A “Small” Victory

It is a small victory for the tipplers and bar owners of this state. Basically admitting that their hurriedly-declared liquor policy is a big FAILURE, the government has decided to scrap dry days on Sundays and allow conversion of 418 bars, that were closed down, as beer and wine parlours. With the changes announced on Thursday, all the 730 bar hotels in the state will remain operational provided the hygienic standards are met. A special Cabinet meeting on Thursday also decided to reduce the total working hours of bars by two-and-a-half hours per day from 15 hours to 12.5 hours.

“On the condition that all existing employees should be reinstated, all the hygienic bars operated till March 31, 2014, will be given beer, wine parlour licenses. Since they had operational sanction till then, licenses would be considered in-continuation with those licenses,” the Chief Minister said. A decision was also taken to close down 16 outlets along the National and State Highways by January 1, 2015.

Changes are being brought in based on the reports submitted by Labour and Tourism Secretaries on the impact of the liquor policy and issues related to job loss of employees and setback in the tourism sector. “There are no changes from the earlier decision not to grant bar licenses to three and four star hotels. Decision on licenses to five-star and above would continue,” he said. Based on the HC observations, the Cabinet also decided to close down 10 pc of the total outlets – Bevco and Consumerfed – operating along the National and State Highways.

Two & Three Star Bars Get 1 Month Reprive

In a major relief to two-star and three-star bar owners, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday held that status quo order obtained by them from Supreme Court against the closure of bars would be valid for a period of one more month. With the High Court order, the bars will remain open for a month from Friday evening. The Bench, which observed that the appeals merit a deeper examination, held that the order issued by Supreme Court directing the state to maintain status quo in the implementation of the abkari policy needs to be preserved for the time being, pending consideration of the appeal. On the observation by the Single Bench that the hotels with classification of four-star and above are not frequented by youth, students or the less affluent sections of the society, the Division Bench said that “it does not agree with this proposition. The rich man alone behaves properly and the poor will not, is against the mandate of the Constitution of India and the will of our country”.

The relief was given by Bench comprising Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Justice Babu Mathew P Joseph while considering the appeals filed by the bar owners seeking to quash the Single Bench order which granted permission to function hotels having four and five star and heritage categories. The state will file an appeal on Tuesday against the Single Bench order directing to grant licence to four-star hotels. The bars cannot function for the next two days. Hence, there was no need for an interim order and the court can consider it on Tuesday, the counsel for the state argued.

Kerala Bars To Be Restricted To Heritage, 4 & 5 Star Hotels

In a much awaited decision, the Kerala High Court on Thursday granted partial clearance to the new abkari policy of the Kerala government, paving the way for the closure of all 2 star & 3 star bars in the state. It however allowed bars attached to four-star and heritage category hotels in the state to function. Justice K Surendra Mohan held that “the abkari policy, to the extent, it excludes hotels having four-star and heritage category hotels from the eligibility to be granted FL-3 licences under the Foreign Liquor Rules (FLR), is set aside, being arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. The consequential amendments to the FLR as well as the proceedings of the Excise Commissioner cancelling the licences of such hotels are also set aside.” The Bench also dismissed a petition filed by the bar owners an hour after the judgment seeking permission to allow them to function for two weeks. The court observed that the apex court had already permitted the bar owners to function till the High Court passes an order so there is no need to further extend the order.

Since the fate of both two and three-star hotels has been concluded by the Supreme Court in the Surendra Das case, the challenge against the exclusion can no longer survive. However, in the case of hotels with four star and heritage classification, there was absolutely no material to justify a conclusion that there were any complaints with respect to their functioning. The state submitted that it was decided that no new licences for three-star hotels would be permitted from March 31, 2012 onwards. It was its avowed policy to reduce liquor consumption in the state stage by stage and to achieve the goal of total prohibition within a 10-year span, the state submitted. As many as 250 bars will be shut down today as per the order in this regard.

