So, Future Plans?

The blog is dead. Long live… the blog?

  • What seems to me was the de facto RSS reader, and thus peoples’ main way of staying current with blogs, is going to be buried by Google in July. As a result, the signal-to-noise ratio of blogs will decrease as each update is pushed out to fewer and fewer regular users and has to fight for attention on social media.
  • “Blogging” these seems to be either about essay-length researched posts or reposting images found on tumblr. Or about spewing out 400 words of opinionated twaddle, linking to a few tweets or a news story before going on a tangent about personal grievances.
  • A lot of people read things on-the-go, on devices as powerful as yesterday’s supercomputers but with the screen real estate of a credit card. This doesn’t lend itself well to fancypants layouts or supremely long posts.

Why, then, am I thinking about a blog being the ideal format for a project I’m thinking of throwing myself headlong into?

The definitive volume on beer, the most sought-after beer in the world. I've got 'em both.

The definitive volume on beer, the most sought-after beer in the world. I’ve got ‘em both.

Inspired by Sheriff Mitchell‘s fantastic Oh Beery Me!, getting fairly seriously into brewing at home and on occasion commercially, and pursuing things like Officially Knowing Something About Beer has lead me into thinking about documenting something like a year’s inquiry into the beverage.

In an ideal world, it would involve a daily post of something informative, pithy and funny. More realistically, I have a precarious job situation that often involves erratic and antisocial scheduling, so committing to a daily post schedule would be daunting. This project would encompass everything from beer reviews (I drink enough of the stuff to warrant throwing my two cents into a pot), experiments with brewing at home, travelogues If I have the luck and money to go places, and reports of any brewery- and brew-related events I may attend. My reservation with setting out on this is the commitment: How often to post? How long, and how detailed? And is this anything but a commitment to ego, to shouting into the void about how much I REALLY LOVE QUALITY BEER?

Mikkeller Monk's Brew

I got to try Monk’s Brew. It was good. That is all.

I’m based in London, which continues to foment with all things brewing. It does get documented, both with anthropologico-scientific precision and more narratively with personal flair. Would there be room for another voice in the crowd?

I can’t claim to have a fraction of the way with words as Andrew did and still does with Oh Beery Me, or the scatological penchant for ruining my palate that Nate has demonstrated. I can’t compete with the knowledge amassed in books like Randy Mosher‘s or Jamil Zainasheff‘s. And neither am I a complete beginner, someone just at the start of their discovery of the world’s best drink to hold the hands of other newbies. But I think who I am and where I am could add value over the course of a year, if properly categorized and referenced, with all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

I think it would entail the end of this blog in its current form, replaced with a new title, new layout, possibly even a new publishing platform. Basically, whether or not I would embark on this crazy adventure depends on the question asked by people who fund stuff through Kickstarter, or by people wanting to do stuff for free for the enjoyment of others:

Would there be any interest?

Let me know.

Tell me the blog isn’t dead.

I’m Surprisingly Chipper For Only 3 Hours’ Sleep

It’s been a while, I know. Enough about that, though. It’s never been regular.

Despite the title above, my current state of fatigue is bringing out a number of feelings.

