Tuesday, 29 December 2009

My Christmas

Wordle: My ChristmasI've only just discovered Wordle - it's great.  I did a beer one but deleted it sharpish. That way madness lies.

I predict New Year Resolutions going to pot if I bookmark it. 

And there really are too many resolutions, mostly involving how to avoid beer, to risk it.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Class of '09

We always say it, but it's true.  Hasn't it flown by?  This time last year we were still covered in builders' rubble after the reconstruction of our kitchen and bathroom and were incredibly stressed with last-minute unpacking of kitchen boxes, getting the industrial cleaners in and hiring the only vehicle left - a transit van - to pick my dad up from Victoria Coach Station.  

Exactly one year later, we've had an incredibly chilled run-up to the festive season which has been extra-magical thanks to the sprinkling of snow.  We've got a house full of delicious food and apparently there are a couple of cans of Fosters in the cellar if we run out of wine.  

The joy of having a relaxed Christmas will be offset by the deep sadness of missing my Dad, who passed away in February.  But the festive season isn't just about stuffing our faces and watching the Gavin & Stacey special.  It's time to reflect on Christmasses past, present and future (someone should use that as a story line, I think it might fly..) and we'll be doing just that, marking the first Christmas without Dad with a meal we couldn't have cooked when he was with us, stuffed with garlic ('ooh, not for me'), onions ('I love them but they don't love me'), spices ('I'd better not') and gravy ('it plays havoc').  

Mr PBBB is looking forward to what's already shaping up to be a busy, exciting and beery new year.  I've got a new project that I'm ridiculously excited about and which promises to keep me out of trouble for the foreseeable.

So with the fairy lights twinkling, Johnny Cash's Christmas Collection serenading me and a lunchtime Baileys by my side, I thought I'd join in the spurious-award-giving and bestow a couple of awards to people who've made the whole beer thing a little more bearable this year.

The Beer Delivery Award goes to our elderly next door neighbour who, frankly, is a lot stronger than she looks.  We regularly come home to find she's taken delivery of the latest box of beer and has lifted it in and out of her house and into ours.  She doesn't drink so she doesn't even have a vested interest. Together with the fact that she feeds the insatiable beast otherwise known as Fatbert the Cat (who, together with Mika, exists only to irritate Mr PBBB to the point of incandescence), this also nets her the Best Beer Neighbour of the Year Award.

Beer of the Year definitely goes to My New Favourite Beer which changes pretty much every week, but which this year has included Thornbridge Raven (for one night only, never to be repeated, thanks for asking), CrownBrewerStu's stonking 13% IPA that I think we're having for Christmas Dinner, Otley's Columb-O and the Flying Dog smoked beer which introduced me to smoked beer, winner of My New Favourite Style of Beer Award.

Brewer of the Year would have gone to Stuart Ross if he hadn't shouted 'Beer' every 5 minutes the morning after the Raven incident.  So it goes to Steve Wellington instead because he's responsible for the main ingredient of our Christmas pudding.  This is the same ingredient the Queen gets to use, so I'm bestowing upon myself the title of "Queen for the Day" which means Mr PBBB will have to act all Prince Phillip-ish and intermittently shout racist insults, which should go down well with the neighbours.

Beer writer and all-round good egg Jeff Pickthall gets the Best Beery House-Guest Ever Award.  Not only did he make his bed all tidy when he last came to stay, but he voluntarily loaded the dishwasher AND brought some Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding as a gift, thus ensuring free board in London for the rest of his natural born days.  Jeff, if you're reading this, you left 2 dodgy ties and your mobile phone charger in the spare room...

I'm giving 2 Best Pub Awards: the first to The White Hart in Stoke Newington, which combines great beer garden, excellent Sunday Lunch, shortest distance from home, dog-friendliness and suitably eclectic group of customers (a Peter Kay-as-pub-regular lookalike, some random celebs and the bloke who taught Angelina Jolie to rollerblade).  The 2nd award goes to The Charles Lamb in Islington, mainly because it's got the best pub dog in London.  Mascha (left) is an affectionate, slightly greedy 10-year old Staffie, who has special hand-painted signs dotted around the pub saying 'Please Do Not Feed Mascha'.   It's run by some really friendly people, the food is excellent and this year it was host to one of the best days of the year, a Hophead-fuelled riot of tall tales and side-aching laughing with Billy and Declan, stars of Three Sheets. 

