Why did I stop? What about pursuing your dream? Are you just a lazy bastard? Well let me see if I can sum up the last 6 months or so for you...
So when I left you last 7 months ago to the day, we were still in the mist of the rugby world cup, we were all working crazy hours and everything was a bit nuts. So why did I stop blogging. Well I if really think about it one of the major reasons is because things were not going to swimmingly at work. For all of you who have worked in hospitality you know it can be unforgiving and thankless. So I did not want to want to get on this blog and do nothing but bitch and moan about the job that I talked about the job I was so looking forward to. Also I did not want to mention things that could get me into trouble, especially since one of our owners is especially tech-savvy and will no doubt read it. But what is a blog if you are not free to speak your mind? I have things I have to say and if people are interested then they should be able to read about it. Having all this stuff pent up has changed me, and not for the better so it is time to share it with those of you who care.
So to start I will start off with a bit of a rant of what has not been great in the last 7 months, that way I can end on some lovely happy things about the last 7 months.
To start with we unfortunately had the worst General Manager I could possibly imagine. Should I name him? am I defaming him? (asks inner lawyer). No am not I have the defense of truth and honest opinion, go my B- in Tort law!. I wont name him but I'm sure many of you will know. Where to begin? well this guy was a real piece of work. He would yell and swear at employees, he threatened to put his size 11's up peoples butts (I felt like giving him a piece of my size 13s), he sexually harassed the female staff (in my in others opinions), he would lock himself in the office on a busy night for long periods of time and not help, called last drinks on a bar with 50 people 3 hours before the end of our licence, and then swore at me for telling him that people were a bit bemused by the call (as it turns out he had to be up early the next day to be an extra in a TV show). He would even phone the bar from the office (5 meters away) and ask someone to bring him in 2 cans of coke and a steak sandwich, believe me he could live without the 2nd coke). So long story short it was hell working for this guy. I never thought I would say this but thank you 90 day trail law, because some 80ish days later his ass was gone, I only wish he could have given him a piece of my mind before he had gone.
So post this waste of space of a person. Work got better, the owner operator took over the General Manager position, he really does know his stuff. I was not stuck exclusively on cleaning glasses, we all do a lot of them, we have had many staff come and go. Most leaving back overseas, some moving to higher positions elsewhere to keep their visas. Now only a couple of originals remain, being me the 2 remaining duty managers and one part time person. So what is hospitality life like after 3 and a half years of policy work. Well to answer this I have to say I got into all of this on my own accord, so any bitching I do is stuff that I knew or should have known would be part of the deal.
One thing about this kind of work is the hours. At the start they were too short, not getting enough hours to get by, but then as staff left, the split shift became more of feature. This is were you start in the morning (as early as 9am for stocktake, but usually 10:30am or midday) and have an unpaid break of anywhere from 30mins to 3 hours. I don't complain about the times now, sometimes I have time to hit the gym and have something to eat. You often can finish at anytime from 10:30pm to around 1am, that amount of time on your feet defiantly makes a 8hr shift feel like 10 or a 10hr shift feel like 13. This pretty much is just your day. I have not seen my friends apart from when they come to the bar, or when on the very odd occasion I am free I am usually quite jaded, not quite myself.
I told people at my last job that no, the hospo lifestyle will not get the better of me, I will keep up with my workouts and diet... some of that is true but it has defiantly had a negative impact of my health. Sometimes there is just not time to prepare a healthy meal, no money to buy healthy meals or eat at regular times when you are serving other during dining hours. Sure you are burning calories on your feet all day, but it is not the same as having a 60min run or weights. The toll on your body is such that you don't want to go to the gym for an hour then be on your feet, lifting thing (often lifting kegs up stairs, with 2 people now, with the old manager it was a 65kg keg up the stairs by yourself) Sometimes at work you just eat a fries or wings because that is all you have time for. Also one of my concerns is what hospo has done to my hands, cleaning things constantly all day with abrasive chemicals has aged my hands, with small cuts, chemical burn and general dermatitis that I have never in my life come across, it really is a horrible condition.
