Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Blue Ridge Brewing Company

Friends of Mrs Velkyal and I are getting married in April and have asked me to "consult" on the beer selection to be available for the reception. Thus it was, yesterday, that we found ourselves sat in the most convivial surroundings of the the Blue Ridge Brewing Company in Greenville, South Carolina. Unfortunately we didn't have our camera with us, so to get an idea of what the place looks like, see the Photos section of the their website.

Before I start on about the beer, just a quick word about the food - delicious. That's enough of a digression methinks.

On to the beer, I ordered a flight and in return received 6 decent sized samples of:
  • Kurli Blonde Ale
  • Colonel Paris Pale Ale
  • Rainbow Trout ESB
  • Total Eclipse Stout
  • Santa's Little Helper Porter
  • Little Wille Barley Wine
I have to admit that I have grave misgivings about blonde ales, I usually find them boring - perhaps that is because they are generally thought of as a crossover beer to introduce drinkers of regular beers to craft beer. Kurli Blonde really didn't change my opinion, sure it's well enough made, but just unexciting for me, but then I doubt I would be the target market for these kind of beers any more. The Colonel Paris Pale Ale on the other hand did make an impression, largely because it wasn't as in your face hoppy like some American Pale Ales and all the better for it.

The ESB was, well, an ESB, full of all the goodness of Kentish hops and with a nice malty body, very nice beer, so I had a pint of it once the flight was done, whilst wistfully wondering how much better it would be served from cask at cellar temperature rather than a tad too cold. They describe the stout as "Guinness without the acidity", which is certainly is, an excellent stout which belies its 6.7%ABV to be very drinkable.

Santa's Little Helper is their Christmas oatmeal porter, hopped with Galena apparently, and again a very nice beer, by this point my pulled pork sandwich had arrived, see previous comment about food. Last up on the beer front was Little Willie Barley Wine, a total treat and proof that an 11.5%ABV beer need not feel like drinking paint stripper, lots of seville orange flavours and a beautifully smooth body, simply a wonderful beer.

Overall I was very impressed with the Blue Ridge Brewing Company and will certainly be recommending at least one of their brews to our friends for their wedding. Just another quick digression into food, they make thier own tomato ketchup and it is delicious, it actually tastes like tomatoes instead of red coloured sugar.

Fantastic stuff.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Brewing Plans

Having not had a single beer throughout Advent, I was very much looking forward to Christmas Day and downing a few bottles, admittedly though, this week is a blip in many ways because I intend to keep my annual booze free January.

Much to my own surprise, I only drank my homebrew on Friday, mainly the Machair Mor Imperial Stout, but also a couple of the spiced winter ale - Biere d'épices. I will write more about the Biere d'épices some time during the week, as I have more back in Charlottesville and want to do a proper tasting, and take pictures and such like.

One thing I am very happy about with the Machair Mor is just how much better it was with an extra few weeks of conditioning in the bottle, the Galena hops have mellowed a touch and now combine with all that chocolate malt to make a beer which is dangerously moreish.

Possibly the greatest pleasure was being able to share my brews with Mrs Velkyal's father and uncle, both of whom were most complimentary. I think now though I will need to buy a few more of the 3 gallon fermenters and start making more of my staple beers, especially as my dad is keen to try my beers when he and my mother come to visit in March/April. Particularly in order will be more of the Gael 60/-, a fresh batch of my Experimental Dark Matter (not using a kit though this time), and a new, hopefully improved, version of Limelight, which from reading homebrewing.cz (only in Czech sorry), went down very well with other homebrewers.

With all this brewing to come, I must admit that I am doing so with an eye on entering a few competitions this year. I am well aware that I am unlikely to win anything, but I want the feedback from judges so that I can improve my recipes and get more pleasure from seeing people enjoy my beer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What the Dickens!?

I am guessing that tomorrow I will be in no fit state to post, after all I have plenty of the Machair Mor to enjoy, and share with my in-laws, and of course it will be the official unveiling of Biere d'épices - the spiced ale I made back in November especially for Christmas.

For those members of the family that I am unable to guilt trip into trying my homebrew, which at 9% and 7% respectively might not quite be their cups of tea anyway, I also have the Samuel Adams Christmas box set, whose delights include a Cranberry "lambic", their Winter Lager and the Holiday Porter. If, as is entirely possible, they aren't really into that stuff either then all the more for me!

