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This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!

This Drinking Life’s Guide to Running that bit better!

Tips to Run Better

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!You are looking at the mirror and you dont like what you see? You need to lose the beer belly. Cut down on the food? But I love my steaks! Now you could give up beer, but that would be foolish. Why not try to join a gym? Nah, too expensive and full of posers. Play some five a side? Yes, but I dont want to completely kill myself, and I dont have the silky skills I once had which is so demoralizing. So there is nothing for it but to try a bit of jogging/running.

Doesn’t cost much to go running, a pair of old trainers and some shorts and that ACDC t shirt, if it still fits, and voila you are a mean running machine! You can also go running pretty much anywhere, within reason, and within your own set time. Also not only is running excellent for your health, it can also be quite meditative. Many a time after a hard day and feeling down that a good hard run has lifted the spirits. I run through a forested area at night, so I guess I am down and at one with nature, and all the teens smoking dope, it feels real good when its finished. A real high, a legal one.

So here are a few things that I do when I go for a training run or race.

Running Gear

Get yourself a comfortable pair of runners/trainers. Now I got an expensive pair and a cheap pair, and actually the cheap pair works best for me. It’s not flashy or has padded insoles but I feel comfortable in them and that’s what is important.  Remember you will be pounding on these trainers day in day out hour after hour, so you really need a good pair, so no fucking around on the running shoes. But the experts will tell you this and that, but just go with what you feel is good for you……..

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Warm-Up!

Now I Know for lazy feckers, you perhaps might skip this, shure isn’t the race/run enough itself, but really a warm up works wonders for loosening the muscles pre run. A little stretch here and there and a warm jog just to make sure your muscles wont snap when you start, and that you have pre heated the engine.

Music/breathing!

I would definitely recommend not using music to help you go for a run. Yes its cool to listen to your fav bands as you do your job but you are not listening to your breathing, which will help you with your pace and technique and helps you to find your breathing rhythm, which over time can help you with pacing yourself and also in relaxation.

Breathing is important, and that’s why you have to listen to it. Breathing too much, spluttering and catching the breaths, then slow it down, relax, try to slow it down a little, and you would be surprised at the results. over time you can learn to handle it. Listening to your body is the only thing you should be hearing!

Water!

Drink lots of the the stuff! It helps you to re-hydrate! Drink water before, during (if you can) and after all runs. Try running dehydrated, its hard!

But its not just water, it is also good to drink isotonic sports and energy drinks…….like Lucozade or Gatorade for example. They have all the ingredients needed to give you that extra kick and help replenish any important minerals you might have lost.

Running styles

Try to lead forward with your chest and keep the upper body straight, which will ease the tension on your shoulders and neck and help you feel a little relaxed when running. Also try to pump up your arms forward and back, it usually works for me and helps to get me into some sort of rhythm.

On thing I like to do at times when I run is to set targets on the course, or time targets, and try my damnest to make them. if I am slow then I press ahead as fast as I can, and that can mean sometimes sprinting like mad to make the next target. This fast, slow, fast running is good for getting you slowly used to quick paces. The more you do the more you can increase the targets, the more you get used to running at a faster pace at a longer time. Also it breaks up the sometime monotony of running, which lets face it can get boring after a while.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!As you get older I find it takes a good while for the body to warm up as you set out on your run. I am like an old car that starts its journey, spluttering and creaking, but what I find funny is that after about 5 or 6 minutes the body suddenly goes into autopilot and then I am completely fine. I can run for an hour after that without too much complication, as long as it is a steady pace. But apparently there is some science to this, as it takes six to 10 minutes and one degree in body temperature to push all the blood to the working muscles. Once that happens you will experience a light warm sweat and then the pace sets itself to autopilot.  So the thing is wait at least ten minutes before you decide to think “fuck this shit, I’m off to the pub!”, keep with it and low and behold you will get that steady run you set out to achieve from the beginning.

Also worth to note and kind of obvious, but dont go like the clappers at the start. Go slow, pace yourself, be relaxed, note your distance, and try to enjoy the race if you can.

The fast finish!

Don’t go mad at the start, or perhaps the middle, but always keep something in the tank for the end. This takes practice over time. on any run you do, try and leave something in the legs just to finish the last few stretches fast. Try running quickly over the last 5 minutes flat out of you can, to build up your technique. Pushing yourself like this will show what you can and cant do on a  finishing strait, and you might be surprised that runners generally always have something left, even if they aware not aware of it.

Track and record your running

I use Noom Coach to keep abreast of my daily calorie count, and it also records any running you do, which frees of some space for more food! Freeletics is good too, for tracking some exercise and also for runs, and it is great for breaking down your run in terms of speed, pace and average times. Of course they are many more specific apps, more particular for actual running, like RunKeeper or MapMyRun. Its good to keep track of your progress,or lack of it.

Running with a hangover

I might have been still a little drink when I started the race, but trust me I was all sober when I finished!

So as Basel had won the championship the night before I went out to celebrate. And celebrate I did, 6 beers and two shots later I think I got home around 3 or 4.

Amazingly I managed to get up early for the train to Zug, which was leaving at about 6.30…….so safe to say I was in not the best state of mind for a mountain run. I was simply dying on the train, sweating buckets and so, so tired…..and the head……oh dear.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!So what does a hangover do to your body and what affects would it have on your morning run/jog or in my case slow walk and crawl (up that “Cunt of a mountain!”).

Well for a start you will be severely dehydrated, have low blood sugar and low energy levels……your performance will be affected that’s for sure, the alcohol, that is more than likely still in your system, will slow you down big time. But there is no need to kill yourself, the fact you are running so soon after a great night out is an accomplishment enough, no need to try and break any records or get a high pacing. I walked 4 out of the 6K, ran the first and last 1k, happy in the knowledge that I was the fastest drunk on the course, for sure!

So what can you do to limit the pain……well as I have mentioned a few times already…..drink lots of water, try to drink a bucket load of water as soon as you get up…..or even before you go to bed, (but that’s not going to happen, eh!). Remember it takes a lot of water to purge all that lovely alcohol you had the night before.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Also try and get some grub inside you, might hold some of the beer together that’s sloshing round your stomach.  Normally an Irish/British style breakfast would do just the business in a situation like this, but remember you also have to shit that out…….so something small but useful…..an omelette is good as eggs are excellent for refueling. Also a smoothie with some bananas should be efficient enough.

I mentioned shitting, disgusting I know, but it has to be done before the race no matter what, because believe me you dont want to be half way round the course holding your arse cheeks together, lol.

Are there any positives about running with a hangover? Yes there are…..for one it should sweat out all the beer you had the night before…..It also has the effect that by the end of the run or race you should have completely sobered up, or at least feel less shitty. The endorphins and the fresh healthy air, and the sense of accomplishment makes you feel like a champ. To celebrate I’d recommend having a few beers to let it all sink in, but perhaps not repeat it again the next morning so soon!

But be aware doing too much of this can be very harmful to your health. As alcohol is a strong diuretic, depleting your water volume, it means that your heart has to beat faster and harder to get the blood pumping round your body.  Anything that puts a serious strain on your heart is best avoided to be honest.

 

Running when drunk

But what about running while actually drunk, never mind about the sleeping bit or the inbetween bit, but just drink up and run? Running while pished as a fart. Is it possible to do?

I have often done it myself while going home. The trams are stopped at about 3 or 4, and any extra change I have had after the night of boozing went on the kebab and not on a taxi,  so its a long walk, but fuck that….I have often just did a jog with some short sprints here and there to make that long walk a little shorter.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Of course it does depend on how drunk you are. If you are pretty legless I dont think running will be good for you, as you might just run straight into a ditch or a road sign and end up doing some damage to yourself and your ego.

I also have to mention that there are a few races where drinking is acceptable. We have the hash runs that are popular in cities around the world, and where the running is not competitive and drinking is encouraged after the event, or at times during the run!

There is also the Beer Mile, where each competitor drinks four cans of beer (minimum 5%) and runs four laps on a track. Yeah, 4 beers, fuck off. Could you be bothered for fucks sake. More like ten beers a few shots of the spirit of your choice, and a kebab and then a mountain run, now that is a fucking race. Amateurs!! 

Of course I prefer the more traditional beer crawl, where competitors run, walk, or crawl from pub to pub. I am pretty good at this one and it requires no running gear, race times, or training per say!

The actual damn race (The Zugerberg Classic)

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Zug, in the canton of Zug, central Switzerland, is a very beautiful town with its amazing views of the lake, lake Zug that is!

The town is quite wealthy with its population of about 30,000 people enjoying its nice low tax policy and the offer of plenty of work in the towns many multi national high end industries.

It has a very lovely old town, and the view of the lake and the nearby mountain ranges on the promenade is pretty cool. All in all its a bloody nice town.

