May 24, 2019

Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Three)

(Follows on from Part One and Part Two)

As each successive visit to the local supermarkets yields the same options for alcohol-free beers, I find myself confronted by two options to continue broadening my experience. I can either widen my search by travelling further afield, including ordering online, or I can broaden the definition of “beer” to encapsulate drinks that I wouldn’t normally consider the alcoholic variant of, unless my back was really against the wall. And so that’s where we find ourselves.

Franziskaner (Alcohol free)

Similar to the Erdinger from the last post, this is a wheat beer. However this one is a lot more subtle, both in terms of the intensity of the flavour and the size of the head. I know that I’ve said before that I’m not a fan of wheat beers, but I think that this one dials back the flavour notch to a place where I could actually see myself drinking it as a semi-regular thing. Not sure if it’ll replace the Nanny State and Infinite Session as my go-to options, but it does fill a pint glass, so it might be the choice for when I want to minimise the number of trips to the fridge.

Free Damm Lager

Yes, you read me correctly. I’ve finally been pushed over the edge.

I joke, I joke. Truth be told, there are plenty of situations in which I’ve been known to drink lager, and I’m not just talking about “when it’s the only option”. Let’s make a list:

  • Italian restaurants. If I’m going to have a beer with my pizza, a Peroni goes down very nicely
  • Gigs. Depends on the venue of course, but at most mainstream venues and festivals your choice is between a substandard pint of lager in a flimsy plastic cup, or a pint of ale that tastes like satan himself has wanked off into it, also in a flimsy plastic cup. I’ll take the drink without Beelzebub’s spooge in it, thank you very much.
  • When in Rome. Okay, I’ve never been to Rome, but I’ve been to other European cities, and the same rule applies. When in Budapest, you drink Breher. When in Brussels, you drink Sproutbock. And so on.
  • Band rehearsals. I’m very fortunate that all my current bandmates have similar taste in beers to me, but in previous bands I’ve often had to be a bit more circumspect. If someone else brings lager, then of course I’ll accept it graciously, and likewise if it’s my turn to bring drinks, then I’ll go for something like Brahma which, I will admit, I’ve actually got quite a soft spot for.

So, with general lager chatter out of the way, what about the Free Damm? It’s good. It’s really, really good. In many ways, my feelings about lager help here, because to me this tastes better than what I’d expect to get if I just ordered “lager” in a pub, and it sure tastes a damm (haha) sight better than the lager I was drinking at the gig on a recent Saturday night, after I foolishly had a pint of London Pride and then needed something to wash away the taste of the dark one’s emissions.

This has got a very pleasant sweetness to it, with a delicate honeyed florality to it. Not in a “tastes like a mouthful of potpourri” way, but just enough that it tastes like a lager for good times on the beach and relaxing, rather than a lager for Wetherspoons and that tearing sound each time you try to move your feet.

So, on the whole, quite the victory for lager! I’m not going to get into the game of trying to give scores to or rank these alcohol-free beers, because the best beer depends upon what you’re in the mood for on the day. However, this is the tenth alcohol-free beer I’ve reviewed, and it’s definitely not lower than seventh, and maybe even as high as fourth.

Brooklyn Special Effects

Another lager, and from the moment I poured it I knew that it had something special about it. The colour is dark, more akin to a typical ruby ale than a lager. The first mouthful is no less startling. The flavours on offer here are full-bodied and hearty, unlike any lager that I’ve ever had. In fact, with a decent hoppiness and a little malt on offer, I think that the flavours here are more likely to appeal to ale drinkers. This is a truly magnificent drink, and adding this to some of the other beers that I’ve had as part of this project so far, it’s got me thinking that there’s really no need to consider alcohol-free as some sort of compromise. Well, realistically, there is, and that’s the matter of variety. In a supermarket you have the choice of half a dozen alcohol-free beers against up to 100 alcoholic ones. In a pub, you’ll have the choice of one or two alcohol-free beers, against a dozen or so alcoholic ones. The enormous chasm that exists in choice can not be denied. But it seems to be narrowing, albeit gradually.

I find myself unsure whether there will be a fourth part to this series. New alcohol-free beers present themself less and less frequently, so it remains to be seen whether I’m going to continue to explore eagerly, or whether I’ll settle down with the nice ones that I’ve found, and wait for new ones to throw themselves into my lap.

May 19, 2019

The MCU Project: Iron Man [2008]

As we are doing this series in the universal timeline, I would like to address that I am doing a 2008 movie, the previous post (done by Pete) was made in 2011.