Faced with the prospect of the immediate shutdown of their bar operations, three-star hotels in the state are likely to apply for four-star or five-star licences to stay in business. Following the Kerala High Court verdict on Thursday, only four-star, five-star and heritage restaurants could continue with their bar operations in the state. “There are about 262 three-star restaurants. Most, if not all, would apply for a four-star licence as there are only small differences between the two categories,” said Biju Ramesh, working president of the Kerala Bar Hotel Association. According to industry officials, the room size, bath room size prescribed by the Hotel & Restaurant Approval and Classification Committee India for both three-star and four-star restaurants are the same. The only major difference is in the air-conditoning facilities offered. While the rules prescribe air-conditioning facilities for common areas and passage ways for four-stars, these are not required for three-star restaurants.

“Air-conditioning facilities for common areas are not a big problem. To save their investments, bar owners would apply for four-star category licences,” said Ramesh. Jose Dominic, CEO of CGH Earth Group, said the group’s two resorts – the Brunton Boatyard and Marari Beach – are currently in the three-star category though the facilities are of the five-star level. “We would go for a five-star licence due to the new liquor policy,” Dominic said. They need to begin the process from the scratch. There could be new educational institutions or religious establishments that have come up within the prescribed limit from the time they first got the licence. The three-star hotels may first apply for a beer-and-wine parlour licence, which is allowed now under the rules.

Beer & Chinese Food With Anil & Madhu

A year later we meet again – Madhu was back in India on a month’s vacation and he treated Anil & myself for dinner & drinks last night. Actually he had just reached Cochin early yesterday morning and took a long sleep and then called us up. I knew he was reaching Cochin early and thought he’d need some time to spend with his family and was surprised to get a call from Madhu at 6pm asking me to get ready by 7pm. Anil would pick him up on his scooter and meet me in the city.

So I changed my clothes and got ready and met them outside Center Mall but we ended up not going in there. Instead we debated and decide to go to Couchyn for some beer. So we enjoyed an hour or 90 minutes there drinking a few beers and some peanuts and also shared half a plate of chicken tikka. Couchyn, which is now one of the only few bars left open that we can go to, started filling up and by 8pm it was quite crowded, which is odd for a Tuesday night.

After what felt like a quick 90 minutes we left and then was debating where to go for dinner. We finally decided to go for some Chinese and after listing out the list of places decides to walk the 10 minutes to Chinese Garden in nearby Pallimukku. We had some hot n sour chicken soup, shared some noodles & fried rice with dragon chicken, shrimp manchurian and some other shrimp stuff that I cannot recall this morning! It was all good. It started raining a lot by 9pm and we were lucky that it started dying out by the time we finished dinner.

By around 10 pm we walked back to Couchyn because that’s where Anil had left his scooter. We stopped so that they could have a smoke (which is rare for them and I don’t smoke at all) and then I caught an auto to come back home. I was in my room, dressed in my night clothes by 10:30pm and watched some Fraiser till I fell asleep.

Drink Of Choice :_(

Captain Picard was into Earl Grey tea; mention the Dude and we think: White Russians. What’s your signature beverage — and how did it achieve that status?

Funny that this should be the prompt for today, funny and ironic (read the previous post about the impending liquor band in my home state) but I am hit with a great deal of sadness and anger as I type this.

Not counting beer, I used to be a rum + coke guy. From the age of 19 when I first tried it out till probably the age of 27. That’s what I drank when I was at a bar either by myself or with friends. For 3.5 years I used to go to this bar in Edapally called Kairali and have a beer, some peanuts, some beef and porottas  and 3 rum + Coke with plenty of ice. I really liked rum and my favourite brands was Old Monk.

By the time I turned 27 I had already tried a few vodkas and I loved the taste of vodka on ice with a liberal splash of Sprite. That soon became my drink of choice and other than beer and the occasional brandy + coke or whiskey + coke, I would mostly drink vodka + sprite. The only other thing that I really liked was the odd Long Island Ice Tea which is kinda expensive and so I would rarely drink them.

So that’s my drink. No idea for how long I will be able to drink this anymore because of this stupid fucking ban. I may have to move states or even countries to drink now!

Prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress.com.

