inspired me to write also have moved on. Some have written books, become beer sommeliers, taken jobs in breweries, STARTED breweries, launched enormously successful beer festivals, opened bars, shops etc. Some have done pretty much all of the above.

Personally speaking I certainly don’t write as much now as I once did and there are many reasons for that. So many more folk doing it better than I do being one that immediately springs to mind. But that is a good thing too, as clearly with more being written by more people, beers popularity has risen enough to enthuse more people to be passionate about it in whatever fashion they see fit.

I definitely get a buzz about it still, especially when folk comment or say that I have inspired them in some way, or even if they just tell me I’ve written a complete load of tosh, as at least I know they bothered to take time out to read it.

If nothing else, I have made so many new and good friends over the years, not just drinking buddies, people I truly class as long-term close friends, people I trust and can (and do) confide in, go to for help and get it, help back, have a moan at or with, or just plain have a laugh and get drunk next to. Inspirational people in some way all of them.


But the times they are a changing, as old Bobby Dylan once scribbled: and I have exciting news. Things are about to change for me too

Exciting, scary things..


Things are about to get otter, but I’ll tell you more about that in a day or so..


Getting a beer down your neck… #TheSession

I can’t remember the last time I participated in #TheSession and for no particular reason if I’m honest, I think a couple of topics didn’t grab me and over time I simply forgot until it was too late. This months host, Steve Lamond of Beers I’ve Known, got the mind whirring away though and I thought why not, after all he’d agreed to remind me with a daily countdown so I had little excuse. 😉 This months topic is “Beery Yarns” tall tales and recollections.

When I actually got to think about this properly I was pretty much stumped for a while, but as I was looking through some old photographs the other day, I stumbled across some from way back in my late teens/early twenties. In those days my hair was long and at times my belt was longer as most of my spare time was spent either biking or drinking beer, and I wasn’t that fussy about the latter.

Although there were a few of us in the rabble that used to travel to bike rallies and such, there was a core group that would think nothing of taking a snap decision to head off to Devon or Cornwall at half nine on a Friday evening at the drop of a hat (or helmet). Of that smaller group though there were three of us that were pretty much as daft as each other, Bob, Abbots and myself. We’d spend hours just ripping the piss out of anything, everything and everything, talking bollocks and generally entertaining folks around us (or not). Either way we didn’t really care, we laughed a lot and I’m pretty sure it’s where most of the crap I talk these days was born, I haven’t changed that much as some of you will no doubt testify…

Clovelly, many moons ago

Clovelly, many moons ago

One of the “HILARIOUSLY” entertaining things we invented were “The Roy O’s”. Which basically involved us turning up at bike rallies dressed as Roy Orbison, (which in reality was turning up wearing a black shirt and dark glasses and that was it), then performing a rendition of Pretty Woman during the bands interval. When I say performing, between us I think we knew the lyrics “Pretty Woman, walking down the street, pretty woman, the kind I’d like to meet, pretty woman” and more or less sang or slurred that repeatedly for the duration of the song. Strangely though, through a mixture of drink and no doubt other things, folks loved it (or at least we thought they did) and we did the same time and time again..

Scanned Pics 69Another of the capers we came up with was “the Vanessa Paradis appreciation society”. There were three card-carrying members (you guessed it), and the only rule was, you had to carry your membership card at all times (this card was actually a laminated picture of Vanessa Paradis holding a cocker spaniel, cut out of The Sun). With that though came the challenge. If you produced your card and showed it to any of the others at any time, they had to have it on their person and show it to you or they bought the next round, no arguments? Simple yes, well…no, when someone pulls that card from their motorcycle glove and pulls alongside you manically grinning through an open faced helmet as you hurtle down the M1 at stupid MPH, things then become a little tricky…

Anyway I digress and back to the title. This takes me back to one of those wonderful days we spent in Cornwall, it was one that caught my attention on those old photographs, the place Zennor, the pub “The Tinners Arms.

We’d purposely camped nearby so as to spend an afternoon in the Tinners Arms having being told by friends with us of what a cracking place it was and as we arrived, with perfect timing, the weather was glorious. Blazing sunshine, not a breath of wind and a cloudless aqua-marine sky.

