Beer Cooking Food & Drink

Cooking out – why do we barbecue?

West Indies porterNow this is my kind of beer. A rich dark stout with a malty sweetness.

Never mind your beardy, skinny-jeaned, over-hopped craft beers (otherwise known simply as beers).

Give me a full-on porter any old day of the week, especially a Guinness West Indies porter. You can almost hear the rigging creak under the gentle Caribbean swell as the crew carouse in the fleshpots of Tortuga.

Cut-throats every last man-jack of them, not one would scruple to slit your throat so sweet and so neat you wouldn’t wake from your drunken slumber in the warm Haitian night, lost in the scent of the Governor’s African Lilies.

And yet, you’d wish for no finer cut-throat at your back when fighting some snooty English privateer or maybe boarding a fat Spaniard on the way home and laden to the gunwales with tribute for a King.

Ah, heady days indeed.

What else could a fellow do but light a fire and fling on an inch-thick steak?


When I was a child, we never had barbecues.

Why?  I don’t know. Maybe we just weren’t posh enough although now that I look back on it we did occasionally heat a tin of beans over a fire made of sticks on the river bank.

Does that count? I don’t know. Maybe that was an Irish barbecue.

Leaving aside the peculiar Aussie barbie, which I suspect isn’t all that old, the first time Irish people heard of the barbecue was when television arrived.  That was when most Irish people first encountered a way of life they’d never imagined, thanks to bizarre 25-minute comedies like I Dream of Jeannie and Mister Ed, depicting a way of life that only the wealthy have ever enjoyed.  And the Irish lapped it up, even though most of them barely had an indoor toilet in those days. Even though they had about as much hope of sharing in the American Dream as the majority of Americans did. About as much hope as most Americans do today.

But yet, we managed to improve our lot, or at least many of us did, and so here we are, fifty years after Mister Ed, scorching a hunk of meat over burning coals, praying to the Sun God and slugging this thing we call beer.


I suppose there’s something atavistic about it. I suppose there’s a trigger deep down in our amygdala, emitting floods of pleasure at the thought of killing and eating something.

To my vegan friends, I say, sorry but that’s ok by me. I like the idea of having friends around, roasting things over hot coals and throwing back cold beer. But  yet, I’m fully aware that it might be the result of a cultural expansion from our United States cousins. After all, what else have we not adopted from Stateside?

For now, I’m not going to over-think it. Crack open another bottle of West Indies porter there me hearties and strike up a shanty.



Christmas Jumpers

Christmas jumpers. What’s that about? 


You’re just settling into a friendly chat when here come Keith from Accounts, Orla from HR, Sinéad from IT, Declan from Quality Control, Mike from Health & Safety, Sarah from Sales, Jagdip from Customer Support and forty three more.  They’re all wearing woolly jumpers and reindeer antlers.  They all have shiny lights on them and they’ve never been inside the door of your favourite pub before tonight.

But here they are, all drunk, all shouting their heads off, all leaning into your personal space, pissing you off and spoiling the experience for the people whose plan is not to get drunk out of their heads and behave like utter knob-ends.

What’s more, they’re led by a control freak who’s getting the thrill of his life out of issuing orders about the drinks they must consume and the time they must spend in your favourite pub, before ordering them on to the next.  This arsehole, in all likelihood, has no authority in the real world, for good reasons.

When they leave, they’ll try to steal everything that isn’t nailed down, as souvenirs.

You want to kill all these strangers and you wish the proprietor of your favourite watering hole would ban them, but of course, he’ll tell you they bring money with them, even if they leave after one drink.  The question is, how many paying customers did they drive away?

I’m one of those who left and went home.  Any others?

Beer Favourites Milk Market

Holiday Weekend in Limerick with Nile Rodgers and Beer Festivals

I’m getting old.  There was time when I’d be fine after an all-nighter on Friday, a beer festival on Saturday and a housewarming/birthday party on Sunday, but not any more.  I’m sicker than a flight to Lourdes.  Sicker than a priest in a playground.

Nile Rodgers started it.  It was all his fault with his infectious Chic disco-rhythms at the Milk Market, spreading good cheer, happiness and general light-hearted dancingness, though I can’t dance.  I can’t talk.

Limerick was bouncing with good-humoured people, good cheer and friendliness on Friday night, and Nile Rodgers brought a stupendously great bunch of musicians and singers with him to reward all the fans who turned out, but let me make a confession.  I never really got the disco idea.  Discos and night-clubs were never really my thing and I suppose, in truth, I was probably a bit of a musical snob too, back when Disco was big, but I have to tell you, this fellow educated my head and my feet and for that I thank him.


Yeah.  Astonishing.

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers Chic Limerick Milk Market

Ah Jesus, it was great and then everyone went back to Dolans for more fun, including Nile Rodgers, his bass player and his drummer.  I don’t know what time I got home and that’s a good thing these days, but unfortunately, another challenge lay in store for me the following day when Nancys held the annual beer festival, with brews of a strength up to 11%.

Good God.

Nancy Blakes Beer festival 002


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Kwak


Nancy Blakes Beer festival


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Delirium Tremens


Nancy Blakes Beer festival 003


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Duvel


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Straffe Hendrik

And here’s the landlord making a reasonable, subdued presentation to his patrons.

Sometimes, you just have to love Limerick.