Finally, 2009 wouldn't be complete without a Beer Husband of the Year Award.  This category, only having one eligible entry, wasn't the most hotly-contested of the bunch, it has to be said.  The only entrant didn't even complete his own application - I had to do it.  There were also a lot of points deducted from the overall score.  Points lopped off for endless yanging about neo-prohibitionism, Alistair Darling and supermarket pricing.  Lots of points lost for the moaning every time we've walked into a pub and there's only been one - or worse, no - handpull on the bar.  Several points hacked off for numerous trips in the car to the sorting office, only to find a parcel with a bottle of beer in it.  Another swathe of points gone for red pointy promotional beer hats with bells on, an overflow of promotional beer glasses in our otherwise stylish kitchen and Spitfire bottle-openers that scare the bejaysus out of me every time I use them (they make a noise like a, er, Spitfire which makes me duck).  

But despite all the deducted points, the entrant made up for it with his sincere  efforts to ensure that beer doesn't take over too much (that's 'sincere', not 'successful' by the way). For every beer event that I've been invited to and enjoyed, I had to add some points. The people I've met along the way who've become friends also ensured some extra points. And if I'm really honest, I have to acknowledge that the winning entrant has opened my eyes and taste buds to some beers that I now often choose over a glass of wine.  So for all of that, and the fact that on a good day, he's the cleverest, kindest and loveliest person I know, the Beer Husband of the Year Award goes to.... Mr PBBB.

And as the Awards come to a close, I'd just like to wish everyone a very splendid Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.  


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

I thought we'd agreed...

I had this conversation with Mr PBBB last night, who'd chanced his liver on an event at The Rake and who was phoning me to announce his departure:

Mr PBBB: Hello I'm coming home now.
Me: Excellent.
Mr PBBB: It was a great event.
Me: Excellent.
Mr PBBB: I've got you a present.
Me: Is it beer?
Mr PBBB: Yes.
Me: .....
Mr PBBB: But it's your beer, I won't drink it.
Me: .....
Mr PBBB: I'll just get my coat.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Ooh ooh look at this!

I'm not someone who needs a big fat excuse for a drink.  Flimsy ones do just fine.  'You've stubbed your toe, you say? Let's nip over to the White Hart.'  So this handy pad firstly legitimises my approach to casual drinking and secondly provides even more imaginative excuses to knockknock.biz a couple back.  Do you see what I did there?  The name of the people who make these clever things incorporated into a sentence.  I need a lie-down.

So this one I'd quite like in my own stocking this Christmas.  And please see below one for the more tickerishly minded....

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Elephants in Rooms

We're finally back at Beer Towers after our northern leg of the pre-Xmas rellies tour and Tuesday night's opening of the wonderful new bar at Sheffield Station, during which I discovered my new favourite beer - a black IPA called Raven by Thornbridge.  I also learned a very valuable lesson which is that thou shalt not drink Raven all night, even if it is in half pints, if thou dost not want the hangover to end all hangovers the next day.  Not even a whole jug of coffee, 2 orange juices, baked beans on toast, cornflakes with sugar on them, 4 jelly babies, half a bag of Maltesers and a bottle of Lucozade helped.  And I wonder why I need to go on a diet...

Anyway, what a week it's been, what with me becoming the first lady of beer writing and all, even though I missed the Twitter update announcing it as I was watching the re-run of Strictly Come Dancing.  Lovely news about Mr PBBB (or Mr PBBWOTY) winning a gold tankard - just what we need - and, even lovelier, the spondoolies that come with the award.  Some people might think that a cash prize gives them the opportunity to treat their lovely 'the wife' and in thus doing wipe out some of the accrued debt they've earned over a year's worth of beeriness....see what you think.

A couple of months ago, the DAY OF THE DEADLINE FOR THE AWARDS, to be precise, Mr PBBB asked me if I'd mind photocopying his entries and 'popping them in the post', as he was off to a beer tasting.  Seriously.

The last time I stepped in to get his submission sorted out was when he was on a ship without photocopier, stapler, postal service, that sort of thing.  That year, he'd been reasonably productive and had some trade articles, a couple of national pieces and that was about it.  Yet it still took 2 people most of a day to photocopy and collate the 4 separate packs that are required for the judges.

