Thursday, 3 December 2015

Beer drinking on kidney dialysis

Tonight is the British Guild of Beer Writers Awards Dinner at the Park Lane Hotel, Piccadilly.

Each course of the dinner will be matched  with appropriate beers and prior to the dinner there will be a 90 minute reception when a wide variety of beers will be available  to sample.

I will be attending as I have  done on many previous years.

However this year will be slightly different.

Having recently undergone a nephrectomy ( i.e. having a kidney removed) and being now on dialysis for four hours three times a week, I now need to restrict  my liquid intake to between a half and a litre a day.  Having very little  natural kidney function left it means that any liquid I consume must be taken off during my next dialysis session. And a maximum of a litre an hour is what can normally be undertaken on dialysis.

I will therefore have to be very careful about how much beer I consume.  It is going to be sips rather than gulps.  Perhaps I could adopt a wine tasters approach and spit out the beer. after I have swirled it around my mouth to appreciate its taste, and forego the appreciation of the finish and after taste.

I'm not sure  how well that would go down.

Or I could just appreciate the appearance and aroma of the beers on offer! Just look and sniff.

In any case whoever has the pleasure of sharing a table with me tonightt is sure to benefit from the extra beers that I will not be drinking.

Having been a beer judge for many years I am also now having to consider whether I can continue. this ardurous, though pleasurable task. There would have to be more spitting out and less swallowing down if I did.

I will give it a try the next time I am able to accept an invite to judge.

I'm sure I will enjoy this evening's event aand I hope I will manage to be able  to restrict my liquid intake.  Because come 8.00 tomorrow will be the time of reckoning  when I'll discover how much liquid needs to be removed  during my dialysis session. You are weighed prior to a session. From this figure is deducted your "dry weight" and the result is the excess liquid. Every kilogram being a litre of liquid.

Perhaps as it is liquid and not alcohol that is the key here, I should switch to malt whisky instead!

Any opportunities for whisky judging out thete?

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A very pleasant surprise for beer drinkers and pub goers

I am gobsmacked!

The lobbying to scrap the beer duty escalator has worked even better than most of us could only dare to dream.

Not only has the hated inflation busting duty increase been scrapped but Georgeous George had cut a penny off beer tax for the coming year.

The last beer duty cut was in 1959 when Chancellor David Heathcote Amory cut beer tax in an effort to boost sales.

Whilst Anthony Barber did cut beer duty in 1973, this was only because he was also introducing VAT (at 10%, later reduced to 8.0%)   as  a measure when the UK joined the Common Market.

So 54 years since the last proper cut in beer tax.

In 1959 the cut in beer duty saw the average price of a pint fall from the equivalent 6.8p to 6.0p.

We have already seen that Enterprise and Timothy Taylor intend to cut beer prices in their pubs. let us hope others follow.  But more importantly hopefully more people will now use their local pub rather than stocking up with slabs of cans from the supermarket and drinking at home.

So I'm off down the pub this evening for a pint or three of real ale and toast George Osborne and more importantly the British pub , British brewers and all the people who worked so hard to persuade the Government to get off the beer duty escalator.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chancellor penalises the pub goer to placate health lobby

So the Government has decided to back away from introducing minimum alcohol unit pricing and thrown away the chance to stop below cost selling of alcohol by supermarkets.

The Government claim that they are already committed, whatever that means, to stop such predatory marketing practices by the large supermarkets who use cheap booze sales to increase footfall. Below- cost selling of alcohol is having disasterous effects on local community pubs who cannot afford to indulge in selling their beer at below cost prices.

The introduction of a minimum alcohol price, based on the true production and tax costs of alcohol, would at a stroke stop below cost selling of alcohol and level the playing field between the off and on trade.

What minimum pricing would not do is penalise the sensible pub goer; the price of a pint of beer in their local pub would not change.

But the PM has backed away from minimum pricing following pressure from his Cabinet colleagues, few of whom ever darken the doors of their local pub unless it is election time and they have to smooze their consituents to get re-elected.

