Apologies for the radio silence lately – I’ve not dropped the ball or decided to embrace ‘Parched March’ or whatever abstinence-based month of booze-free charity has been dreamed up recently. Instead, I’ve been studying hard for (and last Monday, sitting) my Certified Cicerone® exam. As you may know, BrewDog encourage their staff to have a crack at any and all levels of the Cicerone scheme, gaining beery knowledge along the way that will help them in their careers. Now for someone like me who had already filled up some of the old precious grey matter with beer-based info already, how was it, to learn and then sit the Cicerone exam?
Well, as you can imagine you realise pretty quickly exactly what your level of knowledge really is. For someone like me, ‘who writes about the people’ involved in brewing (aka we have little real idea of how it all works) it meant I needed to brush up on the mechanics and even the basics pretty quickly. So hopefully as a result the next brewery I end up bumbling around I will be able to do more than point and make hopeful statements like “So…is that where the hot water’s at?”.
The written part of the exam was pretty comprehensive, with 160 questions and three essays in three hours but it was the tasting part that was really interesting. I’ve done an off-flavour tasting before, so knew vaguely what to expect – but it always surprises me how quickly you can train yourself to recognise something you hardly ever smell or taste. In preparation for the off-flavour tasting we had done a couple of test runs over the last few weeks, and each time I was struggling to pick out the green apples of Acetaldehyde and the corny tang of DMS. And yet in the exam, the hesitant initial sniff of the first tainted cup and it smells like the Jolly Green Giant’s loincloth. Corn City. The human nose is an amazing thing (which I guess is why we punish it from time to time).
Anyway, having to differentiate between beer styles (untainted from thereon) was also really interesting. I mean, I’ve judged beer in the past, and often head to new brewery launches or whatever where you are actively trying to critique a beer, but this was very different. A simple small cup and two potential styles to choose from. Now, you can try this at home if you have someone willing to do the pouring and make it a blind test, but when the cup is in front of you it instantly puts you back to square one. I’ve always been pretty good at appending random flavours to the first sip of a beer – “oh wow, yeah you really get the blackberries/chillies/avocado” – but a simple ‘A or B’ question and you actually have to quantify all of this airy fairy language into why the beers taste like this, and what that actually means they are. It was really interesting.
The results came in today, and I passed – all that work paid off with me now being able to sign off important documents as a Certified Cicerone®
For one very important reason, I am going offline for the next three weeks. So there won’t be any posting, tweeting or Edinburgh Beer Weeklies until the start of August. I’m sure you’ll survive…
Normal service will be resumed next month; in the meantime, enjoy your beer!
Only pack the essentials
Well, camping. We’re heading off to the sunny delights of the Lake District for a few days, so no posts and no Edinburgh Beer Weekly this Sunday. Instead, we’ll be sitting in a rainy field drinking the highest-quality canned beer we can find. Oh, and hopefully visiting a couple of breweries, as well.
See you next week!
Andy here, I’m usually either tinkering with the rusty bolts and bits of string that keep the BeerCast together in the background or occasionally hosting the London podcast, it’s unusual for me to be writing a post.
The reason is pretty boring but if you are a subscriber to either our podcasts or the site’s RSS feed then please read on.
When we set thebeercast.com up we used the address thebeercast.com/feed as the RSS address for subscribing to podcasts and to regular posts from the front page.
We want to separate out thebeercast.com/feed into two different feeds; one for regulr posts and one for podcasts. I have a feeling that a lot of people who are currently subscribed to thebeercast.com/feed are iTunes users who are downloading the podcasts. Really we want to use thebeercast.com/feed just for folks who are subscribed to the regular front page posts and we want to decant the podcasts subscribers who are currently using thebeercast.com/feed into our new podcast-only feed.
So! For one week only we’re going to set up a temporary redirect (known as a 302 redirect in internet parlance) of thebeercast.com/feed to our new feedburner podcast-only feed. This means that those of you who are subscribed to the /feed address for the posts will be a bit put out for a week – sorry, but once we’ve decanted all our podcasts listeners to the new feed address I’ll remove the redirect and your RSS readers will start to fill up again with learned, more insightful, better written and more interesting posts than this one.
I’ll turn on the redirect tomorrow (02-Jun-2011) in the evening.
Do not adjust your set!
It’s a bit odd that me, the Twitter naysayer, nay the Twitter heretic! is doing the twitter posts.
Anyway i said last week (was it last week? maybe two weeks ago) that i would post back here with an update on how we were doing on Twitter.
Well, incremental progress i’d say, we started out with 0 followers (well that’s not entirely true Twitter do lob you some randoms just to make you feel loved) but scientifically, we started out with 0, and we now have… 6!
That’s a 600% increase in just two weeks, i’ve plotted this below.
The only way is up for The BeerCast on Twitter, in fact if we go up any more i’ll have to increase the scale on the graph, we’d be quite literally ‘off the scale’ with followers. So join us and help us push the Twitter Totaliser off the top and into the sky! (whereupon we’d employ the use of skyhooks).
PS: After thought, this post will appear on Twitter, and soon we’ll have a sidebar widget on this page that will show our twitter updates, surely this will set up and infinite loop into which the internet would disappear? Answers on a postcard.
Well there we are, it’s happened, the beercast is on twitter.
Now i’m as web 2.0 as the next man, not quite as much perhaps as beercast panellist Elliot Jay-2.0-Stocks but you can see from the top right there, the beercast has it’s fingers in most of the web’s 2.0’y pies.
I have to be honest though, i saw little point in twitter, and in fact i didn’t see it appealing to many folks outside it’s hardcore early-adopter web design base.
Although twitter has not released official statistics for the number of registered or active users it’s safe to say it’s in the several millions and recently seems to have captured the attention of mainstream press/politicians/public.
So, the beercast, never one to shy from the new frontier has dived (dove? diven?) into the whirling text pool of tweets and twits to further extend our multi-platform brand extension policy and synergise our drill-down leverage into maybe 2 or 3 more page hits per day.
What do you say? Are you with us! If so follow us @thebeercast and i’ll post back here in a week with an update on how we’re doing.