Kerala Moves Towards Total Alcohol Ban

It’s official. Kerala just became a shitty state to live in! In a big “fuck you” to nearly half the male population, this happened:

From newspapers: In a swift action, a day after Congress-led ruling UDF recommended shutting down over 700 liquor bars attached to hotels below the five-star categories, the Kerala Government on Friday approved the new liquor policy and also imposed a five per cent cess on liquor. Announcing the decision at a press conference on Friday, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the Cabinet would formally ratify the decision in its next meeting. On another UDF proposal to declare all Sundays as dry days apart from the existing dry days, which include the first day of every month, he said.The Sunday Dry day would commence from October 2 next year. The five per cent cess on liquor sold through Beverages Corporation outlets would be used to set up a Fund for rehabilitation of employees who lose jobs due to closing down of the bars and for creating awareness against liquor among the people, Chandy said.

A total of 418 bars already remained closed, and the other 312 bars also would be closed this financial year, he said. Stating that the new liquor policy was a final phase to achieve UDF’s goal of taking the state to total prohibition in ten years, he said government had received legal advise that the now functioning 312 bars also could be closed during the financial year itself after completing certain financial formalities on licence fees. The new liquor policy makes it clear that only five-star hotels will have bars to sell Indian Made Foreign Liquor. The decision, taken by the UDF leadership meeting Presided by Chandy, ended a long-drawn feud in the state unit of the Congress and the coalition as a whole over the question of renewing licences of 418 bars which were found to be lacking in quality.

On UDF recommendation of phasing out Beverages Corporation outlets, Chandy said ten per cent outlets would be closed down every year to wipe out them in 10 years and this would come to around 39 shops per year. Chandy also said new liquor policy was a unanimous decision of the UDF and has the support of all sections in the society. Meanwhile, KPCC President V M Sudheeran, who had stood firmly against renewing licences to 418 bars, gave full support to the government in its new policy. After the ban on arrack by the then A K Antony Ministry two decades ago, this move has been seen as of a major initiative to make Kerala ‘a total liquor free state.

Meanwhile, State Finance Minister K M Mani put the total revenue loss on various counts due to the new liquor restrictions at Rs.1,813 crores. In coming years, the revenue loss would be much more than this, he added. The government was expected to earn Rs.250 crore on the five per cent cess on liquor for setting up the Fund for rehabilitation of workers in bars and anti-liquor campaign. To close down the now functioning 312 bars, an amount of Rs.39 crore was required to repay their licence fees, he said.

If I could get outta this place, I would and never come back!

How I Spent My Birthday Today

Well that was a good birthday celebration, in my quiet style. I made plans to meet my cousin Sujith at 12pm at Couchyn lounge bar. This morning was cold & chilly due to the non-stop rain that started yesterday morning. Even 2 cups of hot coffee refused to warm me up. After that I was online till 10:30 am and then took a bath in warm water and shaved before I got ready. I bared the heavy rains and hailed an auto to take me to Couchyn which is next to the Grand Hotel. Sujith was waiting for me there and we went in to order beer.

I haven’t had much to drink since August of last year. I went out in October then I had 2 beers with Anil in January and 2 beers with Sujith back in April. This time we had 2 beers each – 1 Carlsberg and 1 King Fisher blue each – and tucked in to small grilled chicken sandwiches at the bar. We were there for 2 hours and then headed to Center Mall near Shenoys for some sight seeing and more food. There were lot of hot looking young women in the mall.

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There is a lot of stalls that you can choose to eat from at the big food court in the mall but in the end we decided to get some subs from Subway and so went one floor down to the outlet that they have in the mall. He had a turkey sub while I had the Italian BMT sub (lamb pepperoni, lamb salami & chicken ham) and coke to wash it down. After an hour we had chocolate fudge sundaes (which were excellent) from an ice cream,shake & juice stall in the food court.

Half way through Ranjith happened to be passing by so he joined us for another hour after which Sujith & I went to see the new IT store dealing with Apple products. Then it was goodbye and I slowly made my way back home. It’s still cold but I am happy that I got to spend it having some fun.

