Friday, 26 August 2011

Scotland- And There It Goes

Well, that’s it. As depressing as it is to say it like that, it’s true. Scotland is done, at least for now. This will be the last blog post for this one. I’m sure somewhere down the line I’ll get another one up but for now, this is it. These are my notes, in point form to save time, from the past 8 months. This isn’t a complete list I’m sure, and isn’t in order, but it’s good enough.

- Learned a lot of sweet new words
- learned more about drugs and drug use than chemistry ever taught me
- discovered what actual wind feels like. Constant and cold.
- learned to brew world class beer where I picked up the best habits of all the brewers
- was introduced to Johnny Cupcakes
- watched loads of TV shows (how I met your mother, big bang theory, the league etc.)
- went to England to see friends and drink
- tried over 250 new beers
- made lots of friends and connections in the industry
- learned loads about whisky
- got dickered twice (probably not what you think it means)
- I hate tourists despite being one. That makes me Scottish, right? Don’t come to Fringe and see the castle. Go see a show you stingy cunts
- train travel is fun and way cheaper than home
- living alone blows and I need people around to keep my sane
- people here are absolutely amazing and much nicer
- North Americans are loud apparently (I’d argue its more Americans, not Canadians)
- I love Canadian stereotypes and being Canadian more than anything
- I fell in love with this country and it breaks my heart to leave. The shitty thing about travelling is that you have to leave. If you don’t leave, you aren’t travelling are you?
- If there are any hot Scottish girls reading this, I wouldn’t mind moving back and living here down the road. ;)
- I like my beard and think I look better with it
- I love my family to bits but only in small doses
- My liver can take more now and I get less hung over for some reason. Training?
- If I’m not learning anything, I hate my life
- Rain is okay, but rainy days are amazing when you are inside. Thunder storms are still better and don’t really exist here
- I need to learn how to say goodbye so I don’t blurt out things I don’t mean and lose friends because of it. #idiot
- I’m much more drawn to performing than I’ve ever realized. I just love comedy, magic and everything Fringe has to offer. Very inspirational
- Nessie is a fuck face and never said hi
- I don’t know where I’m going but it isn’t where I am right now
- I have a problem with authority but not due to lack of entitlement
- I don’t want to just know beer, I want to know everything about the beverage industry including coffee. I will learn coffee.
- My friends mean the world to me and losing friends might be the worst thing ever
- Sorting out rooms and roommates from across the pond is a bit tricky
- I can wake up and have perfectly coherent conversations at any time
- There are no calories when travelling or at the pub. Beer does not have calories. Science fact of the day
- My hands a very beat up and tough but I now have a high tolerance to heat
- I’m a list maker (case and point right here) and count on my fingers (like I’m 4)
- Scotland has lots of sheep
- Edinburgh felt more like home than Fraserburgh ever did
- The collective group of men known as douche bags seem to be in smaller numbers
- The Scottish breakfast is actually one of the most amazing meals
- The people here are probably the nicest in the world (aside from Canadians of course)
- When in doubt, use more hops
- Trains are better than busses any day of the week
- The people I worked with are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met ever
- I might be repeating points but don’t really care because that’s how important they are
- I don’t have a drinking problem, I hardly ever spill
- Travelling takes a lot out of you but it is well worth it
- Coffee is for the weak and sleep is a bit overrated
- Cask ale isn’t all shit but BrewDog is by FAR better than it can ever be
- BrewDog bar staff are all amazing but I do have to say that Edinburgh is tied with Aberdeen, and Glasgow I just don’t know well enough
- The only animal more common to see in the fields than sheep are the noble Haggis
- I can now hear Canadian accents and yes, they do sound a bit like the stereotypes
- The word “out” is how most people distinguish Canadians from Americans
- No one likes gingers, not even gingers. Bit of a pickle isn’t it?
- Scottish Duty Free shops have a better whisky selection than the LCBO. Fail.
- Harry Potter might have been “born” in Edinburgh but he isn’t Scottish. He never gets drunk
- I love everything about beer from ideas to brewing and consumption
- I love people but fuck are most of them retarded
- “Awesome” is a very north American word to say which is too bad. It’s an awesome word.
- School sucks and at the end of the day, a degree isn’t much more than bragging rights. Marks don’t mean shit
- Engineers are useless and need to get proper jobs. Wankers
- When you do something stupid you need to laugh it off. Stupid things are usually the best stories
- Having a childs attitude but an adults intelligence is a dangerous mix. I’m bound to get beat up