This is all fine, as long as we dont mention that massacre that happened back in 2001, where some nutjob shot and killed 15 people including himself in the cantonal parliament of Zug. And they say the Swiss are responsible with their guns……

Getting to the city is easy enough, its near Zurich via both rail network and motorway, about 30 minutes journey for both.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!So in any case, I was there for the race, the The Zugerberg Classic, a race that takes place every year, usually sometime at the start of May, for runners and mountain bikers from the old city of Zug right upto the top of a small mountain! The running distance is six kilometers (6.2 km to be exact) with a height difference of 540 m and the mountain biker for a distance of 25 km with an altitude of 1000 m. The race is open to clubs, children and teenagers, men and women, right up to old folks who are on their last legs.

For more information, see zugerberg-classic.ch

So to the actual race then.

Well there are two races to report. The one where I had the hangover, as mentioned, and where I came near the end……..

And the race the year after, where I didn’t have a hangover, albeit was tired after a Gaelic football blitz the day before, but ran in a much quicker fashion, that it to say there were enough people behind me to save embarrassment.

Race one/Severe Hungover 2016

As I mentioned I had a lot to drink the night before (6 beers, two shots), only a few hours sleep and was sweating buckets and dehydrated. But I didn’t want to disappoint a friend who was waiting for me at the station, as we were doing the race together. he wasn’t out the night before though.

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Didn’t know what to expect really, as it was my first race in years and with the hangover my mind wasn’t straight. But start we did, near the end mind, and after about 500 metres I was beginning to notice that this seems to be a bit hilly!!! Told my running mate to go and run his own race as I didn’t want to drag him down to my level, and off he went in the distance. There was no let up in the height, up and up it went, so after the first 1K decided to speed walk it, thinking I could run any flat bits in between. Thing was there were no flats bits not until the last 1K, so I basically walked most of it. Children past me by, old people with walking sticks smiling and waving out walking me, one guy with a plastic leg fucking passed me, then a Japanese lady who had a trainer caught me……..Jesus I looked around and there was only me and this old fella with his shorts pulled right up his arse, fuck……but I beat him in the last straight, but it was close! I wasn’t going to come last. I later found out that there were a few Indians (not the native kind), about 5 or 6 who also walked it and were even slower than me…….jesus, they must have had a dodgy curry the night before!  Anyway I did it and it took me a while to recover from it. My time was a very unimpressive 56.10 (5 people behind me!) 

 

Race two/Not hungover but tired 2017

On Sunday May the 7th Sunday, 2017, I had paid my CHF 25.- entry fee online, registered and got my starting number good and early,  I was on a mission to beat my previous time. Got there early enough, unlike the previous year. Registered early for the 9.20 start time.

This time I did a warm up, a good warm up and I have to say it made a good difference as it got the air pumping into my lungs and around the body, so much so that the start of the race wasn’t as frightful as the previous year. 

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!Also I had the advantage of actually knowing the course, or at least having an idea of how painful it was, so I knew there was a killer in the middle and that near the end there was a few high hills to get over, but also that the last 1K was flattish and down, or at least not up! Funnily enough I wasn’t as fast as I expected on the last 1k,  I had really nothing to give, everything was gone in the engine.  

I tell you how high we were up in that all entrants have a free pass on the mountain funicular (cable railway) train back down to the edge of the town, which is great cause I didn’t fancy walking back down. 

After the race all the competitors and organizers get together in the big hall to wind down, eat some food freshly cooked on the BBQ, have a chat, and relax. 

This Drinking Life's Guide to Running that bit better!So I hung around eagerly awaiting the results, very curious to know how much I had knocked off my previous time. I came in at 49.31, bettering my PB by about 6 and a half minutes which was ok I guess, and this time a good amount of slow bastards behind me, about 24. Suckers!!!

I have to say all in all the race is a well organised event, and I will be back again in 2018 to further eat away at my PB! If you want to see how fit and healthy you are then there is no doubt this is the race to do! Definitely! Roll on Zugerberg Death Run 2018

 

 

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BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint

BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint

BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint

https://www.brewdog.com/item/6/BrewDog/5AM-Saint.html

Brewed by BrewDog
Style: American red ale/Amber Ale
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Brewdog. The whipper snappers from Scotland that have set the craft beer world alight. Started in April 2007 by two good friends James Watt and Martin Dickie, BrewDog is a British multinational brewery and pub chain based in Ellon, Scotland.

Bored with the usual industrial brewed lagers and stuffy ales all around them, they decided to start brewing their own beers catering to their own tastes. Sure why not. Both only 24 at the time, they leased a building in Fraserburgh, got a bank loan and started producing some pretty strong but exciting brews. 

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintStarting small, they brewed very tiny batches, filled bottles by hand and sold their beers at local markets and out of the back of their beat up old Skoda pickup.

By 2008 they got more money from the bank which was used to further invest in the beers with a bottling machine and more tanks purchased. They then went straight for the kill by producing a particularly strong beer, “Tokyo”, with 18.2% alcohol, which unsurprisingly created a shit storm in the media and in the drinks industry. The Portman Group, the trade group body responsible for drinks producers in the UK and for regulating the industry, banned a lot of their initial beers, but they could still export to Sweden, Japan and America.  As you can imagine all this hoo-ha resulted in increased sales and massive public exposure for the new Brewery.

In 2009 their Punk Indian Pale Ale was popular on the craft beer scene not just in the UK but also in Scandinavia, and getting major supermarket chain Tesco to stock it was a great coup for the young company at the time. They also created the Tactical Nuclear Penguin with a 32% alcohol content which at that time was the strongest beer in the world but it was their share issue that really caught the headlines. Offering people an opportunity to buy into the company via online, with 1300 initially investing in their share venture, later to become over 10,000! This and their various other crowd funding platforms have made the company very wealthy indeed. 

In 2010, BrewDog opened their first bar, in nearby Aberdeen. More bars followed in Scotland and in England and eventually to include establishments in Stockholm, São Paulo, Florence, Gothenburg, Helsinki, Tokyo . It was also in 2010 that their signature beer Hardcore IPA got the gold medal at the World Beer Cup in the Imperial IPA category which was some achievement for a very young brewery not long in operation.

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintIt was also along this time that they had a running battle with a German brewery, Schorschbräu, to see who could come up with the strongest beer in the world. Brewdog produced Sink the Bismark ,a beer with 41%  alcohol to take the crown of the worlds strongest beer, from Schorschbräu, who had produced a 40% ABV version of their Schorschbock.

Not long after they produced arguably their most controversial brew The End of History, a 55% abv Belgian ale, which was to be stronger than most whiskies, vodkas and gins. The name was a reference to Francis Fukuyama and his long since discredited book “The End of History. Was this to be the end of beer as we know it? Only 11 of the beers were for sale, and the beer came packaged inside a small stuffed animal, seven stoats, four grey squirrels, and costing between £500 and £700 each, not a beer then for the ordinary skin down the pub. Naturally animal rights groups were up in arms, but the stunt did the intended trick, getting the brewery unlimited coverage in the national press. To be fair to the boys, the animals were roadkill so I dont necessarily feel the outrage there, but I do think it was well naff and corny as a publicity stunt, a really cheap gimmick.   

Here was their promotional gibberish highlighting the beer as a “an audacious blend of eccentricity, artistry and rebellion”, and that the distinctive bottles were “disrupting conventions and breaking taboos – just like the beer they hold within them”. Really, what cunts talk like that, eh? LOL

But this is their style. Among other stunts they have pulled include driving a tank down Camden High Street, brewing beer at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean as you do, projecting the naked images of its two founders onto the Houses of Parliament; dropping stuffed cats from a helicopter onto the City of London;  and especially for the royal wedding of 2011 of William and kate they produced a beer called “Royal Virility Performance” ,a beer containing natural aphrodisiacs such as “herbal Viagra”, chocolate and horny goat weed, or so they said!

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintToday Brewdog is an internationally recognized beer brand, while also winning a tonne of awards and prizes for their beers. They produce roughly over 65 different beers shipping to over 55 countries worldwide,producing bottled and canned beers in a variety of styles such as ale, stout, India pale ale (IPA) and lager, some of which are also available in keg containers.
The bottled beers are distributed to British supermarkets and exported worldwide.

Its really hard to know what to think of Brewdog. They call themselves and their operation postpunk and that they are redefining what it means to drink beer, “to revolutionize the British beer industry, and redefine British beer-drinking culture”, etc etc, but they dont half talk a lot of pretentious hipster wank. Easy known that one of the guys father was in the oil industry. Common working class fellas they are not. But I guess Punk itself, apart from the Sex Pistols, was also a bit too middle class to be really as edgy as they’d like to portray. Give me heavy metal any day of the week!

Also a lot of their stunts are very silly and juvenile, and might appeal to people who live sheltered lives but its not classic or cool. A bit like Ryanair or Paddypower in their advertising, trying too hard to be cool, yet their product is still shite! For example this is from one of their advertising slogans on a beer “let the sharp bitter finish rip you straight to the tits” That’s childish stuff. I mean Scotland produced Robbie Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Robbie burns for fucks sake, so try better than that. 