A Blessing For The Tipplers In Kerala

I wonder why it took me soooooo long to write about this as the event took place with effect on the 1st of April, 2014 (the beginning of the financial year). I only wrote a post in May about the temporary (hopefully) closure of one of them. Anyways, as per the ruling at took place earlier in the year, and that has been bubbling for a long time, and the new liquor policy in the state all bars that did not have a 3 star rating in the state of Kerala were not allowed to renew their license to serve alcohol and some which were found to be lacking were denied their licenses and hence around 418 bars in the state closed their doors – some forever and some hoping to reopen once they could improve on facilities and get their licenses renewed. 418! Which meant almost all of my favourite & affordable bars (Oberois on MG Road, Velocity near High Court, Malabar House in Convent Junction and Karthika Regency’s Kairali Bar in Edapally) have been closed since April 1st!

Since last October I’ve had alcohol exactly 3 times – on New Year’s eve and 2 beers each with a cousin and a friend and so I haven’t actually been to one of those bars (the beers I had on both occasions were at a family style restaurant that also serves alcohol) since October – this hasn’t really affected me as of yet! Due to financial situations I had chosen to avoid drinking as a personal decision until I get a full time proper & well paying job. But yes this decision did anger me a lot as this is purely pandering to the section of society that wants to get rid of alcohol drinking because one section of society drinks too much and abuses their wives/families and use most of their money for drinking. Those idiots ruin it for the majority of us who just want a few drinks with some good food in the company of friends once or twice a week. So now because of this, I or others like me have to shell out a lot more money if we want to drink in a more expensive bar or hotel. Or ofcourse go stand in the large queues at the BevCo outlets and buy the bottles and come home and drink them. However a good news has happened yesterday.

The State Human Rights Commission has ordered the closure of all open bars that do not have two-star facilities. Additionally, the Commission has ordered that 2-star level bars among the 418 closed bars should be allowed to operate. Commission chairman Justice J B Koshy further asked the government to roll out its liquor policy at the earliest. The Commission noted that there was discrimination in the allocation of licences to the bars and said this should be avoided. Which  means all the good ones will be allowed to reopen their doors. Which means probably Velocity, Malabar House & Oberois will be allowed to open. I am not sure about Kairali – it seems good enough! Oh well, 3 outta 4 is not so bad. Let it happen!

Beer Types – Dunkel

Dunkel, or Dunkles, is a word used for several types of dark German lager. Dunkel is the German word meaning dark, and dunkel beers typically range in colour from amber to dark reddish brown. They are characterized by their smooth malty flavour. In informal terms, such as when ordering at a bar, “dunkel” is likely to mean whatever dark beer the bar has on tap, or sells most of; in much of north and western Germany, especially near Düsseldorf, this may be altbier. In Bavaria, Dunkel, along with helles, is a traditional style brewed in Munich and popular throughout Bavaria. With alcohol concentrations of 4.5% to 6% by volume, dunkels are weaker than Doppelbocks, another traditional dark Bavarian beer. Dunkels are produced using Munich malts which give the Dunkel its colour. Other malts or flavours may also be added.

Many dunkels have a distinctive malty flavour that comes from a special brewing technique called decoction mashing. Most commonly, dunkel beers are dark lagers, but the term is also used to refer to dark wheat beers such as Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse Dunkel. Dunkel weizen is another term used to refer to dark wheat beers, which are fruity and sweet with more dark, roasted malts than their lighter counterpart, the hefeweizen.

Dunkels were the original style of the Bavarian villages and countryside, and it was the most common style at the time of the introduction of the Reinheitsgebot (1516). As such, it is the first “fully codified and regulated” beer. Its ABV is rarely higher than 5.5%, and it has low bitterness, a distinctive dark color, and a malty flavor. Dunkel is brewed using lager yeasts. Lighter-coloured lagers were not common until the later part of the 19th century when technological advances made them easier to produce.

Dunkel is also widespread in parts of Franconia, for example the Franconian Switzerland, where it has been originally the most common beer type. The region has a lot of microbreweries, of which many still produce Dunkel. Examples of Dunkel style beers are Erdinger Dunkel (shown here), Paulaner Original Münchner Dunkel, Spaten München Dunkel, Warsteiner Premium Dunkel & Weihenstephaner Tradition Bayrisch Dunkel.

