Thursday 31 March 2022

Distillery tour

I've signed up for a brewery/distillery tour. The bus leaves at 8:00. Only 7 hours after I got off the last one.

I leave myself around 20 minutes for breakfast. I sit with Pete Slosberg, Doug Piper and a couple of Polish judges. I have my now standard cheese and sliced meat stuff. Plus a coffee and an orange juice. My stomach really doesn't want anything more.

Pete has some interesting stories about visiting Japan in the 1980s. Which pass the time while I'm wondering why the hell it's 8:10 and there's no sign of a bus.

It turns up a little later and we trail onboard.

The start is jolly enough. I'm sitting by Susan Boyle, who is a bundle of positive energy. Backed by a gaggle of lively Poles behind us. I try not to drag the part down with negative energy, my speciality.

The countryside around Blumenau is hilly and very lush. Trees pack every hillside with radiant green. This really isn't like Europe.

Susan tells me lots of fascinating stuff about wine and whiskey in Ireland. It turns out that in the 18th century, it wasn't beer or whiskey that was Ireland's favourite tipple, but wine. I would never have guessed that.

I'd been expecting a short ride, assuming we were going to the Xanadu distillery like two years ago. It's not far from the centre of Blumenau. After an hour of sliding past lush forests, I twig that we're headed for a different distillery. One much more distant. I'm pretty quick, me.

There a building with Alambique on the side. Doesn't that mean distillery? We motor past it. 10 minutes later there's another one. We don't stop there, either. Finally, we pull up outside a third. Ah, this must be it. One of the Brazilian judges has a word with the driver and we turn around. We've come to the wrong distillery.

Our real destination was Bylaardt. The second one we passed earlier.

It's quite modern and looks very efficient. Well, not totally modern. There's an ancient wood-fired boiler behind the still room. It looks a bit like a steam locomotive. (Andrew tells me it probably is the boiler from a locomotive as many were repurposed in South America.)

The fermentation room has several open vats of sugar cane juice fermenting away. Bubbling away like crazy. Unsurprisingly, as a control panel tells us that it's over 30 C. It ferments out in just 24 hours, we're told.

The barrel room is very compact. And at ambient temperature. Which is again over 30 C. At least today. The barrels are made French oak. Most of them, at least. They have a few of amburano. There are also some larger vats. Weirdly, the time spent in those doesn't count towards the age of the cachaca. Only the time in vats of 600 litres or less counts, for some weird reason. 

I'm greatly relieved that the sampling room/shop has airco. Though it's still quite early, it's bloody hot outside.

The shop is notable for having an array of small casks - filled with cachaca - for sale. When we asked earlier, we were told that, after four fills, the casks were broken up and made into smaller ones. I'm gobsmacked to see one of the judges buy one. Then realise he's one of the Argentinians who has driven here. No problem for him to get it home. Not sure what they'd say if you tried to check a cask onto a plane.

I get myself a couple of bottles. Well, not myself. They're for the kids. A 10 and an 18 year old. I'll let them fight over who gets the older one. Surprisingly. neither bottle gives its age on the label. It seems it's something to do with Brazilian law. If it claims to be 10 year old, it has to be only that. With neither younger nor older cachaca in it.

Our lunch stop, Das Bier, isn't too far. The setting is incredible. In front is a fishing lake, backed by more forested hills of glittering jade. The balcony has an amazing view. But is really hot. After snapping a couple of views, I sit inside with three of the Brazilians.

Pils is the only draught beer. Not really fancying that, I get a bottled American IPA. Which is fine.

Lunch is another buffet - what else. I get two chips, some salad to stave off scurvy, several types of meat and bit of fried fish. It's not bad. And I'm maintaining my protein intake.

Chris and Martyn trundle in while I'm eating. Along with a Brazilian brewer with whom Martyn will be brewing a collaboration beer later.

All the signs are in German. Something I'm getting used to it this part of Brazil. It is quite surreal when the view from the window is a jungle.

Would I like to look around the brewery? Sure. I start regretting that decision immediately. It's boiling hot. And I could see it through windows in the bar. Yet again, I leave early, sweat running down my arms, legs, chest and every other bit covered in skin.

I'm looking forward to getting back on the lovely cool coach. Forgetting that the driver had been sitting at another table the whole time. While the bus, power off, sat baking in the car park for 90 minutes.

