Monday, April 21, 2008

Beer 101- The fundamentals of Beer

Update Notice: due to persistent queries by confused readers, I have appended additional explanatory notes on water etc. A depressed reader who calls himself Anupam (this needs looking into more closely. It looks highly suspicious. Why would ANYONE go around calling himself Anupam, wantonly? ) claims that beer makes him fat. This will be taken up in a subsequent article “Fat 101: The fundamentals of Adipose”)

It is distressing to see the number of untrained, unlicensed Beer drinkers infesting Bangalore pubs. These people seem to imagine that Beer drinking is a casual leisure activity, something like kite flying and show-horse jumping. It is not. It is a serious activity meant only for dedicated and committed experts, who have taken the trouble to qualify for a License to Drink Beer (LDB) from the Bangalore Puber’s Association (BPA) or a similar reputable professional body.

For the benefit of the Beer illiterate, I have put together this basic manual which can help them qualify for a LDB level 1 with the BPA.

The following facts are Absolutely Imperative for any Beer drinker to know:-

  1. Beer is GOOD for you. It makes you Happy1.

  2. In Germany2, Beer is known as ‘Liquid Bread’

  3. Beer is made from Barley, Water and Hops3

  4. These three ingredients are mixed, fermented4 and distilled

  5. Then you drink5 it

1. Happy is a state of the ‘MIND. Mind is something you have, or don’t have. Very few people have a ‘mind’. Even fewer have a ‘happy’ mind. Those who do, invariably drink Beer.
2. Germany is a COUNTRY. A country is a big piece of land full of people. These people can be fat or thin, happy or sad. Germany is a big piece of land near Norway full of fat, happy people who drink Beer. Germany is a very happy country. Once in a while, when they aren’t happy, they start World Wars. It is better for Norway if Germans are happy.

3a. Hop is what you do when a German is not happy. You hop away very fast. When many people hop away, we use the plural form ‘hops’. For some strange reason, it is also the name of a plant with bitter tasting fruit which is added to Beer. Maybe it is because people who have to hop invariably feel bitter about it.

3b. Water is a strange colorless odorless fluid. Ulsoor Lake is full of it. You can go and have a look at it next time you are bunking office. No one quite knows what it is good for, except for adding to beer. In fact, many countries prohibit the consumption of water except in the form of beer. It is banned as a narcotic substance in Germany, Uruguay and Eretria. Possession of it can get you shot in China. DO NOT try to drink water illicitly, it can be fatal and you can get arrested. Try a mouthful of the stuff in Ulsoor Lake, and you’ll know what I mean. But don’t worry, it is quite safe when inside a beer bottle.

Here is a brave, adventurous lady drinking raw water from a wine glass. Don’t try this at home, kids. She's a professional.

3c. Barley is bit like corn, only more so. Corns are what you develop on your toes when you hike 10 miles in tight, smelly hiking boots. You don’t wanna get into more details, it gets ugly from this point on.

4. Ferment is an elegant word for rot. Yup. The same process that involves fetid smells, slimy, crawly things and large, oily bubbles. You don’t wanna think about it too much.

5. Drink is the process of holding the beer mug to the lips, and pouring it down the throat. Preferable your own. Note carefully: you ‘drink’ with your ‘mouth’. You do not, repeat do not, use other bodily orifice. Any attempt to do so will clearly mark you out as an amateur Beer drinker, the kind that pollutes Bangalore pubs.

Here is a nice lady demonstrating the process of drinking
Notice how the beer mug touches her LIPS. Not her ears or nose

Now test your knowledge with these questions. Don’t peek at the answers until done.
Q1. In Germany, Beer is also known as liquid ….
1. Rhubarb
2. Pumpkin
3. Carburetor
4. Bread

Q2. What are the main ingredients of Beer?
Select any THREE of the following options
1. Rubber
2. Barley
3. Gasoline
4. Water
5. Industrial Waste
6. Rhubarb
7. Hops
8. Oleander

Q3. Beer, for you, is…
1. Good
2. Bad
3. OK

Q4. What is the procedure for making beer?
Fill in the Blanks:
Barley, Water and Hops are first ___________ Then the resulting slush is _________for a few days. After that, the resultant (stinking) slush is _________ After that you drink it. This makes you very ________. You must be mad.

Q1: 4
Q2: 2, 4, 7 (Readers in China can also tick 5)
Q3: 1
Q4: Mixed, Fermented, Distilled, Happy

What was your score? If you scored more than 5, go ahead, let yourself loose in the nearest Pub. If not, shame on you! Try again.

Did you score more than 9? Gotcha! You have been drinking Beer without a license, haven’t you?
Image Credits: I have absolutely no idea.... I picked these from the net a long time ago when I was researching a class project on Oktoberfest. I think they are from some German sites on Oktoberfest. I'll be glad to credit them if someone tells me where they are from.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sob Unflower

A new apartment block came up a few months ago, a few blocks down from my house. Regaling under the sunny name of ‘SOBHA SUNFLOWER’, it was built by that redoubtable Bangalore Builder M/s Sobha Developers. Now Messars Sobha pride themselves on building sturdy, robust homes. Not airy-fairy post-modernist stuff- just nice solid brick and concrete. In keeping with their image, they emblazoned the entrance to the building with a large, sturdy cast-iron signage stating, pithily, “SOBHA SUNFLOWER’.

All well so far. But as the months went by and the previously empty building filled up with proud owners, we watched with concern as the signage started showing signs of premature aging…the letters kept falling off…getting put on again…and disappearing again.

There was much tut-tutting and pursing of lips all around. ‘This is not like Messars Sobha’, we said. ‘If even their signage is so flimsy, can we depend on their apartments?’ we asked ourselves gravely.

But we had wronged this noble builder. No. It now appears that it was the work of a joker or prankster. It appears that this comedian sneaks up on the walls when the burly guards aren’t looking, quickly biffs individual letters and runs away. Over days and many biffs, even the excellent Sobha workmanship has to give way, and a cast-iron character parts mooring from the concrete and takes the high dive.

But does this architectural humorist attack letters at random? No, there is a design, a magnificent comic design to this anarchist’s handiwork.

Six months and three painfully pried cast-iron characters later, the artist’s grand vision is finally revealed:-