Tuesday 31 March 2020

Truman (Burton) hops in 1946

Having started the war using all UK hops, there was little likelihood that the war would have changed much. And that was indeed the case.

There was one small change, however. In 1942, in addition to whole hops, Truman started to use a hop concentrate. Presumably because this was more readily available than hops.

Between 1942 and 1947 considerable quantities of hop extracts and concentrates were imported. I’m guessing because these took up far less space when shipping across the Atlantic. This importation came to a complete stop in 1948, I’m guessing when shipping was less stretched.

All the beers contained the same hops and some hop concentrate. With one exception: P1 Bottling, their top-of-the-range Pale Ale. For which they obviously reserved the freshest hops and didn’t bother with the hop concentrate.

Truman (Burton) hops in 1946
Beer Style OG hop 1 hop 2 hop 3
X Mild 1025.8 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
XX Mild 1028.8 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
No. 7 Mild 1033 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
P2 Pale Ale 1040.7 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
P1 Pale Ale 1047.6 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
P1 Bott Pale Ale 1050.7 English 1944 CS English 1945 English 1945 CS
XXX Strong Ale 1039.6 English 1944 CS English 1945 CS Hop concentrate
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/354.

Monday 30 March 2020

Goddbye to Rio

It was quite late last night. Feeling a bit knacked this morning.

I trail down to brekkie at 9:15. Yippee! The first bacon sighting. I get a plate of the crispy deliciousness and scrambled egg. But no bread. Keeping away from the carbs still.

After breakfast, I have a bit of a kip. I really should have got to bed earlier.

I’m meeting Marty for lunch at around 1 PM. We exchange emails. He suggests Boteco Colarinho, close to both close to both Ipanema and Copacabana. Recommended by Pete Slosberg. We arrange to meet there.

Having a little time between checkout an lunch, I head over the road to Lupulino for a quick beer. It’s a craft beer bar and where I realise I had first intended to meet with Martyn. Oh well.

There seems to be a bouncer on the door.

“We don’t have any draught beer as the lines are being cleaned.”

Can of IPA it is, then. Farra All In IPA, to be precise. It’s billed as a clear IPA but is a bit hazy. I almost certainly didn’t judge this beer. But it has the familiar oxidised flavour of many which I did.

After I pay the waitress, she give me a plastic card. I’m guessing it’s so I can get out past the bouncer. They must get a lot of runners.

It takes me a whole 20 seconds to flag down a Joe after quitting Lupulino.

The ride is quite a long one, through a couple of tunnels. Colarinho is easier to spot that I’d feared. A long narrow bar, spilling out onto the street. I grab a seat and peruse the beer menu.

I get there first and order an Antuérpia American IPA (6.5% ABV, 66 IBU) At least it isn’t oxidised. Though there isn’t much trace of American hops, either. Drinkable, but pretty dull.

Martyn is wearing a Pivovarsky Dum T-shirt. A very bright shade of yellow. He gets himself a beer, too. Of course.

We sip a beer or three as locals in swimming costumes head to and from Copacabana beach. Even though it isn’t that warm. 25º C at most.

Lunched, we’ve time to stroll down to and along the beach. I’ve not had time to do bugger all here in Rio. Good to tick at least one thing off.

For the full effect, I get myself a caipirinha to accompany my beach walk.

But I don’t have long. I need to get to the airport. And pick up my bags from the hotel. Hailing a taxi takes almost 10 seconds.

I realise it makes more sense to just continue with this taxi to the airport. Especially as this taxi driver isn’t watching TV.

The fiddly formalities don’t take long. But I still have some reals to get rid of. A short with Brazil on it for Lexxie. And some cachaça in the duty free for me. It leaves me with just five coins. Job well done.

While I’m waiting to board I fire up my laptop and watch some the Moaning of Life. While supping a couple of cachaças.

The flight is dead uneventful, as I sleep through most of it. Waking shortly before breakfast is served.

My bag pops onto the belt as one of the first. Lucky me.

No problem getting a taxi. My driver complains of how quiet it is at Schiphol. I’m only his second fare in six hours.

When I try to get my notes off my laptop, I realise I’ve fucked it by cramming it into the seat pocket on the plane. Bum.

I meant to save them to memory stick or email myself a copy. But I’d forgotten. Bastard if I’ve lost it. 7,500 words. I doubt I’ll be able to remember it all. That was the point in writing it. The shitness of my memory.

Thankfully it works when we rig it up to a monitor. Phew. It would have driven me nuts had I lost everything I’d written.

R. Prof. Álvaro Rodrigues, 148 A
Rio de Janeiro.

Boteco Colarinho
R. Francis Caesar, 30
Copacabana ,
Rio de Janeiro.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Worryingly ill

I awake with a sore throat. And phlegm on my chest. This is a bit worrying.

I reassure myself that I've been in Brazil for more than a week and there have been very few cases of corona here.

After a quick breakfast, I head back to my room to pack. I only spot a couple of judges. Most have already left. Including most of those I'd been hanging around with.

I've been very diligent in writing stuff up this trip. Both on paper and electronically. I've getting on for 7,000 words in a text document. Which isn't bad at all. I usually count on having about 1,000 words per day. And this is the eighth day in Brazil. Add the handwritten stuff and it must average 1,000 words per day.

I don't trust the top on my cheapo bottle of cachaça. So I've finished it off. I don't want another spirit-flavoured clothes experience. There wasn't that much left anyway.

I'm off now to hang around in the hotel lobby for a few hours.

Which, thankfully, doesn't happen. As there are a few judges already there. Stephen is working away again.

"Fancy some lunch?"

"In a while. I still have some work I need to do."

I notice Melissa.

"You up for lunch."

"Certainly. There's this rather good charcuterie place we went to yesterday that I wouldn't mind going back to."