This year, Mr PBBB's been much more productive than that.  Much, much more productive.  When announcing the winner, Zak Avery mentioned the 'elephant in the room' which was the sheer volume and quality of one particular entry.  Indeed it was, Zak, indeed it was.  We had 5-page articles that started on a right-hand page, followed over a double-page spread then finished in a couple of spurts between full page ads that we obviously didn't want to replicate.  We had the gargantuan weight of his blog: taking on the BBC, waxing lyrical about some beers, berating Alistair Darling, raising the issue of neo-prohibitionism, celebrating bar snacks..you name it.  We had a year's worth of Publican columns.  We had his book, which luckily I didn't have to photocopy as we had a few knocking round the house.

Being the supportive wife I sometimes am if I'm offered a decent enough bribe, I very grudgingly agreed and cancelled the rest of my plans for the day.

I started at the newsagent round the corner, who Mr PBBB said was 'lovely and very helpful'.  That particular gentleman must have had the day off: I was cramped in the back of the shop with a very old and wonky b&w photocopier with no place to put my bag, no surface on which to rest either the 'to copy' pile or the 'have copied' pile, a surly and unhelpful replacement newsagent and some of the most irritating fellow customers in the world.  First there was the loud shouty girl who JUST WANTED TO PHOTOCOPY HER CV INNIT so I let her interrupt my gargantuan task to do so, then the elderly West Indian gentleman who 'just wanted to copy a form'.  I swear it would have been faster to train up some apprentices to recreate it in copperplate script.  First he didn't know which way to place the paper on the scanner, then he didn't know which button to press, then he forgot which side of the form he'd already copied, during which time he'd re-forgotten the first two lessons in how to photocopy, then just as I thought he might nearly be finished, he answered his phone and engaged in a lengthy conversation about his bowels.  I'm honestly not kidding.

By this time, having pretty much lost the will to live, as well as two whole hours of my life, I phoned Mr PBBB to do some yelling.

He suggested I take the whole thing to the photocopying shop in Islington, which I grudgingly accepted was a Very Good Idea Indeed, and more practical than my idea, which had involved quite a lot of inserting of piles of articles and blog entries into his underpants.  The people in the photocopying shop were quite surprised.  They looked at the pile of entries, my complicated instructions about which bits went where, looked at me with trepidation then looked back at the pile.  "Are you sure?" they said.  "It'll cost a fortune.  And it won't be ready until about 4."

My mental health and the state of our marriage on the line, I said 'It's FINE.  And I'll see you at 4.'

At 2 minutes past 4 and £130 lighter, yes you read it right, £130 lighter, I was in Islington Library with a stapler, a huge box, some paper folders and 88 minutes to get it all collated, in the right folders, up to the Post Office where there hopefully wouldn't be a queue ha ha ha and registered for next day guaranteed delivery.

At 50 minutes past 4, with all the above looking distinctly unlikely, SURROUNDED by more photocopies than I ever want to see again and with my stress levels elevated to somewhere near Jupiter, I got a phone call.  "Hi lovely, how are you?" For a clever man, Mr PBBB sometimes astonishes me. "Anyway," he continued quickly, as he heard my large and dangerous intake of breath, "I've got good news which you might think is also bad news but it really isn't." At this point, all bets about him winning ANYTHING writerly were off.  "What?" I snapped.  He replied "The deadline's been put back til next Wednesday."

So, I'm thinking that the prize money that accompanies the Michael Jackson Beer Writer of the Year Award (which always prompts a bewildered response amongst those who haven't heard of the other Michael Jackson) might go some way to buttering me up in time for Christmas which I've just realised makes me sound like a turkey.

Suggestions on a postcard welcome.

And for goodness' sake don't tell Mr PBBB, but I'm so proud of him that I'd do it all over again...

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Beery presents for your beery loved ones

As I write this, there are  26 days, 7 hours and 37 minutes worth of shopping time until Christmas.  Take out sleeping time, hangovers, getting ready to go out, tickling Captain's tummy, writing cards and having a bath, I think we're safe in saying that once again it'll be a mad panic involving last minute internet purchases and weeping on Oxford Street.

Some might argue that with a whole year's worth of beer ephemera, beer stories, beer events, beer tastings and general beer ramblings to contend with, the last thing that should find its way winkled into our beer-lover's Christmas stocking is anything beer-related.  But it's such a joy to see their little faces light up when they open something moderately interesting and beery that I can't resist.

