09 August 2008

Everything you see on TV is fake

Especially me. Oz Clarke and James May were in the Bull & Castle last night filming a couple of sequences for their upcoming TV show on beer. (They've been previously sighted on the beer blogosphere here and here.) The bit involved them having decided that mass-market beer in Ireland is generally rubbish (well spotted) and turning to the nation's home brewers for something decent. The brewers present their beers to them one at a time and they pick a winner. Of course, not all of us at ICB make beer, and several people brought extra beers along, so the line-up was padded out with some fake home brewers, including me. The proprietor of Black Cat Brewery is over at the GBBF at the moment so gave me his fine Centennial Ale to present to the guys. My pitch won them over and this is the one they picked. I'm told, and well believe, that Laura's Jump Up, Hop Back IPA was their favourite on taste alone, but evidently my superior skill at talking to a camera about things I know nothing about counts for more in TV land.

I was talking to Oz afterwards. That man knows a startling amount about beer. The show, due to air in either October or January, looks to be brilliant ("Basically it's about how it's OK to get a bit pissed and enjoy yourself" -- James May). Look out for me in episode four and don't believe a word that anyone on TV says.

Leaving the glamorous media life behind, I'll finish my run-down of the Great British Beer Festival which I attended last Tuesday. Readers from the Society for the Protection of the Beer Nut's Liver will be pleased to note that I don't have many more beers to mention. Apart from the Clotworthy Dobbin I got from the Northern Ireland bar, I only had two thirds of a pint from the main regional bars of the festival.

The brewer from Moor had paid a brief visit to our table so, in the absence of any other decision-making mechanism, it was his Peat Porter I went for. I was hoping I'd get something like Wickwar's Station Porter which I enjoyed recently and which (far less importantly) had just picked up third prize in the Champion Beer of Britain competition. There's a great balance to this beer: a dry and roasty porterishness next to a sweet alcoholic scotch maltiness. Not a whole lot of smokiness to it, but I still approve.

My last festival offering is Finn's Hall Porter, from the Beowulf brewery in Staffordshire: I'd reached that stage of festival-going where I'm picking beers based solely on the cool names. There's a very pleasant bitter damson-like quality to this one, backed up by more of that porter dryness, this time with coffee overtones. Another quality black session beer: more of this kind of thing closer to home please.

Having been drinking and blathering for over six hours, it was time to pack up my festival glass and head back to Heathrow. Last time I was through I rejoiced at being spared the unpleasantness of the landside Wetherspoons due to Heathrow's revised security arrangements. So, having first made sure there was nothing of interest in the landside bar, I went through to the main departure lounge of the terminal, and the much-more-civilised Tin Goose where Adnams Bitter was on tap. A deliciously sessionable sweet pint, this one, with lots of fruit and an interesting sulphurous note I've come to associate with Adnams beers. A decent, unchallenging pint to finish with before heading back to the land of mostly-crap beer. I'll definitely be stopping at the Tin Goose next time I'm through Heathrow, though I may be moving up to the first class lounge now that I'm that bloke off the telly.

Just so long as no-one discovers I'm a fraud...


  1. How exciting!

    And thanks for the link to Laura's beer, that looks a really nice one to try at some point.

  2. Woo Hoo! Another prize for the award winning Black Cat Brewery!

    It's wouldn't be the first time an inferior beer was chosen over a better one because of the patter that went with it.

    It's all about marketing, and it seems you did a great job. Cheers!

  3. Except... remember the green glass bottle you said only to open in an emergency infection situation? I kinda gave it to James to take away with him. I'm sure he'll be keeping it under sensory deprivation conditions until he drinks it.

    Do I know you well enough to surmise that when this is on telly you'll be pausing and zooming to look for signs of chill haze?

  4. I'm gonna get Hi Def TV in especially.

    I really hop he keeps it out of the light. It'll taste bloody awful otherwise.

  5. That pun in my last post was unintentional. It's just yet another example of my appalling prove reading skills.

  6. Proof reading, that is. Fuck.

  7. Looks like there could be quite a beer renaissance towards the end of the year with the Neil Morrissey programme and James & Oz.

  8. I was talking to Oz and he said his favourites on taste were Thom's beer and mine. I love that centennial ale and would definitely buy it. Maybe one day...

  9. It is strange I don't like the idea of someone coming to Ireland and pointing out how crap we are but unless they do what hope is there of us not always being crap? I just hope the program is not greeted with "Feck the Sasanach our foreign owned tasteless beer is as Dublin as Ronnie Drew's bollocks" and such

  10. I somehow doubt that that audience would be interested in watching a couple of posh English blokes poncing about, enthusing over warm flat beer.

    If it helps strip away some of the romance of Guinness abroad though, that'd be some achievement. Get it onto BBC America, stat.