Friday, 6 July 2012

Batch started in the keg and ended in the sink!

So the brew was crafted and after a week bottled and labelled.  It was then left for a further 3 weeks. The first batch was a rather rank concoction, those that tasted it regarded it as some what 'under cooked' with a hint of yeast.  If any of you out there enjoy a tipple of the brown fizzy stuff know that this is not a great combo.  As Joe and I only had only 40 bottles and as we had started our second batch, we knew we had to crack through this batch.  We knew deep down that as the bottles tipped back and the liquid flowed down our throats that the lion share of these beers would put down the sink... because they were not good! As Joe passed me a cold bottle of Bud Light, I knew we had failed.

We would rise again though...Brewha!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Beast Ale: A Brewing Tale

Part 1-

I am a man who likes a beer.  I like good quality beer and in fact must admit I'm a bit of a beer snob.  Why in the name of Saint Christ would anyone drink shitty lagers? And so many fools out there do. What's the best selling beer out there?  Yeah, unless you had your head in the sand talking shit to an ostrich friend of yours, you'll know it's Budweiser: King of Beers.  The King of bland watery, shitty beers, in fact some of you philistines out there will probably have one in your hand now while you read this.  If so, 'you can just giitt out'.  In my home land of Ireland we make Guinness, quite possibly the greatest alcoholic beverage ever crafted and yet the lion share of people in Ireland drink the unholy trinity: Bud, Miller and Coor's Light.  I mean for fuck sake - Coor's Light, even the advert tells you 'It's a light tasting beer'.  So go on kids, grab a bottle - you can be just like an American fraternity douche too, all you need is a backwards cap.

Having moved to England a few years ago my eyes were open to the world of ale and bitter.  It's a good job too, as the Guinness here can be weak to say the least.  A good buddy of mine Joe Bobby Manasalieve and I taste, discuss and at times binge on these quality crafted beers.  It's actually quite pathetic, as it's got to the stage where if one of us is in a boozer and comes across something tasty they feel the need to take a picture of the bottle/glass/tankard and text it to the other with a little caption explaining the taste or experience.  I know it's not cool but damn we all need our hobbies.  Below, if your eyes work, you will see a little pic of what looks like two beers in a sink being keep at an appropriate temperature by a decanted bag of ice.  Why did this happen? Why did I take a picture of it?  Both good questions, both hard to answer.  In a nutshell, I was working in Greenock, Scotland for a few days and spent one evening walking the streets looking for a decent pub that could serve me some food and a decent beer.  My search was in vain as all I found were shit holes that served Tennants and aggression.  So the only option was to bring the bar back to my hotel bathroom sink.  Why did I take a pic of it? - Christ, because I'm a tit.

Anyway, I digress.  One day while Joe Bobby and I enjoyed a bottle of Old Thumper, it dawned on us that we should be brewing our own little gems instead of giving the barkeep a lot of money.  So from that day forth Beast Ale was born.  He made good on our idea and within a few days a brewing kit had been purchased and was on it's way to my office.  At the time it seemed like a great idea to get it posted to my work, but then when it arrived I realised it made me look like a piss head.  Everyone else in the office might get clothes or tickets delivered and here's me getting a fuckin 1m x .5m x 1m brewing apparatus box sent to my place of work.  Anyway, after getting the box home, it was on like Donkey Kong.  I live in a one bed flat with my wife and when I suggested that I would like to set up a little brewing operation in the kitchen, she told me to one!  And with that were off to Bobby's.

Like kids at Christmas we torn open the box to see what spenders lay inside.  Like kids/fools we saw the instructions and gave them the quick once over and thought i can't be arsed spending 5 minutes reading this...I need to brew beer right this fucking second...where's the yeast! In a nutshell you get: Wort (the brewing tin that looks like treacle), Yeast sachet, glucose sweets (to go in the bottles for fizz), a ladle, beer dispensing tube and a barometer devise that measures the gravity of the brew which in turn tells us the alcohol content.  As well as all the beer producing equipment it came with a 25 gallon brewing drum and 40 500ml plastic bottles.  All in all a nice little home-brew kit for £55.  After ignoring the instructions we turned to YouTube to assist our adventure (see below Joe Bobby's mind expanding with knowledge).  In fact I have attached a link to the YouTube video that we watched.  Its a homemade piece but a uber beer loving hirsute gentleman.  His passion and nerdiness were quite endearing.