Nancy Blakes Beer festival 005



Arthur’s Day Controversy

A lot of people are getting their knickers in a twist over the Diageo promotion campaign called Arthur’s Day, and I can see both sides of the argument.

Correction: I can see two sides of the argument.

stoutI have as little insight into the mindset of the marketing suits behind the campaign as I would have into the foraging instincts of a Caribbean lobster.  Marketing people don’t inhabit the same planet as the human race, so let’s forget them right now.  If it can be crass, it will be crass, as they demonstrated recently with their insane ad based on a wheelchair basketball game.

So let’s just agree that marketing people are reptile-brained cynics who’ll do anything for a buck, and let’s move on.

The two sides of the argument that I’m concerned with are the pro- and anti- people, and to be fair to them, each has a valid point of view.

On the pro side, people are saying that Diageo isn’t forcing anyone to get drunk.  If you end up in A&E, it’s because you personally went bonkers on the liquor.  The Guinness didn’t force itself down your throat.  And besides, what’s wrong with a day out?

The anti side will tell you that we already have a bad enough alcohol problem in Ireland without promoting even more excess.  They’ll say, correctly, that this is a multinational London-based company seeking to piggyback on the Irish identity by portraying all of us as united in admiration for their product.  Paddywhackery, in other words.  And that’s true too.

So where are we going with this?  People enjoy the day out, despite the cringe-inducing name.  They enjoy the music and they enjoy the gallivanting.  Musicians make a day’s pay.  Taxi drivers earn a few shillings.  Money goes round, which is a rare enough thing these days, and the economy gets a bit of a boost.  But on the other hand, some people get drunk, some get into fights and others get so slaughtered that they end up in hospital.

I don’t know, so I asked a man with far more wisdom and years than I possess, the published author of six successful novels.

What do you think of this Arthur’s Day thing?

He considered for a moment, in his special way.   To my mind, there isn’t enough drunkenness in Ireland anymore, he said.


Let me put it to this way, he said.  When was the last time you remember a man walking down the street taking one step forward and two steps back, while singing a happy song at the top of his voice?

I can’t remember seeing that for a long time, I agreed.

Precisely, he said.  We’ve lost all the old traditions.  I blame Europe.

One way or another, the campaign has been an unqualified success for the marketing reptiles who managed to drag five years out of a one- or two-year plan before being shot down by the uber-sanctimonious reformed drinker, Christy How’s-it-goin-dere Moore.  At the corporate level, nobody is particularly pretty.  Not the robotic Diageo executive who appeared on PrimeTime like a deprogrammed Max Headroom and not Christy, the hellraiser-turned-sobriety-campaigner, who insists on closing the bar at every gig he plays.

Damn them all.  I hate Diageo for being Diageo, and Christy annoys me for being the condescending gobshite he always was.   I wonder how long he’d stay up on the surfboard after fourteen pints of stout these days?  He’s been writing shite comedy songs for years, mixed in with the occasional quasi-politically-aware outburst, but in many ways, he’s the Big Tom of Irish Agit-Prop and I’ll take no lectures from him, thanks, even if I have my own misgivings about a stupid drink-promotion stunt by a soulless multinational alcohol company.

A cirrhosis on all their houses.


Guinness Wheelchair Ad Goes Viral

We Never Expected to Cry During This Beer Commercial, says the iVillage headline.

The heartwarming new advert for Ireland’s black gold that comes with a surprise ending, says the Daily Mail.

Jawdropping, says the Mirror.

Guinness commercial will make your heart melt, says the Huffington Post.


Did I cry?  No.

Was my heart warmed?  No, it was not.

Did my jaw drop?  Nope.

Did my heart melt?  It did not.

Very well then.  Did this  video have any effect on me at all?  Yes, it certainly did. I developed a profound and longlasting case of projectile vomiting.  What sort of idiot thought that such a shallow, fake-sentimental idea was appropriate for an ad selling beer?  Well, the same sort of idiot who writes for the Huffington Post, apparently, since the thing has gone viral.

It just goes to show that there’s no limit to the amount of mindless dross people want to consume.

Guinness meets X-Factor.

The ad seems to be aimed at an American audience, weaned on a diet of cheesy sentimentality.   I can’t imagine a European audience reacting well to the obvious, crass message underlying this beer promotion.  Consume our alcoholic product and you’ll look more sensitive than the schmuck drinking  the other piss.

It’s astonishing in its utter crassness, and yet, it might well appeal to the popular sentiment, if the reactions of media hacks is anything to go by, but personally, as a lifelong Guinness customer, alll it makes me think is that I need to find a different beer.  This is simply appalling.

Take a look at this ad and see if you can think of a more cynical, manipulative use of disability to sell an alcoholic product.  All it needs to complete the tear-jerker effect is a slo-mo shot of Bruce Willis in a space-suit walking out of a burning building carrying a baby and a flag.  Dear Jesus, what kind of schlock is this?

Oh, wait.  It’s the kind of schlock that has permeated every corner of Hollywood and brainwashed the American public into believing a cartoon version of reality.

Here’s an ad with a disability theme, but that disability has absolutely nothing to do with mobility.

This ad is about the disability that lives within the minds of the Madison Avenue team of know-nothings who designed it.

Welcome to the second coming  of  Guinness Light.