There are many more and coming home is like nothing changes. As I type this I'm sitting in Northern Quebec looking out over the water on a patio at a sick chalet with 2 great friends and beer. Life is good but I miss Scotland already. I might see you guys sooner than later.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

August 10- Round 3

Again I woke up without a hangover. This is getting very unreal since I used to get massive hangover and would feel bad for days afterwards. I then popped out to Tesco to get milk and cereal for breakfast. Chris actually had a day off (well, that was the plan but he did have a meeting and stuff) so after a bit of chillin, a quick shower and my cereal we headed in on the bus (pouring rain all day. Send it to London and fix their problems. The world should just trade weather with itself. How awesome would that be?)

Chris and I split up for a few hours with plans to meet up at BrewDog around 6 so I had a few hours to go and kick around the city doing the usual. Pleasance for free tickets. Again, I scored some. A sketch comedy show which I was skeptical about but hey, that’s the theme.

I went to the box office with the ticket bit and dropped the secret words (like a spy would. Pretty cool eh?) and got my ticket. Waiting to get in I started chatting to 2 people from England who did the same thing I did. One was a med student and the other was a forensics student (This is the second time I’ve been told forensics is chemistry. It isn’t). They also had heard of and been to BrewDog the night before. The show was decent. The problem I have with sketch comedy is that it has no lasting story to keep you in. Where it lacks that it has a fast paced feel with lots of changing new stuff. This show had its moments so again I’d say it was a quarter good. This wasn’t a win in my books but at least now I know. If you never go, never say it or never step out there you will never know. Theme of the week. The beautiful thing about Fringe is that they are artists and know what’s up. Sadly most people don’t keep an open mind about these things so I’d say go step out of your comfort zone and live a little. Message over.

The timing on this show was brilliant as it ended just as I had to meet Chris. The moment Chris walked in I could tell that something was up and I was right. Luckily him making fun of my recent events cheered him up. That and punching me for knocking cask ale all the time. Glad I could help. We had a quick half and headed out to the Hollyrood 9A for amazing burgers and a quick pint. Sean also met up with us for dinner and then Sean and I headed back to the bar for a few drinks. It might be the last time I see him so we had a good number and dipped into the bottles a bit. As he left Chris and Bruce showed up again as did the guys from Heriot-Watt and little Stewart who works up at the Brewery. Party all night again but I was trying to avoid it since I had an early train. Not happening. I was there until close and got a surprised look from Iain since I wasn’t that drunk (or I tricked him). I’m not sure why but either I’m pacing myself very well or just getting a very high tolerance. That and having real conversations always keeps me a bit sober (by real I mean not bar chat but actual beer and whisky chat). For some reason I’m also very conscious and observant in bars. I spot people who are having a bit too much, see the problems developing and just can’t help watching people. People are so interesting and entertaining. I live by the theory that you only have to regret something if you don’t learn anything from it.

Another late night but this time I had to get up to be somewhere. Thanks for a baller week Fringe. Well done.

August 9- Fringe and Me Act 2

I woke up feeling great. No hangover, no sick stomach and no headache. If there is one thing I love about Scotland it is that it’s helped me not have such bad hangovers. Cheers to that.

My day started off with a quick stop into Cornelius to drop Pete and James a bottle of AB:02 and chat a bit. I got a tin of Big Swell for the road (high-class for Fringe. That’s how I roll. Like. A. Boss) and headed down town to find me some more free tickets. I also stopped by the bar and grabbed a growler of punk for the road. I went a chilled in Pleasence for a few hours, got some food and chatted to people for a bit. I got a ticket to go see 2 comedians. Gotta love free stuff.