Previous years have seen some modest successes (the customised beer labels I stuck onto a special IPA were particularly fine, as were the Pete's Bar coasters that still appear at parties) and, about 3 Christmasses ago, one spectacular backfire. Mr PBBB had been banging on endlessly about Sam Adams Utopias which, for the uninitiated, is, er, a nice strong beer that costs a lot.  That's if you can actually get hold of a bottle.  It's as rare as hens' teeth.  That particular year, I was reliably informed, you were lucky to get your hands on a bottle on Ebay for less than £200, such was its rarity value.  Now I love an impossible challenge more than most, so I scoured the internet determined to find one single bottle that I could present to Mr PBBB on Christmas Day, thus sprinkling some fairy dust on all of our lives.

Imagine my surprise and hand-clapping delight when I found out that Shepherd Neame had actually got a small consignment that meant, for £60 plus p&p, one rare, exclusive bottle could be mine.  I had it furtively shipped to my mate Joan's and allowed myself a little chuckle every day as I prepared for the big reveal.

One afternoon, just before Christmas, I came home to find a big box in the hall.  I took one look at the shipping label and squeaked 'what's this?', apparently loud enough even for humans to hear. 'You'll never guess!', said Mr PBBB, wrongly. 'TWO bottles of Sam Adams Utopias!"

I won't share my response online, in case you get some sort of 'Parental control protocols breached. Please report obscene content' alert pop up on screen, but you get the gist.

Anyway, this year I found this lovely company who make soaps made with some very nice beers indeed.  And these aren't just any 'beer soaps'.  You know, when the categories include 'witbiers', 'pilsners', 'bocks' and ales', that these guys know their stuff.  And you also know, if Mr PBBB opens a gift of 'San Francisco Beer, made with Anchor Steam California Common Steam Ale' that at the same time he's saying 'Oh, lovely, yep, I love it, great', he's thinking 'I'd rather drink it, not wash in it'.

I'm not sure if they come labelled 'do not lick', just in case, but they look jolly good and the shipping costs from the US aren't too bad.  If anyone fancies joining me in a bulk order, let me know.

I'm on the look out for other beery gifts that aren't too ghastly and which are allowed into our home (nothing with a big beery logo, branded t-shirts, more bloody beer glasses etc).

And if there are any beer guys reading this, don't get any ideas.  We prefer our toiletries from (worst) John Lewis or (best) Penhaligons.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

It's a dog thing

For those of you who haven't already done so, meet Captain.

Captain likes cheese, oatcakes and having his tummy rubbed. He's slightly scared of cats and does a strange little 'yip' when told to 'speak' for a treat. He doesn't slaver, bite, bark or growl menacingly at small children. He looks cute and when he's lying down he sort of spatchcocks his back legs and looks like a small rug. He's pretty much the perfect pub dog.

But it's still hit and miss trying to find pubs in Stoke Newington that allow dogs in. And given the state of some of them, Captain would be the least likely contender for the 'peeing against a wall' or 'biting someone on the leg' prize.

We've got some nice pubs in Stokey, and perhaps it's the proliferation of staffies with goons attached that's turned landlords off, but still...  The slate-floored Rose & Crown? Nope. The trad-pub Daniel Defoe, whose previous owners used to own 2 springer spaniels who sat on bar stools? Nope. The sweet and, let's face it, not desperately chi-chi Auld Shillaleagh? Nope. The Three Crowns (ridiculously priced food, thinks it's in the West End)? Nope. And as they've just taken over The Red Lion and are gussying it up, presumably not there either.

And there's nothing more irritating than being told it's 'against the law' or a 'health and safety' issue. Much as Captain loves having a wander into the kitchen to check out the chicken situation (with his 'no-one loves me' face on), as long as we have a well-behaved dog who sits under our table, I can't see the problem.

Andy, landlord at our favourite local, The White Hart, has the best rule. Dogs on a lead at all times. No ifs, no buts. He applies the same sort of rule to kids, with the result that all are welcome, but have to be on reasonable behaviour. Perfect. We know that if Captain disgraced himself, he'd be barred. Same for Mr PBBB.

Anyway, if you're in the area, here are my recommendations.

The Charles Lamb, Islington - the delightful, if slightly portly, Mascha the pub dog even has hand-painted 'please do not feed Mascha' signs all over the pub.
The Scolt Head, Islington (resident 1-year old Jack Russell called Monkey and occasional visiting small dogs Elsa and Podge)
The White Hart, Stoke Newington- great beer garden too
The Island Queen, Islington
The Alma, Newington Green
The Hemingford Arms (despite the brass sign on the door saying 'no dogs')
The Albion - Islington's loveliest pub allows dogs in the front bar
The Duke of Cambridge - organic pub
The Spaniard's Inn - possibly the best doggy-pub ever, complete with gourmet dog treats on sale in the bar and a dog-washing machine (featured in Mr PBBB's blog when Captain was 'volunteered' for a Flying Dog photo shoot - oh how we laughed)

And do visit the brilliant doggy pubs website which has just unearthed some others I wasn't aware of.