It's 48 C when we get back on. I'm soon dripping with sweat again. Despite drinking quite a bit of beer and cachaca, I've had little need of the toilet today. I've been sweating everything out. A bit like back in my clubbing days.

The airco brings the temperature down fairly quickly. It's still 37 C when we arrive at our next destination. Not at the Xanadu distillery itself. Rather at the place where we switch to a minibus which can negotiate the steep narrow road to it.

Xanadu. I've been here before. Last time quite early in the day, when the pavements hadn't started melting. No such luck today.

There are only a couple of stills and a room full of barrels to show. The tour doesn't last long. Just as well, given the rivers of sweat coursing down my flesh and through my clothes. Pure torture.

The tasting is dead interesting as they have cachacas aged in a variety of different woods: American oak, European oak, amburana, balsem and a couple of others. All six years old, but amazingly different in character. The balsem aged one has zero colour, despite all the time in cask. But packed with flavour.

I'd be able to explain all this better, had I not been worried about melting into a puddle of dripping. There's no airco and I'm English. It's hard to concentrate your faculties when fearing your imminent collapse, or, worst case, demise.

Investing in more cachaca seems for myself seems wise. This time, it is for me. I suppose unless one of the kids takes a shine to it more than those from the first distillery. Now if only I can get that crap Olivia Newton-John song out of my head. I'm very susceptible to song prompts from my location. I was continually playing the Kinks' Victoria through my head when I commuted into London.

My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Blumenau judging (day three)

Bloody hell, that was some thunderstorm yesterday. Massive bolts of lightning, one after the other. I fell asleep to its insane crackling.

It's another early start. After dragging myself out of bed as the sun rose, I drag myself some more down for breakfast. It's full of judges. I get some cheese, some sort of sliced meat product and a coffee. I really can't stomach much this early in the morning.

I've a full table today. Both fellow judges are Brazilian. Their English is pretty good, which makes life easier.

We have three mini BOS on our schedule: Classic English Pale Ale, English Barley Wine and Sweet Stout. It being a BOS, all we have to do is decide which beers, if any, get medals. No filling in electronic score sheets. This is a piece of piss. We quickly rattle off the first two categories with no real disagreement.

It takes a little while for the Sweet Stout to come out. But there are only two beers and we're quickly done.

What happens now? Will we get more Mini BOS? It's a little unclear. It's still pretty early - just 10:00. It seems we will be assigned more. Except they're having some technical problems. We sit around and twiddle our thumbs. Bu 13:00, when it's time for lunch, no more beers have appeared. So we head off for lunch.

The buffet is better than yesterday. Really tasty meat. Though obviously not as good as yesterday's barbecue.

We're told more beer will be arriving. But it takes a good 20 minutes before the Export Stouts appear. As all but one have faults, or job is pretty easy. The one clean beer is pretty damn good.

Are we finished? I finish off the Stout samples while we're waiting. It's not much after 14:00.

There follows a lot of sitting around. Some of the other tables are still getting, beers, most not. While nothing much is happening, I enquire about getting a COVID test. Not being able to use my phone to make an appointment, I'm given an email address. I hope that works.

At 16:15, we're told that our table is done for the day. I unwisely ask the steward if I'll be judging the final BOS. She goes to the technical area to ask.

When she gets back she says: "Yes, I got you the last spot."

That wasn't what I wanted to hear. It's a compliment to be asked, but I know how long these things can take. Especially if there are a couple of argumentative bastards on the panel.

I've been chatting with Dick Cantwell. "Maybe I should just fuck off and pretend I misunderstood."

Dick, who will be on the panel says: "I won't tell anyone."

I really can't face any more hanging around. Plus all the arguing. It's amazing how a day of hanging around tires you out more than actually doing stuff.

The bus to the hotel should be leaving in 15 minutes, at 17:00. I move quickly to the exit. The bus is already there and the driver lets me on.

At 15:20 I'm still sat there on my own reading Viz. I'm such an intellectual. The driver says something in Portuguese that I don't understand, but it's clear from his hand gestures that he's wondering where the fuck everyone else is, too. He gets off the bus and makes a phone call.

15 minutes later he tells me that the bus has been put back an hour. At least I think that's what he says. He gestures for me to get on the other bus. The one allocated to the other judges' hotel. I say Ibis several times so the other driver knows where I'm supposed to be going.

It all works out perfectly. I get my own private bus back to the hotel. The right one.