Again, this is a show I though I might not like. Why this time? Australian? Midget? Man with a horse face? No, much more racist than that. It was a show by 2 black comedians. I’m not racist by any means (actually we are all a bit racist but we can’t help it. I have sources if you don’t believe me); I’m just not a fan of most black comedians. They are usually relying on overacting, being super loud and being black. If you know Chris Rock then you all know what I mean. I was half right. They show started off with some general banter with the audience and chat amongst the 2 of them. Then one steps to the side and the other starts his act. He was exactly what I expected and was not too happy about it. I pushed through. The next guy got up and started (through a very well done transition) and he was very good. Everything I like about comedy; Quick, relevant, clever and well timed. He didn’t do any of the usual loudness and arm waving. Half win (or is that a tie? Who cares)

Next I headed up to BrewDog to have a quick Nanny State because I had to work. That’s right everyone, I poured beers and worked for 2 hours FOR FUN. I have an odd sense of fun according to most people but for me it helps me see how much people like what I do and makes me feel all warm inside. After my “shift” I was told I had a job if I wanted one but having 2 weeks left and preferring brewing I declined for now. FOR NOW. Remember, I’m back in a year or 2 so keep that offer open.

Then Chris and I met up and headed to Pleasance for a pint of generic beer (which wasn’t offensive oddly enough) and watched the whole thing happen. A few people hyping up shows approached us but then we got an offer we couldn’t refuse: A Canadian comedian who won Newcomer of the Year at Just for Laughs. It was a sign from god (oh, take your pick of what god you want since he doesn’t exist) so there we went. Wade McElwain (Look it up and watch him). Super funny guy with a good number of jokes that are funnier to a Canadian or anyone who has visited. Did I mention this was in a venue called the Caves? They are actually caves and the ceiling drips on you. Cool stuff. Anyway, after his show on the way out I just said to him “Oh Canada” to which he laughed and started chatting. Turns out he is from the same area I’m from, went to the school my dad taught at (my dad taught him) and knows the owner of the brewery that Chris and I used to work for. We left an open invite for him at the BrewDog bar for a few pints of course. Actually, I told everyone about the bar and to go and a number of people did. Working overtime. Anyway, amazing show and worth going to if you are around. Note: Cheers to beers is a line he used a lot and it annoyed me. I tell you because you are reading this and must value my opinion somewhat.

We then headed back to the bar to see if anyone was around because if not I was going to head home early again. That just isn’t the case when I step in that bar. Kerry was back off shift with Chris from Black Isle and another guy who has name but I just can’t remember what it is. After a few more beers, including a half pint of Jah Va. I then got a very motherly talk from Kerry (It was a very drunken one at that. thanks Iain for setting that one up), which did actually make me feel a bit better.

Another badass day out in the city. Man I’m starting to miss it already and I’m only in Aberdeen right now. It seems that 2 or 3 am nights are the trend this week.

August 8- Fringe and Me

This past week I was lucky enough to be given 4 days off in a row so instead of sitting in Fraserburgh contemplating why all the buildings are grey and why the hell I didn’t leave long ago I thought I’d capitalize and see the worlds biggest and best arts festival. FRINGE BITCHES!

I’ll go day by day.

Now, I’m not sure how many of you know this, probably all since no random people read this bollocks, but I’m a huge fan of comedy and magic so being at fringe was unreal. Just walking around and chatting with strangers, getting loads of flyers for shows and seeing the city so alive was awesome. That being said, I hate tourists and they were in my way most of the time and I’m told that’s how I know Scotland is home.

This is how I did fringe: Find shows that are a) free and b) ones that I didn’t think I’d like. I know this sounds stupid and if you are heading to a show that you don’t think you will like you probably won’t like it but I’m so happy I did it this way. I went to see a female comedian because usually, in a non-sexist way, they suck. Most of them just bitch about being women, do a lot of whining and talk about their menstrual cycle. That and most can’t interact well in an audience but that’s just my analytical mind dissecting comedy. This woman was funny, clever, witty and could go off the cuff (and did so very well) when she wanted to. She loved chatting about one mans small balls. Desperation maybe? First show was a hit. Amazing.

