Neil Morrissey’s Risky Business
Starring Neil Morrissey and Richard Fox
It’s really hard to watch this two-part TV series without feeling that someone is being a little dishonest.
The show is about the efforts of TV star Neil Morrissey (of Men Behaving Badly) and chef Richard Fox to open their own pub and brew their own beer. A beer they aim to sell in supermarkets. The big catch is that the pair have never brewed a beer before in their lives.
So we see them make their first batch of homebrew and, from there – with what the series implies is very little help from a professional brewer – they open their pub and start making their beer.
As someone who has been homebrewing for two years I know there’s a lot of difference between making 20 litres in a plastic fermenter under the stairs and brewing in a brewery with large steel fermenters, hoses, fittings and what-have-you. So to imply – as this show clearly does – that these two guys went from one to the other largely on their own, just doesn’t seem right.
Nor does the idea that these two brewed their first homebrew ever and it came out so great that they thought “my God, we’re so amazingly good at this making beer thing”. Sure people can fall victim to what I call “homebrewers’ sympathy”, where you give your own brew a few extra marks because you made it. But to think that, after just one brew that you can do this professionally feels like a huge leap.
Maybe one of them have brewed before. Or maybe they had a lot more help with the homebrew than is shown. Or maybe the beer tasted like shit but they thought “we have to pretend this is fantastic otherwise this TV show won’t get made and we won’t make any money from it”. But again, something just doesn’t feel right.
The pair do get their beers in a supermarket but it’s barely touched on that a professional brewer is making those, albeit to the pair’s initial recipe. Though I’d bet that recipe was actually created by a brewer when they upscaled from homebrew to the real thing.
Compounding those issues of believability is the fact that Morrissey comes across as quite unlikeable. Fox seems to have a self-deprecating nature, so when he says they’re awesome it feels at least slightly tongue-in-cheek. But when Morrissey says that sort of stuff it comes across as arrogant, like he truly believes his beer is awesome.
This attitude is especially apparent whenever someone says they don’t think much of his beer. Then Morrissey, who has virtually bugger-all brewing experience, just writes them off as fools who wouldn’t recognise a good beer if they tripped over it. The unlikeable nature is also there in the workload involved in setting up the pub. An awful lot of it seems to be left to Fox while Morrissey shoots off to another part of the country to film a TV series. Then he swans in late after Fox has pretty much done everything and takes a fair whack of the credit. A read through online comments about Morrissey in this show points out that I’m far from the lone ranger in having this opinion.
I saw this in a DVD shop and bought it solely on the basis that it was about beer. I wish I had saved my money.