With the kettle on the boil, our minds full of knowledge and purchased beer in our hands, Beast ale here we come.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Return of the Mack

Some say my first arrival was a false dawn.  There were those that read and were mesmerized, they were left yearning for more.  Christ, I had people emailing, calling, texting saying write more on your blog eventguy, write more now or i'll...i'll... execute my first born.  All in all 12 childer were murdered at the hands of their guardians so I felt enough was enough.
So here I am again, keyboard at the ready - gags and anecdotes whirling round my head like a fucking tempest.  Oh! there's some gold in here...Jesus just you wait and see folks.

So there will be updates coming involving:
Beast Ale - the homebrew tale
Staggered - the stag tale
The wedding Tale

I look forward to making you laugh, cry, dream and turn off the computer. Come dance with me, dance the dance of life.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Fire in the Sky and Flame on the Beach

So I guess there is no better place to start than the most recent.  It wasn't the best and I may never get back to the events that have gone before it, but it is reasonably fresh in the old noggin and worth a ramble.

And so the alarm went as the clock struck the 7th bell on the morning of the 21st of December in the year of our lord 2010, Christ!  It looked cold out the window, and knowing how cold it actually was, I knew it was colder than it actually looked.  Standing in the bedroom wearing my fetching stripey pyjama bottoms I realised that the only answer was to keep them on and place trusty work slacks other them.  Knowing that it was the right decision but being painfully aware that I was about to get involved in some heavy graft, and that there would come a time that I and my ballicks would sweat bullets.  Dressed and fed! I did the old spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.  Which is funny because I own neither a watch, wallet or specs, but I did make sure i brought my junk.  What is funnier though is that while half way up Western Road, I realised I had forgotten my phone.  Those that know me will not be surprised at this. In fact most will now drift off in there minds, look at some random spot on the wall and reminisce about a time when they were in my company, as I desperately reached about my pockets for some forgotten item, what was essential to my survival.  Some may even hear my voice in there head, as if they were reading a letter penned by my fair hand.

So the event of the day was Burning the Clocks.  For those of you out there that are unaware (Open Link in New Tab) - I had never been to previous years but in a nutshell it's a fantastic pagan-esque fire and flame festival, which takes place down on Brighton beach.  Firstly, there is a parade that flows through the town, starting at New road and ending down by Madeira Drive.  But that is to come...

As mentioned earlier it was as nippy as a witches titty in a brass bra, and I wanted the thing to be pulled due to weather.  It had been in 2009 due to snow and ice, and with the snow on the ground and visible breathe in the air, I hoped the same would happen this year.  I was weak, the chills got the better of me and I wanted to go back to bed, it also takes a brave man to sit here and admit that.  I met the crew, a decent number of able bodied men and women.  I always try to give everyone the once over.  Try and figure who'll be the poor soul that I try and buzz off, I generally always get it wrong.  Most of the people seemed to know each other and as I thought, I recognised a few heads from the Brighton event scene, so it was nice to catch up and know someone straight from the off.  As it turned out most people were talking about the fact that it was nippular noodle.  I thought it wise to in form the people closest to me that I was wise and was wearing pj's underneath my trousers.  As I stood in my place, I was put in my place, as it turns out everyone else was smarter than me.  Most there were wearing thermals under-togs and a couple were wearing three layered trouser coverings. Jesus! Three fuckin layers.  That takes some serious decision making while dressing.  "Shall I wear an extra layer today???" As a finger gets licked and thrust into the cold morning air, "Nay, lets wear three layers".  God bless those poor fools when we head for a coffee or a bite to eat later.

And so to the graft.  If you've ever been part of an event, which I'm sure you have, you'll be aware that it will need some prep of some description.  This event was to take place at 6.30pm and here we were ten and half hours earlier getting ready, so there was shit loads of prep.  We were to build a circular runway for a large portable trolley that would transport the clocks from the parade.  If my memory serves me correctly these trolleys were called juggernauts, not quite sure why, in fact not quite sure if they were actually called that.  The trolley (juggernaut) would then be manoeuvred to the 'Temple of Doom' (pictured) where the wonderful creations that these children and parents, pupils and teachers had made, would be cast and set a light.
As I mentioned there were quite a few hands to the pumps, but despite the many hands there was many work. I had bought a pair of what said 'Thinsulate' gloves in Primark the day before for £2.  After a half hour they began to unwind at the thumb.  Bullshit! Also the inner lining had torn from the seam of the glove, so putting them on and taking them off was becoming a chore.  Despite the hassle though, they were doing there job and old palm and her five sisters were coping well with the subzero temperatures.  In fact,  I was beginning to regret the second layer of pantaloons, but every so often a breeze would rise up the inside leg and I'd think, with a shiver, how I'd weep if only one layer protected my knees.