 Next I decided, based on a recommendation from my buddy Keith, to see Barry and Stuart who are two magicians from the UK. This was an unreal show. They way they set it up was pure brilliance. They initially gave the audience 3D style glasses but both with red lenses which confused everyone. BUT WAIT: there was a plan. These glasses were your pass to seeing the magic exposed for the first trick. They GAVE YOU THE OPTION to see how it was done and if you didn’t want to, you could just keep the glasses on and have it be a mystery. I obviously watched since I already knew the basics and just wondered if they were doing anything super new. This set up is unreal giving everyone the choice. After that the stuff they did was quick, edgy and very cool ways of doing “classics” (for the record, the argument “it’s a classic” is a piss poor argument) which was amazing to see. The show was called “Show & Tell” and was broken into 2 halves. The Show was obviously what I saw but if you wanted to, you could get tickets for The Tell where they exposed all the stuff they did in The Show. No other act offers something like that. Talk about building your own experience of shows is usually something you have in your head but this takes it to a whole new level. I’m going to stop now but I could go on all day.

Between shows I usually headed down to the BrewDog bar for a quick beer and to either drop off or pick up my sweater or just chilled around the Udderbelly (a giant upside down purple cow) or Pleasence to score free tickets. Later this night after the shows and stuff I headed back to BrewDog and was going to have a quick beer and an early night (about 12 by this time) since I had been up all night working the night before and I was almost dead. BUT no no, life doesn’t work like that. I started chatting to this cute girl at the bar (yeah I know. Girls in beer bars are so hot) after she told me she was Russian and took a drink to her friend I called her on it. She was from North Carolina. After a while chatting more with her and her friends, one of which was having a birthday, they invited me out to Sneaky Pete’s. I don’t say no when cute girls are involved so there I went. Now, I don’t fucking dance. I hate dancing and don’t like clubs so you know that this was a bad move for me. I’ve pretty much put together how my chat ups make girls think. This is it (in their heads)

Hey, he’s cute. Oh wow, funny too. Canadian (everyone likes Canadians apparently) Wow, he’s really funny and clever. Dude, Comic genius. Wow he’s also really smart.

As long as I can stay at a bar chatting, I have no issues but once you bring dancing into the equation I fail. So after about 20 minutes of me pretending I can dance (plus the music kinda sucked. I’d prefer some dubstep to he honest) her roommate fucks off with some guy and she says to me “sorry, you can’t stay with me anymore” (I tried I don’t have a place to stay bit but being in a BrewDog bar who I work for it isn’t that effective). A lapse in communication between Chris and I (who is a legend for letting me have his spare keys and a room for a few nights) didn’t help either.

So after a few good night kisses I headed back to BrewDog to “Dude, I thought you were in.” I had to explain how my club game is shit and how I don’t dance as well as the rest. A few hugs made it better. Such loving bar staff we have (quick note: Edinburgh staff are my favourite. Sorry Aberdeen, I just feel like we don’t know each other any more.) (quick note 2: Word needs to stop being so fucking American and let me CORRECT the spelling of words like favourite and colour permanently)

That’s day 1, an early 3:30 night.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

August 3- Pure Excitement

Let me start by saying that I am on night shift so I'm posting this at my 4 am. Why? I'm not really sure but I woke up and can't get back to sleep so I thought getting some of my excitement out on the web might help me get some more sleep before work.

This next month of my life could very well by the most epic and very drunk month of my life. These are my plans and I can't wait to execute them.

This Saturday I'm heading down to Edinburgh to see my mate Chris, get a small taste of the Fringe Festival and hang out with my good friend Laura before she heads back to the land of fat people, baseball and god blessing everyone. This is only phase 1.

On Monday I'm heading back down to Edinburgh for 3 nights to get a real taste of Fringe. Last time I was down I saw the city just at the start of the summer just as the tourists started to come (I say that like I live there but hey, in a year or 2 it will be home. How ballin' is that?) . I'm stoked to see the city and Fringe at its busiest. I know I'm going to see lots of shows (whatever is free at least) and meet lots of people. I plan on doing what was suggested to me by my friend George. Go around and tell blatant lies to tourists about statues, buildings and the lot. This has to be fun since one of my favourite things to do is mess with people.

After coming back up here I only have 5 shifts left. That is a scary small number and can't really believe it. That is almost 8 months gone and I'm still wondering where the last 7 went. Then I have a MUSA dinner before I go, then 1 more shift. After my last shift I am heading straight out to Glasgow to see the new bar. This might be the most exciting moment of it all because I hear nothing less than it's amazing.