"Sounds good to me."

As I've a little time, I have a wander downtown. I can do with a bit of exercise. Though it is effing hot. I consider a quick beer, then realise I don't really have time.

The charcuterie place is about a 20 minute walk away. Which doesn’t sound like much, but it is effing hot. And I walked much of the route 40 minutes ago.

The food is pretty good. If not quite the meaty goodness of yesterday. This time I do eat a few small pieces of bred. It's the first carbs I've had in days. Beer, excepted, of course.

It's been great here. Always been people to hang out with. I've spent almost no time alone, apart from the first morning in Blumenau.

Melissa orders me an Uber to take me back to the hotel to pick up my bags. I leave them there, still eating. I’m being very careful about time. Missing the bus at 4 PM could have a cascading effect.

The bus ride to the airport isn't particularly interesting. But at least it gets there in plenty of time.

Navegantes airport, despite having "international" in the name is pretty small. Smaller than Doncaster.

There's no bar airside, so I get myself a soft drink in a shop. I then realise that I still have a bottle of water in my bar. Slightly worrying that they didn't spot that when my bag was X-rayed. Pretty sure that it wasn't one of the new machines that they have at Schiphol.

The taxi ride from the airport is interesting, but scary. The driver is watching a tele novella on a TV while we're driving down the motorway. After we get onto a normal road he suddenly jams on the brakes as he didn't notice a speed bump until it's too late. We jump up in the air and smash down so hard that he pulls over to see if the car is still intact.

My room is huge. Not just compared to the one in Blumeanu. It's triple the size of that. And there's a view of the Jesus statue.

I’m feeling a bit crap. But not too bad. I'm coughing up phlegm and supposedly corona is a dry cough.

Everything is still in full swing here. Rio is definitely a change of pace from Blumenau. Much livelier. I’ve arranged to have a few beers with Martyn later. In Zuzu Goró, a place literally 50 metres from my hotel.

Where is Martyn? He was supposed to be here half an hour ago.

Eventually I spot Martyn peering at the sign of the next door bar. I start waving my arms like crazy until he spots me.

He fell asleep and then had trouble finding the place. It does have a tiny. But, as I can see it from my hotel balcony, it wasn’t so tricky.

The waiter immediately comes up and asks Martyn if he wants a glass. That's the way it works in Brazil. You get a 600 ml bottle, small glasses and share. The bottle is in a cooler. When you want a new one, you just take it out and put it on the table. Within a few seconds a new one magically arrives. The empties are left on the table, as that's how they work out your bill.

We're sitting outside, as are most of the other customers. Annoyingly perfect-looking young Brazilian men and women. Bastards.

"There's a couple over they eating each other alive." Martyn remarks. "Get a room!"

The beer is nothing special: Eisenbahn Pils. But it's cold, wet and drinkable.

The couple next to us are hiding empties under the table. Are they trying to dodge some of their bill?

I get a cachaça. And some food - quite small, but about as much as I need.

People are walking up and down the street flogging stuff. Mostly small bits of food. This is really different to Blumenau.

We stay out quite late - 1:15. It's about the latest I've been up so far. Too many early starts to be staying out until the small hours.

Will I be able to get to the US in May?

Charcutaria Blumenau
R. Bolívia, 296
Ponta Aguda, Blumenau.

Zuzu Goró
R. Prof. Álvaro Rodrigues, 36
Rio de Janeiro

Saturday 28 March 2020


I'm up much earlier than I would have liked. 7 AM. As the car taking me and Martyn to where we're talking is scheduled for 7:50. And I want to have time for brekkie.

Martyn trolls up a few minutes after me.

"I don't expect to see many judges at my talk. They'll all still be in bed. Pissheads."

"That's a bit harsh, Ron."

"Count how many turn up. You've more chance as you're on an hour later."

It's not best performance ever. A bit too early. And with too few - zero - beers inside me. As the location is a tent, being early has its advantages.

Chris arrives in time for Martyn's talk. The lazy bastard.

"Sorry, mate. I just couldn’t get up that early.”

Martyn hauls me up front at the end of his talk when he's asked a question about Porter and Stout grists. It is a bit of a specialist subject for me.

Back at the hotel, I say my goodbyes to Martyn and Chris. They're both heading home today, while I have another 24 hours in Blumenau.

I need some food. After my experience earlier in the week, I don't want to leave it too late. I head off at 12:15. In the lobby, I spot Chris.

"Fancy some lunch?"

"I'm not really hungry yet."

"What about a beer, then?"

"You could twist my arm."

"Where do you fancy going?"

"We could drink here. Get through that Helles they gave us."

"Sounds good."

Chris arranges some ice to cool the cans. And salt to hurry the process up. Glasses, too. The staff are very relaxed about us drinking our own booze. Especially as beer is on sale in the reception.

There are a bunch of Chileans heading for the same flight as Chris. And an Argentinian. Who seem to have spare beer. It's turning into another bottle share. We get three cans of Argentinian IPA, and two bottles of Chilean wine beer.

After a while, Martyn turns up. I'd expected him to be long gone, as he'd said he was getting the 1 PM bus. But he decided to go for the 4 PM one after all. He breaks out a couple of bottles, too.

"I need to get the weight of my bag down. It's 2 kg overweight."

I'm not complaining. I never complain about unexpected beer.

Stephen, who's been quietly working away in a corner, comes over. We give him some beer.

"I'm going for some lunch."

"Is it OK if I come along? I was planning on eating." I ask.


"Do you have anywhere in mind? Most of the places I can find on the internet are Italian."

"Splendore looks good."

"Hopefully it will still be open." I worry. It's just after 2 PM. Earlier in the week we had real trouble finding anywhere to eat at 3 PM.

Camillo tags along. He has a brewery and beer garden in the South of Chile.

