Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Redemption, Big Chief IPA 5.5%

The weekend just gone, we had a stunning beer on sale. So stunning that Tom my minion and underling literally forced me to drink it out of a glass boot. And I mean literal in a literally literal sense*. The beer was Big Chief IPA from the Redemption Brewery.
It was another dangerous brew, being 5.5%, but perhaps it was more dangerous than the MOOR Sloe Walker. This is because you intrinsically knew that the Sloe Walker at 7.4% was likely, almost certain to badly mess you up if you quaffed it as you would a normal ale, whereas a 5.5% ale seems so much more reasonable and less daunting, so you think that you can treat it as a normal ale. This lead to painful hangovers on both Friday and Saturday  mornings, which didn’t regress much throughout the day, in fact on Saturday I had to drink more of the Big Chief just to mask the self-inflicted ‘pain’. We all know how this was always going to end.

I don’t know much about the Redemption Brewery apart from the facts that they are in Tottenham, (which is in London somewhere, North of the river,) they have only been brewing since 2010, so are very much new kids on the block, and are making a name for themselves in the brewing circle, pretty quickly.
This is Tom, serving our very first customer back in December.
We should have given him a free pint. But we didn't.
The beer itself was jam-packed full of flavour. The first tastes that I sensed were both sweet and bitter. Being a modern IPA, it was very well hopped, but alongside this were tastes of nectar or honey. After this there was a spiciness that emerged, but I could never work out what individual tastes emerged, because the drink is an absolute cornucopia of flavours. The whole experience was so complete yet so more-ish, that I stopped trying to analyse it properly and just decided to drink in earnest, as much as I could while still technically working. (It was quiet enough, and Tom was energetic enough.)
What I do know is that this is a drink I would highly recommend to everybody, and I am going to seek out much more of their beer. I still have a barrel of Urban Dusk by the same brewery (4.6) in the cellar and eagerly looking forward to it.
This is a much better photo of Tom, and it shows the pub on our first busy night, again sometime before Christmas.
I don't know why we let those Christmas hats in. They are clearly against the rules.
Incidentally we have a twitter feed for the pub, and this is mostly to inform our customers of which beers are currently on sale, and which ones are settling and venting and will be on sale in the coming week. If people want to keep track of the cask ales that we shall be selling, especially the more special ones, I do suggest that they sign up I promise not to rant to much about how buggered up the world is, and how you all annoy me, too much in one day J.

My twitter @LukeBagofNails

* I don’t literally mean that. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lucky Cat.

In terms of customers, and money in the till, it has been pretty quiet the pub for the last week, quieter than I thought it ought to be. Apart from the fact that payday is looming, and it's still February no matter how much we hope for March, I couldn't think of why. Perhaps I am being too picky about my customers ? Perhaps my gamble of not selling draught lager is backfiring on me ? Could it be my infamous Rules are too harsh ? But I think that I have realised why.

We have not even given him a name. That's not right. 

Last night as I was perusing my selection of bottled World Beers, I noticed that our other feline mascot, the Golden, Lucky Cat had stopped his waving. His magic was gone, and his hypnotic sorcery not working any more. It all began to make sense. I remember in a drunken haze, last weekend noting that he had stopped has magic wave, but had forgotten to rectify it. I think that I have the only Lucky Cat in existence that regularly requires attention on his arm. He damaged it in an accident a few years ago, and while my friend Chris performed surgery and post-care, it's never quite been the same. His Mojo rarely runs out, but we have to restart him pretty often these days. I'm now in a pickle. Which is the least unlucky course of action ? Replace him with another Chinese Cat that always works, and keeps bringing the customers in, or persist with him, and have days or even weeks when he is frankly not doing his contracted job ?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Unusual Visitor.