From Glasgow I'm heading to Edinburgh for 2 nights to meet up with my friend Mike who is coming up from Reading for the weekend. Seeing as how we both managed to get jobs in the UK it would be stupid not to get together in the best city during its busiest and raid the BrewDog bar for all it has. That weekend will again be very messy.

After I wake up on the Monday I'm back up here to finish packing my stuff, say my goodbyes and then heading back to Aberdeen for my last night in Scotland. Obviously I'll be spending it at the BrewDog bar as this will be the last time (I'm tearing up thinking about it) I'll get to drink BrewDog beer for a long time since I can't get it in Ontario. This is also the last BrewDog bar experience I'll have for at least a year. I might need to come visit next summer for a week or 2.

After I spend a day in and out of airports I'll be home and I gotta admit I'm looking forward to it. While Scotland is great this town is a bit dead and seeing people will be amazing. I also miss driving (on the correct side of the road, the right) and a ton of other little things. I'm only home for 1 night, cramming seeing my family, especially my cousins Blake and Brooke, into the next half a day before I head off to Hamilton to move into school (shivers). I have a night there and then I'm off on my road trip for 2 weeks. Tours set up for Brooklyn, Dogfish Head, Flying Dog and Southern Tier. There are also a bunch of other perks including a saturday night in Montreal (bound to be epic) and a few days in NYC. If anyone has suggestions as to where I should go and what I should see in New York, let me know. It isn't all about beer.

This seems like it might be the "August of Dreams" and let us hope it turns out that way. I'll be keeping you posted in this space with updates as to how it all progresses in Scotland. Once I leave I'll probably start up a YouTube channel for the US trip and then who knows after that. Maybe I'll just travel the world and not go back to school. All I know is that this year will be the best year of my life and school is going to be taking a back seat to travelling, brewing and living (it already did the past few years but my schedule is such a joke I could just forget it and still pull off A's).

Sunday, 31 July 2011

August 1- Calibration, Analysis and the Countdown

If you couldn't really tell from my last blog post that actually shared no information, at least not enough to mean anything to anyone, I've had a lot of stuff on my mind lately. Most of it I'm not going to talk about because we know I'm shit at it and frankly, most of you don't care.

This past week I've had a good number of realizations. Some I've discovered for myself and others took a comment from someone else to realize but either way, I'm learning something.

Today at work I had my first calibration day in a while. Today reminded me why I really do love my job and why this is about to be the best summer EVER (I still have a month left, put that white towel down). A peaceful Sunday in the brew house was exactly what I needed. Only having slept about 5 hours on Friday and 6 on Saturday I was pretty tired. I didn't do any exercise on my day off and I was feeling a bit like a fat kid. Luckily everyone was tired so it was slow and nice. It was the essentials. Making beer and listening to music. I also got to shovel out the mash tun, twice. This was a good bit of endorphin release. The past few weeks I've been feeling that this brewing thing was actually becoming a job. The same stuff everyday with little to no deviation. Now for you that know me I'm never really content with what I'm doing (or I have ADD, ADHD or some odd combination of the 2) and I'm always looking for more. While I am still learning stuff everyday it isn't as much as I was months ago and it doesn't seem as useful. This is why I have a problem with school, but I won't get into that.

Looking at yourself in a honest sense is a hard thing to do. I've been watching a good bit of Demetri Martin lately (he is a genius, so go check it out) and his show "If I" and it was kind of an eye opener. He does a "full" analysis of himself as a person and even though it is a comedy show it isn't all that funny. You get a sense of who he actually is and why his comedy is what it is. Obviously he is acting so the potential for over exaggeration is high it still makes you think. I've realized that my attitude towards partying and actually partying were converging, something I've never seen before. I'm usually all about partying verbally but when it comes down to it I like to maintain my composure and sit back. Analyze a situation and pick things apart. Since being here this sense of wonder about general interactions seems to have faded a bit. It very well might be that when I see people I get so excited that I can't help but go all out but when it is readily available (eg. at school) it seems so much less interesting. I also noticed that I have developed a need to see people as much as I can, whenever I can. This is also a fairly new. I love people, they get me thinking and entertain me but I never had such a strong urge to see people all the time. Again, it might be solely due to isolation but I just need to get out and interact with people. At school I was never like this. Most people need to spend time alone every now and then, it's a fact, and I'm no different. Now that I've been forced to spend my time alone I'm not such a fan of it. I like the option of chilling alone. Maybe I just have a problem with being pushed around by circumstance which is why I make the effort to see the people I like when I can. There was a point where I was kind of down, a bit confused and worrying a lot about my life and the fact that real life is creeping up and I think I lost track of what I'm about. I can safely say that I know again, at least for now. Shit happens and things change. It's life.