RIP Velocity Bar

A few days ago I came to know that due to the bar license issues, one of my favourite bars & preferred watering hole for 6 years, Velocity Bar (otherwise known as my temple or Velocity shetram), has closed their doors. The Kerala government refused to renew the license for over 400 bars in the state due to the fact that they did not meet required standards as per the directions of Supreme Court and the recommendations of the Justice Ramachandran Committee, which studies the issues of bars in the state.Though the family style restaurant is still open it looks unlikely that Velocity will open up again. I haven’t been to a bar in months and only have had a few beers at a family restaurant twice since October.

But I will miss the nice bar with it’s nice posters (they have some movie posters on another wall) good eats and drinks.

I first went to Velocity back in February of 2007 and since then Velocity was my bar of choice – okay prices, near to my apartment, flat screen tv, clean & nice couches/booths – ever since. I haven’t been going for the past few months (since August/September of last year) – maybe that’s why they actually closed. I do hope that things can be sorted out and they will get to reopen next year. If not then, I raise my glass to you. Thanks for all the memories.

Crystal Head Vodka

I’m a vodka guy. Other than beer, the poison of my choice is definitely vodka. I like to drink my vodka with a generous splash of either Sprite or 7up and lots of ice. I like it cold. I love plain vodka and flavoured vodka. Hmmm, green apple vodka is so delicious. I love skullheads. Who does’t like a cool skullhead design, right? I’m always into skullhead tattoo designs. And who doesn’t love crystal? I admire nicely designed crystal pieces which I’d want to showcase in shelves in my house. And I like Dan Akyroyd a lot. The guy is funny and talented and he has been in several roles in the movies that I love over the years. Dan is an awesome guy. What happens when you combine all of this stuff together?

You get Crystal Head Vodka!

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Crystal Head Vodka is an additive-free vodka manufactured by Globefill Inc. in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It was conceived of and founded by actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander in 2007. The vodka is quadruple-distilled and seven times filtered, the final 3 filtrations through Herkimer diamond crystals. It is additive-free, gluten-free, and kosher certified. The product is packaged in a cardboard box, sold in a clear glass bottle in the shape of a human skull that has a wooden bottle closure. The bottle was designed by artist John Alexander and is manufactured by Milan-based glass-manufacturer Bruni Glass. Crystal Head has won numerous awards, including a Gold Medal for Excellent Taste at the 2013 Moscow ProdExpo Internation Tasting Contest, as well as a Double Gold Medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

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I recently became aware of it while watching Top Chef videos on Youtube and on one of the Top Chef Canada episodes, Akyroyd and his vodka were featured – him as a guest judge and the vodka to be one of the ingredients in the food. I checked and it is available in India at various prices ranging from Rs.10,000 to Rs.7000!

Powdered Alcohol

They’ve finally done it. Instant alcohol, in a powdered form. Alcohol is primarily known as a liquid, but it can also be whipped, solidified, and practically vaporized. But a new product is out in the US markets after getting the necessary approvals – Palcohol! Powdered Alcohol. No, I’m not making this shit up!

Alcohol powder is a molecular encapsulated alcohol that produces an alcoholic drink or meal when mixed with water. Because alcohol can be absorbed in a sugar derivate, it can be delivered as a powder and/or packed into capsules. Last week, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) okayed seven versions of Palcohol, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan flavors. But since gaining approval, the Arizona-based firm, called Lipsmark LLC, has removed its description of the product from its website.

Here’s how Palcohol was being touted: What’s worse than going to a concert, sporting event, etc. and having to pay $10, $15, $20 for a mixed drink with tax and tip. Are you kidding me?! Take Palcohol into the venue and enjoy a mixed drink for a fraction of the cost. We’ve been talking about drinks so far. But we have found adding Palcohol to food is so much fun. Sprinkle Palcohol on almost any dish and give it an extra kick. Some of our favorites are the Kamikaze in guacamole, Rum on a BBQ sandwich, Cosmo on a salad and Vodka on eggs in the morning to start your day off right. Experiment. Palcohol is great on so many foods. Remember, you have to add Palcohol AFTER a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it…and that defeats the whole purpose. 

It is not a new concept though. Similar products already exist in Germany (Subyou) and the Netherlands (Booz2go). Powdered alcohol has even been sold in the U.S. before, the subject of several patents. So the next time you go to a supermarket you buy milk powder, coffee powder, orange juice powder and ta da – alcohol powder aka Palcohol!