I've some time to kill before the bus at 20:00 to tonight's restaurant. It would be stupid not to spend the time wisely. Drinking capirinhas in the hotel bar.

Martyn turns up when I'm just starting my third. He joins me in a capirinha. No sign of any of the BOS judges. We chat away merrily. We get two more capirinhas. This is fun. I'm getting mine sem azucar. Can't be doing with that sugar stuff.

It's getting on for 20:00 (the time when we're supposed to leave for dinner) when a bus with judges arrives. Not all of them. Just the ones who only did the first BOS round. With 100 gold medal beers, they had to do it in two phases. If it's possible, I feel even happier about dodging judging it.

We depart for Pomerode and the Schornstein brewery before the last of the judges return. I suppose they'll be going there directly from the judging.

Pomerode is a surreal place. With its Easter egg trees, giant Easter egg and signs all in German. We pile into the taproom and grab seats. I'm sitting with Martyn, Chris, Michael Hall and his wife. Soon were wrapping our lips around a pretty good Pils.

The buffet this evening is feijoada, Brazil's national dish. A black bean stew with various bits of meat in it. It's pretty good, but I'm starting to feel meat burnout. I've eaten a fatty mountain of it in the last couple of days. Can't turn my nose up at some lovely fatty pork, mind.

While we're eating, it starts pissing it down again. Tropical style. We're in a covered area outside and I have to move to stop getting drenched.

It's well after 9:00 when the bus with the last judges rumble up. I really dodged a bullet there. It's exactly what I expected to happen, based on my past BOS experiences. Both times, I barely got any dinner.

Chris trails off to the brewery, but Martyn and I resist. When I was here 2 years ago I had to abort a visit because it was so fucking hot.

Chris comes back and entices Martyn and I with tales of a cachaca shop. We follow him to the brewery. Where there's a crowd of judges tucking into beers directly from the tank. I get a Stout with cumaru. It's pretty nice. Best of all it's really cold. I'm already regretting coming in here. It's really hot. Sweat is dripping off me.

Next is a fresh hop beer, made with hops from Sao Paolo state. I'm surprised that they can grow hops that close to the equator. I thought they needed more hours of daylight than you you get at those latitudes.

We chat briefly with the female brewer, then I have to bale. I'm already half melted.

Around midnight, everyone is stocking up on drinks for the bus ride home. I get a nice cachaca. Far latter than planed, the bus bounces away. I hope everyone got on. I didn't see anyone counting heads.

Some one asks the driver to put on the radio, but it's broken. Instead, the Brazilians at the back make their own entertainment, singing away. It's much noisier than on the outward journey. I wonder why? Rather like a school trip.

It's getting on for 1 AM when we stagger off the bus. I head straight to bed. Yet another early start tomorrow.


Schornstein Kneipe
Rua Hermann Weege, 60
SC, 89107-000.

My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.


Tuesday 29 March 2022

A new box of books

I flogged the last copies I had of the Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer whilst in Florida in February. Now worries, I coild order a new box easily enough.

I contacted the publisher with my order and after a while they came back saying that it was no longer in stock at the warehouse. That didn't worry me. It's been out of print for a few years. But they'll print some up on demand when I want fresh copies.

Not quite so easy this time. They weren't sure if that was still possible. After some some huming and hawing, it was passed back up the chain of command. I waited for a definitive reply.

I'll be honest. I was bricking it. I was faced with the prospect of never getting any more copies.  Which would have been a real bastard.

Finally the word came down from on high. Yes, they could print up some more.

Not that that was the end of it. Printing, shipping and all the (Brexit-induced) customs shit delayed delivery by another few weeks. Almost three months after my initial request, a box plopped onto my doormat yesterday:

If you'd like to have a copy of your very own, signed by me, click the relevant button in the column to the left. I've 31 left, after dispatching ones already ordered. If you miss out now, who knpws how long it will take for me to get more copies.

Blumenau judging (day two)

The bus has been brought forward to 8:00 from 8:30. Using nature's alarm clock, I rise at 6:45. Leaving enough time for a shower before breakfast.

Which is a very rushed affair, as I get distracted by the internet. Just cheese and orange juice today. That's all the major food groups, isn't it?

It's already pretty hot when we roll up at the judging location. Luckily, the airco is on full blast inside.

I've only one fellow judge today: Juan Martin Villareal from Argentina. Is this a good or a bad thing? With any luck, it will mean we rattle through the flights quicker.