The Countdown
I have 9 shifts left. I have just over 3 weeks left in this country before I take a step closer to real life. There are loads of things I haven't done yet that I really wish I had but there are tons of things I never though I'd do that I have so I think I have, at the very least, broken even. I wanted to do some more travelling but my position at the brewery became more crucial each month as I learned more, got trained up and proved myself. I know I'll have another chance to travel so I'm not so concerned. I didn't know what a  cĂ©ilidh was before I got here and BAM, I've been to one. I have a few days of the Fringe festival coming up which will be awesome to see. Sure, I've missed things on my list but I've added more than I've missed and with just over 3 weeks left, I have a few more to add I'm sure. I am super excited about going home but not for the usual reasons. I'm stoked to see the rest of my family, especially Blake and Brooke, I'm pumped to see my friends and a bit excited to get back to school (not for classes. I'm dreading that the most). I'm most excited because I have a good number of adventures lined up. 2 week road trip with 2 good friends to the US to meet brewers, visit breweries and live it up. Trip to Michigan to see a real college football game (not soccer, football) sometime in the next few months and oddly enough, I'm excited to get home and drink all the beers I used to drink. I'm sure most of them will be dismissed as bad because I've been spoiled the past 7 months but I'm not going in hoping that. I hope this gives me a better appreciation for what they are.

I'm actually not sure where this blog came from, journeyed through or has ended up but I think it makes sense. If you want to get this information as it happens in 140 characters or less you should follow me on Twitter. btaylor55 . You might also get some cool updates about BrewDog, new beers and what secrets we are cooking up. I'm just saying, it is probably worth your while.

Rock on.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

July 24th- Too Much

I know I skipped the last day of my trip with my parents but I'll tell you all in person since it is that unreal. You need to see me get all bent out of shape with excitement for it to count. Trust me.

I also know most of you are thinking "too much what? beer? this kids an alcoholic."
I'm not, and it has nothing to do with beer.

It just kind of occurred to me that I only have 4 weeks left in Scotland. I've been gone for almost 7 months now and only have one left. I don't know where the time goes. Home maybe? (an old Bill Nye joke from the electricity episode. Yeah, I remember stupid shit from grade 9 science).

I'm currently juggling loads of things, trying to plan for my return and departure for my road trip, I just found another house mate, setting up and paying for my courses, finding time to go visit friends in the US in Sept/Oct and obviously starting to pack my stuff, sort out what I'm doing with days off and deciding what whisky i'm taking home with me (my collection made it home with my parents if you were wondering. that's one less thing to worry about)

I've hit a point where my brain is spinning faster than ever because I have so much to do. I'll be honest, I do kind of like it but sadly there is no one to share my ideas with. I've started to do some serious planning for my future business endeavours, considered where I'm going next year for my placement and reading lots of books that motivate me. I can't wait to get home because I'm sick of the weather here, I need my friends around to listen to my random ramblings about ideas I have and I need stuff to do. I'm actually going bat shit insane stuck in my own head. That is one cost of working for BrewDog: your sanity.

As you can probably tell from the spastic nature of this post I just needed to get some of the shit on my mind out there, even if its only the tip of the iceberg.

If you detox after a trip to feel better (eg. running, eating healthy, cutting down on drinking), do you pretox before a trip? To me pretoxing sounds like you are getting trained up for a trip of liver destroying consumption so is there a word to describe the act of detoxing before a trip. Eating healthy, little drinking and working out before a trip so you fell less bad sounds like a good idea. Can we make a word or just use pretox? I need opinions.

I'll stop vomiting my thoughs onto the page now and let you carry on with your day. I know its sunday and most of you are probably thinking a detox might be a good idea after last night so I hope this sobers you up a bit. In all fairness it will probably just confuse you as much as it has me.