Saturday, 9 November 2019

November - the sombre month

As I wrote a couple of years ago, November is probably my least favourite month of the year. It’s something of a “nothing” month, and whilst some would say it’s the herald of Christmas, and as such gives people something to look forward to, it’s much too early for all that. No doubt we’ll still have to suffer the over-blown wave of commercialism, which kicked off as soon as the schools returned from their summer break.

Although the weather’s been relatively benign this past week - unless you live in those parts of the country that have experienced torrential rain and flooding, there’s still something about November which makes people want to curl up in front of a nice warm fire and hibernate. 

Following our short “mini-cruise,” last weekend, I returned to work at the beginning of the week to find that orders have virtually dried up. So after months of working flat out, we’re now scratching around looking for things to do.

The reason for this fall off in orders is the majority of our customers panicked at the thought of not one, but two potential “no deal” Brexits. Not wishing to run out of product, they understandably overstocked, and are now sitting on sufficient goods to see them through, well into the New Year.

The upside to this has been a chance to catch up with certain tasks, which has been put to one side in the rush to meet these artificial deadlines, as well as having a good clearout. Ironically, we’re embarking on a major expansion project, having just taken on an adjacent unit, so interesting times lie ahead.

The quietness at work has been mirrored on the beer front. I unfortunately missed last Sunday’s visit to Westerham Brewery,  organised by my local CAMRA branch, as Mrs PBT’s and I were travelling back from Southampton at the time. But on the plus side, I gather that Harvey’s Old Ale has been spotted in a number of local pubs, so I must get out and track down some of this delectable dark ale.

That’s about it for the time being, apart from slowly replenishing my stocks of both bottled and canned beer for home consumption. I’d deliberately allowed stocks to run down over the summer months, and with foreign trips few and far between this year, there’s been little coming in from overseas.

Canned beer seems very much in vogue at the moment, and I picked up a couple of real bargains earlier today at our nearest Tesco store. First and foremost amongst these have been 4-can packs of Life & Death IPA from Vocation Brewery.  This feisty US style IPA slips down rather too well for a 6.5% ABV beer, but is proving itself as one of the most enjoyable beers I have found in recent years. It is also unfiltered and un-pasteurised and, according to the can, may contain sediment.

I’m not sure if this complies with CAMRA’s increasingly stretched definition of “Real Ale” or not, but frankly I couldn’t care less. I do wonder though whether by discounting some of their excellent beers in this fashion, this Hebden Bridge based brewery might be exposing themselves to cash flow problems, whilst at the same time turning themselves into just another commodity brewer.

The same applies to the other beer I purchased this morning. Six-pack 330ml cans of Pilsner Urquell, costing just £5 a pack at the supermarket giant, also cheapens the brand. As a consumer, I’m not complaining, and I’m certain that brand owner Asahi, can afford to discount in this manner, from time to time.

Perhaps it’s time though for a major re-think of the whole beer marketing game?

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