Golden Pints (Schooners) 2015

Here’s my contribution to this year’s Golden Pints. I’ve probably forgotten half of the things I would really have wanted to put in here. I’m seeing that as more of a sign that beer this year has been incredible.

Best UK Cask Beer

Probably a candidate for most improved Brewery too, Fallen Brewing’s Platform C is consistently stellar on cask and is easily the cask beer that I’ve drank most of in 2015. Special mention goes to the one off cask of Six Degrees North’s Chopper Stout that we had for their bar takeover at The Bat. Another special mention goes to the guys at Pilot down in Leith, their beers are always tremendous on cask. Another special mention to Weird Beard’s Dark Hopfler, an almost perfect cask beer. Continue reading

Defending My Right To Breathe Clean Air At Work

This piece was featured on The BeerCast, below is just a snippet.

As part of my job as a bartender I pride myself on going above and beyond whatever the customer asks of me in the name of good service, all I ask for in return is good etiquette. This request is honoured almost every time, with the exception of a few forgotten Ps and Qs, allowing me to enjoy my job and my guests to enjoy their time in the bar. However, within the past year a new threat to this harmonious balance has appeared: a neon blue glue appears at the corner of a customer’s mouth, partnered seconds later by a white plume which is then followed by an acrid aroma, peculiar and unwelcome, that lingers in the air for minutes. Continue reading

Poznan 2013 Homeless World Cup Diary (Day 2)

Bit of a restless night. Can’t really complain as it was the sound of people being happy that kept me up. People of all nations gathering together outside of my window singing songs till 2AM (none of them were lullabies).

Today was a particularly good day in terms of the Scotland team. Two wins from two, 9-6 over Argentina and 5-2 over near neighbours Wales, seeing the team through to the secondary group stage of the Homeless World Cup.

The games were entirely different to each other and showed how flexible the Scotland squad are. Argentina were small, spry and able to pass the ball very well, whereas Wales were big physical guys, lacking in pace but equipped with massively powerful shots.

I feel a fair bit of conflicting emotion surrounding the tournament. As a symbol of what those cast out by society can achieve, the Homeless World Cup is an incredible beacon of hope. But there is something unsettling about seeing some of those on the fringe of economic and societal survival running around sponsored by Coca-Cola and other such giants. Although it is a nice gesture that a company of that size would contribute to a cause like this, I can’t help but think it’s their fault that a tournament like this exists. From deforestation, to barefaced economical brinksmanship these companies play a massive role in destroying our planet.

That said, without massive financial support the Homeless World Cup and the dozens of Street Football programmes around the world would not be able to function and the hundreds of smiles I’ve seen over the past two days would not exist.

Onwards with positivity, Scotland have been drawn against reigning champions Chile, as well as Denmark, Namibia, The Netherlands, and Romania. A challenging group but one I’m sure they will be ready for.

Poznan 2013 Homeless World Cup Diary (Day 1)

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This probably doesn’t really count as a day, as I only got here at 6PM and caught the tail end of the last game. It would be easy to wax lyrical about post-soviet brutalist architecture colliding with the ultra modern developments popping up across the city but that’s not really my concern.

Poznan appears to be solely populated by the young, the polite and the beautiful, as do the Halls of the Politechnika Poznanska.

Most of the 60+ teams appearing at the 2013 Homeless World Cup are staying in the University Halls, including Scotland, and myself. Admittedly the accommodation is a bit sparse but there’s an incredible atmosphere around of international collaboration and friendliness that translates on to the pitch as well.

After a close run defeat and an 8-1 thrashing of India, Scotland find themselves in good stead to qualify through to the second group stage to continue competing for the Homeless World Cup with a victory tomorrow.

What is ‘Craft Beer’?

Another installment in my series for This Greedy Pig.

What is Craft beer?

A craft is defined as ‘a pastime or profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work’ and is ‘usually applied to products produced on a small scale’. Although brewing is without doubt a kind of skilled work ‘craft beer’ is a term that seems to elude precise definition. Growth in sales of craft beer over the past few years have been enormous and it is the current trending niche amongst operators. However this massive growth has attracted big companies looking to cash in on the craft brand, leading to a dilution in its definition. There isn’t a real straightforward answer to what craft beer is. But I believe there are minimum criteria that must be met to genuinely be considered craft.

Actually Making The Beer

This one seems to be patently obvious, surely to sell a craft beer you actually have to make it yourself? Yet some people fall at this first tiny hurdle along the path to being craft. Marketing company Innis and Gunn are launching a new range of products early this year and are not shy about jumping on the craft bandwagon.

Click here for more.

Barrel Aged Rusty Nail Tasting

This is another post for Edinburgh Whisky Blog where I attended a tasting of a series of Barrel Aged Rusty Nails.

I was invited to join the tasting panel for an unofficial, off-brand, barrel aged Rusty Nail experiment run by Drambuie Brand Ambassador Bruce Hamilton. The Rusty Nails were each aged for 55 days in first fill casks seasoned with one of; cabernet sauvignon, Drambuie 15 base whisky, port, bourbon, rum, and sherry. As well as this the Rusty Nails were twisted a little with Gancia Rosso, Cherry Marnier, and orange bitters.

After enduring the kind of severe soaking that only the unpredictable Edinburgh winter can provide I was primed for a warming winter beverage, or seven.

To welcome us and refresh our memories we were treated to an original Rusty Nail made according to Bruce’s recipe, packed full of liquorice, cloves, and blood orange flavours with a pleasantly warming boozy burn. From here the tasting was to proceed in silence to avoid collusion with each of the panel making their own notes to compare at the end. As well as this we were to guess the seasoning of the cask in order to avoid forming opinions before tasting.

Click here for the rest.