Beyond all the boozing though, I want to wish all my readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas, whether or not you believe in the Christmas story, which is after all the reason it is called Christ Mass - and let's not get into all the arguments about the birth of Christ, but focus on the message that Jesus brought humanity, one of peace, compassion and humility - things I know I need more of in 2010.

So Merry (take that as you will) Christmas people!

Just to justify the title, here is a little quote from A Christmas Carol:

“It was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Back to Brewing

Well, almost back to brewing. About a month back I brewed up my first barleywine, something of a monster of a beer, weighing in at 1.098 if I remember rightly, and it has been happily sat in the primary fermenter since then.

Today is time to rack it into the secondary and begin dry hopping the beer. In the boil I used Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, so I wanted to kick things around a little bit with the dry hopping, so I went to the new homebrew place in Charlottesville and got myself some more Fuggles as well as some Cascade.

The barleywine will be sitting in the secondary, with the dry hops, for at least the next 6 months, after which I will bottle it up and lay it down for another 5 months, so that it is ready for Thanksgiving 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Blog of the Year

Slowly we are getting to the end of my review of the year, only a couple more categories to go! This in some ways though is the one I have been looking forward to writing the most, because I get to give credit to some of the people who make my days infinitely more interesting with their writings.

Like so many of the categories I have done, it really it difficult to whittle it down to just three from which to pick a winner, however I did give myself a couple of criteria which were absolutely vital. Firstly, the majority of blog posts had to be actually about something rather than a few words about how many beers they drank or something equally vacuous. Secondly, the ability to continue the conversation in the comments section is important - I like being able to make a comment and have it responded to, after all, one of the points of web 2.0 isn't just to give every gobshite with a keyboard a mouthpiece, but rather to facilitate dialogue, and through that greater understanding of a topic.

Without further ado, the three best blogs in my world are:
I can't remember exactly when I came across Dave's blog, but from day one I have enjoyed the refreshingly open and honest perspective that Dave brings to his writing.  Whether posting on the trials of running a countryside Free House, tax issues relating to beer, or even why he invested in BrewDog, Dave brings a depth of passion and also willingness to have his views challenged by the wider beer blogging community.

E.S. Delia of Relentless Thirst fame doesn't write as often as some, but when he does it is always worth reading, often bringing subtle insights into the Virginia craft brewing scene as well as tips about beers to drink, and which good beers are actually available in this neck of the woods. Of the three bloggers on the list, E.S. Delia is the only one I have actually met, spoken with in person and had the pleasure of his company, in every way he is the stereotype of what a beer lover and blogger should be.

I am sure that most of us appreciate Ron Pattinson's fascinating historical perspectives on gravities and brewing ingredients, I know that I very much plan to make some of the homebrew versions of the beer recipes he has been posting of late. From deep within all the statistics, logs and numbers shines Ron's deep love and passion for beer, which is of course the driving force behind any good beer blogger.

Given that I have one UK based, one Europe based and one American based blogger on my list, it would be so easy to make each of them the winner in their respective geographical location, but that would be shifting the goal posts. So my Blog of the Year is:
  1. Dave's Beer Related Blog
Always challenging, always interesting and always worth thinking over and ruminating on, Dave's blog is the one I always go to the moment it is updated.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Specialty Beer

The last of the beer style awards for this year is another rather large catch all category, basically the beers that don't fit in any of the other categories.

The top three in this category are as follows:

The Starr Hill Barleywine was a small batch made by Starr Hill back in the autumn and for a while was my favourite beer. Big sweet maltiness with a huge whack of spicy hops made this beer simply a magnificent drink. Of the Starr Hill beers I have had this year, the Barleywine was far and away the best and if I were in their shoes I would be doing this on a yearly basis and releasing it bottle conditioned in the same way Fullers do their Vintage Ale.

As I noted earlier this week, Lovibond's make excellent beers and the Gold Reserve is a notched up version of their Henley Gold wheat beer. Referred to as a "wheat wine" and with the brewer's weight in honey thrown in as well, this is a strong, sweet and yet a grassy noble hoppiness that just balances it out nicely.