Yikes. This was the sight that I had first thing this morning, as I went to mop the gents toilets. Well it would have been the exact sight, had I entered the cubicle on my hands and knees for some twisted reason. I would have been happy to leave him there for a while, as he obviously found it the toilet comfortable enough to want to stay there. But I had to think of Malcolm and his feline curiosity, (and torturing and killing inclination). There would have been no chance of him leaving the frog alone, only two days ago Malcolm decided that the best thing to do to a fairly chilled out greyhound in the pub was to stalk him, leap out and bop him on the nose. Honest. Our cat certainly is brave and fearless if not the most intelligent pussy around. Needless to say that a breed of dog that has been systematically bred over centuries to chase and hunt small furry things, didn't put up with that much, and Malcolm finally found his match.

Being the ultra-macho man that I am, I got Hayley to rehouse the Frog somewhere onto Brandon Hill. I would have touched it but it's all,,, uggh. 

And of course the glaring thing that this photo tells me is that we really have to repaint those tiles in the gents. They are not often noticed or cared about, but they really do look crap. Needs sorting asap.

Early right wing tendencies ?

Anyway, here's a few photos that I found of the first few days that Malcolm came to the pub, back in December. He was just eight weeks old then, but already showing signs of his strong spirit. The second day that he was here, he was quite happy to sit in his box supervising the comings and goings of the pub. :)

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Moor, Sloe Walker. 7.4%

This picture shows the very last half pint of the delicious Sloe Walker, from the excellent Moor Beer company. I think that it was quite apt and I'm quite glad that I was able to grab the last drop of the barrel for myself. In my opinion the Sloe Freddie has been the best cask ale that we have sold in the pub thus far. At nearly seven and a half percent, this beer certainly packed a hefty punch, but it was brewed with such smoothness, that you had no difficulty drinking three or four pints of it. But it had such richness of flavour that you didn't forget it's strength, and so it never had the dangers associated with some of the fine Belgian beers. For this beer, Moor adapted their fine and well established recipe of Freddie Walker, and added many fresh sloe berries to the mixture. The bitterness of the sloes combine exceedingly well with the natural sweetness of such a strong porter and produces a very well balanced ale indeed. 
I was lucky to get a firkin of this beer, as they had only brewed enough to fill ten firkins this year. I very much doubt if I will be able to sell it for another year, (a firkin holds around seventy pints.) I was worried that I would be able to sell all of these within the five or six days that a strong beer such as this would stay at it's best. It sold out in under three days. 
sincerely suggest that you contact the brewery and try to track down where the other nine casks are. You might find one near to yourself. 

Monday, 13 February 2012

Malcolm. First Blood, Part One.

I clearly have not spoken about the most popular thing in my pub enough in this Blog. This is of course Malcolm the Guard Kitten. Like all kittens, he reverts from fluffy ball of affection to fluffy bag of claws and teeth in a micro second, and back again. yesterday he drew his first blood proper, fortunately on my hand, not on a customers. A nice young lady was giving him the required amount of fuss, in his mango box, when he started to get playful. I thought that I ought to demonstrate his vicious streak to her in person, which I did by attacking his belly. As usual he attacked with all five sharp bits of his body, but this time, I couldn't easily detach myself. I lifted up my hand, and a determined killer was still attached. Malcolm is just over four months old now and looking more like a proper cat every day. This week, he is getting chipped, and then we are going to cut out a cat flap, so that he can take his aggression out onto Brandon Hill and it's residents. It might just make for a slightly more mellow pub.  

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Comedy spirits, Part 1; Unicum.

 In the Bag Of Nails, we have accumulated a number of strange and obscure spirits, which can only legitimately be described as 'Whut I found on my holidays.' These include such useless bottles such as Metaxa, Galliano, four types of orange liqueur and something unknown called Kibowi ,which has a picture of a kiwi fruit on the label. 
 A few days ago we acquired a bottle of the rather unfortunately named Unicum. Wiki describes it as a 'Unicum is a Hungarian herbal bitters, drunk as a digestif and apĂ©ritif.' I would describe it as a potential torture method yielding results similar to waterboarding or forced Simply Red listening. Jamie is the manager of the excellent Hillgrove Porter Stores. Last night was his first visit to the pub since he saw me sat in darkness, amongst the detritus left by the previous landlord and council, brassoing a metal drip tray. He was suitably impressed with my decoration, which I appreciated, and so I treated him to a free taste of our newest spirit. Here are the pictorial results.

