The Saturday miscellany: Craft beer in cans; starfish on the menu; how to suck up to your teacher


The digested fad: Craft beer in cans

By Holly Williams

Small is beautiful. When it comes to craft beer, it used to be all about draught versus bottle, but there's a new, dinky contender on the scene: the 12 fl oz can. These stubby fellows are being spotted in brew bars, dude-food joints and beyond.

Small beer cans have been in common usage in the States for decades, but are beginning to break through in the UK. Some part of this may be due to the rise of Czech craft beer, Hobo, which is sold exclusively in diddy cans.

It stems from practical concerns as well as being the American hipster's booze receptacle of choice: cans keep oxygen out, meaning that beer is much less likely to have its taste tainted. They also stop beer being 'lightstruck' as it would be in see-through receptacle. Previously, canning facilities were only affordable to giant brewing companies, but now the crafties, like Hobo and others, are on the case.

They're also a boon for pubs and restaurants, too. As you can crush them, they're much cheaper to dispose of. They also cool down quickly, and are easy to store.

So, from necessity rises in-the-know niche drinking: you can now crack a ring-pull on posh beers by Palm, Brooklyn Brewery and Brewdog. Just don't expect it to cost the same as a can of Coke.

Can I eat that? Unorthodox digestion queries, answered. This week: starfish

By Tom Peck

Yes, you can eat starfish. Well, most of them you can't, they're poisonous, but one type, the northern pacific sea star, is a delicacy in (you've guessed it) Japan.

People there have been biting into the world's most inanimate species for centuries.

Their views are in contrast to Hannibal Lecter, who, it's documented, favoured the cheeks, by virtue of the muscle there having done the most exercise.

Starfish, on the other hand, don't move, and the consequences are clear. Boil, add salt, and you have what might be the world's most rubbery dish. Asian tastebuds are known to hold as much sway by texture as taste, a notion that is a anathema to the West.

Of course there are many types of starfish, and some can regrow their appendages if they're guillotined cleanly, causing crazy dieteers to speculate over whether a mutilated starfish in the belly might eat up your calories for you.

Can I eat that? Yes. Should/could/why/how/where would I eat that? That's another matter.

Instant ethics

By Ellen E Jones

Dear Ellen

Q. My wife never ever takes the bins out. Ever. What should I do?

A. Assuming we're beyond the "ask politely" state, I suggest you cease talks and move to unilateral action.

Option a) Accept she contributes in other ways and stop complaining.

Option b) Never take the bins out again and await the rat hordes.

Tweet your problem to @MsEllenEJones

How to: Suck up to your teacher

By Liam O'Brien

You can't always rely on your children to be polite and do all their homework, so you'll have to bribe teachers to make sure they get good reports. Here's how...

* An apple might endear your child to the teacher, but they'll have to be discreet to avoid ridicule from classmates. In 18th-century Scandanavia, poor families would give teachers baskets of apples in lieu of paying for their children's education.

* A survey showed that an average of £10 is spent on end-of-year gifts, but some go that extra mile. Teachers have reported receiving a Tiffany necklace, a hamper from Harrods, and spa vouchers. These days, a box of Quality Street just won't do.

* There are some gifts you'll want to avoid. Over the past few years, teachers have complained of getting recycled boxes of chocolates that were out of date, a racy lingerie set, baffling cast-iron prawns and even a Sarah Palin calendar. You betcha!

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