First up are English Summer Ales. Happily, just four beers in the flight. It doesn't take too long to get through them. A couple are quite nice. Then there's the one with the Brettanomyces infection.

The styles I'm judging have definitely been tailored to me. Next it's Koyt, Koit, Kuyt or however you want to spell it. I don't notice much of an oat character in any of them. Other than a good degree of murk in some.

We finish the morning with English Brown Ale. The guidelines we're using are total bollocks. The strength is given as 4.2% - 6% ABV. I explain to Juan that most UK versions, Newcastle Brown excepted, were 3.2% ABV, tops.

Many are too pale. Almost none of them have any sweetness, which is one of the defining characteristics. Only two resemble UK versions at all.

It's a buffet lunch, obviously. Brazilians do love their buffets. It's OK. I shovel on some of the bacon-flavoured sand. Yum.

Historic beers greet us after lunch. Starting with an East India Porter, Lichtenhainer and Grisette. All are pretty good. The Lichtenhainer having just the right level of slight tartness. Things are looking up

A couple of indistinct beers follow, where I'm not sure what they're meant to be. Vague descriptions don't help. Then there's the mysterious Bavarian Lager, Old World XXXX. Where the XXXX stands for a redacted name. I immediately twig what it is: a Kulmbacher. I guess they've missed that off because Kulmbacher is a brand name. It's wonderful Strong, black and hoppy. Full of dark malt flavours. Easily the best beer I've judged. We're happy to award it a gold medal. I just wish I could buy it back home.

A torture style follows: Irish Red Ale. They're as bad as I expected. Only one drinkable example among them.

The day ends with Robust porter. The first beer up is a delight of dark malts. Sadly, that isn't typical of the beers that follow. Which are full of faults. Until the very last beer, which is also pretty good.

We've been at it since 8:30, and it's now almost 19:00. When the bus to the barbecue is due to leave.

I sit next to Martyn on the bus. He always has new and interesting beer history stuff to regale me with.

The barbecue is amazing. Especially the pork. I get myself a big plate of meat and some token salad.

There are two indoor bowls courts. Sort of like a stretch version of bocci. Several of the other judges have I go. I'm happy to watch. Too knacked to do much moving. And too full of meat. Tim Webb gets a second plateful. How could he possibly et more?

It's spitting rain as we wait for the bus outside. It doesn't make it any cooler. Even though it's 22:00, it's still boiling. It's been so fucking hot today. And really humid. 34 C, but feels like 41 C. Just as well I've been indoors all day. Though even there the airco was struggling to keep the temperature reasonable.

Back at the hotel, I go straight to my room. No capirinhas tonight. Just the soothing embrace of Laphroaig.


My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.

Monday 28 March 2022

Blumenau judging

Using the sun as my alarm clock, I rise at 6:45. Leaving enough time for some writing before I tumble downstairs for breakfast.

I sit next to Chris with my extremely meagre plate. I don't usually eat in the morning. My appetite isn't great before noon.

As is usual at such events, there's a fair bit of buggering around before we get stuck into the judging. It doesn't help that I didn't read the instructions and haven't brought a laptop with me. And that I've forgotten my judging account password. After a fair bit of fiddling, I can log on with a borrowed tablet.

I have two Brazilians on my table, Ronaldo and Taina. We kick off with Scottish Light Ale. Two beers in the flight. One pale, one dark. After judging the first beer, the tablet won't react. After a while I'm given a laptop. Now we can get going.

Second flight is English Pale Mild. One beer is pale. WTF?

Next is Dark Mild. And one example is pale. Seems a pretty rookie mistake in choosing the category to enter the beer in. Of the five beers, two are actully pretty good takes on Dark Mild.

After a few snacks, the heavy duty work begins: 12 English Barley Wines. Fuck me. These beers are a bit strong, even for me. Some are sticky messes. But almost half the flight is pretty good. So good I polish them off. Maybe not the brightest of ideas on a relatively empty stomach.

Judging finished early - 15:30 - and we're whisked off to Beer Vila. The beer pub in the weird German village. Which freaks out some of the judges who've never been here before.

What to drink? A half litre of Imperial Stout (Lohn Bier Carvoeira) seems like a good idea. After all, I was mostly drinking, sorry, judging Mild earlier. Apart from those 12 Barley Wines.