The excellent Dom who also works in the Hillgrove was with him. He was pretty drunk already, and so we gave him a slightly larger glass. Unlike Jamie who had warning of just how foul the drink was, Dom had no warning, and downed the whole shot in one. Because of his drunkenness, there was a delayed reaction. No expression on his face for five seconds or so, then slow realisation of the nasty bitterness that had just irreversibly tainted his mouth. The subsequent look that he gave me was identical to the one given by a dog who loved you, after you had just punched him on the nose for no reason.

Poor Dom. I'm almost sorry.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Modifying Pump Clips.

Pump Clips are just the (usually) plastic badges that the breweries supply to pubs, to advertise what Cask Ales are for sale. In a Freehouse like mine which has regularly changing ales, the breweries just supply the plastic ones, to keep costs down, but where an ale is a permanent feature, many breweries supply quality ceramic, enamel or sometimes clay pump clips.
I already have a large bag full of used pump clips, as we have sold well over fifty different ales in the two months that we have been open. I'm pretty sure that the buggers multiply in there. There are definitely some clips in there for beers that we have never had in the cellar.
Anyhow, sometimes we have to modify the pump clips that we are given. Sometimes this is because a brewery has made a cock up and forgotten to supply us with the correct clips, sometimes it is us that make the cock up, or sometimes the production of the clips gets delayed by whoever makes them, as is the case with the Arbor Ales clip. Marynka (no I can't pronounce it either), is the latest of Jon's successful and acclaimed Single Hop series; each named after the hop that was used. And very nice it is too. (We had a young couple come in the other day, proclaiming that they only ever drank lager. One free sample later, and the both of them are happily drinking ale for the very first time.)

The modified Bath Ales clip is a different matter altogether. I'll probably get intro trouble for this, but hey, who wants a boring life. For the last twelve or so years, Bath Ales have been producing a highly drinkable beer called Barnstormer. This was named after a bloke called Stuart Barnes who apparently played rugby for some teams. (Huge bloke. I met him once. Roger told me to look after him. I have never seen anybody in less want of needing to be looked after.) However, some large, faceless drinks company headed by a man who was obviously bullied as a child also makes a drink called Barnstormer. Unlike it's namesake, this Barnstormer calls itself a cider, but you and I wouldn't call it such. We would all call it a shit, sickly concoction that only tramps and student drink. But as is the way with these evil companies, they apparently decided to trademark the name for themselves and then told Bath Ales that they had to change the name of their beer. So when, last week, I ordered a few barrels of the old favourite, they turned up with the new pump clip, titled Barnsey. I'm not having that, so one evening after a few (many) pints, I decided to change the badge back to it's old name.
Although it could have been executed far better, I like to think that I have added a unique sense of style to the pump clip. :)

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

To run a pub to maximum efficiency you must be thoroughly organised.

This is my attempt to be organised, and to show to my staff that I am fully prepared and equipped to deal with all of the issues that might arise.
These are just the two brushes that we use to clean the glass washer machine before every shift. (I love Wilco's. Budget toothbrush for five pence.) But of course for anybody to see the real picture, they just have to take a quick glance into the office upstairs, to see this.

This is the usual state of affairs in the office, and indeed in my own head. Occasionally Hayley will do a big tidy, (and even more occasionally I shall myself,) but experience shows that this is what my office usually looks like. Personally I'm blaming the kitten. 

(And yes, I did forget to take the bottle bin out last night again, so we have to store them in the cellar for another week.)