This is how they describe themselves so you be the judge. They call themselves a “post-punk, apocalyptic, motherfucker of a craft brewery” and rallying it s supporters, “This is the revolution – so help me Dog,” and “Changing the world, one glass at a time.”  “We bleed craft beer,” “We blow shit up, and “Without us, we are nothing. We are BrewDog.” Yeah, that’s great, now can you give me a fucking pint please love!

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintWas in there BrewDog bar in Manchester, and although the draught beer was good, the place was a kip. Fuck me, it was all over the place, was like an office, people talking and acting like dickheads, with angry staff and modern decor that didn’t really work. You know its a shit bar when you see people playing fucking snakes and ladders, that’s giving up for fucks sake! But let me put my disclaimer out there, I’m not hip enough for these kind of places.

But hell they are popular, they have their own TV show called Brew Dogs in the States, and they are opening bars all over the place and producing new beers all the time, exporting to 50 countries or more, so what do i know then, eh?

I have to be fair to them though, there beers certainly seem exciting using a wide array of mad and exotic ingredients from chilli, honey, chocolate, hemp, and mustard to name but a few. They also do know their stuff, winning many numerous beer awards for their produce. If they just kept to the beers and enough with the other shite, please! 

Review: 330ml Bottle of BrewDog 5 A.M. Saint: ABV: 5%

This is what is said in their description of this beer

“5am Saint is The Holy Grail of red ales. At BrewDog we are on a mission to open as many people’s eyes as possible. Cast away any aspersions and let the crook of BrewDog be your guide in a whirlwind of conformity and mediocrity. Once this ruby liquid forms a foamy halo around your glass, you’ll never want to look back”

That’s a load of bollix, isn’t it!! 

Anyway 5AM Saint is the five malts and hops used to produce a beer at 5% ABV, and can be drank at 5.am to start the day off.  In the hops Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial and Ahtanum were used. The malt, Maris otter, Caramalt, Munich malt, Crystal and Dark Crystal Malt.

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintComes in a typical BrewDog design. The label decked out in a strong red, with usual style of distinctive lettering and logo. I do like their labels and bottle layout, its eye catching and colourful. 

On pour got a nice big decent sized frothy head, pouring a deep ruby reddish coloured beer, dark red/purple, Not much carbonation, very slight amount. Head dies a little but maintains throughout which is good. Some good lacing present.  Looks ok, nothing special.

Loved the smell, a really nice aroma. Got a hint of fruit…..grapefruits and blackberries. Lovely,, lovely smell. Malty and fruity aromas but not overpowering, just right.

So what about the taste, any good?

Well certainly very hoppy and strong in taste, a lot of flavours on the old taste buds, but nothing that would be extraordinary 

BrewDog 5 A.M. SaintVery typical of the craft beer style beers, overloaded with hops. Also got a lot of the sweet malts. 

Can taste the fruits, grapefruits and berries 

Is a slow burner and was slowly getting to appreciate it in the end. It certainly is a very tasty beer and its ok if this is your kind of thing, but I like my traditional red ales, and I do drink them a lot when I’m home in the old country, but this is no where that level. Also nothing to compete with Sierra Nevada efforts. A tad bit disappointing truth be told considering how much hype surrounds their beers. 

A bit of a dry bitter finish to the beer. Definitely wasn’t sessionable for me. Ok, if you like this sort of shite, I don’t!! Truth be told it is very bland and nothing new or exciting.

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Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Withnail and I (1987)

Withnail and I, a British cult classic

Directed by Bruce Robinson

Written by Bruce Robinson

Starring • Paul McGann
• Richard E. Grant
• Richard Griffiths

Cinematography Peter Hannan

Withnail and I, a British cult classicWithnail and I is a 1987 British black comedy film and cult classic written and directed by Bruce Robinson and set in Camden Town, London in the late 1960’s. It is a simple story of two struggling young actors living as bums, Withnail (Richard E. Grant ) and “I” (Paul McGann), who yearn to take a break from their squalid run down flat and fed up with the hectic life of the city, decide to escape to the countryside on the cheap. Withnail manages to persuade his rich eccentric uncle, Monty (Richard Griffiths) to let them stay in his country cottage in Penrith in Cumbria, North West England, for a weekend RnR. This is to be a “holiday by mistake”, one in which anything that can go wrong, does go wrong!

Withnail, is the flamboyant alcoholic who comes from a privileged background, and, as a struggling actor, is unable to get work hence is angry and resentful with the world. Marwood (“I”), the film’s narrator, on the other hand, is the relatively more level-headed of the two and somewhat timid and neurotic. You get the sense pretty early on, that he just wants out of this life of drunken squalor and rage, even if that means separating from his friend for good.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicAlthough the countryside is beautiful, the location is anything but idyllic. What looks like constant rain, the boys are cold (“Warm up? We may as well sit round this cigarette,” They end up burning some furniture) , the cottage has no running water or light, they are low on food and the locals seem a bit strange and not very hospitable, in particular a poacher, Jake, who takes an instant dislike to Withnail. Its a long long way from Camden Town and the two city boys are hopelessly out of their depth for country living. Trying to cook a chicken (“I’m starving, how can we make it die?”) in an oven balanced on a kettle,  attempting to shoot fish with a shotgun, or using plastic bags as boots to trod around in the muck, are just some examples of their inadequacies.

The arrival out of the blue of Monty himself, who joins halfway through their stay is good for Withnail, as he brings with him good wine and food, but not so much for Marwood, as the flirtatious Monty has his eye on him! (“I mean to have you even if it must be burglary!”). Uncle Monty, the eccentric middle-aged homosexual, tries and eventually fails to seduce Marwood. Monty was under the false impression from Withnail that Marwood was a “Toilet Trader!”. With all these shenanigans, Withnail and Marwood’s friendship is at breaking point.

They hurriedly return to London as Marwood received a telegram informing him about a part in a play. Possibly too quickly, since they are pulled over by the Metropolitan Police as Withnail is arrested for drunk driving. (“You’re drunk”,  “I can assure you I’m not, officer, honestly, I have only had a few ales”)

On their return home they find their drug dealing “friend” Danny (Ralph Brown) and a stranger lighting up a huge cannabis joint, a Camberwell Carrot (“This ought to make you very high”)

Withnail and I, a British cult classicMarwood learns they have received an eviction notice for unpaid rent, thus preempting the splitting of the two companions. Marwood leaving for the station, turns down Withnail’s request for one last drink. “There’s always time for a drink?” But Marwood, with his newly cut hair and looking smart, is a man changed. He has finally got an acting part and needs to move on. They part company, likely for the last time. All alone, and quoting Hamlet and with a bottle of wine in hand, naturally, Withnail cries out in the rain “What a piece of work is a man!” The end!

The film is based on Bruce Robinson’s friendship with Vivian MacKerrell, an unemployed actor and alcoholic friend with whom he shared a house in the late 1960’s. Both were disillusioned with the acting scene and the lack of work, and of money, just about surviving in a dilapidated house in Camden Town.  Robinson penned the story when he was in the depths of despair and during a particular harsh winter in 1969.

The film was made on a small budget of  £1.1 million, with some help from George Harrison who produced the film through his HandMade Films.  But three days into the shoot, Denis O’Brien, the main producer, nearly shut the film down as he thought that the film wasn’t funny enough. As he was American perhaps the British dry humour didn’t bounce off on him.

Robinson’s script is amazing, full of dark humour and intelligence, full of quotable one liners that are widely remembered, and even though its funny, there is tragedy running the whole way through, as we know that its not going to end well at all, but still enough of a shock when the separation does happen. It takes a certain skill from a writer to make such a simple story, plot wise, into a British classic. Excellent.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThe script is one thing, but you need actors to bring it to life.  The acting in the movie is superb. Definitely true to say that Richard E Grant hasn’t done anything as good, at least nothing I have ever seen. (‘I’m a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum!’). But Paul McGann, the foil to the craziness of Grant, is also excellent and as good as Grant. His part is more measured, but he plays the character so well that you actually feel sorry for poor old Marwood having to put up with Withnail all the time.

Paul McGann was Robinson’s first choice for Marwood, but he was fired during rehearsals because Robinson decided McGann’s Liverpool accent was too strong for the character. Kenneth Branagh was considered for the role, but McGann eventually persuaded Robinson to re-audition him, promising to drop the scouse accent. He quickly won back the part.

Daniel Day-Lewis, was considered for Withnail, but Grant luckily got the part in the end. But when you learn that Grant is in fact a teetotaller and allergic to booze, getting physically sick when he drinks alcohol, it is even more amazing how so convincing he is as Withnail. To get into character Grant was forced to drink and be drunk.

Richard Griffiths as Withnail’s Uncle Monty also impresses and Ralph Brown as Danny the drug dealer has some memorable scenes.

The music in the film is particularly fantastic……..especially the scene where a big wrecking ball is knocking down a house, while Jim Hendrix’s, “All Along the Watchtower” is playing. Brilliant.