Iron Man seems to be set soon after WWII and seems to have a bit of the ‘I good scientist, do what I say and it will be good’ vibe about it when it comes to Tony Stark in the presentation showcasing his new, very strong, missile to some  very rich Americans. (Don’t see what could go wrong here).

Tony Stark then travels to a desert to test out this new missile and the effect does seem dangerously devastating in the wrong hands. It seems to be fore-shadowing what happens next when some people with guns and a large Stark Industries collection take him hostage. At this point there seems to be something wrong with the security of the underground base as Tony Stark builds himself Iron Man Mark 1 in his prison cell which appears to have 2 security cameras in it.

After this appalling show of bad security, Iron Man bursts out of his cell in a bullet-proof suit. I personally find this very unfair because he manages to 1v50 these bad guys who captured him. Most of the film from here is just him building new Iron Man suits and testing them, meanwhile visiting multiple celebrations, meetings and other sorts of gatherings. During this time, his step-dad seems to be getting dodgier and dodgier by the minute, doing trades with the people who captured Tony Stark and building his own Iron Man (A bit larger so he can fit). It ends how you would expect any superhero movie to end with a large fight between Iron Man and his step-dad, both in Iron Man suits.

May 12, 2019

The MCU Project: Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]

Last weekend, while I was off galavanting, Karen and Bernard went to the cinema to see Avengers Endgame. We have seen a few of the films in the series over the years, but we decided to make a little project out of watching the whole lot. Rather than watching them in release date order, we’re watching them in another sequence which I believe more closely follows the in-universe chronology. Bernard’s in charge of this side of things, he’ll weigh in at some point. I should also add that the plan is only to watch the films, not the tie-in TV series. Karen and I have tried a couple of these before and found them to be quite, quite dull.

We also decided that we’d take turns to write little reviews for them. I’ve volunteered for the first one, so let’s get stuck in!

Captain America: The First Avenger was released in 2011 and is set during World War II. While watching this, I got some very heavy moments of deja vu, so I’m pretty sure that I have watched it before. It tells the story of a physically feeble man in Brooklyn who really wants to go and fight but has a laundry list of ailments and would clearly be a liability on the battlefield. However, when a doctor asks him some probing questions, he replies that he doesn’t want to kill, but he just loves his country, and so the doctor thinks hmmmm this boy has spiritual depth and hence selects him for a program whereby he’ll be injected with some magic serum that makes him buff and attractive to the ladies. He’s given very little information about the treatment he would be subjected to, which raises concerns regarding informed consent.

On the subject of ladies, this film basically has two female characters in it. There’s a minor appearance by Natalie Dormer in which she basically plays a vixen who serves no purpose other than to induce jealousy in Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Peggy Carter is actually a fairly competent female character, who does do some punching and shooting of her own, and doesn’t exist solely to be captured and rescued by our hero (indeed, she actually saves his life more than once). However, she still does all the typical emotional female love interest bullshit and looks like a pin-up, so falls squarely into the “strong female character as written by a man” stereotype. I suppose the male-centricity of this film is somewhat explained away by the fact that it’s probably a reasonably accurate representation of the state of the US Army in 1942.

After being transformed into a buff superhero, the military decide that the best use of this specimen is to put him in a tight costume and work in PR. This is going fine for a while, until the real soldiers laugh at him, at which point he realises he’s a total fraud and so goes off on a mission of his own. Fortunately it’s a success, so rather than being court-martialed for violating a direct order from a superior officer, he gets a medal. This, as we all know, is how they really do things in the military.

The main theme of this film is “dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” with a soupcon of “bad guys use guns to kill, but good guys punch foreigners across the room and into a wall”. It’s got a great cast with excellent performances all round, and given that the film was released in 2011 when 3D was still being pushed hard, a few obnoxious things-flying-towards-the-camera shots.

Next up will be Iron Man, which was the first of the films by release date. Karen and I have definitely seen this one before.

February 25, 2019

Alcohol-Free Beers (Part Two)

(Follows on from here)

My research into alcohol-free beers continues!

Big Drop Pale Ale

I don’t know whether it’s just because I’m getting more accustomed to alcohol-free beers (I think I only had two alcoholic drinks in January: a bottle of Sharps Doom Bar and a bottle of St Austell Proper Job) but as I put this one to my lips and took the first sip, I very consciously thought to myself “you know what, this is better than a lot of alcoholic beers!”

This is quite lovely to drink, it’s got a bit of citric sourness and a bit of bitterness but very little of that metallic tang that I dislike. I sense that I shall come back to this one again and again, availability permitting.

