Author Archives: G

Travel – Exploring York Brewery

Hullo, G here! As previously mentioned, Fauxionista and I visited York, and the last part of our trip was a tour of the York Brewery. She was kind enough to accompany me to the brewery even though she’s not really a drinker.

York has a very proud heritage – they can trace parts of the city back twenty centuries, and people have settled there in one form or another since about 8000 years before anyone had even heard of Jebus. It can trace its official founding as a city to the Romans. The Romans who were around just after Caesar. The city was founded so long ago that the calendar they used didn’t have a need for a third digit in the year yet, let alone a fourth.

In those days, they likely didn’t have a brewery per se – they probably just had people that made beer, or in their case, “barbarian drink”. To be honest, from what little I remember of Latin class, back then they likely would have had beer in the Roman city of York, but it would have been only for the commoners, largely for medicinal purposes, and not very good. The women would use the beer foam in much the same way that skin cream is used today, so if you can imagine your wife dunking her hands in your beer and smearing it on her face before you started to sip your beer through a husk you’ll get some idea of what beer culture was like when the city was started.

Thankfully, that all went out of fauxion some time ago.

Two thousand years ago, beer would have been much weaker in both flavour and alcohol content (unless we’re talking about Heineken, I suppose), and would have contained a lot more sediment, and would have been much less consistent from batch to batch. It’s much better today, and the people at York Brewery are responsible for a portion of that!

We started the tour in a small room where they store the ingredients for beer (barley, hops, yeast, and water). (WARNING: Picture heavy post!)

 photo OMDS0785.jpgThey did have a fine selection of different malts on hand, and we got to taste them!

 photo OMDS0788.jpgThey had the malt piled high on the side of the room – thankfully, this wasn’t what they handed out for tasting.

 photo OMDS0787.jpgThis was what we got to taste – the different types of malts.  They tasted a lot like cereal, but the darker ones were better with a fuller taste.

 photo OMDS0786.jpgSurprisingly, for the number of kegs and taps in the room, there was no actual beer to be had on the tour.  (They made it available at the end.)

 photo OMDS0789.jpgThe box on the floor with the handle (lower left) was filled with hops that people could taste.

We then got into learning how beer is made, as our guide explained the brewing process. More accurately, Fauxionista learned, and I stood around trying not to yell out the answers every time the guide asked a question of the group of about ten of us. (This was not my first brewery tour!)

 photo 20131019_173115.jpgBrewing is a fairly simple process. Brewing well is difficult.

 photo 20131019_165814.jpgFermenting beer in a giant vat – essentially a giant beer that’s almost finished being made.

The brewing process is fairly straightforward, and rather than relate it here, I’ll provide a link to the Wikipedia article on brewing in case you’re interested. What made this unique was we saw how the people at York Brewery do it to come up with the various flavours they have.

 photo 20131019_173441.jpgThe list of core (yellow) and non-core (white) brews at York Brewery for 2013.

After the tour was over, we got to go to the pub portion of the brewery, and actually sample some of the beer! The entry fee gets each ticket holder two half-pints of beer, and since Fauxionista didn’t want hers, that meant that I got to try four different beers! I had previously tried “Centurion’s Ghost Ale”, one of their core beers, the Christmas before last. Additionally, I’d had York Minster Ale which I liked, but a little less than the Ghost Ale, which I think is one of the best balanced beers I’ve had in a while.

Given that I’d already had those two ten months earlier, I decided to start with the York Guzzler. Every brewery has a “light summer ale” which is typically more like a pilsner, being lighter in colour and having less alcohol and more ‘zest’. The Guzzler is true to that form, and while good, it was not generally the sort of beer that I go for on a regular basis. (It reminded me a lot of Dogfish Head’s “Lawnmower Ale” actually.) I could see drinking it on a late summer’s evening if it were fairly warm, but I prefer a heavier, hoppier beer.