Back in June, myself and Evan Rail got together to do a comparative tasting of Fuller's London Porter, Lovibond's Henley Dark and Ron Pattinson's re-creation of a 1914 London-style Porter recipe brewed in conjunction with De Molen. Rich and yet dry, it was a pleasure to try a re-created Edwardian beer.

As ever the decision is tricky, but for the pure pleasure of discovering a beer style I had never even heard of and it being a moreishly drinkable beer, the Fuggled Specialty Beer of the Year is:
  1. Lovibond's Gold Reserve
A second award there for the Lovibond's Brewery and my most keen wish for 2010 is that their beers somehow find their way to the USA, in particular this little corner of Virginia, where I know for sure they would be very much appreciated.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Wheat Beer

Ah wheat beer, that once disregarded style which has become my preferred summer tipple - though I must admit a preference for German style weissbier as opposed to the Belgian wits, not sure why to be honest, that's just the way it is.

My three contenders for this award are:
I only discovered the Sierra Nevada Kellerweis a couple of weeks ago when Mrs Velkyal and I were down in Columbia, South Carolina, for Thanksgiving, with our friend Dr Gary having come over from the UK. I was planning to write a full post about the beer, using the title "The Importance of Being Authentic" because of the many American wheat beers I have had, this is the only one that bore any resemblance to the Bavarian style, and it comes with a lovely dose of hefe to swill into the beer.

Primátor's Weizen was a regular tipple for much of the first 6 months of the this year, whether on tap or in the bottle - it is really easy drinking and always satisfying. I said before I moved to the US that I already knew this would be one of the beers I would miss from the Czech Republic, and so it has proven.

Schneider Weisse first came across my path this year when the parents' of one of the Mrs Velkyal's kids in Prague brought a few bottles back from Germany for me one weekend. Of the various German weizens I have had this is one of the most packed with flavour and given that Beer Run had it on tap last time I was there I indulged in several pints, lingering over and enjoying each and every one.

An extremely tricky decision this one, extremely tricky, but when it comes down to it there can be only one (said in a faux franco-scottish accent):
  1. Schneider Weisse
Similar to the choice of O'Hara's yesterday, sometimes only a classic interpretation of a style will do.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Porter and Stout

I have said many times that I am a stout man. Mr first love in the world of beer was Guinness, and I have always had a soft spot for the black stuff, and stout is one of those beers which is relatively easy to make, but rather difficult to make really, really well. Porter on the other hand is something that I have come to appreciate more over the past year, whether that be the top fermented British styles or bottom fermented Baltic Porter.

From the many stouts and porters I have indulged in over 2009 the following have stood out:
The La Granja Stout from Nørrebro is made with coffee beans and boy does it tell, big, yet smooth, coffee flavours, rich chocolatey background and a subtle warming glow make this a simply gorgeous big hitter of a sweet stout. The first bottle I had of this beer cost me the equivalent of $20, crazy perhaps to pay an inflated price, but worth it for the lovely beer I got to enjoy, thankfully there was another place in Prague selling it at far more reasonable price, so indulge more I did.

Stout and Ireland go together like fish and chips, Wallace and Gromit or apple crumble and custard. Of the Irish stouts I have enjoyed, as well as "Irish style" stouts from the Czech Republic, UK or US, O'Hara's is head and shoulders above, simple as.

General Washington's Tavern Porter, from Yard's Brewing in Philadelphia, was a gift from a very good friend, and when gifts are this good you know that you have a good friend with excellent taste in beer. Big alcoholic glow and a flavour which packed a punch and a half, while still being eminently drinkable makes Tavern Porter one of the best beers I have discovered since I moved to the US.

Of the three, the one walking away with my utmost appreciation is
  1. O'Hara's Celtic Stout
Sometimes, despite all the innovation, experimentation and generally messing about in the beer world only a classic hits the spot, O'Hara's is that Classic.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Amber and Dark Ales

This category is something of a catch all for those beers which don't really fit in the world of Pale Ale or in Stouts and Porters, and as such the beers presented here are all rather different from each other,

Without further ado then, the three contenders for Amber and Dark Ale of the Year are as follows:
I guess some would claim that the Henley Amber belonged in the Pale Ale category, but as it is a shade or two more red than most pale ales I chucked it into this category. To my mind, the work Jeff is doing at Lovibond's is as impressive as the likes of BrewDog. Sure he doesn't engage in strange marketing practices, but boy does he know how to make a great range of beers. Henley Amber is crisp, refreshing and with a long, lingering finish it is one of the best sessions beers I have had this year.