“A Whiter Shade of Pale” by King Curtis also sticks out in the memory, great song to use for the opening scene as it really fits as Marwood is coming down from the night before, looks depressed, and is contemplating his future, and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, another great tune, by George Harrison, who provided much of the financial backing for this unlikely project.

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThere was no actual filming in the real Penrith, and Sleddale Hall, just outside Shap in Cumbria, is the location used as Monty’s cottage. What strikes me from the county location is the never ending rain, and toughness of countryside life. As for the time period, the movie is set in the 60’s, even if it was made in the 80’s without any set design, which goes to show that parts of London looked pretty dire at this time. Grit I think is the word I’m looking for!

I like this film. Enjoyed it, classic, great acting, good dialogue, well set scenery, with a good soundtrack. Its actually a very clever movie, deep meaning and melancholic. It is a comedy, but it is also a tragedy. Friendship can bring you down, can be chaotic and can destroy. Or when adulthood creeps up on you, when its time to give up on your dreams and settle down into a respectful life of normality, to grow up!

Really sad in the end when they depart. You just know that it is going to go downhill for Withnail without his friend Marwood, but you also feel that Marwood needs this break if he is to restore his sanity. A friendship built on booze and experience and that feeling of invisibility is hard to maintain forever, but the memories will live on.

And then there is all the booze, and large quantities of it! It is definitely a classic movie amongst the drinking fraternity.  They cover all aspects of drinking……from the morning after the night before opening scene, the binge drinking, the care free feckless attitude when drunk, the scurrying around for some more alcohol, to the hangovers from hell……..rarely has alcohol got such star quality treatment on the big screen!

The film wasn’t a hit when it was released in 1987. It only became well known as a video release much later as word of mouth made it a cult classic, and even today its legacy endures.

List of drinks consumed in Withnail and I, or at least as best I can garner, as there was a lot of alcohol consumed in the story!

Withnail and I, a British cult classicThe rules for the Withnail and I drinking game are very simple… just match what Withnail drinks

But please bear in mind that the events of the movie take place over a couple of weeks, so if you do match them, and especially if you drink lighter fluid, you will probably die.

In order to drink along with Withnail and Marwood, you will require:
• Gin
• Cider
• Beer
• Sherry
• Scotch
• Red Wine

Optional
• 1 x bottle lighter fluid (You’re allowed to substitute this for vinegar… this is what they did to Richard E Grant to the film the vomiting scene..but I think that is bollix since I am sure he didn’t drink alcohol on set all the time either…..)
• 1 x Camberwell Carrot (good luck with that!)

All told, Withnail drinks nine and a 1/2 glasses of red wine, 1 pint of cider, 1 shot of lighter fluid, two and a 1/2 shots of gin, 6 glasses of sherry, 13 Scotch whiskeys and a 1/2 a pint of ale throughout the film. Here they are in order:

  • Mouthful of red wine
  • Ronsol lighter fluid – large squeeze from can
  • Double gin – glass
  • cider with ice – pint
  • sherry – glass
  • sherry – double swig from bottle
  • sherry – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • scotch – swig from bottle
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • large scotch – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • beer – pint
  • red wine – glass
  • sherry – glass
  • wine – glass
  • wine – glass
  • gin + mix (pernod?)
  • wine – glass
  • wine – swig from bottle
  • wine – swig from bottle
  • scotch – glass
  • scotch – glass
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)
  • swig from bottle (“’53 Margeaux”)

Well – that’s the list. Enjoy the piss up, CHIN CHIN!

Famous Lines

Withnail and I, a British cult classicWithnail

• What time is it? It is 8, four hours to opening time, God help us!
• We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.
• I demand to have some booze!
•I’m a trained actor reduced to the status of a bum
• We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now!
• I assure you I’m not [drunk], officer, honestly. I’ve only had a few ales.
• The only programme I’m likely to get on is the fucking news!
• All right, this is the plan. We get in there and get wrecked, then we eat a pork pie, then we drop a couple of Surmontil-50s each. That means we’ll miss out on Monday but come up smiling Tuesday morning.
• I feel like a pig shat in my head.

Marwood

•When Withnail starts looking for antifreeze, Marwood shouts out: “Don’t mix your drinks!”

• A coward you are, Withnail! An expert on bulls you are not!                                                            Imagination! I have just finished fighting a naked man! How dare you tell him I’m a toilet trader?!

Uncle Monty

• It is the most shattering experience of a young man’s life when one morning he awakes and quite reasonably says to himself, “I will never play the Dane.”
• Oh! you little traitors. I think the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium. The carrot has mystery. Flowers are essentially tarts. Prostitutes for the bees.
• Oh my boys, my boys, we are at the end of an age! We live in a land of weather forecasts and breakfasts that set in, shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour, and here we are, we three; perhaps the last island of beauty… in the world
• I can never touch raw meat until it’s cooked. As a youth, I used to weep in butchers’ shops!

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Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….

I have had many a morning where you wake up with no recollection of what the heck you did the night before. How you got home, who you insulted, why are there bruises on your arms, and why are your friends and family pissed off with you…….again. What exactly did I do! But you can’t remember, you will never remember. Of course your friends will remember………when you meet them again and all the stories come a flooding, with great embarrassment.

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Yes, the old black out, I have had a few down through the years. From ruining parties, to getting into fights, to waking up in an unusual places, to having interesting conversations with people I can never remember, or what was talked. Anything can happen when I’m blacked out. The lights are on, but no one is at home!

The next morning, you then play the part of detective. Winding back time, trying to figure out where you were and who you were with. First stop is usually to check the wallet, and see if I have spent all my money or do I have anything at all left. Usually I blow all my money. Do I have my mobile? I have lost a few. Are my clothes dirty? Indicating I was rolling around the ground as per usual! Funny thing is, no matter how wasted I am, and no matter where I am, I always manage to find my way back home, to my bed. I always make it back in the end!

So what is a black out then?

A blackout is caused by the intake of any alcohol or drug in which short term and long term memory creation is weakened, therefore causing a complete inability to recall the past. It is a period of amnesia where you can’t recall what the hell you did while you were on the beer all night

In fact, it’s not really that you can’t remember it’s that the night wasn’t processed as a memory in the first place. The memories were not even created, so no matter how hard you try you will NEVER remember! A gap of time is missing, like you were transported to another planet yet you can’t remember anything…it is time travel for drunks…….

Who gets blackouts?

People who drink. People who drink large quantities of alcohol. But more importantly people who drink large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time, and college students!

Basically people who “binge drink”, which the last time I looked was defined as 4 or more standard drinks for women and 5 or more standard drinks for men, within a time period of two hours. A quiet night for myself, but there you go!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….We are not just talking about alcoholics or heavy drinkers here, it can also happen to social drinkers, people who like a few drinks with the mates at the end of a tough week at work. It is important to note not everyone gets blackouts, about 50% of drinkers do, and there are also many alcoholics who claim to have never experienced blackouts. Remember, it is not how much you drink, but how fast you drink, and how quickly the blood alcohol content rises.

It also affects women more, and no I am not sexist! They have smaller bodies that have less enzymes that break down the alcohol. Women are also more likely to drink beverages with higher alcohol concentrations, like wine and mixed drinks rather than beer. You know, all those bloody martinis and fruit flavoured vodkas.

How does it work then?

A blackout is a loss of memory caused by excessive alcohol intake or drug use over a very short period of time. These substances sometimes blocks short-term memory from forming in the brain and thus the ability of the brain to form long-term memories.

It increases the drinker’s blood alcohol content (BAC) which shuts down the hippocampus region of the brain, the region critical in the formation of memories.

The loss of memory can be “fragmentary” or “en bloc”. Fragmentary blackouts cause the drinker to not recall moments for small periods of time, whereas en bloc refers to over larger periods.

Fragmentary blackouts, the more common of the two, are sometimes referred to as “brownouts”, where people can typically recall bits and pieces of forgotten events once they’re reminded of them. For example, you might not remember it in the moment, but when a friend reminds you that yes you did try and hit on that girl, then you remember. Filling in “the gaps” so to speak.

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….People experiencing en bloc blackouts are unable to recall any details at all, not a zilch, nothing, from events that occurred while they were intoxicated, despite all efforts by the drinkers or friends to rejig the memory. It is as if the process of transferring information from short–term to long–term storage has been completely road blocked.

Interestingly, people appear able to keep information active in short–term memory for at least a few seconds. As a result, they can appear functional, can hold a conversation, and at least appear that bit “normal”. But the key is that the information regarding these events is simply not transferred into long–term storage. If a person experiencing a blackout is asked what happened to them just 10 minutes ago, they will have no idea. That’s the first sign. That’s why you tend to hear drunks repeating the same thing again, and again, and again, ad infinitum. They also probably have a glazed over look, but then that’s alcohol for you!

The brain can capture information in short-term memory while intoxicated, but not hold it, and as for long term memories, forget it. It’s not just your memory that is impaired, but your overall judgment, decision-making, and control over your emotions which could lead an individual to make potentially hazardous and very unpredictable choices during blackouts. And that’s when the fun begins… sex or groping, drink-driving, vandalism, fighting, buying unwanted shite over the net, sending badly worded and timed emails, and other irresponsible and dangerous activities, i.e. questionable behaviour that you’d likely regret if you could remember.

