Sunday, September 14, 2014

419 reasons not to respond

This just arrived via email ......  


 
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Counter-terrorism Division and Cyber Crime Division

J. Edgar. Hoover Building Washington DC


Attention:


We call on your attention to be enlighten that we the Federal Bureau of

Investigation (FBI) of United States Department of Justice, with the active

support of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in Canada and

the Economics for Crime Commission (EFCC) in Nigeria, have escalate our

watch on your computer and telephone communication because we discovered you

have been communicating with imposters in Africa (Nigeria) imposing as

important dignitaries and claiming they have your money in their possession.


We have monitored your list of communications with them, however our general

findings urged us to setup multifaceted maximum security on your everyday

activities most specially your email correspondence and telephone

communications and also transfers made via Western Union.


Base on how fascinating your case turned out to be, we deployed

representatives of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Economics for Crime

Commission (EFCC) to investigate if there is any funds owed to you by the

Nigeria Government as a result of Contract Payment Funds, Lottery Winning

Funds or Inheritance Funds owe to you by any organization, and to our

dismay, it was discovered that your name appeared as owner of funds valued

US$8,500,000.00 United States Dollars.


Finally the recouped funds has arrived U.S Department of the Treasury and

have been loaded into an ATM card which will allow you withdraw money from

any ATM Machine around you, Transfer money to any local account of your

choice, make payment and so on.


Your ATM Card will be dispatched to your designated address upon your

compliance to this email, you are required to contact the delivery agent

here in Washington with the information below;


Name: Kelvin Lamar

Email: lamar.kelvin@qq.com


You are advised to contact him with the information's as stated below:


Your Name:

Address:

State:

Zip Code:

Tel/Cell Phone:

Scanned Copy of any Government issued ID card:


This requirement above is compulsory so as to avoid mistake in the process

of delivery to your home address and to avoid wrong delivery.


NB: You are required to pay a delivery fee of US$235.00 to enable the

delivery agent Kelvin Lamar register your funds totaled US$8,500,000.00 with

the delivery company as that is the only money you are required to send

before you get your funds delivered in your home, You are advice to stop

sending money to Nigeria and stop any further communication with any

officials or Bank in Africa such as United Bank of Africa (UBA), Oceanic

Bank, Fin Land Bank, Zenith Bank etc in Africa as they are all under

investigation and if fund guilty, all funds sent to them will be retrieve

and sent back to you by the Nigeria Government.


Your funds will be delivered to you within 48 hours by a registered delivery

company after you have comply to this mail, you are warned again to stop any

further communication from the office asking you for extra money and do not

answer any call from Africa as they are all under investigation and will

face judgment if found guilty.


This is a compulsory instruction.


God Bless America.


Yours sincerely,


NICHOLAS STORY

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

WASHINGTON, D.C.20535

TELEPHONE: (908) 922-4251

FAX: (908) 822-4283

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Uncomfortable. Prone to Swearing. Frequently says the wrong thing


There's been a bit of a conversation on some beer blogs this week resulting from a post about the rise of the Pop Star Brewer. My thoughts as one of those superficial, cynical assholes ......

Many pubs aren't as busy as they used to be. We could argue why that is (personally I'd propose that repeated changes in legislation and self interested pressure groups are mainly to blame) but let's assume, for the moment, that we agree it's true. Lots of them are looking for something to make them stand out from their competitors. First it was quiz night, then it was food, next came the mini beer festival, then the beer and music festival. The current must have event is the Meet The Brewer (MTB) evening or Tap Takeover. What will be the next big thing for pubs to do? Whatever it is within a year or so it will become tired and old and pubs will be looking for the next next big thing to drive trade through their doors.

I've got absolutely nothing against a MTB unless I'm the one you've arranged for people to come to meet. I fucking hate talking to large groups. I chose to work in an industry where I can spend most of my day inside a hard to find industrial unit in the arse end of nowhere for a reason. Imagining you're all naked doesn't help. So I do MTB because I have to. I can't think of anything worse than giving up my precious free time to stand, scared, in front of a group of people I'm imagining naked who hope I'll say something intelligent and insightful. I've managed to condense my opening speech to "I make some beers, shall we drink some?" which isn't entirely what people are expecting.

