Since the disastrous house infection cost me two fermentors and huge quantities of beer, I have cooked up four batches to fill those sad empty cornelius kegs. Hops Sweepings Ale, Tettnanger Blond and Cascarillo Pale Ale are all in kegs now and, with the exception of a clearing issue with Hops Sweepings Ale, everything went without a hitch. The fourth beer, a creation of wheat and rye, using the new SafBrew WB-06 wheat beer strain of yeast, resulted in one of the worst brew days I have ever had.
For the second year, members of Irish Craft Brewer attending the Easter Beer Festival at The Franciscan Well in Cork selected their favourites from among the Irish craft beers exhibited. (Results for 2007 are here.)
The contenders included cask beers from Carlow, Franciscan Well, Hilden, Hooker and White Gypsy (Messrs Maguire). All brought keg beers too, as did UCC Pilot Brewery and The Porterhouse. Whitewater were represented in bottled form only, and other bottled contenders included White Gypsy's Black Pearl and O'Hara's Celebration from Carlow, both stouts.
What could that be? Dump beer down the drain.
I, like many others in Ireland, ferment in plastic. The convenient and cheap polypropylene bucket is the workhorse of amateur brewing in the UK and Ireland. We know there are drawbacks and have been told all about scratches in the seemingly smooth surface giving nasties places to hide but how serious can the risk really be? We have all tasted first class beers fermented in plastic. I have even heard of commercial microbreweries using polypropylene fermentors, so maybe the risk is a bit overstated. Well, I can now tell you, from bitter personal experience, that the risk is very real.
Should you consider flying 12 hours non-stop from Dublin to Cape Town (longer in-direct) just to try a few beers? Definitely not! This is no London, Prague, or Bruges. This is SAB Miller country and what you are going to find in 99% of establishments is stuff of the yellow p**s variety, Castle Lager, Hansa pils, Black Label (Carling), Miller, if you're lucky Pilsner Urquell.
Should you consider travel to South Africa for just about any other reason? Definitely yes. The people are hugely warm, welcoming and friendly. There is something for everyone, Mediterranean climate, fantastic beaches, stunning mountain and desert scenery, vibrant cities. Then there is of course the animal life.
It is not a country without problems. A large amount of South Africans live in terrible poverty, while others live in European style luxury. There is crime but it is unlikely to affect tourists -- should you be unlucky it is usually only petty theft. AIDS is another big difficulty causing life expectancy in some of the townships to be as low as 42 years. However, there is a feeling that the country has moved on from its disturbing history and is working together for a better future. This hopefully can be achieved especially with a little help. This is what took me there with the Niall Mellon Township trust
Successive Irish governments have attempted to curb alcohol consumption by artificially inflating the price with alcohol duty. The logic behind this approach is that people tend to buy less of any commodity if the price increases. The recent recommendation, by the HSE to increase alcohol duty is perfectly in line with this logic and they point to the drops in per capita alcohol consumption, in 2002 and 2003, as proof that this works, because those years also saw a rise in alcohol duty on Cider and Spirits respectively.
On the face of it, this would seem like a reasonable conclusion to draw, but if we look at the figures in a little more detail, it soon becomes apparent that the situation is more complex than that.