Now Captain and I are off to the White Hart to meet Mr PBBB who's been 'working' there since 4:30.  And I think we all know I don't mean pulling pints....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

What stormy days are for

When the rain's lashing against the windows and the wind is buffeting the city, there's nothing better than some methodical coring, chopping, mixing and stirring to make the most of time indoors. Yesterday saw my very first batch of chutney - a spicy pear and kiwi one courtesy of Waitrose Food Illustrated - and I now have 3 (there were 4 but I got all carried away and gave one to our dinner guests) jars of gently maturing Mrs PBBB chutney in the larder.

The only problem is that after I've given one to BLTP in exchange for his recently made pickled onions and donated one to the Welsh rellies, there's only one jar left for Christmas.

And I still haven't made the Christmas Pudding - the fruit's perfectly happy to continue marinading in the vintage Queen's Ale (I had to make Mr PBBB get out of the bowl) until we get back from dog-walking, then it's the Big Mix and all that boiling-in-some-water-mallarkey, a batch of Nigella's Chilli Jelly and we're all set for Boxing Day cold cuts and bubble & squeak.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

I'm Queen

Budge up, Delia, love, there's room at the back.

The last time I made Christmas Pudding I was at school and I grated half my finger into the mix, thus rendering it unsuitable for vegetarians.

This time things are a little more exciting, thanks to the divine Steve Wellington, who sent Mr PBBB back to London with a bottle of Queen's Ale, which is what Her Madge gets to sample in her very own royal pudding.

It was a touching hand-over from Mr PBBB, who obviously wanted to snatch it away and spend the rest of the year with it clutched to his chest, rocking gently. But hand it over he did, god love him, and it's now gently plumping up about a kilo of Waitrose's finest raisins, currants, sultanas, cherries and mixed peel.

I've combined several recipes, which means that either it's going to be delish or a total and utter disaster from which Mr PBBB will never recover (he'll be sucking the Queen's Ale from the burnt husk of the pudding way into June).

So fingers crossed for the big mix tomorrow. Tradition dictates that everyone who stirs it makes a wish. I wish for a non-beer-related Christmas present. Pete wishes the Queen's Ale was in his tummy.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

We're revolting

Poor old Mr PBBB hasn't half had some gyp since yesterday.

The lovely Mark Dredge wrote a moving tribute to his long-suffering girlfriend Lauren, which I forwarded to Mr PBBB saying something along the lines of 'this is what a nice beer writer does', although I may have also suggested he boil his head at the same time.

Apparently I should look in more detail at the acknowledgments on his 3 books which 'go on in length about how lovely you are'. Hmm. That's all very nice and what-have-you but I think all beer widows out there know that one mention every couple of years is sparse recompense. A more regular celebration of our patience, fortitude and tolerance in the form of flowers, chocolate and possibly a small house in the Dordogne wouldn't go amiss.

At the risk of sounding ungracious, being presented with 'beer I thought you'd really like' from foreign trips doesn't really cut the mustard. And it was a very misplaced 'joke' when I was given a red pointy promotional hat with a bell on it last time he came back from Belguim (apparently Belguim had sold out of ALL of the chocolate for which it is world-famous...).

We can spot airport gifts at the drop of a (red pointy) hat and no we don't even like promotional glasses - however pretty their shape - though thanks for trying.

I have the loveliest husband in the world and appreciate much of what beerdom brings. However, I'd love to hear from other beer widows (we hope that the lovely Melissa Cole's husband won't be offended by an invite too) so we can swap notes - I'm thinking shopping survival tactics, beer-conversation-stoppers and a universally agreed, mutually beneficial word for 'PLEASE can we talk about something else apart from sodding beer?'