Hobgoblin is one of those beers that I simply adore and will drink whenever I have the opportunity, whether on cask or from the bottle, I am always left satisfied by the toffee sweetness and the smooth drinking of this wonderful beer. Best of all, it was readily available in Prague when I was there, and many a bottle shop in this neck of the woods have it as well. You really can't go wrong with Hobgoblin.

The beer that turned my head to traditionally crafted ales, Bishop's Finger is everything a strong English ale should be, full of Kentish hops, caramel flavours in the background and obscenely easy to drink - you are probably seeing a theme here, I like beers that are easy to drink rather than "extreme" beers which I tend to think of as "pivni penis envy" (pivni is the adjectival form of "beer" in Czech). Whenever I have a bottle of Bishop's Finger I wish I was sat in the beer garden of a Shepherd Neame pub near my brother's place in Ashford, listening to the test match and idling away the day.

Anyway, back to the cold reality of Charlottesville in December and expecting over a foot of snow today. The Fuggled Amber and Dark Ale of the Year is:
  1. Lovibond's Henley Amber
As I said earlier, drinkability is one of my big watch words when it comes to choosing beers to rave about, and Henley Amber is precisely that, a beer you could spend all evening downing with mates in the pub and then walk home. The good people of Henley-on-Thames are very lucky to have such a fantastic brewer on their doorstep and should acquaint themselves with Jeff's wears as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Ales

Pale Ales, whether English, American or of the India sort, have formed a large part of my drinking this year and form a nice little juxtaposition to the situation with Pale Lagers - the first 6 months of the year saw the occassional decent Pale Ale, while the second half has been a veritable flood of the stuff. I am sure some will find it too vague to lump together the various pale ale styles into a single grouping, of course not forgetting styles like bitter here, but it works for me (minor aside, does any one else find the BJCP style guides a bit hair splity?).

From a very strong field, the following three beers stood out:

In my final month in Prague I was unemployed, having been made redundant, and was researching for my book, The Pocket Pub Guide to Prague (available very soon). On the days when Mark and I weren't sitting in various drinking holes, taking notes and pictures (which I have been setting in the text and they are fabulous!), you could often find me in Tlusta Koala just round from my flat imbibing this simply wonderful IPA. Seriously hoppy, served perhaps a tad cold but just right for the warm early summer afternoons, it was the refreshment of champions, or at least this champion of Kocour.

Recently I went on a day trip to Northern Virginia's breweries with Dan from CVille Beer Geek (most of the breweries were disappointing to be blunt), one of the highlights of the trip though was the Kybecca bottle shop in Fredericksburg where they keep a good stock of beer. It was there that I picked up a bottle of Sierra Nevada's gorgeous Torpedo. I am discovering that I like hoppy beers which have a good malty body, Torpedo is almost its perfect expression.

Charlottesville's best bottle shop/pub/nacho place is the magnificent Beer Run (seriously, the nachos are awesome and they have Fuller's Vintage Ale for just $9.99!!!) and it was here that while waiting for Mrs Velkyal to return with her ID and for the friends we were meeting that I decided to have a swift half of the Bell's Two Hearted Ale, and I was blown away, simply a gorgeous beer full of the citrusy flavours you expect from an American made pale ale, but with a subtle spiciness behind it and that sweet maltiness that I love.

Again a difficult decision to make, and for the first time this year a Fuggled award comes across the Atlantic, but only just. The Fuggled Pale Ale of the Year is:

  1. Bell's Two Hearted Ale

One of the best discoveries of the last six months and simply good beer.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Amber and Dark Lager

This seems to have been a decent year on the amber and dark lager front of things, with new offerings from one of my favourite breweries back in the UK, the continued excellence of many a Czech polotmavé and tmavé, as well as a few good lagers from the USA in this category, although if I am honest the majority of amber and dark lagers over here are as crap as the pale ones.