So no minimum pricing. So what is the coalition Government doing instead?  Hitting the sensible drinker, and the regular pub goer in their pocket, by continuing with the excise duty escallator originally introduced by Labour. And what is worse, tomorrow if we are to believe the leaks from the Treasury, the Chancellor will slap even more duty on booze to appease the health lobby. Not only will this not stop the cheap booze sales from supermarkets but will increase still further the pressure on community pubs.
 The abandonment of minimum alcohol unit pricing,  the continuation of the duty escallator and a further increase in excise duty is a triple nail in the coffin of the community pub. And this from a Government which claims the be "pub friendly."

Dozens of back bench MPs supported the motion to scrap the duty escallator . One can only hope that tomorrow, if Chancellor Osbourne does increase alcohol duty on top of the duty escallator, they will make their feeling known to him.

The Government has seen fit to abandon the fuel duty escallator because of its effect on the sensible car driver. So why can't the sensible pub goer be given the same consideration with the ending of the beer duty escallator which not only threatens so many community pubs and jobs, but actually fails to deliver the expected extra tax revenues? I await tomorrow's Budget with trepidation.  High Noon indeed!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Ask me another

It is almost a year now since I retired from my job as Research and Information Manager at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

So what do I miss most, now that I am no longer based at CAMRA's offices ?

Well the phone calls and e-mails enquiries for one.

The enquiries came from all sorts of people about all sorts of things vaguely, directly or indirectly connected with beer, brewing and pubs.

Enquiries from students, academics, journalists, government officials and the just plain curious.

And questions ranging from

The most popular pub name in UK (The Red Lion claims author Pete Brown definitively in his book "Shakspeare's Local" with 729 bearing that name. I was never that certain what with all the pub churning and name changes, I merely said "probably The Red Lion, but The Crown was becoming more popular")

Your favourite Beer  - my answer the next one, especially if some else is buying.

through to

The issues surrounding the tied house system, how pub compnaies treat their lessees, excise duty, ingredients in beer, differecne between various beer styles, are there any good beer bars in Budapest or Helsinki.

Oft times I would be phoned by a researcher from one TV produciton compnay or another investigating whether there was scope on this or that aspect of beer and brewing. Many days or weeks later, after devoting considerable time to provide information for them the project might see the light of day and be screened, but more often it was eventually dropped. Beer stories were still not sexy enough to squeeze out stories on other supposedly interesting topics!

Then there were the requests from Radio and TV for interviews on issues such as beer prices, excise duty, pub closures, the installation of an ISDN line at the office at least curtailed the need to dash into the nearest radio studio. Only on a couple of occassions did I have the honour of having the BBC radio car sent round for my use!

But I did get the the foreign TV press and have appeared on Japanese, Chinese, Canadian, American, French TV to name but a few.

As time went on I became the first port of call for incoming phone and e-mails enquiries passed on by other members of staff. Some questions were quite a challenge to answer but I tried my best to satisfy all such seekers of knowledge and send them away reasonably happy. After all it is all good PR for the campaign.

Many times the person may have originally addressed their enquiry to one of the industry bodies such as The British Beer and Pub  Association (BBPA), previously the Brewers and Retail Licensed Association (BLRA) and previous to that The Brewers Society who for some reason did not think they should bother to answer enquiries from the general public , students etc..

There were rewards. The ackowledgements from authors of works of fact and fiction and the front of their published works  and the occassional complimentary copy was always appreciated. And normally they even spelled my name correctly.

TV and Radio soaps made approaches. And I managed to get a plug in for one of CAMRA's Campaigns. The Archers covered Community Pubs Week one time. The World Service radio soap Westway (now sadly axed) covered the Great British Beer Festival and TV Welsh language soap Pobol y Cym wanted to run a story about the local pub setting up a microbrewery in the cellar with disaterous results. I don't know if the story ever made it onto to the small screen. Welsh TV is not normally amongst my usual viewing.

Now almost a year on, when my home phone rings, rather than a seeker after some tidbit of knowledge about the brewing industry, it is someone trying to help me recover money on miss-sold PPI, sell me double glazing or loft insulation or someone from Mumbai wanting me to swap my mobile phone or gas supplier.   

Occasionally however there may be a request from the local radio station for an interview or the local free sheet following up a story on pub closures. So that's almost like being back at work. Its all very nice but I miss the more challenging enquiries that I used to get.

I wonder if they are missing me back at CAMRA HQ.

On the plus side I now have more time to indulge in more practical beer research so am off to the Derby Beer Winter Festival on Wednesday to do some beer judging.


Iain R Loe
18th February 2013