Friday, 23 August 2013

Beer Hero - Cardiff

This is the first of what will be a short series of occasional, vaguely entertaining posts relating to some individuals I would like to nominate as a Beer Hero.

What is a Beer Hero realalein140?  I hear you cry (note for new readers: artistic licence is employed to the full on a regular basis in this blog, it has to be or I'd just be asking myself questions, which gets a bit boring after a while).

Loosely defined, and lets face it, loosely is about as good as it gets around here - it's a bit like being a superhero.  Except I don't require anyone to wear their pants outside of their normal clothes, or indeed actually have any super powers.

What a Beer Hero does have in common with a superhero, is that they have to have a clear link with a place. Batman has Gotham City, Superman bosses Metropolis, Spiderman dosses around New York, and Supergran I think is probably drawing her pension in Edinburgh.  Frankly, I can't be arsed to double check that last fact, so if it is wrong (and how many of you are googling it already, shame on you, your attention span is rubbish), please don't bother letting me know in the comments.

I'm not sure if there is a precedent for superheroes living in the same city, but I'm presuming it leads to some sort of ruckus.  Again, I'm not taking this to extremes and so will not be employing this as part of the criteria.
Wow, I've really weakened the superhero analogy here.  Anyway, I've started typing now, so you'll have to bear with me, no matter how tortuous it gets.

Ok, so maybe a dictionary style definition would help?

Beer Hero 
/bi(e)r/ /h'(e)ro/
A person that Realalein140 has nominated to be one.

Phew, well, I'm glad that cleared that up.

Anyway, onwards and outwards (you may have noticed from my videos that upwards isn't a thing with which I have every really engaged).

Today's beer hero is a Beer Hero for Cardiff.

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you Ali, the proprietor of Discount Supermarket in Roath, Cardiff.

It's an unassuming looking place from the outside - and I don't think enough is made of the fact that there is beer inside.  That's not a criticism by the way and clearly I'm biased, but the point I'm making is that you might walk past without incident if you didn't know what was inside. 

Ali has created a little beer haven.  In this shop in the last few months, I have rekindled my love of finding something new, from what might be a fancy London brewery, one of the brilliant west-country brewers (e.g. Bristol Beer Factory) or an established northern one (Saltaire), but there is a massive range, I've even started working my way through the saisons and various Belgian brews.  To top it all, there is a brilliant range of American beer available, with brewers like Ska Brewing, and Anchor making regular appearances.  You want Danish beer?  Icelandic beer?  Jamaican beer?  Welsh beer? He's got them all.

I've had my first tastes of Beavertown, Brodies, Partizan and Weird Beard from this place.  They are all sublime, and I can't believe it took as long as it did to get them in my belly.

So - the man himself?  Who is this masked crusader?  Is he a bird?  Is he a plane? (Ok, I'll stop)  This is him...

The final piece of the Beer Hero jigsaw is that he knows his stuff and he remembers the regulars.  What more could you ask of a Beer Hero?  Especially one who is only only 8.5 miles from my doorstep.

This photo was taken under duress and on the hop, I will be filming at some point soon with him, so you'll get to see the shop and Ali almost live and on Youtube if you keep your eyes peeled.

Ali, I salute you, and all who buy beer in your shop.  

Until the next blog post, cheers.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Beer, social media and 'community'

Well.  It's been a while.  Nice to see you again, or if it's your first time here, welcome.

Today, I wanted to touch on the beer community as experienced by a a thirty something white male with a couple of years worth of blogging/vlogging under his belt.

People often stop me in the street and say 'Hey Chris, what's it really like out there on the edge of the cool gang in beer world?' (They don't say this, but hey artistic licence).

So, my answer to all of these (admittedly imaginary) people that you meet through social media?

First:  Facebook

It's just like real life.  Except, well, in real life I choose friends differently.  I have 'added' people to my facebook who in real life I would never tolerate.  Maybe in their mind they are like Gumbo in ID or Begbie in Trainspotting.In reality they are probably just a dick.  The worst part is when these people club together.  Imagine a self validating Gumbo/Begbie combo.  Not nice is it?

The difficulty is that a group of individuals tend to settle around the lowest common denominator and it isn't long before they are threatening to hit people in the face with bricks.

These are people that wouldn't understand hyperbole if it literally jumped out of a pint glass and poked them in the eye. 

Blokes in my experience, generally rub along ok together (oo-er).  If there are differences between men these should be resolved between the two men.  Not through a test of strength, 'flaming' - aka being a dick for imaginary internet points or armwrestling (hard to do virtually), but through an open and honest dialogue unencumbered by drooling halfwits on the sidelines who are effectively shouting 'fight, fight, fight' from their vantage point. 

I applaud those bloggers/vloggers who haven't got involved in the latest public spat.  The dispute is between two men.  Leave them resolve it.

Facebook is a nightmare for this.  It seemingly has turned men into caricatures of Dynasty women (sorry girls), with incredibly bitchy behaviour becoming the norm.  Don't like what someone did?  Ban them from your group and talk about them incessantly (be sure to check for all alter-egos before you do this).  Also, pick on their hair, this might help your self esteem.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.



This is the place to be.  Compared to the Tesco experience that facebook offers, this is a veritable Waitrose of tidy people.  I don't think I've talked or managed to follow anybody who is even a bit rude (even accidentally).  If they even were accidentally rude, they were probably mortified before I even noticed.  Okay this is slightly idealised but you get the whole juxtaposition thing I'm driving at yeah?

Arguments (as in the intellectual process of argument) are settled with facts and gentle coercion.  Differences of opinion are allowed.  I've never seen a Twitter campaign that wasn't publically available to the person being assailed (so avoiding the schoolgirl bullying mentioned above). 

I was welcomed on Twitter.  I've talked to some great people and built up a modest count of followers.  My feeling is that people take you seriously if you can communicate. 

What's the difference?  Does the ability to form a coherent opinion in 140 characters help you find civilised people?  Probably.  Actually, no, definitely.

Is there more?

This is the new boy on the block for me. I think it sits between the two sites mentioned above.  Largely the community is American but there are some interesting sub/reddits that are relevant to beer fans.  Still a bit cliquey but early days yet.  Check it out, quite interesting.

So.  Back to the point.  What is the beer community like?  I suppose you could liken it to pubs.  Facebook is the Dog & Handgun (probably a Wetherspoons) on one of our less salubrious estates.  Twitter is a lovely old thatched pub that serves real ale, the pub has a dog.  Redditt is a trendy wine bar with some fancy bottled beer. 

Thanks for reading and remember there is a real community out there, go buy some beer and enter it.