Beer Types – Pumpkin Ale

Often released as a fall seasonal, Pumpkin Ales are quite varied. Some brewers opt to add hand-cut pumpkins and drop them in the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. These beers also tend to be spiced with pumpkin pie spices, like: ground ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice. Pumpkin Ales are typically mild, with little to no bitterness, a malty backbone, with some spice often taking the lead. Many will contain a starchy, slightly thick-ish, mouthfeel too. In our opinion, best versions use real pumpkin, while roasting the pumpkin can also add tremendous depth of character for even better results, though both methods are time-consuming and tend to drive brewmasters insane.

The character of the particular spices, herbs and/or vegetables (SHV) should be noticeable in the aroma; however, note that some SHV (e.g., ginger, cinnamon) have stronger aromas and are more distinctive than others (e.g., some vegetables)—allow for a range of SHV character and intensity from subtle to aggressive. The individual character of the SHV(s) may not always be identifiable when used in combination. The SHV character should be pleasant and supportive, not artificial and overpowering. As with all specialty beers, a proper SHV beer should be a harmonious balance of the featured SHV(s) with the underlying beer style. Aroma hops, yeast by-products and malt components of the underlying beer may not be as noticeable when SHV are present. Appearance should be appropriate to the base beer being presented and will vary depending on the base beer. For lighter-colored beers with spices, herbs or vegetables that exhibit distinctive colors, the colors may be noticeable in the beer and possibly the head.

As with aroma, the distinctive flavor character associated with the particular SHV(s) should be noticeable, and may range in intensity from subtle to aggressive. The individual character of the SHV(s) may not always be identifiable when used in combination. The balance of SHV with the underlying beer is vital, and the SHV character should not be so artificial and/or overpowering as to overwhelm the beer. Hop bitterness, flavor, malt flavors, alcohol content, and fermentation by-products, such as esters or diacetyl, should be appropriate to the base beer and be harmonious and balanced with the distinctive SHV flavors present.

Buffet Lunch With My Buddy Anil

I hadn’t seen my buddy Anil since October of 2013. I wanted to get together with him in December but with my injured foot I just couldn’t go out. Today out of the blue he wants to meet for lunch and called me at around 10:30 am to fix up a meeting. I said sure, I wasn’t doing anything so I could go and spend a few hours.

we met at around 11:30 at Menaka and walked across to Bay Pride Mall for coffee at the Abad Food Court (one of our favourite places to sit and chat over a cold drink or two). After a long chat, the place started getting crowded, so we went to the walkway and found a nice bench next to a shady tree and sat there for a while as we talked about recent stuff in both our lives.

By around 1:30 pm we were hungry and we looked around for a good place to have lunch that also served beer. We went over to Hotel SeaLord (a place where I’ve been to twice before but never had anything other than some beer and fish fingers) and found out that they also have a buffet. So we ordered a couple of Kingfisher Premium lagers and munched on some peanuts before going to try the buffet.

The buffet was reasonably priced at Rs.199 per head (most places have ridiculous prices) and so we went to try some food. The salad (with some kind of dressing that was really good) was delicious as were the honey glazed potato fries. The chicken was disappointing.

For round two we had rice (he had plain white rice while I had the disappointing, bland and a little cold vegetable pulao), poppadom and this time they had changed the chicken dish and it was a lot better with fish and some more of the potatoes. Overall it was ok, not much of a recommend from me. by 4:45 pm I was back at home.

The World’s End

The World’s End is a 2013 British science fiction comedy directed by Edgar Wright, written by Wright and Simon Pegg, and starring Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, and Eddie Marsan with Rosamund Pike & Pierce Brosnan.  It is the third and final film in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, following Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). The title is an allusion to both the holocaust that happens at the end of the movie as well as the name of a pub establishment which is the final destination for a group of friends on a pub crawl.