How not to get blackouts!

Don’t drink! But seriously, most blackouts are caused by the rapid consumption of a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, so if you can pace yourself that will lower the chances of having a blackout.

Doing shots or downing beer gets the alcohol into your bloodstream quickly, so relax, you have all night. Remember it’s not how much you drink, but how fast that you drink…

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Mixing drinks also might not be a good idea, and not just alcohol, adding some recreational drugs is also a one stop route to memory loss.

Food. Drinking on an empty stomach will cause your blood alcohol level to rise quickly. Have some food to line your stomach and slow down the blood alcohol content rising

If you are worried, have a glass of water, it slows down the blood alcohol content. Ok, you might look like a wally, but you also might be the last man standing….

It might also not be a good idea to go out if you are tired. Tiredness and exhaustion means you are halfway to conking out…..

Furthermore, if you often have blackouts, you might want to lay off the sauce for a while, as weirdly studies have shown that there is a tendency for people to revert back to blackout states once they start experiencing them. Some users of alcohol, particularly those with a history of blackouts, are predisposed to experiencing blackouts more frequently than others. So if you have had this type of amnesia in the past then you are more likely to have it happen again in the future.

Should I be worried?

This amnesia caused by alcohol and other substances can lead to all sorts of problems and unhappy feelings. You may feel troubled because you can’t recall your actions the night before. Humiliation or embarrassment can happen or distress if something more serious happened. Paranoia can set in if you are finding it difficult to get all the clues. What I usually did was stay in bed all  day, avoid all human contact, and hopefully any trouble would blow over by Monday, and by then you will be refreshed!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….Questions might arise. Why do I go mad and do stupid stuff when I am drunk, as when I’m sober I’m not such a bad person? Are these actions really part of my inner character that I have unleashed over a few shots, am I really such a cunt? I do know people say that when you are drunk that’s when your true character comes out. I disagree, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I think it’s more that you are just out of your mind and your judgment is altered. It also might be something that’s lurking in everyone rather than just one person, our animal instincts……

So should you worry about blackouts then? If you tend to get them regularly then yes, probably you might need to change your drinking habits, slow the fuck down, eat some food between beers, relax…….

Otherwise, they can happen now and again if you are a social drinker, downing shots with the gang, etc. on a special occasions. It’s better to be with friends who can always at least guide you on the right path…..I guess!

But I suppose the best thing is, if you really can’t remember then what’s the problem. As long as you haven’t killed anyone or done something criminally insane then brush it aside, as they say ignorance is bliss.

The 3,000-mile drunken jaunt

I will leave you with a fun story that was featured on the BBC a few years ago about an English man called Jeremy Clay who, in 1878, drank himself all the way from London town to Ohio in the good old US of A, without even noticing.

Waking up at a hospital, nursing the mother and father of all hangovers, he was worried. He had no clue to where he was. A nurse gave him the answer, “Cleveland, Ohio”!

Black outs. Time travel for drunks…….The story began seven weeks earlier when in the accompaniment of some friends, the teetotaller tried a few whiskeys. And as you know, one drink led to another and before you know it he was on a boat to America.

The Dubliners had a song “Seven Drunken Nights”, but this was more like seven drunken weeks and 3,000 miles across the ocean.

So intoxicated was he, that he ended up in hospital where he had to detox for three weeks.

The story emerged much later. He was put on the boat by his mischievous friends with a ticket to Cleveland. The lesson to be learned is, be careful what you drink never trust your friends

Sources:

“What Happened? Alcohol, Memory Blackouts, and the Brain”, By Aaron M. White, Ph.D.

Aaron M. White, Ph.D., is an assistant research professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. July 2004

“Victorian strangeness: The 3,000-mile drunken escapade”, By Magazine Monitor. A collection of cultural artifacts   April 2014  Top of Form

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BeerFest, its not Hamlet!

Beerfest (2006)

“Prepare for the ultimate chug of war”

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar
Starring Jay Chandrasekhar
Kevin Heffernan
Steve Lemme
Paul Soter
Erik Stolhanske
Jürgen Prochnow

A lazy afternoon, raining outside and with not much on, I decided to choose a movie that had some beer related theme, so I picked the first one that came up on the googley, Beerfest

These kind of movies, “low brow comedies”, are always hit and miss. I had enjoyed “Dude, Where’s My Car?” (Even with that knob Ashton Kutcher in it) for example, but found “Euro Trip” horrendous.

So I don’t have high hopes for this movie. I am sure it will tick all the stereotype boxes as it is set in Europe in and around the time of the Oktoberfest in Germany. Lets guess there will be a lot of lederhosen and funny German names.

But let’s wait and see, to the movie……..

“Bring on the beer, they’ve got the nuts”, the “hilarious” tagline on the movie poster.

The basic premise of the movie is that two brothers (Wolfhouses) travel to Munich for Oktoberfest, to spread the ashes of their believed beer drinking grandfather, only to stumble upon a secret beer competition described as a “Fight Club” with beer games. The secret beer fest is run by Baron Wolfgang von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow, of Das Boot fame), who the brothers discover is a distant relative. The baron insinuates that the brothers grandfather was a thieving stable boy who stole a famous Bavarian beer recipe, and their grandmother was nothing but a prostitute.  After making an ass of themselves at the beer competition, swearing revenge and honour they return to the USA to set up an American team to do battle with all those crazy Europeans at the next beerfest.

The motley crew that is assembled is an unlikely bunch, we have a male prostitute named Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar), a man mountain called Landfill (Kevin Heffernan) and a Jewish lab nerd with a Phd in beer, Fink (Steve Lemme), and the two Wolfhouses brothers, Jan (Paul Soter) and Todd (Erik Stolhanske). The five team members, are known as the “Broken Lizard,” comedy writing group, who have made a few similar movies of this ilk in the past. A lot of the movie is focused on This Magnificent five training hard for this fest, and those sneaky Germans trying to recover the stolen recipe.  The movie ends with the ultimate battle of beer games between the Americans and the “krauts”, all rounded off in the “Das Boot” (Boot of beer) challenge!beerfest13

Of course with Jurgen Prochnow we get a lot of Das Boot references, and Donald Sutherland guests at the start, as the Wolfhouses grandfather who drinks himself to death, while Willie Nelson also makes a silly pot related cameo in the end.

 

The movie scored a low enough 41% on the Rotten Tomatoes site, with an average rating of 5/10, but it did make a small profit at the box office taking just over $19 million in the US, from a budget of $17,500,000, thus cornering the frat boy beer swilling market for that year!

So is the movie any good?

I have to be honest I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. The story is good for what it is, and I didn’t have to use up too many of my precious brain cells figuring out any plot lines here, but all the characters are pretty damn funny, and the movie is a good laugh. I really don’t get why it has got mostly negative reviews as for me, a drinker who likes the craic, there were definite moments in the movie that I could relate to, and some of the beer references were spot on.

beerfest3The opening scene is a cracker. A can of beer cracked open, a bottle filled, the can chucked on ground. Classy, with the added on advisory to not to try and copy any of the drinking stunts at home, “Dont drink this much! If you attempt to drink this much, you will die!”

Overall, the characters are quite likable, and Yes I was actually rooting for the American beer drinking team (Go USA!). Most of the gang are drunk all the time, and most scenes are set in bars or drinking parties, so whats not to like? Inebriation all around: lots of falling down, hangovers, vomiting, beer conquests, beer games, beer fights, and tits, and lots of them.

The acting is pretty good too from all involved, with Kevin Heffernan and Jay Chandrasekhar putting in star performances.

beerfest16 (1)

The Germans (the “krauts”) are portrayed as angry, all the time, which is always funny, that and the way they use English: “It was ze greatest beer in all ze world!” I am sorry but that never gets tiring! (and I am currently learning German!)

Of course some scenes are silly. There is one scene with a frog and wanking, which is beyond moronic, and Landfill’s brother joining the gang just makes no sense at all.

Found the “different stages of drink” (drink, fight, singing, hangover, drink again) was brilliantly done, and the training tool on how to drink like the Germans was amusing, but the highlight of the movie for me was Barry’s conquest after a night on the town. Hilarious. And he didn’t give a shit! Just the way I like it!

beerfest7

A movie called BeerFest, well its not Hamlet, (actually that would be a good tagline!), you know exactly what you are going to get…..people guzzling vast quantities of beer, getting wasted, acting the maggot, and with a bit of nudity and puking thrown in, yeah that’s all good for me.

