BAR MAN by Jeff Hoyle: Good judge of a pint
Ever fancied being Judge Rinder? Not the dancing stuff, rather sitting in court deciding cases.
Why not give it a try? In your first case Manchester based Marble Arch have been told that it is not acceptable to sell their award winning beer called ‘Pint’ in 500ml containers, which are 68ml short of a pint measure. It seems as a result of just one complaint, they will need to spend a good deal of money changing the branding and/or the packaging to satisfy what they describe as the ‘bureaucratic needs’. They are also seeking advice about the sale of the draught product – can they sell a half pint of pint? So what will you decide?
Will you take the side of the traditionalists: “My ancestors didn’t fight in the first Barons War to get proper weights and measures included in the Magna Carta to have our hard won reforms ridden over roughshod by liberal elite luvvies’?* Or will you go with the modern man: “Pint? It’s just a bit of banter. Everybody knows it’s just a joke. We’ve had enough of those politically correct killjoys with their bureaucratic red tape.”
By now you should have the taste for making tough decisions, so here is another one on which to adjudicate. Scottish brewers Innis and Gunn have launched a new manufacturing technique and claim that all their beers are ‘barrel aged’. This is a method used in the production of many alcoholic drinks, and you may have seen it demonstrated by Mila Kunis in her advert for Jim Beam Bourbon. You might think the brewery are doing something similar, putting the beer into barrels which have had sherry or whiskey in them and perhaps been charred so that the flavour can become imparted into their beer. In fact it’s not quite like that. What happens is that they are taking old rum and bourbon barrels, toasting the pieces and then adding these to the fermenting vats for five to ten days. It is not a great change from the method that had been used for the last seven years, where oak chips were added, with the crucial difference being that in the new process bits of old barrels are the source of the wood.
A good judge will take into account precedence. For wine to be barrel aged, it must have spent several months or years in a barrel. Oak chips can be added to the fermenting wine, but the final product must be sold as must be as ‘oak aged’ rather than barrel aged. However the craft beer association in the USA has a different idea. ‘A wood- or barrel-aged beer is any lager, ale or hybrid beer, either a traditional style or a unique experimental beer, that has been aged for a period of time in a wooden barrel or in contact with wood.’ So they accept wood being added to the beer. So is the beer being added to the barrel the same as the barrel being added to the beer? Will you see the Innis and Gunn description as honest and truthful or misleading and deceptive? It seems that this judging lark isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, and bear in mind that when you reach your decisions, even if they are solidly based on the law, you might be branded an ‘Enemy of the People’ on the front page of a national newspaper, with the salacious details of your past endlessly dissected in the sidebar of shame. Perhaps dancing is the sensible option after all.
* I am aware of the slight historical inaccuracy here.