The place is open - hurray! But empty. It's not so much a restaurant as an off-licence and butcher.

"It smells very meaty in here." I remark. Which it does. The good meaty goodness sort of meat smell. Not the rotty, pukey one.

The idea is that you select some meat from the butcher counter, then they barbecue it upstairs. Luckily Camillo, who can speak some Portuguese is there to help us out. We get four lumps of meat. And a bottle of Brazilian sparkling wine.

"It's what they do best in Brazil." Stephen assures me.

Having Camillo along is very handy. Without him ordering would have been much trickier. And mostly consisted of pointing.

The meat is amazing. Though the meal is pretty unbalanced - 100% meat. OK by me. I have sort of been sticking to a carb free diet since I've been here. It's exactly the sort of meal I'd been expecting here. Full of meaty goodness.

Once the sparkling wine is done, we grab ourselves beers from the offie cooler downstairs. My Double IPA matches very well with the beefiness of the, er, beef.

Jennifer, our very nice waitress, has been very helpful. We give her a good tip.

Back at our hotel, we've an hour in our rooms before the festival.

I arrange to meet Stephen and Camillo downstairs to walk to the fest. Camillo doesn't appear. Stephen sends him a message, but he doesn't respond.

"He's fallen asleep." Stephen remarks. "I had a doze for 15 minutes, but set an alarm."

We walk to the fest. It's only a mile or so. I need some exercise.

We wander around for a bit until Stephen has to go for an interview. We arrange to meet later at the Zapata stand.

I find myself a seat and have a sit down. Unlike some festivals, there's plenty of seating. I have a couple more beers. No sign of Stephen after an hour. And I'm starting to tire. Well, not starting. I'm well on the way to outright collapse. I use my last tokens then head outside to grab a Joe.

Before turning in, I go downstairs to get some water. Camillo appears. He's been asleep since this afternoon.

"Is the festival still on?" He asks.

"Yes. It finishes at 1 AM. But I'm off to bed." Which I am. After writing this. And after a quick Islay slumber-inducer.

Empório Splendore
R. Humberto de Campos, 1091
Velha, Blumenau.

Friday 27 March 2020

The Conference begins

It was a bit late last night. We were out until 01:30. I'm feeling slightly rough. Maybe the Bowmore nightcap was a mistake. Or one of those pints of Imperial Stout was a bad one.

I wander down for breakfast at 9:30, feeling a bit guilty about missing Pete Slosberg's talk. Martyn is already there.

"The brewery visit is on for 11." He tells me. I'd forgotten about that. But it was the day before yesterday we discussed it.

We're going to Alles Blau. Another brewery with a German name.

Ben, Chris and Stephen troll up after a while and Martyn asks them if they'd like to tag along. Stephen is working again. Ben is a definite, Chris a maybe.

Chris is still busy when our Uber arrives so it's just me, Martyn and Ben.

Alles Blau is quite a way out of the centre. And, in the age of satnav, surprisingly difficult to find. We drive straight past it and have to turn back. Surprising as there's a dirty great sign on the building. Though it is set back 100 metres from the road.

There doesn't seem to be anyone around. Then we spot what's obviously another group being shown around. After a while the guide, a young woman, comes up to us. Martyn tries to tell her that he's arranged to meet David. But she speaks no English. And disappears again.

A young bloke, presumably a brewer, approaches us. He doesn't speak English, either. But he shows us a translation on his phone. David can't make it.

We end up doing a self-service tour, just wandering around by ourselves.

It's surprisingly large. As have all the breweries have been so far.

While we're tucking into our samples, one of the other party comes up and asks in English: "Are you brewers?"

"No. We're beer writers and Ben runs a bar."

It turns out he is a brewer and had beers in the competition. He won silver for Vienna Lager.

The tour is supposed to cost 15 reals. But they don't charge us. Which is fair enough as they didn't really give us one.

I nip down to the little supermarket around the corner for some provisions. The relative prices here are weird. 150 gm of plastic looking cheese is 4.30 reals. 50 gm of crisps, 2.75 reals, 910 ml of cachaça 10.40 reals. So a big bottle of spirits costs less than four not very big bags of crisps. Crazy.

We're back quite early. And the beer festival doesn't start until 7 PM. I spend the afternoon writing up this shit. While sipping on cachaça. Purely for scientific purposes. It's not like I'm a total pisshead or anything.

I've arranged to meet Martyn in the lobby of the hotel. Where we spot Chris, so we trail down to the festival together.

Martyn has forgotten his badge. Luckily Chris can get him into the exhibition. Handy having a Portuguese speaker along.

It's way bigger than I expected. Loads of exhibitors. Bigger than even the NHC.

Thankfully some are serving beer. With whistles wetted, everything seems better. But we don't hang around in the trade bit long. Soon Chris is blagging Martyn into the festival proper.

It's huge. Bum. I had arranged to meet Doug. Will we be able to find each other?

Chris not only speaks Portuguese, he's also good at blagging us free beer.

I don't manage to spot Doug. Which is a worry, as he was going to pay me for the books I sold him.

Despite having dossed around most of the afternoon. I start to flag quite early. Perhaps influenced by the knowledge of an early start tomorrow. 7:50 pickup for a 9:00 talk. Best be in good form for that.

Mr. Bowmore waves me goodbye as I board the sleepytown train.

Cervejaria Alles Blau
Rua Dr. Pedro Zimmermann, 5180
Itoupava Central, Blumenau.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Lager Beer (part two)

We're now looking at the brewing process of Lager. What fun. I few years back I collected descriptions of as many different methods of decoction mashing I could find. It was a surprisingly large number.

Though this doesn't sound like a decoction mash.