One beer sticks in my mind that day, Hicks, and it flowed as well as the time itself as we supped it, drinking in the beauty of this lovely little place.

Scanned Pics 71It was during one of my many forays to the bar that day when it first happened, or on the way back at least. For no other reason than blatant stupidity or acting the goat I popped the full pint into the top of my shirt as I returned to the table where we all sat, where I was met with the “oh god, what’s Hardy doing now” type reactions.

“Getting a pint down me neck, obviously!” I replied, and from then it stuck wherever we went. At least for a while anyway. (I bet you are all rolling around the floor unable to stem the fits of historical laughter at this point). Look, it was funny at the time right?

ANYWAY on a slightly more serious note, when thinking about this yesterday I began to wonder about whatever happened to Hicks (as well as my sanity) and asked my good and Cornwall residing friends Boak and Bailey about it.

$(KGrHqRHJCQFBUPb!09LBQ(2o8OMjQ~~60_35St Austell HSD, blimey, after all these years it’s HSD (Hicks Special Draught) or as I now have found out since looking, in the West Country, “High Speed Diesel”. I suppose you could say it is obvious, but only if you know the history, which unfortunately I didn’t, but I’ll never look at a bottle of this beer in the same way again.

Annoyingly though this has still left a question hanging as I definitely recall drinking something from a cask set at the back of the bar rather than on a hand pull. Could this have been Hicks or have the years and beers played tricks with my memory. I suspect it is the latter, but would welcome any feedback from anyone who drank in there around twenty years ago? Also, is the recipe the same as it was back then, any Cornish beer historians in the house??

Cheers to Steve for hosting this, I think that I have strayed “just a little” from the brief, as in telling this now, you probably think I’m bonkers, never mind trying to explain it all in another twenty years as a wizened old man sat around a pub log fire. But thanks for the memories..


Scanned Pics 68

Mood Beer and world domination #TheSession66

Phil, (or Overlord Pouron as he preferred to be called), leant back in his generous elk-skin chair and stretched like a tom cat in the summer sun, he smiles contentedly as he gazes out of the large circular stained glass office window overlooking the river Thames, a huge floodlit spinning image of his own grinning face beams back at him, blazoned across the full width of the London Eye.

He was so glad that he had taken up the offer from the government to use Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster as his home office, although he sorely regretted removing the old clocks mechanism just as the big hand was on the five, it threw awful shadows across the room and generally ballsed up the view. He had removed the bell of course but not discarded it, instead he’d had it installed on the roof, inverted and filled with spewing fire that cast a warning glow across Mordoren and the rest of Londinium, nicking that idea from the Olympics and some old book trilogy or other...

Aah well he thought things could be worse..

He closed his eyes and thought back to that life changing day twenty years ago today. Friday August 3rd it was in 2012, when searching every corner of his brain for inspiration for his contribution to The Session, that months topic being “One Beer To Rule Them All“, he had that eureka moment, ‘Mood Beer” and Mordor Brewery, things would never be the same again..

You see in his mind there was “No Beer To Rule Them All” there were just too many, styles that he loved, styles that he hated. Some beers for Summer, some for Winter some to drink just to piss people off, how could all that be focussed in to one master beer, PAH!

But then the thought struck him, why try and create one beer to be the best at one time, why not give the people the choice to drink ANYTHING they wanted at any time, where ever their mood took them… This was impossible of course in reality, but the plan wasn’t to make such a mystical beer, more to convince drinkers that what they were drinking tasted fantastic by mind control and subterfuge, secrecy was imperative.

What he needed first was a builder, a craftsman with a creative eye and a vision to create something new and innovative, but who could also be trusted never to speak about his work ever.. His gaze turned in the direction of Cumbria, Professor Bailey he thought excitedly, he can build anything and never utters a word since his vow of silence following Tonic-gate..

Dave set to work deep in the rocky hills of the Hardknott Pass, creating a server so powerful it could draw information in an instant from any beer site in the world and cull it together as one focussed thought. Thus convincing the drinker he could smell those mighty hops, taste those powerful malts and hide the smell of wee should they think about drinking Special Brew.