The three beers which make the shortlist for amber and dark lager of the year are:
Here I must make a confession, in ten years living in Prague, I went to U Fleků a grand total of once and that was back in June while researching for my soon to be released pub guide to Prague (released as soon I sort out a technical issue or two). I had avoided it purely because it is such a touristy place to go, had I known just how damned good the beer was, I would have drunk far less in my formative Prague years but drunk far, far better.

Whilst talking of seemingly touristy places to go, U Medvídků will always be a place I love and hanker for, whether for the lashings of Budvar, the wonderful Czech food (if anyone tells you Czech food is awful then they are pretentious knobs with no idea about being a normal human being), and of course U Medvídků's own range of excellent beers. As lovely as it is from a bottle, Oldgott Barique is simply divine on tap in the secluded little brewery area of this labyrinthine pub.

As for the Kout na Šumavě 18°, a magnificent Baltic Porter which rounded off many an evening in U Slovanské Lípy, I have to agree with the august Evan Rail that it is "simply miraculous". Beautifully smooth and rich, like a dark chocolate cake which is sinful beyond words but oh so damned good, as I say, it rounded off so many nights out to perfection.

This is, again, a very difficult decision to make, but when push comes to shove, I usually go for a beer which I can drink several pints of, as such the Fuggled Amber and Dark Lager of the Year for 2009 is:
  1. U Medvídků Oldgott Barique 13°
I had the pleasure many times this year, with various people I have been lucky to get to know as a result of Fuggled, to sit in the brewery side of U Medvídků and polish off copious amounts of the Oldgott Barique - each and every every occassion as good as the beer lubricating the conversation.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fuggled Review of the Year - Pale Lagers

My experience of pale lagers this year has been something of a mixed bag. The first six months of the year were in the Czech Republic, thus giving me access to endless amounts of quality pilsner style lager. The second half of the year has largely been one of disappointment in the American craft lager scene - seriously, almost every pale lager I have had here has been bland beyond description, with one exception.

My three contenders for the Fuggled Pale Lager of the year are:
The Blue Mountain Lager has been something of a life saver for me on those days when I really fancied a decent lager, how it didn't win any awards at the Great American Beer Fest is beyond me - perhaps the judges should spend more time in Germany and the Czech Republic before being allowed to judge lagers.

What can be said about Kout na Šumavě 10° that I haven't already said? Almost nothing to be honest, a 10 degree lager with more flavour and punch than many stronger beers is something to be savoured.

Discovering Zlatá Labuť 11° was one of my beer highlights of 2009 in general, it is quite simply a magnificent beer that deserves a far wider distribution than it has at the moment.

This is such a difficult decision, but for the second year running, the Fuggled Pale Lager of the year is:
  1. Kout na Šumavě 10°
Kout is the beer I miss most from the Czech Republic and to my mind the finest expression of the Bohemian Pilsner style.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

That Time of the Year

Between now and Christmas, I will be dedicating the majority of posts to the second, annual, Fuggled Review of the Year. Some of the categories for this year's review differ from last year, largely because moving to the US in June has opened up a greater range of beer styles to me, and so they need to be accounted for. I have also decided to add a couple of beer writing reviews, one for the beer blog I think has been the best that I read regularly in 2009, the post that I feel is the best that I have written this year, and the best individual post from other people's blogs.

The categories for this year's review of the year then are as follows:
  • Pale Lager of the Year
  • Semi-dark/dark Lager of the Year
  • Pale Ale of the Year
  • Dark Ale of the Year
  • Porter/Stout of the Year
  • Wheat Beer of the Year
  • Specialty Beer of the Year
  • Blog of the Year
The one thing which this year's review has in common with last year is the complete absence of any financial award, or even any meaningful history. It really is just a list of the highlights of what has been a very good year.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Paddling Up the Amazon

It probably isn't much of a big deal in the grander scheme of things, but heck it got me excited.

On Friday afternoon as I was preparing for the 6 hour drive from Charlottesville down to Columbia, South Carolina, to go to a friend's engagement bash, I got an email from Lulu.com. Usually the only emails I get from Lulu are to tell me about a sale for one of the two Fuggled calendars or some guff about special deals on shipping if I buy 10 paperback books. I duly opened said email to give it a quick scan, and my chin almost hit the floor. It appears that Lulu have selected the Fuggled calendars to be listed on the Amazon Marketplace!