Gary King is a recovering drug addict who has never really left his glory days of high school behind him and is the only one of his friends who hasn’t moved on and gone onto to successful jobs and family life. He tracks down his former best friends, who he hasn’t seen in 20 years, to take them on a trip back to their hometown of Newton Haven (none of them have lived there for a long time) and complete the “Golden Mile”, a pub crawl encompassing 12 pubs in the town’s limits. After their high school was over they had attempted it but two of them had dropped out mid way and the remaining 3 had to skip the final 3 pubs on the list when daylight hit. Gary persuades Peter Page, Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain, Steven Prince, and Andy Knightley to join him in Newton Haven. Once they reach there they find that, although the town hasn’t changed much, no one recognizes them, even though the 5 of them knows a lot of the town folk. So they start off and drink a pint each in the first 3 pubs, briefly joined by Oliver’s sister Samantha, over whose affections Gary and Steven had previously rivalled.

In the toilet of the 4th pub Gary gets into a fight with a teenager and when he pushes him against the urinal, the boy’s head breaks off revealing him to be a robot with blue ink instead of blood! He is joined by the other 4 and while they stand in shock 4 more youths enter the bar, all robots, and fight the friends. After the fight Andy, who had only drunk water till now being a teetotaler, downs a few shots. Unaware of how many people in the pub are robots, they decided to complete the crawl and leave town so as not to bring attention to themselves. Several pubs later, the group runs into Sam again and Gary warns her of the robot invasion. Although she doesn’t believe them, Gary saves her from two robots impersonating her friends. At one of the pubs, The Mermaid, there is a high school dance fest, attractive girl robots try and seduce the men to steal their DNA and create their duplicate robots. Sam’s childhood crush Adrian appears, she panics and drags the others from the pub, explaining that Adrian had died in a motorcycle crash years previously. At the next pub, Gary’s favourite teacher, Guy Sheppard (Brosnan) tries to convince them to accept their fate and be replaced by robots. This is when Andy, noticing that a birthmark that Oliver had removed on his head has now appeared, meaning he has been replaced with a robot, attacks and crushes his head. A fight breaks out, and the group scatters as Gary convinces Sam to leave in her car.

The remaining 4 friends reunite but accuse each other of being replaced by robots and have to convince each other that they are human. As the robots reach them, they capture Peter. Despite this, Gary is determined to finish the pub crawl and after having a drink at the other two pubs along the way, runs towards the final one on their list, The World’s End. Abandoning Steven, Andy chases Gary through the streets. At the last pub, Gary reveals to Andy that he had attempted suicide as he felt that his best days were during their teenage years and while the others moved on to better things he was stuck. As Gary pulls the level for his last pint the bar lowers into a hidden chamber, where the two are reunited with Steven and a voice, calling itself the Network  welcomes then and says that the robot invasion of the town is one of 2,000 “penetration points” on Earth, and that it had been responsible for all of humanity’s advances in telecommunications in recent decades. It offers the 3 friends eternal youth should they choose to become robots, but they decline, belligerently arguing that humans should be allowed to be free. The Network, defeated, ceases communication and abandons the invasion. However the town begins to self-destruct and the trip run for safety and runs into Sam who has come to rescue them and they make it just outside the explosion.

Sometime later Andy is shown narrating this story around a campfire in the ruins of London, explaining that the destruction of the town was followed by a massive worldwide electro-magnetic pulse that wiped out modern technology and set humanity back to the Dark Ages. The remaining robots reactivated and are treated with mistrust by the surviving humans. Andy’s marriage has recovered, Steven is in a relationship with Sam, and robot versions of Peter and Oliver have returned to a semblance of their former lives. In the ruins of their hometown, a now sober Gary, who went missing from his friends, enters a pub with the younger robot versions of his friends and orders 5 glasses of water. When the bartender refuses to serve any robots, Gary draws a sword and leads his robot friends into a brawl.

Hilariously funny and exciting and just a romp of fun. I dunno why this movie didn’t do well at the box office. On a budget of $20 mil it only made $46 million back but has got a lot of critical acclaim. I love it. 8.5 outta 10!