"It is first crushed by passing between a series of large rollers, and next is transferred to the mash-tubs, where it is stirred about with water at 120° to 140° Fahr., and boiling is then gradually added until all is heated to about 170° Fahr. The infusion or wort is allowed to stand until the suspended matters have settled, when it is drawn off, and a second wort is obtained by treating the residuum with hot water. The first wort is boiled with the hops, the second wort is then let in, and the whole is boiled for about four hours. It is then run into the cooler, where it is quickly chilled to between and 50° Fahr., by running over small pipes through which cold water is continually flowing."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 15.

What sounds like doughing in was at 50º C. But, as boiling water is added, rather than boiling part of the mash, it's quite different to a decoction mash. And more like a sort of step infusion mash. I'm guessing that they had modified the mashing process in the USA to make it more efficient. And cheaper.

"As soon as it is properly cooled it is run into the fermenting tuns, where it is mixed with one gallon of yeast for every twenty to twenty-five barrels. Fermentation continues for about twenty days. At first there is a heavy froth, which soon subsides, however, leaving the surface clear. At the end of this period it is racked off into hogsheads, the yeast remaining at the bottom of the tuns. These hogsheads are allowed to Stand with the bungs open until a few days before the beer is put into barrels for use, when the bungs are driven in to accumulate carbonic acid for life."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, pages 15 - 16.

A hogshead is pretty small for a lagering vessels. I have seen ones of around that size, but was in Brauerei Schmidt, one of the, if not the, smallest production breweries in Germany. The bunging period seems a bit short at "a few days". Though it must have been sufficient to carbonate the beer. I know from other sources that American beer was pretty heavily conditioned in the late 10th century.

I'd love to accumulate carbonic acid for life. Any idea wher I can load up?

Wednesday 25 March 2020

I’m free! (again)

Today is mostly free. I'm in no rush to rise. After a quick shower I'm down in the breakfast room by 8:30.

Because I do have one appointment: with Doug Merlo at 9. He's driving a bunch of us loafer judges around for the day. It's going to be quite a tour: a distillery, a brewery, a cheese maker and another brewery. It's going to be a busy day.

As six judges are going along (Martyn, Ben, Peter Bouckaert, Pete Slosberg, Stephen Beaumont, and, of course, me) we're in two cars.

I'm particularly excited about the distillery. Never toured one of those before. Plus I'm really intrigued by cachaça, which is the local spirit. I annoyed the Brazilians in Chile a couple of years ago by saying: "Oh, it's a kind of rum." when told it was made from sugar cane juice. "No, it's totally different from rum." I wasn't convinced.

The Xanadu distillery looks like it's in the middle of the jungle, even though it's technically in Blumenau. Surrounded by palms and loads of other exotic trees. A beautiful spot.

We begin with a tour. Everything kicks off with cane juice, which is about 16º Plato. After 24 to 48 hours of fermentation it’s 9% ABV. At which point it goes into the still. Where it’s distilled just once. The spirit is 50% ABV.

The heads and tails are distilled again to be used as sanitiser or fuel for their cars.

Premium cachaça has 1 to 3 years in wood, extra premium more than three years. Casks which are being aged are sealed by an excise man and are also unsealed by the same one when ready for bottling. The casks can’t be sampled in the meantime, which surely makes life difficult.

Different casks aren’t blended at bottling time, meaning every bottle is single-barrel.

When we get to the tasting, the owners pride in his products is obvious. You can see that they're like his children. Working logically, we start with the youngest and work our way through to the strongest. Even the ones with just a year in wood are really good.

"What's the origin of the name cachaça?"

"No-one knows for sure. It could come from an indigenous word. Or the Spanish word for the handle of a knife"

Well that's cleared that up.

As we work up through the ages, they get better and better. Then there are the different woods. Some of their barrels are oak, as you would expect. But there are also one from balsam, chestnut and a tree whose name I don't recognise. Some of the woods add incredible notes. Not just spice but even chocolate. It's an eye-opening experience.

I get a really nice bottle for Andrew: 6 years old, aged in American oak. It's like a combination of rum and bourbon. The price is a bit steep - about 9 euros. But I'm prepared to splash out this once.

Next stop is Cerveja Blumenau. A very significant brewery, but we'll come to that later.

The brewer starts by showing us his barrel-ageing room and gives us a few samples. The very technical way of just bashing a little spike through the head.

First, the base beer, which is a Belgian Blonde Ale. We then try a couple of older, fruited versions. They seem to be coming along nicely.

We have a wander through the brew house, which is surprisingly large. Full of shiny things, of course.

Once we're done, we have a buffet lunch. Been mostly buffets, so far. Ok by me as I can dodge the carbohydrates and stuff myself with meat. Sorry, eat a healthy balance of protein and vegetables. I hadn't expected beetroot to be so popular here. Not a problem for me. I love the stuff.

As we're eating, I notice Stephen is looking through the bags of condiments.

"I was hoping for some hot sauce. The Feijoada (bean stew) is good, but I'd have preferred it hotter."

The chat also turns to Catharina Sour, the new Brazilian style. One which was first brewed in this very brewery.

I'd assumed it was named after the state: Santa Catarina. But it wasn't. The first example - Son of a Peach - was inspired by the peach pies given to the brewer by his grandmother, who was named Catharina. With an "h". Which explains the difference in spelling between the state name and the style.

"Here's a myth in the making." I say to Martyn. "Good to have got the story from the source. Though I guess we'll be arguing about this for years."*

Before we leave, Martyn gets himself a T-shirt. Seems to be a thing of his. Though the one he would have preferred - one with those big rodent things on it - only comes in women's form.

As we're on our way out, Peter asks: "Can we get a beer for the car?"

"Of course." I love Brazil. And thankful to Peter for bringing the matter up.

As it's boiling, I get the perfect hot weather beer: an Imperial Stout.

"That's an odd beer to be drinking in the heat." Peter remarks.