This brings me to the money. Wow I wish there was a tipping system in NZ now. Kiwis earning anywhere near the minimum wage have it rough. Many people who work or used to work with me all got paid significantly more for working fewer hours. Now I am not bitching about how little I get paid in general, that is what I signed on for, but it does make even affording to do my brewing at home hard work.
This brings me to my final moan I promise. The Fork and Brewer has been the Fork and Barman for the last 7 months, yes we are so close we can taste it now but it has been a long and frustrating wait. If it is bad for me a guy who just wants to help out and learn the ropes of brewing commercially, then our head brewer who is also working behind the bar must be extremely frustrated as well. I could live with crazy hours low pay if I was there for what I wanted to do, get into the brewery and help out be it from cleaning out the mash tun to whatever they needed me to do.
Ok rant over (stops to get lunch). Now for the good things at work. Beer, we have some great beer on at work consistently having quality craft beers on everyday (except sundays when the doors are locked). I get to be on the cutting edge of NZ beer. We have had beer launches, Wellington in a pint, a month of Mild Ales (we still have a couple on tap well worth trying). Being the token beer geek at the bar has good and bad things about it, good, you can help explain to customers the ins and outs of beer, help them with what you think they might like (I have to say that most of my co-workers are pretty good at this). Talk to people about styles. I get to talk to people in the beer community on a regular basis. Do I get annoyed with customers, sometimes, but for the most part I enjoy interacting with people on a regular basis.
I have made some excellent contacts, excellent friends and learnt a lot about the beer and hospitality trades. But really where my passion lies is at home with my home brewing. Both the bar and my brewing led to this article in the Wellingtonian and on Stuff.co.nz http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/local-papers/the-wellingtonian/6807954/A-tale-of-ales-from-bar-to-bar.
So last time I talked about a Kiwifruit wheatbeer, that feels like a lifetime ago, but infact I think I drunk the last of it last night. So here is a list of what I have been homebrewing taking into account this is the last 7 months of 15months of home-brewing some have been much better than others:
- Failed old man Mocha porter - from the name you can tell it failed, it was too sweet for my liking, I thought it was due to too much lactose, but really it was too much crystal malt, I did not know enough about the fermentability of it at the time, I have learnt and have never used that much again. Am currently leaning from that while making my Coffee beers for Wellington in a Pint
- Hopoate IPA - it has hops up the arse! (google it for the reference if you don't get it). This beer was the best I had made so far, it had excellent stone fruit aroma, lovely tight bubbles taste of peaches, nectarines and a bit of orange, it had a lasting bitterness that may have been a little harsh but I got good feedback on it
- Blender whiskey porter - I thought I would use oakchips in a porter for the first time (I have done a lot more since then. This has been a very popular beer for me, I originally was going to blend it with the failed mocha porter, but this beer was sweet enough by itself, it had a high alcohol content at 7%, it had chocolaty whiskey notes, also notes of banana (likely from a high fermentation tempreture), was big and rich. I ended up giving a few of these to my dad and he loved them. Not how I pictured it tasting, but one of my favorites so far.
- Raging Raisin Belgium strong ale - This recipe was taken from Sam Calagione's Extreme brewing. The recipe called for raisins, belguim candy sugar and was STRONG. This in the end tasted really nice, but at the back of the mouth was a huge phenol alcohol flavour that was way strong than I ended. At 10% alcohol I only drink one of these on a rare occasion.
- The Full Nelson Imperial Pale Ale - This beer was made with Neil Miller in mind a massive fan of both hops and Wrestling. It as my first imperial pale ale it came in at about 8% alcohol. It used all Nelson Sauvin hops, and a lot of them! It was double dry hopped and had a beautiful aroma, lovely flavours but as the worlds most recognized beer writer (Stephen Beaumont) who was given my beer by Neil said, he liked the flavour but there needed to be a better integration of the hops and malts, giving a more balanced beer, I could not agree more so I will defiantly remake this beer in the near future.