Beer Types – Weizenbock

A Weizebock is more powerful Dunkel Weizen (of bock strength), with a pronounced estery alcohol character, perhaps some spiciness from this, and bolder and more complex malt characters of dark fruits. Moderate to strong phenols (usually clove) and fruity esters (usually banana). The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. Optionally, a low to moderate vanilla character and/or low bubblegum notes may be present, but should not dominate. Noble hop character ranges from low to none. A light to moderate wheat aroma (which might be perceived as bready or grainy) may be present and is often accompanied by a caramel, bread crust, or richer malt aroma (e.g., from Vienna and/or Munich malt). Any malt character is supportive and does not overpower the yeast character. No diacetyl or DMS. A light tartness is optional but acceptable. Light copper to mahogany brown in color. A very thick, moussy, long-lasting off-white head is characteristic. The high protein content of wheat impairs clarity in this traditionally unfiltered style, although the level of haze is somewhat variable. The suspended yeast sediment (which should be roused before drinking) also contributes to the cloudiness.

Medium-light to medium-full body. The texture of wheat as well as yeast in suspension imparts the sensation of a fluffy, creamy fullness that may progress to a lighter finish, aided by moderate to high carbonation. The presence of Munich and/or Vienna malts also provide an additional sense of richness and fullness. Effervescent. Low to moderately strong banana and clove flavor. The balance and intensity of the phenol and ester components can vary but the best examples are reasonably balanced and fairly prominent. Optionally, a very light to moderate vanilla character and/or low bubblegum notes can accentuate the banana flavor, sweetness and roundness; neither should be dominant if present. The soft, somewhat bready or grainy flavor of wheat is complementary, as is a richer caramel and/or melanoidin character from Munich and/or Vienna malt. The malty richness can be low to medium-high, but shouldn’t overpower the yeast character. A roasted malt character is inappropriate. Hop flavor is very low to none, and hop bitterness is very low to low. A tart, citrusy character from yeast and high carbonation is sometimes present, but typically muted. Well rounded, flavorful, often somewhat sweet palate with a relatively dry finish. No diacetyl or DMS.

Old-fashioned Bavarian wheat beer was often dark. In the 1950s and 1960s, wheat beers did not have a youthful image, since most older people drank them for their health-giving qualities. Today, the lighter hefeweizen is more common. By German law, at least 50% of the grist must be malted wheat, although some versions use up to 70%; the remainder is usually Munich and/or Vienna malt. A traditional decoction mash gives the appropriate body without cloying sweetness. Weizen ale yeasts produce the typical spicy and fruity character, although extreme fermentation temperatures can affect the balance and produce off-flavors. A small amount of noble hops are used only for bitterness.

Examples: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Franziskaner Dunkel Hefe-Weisse, Schneider Weisse (Original) (all German) and the Quebec, Canada based Les Troi Mousquetaires brewery’s Weizenbock pictured above.

Beer Types – Amber Ale

Amber ale is a term used in Australia, France and North America for pale ales brewed with a proportion of crystal malt to produce an amber colour generally ranging from light copper to light brown. A small amount of crystal or other coloured malt is added to the basic pale ale base to produce a slightly darker colour, as in some Irish and British pale ales. In France the term “ambrée” is used to signify a beer, either cold or warm fermented, which is amber in colour; the beer, as in Pelforth Ambrée and Fischer Amber, may be a Vienna lager, or it may be a Bière de Garde as in Jenlain Ambrée.In North America, American-variety hops are used in varying degrees of bitterness, although very few examples are particularly hoppy. In Australia the most popular Amber Ale is from Malt Shovel Brewery, branded James Squire in honour of Australia’s first brewer, who first brewed beer in Sydney in 1794.

A style without definition, amber ales range from bland, vaguely caramelly beers to products with a fairly healthy malt and hop balance. Often the differentiation between a quality amber and an American Pale is that the amber might have more dark malt character, or a less assertive hop rate. This balance of flavors makes Amber Ale quite versatile as a food pairing option, not to mention being rather tasty in its own right. Amber ales were originally considered synonymous with pale ales, but branched off distinctly around the turn of the 20th century. Sometimes described as West Coast ale, they became popular in California, Oregon and Washington, where beers with more hops added were popular. Copper-colored versions are also called red ales by some brewing companies, but there is no real distinction between the two terms.

Pictured here is an Amber ale, the Lost Coast, from AlleyCat Brewery in Edmonton, Canada.