"Not at all. In the 19th-century, strong Stout was popular in the West Indies and in Asia. And I have a reputation to maintain."

It also has the alcoholey goodness I'm craving at this moment. But I don't say that aloud.

The fucking heat today. I was lulled into a false sense of security the first couple of days when it was a pleasant 25-27 C.

Next stop is Pomerode. "Our little Germany" as the sign on the way in claims.

Our destination is a cheesery, Pomerode Alimentos, run by the Mendes family which used to own Esienbahn, the largest brewery in Blumenau, before they sold up to AB Inbev.

"That's the largest Easter egg in the world" Doug tells me. "It's in the Guinness Book of Records." What an odd claim to fame for this small town.

It's even hotter than earlier. Even though the cheesery is just over the road from where we park, I'm doing a pig impression by the time we get there.

After I've finished putting on all the protective gear, I'm even sweatier. It doesn't help that the room where the cheese-making process kicks off is 28º C. There's a layer of sweat between me and the plastic protective shit.

They make mostly French-style cheese - camembert and brie - but also others. The next room, where the cheese is maturing, is thankfully much cooler. Which brings my temperature a treat. It's fascinating to look at the ones of slightly different ages and how the rind develops.

Sadly, we leave the lovely coolness and re-enter the furnace outside. Where we get to taste some cheese. They're so good, I almost forget that I'm melting. The St. Marcellin is outstanding. Dead, dead good.

Surprisingly, Martyn doesn't buy a T-shirt.

Our final spot of the day is just 50 metres away: Schornstein Brewery. I'd noticed the old chimney on the way in. The brewery began in the building to which the chimney belonged, a former brickworks. There's now a production brewery in the former indoor market next door.

We enter through the shop, which is beautifully air-conditioned. Then continue on into the brewery, which isn't.

They're canning an alcohol-free Weissbier, and we're given one each to try. I'm not a great fan of beer without the best bit and can't finish it.

"Throwing in a triple vodka would improve it." I say to Stephen.

We pass through to the fermenting room and are given samples drawn straight from the tank. I don't even bother with the second, a Dry Stout. I'm about to do an Andrew and collapse. All I can think is: "When will this torture end?"

"I'm going back into the shop to cool down." Pete says. Why didn't I think of that? I follow him there.

After a while the others trickle in and Martyn starts looking through the T-shirts.

"How many of those things do you have?" I ask.

"Quite a few."

"What do you do with them all?"

"Wear them, of course."

I hadn't considered that. After all, I haven't read most of my book collection and I've a pile of undrunk beer.

On the way back, Doug buys some petrol.

As we pull into a petrol station a red-haired, pale-skinned attendant attracts both mine and Martyn's attention.

"I doubt he has much Portuguese heritage." Martyn quips.

I get myself a bottle of water. Need to keep hydrated. Did I mention that it's fucking hot?

We get back to the hotel just about in time for the most important event of the week: the old beer tasting.

It's not an official event, but a random thing me and Martyn have organised. We did the something similar at Williamsburg a few years back and it was a real blast. The venue then was Paul and Jamie's room. As the rooms here are tiny, we're doing it in the lobby.

We're aren't expecting many of the beers to be drinkable. They are all petty old. My money is on the Samichlaus being the only one still in any sort of shape

We start with the most likely fucked beers. Like my weird old La Chouffe. With an Italian label, with the wrong volume. It says 75 cl, but it's a 33 cl bottle.

"Do you know how old it is?"

"I got it about 25 years ago. And it was old then. It was sitting on a shelf in a pub I used to be a regular in and the landlord gave it to me."

Obviously, it tastes like shit. But not as bad as the Greene King Coronation Ale from 1953. Which reaches new levels of awful. The crown cork disintegrating while opening wasn't a good sign. Nor the black stuff on the underneath of it.

There are two Silver Jubilee Ales from 1977: Tetley's and Hook Norton. The former is surprisingly OK, with some hop character remaining. The latter is pretty crap.

As we open the Samichlaus, Stephen tells a story about it. When the LCBO were going to import it into Canada, they asked him to write something about the beer. Unfortunately, his article mentioned that Samichlaus was Swiss German for Father Christmas. On learning this, the LCBO cancelled the order.

Which prompts a discussion about the Portman Group's recent idiotic rulings. The beer itself is surprisingly dreadful.

When we're about halfway through the tasting, we start getting hassled about boarding the bus to the awards ceremony. Learning that there's a later one, we continue with our delightful tasting.

"Do you know the history of this beer?" I ask when we get to my old bottle of Carlsberg Special Brew. "It was originally brewed for Winston Churchill when he visited Denmark shortly after WW II. They knew he was a pisshead, so brewed something strong."

The last beer is by far the best. Hansens Kriek. It's not that old. And Lambic is basically indestructible. I've had ones from breweries which had been closed for decades which were perfectly drinkable. The Hansens is delicious. But it is a personal favourite.

Arriving at Vila Germanica, we spot a mass of people hanging around outside the hall. The doors aren't open yet.

"I'm glad we didn't get the earlier bus." I say.

"Beers in Bier Vila?" Chris sensibly suggests. He won't have to twist my arm.

Though I don't have beer. Instead an oak-aged cachaça. I'm getting a taste for this stuff.

We order some food. Chris suggests a mixed grill. "It's enough for four." As there are eight of us, we get some other bits and bobs.

Chris tells me that they’ve been taking the piss out of me in the Whatsapp group. As I don’t have a smart phone, they’ve been joking about how to contact me: fax, telegram, post, semaphore or carrier pigeon. Very droll.

When the mixed grill arrives, it's only slightly larger than the one Martyn had yesterday for himself.

We notice the crowd outside the hall is dissipating and trail over ourselves. Though it's a while before anything happens. Chris suggests that we stand at the back. Directly in front of the curtain concealing the bar.

