Saturday, 28 May 2016

Alcotox and Old Tom

Almost four years ago a younger, slimmer and less battle-damaged Ruari O'Toole received an email from Rum and Reviews editor Craig Heap inviting him to take part in jointly reviewing a hangover prevention pill called Alcotox. He rose to this challenge like an alcoholic Rapier missile because he's always liked a sip, has Ruari. 

Soon a night of mind-erasure took place, in which Ruari and his friend Carl got significantly drunk on a variety of beers and ciders, and which ended in Ruari being adamant (to this day, in fact) that he witnessed a human-faced cat somewhere in Cramlington's leafy Northburn estate. The next morning Ruari awoke and turned in his copy, along with beer writer Chris Hall, and the result was a great bit of journalism that led to the company that made Alcotox emailing Editor Craig and dropping this bag of ego food on our plates.

Click to expand this image of someone comparing
me and my hophead mates to Chaucer and Keats.
 It won't happen again

The Rum and Reviews days are gone now, and from what I can tell you can't even access the old website any more; it's trapped behind a big "your domain name has expired like years ago, quit living in the past" message, but a recent discussion at my day job of cats that look like people dragged me right back to that night, and to Old Tom, a strong dark ale I drank then that has a cat on the label and most likely led to either a false memory of a cat with weird little human eyes, or in fact summoned an unseelie catman from Dark Cramlington. 

Resolving to carry out the ritual again, this time prepared to travel to whichever alternate Hell Zone the cat-thing wished me to visit with it, this reporter acquired the relevant potions from Blyth Asda. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Green Devil IPA and Scarlet Macaw

On lazy wings of feather and foliage, the devil and the macaw glide through the warming air of a thawing Northumbria. For this weekend at least the shackles of winter seem thoroughly cast off.

A thirsty summer beckons, a hazy siren in aviator shades singing out to us the promise of cool beers in the blazing sun.

"... and on the cheap" she seems to sing, just as her song trails off into silence.

Two of Oakham Ales' best products, their Green Devil IPA and their Scarlet Macaw pale ale, have made it to the shelves of Home Bargains, and probably other discount shops too. Writing a book that requires you to drink alone in Newcastle a lot is tough on the wallet so with an audible yelp your correspondent, at 17:59 on a Friday night, dashed into his local bargain shop and filled his arms with these beers, to the chagrin of the staff. At £1.19 and £1.00 a bottle respectively, it would be rude not to.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Beer Matching on Free Comic Book Day

Comics and beer seem to fit well together. A single-issue comic book and a glass of beer can be paced to finish at the same time, and the massive variance in comic book art and storylines certainly matches and probably even outstrips beer in terms of variety of styles. The strong visual aspects of comic books mesh with the under-valued visual end of beer enjoyment. The amber glow of the falling sun through the glass of IPA, the thick and sturdy head of a pint of nitro stout, the filthy streets of Mega City One, the eye-gougingly violent goregasms of the post-apocalyptic world of Crossed.

That one scene where Judge Dredd punches Judge Death in the mouth and his hand goes out the other side. Yeah, that's the good stuff. All visual and all massively evocative. Gaze into the fist of Dredd. Gaze into the hazy glass of unfined ale, unpasteurised and unadulterated like Dionysus intended. 

Free Comic Book Day this year yielded a mighty haul, and with a few visits to beer shops on the way home the process of matching some of these comics to beers that complement them began in arch, lubricated, beery earnestness. I've pulled six comics out of the pile and it's time to crack open bottles and do likewise to books.