The rise of Apps such as Untappd and Ratebeer have a lot to answer for. Ticking/Listing as the social norm? People can't just fucking enjoying their beer any more, they have to rate, review, and write tasting notes for it too? To my mind it has increased the fervour with which some people within my industry are treated by the people who aren't. Coupled with MTB evenings where you can ask a brewer questions about the minutiae of the process these sites have helped to inflate the implied romanticism and mysticism of, what is actually, an often brutally physical job. 

The meteoric increase in interest in cask beer, followed swiftly by the meteoric increase in interest in keg beer (I bloody hate the term 'craft beer'), has brought a lot of money into the industry from investors who otherwise wouldn't have seen it as an opportunity. How much of this investment is accompanied by a desire to reap almost instant returns? How much of that desire is fuelling the culture of the celebrity brewer?

I'd be a liar if I said that I wouldn't sell my stake in the brewery if the right offer came along (see photo above). If that happened then I'd start all over again. Partly because I've currently got the best job in the world, partly because I consider the large majority of my customers to be my friends. I'd miss having the contact with them if I gave this up and began a different career. I'm not in this just to make stacks of money although it would be a very pleasant by-product.

I'd also be lying if I told you we don't want to grow as big as we can. Of course we do. We want to be as large and profitable as possible. The question for us is how we achieve that. We'd rather do it through popularity of the beer we produce and not because we're photogenic or media whores. Those of you who've met me will agree that me striving for photogenic perfection is a pointless waste of time and effort. We do use Social Media, but it's not entirely the corporate image that PR companies would tell us to portray. We do, however, need to find some way to engage with our end users because there is so much competition in the market at the moment (there is somewhere in the region of 100 commercial breweries within a 40 mile radius of us) and people who haven't tasted our beers haven't had the opportunity to like them.


Did I say at the beginning that they'd be coherent thoughts? That they'd make any sense or add anything to the conversation? Thank fuck I didn't. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Global Polymer Solutions - still shit three years later




 Dear brewer,

A few years ago I wrote about my experiences with Global Polymer Solutions from late 2010 to mid 2011 and what an utter shambles their service was as a warning to brewers who might be thinking about purchasing casks from them. Much to their annoyance that post has sat as the second hit in a google search for their company ever since. I know it annoys them because they took the time to track me down and phone me at work. They asked, very politely, if I'd consider removing it from this blog as they feel it's costing them sales and damaging their reputation. They even sent me a free box of shives to use in the casks of theirs that we still own.

Last year we were approached by a local producer asking if we had any spare casks they might borrow as they didn't have enough. As our GPS casks were just gathering dust and taking up space in the brewery we agreed that they could use them along with our complimentary box of shives, a shive tool, and a torque wrench. Those friends of ours are not exactly pleased with the casks because, as you can see from the picture above, the shive closure has started to leak under pressure. We checked with them that they closed them to the spec supplied by GPS and, it seems, they've done everything correctly. Not all casks are leaking but, as I've seen personally, at least 20% have failed to fully contain the contents.

Fast forward another few months and a number of emails sent to the address in the sidebar, detailing the problems other brewers are having with GPS, have dropped into my inbox.  One is a plea from a brewer, broadcast to their network of peers, in Feb 2014 who is desperately trying to contact GPS about their failure to deliver casks that were paid for up front. That brewer said
I have attempted to contact them for the past two months for delivery of a back order and have not received one single call back from more that 50 voice messages I have left.
The reply that was sent back to them by one respondent was, as is often the case, one of shared pain and a 'we now use Brewery Plastics and they're not as bad as some people tell you'.

I have also spoken to one local peer who, when GPS failed to deliver within the promised window earlier this year, was forced to seek casks from elsewhere and is, as far as I know, still trying to get his money returned.