"At a certain point they'll start serving all the beer left over from the competition." Good tip.

Though he's unlucky enough to pick a minute before the curtain rolls back to go for a piss. I, on the other hand, am second to the bar.

The awards are real fun. As I tasted all the gold medal winners in the Best of Show that I spent 3 hours judging. I give a running commentary to Martyn on which were OK, which were shit and how the discussion went amongst the judges.

After the awards were all awarded, we head off to one of the winners, brewpub Balburdia. It's jacked, as all the judged have tipped down there.

I get myself a pint of Imperial Stout. It is still quite hot, after all.

Me and Melissa had what you might describe as a forthright discussion at some points during the final judging. She apologises for being cranky yesterday.

"No problem, Melissa. I actually found the discussions quite fun." Better to be opinionated than dull and bland.

After a second pint of Imperial Stout, I'm starting to fade. And it is 1:30. We head back to the hotel.

Where there's just enough time for my traditional Islay eye-closer.

Hopefully the planes will still be flying when it's time to go home.

* It turns out that, as always, the story is more complicated. It seems there was one earlier example than Son of a Peach. I did have it all explained to me, but it was after a few beers and I can’t recall all the details.

R. Euclídes da Cunha, 1837
Velha, Blumenau.

Cerveja Blumenau
R. Arnô Deling, 388
Itoupavazinha, Blumenau

Pomerode Alimentos
Rua dos Atiradores, 71
Centro, Pomerode.

Rua Hermann Weege, 160,
Centro Pomerode,

Choperia Bier Vila
R. Alberto Stein, 199,
Velha, Blumenau

Rua Antonio da Veiga 464,

Tuesday 24 March 2020

I’m free!

I rise late. I've a little time before 9:30, when I've arranged to Martyn in the breakfast room. In the 20 minutes I have, I start writing this.

I hit the breakfast room, as planned, at 9:30. Martyn is nowhere to be seen, so I join a bunch of friendly Brazilians, including one I judged the final Best of Show with. South Americans are such friendly people.

Martyn turns up after a while and starts searching the internet for a brewery or beer place for us to drop by in the afternoon. We wouldn't want to waste our unscheduled free day.

Stephen appears at 10:20.

"I thought breakfast would be over. It's supposed to finish at 10."

"That's a Brazilian 10, apparently." I reply.

Stephen plans spending the day working in the breakfast room. He has a deadline approaching.

I leave Martyn searching the web and return to my room. Where I write some more of this report.

Though I do nip out to buy a bottle of cachaça. (I can now finally remember the name.) It's an extortionate 2 euros for 910 ml. What a weird bottle size. I've also seen 510 ml bottles of water.

Martyn has found a bottle shop/bar in town which will be open.

"We just need to get to the river and follow that." He says.

After we leave the hotel, he says: "I think it's this way." He says pointing in exactly the wrong direction.

"I know the way to the river. Just follow me."

Best way is straight down the main drag. The advantage over following the river is that we're in the shade. I'm impressed at how few empty shops there are. Way higher occupation rate than many UK high streets.

Martyn is struggling with the map on his phone as he's lost his wifi connection.

"We could nip into Tunga for a quick beer." I suggest. "They'll have wifi there."

"Sounds like a good plan."

Inside, I order two chops. Which is what they call draught beer here. Tunga is called a choperia because they have draught beer. I'm guessing ot didn't use to be that common.

While we sip our draughts, Martyn tells me some of the stuff he's uncovered during his research into his new book on Porter. The bastard. I'd had plans for a Porter book until Martyn announced his. No point us duplicating stuff.

He tells some strange tales of the Guinness family and their scandals. What I like about Martyn's research is that it touches on material I ignore. Lots about the families and their internal wrangling. I wouldn't have the patience to untangle family tress the way he does. I feel more comfortable with numbers.

Just as we leave, we bump into Stephen Beaumont. Who, after a morning of work, is in search of lunch.

"Fancy coming with us to a bottle shop and bar?"

He doesn't take much persuading. After Martyn gets him in a headlock. Despite him being in search of food rather than beer.

Mestre-Cervejeiro is a cool little place, with an impressive array of bottled beer and four keg pumps. One of which is dispensing IPA, which we all get stuck into.

Martyn, who is perusing the bottle selection suddenly makes a little squeak of joy and grabs a couple of bottles from the shelf. When I get closer I see why: it's Courage Russian Stout.

"Are there any more bottles?"


The bastard. Not expecting much joy, I ask the bloke serving: "Do you have any more bottles?"

"No. But there may be one in the fridge."

Yeah, there is one. Jumpy, jumpy joy dance time.

I start looking at the shelves more diligently. Oh, look, there's a Double Brown Ale there. I can't pass up on that. What with my Whitbread Double Brown obsession.

After some sweating wandering in search of food, we land up at a food court. Everywhere else is closed, it seems.

Stephen opts for the North American classic of burger and chips. While Martyn gets a massive mixed grill - enough food for all three of us and a small village. I've sensibly stuck to sushi. Don't want anything too heavy. We're going out for dinner in a few hours.

Back at our hotel, I bang out some more words. These ones, in fact. I have to get this shit written otherwise it will never get done.

I drop down to the lobby at 7 PM. When the bus is due to leave for our evening meal. Which is back at Eisenbahn Bierhaus (again).

Pete Slosberg is already in the lobby and invites me to sit with him. Nice to have a chance to chat with a legend of the early US craft scene. After a few minutes, Martyn joins us.

This is what these trips are all about, for me. Meeting and chatting with interesting beer people. That we're here for several days just increases the opportunities for such interaction.

We continue chatting on the bus. Pete has some good stories about the early days of craft, San Francisco and beer in general. Martyn's not short of a tale or two, either.