But what of a channel to reach this server, a vessel that could link drinker with electronic brain without them being aware?

On the table before him sat a simple Dimpled Pint Pot, he hated this glass with a passion but it was perfect. It had a handle in which to hide the sophisticated software for processing the users thoughts and desires of beer choice, this could be activated by a ring on the users right hand and BINGO, Pliny The Elder or Westvleteren 12 at the merest whim..

Creation stage complete, now it was time to convince drinkers the world over that Mood Beer could taste as good as any other and global beery domination would be his BAWAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!

Now the mystique, what magic would be so powerful as to fool even the most knowledgeable scooper? Hop Wizards!

Using the false promise of as many hops to take away as they could carry he lured the finest in the land to the sampling room at Mordor Brewing Co, all eagerly arrived in their brewers finery and signed up to the cause, 16 strong. Howe, Baker, Ross, Clarke, Krause, Mallinson, Frost, Farran, McKenzie Kelsall, Burhouse, Routeledge, Campbell, Bendall, Cossi and Stronge all took up cloak and pointy hat emblazoned with images of hop cones, trusty hop sorcerers apprentice Dickson scurrying in their wake. Two more, brothers Tom and Oliver took up the senior positions of High Lords Lupulus on the premise that Fozard “sounds a bit like wizard so they really deserved it”. Finally, every workforce needs a master, our final recruit to the evil plan “The Great Kernelski”, O’Riordan, hop demon and as it happened the most wizardy looking too.

Each day Kernelski gathered them together for a great ritual, all stood in silence around an enormous copper chalice filed with the connecting rings to fashioned to match the Dimple. Each Magus would reach into golden bags full of wonderful hop concoctions and throw them over the chalice in order to impart their resinous power to the rings within, the image hypnotic to any beer lover who saw it.

But what of the beer itself, it didn’t matter for now, the user simply used any bland supermarket slop and used it as base liquid for their brew, after all any beer they wanted for the price of a four pack, a no brainer!

From here it was easy, word spread fast via bloggers, writers and beer geeks, all desperate to get their hands on free promotional samples of the Mood Beer mug and connecting ring, it’s creator lorded as the saviour of the beer industry and surely the harbinger of future world peace. Soon news spread north to Fraserburgh, who far too easily took up the baton with thoughts of world domination never far from their minds, immediately beer scamps were engaged then swiftly despatched across the globe and soon Mordor Brewing Co was the only beer on everyones mind…

Slowly but surely over time breweries folded and were snapped up on the cheap in order to produce Mood Beer to fill those glasses, cheap tasteless slop brewed in huge plants across the globe, no hops were needed and hop farms were left unkempt and overgrown. Soon CAMRA folded, after all what was there left to campaign for, keg was pulverised and real ale pubs lay empty and derelict, even Brewdog gave up the ghost and took jobs as scamp herders.

Hmmm life was good…

But wait, something was wrong, he could hear sirens and alarms going off in the humungous brewing plant below, the server!

Racing down stairwell after stairwell the sound of sirens grew louder and louder and louder. The faint hum of his precious new server Ratebeer X1 was now more of a rumble, sirens screamed and under his feet the ground began to shake so much running was now impossible.

The door and the emergency stop button were in sight, the SYSTEM OVERLOAD button flashed glaring red and blue, surely nobody had been crazy enough to request a pint of Creamflow, the only chink in Mordor Brewing Co’s armour???

Pushing on he could…almost…reach…the off..button, if only the shaking would stop and those sirens, please stop the sirens. They almost sounded like they were calling his name, Phiiill, Phiiiill, Phiiiiiill, a face appeared, a huge face almost touching his, panicking he pushed it away, it was in the way of the button, move he bawled!! It came in to focus again, but this time it was a familiar face, the wife, what was she doing down here……

“Phil (shake), PHIL Wake up”!!

“What, Ugh?”

“You fell asleep again watching Backdraft again, you want another John Smiths?”


Note: No hallucinogenic drugs nor alcohol were used in the writing of this post.. Honest!