  1. Holy crap, working 3 different jobs takes it out of you. Not only are they only vaguely related to each other, they sometimes overlap slightly meaning working 2 full days’ work in one and then starting again the next morning. Fun and games, a lot of the time, but I’m starting to question the length I can keep it up. After all, I’m no longer 23.
  2. I moved house what is now a month ago. It’s lovely, but still feels like I’ve only just moved in because I’m never there, as per previous point. I come there to sleep and take a shower, throw on laundry and occasionally shovel something into my mouth. The other week I had my first day off in 20 days and spent it in IKEA. This past Tuesday I sat on the sofa and watched a lot of recorded junk on TV and entertained thoughts of careers, numb-brained. By early afternoon I was getting jittery because I wasn’t pushing on with physical work.
  3. Speaking of physical work, that’s pretty neat; by and large far more satisfying than previous (or current) office-based work. Sure, it can be a drag getting wet, sweaty and tired over the course of a brew day, but the feeling of having put real toil into work to produce a physical result down the line is genuinely cool.
  4. The combined tiredness of multiple and different jobs along with the physicality of some of them means I am absolutely aching for a holiday. I’ve looked at past holiday snaps, read through friends’ accounts of their recent and current trips and gazed longingly at various Google Street Views and This is Now feeds. Unfortunately, the money situation and the nature of the jobs I have means I can’t just book a last minute flight somewhere despite really feeling like I need to.
  5. I realized I am craving leisure activities far more than I have understood needing previously. Watching TV the other day felt novel. I’m going to a gig for the first time in months tonight. I haven’t actually managed to have people over for any kind of housewarming despite wanting to. Brewing at home has been on complete hold for over a month now. The only media I consume seem to be news and podcasts of varying intellectual merit during commutes.
  6. I do keep thinking about careers. Am I pursuing the right thing? Can it be a viable career? I don’t think (in fact I know!) that I want to stay in London for much longer. I need sunshine. So I need to progress in what I am currently doing or go for something different in the hopes of hitting a gold vein. Either way, I think I need some extra time or energy to put thought into action.

Time and energy. Elusive.

Hop Burp Faves?

I make no secret to being a hophead. One of my favorite parts about drinking a really hoppy India Pale Ale is the resultant hoppy burps. Think I’m crass all you like, but the nose-tingling citrusy-sharp feeling you get all over your upper airways from a super hoppy beer’s carbonation is brilliant.

I was relishing one just now while drinking a Kernel Citra and Chinook IPA and got to thinking about which hops give the best hop burps. Help me out here, people? Obviously Chinook is up there, being a quintessential American flavor hop, but what other ones give you kicks up your nasal cavity? If you don’t know the hops that go into a particular beer, but have one that sprung into mind as a result of reading this, let me know the name. I’ll find out the hops. :)

Pre-New Year New Years’ Resolution

I’d like to think myself pretty handy with computers. Certainly handy enough to have done various work stints in support over the years. But I never was much of a coder. What I started thinking today, having incidentally found out how I did in my masters degree (quite well, thank you very much for asking), was that I really should know a bit about this stuff.

I signed up for Codeacademy when they first popped up and keep receiving their “your next lesson is here!” emails but haven’t gotten round to it yet. I guess it can’t hurt to go through their Javascript or Python courses, but what are other good ways of learning? I maintain that no-one, certainly no-one in their right mind, has learned to code from one of those thousand-page tomes of arcana that assume your brain can make a jump from logic to fucking tensor algebra in a single page.

So there are places like this that come up with a cursory google. Thing is, I don’t know whether they’re any good or if their attitude is just bluster. And most of all, I guess I don’t know what language to start with (or moreover, what I want to learn it for. A lot of my ideal projects are so pie in the sky that with piddly little beginner programming I couldn’t even dream of them.)

For what it’s worth, I run a Mac though only for the design aesthetic. I run WordPress here and admire sites like this and this for their design as well as content. I have ridiculous amounts of processing power and webspace for whatever server side stuff I’d want to do. It’s just that I’m at a loss as to what to learn and where to start my journey into terminal-tabbing, syntax-coloring geek chic. Erm.

On the Closing Pub, Planning Permission and Expressing Opinion

The British beer enthusiast has long bemoaned the loss of community pubs, with organizations reporting weekly pub closures across the country. Walking through any area of London, it’s easy to see how buildings on street corners often stand out from others, though they no longer serve as pubs. A lot have been converted to residential use. Others, increasingly, operate as different sort of commercial property, from betting shops to corner stores.

The Guardian published an article about supermarket operators “exploiting” a loophole that allows a change of pub premises to commercial properties without seeking planning permission. This means that they can buy pub properties that come on the market for whatever reason and convert them to their use without local government having to approve the change. This, say campaigners, is causing fracturing of communities and the homogenization of town centers.