Its stupid, but its fun stupid, plus I was drinking when I watched it! So, if you are looking for a comedy with a lot of laughs to beat a slow Sunday, to recover from your hangover or whatever, then this is the movie for you.

beerfest40

 

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The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

The View from Behind the Bar

Sir Nigels  (@SirNigels) has written for us a great behind the scenes look at the hectic life of bar-tending. The highs and the lows. Sir Nigels is currently finalizing the touches to his new book, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender” an insight in the mad and sometimes fun life of a regular barman.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

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The View from Behind the Bar

The view from behind the bar is a peculiar place, with the tools of our trade at our finger tips, the elixirs of goodwill bottled up around us, and onlookers peering in surrounding us.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

The View from Behind the Bar

The view can be one of great joy and happiness. Cheers, good will, and celebration abound! We also see sadness, friction, break ups, tequila shots, and wedding parties. Everything and anything is possible to be seen from behind a bar. Ask any of us to tell a story and we may have too many to tell. Where should I start you say?

My view is one of great memories worth telling not for just the outlandish drunken silliness, the championship winning game, the famous or interesting people I have met, or not even the cheerleader party with midget performers. My view is more than that. I have watched human behavior for twenty years and studied it.

We are a strange bunch of animals I tell ya. I have served drinks to lots of different types of people from all over the world, cultures, religions, colors, creeds, and backgrounds. I may not travel the world, but the world travels to me. I’m known around the world through the people that have come to see me. Watching and learning this strange human behavior has given me a bit of a nuanced view on humans that only a bartender can understand. After eight to ten hours a day, 5 days a week, week after week babysitting humans you start to get an idea about how they work. We don’t come with instructions when were born, it just takes awhile to figure out what makes us tick.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

Barlife

Every person has different life experiences and view points for different reasons. Over the years I have countless discussions about politics, race, guns, war, and peace with all sorts of people from behind the bar. These conversations were not always civil, but we got through them. I learned from them, I hope someone learned something from me.

Over time my view from behind the bar has constructively changed depending on my own life experiences and through the interesting and accomplished individuals that have nursed a glass of Cabernet, sucked down a Mind Eraser, or sipped on a fine single malt scotch.

Working at a bar is not always the exciting life you may see in the movies or at a club. I’ve had some great experiences with more people than I can remember. I’ve met sports stars, rock stars, and famous actors from television and movies. I deal with CEO’s, small business owners, artists, creatives, everyday people, and constantly over-run with egos. To be able to deal with all these wonderful and amazing people who just want, want, want from you constantly with out regard for your physical or mental well being can be trying. After long hours behind a bar my physical and mental anguish can be a bit taxing to my soul.At times people can be uplifting, generous, and thoughtful, but collectively they can tire me until all I would rather do is hide away and hibernate from the real world.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

Bar tender of the year, 2014

Overwhelming is putting it mildly with my view from behind the bar It can be profitable with remarkable ease, but unfortunately also painfully fruitless with too much toil and brown nosing to say the least. I’ve also found myself able to work alone due to my stamina, expertise, and knowledge of my surroundings and regular guests that stop by for a tasty beverage.

I also work for a corporation with unforgiving mismanaging managers and cheap owners, which exacerbates the everyday problem of servicing the masses with the façade of trying to look perfect and in control at every step As we run out of liquor, napkins, spoons, lemons, or maybe the cooks just aren’t in control, we have to always at least pretend like we are in control when the world around us doesn’t feel like it. Our heads could be in a tailspin, but we have to be smiling and find some categorical solution for every task or problem that arises.

A bit of a chess game so to speak, a smart bartender is always looking several steps ahead of the one he is performing presently. Surprisingly, we succeed most of the time, but at times no matter how hard we try and smile to make you feel secure in your food and beverage choices we fail. Sometimes we fail miserably and still find a way to bull-shit our way out of our life predicament. Sometimes the only way out of our failure is to admit defeat and hope for pity on our pour souls.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

Where it all happens

Alas, we survive to serve another drink, muddle fruit for a scratch margarita, or shake the crap out of the vodka you call a martini. Many of us do it because we love our jobs, and we do it with pride and self-righteousness despite our aching feet. We love people and feel their gratitude with the job we bring them. The view from behind the bar may not always be a bed of roses, but the memories of joy and happiness will bring a contentment to our souls and warm hearts to our guests.

Take a moment in the new year to thank your bartender for their services and always be generous for they may be raising a family and every bit of gratuitous love is always appreciated over the years. Much love and happiness form the view from behind the bar.

Sincerely,

@SirNigels

Just a reminder to check out @SirNigels and his twitter account for all bar related and alcohol fueled inquiries, and don’t forget to look out for his Upcoming Publication: “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”. Sure to be a great fun time read.

The View from Behind the Bar, “The World and the Ways of a Bartender”, bars, pubs, cocktails, mixers, alcohol, beer

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the Spanish craft beer industry

The Spanish Craft Armada

Thanks to Dominic Lombard, from the website http://www.drinkingspanish.com/, for this article looking at the small but growing world of the Spanish Craft beer scene. He also reviews a nice Bottle of Parking C Pelicano.

Join Dominic on twitter, at @domgetxo, for all things on wine and beer down in sunny Spain. (Lucky fella!)

The Spanish Craft Armada

the Spanish craft beer industry

Let’s face it, Spain has never been famous for it’s beer quality. To be honest the main brands in Spain are very cheap, tasteless lagers usually made with low cost malts mixed with rice or corn or both adjuncts. Served chilled in small glasses called Cañas, which is perfect on a hot summer’s day if you want a cold liquid to refresh you. But in the last 4-5 years Spain has been going through a mad slightly out of control craft beer revolution. It seems that increasingly the natives have found out that there is more to beer than what they are served by the big Spanish brewers.

The Spanish craft brewers and owners are made up of beer enthusiasts, home brewers, business men, ex-property developers, and marketing people. Some are doing it for the love of beer and an interest in being able to make a living from it, while others are in it to make money. The problem in Spain is that at the moment there are far more brands then consumers and that the quality is often poor. Though there are 10 or 15 notable producers that constantly make good quality beers.

The next 2-3 years will see many producers or brand owners fall by the wayside and hopefully, with a bit of luck, the truly good producers will be able to survive. We have seen that some of the bigger brewers, like Mahou for example, are taking note of this craft revolution and are releasing very soon a special edition of 4 distinct “craft” beers onto the market. Also Estrella Damm, a brewery from Barcelona, brought out the famous Inedit beer which was apparently a collaboration with the renowned but now ex-El Bulli Sommeliers. Unfortunately during the summer the CEO of Estrella Damm made some foolish comments about the Spanish craft scene, basically saying that he feared that Spanish craft breweries where making beer in garages or sub standard conditions and feared a quality failure would damage the image of Spanish beer quality. Which is funny considering that Estrella Damn sells in about 85 countries and only exports 15% of it’s production so the comment seemed to be more focused on the Spanish consumer than the international customer.

Spanish craft beer sales within Spain currently sit at just under 1% of beer sales, but it is growing at quite a pace and I think that the big Spanish breweries are looking at markets such as the USA and Ireland and are worried that they will loose market share as the Spanish consumer decides to want beers that are more exciting and with stronger flavours.

Review: Bottle of Parking C Pelicano, White IPA 7.1% ABV

the Spanish craft beer industry

Parking C Pelicano

Mateo & Bernabe was founded in 2012 by Alberto Pacheco and his wife’s family in Logroño, which is the capital of the famous Spanish wine region of the Rioja. Alberto was born to Spanish immigrants in Venezuela and was brought up in Chile before deciding on a return to Spain to train as a chef near where his mothers family was from which was Logroño. After only 5 months in Logroño he met his future wife and his roots where set. When working as a chef he started to experiment with home brewing and then started to go to Italy to attend brewing courses and increase his knowledge of the industry. He then decided that he would like to brew beer and make a living from it.  Sitting down with his wife and his father-in-law, the three of them proceeded to write up a business plan and the result was that, after a couple of years, Mateo & Bernabe was born.

The brewery has 2 ranges of beers Mateo & Bernabe which are delicate beers that are ideal to have with food, and Parking which is the experimental and fun range of beers which they also do collaboration brews.

Parking C Pelicano is a White IPA which was a collaboration brew with Beancurd Turtle who is a brewer named Daniel with 30 years experience from California. Lemon thyme and grated orange peel were added to the beer.

Appearance: Foamy bright white head, lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a slight orange hue to it.

Aroma: Malty, dried grass, clove and hints of and dried bitter orange peel

Palette: very delicate bubbles that gives you a lovely light refreshing volume in the mouth then Citrus fruit peel especially grapefruit and lemon followed with freshly cut semi dried grass hints of bitter orange with a long finish citrus peal ending. The beer is wonderfully balanced and the 7.1% is dangerously unnoticeable.

By Dominic Lombard
@domgetxo

http://www.drinkingspanish.com/

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Would you like even cheaper beer?