Most of the seats have been removed. I realise why: there's a band playing. To accompany the buffet. That we sit as far away as possible is no reflection on their musical skills. Just that they're rather loud. I want to talk. And we're boring old bastards.

At least we don't have to go to the bar. A waiter keeps coming around with a jug and refills our glasses. Saves a whole load of hassle.

We don’t stay too late. My throat is getting sore from having to shout.

A really enjoyable evening. If only the band been half as loud.

I self-medicate my achy, achy throat with a little Bowmore. Before sleep crawls under the door.

Tunga Choperia

R. Quinze de Novembro, 1020,
Centro, Blumenau

R. Curt Hering, 33
Centro, Blumenau.

Eisenbahn Bierhaus

R. Alberto Stein, 199.
Setor 4 - Velha, Blumenau

Monday 23 March 2020

Lager Beer

You may have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with Lager. Especially early British descriptions of it.

Though this article isn't describing Bavarian Lager, but American Lager. Which wasn't exactly the same, as you'll see when we get further into the text.

It starts with a general description of what Lage is.

"Lager Beer.
Lager beer, the beer of Bavaria, is prepared by a slow process of fermentation from strong infusions of malt, barley, and hops, and grape-sugar or glucose. The beer is usually fermented in winter, as it requires a temperature of not more than from 40° to 50° Fahr.; and in the hot weather the rooms must be cooled by means of ice or ice machines. This kind of fermentation is what is called sedimentary or under fermentation, in contradistinction to ordinary or surface fermentation — the scum or yeast collecting at the bottom instead of at the surface, so that the air has free access, and the gluten is more completely converted into yeast. This bottom yeast is quite different from ordinary yeast, and has a tendency to induce the kind of fermentation by which it was produced."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 15.

It's odd to realise that the terms used today - top and bottom fermentation - weren't the only ones in the past. "Surface fermentation" and "sedimentary fermentation" sound very quaint. But I suppose they're as descriptive as the modern terms. Just a little clumsier.

The technical bit starts with a description of the malting process.

"The following is a brief outline of the process employed at one of the largest lager beer breweries in New York city:— The barley is placed in wooden cisterns, covered with water, and allowed to remain for two or three days in soak, the water being changed once in twenty-four hours. It is then allowed to drain, and is subsequently thrown out in heaps on stone floors, where it heats spontaneously and soon begins to germinate, throwing out rootlets and shoots and evolving part of its absorbed water — sweating. It is then spread out and the germination allowed to proceed for from six to ten days, until the rootlets become brownish; then spread and tossed about to cool and check the fermentation. It is then put into large brick ovens on kilns, at a temperature of about 125° Fahr., to dry. The barley is now malt."
Holmes' Brewing Trade Gazette - Thursday 01 September 1881, page 15.

I'm not acquainted well enough with malting to know if that differs significantly from English maltuing methods.

Next time we'll be looking at the brewing process itself.

Sunday 22 March 2020

Judging day two

When I get down to the breakfast room everyone is wearing green. We're having a photo taken and are supposed to be wearing the judge shirt they've provided. I nip back upstairs to change into it.

Martyn arrives, not wearing green. “Why aren’t you wearing your judge’s shirt?”

“Green really isn’t my colour.”

The session starts with a group photo. Which is why we were asked to wear our green shirts. I notice that, after all, Martyn is wearing his.

Just as we’re breaking up after the snap, three more judges. Appear in the distance. Just too late to be included.

I'm on a different table today, with two new judges: Brazilian Eduardo Pelizzon and Chilean Gabriel Lara Martinez. Whom I recognise as, I judged with him in Chile a couple of years back. A really lovely bloke. Quiet, but knows his stuff.

Both are brewers. This how I like to judge. With people more knowledgeable than me, so I can conceal my own ignorance more easily.

Yesterday they said they'd try to give me some British styles today. We kick off with Irish Red. Great.

I explain to my companions: "It's a made-up style." But we crack on, anyway. In the first group, nothing's even vaguely worthy of going through.

When the second flight comes out, I assume it's a different style, as some of the beers are as pale as Boddies. Nope, it's more Irish Reds. Well, that's made my job easy. There are two OK beers. By that, I mean ones without faults.

The beers in the next flight are all very pale. Turns out this is fine, as the class is Speciality Saison. Which seems to mean Saison with other shit in it.

Surprisingly, most of them are pretty good. A couple are outstanding. Finally, some really good beers. Only a couple of my glasses are undrained at the end of the tasting.

That's us done for the first round and it's only 11:30.

We quickly have yet another buffet lunch in Eisenbahn Bierhaus. At least it isn’t exactly the same every day. There’s a German theme today. So lots of pork.

"Do you fancy a pint?" Eduardo asks after we’ve finished eating.

"Of course."

"You English are always ready for a pint." he replies. How very true. Eduardo lived in Dublin for a couple of years and understands Irish/British culture well.

We head over to Bier Vila, which luckily isn't far, given how hot it is.

Eduardo had been telling me about Catharina sours, so we try samples of a couple, then decide on a lovely pink one.

We start talking about beer history. He asks; "The story about Ale conners - is that true?"

I'd seen Martyn enter the bottle shop a couple of minutes before. No longer in his green shirt.

"I'm pretty sure it's bollocks, but I've just spotted the man who can give you the full story."

I fetch Martyn.

"Do you want a beer?" Eduardo asks.

"Not just now."

"What? You're English. You always want a pint."

Martyn then demolishes the leather britches story.

The waiter comes around and Martyn says: "Go on then, I will have a beer."

Eduardo mentions the Oxford Companion to Beer and we explain its variable quality. He looks quite surprised. We then go through several other beer history myths. Eduardo looks slightly distraught.

"What I've been teaching is all wrong."

I've still most of my second beer when it's time to leave.

"Don't worry," Eduardo says. "You can get a plastic glass and take it with you." A sort of liquid doggy bag. What a civilised country this is.

