Posts from 6th December 2003

Dec 03

THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF ALCOHOL – 6th December (5%-6%): Ayingerbrau Prinz

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THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF ALCOHOL – 6th December (5%-6%): Ayingerbrau Prinz

The Fat Man. The Jolly German. David Blaine. Just some of the names for that most famous native of the Bavarian Alps, Ayingerbrau lager. Ayingerbrau is an unusual brand for several reasons. It’s the cheapest lager in London outside of student bars or Wetherspoons’ style sheds (and may be cheaper than those chain pubs), but it’s also the only session lager to inspire real loyalty from its drinkers. Like several bitters, it has a definite identity, even if that identity boils down to the fat fellow in the plastic bar-top box.

There’s more to it than that, though. Ayingerbrau is curious for other reasons. Firstly its session brand seems to be better-liked than its premiums. Secondly it has an unusual three-tier booze structure: Ayingerbrau itself, weighing in at around 4.5% strength; the notorious 6.2% lager named D; and between them, the forgotten man of the Sam Smiths chain, Ayingerbrau Prinz.

Prinz at 5% is the Sam Smiths premium lager in theory but in fact its position is less clear-cut. With Ayingerbrau so close to Prinz in strength the lines between session and premium blur slightly, and drinkers whose aim is getting drunk may well head straight for the D. (On an evening out with Vic Fluro the effects of this strategy were plain: despite a five-pint head start for Dr Thomson and I, Vic was as hammered as us after three rounds on the D.) In addition, the Prinz tap ‘ a modest blue oval ‘ is dwarfed at the bar by the famous Ayingerbrau man and by the D tap, a squat and boxy thing.

So what is it good for? Not drinking, sadly. Ayingerbrau beers get nastier the higher up the range you go. The session lager is notoriously moreish and a favourite of mine, a crisp and light on the belly drink which quite belies its risky 4.5% abv. Prinz wears its extra half-percent heavily: it’s a sharper, gassier lager with a noticeable aftertaste. It’s not as anonymous as Stella but it’s nowhere near as nice as other continental premiums. (D, if you are mad enough to try it, is like a more treacly Prinz. But if you’re drinking D then the taste is not what you’re here for.)

To be fair, I have seen plenty of men ordering rounds of Prinz in a Sam Smiths: I always feel that they are missing out rather on what gives the chain its character. But one simple move would change my mind: giving Prinz a character of its own! A dashing Ruritanian nobleman, perhaps, with flowing moustache, to sit next to his stout plebeian friend on top of the bar. Then maybe this curious lager anomaly will get its due.

Omigod it can’t be it is it’s ___________!!!

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Omigod it can’t be it is it’s ___________!!! On the C4 doc just now finishing abt some WW2 commando raid, complete with mined ship smashing into a German dry-dock in the Loire, the old fellow with a slightly florid nose was naggingly familiar. Actually it even had his name written across the screen, but with that war-time nickname inserted – “Tiger”! – it took me ages to realise the amiable and amusing veteran being interviewed was my School Doctor!! Who I haven’t set eyes on since I wz about 15, of course: and who I most clearly remember from when he had to give us a talk about the “facts of life”…

Better than this actually is when my sister and I were watching a TV expos’ of Bhagwhan Rajneesh years back, and there among the daft followers jumping up and down at his ranch near Antelope wz Mrs ______ who had once lived near us in Shropshire, had not really succeeded in teaching Becky the piano, and who also gave pony-riding lessons. We knew she wz a follower – no fewer than FIVE of the teachers at my school had left their jobs to become bhag-ppl, inc.her husband – but we didn’t know she’d gone all the way to Oregon!

PAUL ANKA – “Diana”

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#63, 30th August 1957

This one was a big favourite of my Dad’s, so my memory of it is half affectionate and half curdled: I remember trips north to see relatives with him singing lustily along and surly me in the back seat wanting to put my Smiths tapes on.

So it’s hard for me to hear this as a teenage song, even though my Dad was a teenager when he liked it. The busy, scrabbly guitar picking and the almost-breaking voice work as markers for ‘the teenage’ and its fumbling urgency – but that’s something I know about the song, not feel. To be honest “Diana” annoys me – Anka’s “ohhhh please” sounds gormless and he sings the verses too rhythmic, too precise. Maybe I just prefer Dad singing it, ’cause the clockwork guitars work for me fine.