‘POUNDPUB’

pound pub prices

PoundPub minimum prices

We have pound shops littering the high streets, cheap discount airlines like Ryanair and Easy Jet ruling the air, people buying their clothes in charity shops, and getting buses from Leeds to London for a few quid. Think you have seen it all, well what about a PoundPub! Has life gotten any better!
A pub that offers pints of beer for just £1.50 from 8am onwards has opened in Greater Manchester and, so far, has been a huge success.
The Pound Pub in Atherton, near Wigan, is the second location in a chain of new no-frills pubs offering booze at extremely low prices. The pub saves money and cuts their overheads by not offering entertainment or subscribing to Sky Sports but will have traditional games like darts and billiards on offer.
Strongbow, Fosters, Theakstons and John Smith’s – are all on offer at £1 for half a pint or £1.50 for the full pint.

The interior of the pub is basic and the pub’s slogan is ‘more round for your pound’.
News over plans to open these chains of discount pubs has angered alcohol awareness campaigners who claim that drink is already too cheap and readily available.
However, Mike Wardell, a director at Here for Your Hospitality Ltd, the company behind the ventures, said it was returning to the traditional concept of a pub. “We are responsible retailers, and this is about giving value for money to working people. No one said anything when Workingmen’s clubs were offering bitter for 99 pence a pint, in fact it was pretty popular. We will offer a quality product at an affordable price”.
He further went on to explain that “These two sites are the test, and a lot will depend on how successful they are as to how we expand. At a time when 12 pubs a week are closing across the country we have to think outside the box a bit.” If it’s a success, the chain plans to bring the brand nationwide.

DOWN WITH THAT SORT OF THING!

Some residents of Atherton and Stockton have criticised the Pound Pub for taking advantage of ‘vulnerable’ drinkers and lowering the tone of the town. They are afraid that the pubs will attract the “wrong sort”.

pound pub

pound pub

Chair of the Stockton Town Team, Joanna Waker called the Pound Pub ‘counter-productive’ to Stockton’s development. She said: ‘Businesses do not need to be low cost to survive in Stockton, ‘Earls of Ashwood deli serving fine cheeses and The Storytellers pub serving fine and real ales from around the world – both of which are absolutely thriving – prove it.’

Stockton is undertaking a £38 million town centre refurbishment, and borough councillor Phil Dennis, said he was worried about the effect of the scheme on the redeveloped town centre, and warned the pub “cheapened the image” of the new investment. He added: “I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer.”

Ken Lupton, leader of the council’s Tory group, said: “An individual pub with such a pricing policy would only be detrimental to the general improvement the council hopes to achieve with their significant investment in the High street. I have initial doubts and concerns about the ability of such a venue to control the environment where effectively we are selling at a point where the quality of clientele will likely match the price of the product on offer”.

pound pub

The inner sanctum

This type of drivel is a joke. How do ordinary people having a few pints in a pub lower the tone of an area? It’s all well and good for the cheese eating, coffee drinking, bridge playing types to moan, but drinking in pubs is what the British do best. They have done it for centuries and if it puts a few tory noses out of joint in the local councils then so be it. Stick your 38 million redevelopment up your arse. Who the hell wants another starfucks or M n S in their high-street! Can there not be a little bit of the town left for ordinary people to drink and be merry.

The pub is also raising concerns over its application to start serving alcohol at 8am. Angry neighbours claim it caters for drunks “staggering around the streets” before lunchtime.
This is also a bit of a misconception. A person can only drink so much. I am amused as to where all these drunk people would be going to, are they not already in a pub, where would they be off too?

Pub landlord, Dave Sutton, allaying fears, stated ‘If people get out of hand they get kicked out – it’s like any other pub, only cheaper.’ He also added that the pub was only met with one objection when its application for an extension to its alcohol licence was put forward last year. Which makes you wonder if all the residents objections were a figment of some newspaper hacks mind.

I will leave the last sentence to the Greater Manchester Police who confirmed there had been no problems with the PoundPub.

Drink Irresponsibly

pound pub

pound pub

Colin Shevells, director of Balance – an organisation that encourages people to reduce their alcohol consumption said: “Drink is already too affordable, too available and too heavily promoted. We know that problems are caused by it being too cheap. The PoundPub is just part of a much bigger problem. We need to wake up to the problems cheap alcohol is causing both in the short and long term. We need to find a way to bring in a minimum price that doesn’t penalise the moderate drinker and the good solid community pub. So many of them are closing because they can’t compete and this will make it worse.”

The local council has also raised fears that the pub will encourage ‘irresponsible’ problem drinking and threaten public health.
Wigan Council’s director of public health, Professor Kate Ardern, said: ‘Alcohol used to be a luxury, but it is now widely available and often sold at pocket money prices. Research has proved that the cheaper alcohol is, the more people drink. ‘Any promotion which potentially increases the supply of cheap alcohol and which appears to target those on limited incomes, especially young adults, who are cost-conscious, is highly irresponsible – particularly in a borough like Wigan which has high rates of alcohol harm.’

Mr Sutton, the pub landlord, denied claims it was “irresponsible”, saying: “We don’t encourage people to get drunk.” He also pointed out that supermarkets are able to sell their own value beers at 40p a can – something which is not monitored by councils

My View

I have to be honest I love the idea; half a pint for a quid, £1.50 for a whole. In fact I don’t just like it, I fecking love it! I like drinking. I like drinking in pubs. I like drinking cheap beer in pubs. So far I can’t see anything too wrong with this concept!

pound pub

All in for a pound

Pubs are very valuable in improving the communal spirit of an area. It’s a place to make friends, have a chat, relax, and take a breather from the outside world. Is this not better than buying a cheap can of pish from Tesco’s and drinking it all alone at home? Where are all the old men meant to spend the day? Where can we relax and have a sit down after the weekend shopping spree?
Mr Sutton, the pub landlord, said his clients were mainly old men drinking throughout the day, starting as early as 9am. Not the image of boozed up vandals terrorising the locality then.
PoundPub is offering a service, and the point that the two pubs are doing a roaring trade so far supports the fact that people want them in their areas.

PoundPub is also the lifeline to an industry that is currently suffering and where 12 pubs a week are closing across the country. Pubs are finding it hard to compete with supermarket chains who can cut their prices on alcohol and offset the price onto something else. As Dave Sutton said, ‘Pubs around the country are shutting all the time so something has to be done – and this could be it. The idea is to bring people back into the pub” And amen to that.

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Would you like cheaper beer?

Would you like cheaper beer?

JD Wetherspoon

JD Wetherspoon

Would you like to drink cheaper beer?
Think that’s a strange question with only one obvious answer?
Well the UK discount pub operator JD Wetherspoon’s is embarking on its first big overseas expansion by purchasing a small number of outlets in the Republic of Ireland. And this expansion in the south of Ireland has a few people upset and worried of the further demise of the traditional family owned Irish pub.

The London-based company is to spend €1.5 million refurbishing what used to be the Tonic Bar in Blackrock, Dublin. The pub will be renamed The Three Tun Tavern and will open for business on July 8th. The Blackrock pub marks Wetherspoon’s entry to the market in the Republic. It has also acquired the former Newport Cafe pub in Cork, which is due to open in the summer of 2014
The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs in the UK, is believed to be in negotiations on another 10 premises and is looking at opening as many as 20 pubs here over in the next 5 years.

The Republic of Ireland, is a tough market to crack, as it’s a heavily indebted and regulated market still dominated by family-owned bars, but the cost of buying outlets and licences in the Irish pub sector has fallen rapidly since the country’s financial crisis. Falling turnovers and huge debts are crippling many of the nation’s pubs all around the country.
According to a report by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, since 2007, almost one in eight of Ireland’s pubs have closed, bar sales have fallen by a third and employment by a quarter. The industry is just about hanging on.
This is too good an opportunity for Wetherspoon’s to miss. The company’s chairman and founder, Tim Martin, stated that Wetherspoon’s “aim is to invest up to €50m in the Republic of Ireland over the next five to 10 years, with our strong buying power we expect to provide good value with 10-20 per cent cheaper prices than most Irish pubs.”

Who are they?

tony martin founder of wetherspoons

Tim Martin

Tim Martin, in 1979, set up Wetherspoon’s in the London area. The no-frills pub chain, known for cheap drinks, reduced priced food, and shunning live music or sport on TV has more than 900 pubs and employs about 23,000 staff.
You can find a Wetherspoon’s in every town and city in the UK, and they have a pretty efficient standardised operating system across all of their venues.
Listed on the stock market, in July 2013, it made a pre-tax profit of £77 million (€93.7 million)

Ireland!

feck off wetherspoons

feck off wetherspoons

But will the idea take off in Ireland: Would you drink in a British discount chain pub?
Attitudes towards Wetherspoon’s’ introduction to Ireland seems to be mixed, at least from what is seen on the Irish online community. Within days of the announcement a Facebook page “Feck off Wetherspoons” was created having nearly 2,500 followers. On Irish themed forums some commentators were foaming at the mouth at the prospect of a British pub chain moving into Ireland, with one online news network having the headline “The British are coming!”
As you would suspect, many publicans seem doggedly against the development, as it will invariably lead to more competition on price, and a further division of their dwindling market.
Some argued that Wetherspoon’s are too dull and sterile, with standardised platforms, offering cheap pints and average food, with no music or sport showing on TV. If Weatherspoon’s succeed some are concerned that this will push many traditional Irish pubs out of the market. Irish pubs conventionally the centres of friendly conversation, music, and watching live sports.