We're doing mini Best of Show this afternoon.

The first flight looks promising: the beers are pitch black. "I'm guessing they're Imperial Stout."

They are. British-style Imperial Stout. I take a look at the style guidelines:

"Traditional British-style Imperial Stout can be dark amber."

You fucking what? I have a mini rant about how totally and utterly wrong that is. Luckily none of the beers is anything less than black.

They're all reasonable, with a couple pretty good. We agree on the three best, then each award 3 points to the best, two to the second and one to the third. Then add up the points to see which beer gets which medal. It's all over pretty quickly.

The next flight is a single beer. Brown Porter the style. I don't even have to taste it as just from the aroma I can tell it's riddled with faults. No Best of Show for that.

And that's us done. Brilliant. It's only 14:30. I'm free.

Then Fe comes up and says: "Don't leave, Ron. You're judging Best of Show." Damn.

Eduardo and Gabriel escape. Bastards. I hang around for a while with Gordon Strong, who's also judging Best of Show.

"Why did they pick me?"

"They saw your name in the BJCP guidelines."

I knew getting involved with the evil empire was a bad idea. At least we’ll be done today, leaving tomorrow as an unscheduled free day. I’ll need it after this marathon.

Most of the other tables are still busy with mini Best of Show. So we hang around. Some of the tables are taking forever.

By the time everyone is done, it's getting on for 5 PM.

Fe comes over. "There are 54 beers in Best of Show. We'll be ready to start in about 5 minutes."

Gordon is appalled. "Best of Show is rarely more than 20 beers. The most I've done before is 30. It's going to take all night." Bum.

We have a discussion on how to do the judging and settle on 5 flights, max. 3 beers from each go forward to a final round. It's not going to be quick.

It turns those 5 minutes are 5 Brazilian minutes. Which seem to be quite elastic. It's 5:30 when we finally get going.

There are 7 of us - me Martyn, Melissa, Gordon, Scott, Peter Bouckaert and 2 Brazilians.

We have some lively discussions. Very lively at times. Which means we're taking 30 minutes for an 11 beer flight. As the clock ticks on, I realise I've no chance of meeting Martyn as arranged at 7 PM in the hotel. And, not having a phone, I can't get in touch to warn him.

Melissa remarks: "It's strange we've never judged together before."

"What? Don't you remember our argument about Harvey's Imperial Stout?"

"Oh, yes. It tasted like shit, though. Literally excrement."

"What do you mean? It's one of the best beers in the world."

"It tastes like shit, Ron." I decide to leave it there. Don't want to waste any more time.

I arranged earlier to meet Martyn in the hotel lobby at 7 PM. I’m never going to make that.

The judging takes 3 hours. At the end there's near unanimity on the best two beers. The only dispute is about which gets gold and which silver. My first choice gets outvoted.

I get an Uber with Scott. His friend Fatima has been waiting patiently outside for hours.

The barbeque we're going to kicks off at 18:30, with the meat arriving at 20:30. I'm worried it will all be gone by the time I get there. Especially as I’ve already paid for it.

I spot Martyn straight away. I'm relieved that he isn't still waiting at the hotel.

I grab myself a beer to calm down. Then get stuck into some of the meat. There is still plenty left, luckily.

There was music billed for tonight. I thought it would just be the duo playing when I arrived. But various judges stand up and sing with them. Mostly hard rock. Highway to Hell, Paranoid. But also Blitzkrieg Bop. South Americans are nothing like as reserved as us Northern Europeans. I remain firmly glued to my seat.

"Beer judges in Britain would never do this." Martyn remarks.

I'm fading well before the party is over. Me, Martyn and Stephen order an Uber. I'm as knacked as 10 knackering sticks. Bed is all I'm thinking of. Especially as the hotel bar has already closed.

Though there's just enough time for a Bowmore to lull me to sleep.

Eisenbahn Bierhaus
R. Alberto Stein, 199.
Setor 4 - Velha, Blumenau

Choperia Bier Vila
R. Alberto Stein, 199,
Velha, Blumenau

Jeep clube Blumenau
R. das Canelas, 69
Itoupava Norte, Blumenau

Saturday 21 March 2020

Let's Brew - 1916 Courage Double Stout

WW I and WW II went very differently when it comes to beer. In the second conflict gravities fell gradually until 1942, then stabilised until the end of the war. In the first war, therewere only minimal gravity reductions in the first couple of years. But after 1917 gravities were progressively slashed.

Which explains why Courage Double Stout still had a prettty decent gravity halfway through the war.

Parti-gyled with the Porter was Double Stout. A two beer parti-gyle, as Imperial Stout had been discontinued in 1915.

Like the Porter, the gravity of Double Stout has taken a hit. It’s now 10 gravity points weaker than in 1914. Though the grist was much the same.

The grist is near identical in terms of percentages: 60% pale malt, 20% brown malt, 10% black malt and 10% black invert. Which produces a pretty black beer.. So it makes you wonder the reasoning behind the one change, the addition of caramel.

The hops have changed a little. Unsurprisingly, the German hops have been dropped. There are still foreign hops, in the form of Poperinge (1915) and Californian (1914) as well as English (1914).

1916 Courage Double Stout
pale malt 9.50 lb 60.98%
brown malt 3.00 lb 19.26%
black malt 1.50 lb 9.63%
No. 4 invert sugar 1.50 lb 9.63%
caramel 500 SRM 0.08 lb 0.51%
Strisselspalt 120 mins 0.75 oz
Cluster 120 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.25 oz
OG 1069
FG 1025
ABV 5.82
Apparent attenuation 63.77%
IBU 43
SRM 58
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 159º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

The above is an excerpt from Armistice,  my wonderful book on brewing in WW I.

There's now also a Kindle version.