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sisters in Arms

More often than not someone at a beer event will say 'Oh you should meet my wife, you'd have LOADS to talk about'. Indeed we would:

HISTORY: Beer - a perfectly pleasant drink in the right context or the foundation of the modern world? Don't get them started.
HUMAN BIOLOGY: Is there enough milk thistle in the world to counter-balance the effects of a night at The Rake?
PHYSICS: The special bend in the space-time continuum that occurs between the start of a beer event ("I'll probably only stay an hour") and the crashing through the front door at 3am with a kebab
ELEMENTARY ARITHMETIC: "I thought you said you were only having ONE?"

Monday, 17 August 2009

Romantic getaway

When Mr PBBB isn't writing about beer, he's trying to be a travel writer, and as part of this package, I sometimes get to go to really lovely places. And sometimes I get to go to Blackpool.

The last time I was in Blackpool, I was competing in some sort of Young Pianist competition. All I remember is that I played a Grieg sonata well enough to come 3rd in the age category above me. The girl who won went on to be Young Musician of the Year and a celebrated professional pianist. I ended up in PR. Go figure.

Anyway, this time I got to sample the full smorgasboard that Blackpool has to offer, which, because I'm not 10 this time, included The Dream Boys (a tongue-in-cheek oh stop laughing at the back) male strip act with 'full nudity' (if that was a real todger I'm Thora Hird) and Legends (a lookalikey show that demanded 'no photography' presumably because they didn't want people saying 'he looks more like Neil Kinnock than Neil Diamond'). All I can say is that they were very enthusiastic and no-one fell off the stage.

Astonishingly, given that Blackpool is the deep fried capital of that bit of England, I also managed to find a jacket potato with cottage cheese, a perfectly respectable spaghetti bolognese and a chicken caesar salad that was mainly edible.

By the time I left, the sun had come out and I sort of got it. The sea's nice, there are donkeys on the beach, more 2p falls than you can shake your purse at and it's built for people to have Fun. But when the sun's behind the clouds, the wind is sand-blasting your eyeballs and everyone's shivering in their anoraks, it's grim grim grim. (If there isn't a hotel called "The Three Brothers" there should be).

So, Blackpool is ticked off the list. Mr PBBB is still there and I'm regrouping before packing up for The Green Man festival in Wales and....no, I can't.....my fingers are seizing up.....I've got rictus.....GOING TO PONTINS IN PRESTATYN.

And on that note, I wish you a peaceful and serene good night.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Slippery slope.

Overly-familiar lunch scene:

"Would anyone like some wine?"
"No I'm fine thanks"
"Yes, me too, water's great"
"I won't if no-one else will"
"Same here"
"Well I'm having a glass"
"Oh well if you're having one, I will then"
"Oh go on then, I will too"
"Well we might as well have a bottle"
"Oh that ran out quickly shall we just order another one?"

Cut to night bus back to Stokey and drunken argument with self over the nutritional merits of a KFC value meal. Is it or is it not a pre-bedtime protein snack?

Next morning cut to breakfast of omelette and chips. With gherkin and tomato on side, thus elevating it to a superfood.

It's not easy being me.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I lost my love to a dark star trooper

Life at the outer edge of the beer world can be odd. Being married to a beer writer, I dip in and out of conversations on cascade hops, bottom fermenting (or is it bottle fermenting) and who's doing what with old whiskey casks.

Some of it's interesting even for a complete non-afficionado. A lot of it sounds like the noise you get when the radio's gone weird. Blah blah cask conditioning blah blah it's not a proper blonde ale of course blah blah let's go for a curry.

When I accompany PB on his beerage trips, I get access to behind-the-scenes of all sorts of places. I go to bars I'd never usually bump into. Or fall out of. I get to drink some amazing new beers, some of which are delicious and some of which are decidedly not.

And when he's on book promotions / brewery visits / meetings of the secret guild of beer writers, yes really, I'm left to my own devices: making a mess in the kitchen, using the special knives I'm not supposed to touch because if I do they go blunt, having picnics in bed, seeing girlfriends, making stuff and having odd adventures that usually involve Captain and someone strange I've bumped into.

So this blog won't be just about beer, because after more than about 5 minutes on the subject I'm liable to fall asleep over the keyboard and get drool between the letters.

But I shall be on the lookout for My New Favourite Beer and will inadvertently be a casual observer in bars and breweries up and down the country.

I don't know my fruity top notes from my lingering bitter after-tastes, but I know if I like it and if I'd buy another one and whether I'd recommend it to my friends.

So there we have it. The sometimes lonely, often hungover account of life on the beer fringe.

And please for the love of god, buy his bloody book and stop his OCD checking of his ranking on Amazon. Really.