The unfortunately named “Yorkshire Terrier” proved to be worthy of the lacklustre imagination under which it was named, and was the worst of the four beers I tried. There was a confusing element to the taste (never good).  It wasn’t entirely unpalatable, and I did finish the sample, but I probably wouldn’t buy it.

The York IPA was significantly better. Since I do prefer hoppy beers, this was quite pleasant to drink. The hops that York Brewery uses actually come from mainland Europe (we learned on the tour), which is ironic insofar as Kent (in Southeast England) is known for producing hops. (They do get some from there, to be fair.) (Another aside – my Dad, who was born near Kent, would often go hop-picking on family vacations in Kent as a boy.) It’s not as hoppy as I would have liked – but it was still quite smooth with a slightly bitter aftertaste which gave it a nice finish.

I next sampled the “Black Bess”, a dark beer with a dark malty colour, not unlike Guinness. It’s colour was the only thing that it shared with Guinness, though, and that is a good thing – it has its own unique flavour palette, and while I generally don’t like roasted malt beers (they often taste too much like coffee), this one was actually fairly pleasant. It did have a taste of coffee to it, but the sugars in the beer offset that for the most part.  It would still lose in a head-to-head competition with the Centurion’s Ghost Ale, which is also a malty roasted beer but definitely the better of the two.

If you’re in York, and you enjoy beer and/or brewing, I would recommend York Brewery! It’s the only brewery in York (and in the city proper, at that), but as microbreweries go it’s a pleasant experience with a friendly atmosphere and some enjoyable beers.

Blog Anniversary Contest Extension!

Hullo all, G here!

Our lovely hostess fauxionista has an extremely busy week at work, and I’m on holiday, so I’m taking over for this post!  (What kind of husband would I be otherwise?  😉 )

Fauxionista has been blogging for more than a year, and as part of her recent blog anniversary, she created a giveaway, found here:

The contest is being extended until Friday, 16 August.  She’d really like to get a sense of how followers are reading the blog, so please leave a comment on this post or the original one and tell her which of the two prizes (Friendship Bracelet or Passport Cover) you’d prefer, and how you follow the blog.  Two random winners will be chosed on the 16th.

(We’ll be choosing the winners from a hat based on username.  In fairness to the original entrants, we’ll be giving them 3 entries for every 2 entered after the contest extension.)

Guest Post: Canary Wharf Fashion Show @yourcanarywharf

Hullo, G here!  I’ve been mentioned a few times here, but I thought it might be time to actually post something!  I’m not nearly as up on fashion as my fiancee, but I’ll give it a try.  😉

(Warning: picture heavy post!)

I live in London, so there’s quite a bit of fashion here, but it rarely shows up in this area, since it’s more of a financial area.  That being said, when it turned out there was going to be a fashion show here in Canary Wharf, I figured I’d stop by.  They advertised it early and often, and started building out the runway a couple of days before it was to start.

Canary Whart Fashion Show Notice

Canary Whart Fashion Show Notice

I caught the 4.30 showing on the 1st, and the show lasted about fifteen minutes.  It was interesting to see, and there were a number of clothiers that participated.  It seemed to be mostly people whose stores were present in the Jubilee Place mall, and the fashion presented was that which they’d sell in the nearby stores in the near future.

The first brand to showcase their fashion was Levi’s.  They showed their ladies’ summer wear consisting mainly of jeans, tops, and short dresses.

Levi's Ladies Wear for Summer

Levi’s Ladies Wear for Summer

Denim seemed to be the biggest element, and it didn’t really seem to be all that novel or new in terms of fashion, but I suppose it would be comfortable for the summer weather.

Levi's Summer Wear, Denim

Levi’s Summer Wear, Denim

Next up was Jaeger, whose theme revolved around tennis in the late 1940s.  In that respect I guess fashion has come full circle, as what was once popular for my Dad is now popular again!  They started with their fashion for men, consisting first of a light summer jacket (it looked almost linen) paired with solid coloured trousers and an almost pastel tie and striped shirt.