Before I knew it we were all sitting round in some pleasant Kemptown eatery enjoying the coffee on offer.  I went for a regular cappuccino - generally you can't go wrong with such a choice, always check though that it's not a single shot in there, as you'll be disappointed. I do recall someone asking for a decaff latte, and it had been one of the people that I had known from a previous gig.  If I had been closer to him, I'd have reached out with a gentle hand to either ask, why? or to offer a steady hand and say "Man up and drink something worthwhile, for god-sake."  Thankfully I didn't and we remained friends.  Jobs and the plan of action were handed out to everyone and as luck would have it, a few of my jobs involved driving round Brighton laying road signs and barriers out.  Boom! Enjoy the freezing beach fools, we're gonna have the heaters blowing stinking burnt air in our faces, and its gonna be sweet.  Also, the two guys I rode around town with were a great laugh. As we left the cafe I noticed my three layered trouser friends were looking a bit flushed in the cheeks.  I'd say another 10 minutes in there and they'd have been useless to us all.  I noticed a bead of sweat on a colleagues brow, but she didn't make eye contact, no doubt her mind was elsewhere thinking of icicles, yearning for the sharp biting wind of Maderia Drive.

The van was a Choice Rental little number and if any of you have had the pleasure you'll be aware that Choice vans are shit.  They're as cheap as chips and something will always be broken.  It didn't take long to figure out that this little beauty had a broken glove box, which popped out every time the van moved or stopped or turned or wiped the windscreen.  The thing is, is that it seemed to actually choose when to pop open, no one could predict when, only the van knew when.  It literally just seemed to make the choice.  Boom boom!  Anyway we drove around wildly, parking on double lines, taking corners blind side - as if we owned the streets.  "Get out of our way we've got a dying man in the back". Of course, we merely had bits of signage, gaffe tape and the odd bit of ped barrier.  Thankfully I never got involved in the old medical rescue game, never had the stomach for it.

After a successful trip we arrived back at Maderia Drive and tried to erect a little gazebo, which should have been easy but unfortunately the last user of this gazebo must have been pissed and blind because he/she had made a pathetic attempt at packing it away.  I already feared the time when I would have to  try and put this beast back in the bag whence it came.  I am a man of maths and physics and that tent should not fit into a bag so small.  Thoughts went out to my pissed blind gazebo packer friend and wondered how they had managed to succeed in such a desperate state.  We got it up and sand bagged down.  I felt sorry for the children when I realised that this gazebo was for lost kids, I think, as a child, I rather wander the streets of Brighton than be holed up in that piece of shitty canvas.

Back at the beach things were getting interesting, Brighton's Wickerman, was taking shape and I was beginning to feel pagan and earthy.  Next job was an interesting one - we had to make fire torches and the best way to do that was to soak kitchen rolls (large torches) and toilet rolls (small torches) in petrol and tie them up in a plastic bag with some stones, as it was a windy day.  Several things concerned me here.  Firstly, that when lit, the stones would become extremely hot and in my head would be propelled several metres in the air like a DIY mortar.  Thankfully this didn't happen.  Secondly, I was about to start dipping tissue into petrol in the cold.  So I decided to keep the old gloves on for extra warmth, much against other peoples advice I must say.  I did think about the health implications of having a petrol sodden glove on all day.  So, the only way round it was to put two rubber gloves over woolly gloves.  Suddenly I realised what it was like to have a plastic hand, nevertheless, despite the limited movement, I dipped and tied with the rest of the crew, who by the way, complained that there hands were freezing.  As it turns out petrol covered hands on a chilly day equals slowly freezing digits.

When this was all done, we were bored and decided it was best to test the flaming torches.  So we set one up and set it alight.  I must emphasize that when given the chance, kitchen roll and bog roll will soak up a lot of petrol.  Each bag had a small puddle of petrol, and in which, the roll and stones sat.  Burn!  We lit one and about 5 of us stood round in wonder at man's red fire.
It was a success and burnt for ages.  We noticed that a little ring of dry stones now surrounded the fire, nice toasty stones.  So we decided to gather the warm ones up to heat our hands.  Its amazing when left in the cold, how primal a beast man really is, because when the stones eventually cooled the next logical idea was to throw them at the burning torch.  Silly I know and dangerous, but just like basketball or darts, it was great fun.  I had the good idea to introduce the old 'Sheniaganns rule', which simply means you throw more than one stone at a time.  So we chucked 5 and 6 stones at a time.  Despite the fact that we hit the fire with our dead eye throws, it just kept burning.  In fact if you go down to Maderia Drive on a clear day you can still see the flames, dancing near the water.