Being listed on the Amazon Marketplace rather than the main site is probably akin to playing in the Europa League instead of the Champions League, but hell the EL is still a European competition worth winning, so I am undoubtedly chuffed to bits about a wider audience seeing the calendars and maybe making some beer lovers happier this Christmas!

According to the email, both the Prague Pubs calendar and the Beer calendar will be available on Amazon from this Wednesday, December 9th. And yes, I am still chuffed to bits about it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pocket Pub Guide - Prague

Back in June, having just been made redundant, I spent an ordinate amount of time in some of Prague's most blogged about and generally well-regarded, for whatever reason, pubs. Many an afternoon you would find me trawling around the city with my friend Mark - who did the pictures for the Fuggled calendars which are advertised to the left of this post. I bought one just to make sure that the quality was good, and I have to say I am deeply impressed and anyone with fond memories of drinking in Prague really should buy one, better, buy the pair.

The purpose of all this travelling, drinking and photography was not simply to make a couple of calendars for Fuggled, but rather to write a guide to 40 of Prague's pubs. I hesitate to use the word "best" because it is such a subjective thing. Rather I chose 40 of the pubs in the city which I think are good pubs, and that doesn't necessarily mean that they have a wide choice of beer, or obscure micro-brew from the Bohemian villages, in fact a few of them are Staropramen pubs, not great beer but there are some good pubs selling Staropramen in Prague.

Recently I got the complete set of photography produced by Mark - and people, if you need any photographic needs in, or about, Prague then talk to Mark, so skilled it is frightening at times and a top bloke to boot - so I have been going through the pictures deciding which ones to use and where. In order to at least get the book available, I have decided to first release an e-book version before I go for the printable version through Lulu.com.

The plan is to have it available within a week to ten days, so blogging might be a bit slow next week while I set the pictures and make this the best project I can.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Smoke Free Virginia

Apparently there is now a smoking ban in place for restaurants in Virginia, how does this affect me? Well, for a start, there are no such things as bars in Virginia - bars in the sense that most people understand them, watering holes, drinking dens, places with beer and maybe some snacks. To serve alcohol in Virginia it is required to serve food as well, effectively making a pub in reality a "restaurant that serves alcohol" to quote Dave over at Musings Over A Pint.

From my experience of going to "pubs" so far, very few of them have been smoky in the slightest - now admittedly my frame of reference for a smoky pub would be one of the various dark places in Prague that filled up fairly quickly with a blue fug, and you left reeking incredibly badly. But I think making restaurants no smoking is a good idea, simply because eating dinner and inhaling copious amounts of second hand smoke really isn't all that pleasant, it ruins the food for a start.

This has, however, convinced me that Virginia needs bars where the food available includes crisps, chocolate bars and pre-made sandwiches for the hungry, nothing fancy, but something which is easy to do and doesn't require massive capital investment in building a kitchen. I have to admit that I am a bit confused by the law here about what qualifies as food in order to serve alcohol, so if any of my Virginia readers can enlighten me then I would be very happy.

I do however have a problem with smoking bans in principle. What is the point of having a perfectly legal, if unhealthy, habit and then proscribing partakers in that particular habit from performing their perfectly legal act in given places? Why not go to the heart of the problem and ban tobacco (and yes I know the tobacco lobby would be up in arms)? But part of me also wonders, when will the prohibitionists attempt to force similar "alcohol bans"? Now, it would be easy to convince ourselves that the nutter prohibitionist movement could never impose another alcohol ban, but they did it before and would love to do it again, indeed I know of a few towns in the US which are "dry".

Perhaps what is needed in Virginia is a campaign for the law to be changed, and allow bars and pubs to open which are primarily "wet-led" to use the British industry parlance. I would posit that there is scant evidence that insisting on serving food in order to serve alcohol makes people likely to drink less, so why hobble entrepreneurs with ridiculous legislation? While I am in a slightly campaigning mood, I would also like to campaign for the legal age for alcohol consumption to be lowered to 18, it a person is old enough to pay taxes, smoke, vote, die in the army, then by what justification do you deny people the right to enjoy a pint at the end of the day. Also, I want to see the requirement for carding people who look over 30 in shops and other places serving alcohol outlawed - have these people never heard of "innocent until proven guilty". Yes it can be difficult to tell, but you should only card when you are not sure.

Here ends today's lesson.