Then there are communications from brewers who've tried to build a cask population around GPS casks who have encountered the same shive problems as shown in the photo. GPS even admit there is a flaw in their product design
The conclusion being that if the threads are undersize the flats make matters worse. Added to which, if the flats line up at 90 degrees to the mould part line, the possibility of failure is greater.
and that they have been experiencing quality control issues

shives had excess flash on the mould parting line in the gasket seating area. This, in combination with a slightly softer gasket than normal, meant that as the gasket was tightened, the flash dug into the gasket not allowing it to move at that point. As the shive was tightened further, with no adjustment/movement possible, the gasket rucked up creating a leak path.
which could further exacerbate the problems of leakage. Did they recall the faulty shives? Did they warn their customers that there might be a problem?  Have they implemented a rigorous quality control program so they can ensure the shives they supply will work with the casks they supply? It doesn't seem that way. If anything their response seems to be complete indifference.

I'd never be so bold as to tell you what to do but, before you make your decision over which casks to purchase, I would strongly recommend you talk to people you know who have had dealings with GPS. It might just save you from the troubles that many others have faced.

manwiddicombe


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reduce the chance of death?

I've just seen this article on the BBC News website and chuckled loudly.
Lead investigator Dr Oyinlola Oyebode said: "The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die - at any age."
 Correct me if I've misunderstood but, unless there's evidence to the contrary that I've missed, there's a 100% chance of death. One might go as far as calling it a certainty. How eating more fruit and vegetables reduces that I'd love to hear.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Part-time Vaper

Bloody hell has it really been over a year since I last wrote anything here? I'm going to go and inhale repeatedly on my e-cig until I'm calm again as I can feel an uprising of angry bilious rage surrounding the attempt to introduce minimum alcohol pricing disguised as "Alcohol Floor Price" (.pdf file).

I may be a while ..... 






Friday, January 18, 2013

tickers paradise

A few months ago I was approached by, first one then the other half of, Pig and Porter looking for help with setting up the brewing side of their outdoor catering/events company. Their brewer had been refining his skills on a homebrew kit and needed a little help scaling those recipes up to commercial sized brews. Over the final months of last year those ideas reached fruition and their inaugural brew called Red Spider Rye, which I was honoured to be part of, reached a fermenter in the afternoon of the 31st December 2012. And it's fucking amazing.

Their situation was similar to mine 18 months ago, after the events of the abyss, where I was looking to start the brewery but couldn't find anyone who would rent me their spare capacity to brew into. It seems that some breweries are lacking confidence in their product so they're not prepared to help a potential competitor. We say "bring it on"! The larger the number of strong breweries producing high quality, full flavoured beers, the better.

The first firkin of their beer was delivered to one of our regular customers, The Selden Arms Worthing, in preparation for their winter beer festival (24th - 26th Jan) alongside some other casks of hard to get hold of ales. Among those are the Maple Porter (5.0%) from Brighton Bier Co and my Pyecombe All Ye Faithful (7.4%).

If you want to be part of a small select group who have tried these beers there's only one place to be next weekend ........

 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Art of Darkness

Beer is such a subjective thing. What you like and what I like may be completely at odds but having tried The Art of Darkness for the first time this evening it left me needing to comment.

It's not that it's a bad beer. This lower strength black beer is full of hoppy flavours in the style of a black IPA but without the higher alcohol content you'd normally associate with that type of beer. It is, as all beers that come from Dark Star, a well crafted, technically good, product.

It's just ....... it's just ..... missing that vital quality that so many of their beers have. The thing that makes you down the last third so that you can have another one. It's missing the thing that stops you looking at the other hand pumps to see what else is available. Revelation has it in spades as did the Hophead Galaxy that I was fortunate enough to drink copious quantities of a few weeks ago.

Far be it from me to know where to start to improve the beer. All I know is that, for me, it was fun to drink but not fun enough to go back for more. Which sort of leaves me feeling a bit disappointed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

comment moderation is on

Getting fed up with ridiculous levels of spam so comment moderation has been switched on for the foreseeable future. Normal blog rules regarding commenting still apply for those times I can be bothered/ have time to post ........

Friday, November 9, 2012

very gump


A screenshot taken from Dara O'Briain's Science Club. Good to see the BBC is keeping standards high.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

google image searches I'm proud of

First AND second out of 77,000 image search results but only third of nearly 13 million page searches ........