While we had been pissing around throwing stones like kids.  The others had been hard at it.  Building the 'Death Star', I mean the 'Temple of Doom'.  The scaffolding frame in the pic above had now been dressed to impress.  From the bars hung faces ready for the flame.  They were made from wire and covered in paper, with a multitude of faces painted on.  The centre piece was a large clock which, when ready, would count down to 'doom'.  The picture below explains it all much better than my words ever could.  You will also notice the juggernaut innocently at the bottom of the picture, making out that it would play no part in the carnage that was soon to unfold.
So as the witching hour approached I hopped in the van to shoot back into town, and although the journey was only a short one I knew my knees would be in for some rough treatment.  We arrived at New Road, laid the rest of the ped barriers out along the length of the street, so as to create a corridor for the parade.  Crowds were beginning to fill the street.  Its amazing how many people ask "Sorry, Whats going on today?" "Oh!".  So the streets were going to be closed soon and we had to try and get all cars off site.  One car remained and it was parked on one of the disabled bays, so one of the crew strolled over to see if it could vacate.  An elderly gent sat, apparently waiting for some one.  When asked if he would move he said he would, he responded "Yeah, but I have to pick my wife up, she a fuckin' cripple and works up there".  I think he was old enough to let such a term slide and he was picking her up, so he didn't seem to hold her disability against her, too much.

After sorting all those in the parade, in to position.  Everyone stood eager with a homemade mix torches of different sizes and varieties.  Most torches were battery lit as having candles so close to paper had proved dangerous in previous years.  Having said that there were a few die hards who stuck to conventional flame.  So... it was off! The bands played, the kids laughed and the torches shone.  This meant I had to clear all the buildings that had been storing equipment.  It was a time trial - we had to clear everything and drive down to Maderia Drive before the parade got there.  I  felt like Jack Bauer and for a moment vaguely important.

So after lugging and lifting we were on our way back to HQ, in old Choice.  Except this time I had to contend with the glove box and 5 gallon urn, filled with mulled wine, which smelled amazing.  I extensively looked for some sort of vessel but alas, it wasn't to be.  My driver was somewhat alarmed at the measures I was prepared to go to, to get a taste.  The van swung down Duke's Mound and we were in the home stretch, the Temple of Doom was 250m away and it looked like we had been triumphant and beaten the parade.  Having never been to the fire display I was not sure what to expect but the sight that greeted me was quite special. 

We hopped out of the van and made our way over.  There were several thousand people watching, waiting for the parade.  We pushed through the crowd made our way to a steward flashed our AAA/Crew pass, like we were fucking McNulty and Bunk entering a crime scene, and entered the pit.  There must have been 10 fire spinners and they were all surrounded by our toilet/kitchen roll infernos.  Crazy jungle music rang out from a big system that had been erected.  Normally, I don't care for such music but it worked well with the dancing and the flames.  The parade arrives.  Action stations!  I am part of the team that gets the clocks off the revelers, removing the electrics and chucking them into the juggernaut.  All clocks are then taken to the temple and thrown in.  Ready to be torched.

 Bang! It all goes up in smoke.

A really impressive show takes place.  As to be expected the temple goes up like a giant tinder box, flames leap in to the sky.  The crowds yelp and cheer.  The flames are followed by a truly eye opening firework display.  Having worked with this pyrotechnic before during Halloween, he had informed me that he likes fireworks displays to be short, but sweet.  And they were.  The final few rockets went up and let off a boom that was like a fucking sonic boom.  I'd thought Kim Jong-il had finally lost the plot and dropped the bomb.  There were five of them and each time I was caught out by the depth of the boom.

So it was and so it had been.  The show was over.  All that was left was for the crew to run around and sort, tidy, and put away the aftermath.  The crowds slowly dispersed off into to town; either to bed, pubs or graveyards to sacrifice.  Knowing that we were on the home stretch we worked are damnedest to get it packed up, always waiting for those fabulous words from the production manager, "I think we're done, lads!  Lets get a beer"

Those words came and passed, as did the beer.  So when I look to next year I'll either be down there at 8.30am wearing 3 layers of slacks or standing in the crowd with an ale.  Either way, I hope to see you there, as my words and pictures can't describe the night of pagan fire and flame.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Beauty has a name...and it is Catch!

It all starts here

So the vision came to me in a flash...the room shock, the windows shattered.  A deep booming voice pronounced - "You must blog young Kelly-boy.  The world needs to hear your rubbish.  You have much to say and a funny Northern Irish slant in which to say it.  Go forth and spread your cabblers."

So it was and so it shall be!!!