Thursday 29 March 2012


I had a letter printed in The Independent today. It is in response to another attack on drinkers from an anti-alcohol lobbyist. It is the the fourth letter down on this page. The original letter is here.

Friday 23 March 2012

Holt's not cheap anymore

£2.62 is how much I paid for a pint of Holt's Bitter in the Crown & Anchor, Manchester this week. There are still many pubs in the North West cheaper than this. For instance the nearby Micro Bar in the Arndale Centre has beers at £2.30 a pint. Sam Smith's prices are creeping up too. Has David Cameron been having a word or two?

Thursday 15 March 2012

Name dropping

Unplanned circumstances meantthat I didn't arrive at my hotel in Manchester on Tuesday night until 10:30 p.m. It was straight in and out to head for the pubs. A quick couple in the Marble Arch and on the Port Street beer house. It was quiet but one drinker caught my eye. Garrett Oliver, the famed brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery was in conversation with a small group of drinkers. I managed to gain a few minutes chat with him, breaking the ice by saying I'd met him once before in Belgium. He was polite enough to say that he recognised my face although I'm sure that he gets bothered by plenty of beer groupies. I soon found out that one member of his party was the brewer from Nøgne ø in Norway. I can barely pronounce the name of the brewery correctly so I thought better of trying to speak to him.

Port Street shut at midnight and deciding that I could manage a nightcap I trotted round to The Castle. Lively as ever I was soon in conversation at the bar. I was talking to a friendly chap called Ian when I blurted out that he looked familiar. His laughter caused me embarrassment as he told me that he was in Coronation Street. He plays Owen Armstrong and for those who are interested in these things he had another Corry actor in tow, Mikey North who plays Owen's daughter's boyfriend Gary in the soap. Keep up! Anyway, he came across as a a very nice chap.

Friday 9 March 2012

The Health Lobby - More drivel in The Press

Most of the papers have been running stories today stating that people over 45 are more likely to drink every day than younger alcohol drinkers according to statistics. They all report this in a negative light, following on from the medical advice that we should refrain from alcohol on at least two days a week. It is interesting to see the pseudo-facts and mis-interpretation of the findings that they print.

The Independent, as one would expect, reports the statistics responsibly until the final few paragraphs:

'Experts recommend three alcohol-free days a week' the paper pronounces. Who are these 'experts'? The Indy doesn't tell us. Plus hang on a minute. It was only recently that they recommended two days a week off booze. At this rate we'll all be told to become teetotal by Easter.

They go on to quote Professor Tony Ray, a consultant in old-age psychiatry. 'This is such a hidden problem-older people drink behind closed doors. There are a variety of problems but they are usually below the radar because they do not involve death or liver disease.' It doesn't sound such a big problem to me.

My local rag the 'Liverpool Echo' trails the headline 'Over 45's Drink More Alcohol.' What does this mean?  Does it mean they all had a drink one night and then decided to risk a second? Do they drink more than they used to? Is it meant to say that they drink more than the under 45's? Nothing in the article substantiates the latter two conclusions. Someone aged over 45 drinking a couple of pints or glasses of wine every night isn't necessarily drinking more than the teenager who binge drinks at weekends. Also if they've been drinking those couple of pints every night for last ten years then they haven't increased their consumption either and indeed quite possibly may have reduced their consumption over time.

But these articles are all part of the softening up process.

Monday 5 March 2012

Northern beer in London

I was in London on Saturday. While my wife and daughter went to see 'Wicked' at the ApolloVictoria I strolled down the road to The cask in Pimlico. I gave wry smile as I perused the handpumps. Five were taken up with beers from the superb Liverpool Organic Brewery.

I like their beers very much, but considering that they are freely available in the pubs I visit back home I'd hoped to find a wider choice to sample. Anyway, I started off with a pint of their 3.8% Cascade. Two things stood out. £3.40 for a low strength beer is on average 70p dearer than on Merseyside. Furthermore the total lack of sparkler left the beer flat, insipid and not enjoyable. I am neutral on the sparkler issue but this showed that some northern beers are best served with a head.

If I thought that the Cascade was expensive, Organic's other beers were even more so. The Liverpool Pale Ale at 4% was £3.70 and Shipwreck IPA at 6.5% was £4.60 with Imperial IPA at 7.2% selling for £5.20. I would . The Pale Ale would probably cost the same as the Cascade on home territory and the others about a £1 per pint less.

The customers at the Cask seem happy to pay these prices but I couldn't afford to drink there regularly.