Big Drop Stout

This beer would be a fantastic stout – and I don’t mean “fantastic for an alcohol-free stout”, but just a plain old unqualified fantastic stout – were it not for one fairly serious shortcoming. It tastes, and smells, rather a lot like stale cigarette smoke. This is a fairly disconcerting quality, as it’s a flavour that I associate with things that need to go into the laundry, not things that I should be inserting into my mouth.

That said, given that stouts and porters are traditionally my “thing”, and the competition in the alcohol-free stakes is St Peters (and we all know how badly that turned out), it may be that the stale cigarette quality is one that it might be worth learning to live with.

Erdinger Alkoholfrei

Wheat beers aren’t usually my scene, so purchasing this in the supermarket was a bit of a random move. However, I’d heard really good things about it, and given that there isn’t really much in the way of choice available for those seeking an alcohol-free beer, I figured it was worth giving it a try. The alternative would be to start dipping into alcohol-free lagers, and I don’t think that I’m quite that desperate yet.

First impression was that it comes in pints, whereas most alcohol-free beers come in 330ml bottles or cans.

Second impression was that it’s a bloody lively one. The phrase “do you want a flake with that” springs to mind.

Upon putting glass to lip, I was very impressed. It tastes like a wheat beer, which is both a negative (because I’m not a fan of wheat beers) but a positive (because it doesn’t taste at all inferior to the full-alcohol variant). And it’s got a nice weighty velvetiness, none of that thinness that seems to be unavoidable in most alcohol free beers to some degree.

From a neutral standpoint, if you like wheat beers, or have a broad taste in beers, then this is a damn fine alcohol-free offering. However, for me, it’s just not a flavour that I particularly enjoy.

More alcohol-free beers to come, we hope!

February 10, 2019

Quality Screen Time | Podcast by Team Uborka | Ep. 02, Life Is Strange

AHA!! It is back again, the second podcast is finally out!!! If you want to listen then:


And you can now stream the podcast (and many others) from SoundCloud using the   link up there.

The episode is about Life is Strange and is around 35 mins, it had to be a bit jam-packed because we had 5, yes that is right, 5 episodes to go through. We do not have much detail because all the episodes are big and we don’t want to bore you to death but we hope this is enough for your standards. If you want to complain about how little detail there is, talk to Karen and Pete because they were the ones against it. -_-

February 8, 2019

Art for Art’s Sake

My brother (whom some of you know as the esteemed Dr Pockless) drew and drew and drew, when we were kids. He drew dogs and trees a lot, because we had books on how to draw dogs and trees. Then he drew cartoon characters including one called Sir Herbert Mole and a superhero with a cape. Then he drew heavy metal album cover art. Then he drew on napkins whenever we went out for a meal. Then he learned animation and got a job being a cartoonist, which is what he always said he wanted to be when he grew up.

I did not draw. I cannot draw. I do not draw. For 48 years, I have not drawn. Late last year we were in Grasmere for a funeral, and Dr P succumbed to his usual urge to buy art materials in the Heaton Cooper studio. Verily, it is irresistable, even I usually come out of there with a postcard at the very least. On this occasion, and with his advice, I purchased a 2B pencil and a sketchbook, announcing that I was going to learn to draw. He was very encouraging. He told me to draw every day, so that was my NY resolution for 2019, and I have kept it.

Over the last decade, I have learned that I can learn to do things. Before that I just bumbled along not being very good at anything, but what I have found is that if I actually do make the effort, and do something a lot (like knitting), I can get reasonably good at it. I will never be amazingly talented at any of these things, but I started with no skill and then did it a lot until I got some skill, and now it is a pleasing thing to do.

It is the 8th February and I am not very good yet, but I’m okay with that. I think this might take years, but it is enjoyable, so that’s ok. I draw my cat a lot, but frustratingly she rarely adopts any position other than loaf; however she is good for that thing where you draw in a continuous line without stopping. I am struggling to resist spending lots of money on art materials, when I haven’t mastered the pencil yet. I carry a sketchbook with me everywhere, but I’m too shy to get it out in public.

Here is the cat, being a loaf. It’s what she does best. I like drawing whiskers and shading, so this works out nicely for both of us. We are both getting old; I seem to be the only one of us willing to learn new tricks.


  • Comments: 3
  • I do admire your persistence, Mr D. - Karen
  • Any chance that a poor retiree can get a shot of Smirnoff Black Label around here? - Mr.D.
  • I see she always has her back to you as well. Typical Maisel. - Pete