Jaeger Light Summer Jacket Outfit

Jaeger Light Summer Jacket Outfit

The followed that with an example suit, in this case a solid blue two-piece with a two-button jacket and matching trousers.  Complemented with a gold tie under a button-down collared white shirt, it had a simple yet elegant look.

Jaeger Summer Suit

Jaeger Summer Suit

Light colours and materials rounded out the outfits for the ladies, with solid coloured lower-halves offsetting patterned or edged tops, even if the outfit was a one-piece dress.  Minimal accessories added a bit of flair without detracting from the overall style.

First Jaeger Ladies's Outfit

First Jaeger Ladies’s Outfit

The men’s fashion continued at the same time, with another example of a light suit paired with a seemingly solid tie and striped shirt, as below.

Jaeger Ladies' Outfit Two and Third Men's Outfit

Jaeger Ladies’ Outfit Two and Third Men’s Outfit

A store called “Runner’s Need” was the next to command the floor, and their lineup of fashionable active wear was just that.  Should we have displayed any doubt about the last part of that milieu the models showed us with vigourous activity that we need not!

Runner's Need Ladies Activewear

Runner’s Need Ladies Activewear

The models were doing a full aerobics routine:

Runner's Need Aerobics Routine

Runner’s Need Aerobics Routine

The ladies’ wear didn’t strike me as particularly novel, and actually somewhat backwards. While the yoga pants and sports bra paired with a shirt is not something I’d seen before per se it doesn’t take a lot of imagination.  The gym shorts and tank tops looks like something I had to wear to gym class in primary school so I’d wager it’s not fashion forward!  Coincidentally, we matched the stripes on our shorts to the colour of our tops too, so I can’t really give them points for that either.

Not to be outdone, the Runner’s Need male models had a similarly lively display (which made photographing them difficult) and showed that they too could match where needed, and even wear yoga pants if necessary.

Runner's Need Men's Fashion

Runner’s Need Men’s Fashion

Just to put one final point on convincing us that it really was active wear, one of the models did full lunges — including jumps!

Runner's Need Active Wear - Active!

Runner’s Need Active Wear – Active!

Things calmed down a little as Monsoon took over the stage, and highlighted their summer fashion.  First was a number of outdoor party dresses for the ladies, taking an almost art nouveau style.


Monsoon Ladies' Wear

Monsoon Ladies’ Wear

Massimo Dutti came next, starting with casual men’s style:

Massimo Dutti Men's Fashion

Massimo Dutti Men’s Fashion

They also showed off some of their more formal business wear:

Massimo Dutti Business Wear

Massimo Dutti Business Wear

Overall it seems that their business lineup for the summer would include mostly neutral colours in the ranges of tans, beiges, and greys with a bit more vibrance for their more casual outfits.

The last store to take command of the runway was Reiss, and they went back to the 1920s for their summer clothes!  Complete with a tribute to flappers and jazz, the show finished in a grand style.

Reiss 1920s Inspired Fashion

Reiss 1920s Inspired Fashion

Again, mostly neutral, solid colours seemed to be the order of the day, but the models were clearly having a lot of fun with their 20s routine, and really got into it.

The Models Enjoyed Their 1920s!

The Models Enjoyed Their 1920s!

A human pyramid topped off the show finale:

Reiss' Human Pyramid

Reiss’ Human Pyramid

With that, the models slowly turned back into the stage area, as we were once again reminded that it was brought to us by the fine folks at Canary Wharf.

Canary Wharf Fashion Show Ends

Canary Wharf Fashion Show Ends

I must admit that I’d never really been much into fashion before meeting fauxionista, but I do find that there’s a lot more to it that I originally gave it credit.  It didn’t hurt to learn that among the complexities is quite a lot of potential – so much so that some of the wealthiest people on earth can be found in the fashion industry.  While that may include billionaires in the stricter-more-traditional sense of the word “wealth”, I find that as I get more exposure to the industry that the people who are in it really love it.  In that sense, they are all wealthy, and it’s a wealth I look forward to continue to share!