kegs with legs…

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A little light [beer] relief in a week we find our nation in a state of flux, one consistent beverage we can all rely on is a fine craft ale.

The recent phenomena and the dearth of micro brewers and privately / co-op managed ale houses is a good thing in my mind. The seasonality and historical regional flavours offers any visitor to the area an option to choose something made locally, with care and attention.

With the thousands of imaginatively named IPAs, stouts, amber ales and porters to choose from in my area of the country, it is often a challenge to find something that sticks out for the duration of the time at the bar or in a local bottle shop. This also is a good thing, long gone are the days of bland, insipid mass production brown liquid, offering only a guaranteed hang over from hell the next day, mainly due to all the additives and preservatives. Thankfully no more terrible TV ads for hooligan Lager full of cliches and less than clever macho strap lines.

Living in the convergence of both Manchester and Sheffield’s commuter belt, bordering the Peak District National Park, one would be happy to know we have dozens of local brewers hard at work each day making and mashing their delectable brews.

Having a small brewery on one’s doorstep is yet another reason to support local businesses that serve us with something so much more than the ambivalence we expect from many of the inner city hipster bars.

It is quite evident that these stalwarts of single mindedness, mavericks, revolutionaries and masters of individuality are the future of our brewing industry and with the current shenanigans in Westminster, exporting our wares will start to prop up the economy as much as our fading bars.

If you find yourself in the Peak District this year, make time to enjoy the new line of ales from Whaley Bridge Brewery, the innovative methods Mike (Master Brewer extraordinaire) explores with the finest hops and the excellent clear waters of the Peak combine to produce a very irresistible result.

You will be first attracted by the creatively designed packaging and labels, a nod to a much more contemporary rather than hairy eared trad design. Each beer is named after an area of this historical town and each offer a completely different flavour and gravity.

The two new ones to the growing collection are Crow Hill and Mount Famine. Crow Hill being a very fine American Amber Ale, offering an explosion of caramel maltiness, refreshing citrus fruits and the bitterness from the excellent hops Mike doesn’t scrimp on. So if its the hell or high watermelon you like in a lovingly crafted beer, using a combination of alchemy, science and experience, this newcomer to the market is for you. This ale is one for a lazy summer evening, swallows darting over head, enjoying the fading summer sun after a great day on the hill.

Mount Famine is a totally different brew – a little more lively ale that offers an instant hit of Tropical Fruits – including Passion Fruit (how he does this is beyond a laymen such as me) and more robust bitter notes, this triple hopped beer offers an excellent session ale for any occasion. I found to my delight it was a fine accompaniment to some Stilton and a borderline offensively ripe Brie.

They join the WBB family and can be found in a growing number of ale houses and pubs in the region.

Recently as this week, you can find all four of the collection in 500ml bottles at the National Trust Eyam Hall courtyard, The Eyam Real Ale Company, right next door to the Hartington Cheese Shop, to anyone living in the area and knowing the latter – a perfect match I am sure you will agree.

Goyt Wines in Whaley Bridge, The Tickled Trout, Barlow near Chesterfield, and as of yesterday, the Beer Dock in Crewe and Barley Hops in Congleton, Cheshire. With a pending launch event, the newest ale shop to populate the High Peak, Beer District in Buxton (4a Colonnade, Buxton) will be opening the first week of July, starring amongst others, the four Whaley Bridge Beers. Once they get the shop fitting complete, they will be offering a growing number of excellent beers and ciders to discerning locals and visitors to the Spa Town.

I would expect to see this collection of delightful beers in an ale house near you quite soon.

Remember, it is people like Mike that make the world a better place, a happier place, and for every pint of Carling not sold this week, we can all applaud those who get up at the crack of sparrows each day to pint-by-pint remove this despicable drink from our pubs and replace it with something made from simple ingredients, not stakeholder pension plans. Life is far too short to drink cheap beer.

If you have an event or wedding looming in the Peak District, do your bit to support a local trade and give Mike a call.

Cheers!

Drink responsibly.

Ian.

defiance

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Culture is defined as “a set of attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviours shared by a group of people, communicated from one generation to the next via language or some other means of communication” (Tanaka Matsumi).

Hate is a four-letter word, a four-letter word that means the same thing across the globe. In every culture, you will find hate against one thing or another. There are in-groups and out-groups, the in-groups are accepted while the out-groups are targeted for attack. Openly known and publicised Hate Groups in the United States have risen at epidemic rates in the past 16 years. In the year, 2000 there were 602 hate groups openly operating in the United States; in 2012 – 1018 hate groups, and 1274 anti-government groups that they claim were formed because of a hatred against President Obama, “because he is Black”.

In a nation where culture is supposed to converge and become a melting pot of social mobility and the American experiment of multiculturalism, hate is growing more and more each day. Hate is an attitude and belief passed down from each generation, powered by media soundbites steered by people similar to the melted Ken Doll of extreme capitalism, those who precede and currently support this conservative and ultra right wing attitude, and Trump himself. Understanding the culture of hate can lead to social policy and intervention, similarly it can combat hate and the epidemic of hate groups. Understanding if hate and the reasons why people join such groups is cross cultural and leads to generic intervention programs that stretch across culture and across societies spanning the planet, ultimately making better places for everyone to move without fear and social imprisonment.

Whether the hatred is between Palestinians and Jews, Japanese and Chinese, Neo-facist groups and pretty much anyone who doesn’t have white skin (and were not born in their nation), hatred is a cancer that eats the very soul of any culture. Culture is defined as a group of people with a common background, religious belief, ideology and behaviour…so why is it that in a decade where we have successfully sent machinery to Mars, discovered new methods of prolonging life, filtering the toxins from our seas, harnessing energy from the sun, wind and the waves; the hundreds of applications to Graphene and that a growing number of us have enough data stored in our phones to fill the Bodleian Library, we as a race of humans still cannot get past the dogma of religious and media filed hate against each other? Just because some men enjoy the company of other men, some women enjoy the company of other women and those who look forward to finally having the body match the mind of the gender they find happiness in.

At what point do we as a “culture” turn the other way when groups of British Passport owning men stripped to the waist cultivate pitch battles with other nations over a ball sport, because their fathers and older brothers did it in the 1980s and 90s; or stand by the ones who have free will and encouragement to enter into a building and kill with mindful intent and accuracy? At what point are we as a planet going to wake up and stop trying to deal with things we cannot accomplish and invest more in education, science and love. Education makes us more powerful than any politician, Science allows us to live longer and live a richer, more creative life and not give a hoot about religious doctrine. And love? Love can make us all much better people. Love makes us happy.

My thoughts are with the family and friends of the ones who lost their lives in Orlando the other night. I was less than a mile away from the Admiral Duncan in 1999 on that fateful evening in London. When criminal acts such as this are cited against religious groups it is something even our political spinners use to sway the public consciousness, even as far as effecting our boarder controls and fuel prices – yet when people of all secular and religious beliefs come together to celebrate their own social lives, on their terms, with their friends, and then have them cut down because they are gay is still [in 2016], it appears a forgettable crime, a difficult to understand act because one’s sexual orientation appears to be the business and control of others and still kept in the realms to hate by a growing number of people.

A reported 4000 people attended a moment of reflection in London yesterday, this vigil was part of a global response to these 49 lives lost. Within minutes of this significant show of solidarity 15 other countries publicised their support – including Israel, Afghanistan and Qatar. So, linking this atrocity to anything other than hate is an act of a fool.