Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shopping. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Season of Incongruity

The nights are drawing in, the leaves on the trees are turning their various shades of yellow, orange and brown, finally the fierce heat of summer is a distant memory and it rains pretty much every day, the delights of Autumn are here.

Hang on a minute! When I stand on my deck and survey the trees in my garden the leaves are still green, when I go for my lunchtime walk it is about 90°F, or 32°C for my metric friends, rain is something of a rarity at the moment. Autumn most definitely has not arrived, but in the minds of retailers it has.

Already this year's iteration of Samuel Adams Octoberfest is in the shops, as are innumerable pumpkin ale abominations (I am yet to have a pumpkin ale that didn't taste like wet cardboard). This despite the fact that according to the dictionary, Autumn runs from the September Equinox to the Winter Solstice in December, which means this year's Autumn is from September 22nd to December 21st. As such all these seasonals being  sold in the shops are at least 2 months ahead of the season they are intended to be enjoyed in, never mind the incongruity of drinking an Octoberfest in August (there might be a clue in the name, I am not sure).

This being out of step with the seasons is something I have noticed more this year than in previous years. Especially galling for me was loving Samuel Adams' Spring seasonal, Alpine Spring, and not being able to get it after March, just as Spring began.

I am not sure who is to blame for this silliness, whether it is pressure from the retailers for constantly changing product, the distributors for putting stuff in the market before it is due or the brewers for not having a calendar. Whoever is responsible for this needs to buck their ideas up, stop treating customers like impatient idiots and let us enjoy our beers in their rightful seasons.

I stole the picture above from my friend Hunter's Facebook account, he is also the president a new brewery coming to Charlottesville in the near future.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I Didn't Expect

I think the technical phrase for the jolly little surprises that come your way in life when you cross the ocean to take up a new life is "culture shock". I have been having it in spades in the last couple of weeks, and in almost every possible situation; pleasant immigration officers at Atlanta airport (those of you who have dealt with the Czech Foreign Police will no doubt know to what I refer); shops with nine million flavours of yogurt, but only one plain white; churches as ubiquitous as pubs in Prague; the feeling of not really being so "velky" after all; the list could go on and on.

A couple of things though stick in my mind, I will deal with the negative first off. Yesterday Mrs V and I went to her aunt's for dinner, as they don't drink we obviously weren't going to buy a bottle of vino as a gift, so in to Walmart we jaunted for a bunch of flowers. Walmart is another culture shock after 10 years of soul destroying Tesco - the variety of almost everything available is mind boggling at times, and the fact that someone packs your shopping bags for you and wishes you a pleasant day, a welcome change from the sour cashier in the Tesco on Narodni asking if you have a note smaller than 200k?, the near equivalent of $10.

The nasty shock though is Walmart's new alcohol sales policy - anyone who looks under the age of 40 must provide ID in order to walk away with their favourite tipple. Thankfully I keep a form of ID on me, but I find it remarkable that for 19 years after coming of age, people will be required to prove they are legally allowed to buy alcohol. No doubt Walmart and many of their ilk will cite insurance policies and the inevitable criminal prosecutions that would follow selling alcohol to minors, but if you are going to have such a ridiculous policy, why make someone who is clearly over 21 produce ID like some wannabe under-age booze baron? What happened to innocent until proven guilty, to trusting people to use their discretion?

The positive shock though was on going to to see what lovely crafty beer goodness they had, and seeing beers from a raft of my favourite British brewers; BrewDog and Wychwood to name but two. But on one aisle I found several Czech lagers that I hadn't expected to see in a million years, including ?atec, B.B. Burgerbrau (from the original brewery in Budweis! hint: it isn't Budvar) and Staropramen. Happily though, Budvar seems to be quite readily available, so when I have the urge to drink a good lager again I know I can get hold of something worthwhile.

Perverse as it may sound, I was actually quite glad to see the presence of Staropramen in the USA as it allows me to do a couple of taste tastings comparing the worst of Czech mainstream lager with the mainstream lagers here, the likes of Budweiser, Miller and Coors - masochistic I am sure, but certainly worth it for interest's and comedy's sake.

Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...