So I was thinking, if the pub is meant to serve as a focal point for a community, where locals meet each other in a living room away from home, why not stage a kind of protest by using former pubs converted into supermarkets as just such a place? Carry in a few folding chairs, sit down in a circle, crack open a beer. Snacks are available, you just have to go to the tills to pay for them. Sure, there may not be wood paneling, and the lights are fluorescent tubes instead of mood-setting dim fixtures, but it’s what you make of it, right?

Tesco says that they “go into communities and ask people what they want and how we can deliver that”. If people feel they haven’t been asked, maybe they could show what they think directly?

Let me know what you think.

Creature of the Night


With my current schedule and geography, it seems I’m only about town in the dark. Because of yesterday’s birthday festivities and the opening of the new Craft Beer Company site in Islington last night, I missed daylight pretty much entirely today. No matter, there will be more crawling tonight.

It’s pitch dark and only 5pm. The mist and lights are making the city seem like a street set of Blade Runner.

I only wish I dressed as cool.

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Never a Dull Day


Today at work I performed some amateur plumbing on a dishwasher water softener (who needs to know where the main switch is?), painted some walls (nicer once you locate a roller, even if it’s crusty from previous paint jobs), handled dangerous chemicals (standard by now), scrubbed the everloving crap out of surfaces and did the usual of carrying, shifting and serving beer. Oh, and tested a sound system using the Cheeky Girls. Certainly not dull.

There was also the guy who walked in, asked what lager was being served and, being told that it was Czech when he remarked he didn’t recognize the name, scoffed and walked out. Can’t please everyone.

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Store at Cellar Temperature


Somehow, from somewhere, I got this harebrained idea that working in beer would be an interesting career and not just a hobby that makes for appreciative friends. Ideally, I’d want to be brewing on a micro, “craft” scale, participating in this neat renaissance of beer going on in London.

But you gotta start somewhere and bills need to be paid. It seems like to get your foot in the ramshackle door of a craft brewery you have to volunteer, pester the owners and generally make yourself indispensable. While trying to do that with the limited time left over, I’ve taken a job learning by doing at a pub cellar.


And there sure is a lot to be done. I had no idea running a pub was so much about fighting fires. Equipment breaks. The entire place gets flooded. Getting product in and empties out is a logistical nightmare. And all the while there are customers to be served.


I mean, it’s a great way to discover examples of great beers thanks to staff access to the fridges and taps. Seeing the business end of serving is useful info too. I have to confess, though, that I’m craving the human contact. I make things happen by and large behind the scenes. When did I become a sales-oriented person? Or is it a desire for a sense of appreciation? Probably a bit of both. In any case, it’s opening my eyes to what makes me tick professionally.

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That Time of the Year Again


Clocks go back in a few weeks. It’s cooler outside, and cold enough in the basement to really slow my beer fermenters down. The house exhibits all the qualities of classic English building down to gaps in the floorboards and single-paned windows. I am torn between turning on the heating only in October on the one hand, and saving money due to it mostly being lost anyway on the other.

What’s the interior temperature that I should think about turning on the heating? And why does there have to be a 4 degree gradient between the upper and lower floors?

Beard Alternatives

A few thoughts. Brewers tend to be heavily bearded folk. My face neither suits a beard nor is capable of growing much of one.

I saw leaves turning to brown on trees in the park yesterday. The summer that never really happened seems to be fading away into browns and muted oranges.

Since I like brewing, but am beardless, I think it’s time to mount a search for woollen jumpers. England can’t do insulated buildings but they have compensated with knitted wool. I’ll have to find another way to keep my face warm.

(In other news, a friendly tip: Do not accept a piggyback ride from a seven-foot man who has been sharing the afternoon with you at a beer festival. It ends in a spectacular faceplant. My shoulder hurt enough to warrant x-rays though luckily no fracture was seen.)