Negative reactions

The issue obviously affected some so much that they were pushed to set up a Facebook site. The site has over 2500 likes
https://www.facebook.com/feckoffwetherspoons

There are some who set up a rival version, welcoming Wetherspoon’s to Ireland, but has only about 41 likes so far!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-JD-Wetherspoons-to-Ireland/127948097294246

welcome to ireland

Bring Wetherspoons to Ireland

The negative reactions tend to focus on the soulless atmosphere in Wetherspoon’s and/or British pubs comparing it to going to McDonalds for a beer!
Another issue is that cheap drink attracts a certain clientele and might end up as all day drinking houses for the unemployed and alcoholics.

Some views are just outright anti British whatever about the price. One stating on a forum that they “would never drink in a British owned pub in Ireland”, while another post stated with gusto. “No. No. No. No. British “McPubs” not welcome here. Stay across the water”

Positive reactions

Positive reactions centre on the fact that more competition usually leads to cheaper prices. Competition is always a good thing. Consumers are really just interested in one thing, and that’s the cheapest price. Many feel that Irish publicans have ripped off the public for a long time now, and that if a discount chain arrives into Ireland, prices across the board might come down. A change is good for the stagnant industry.

wetherspoons and real ale

Real ale

The “Indigenous or traditional culture” tag doesn’t seem to wash either when you consider that pubs up and down the country show English Premier League football, British horse racing, and with many patrons reading fare set as “The Irish Sun” or “Irish daily Mail” (shudder) for example, all the while probably drinking Budweiser, Heineken, or even, a Guinness with its long established Anglo – Irish roots. It’s a capitalist free market world, and competition is what the consumers want. Actually, Weatherspoon’s are just as likely to help the local Irish economy as their modus operandi is to source local beers in the UK so one could quite easily see them do the same with local breweries and up and coming craft beer start-ups, giving them a chance to expand.

Conclusion

It’s about time the Irish pubs had a bit of competition as the bar industry has criminally overcharged customers for years and are still doing it. I find it hilarious that publicans are at a loss to why they are doing so badly. It’s got to do with the public finally voting with their feet. Why spend money in overpriced bars when you can have a party in your own home with cheap beer from the supermarket.
The Vintners association of Ireland are also very powerful in the circles of power, second only to the Catholic Church. Price fixing is their forte, profits and squeezing the customers the target. Watch Weatherspoon’s hit the Irish market running.

Also the fact that Ireland has given the world some shockingly bad and cheesy Irish pubs down through the years, we can’t really complain when an English chain wants to break into our market.
See previous article>http://thisdrinkinglife.com/irish-themed-bars-always-shite-avoided-like-plague/

fry up

fry up

I have drank in Wetherspoon’s several times, and they were fine, good food and beer for the right price. Weatherspoon’s pubs are where everyone starts the night off, and is also the place for the hangover fry up the next day. I do like the idea of a bar with no music, or a TV blaring out from the corner of the bar. People can chat to each other in total comfort.

burger and a pint

burger and a pint

Would I drink in there? Yes. British ‘McPubs’ with cheap pints, good variety in beers, and quality and value in food are strongly welcome here!
Drinking in an Irish pub is still the best place to have a beer in the world. But it’s the people you’re with that makes a night out, not the establishment, and for that reason the traditional Irish atmosphere won’t die out, it might be just rocking away in an English pub chain in Ireland!

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oker, a load of wank really!

Poker, get all the tips here!

My two days spent playing internet poker

Poker chips how to play poker

Chips, lovely chips

After watching Ronnie O Sullivan throw away one of the easiest snooker world championships ever to win, and with it some of the money I had bet on him (got him at evens with what I thought was a decent bet), I got so peed off that I said I will try online Poker, again. I tried it years ago when I had lots of free early morning time working evening shifts. I was never a great player but I did win the odd hundred here and there and was a few tables off a televised event.

Real life poker I have tried before much with the same results, not much wins, not a whole lot of losses. I tend to get kicked out of live poker as I am usually sloshed from all the free beer, and eventually always thrown out the front door!

To be honest I find Poker extremely boring, and in my opinion it isn’t even the best card game.

The card game 25, from Ireland, is a really good game, and Auction 15, a derivative of it, is my favourite game where one player can bid against a pack of players for cards.

Rules for 25> http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1232991/twenty-five

Anyway here is some of my observations and tips! Please don’t take it too seriously!

Avatar. I know it sounds silly but I always go for the avatar of a young woman. You would be amazed how it throws people off. The majority of poker players are men, and they do have this idea that woman can’t play the game, which is of course nonsense. But you would be surprised at how men get aggressive towards a female avatar, it’s funny actually. Sad bastards.

four aces how to play poker

An ace hand

I always start with the very small pot games, less than a dollar or so, and always with sit and go’s. Small pots as it takes time to get warmed up. I think poker, like any other game, is a game you need to practice for a while to get going. If you go straight for the deep end with not much game time you will be eaten by the sharks pretty quickly. The more you play the better you will get. Even if you are not winning you are getting good game time and developing your game. Remember many top class poker players train online before real live tournaments, solely for the purpose of practice. It’s all about the practice.

Even with these small pot games, you would be amazed at how seriously people take them. People would fight for a long time to win 10 cents.  And then the opposite not play for less than 10 cents. I always call at the start of a hand for anything less than 50 cents. Why the feck wouldn’t you? It’s such a small stake, that it’s worth the gamble to see some of the flop and its good game time.

It’s always tempting to go in when you think you should win. It doesn’t work like that. Nearly getting a run, but one out is still out. Wanting to win doesn’t mean you will win. So patience is required, bite the lip, and hit the competitors when you do get a good hand, a definite hand. Bide your time you will get that good hand soon! I am no good at bluffing with nothing. I nearly always go with at least something in my hand. Fair dues to real poker players that can bluff, that’s a skill I can’t do.

two aces poker how to play poker

Nice

Know when to give up a hand, even if invested a lot. That’s gambling in general, the test to see if you can walk away from a loss. That’s where people get into trouble in gambling, chasing losses. I used to have a rule for the horses, if I couldn’t get a winner in three consecutive races, then out the door. Take a deep breath, remember there will be other days! Sometimes you can also be just plain unlucky, don’t kill yourself over it. You can have two sweet ace’s in your hand but if the other fella has three 2’s or whatever then so be it!

I also love going overtly aggressive if I have twice as much money left as any others at the table. I raise everything even if I have garbage. Even if you lose the odd hand you will shake it up, sometimes it gets the other players into a panic, keeps the game going, and get players pots reduced (even if you lose).  Also you won’t be beaten by a bad hand, most players would rather hold onto their crappy pot if they have a useless hand. Drives me mad seeing someone sitting on a big pot fiddling their thumbs. I mean I don’t want to be all day playing online poker, hurry it up a bit!

Sometimes players bet exactly a hundred as a raise, or sometimes something weird like 32.45. Jesus don’t make it that obvious you have something! You might as well tell the other player you have a good hand! Only a matter of time when you catch these players out.

As for going for a double in a crowded table if required. I always go for it if I have at least a Jack or more. Of course in a two player game I’d nearly go in with anything half decent, within reason, ha!

Another obvious one is someone who bets big on fecking everything (the Chinese poker player?), they usually have rubbish, and are usually gone fairly lively from a game. In my local casino it’s always the Chinese that do this, in fact in any sports (horse/dogs) they always go for the favourite, maybe it’s because they haven’t good English.  People hate playing this kind of player, as they are not really playing the game, or in fact gambling, but they don’t usually last. Get a decent hand, catch them out, and they are gone. Simples.

Waiting on the last card, don’t bother it won’t happen. Think of the numbers, what are the chances of you having that run with the very last card? Exactly!

So playing for two days constant not winning not losing. I had a nice run of 6 games unbeaten, but lost a few while distracted on the net, then I got bored, went over to the 21 table and lost all my money pretty quickly. Fuck that for a load of old wank, dodgy!

poker how to play the game, badly

Reality

So what does all this show? Internet poker is fecking boring, and if you want to win you need to be on the virtual tables’ hour upon hour. I sincerely doubt many make a living from internet poker. I have heard a few fellas say they do but I don’t believe them. Gamblers always boast, will always hear about their wins, never their losses. Have you seen some of the guys on TV that rose from internet gambling? They invariably look geeky and sad, do they in all sincerity look like guys you could not have a pint and a chat with? Granted they might be rich bastards but….. no!

In fact this says as much>

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lovinger/050111

Nah, poker is a good game but the amount of hype that surrounds it is funny. It’s skillful but like any gambling game it’s also about luck. I am amazed at how there are so many webpages with insider tips and all. Feck off, it’s just like anything else, you get what you put in. If you want to sit on an internet poker table hours every day for the next few months I am sure you will do well, but could you be bothered?

Anyway will, Football is my thing. Regards till then as I bin my poker face.

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