It's hot. Fucking hot. At least there's a bit of a breeze. My beer turns up first. Unlike my food, for which I'm still waiting when everyone else has finished theirs. I'm halfway through my Double IPA (half litre) when it turns up.

Chris is slightly worried by a threatening thunderstorm. We pay up  and hurry off in the hope of reaching the hotel before the storm breaks.

It's a bit further to the hotel than I remember. I fell quite knacked by the time we get there. I know what will liven me up - a capirinha. I'm feeling a bit ausgebiered. It seems to work the trick. Chris is very critical of their caparinha making skills and insists on more limes. Then spoons in extra sugar, somewhat defeating the point.

Various judges troll up, chat and share beers from their breweries. It's all very jolly.

Martyn, who left Beer Vila early, turns up with more bags of shopping. Iberia still haven't responded to him, let alone find his missing bag.

More capirinhas follow. I'm just about to head off to bed when my arm is twisted to drink another. But That's it. Was it three or four? Enough for tonight. I don't want to be up too late. It's another 8:00 bus tomorrow. And I want to get today written up. Which is what I've just done.

I watch Celebrity Bake Off Brasil.It's a bit weird. one of the presenting team is wearing gloves.

The Laphroaig will be chasing me to slumber soon. Whether I like it or not.


Bier Vila
R. Alberto Stein, 199
Sala 100 - Velha,
Blumenau - SC.

My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Blumenau day one

My step counter/watch died yesterday. Leaving me to rely on the arrival of daylight to tell me when to rise.

For the first time this trip, I go for breakfast. Only because it's free. It's what I now recognise as a typical Brazilian hotel breakfast. Scrambled eggs, that weird sliced up sausage, cake and fruit. Oh, and cheese. I have some of the first and the last. The cheese is much better than in Florianopolis. It actually has some flavour.

Martyn won't be arriving until mid to late afternoon. Looks like I'll be lunching alone.

First, I nip down to the supermarket. To get myself some water and a bottle of Velho Barreiro. 13.50 reals it cost - that's more than 2 euros. And it's only a 910 ml bottle. The thieving bastards.

This is great. I can remember where everything is here. Where to go for lunch? Choperia Tunga, perhaps.

Blumenau high street is as lively as ever. No deserted shop units and plenty of punters. And plenty of shade for watery old me to walk in.

I sit outside Choperia Tunga and wait for a waiter. Another bloke equally decrepit and weight-challenged does the same at the other end of the seating. After 10 minutes, I call it a day. The other bloke was less patient than me and fucked off after 5 minutes.

I give the weirdly-named Tip Tim just over the river a try. The sun burns on the shadeless bridge. I'm well ready for a cold beer when I get to the other side.

I grab a seat in the covered outdoor area. And odrer a big bottle of Kaiser. Some fish thing. And a cachaca. purely for digestive purposes.

The four blokes on the table in front of me just got a huge pile of meat and chips that they're sharing. Looks like enough food to feed 20 starving giants.

The Kaiser isn't great, but it's cold and wet. Just what I need after a bit of a walk. Unsurprisingly, it's hot. far too hot for someone as English as me.

The cachaca isn't what I expected. It's a capirinha rather than a shot. Served in a jam jar. Pretty nice, mind. full of alcoholy goodness. So nice, I order a second.

The four blokes have polished off their food mountain without too much trouble. I guess they won't be eating for another week.

I feel so hot on the way home that I nip into a  couple of shops just to cool down. It seems worse here than in Sao Paolo, I think because it's more humid. The sun isn't even out and my brain is boiling.

I liven up after 20 minutes in my airconditioned room. Thank god for airco. I really wouldn't be able to do Brazil without it.

Hanging around in my room I cool down while I wait for an enail from Martyn. Which never comes.

There's a bus to dinner at 19:30. I wander downstairs half an hour before, hoping to meet up with some fellow judges. And have a quick beer. I'm not disappointed. There's a whole gaggle of them. Many of then I know.

Martyn turns up with bags of shopping. Iberia lost his bag and he's had to buy new clothes. That's one of my nightmares. Not buying new clothes. My bag being lost. (Though I'm not that keen on buying clothes, either.) It's happened once. That's why I always have a change of clothes in my carry-on luggage.

I sit at a table with Pete Slosberg, Martyn, Chris Flaskamp and Doug Piper. What to drink? I kick off with a cocoa IPA that's recommended to me. A bit strange, but tasty enough. After that I move on to Imperial Stout. It feels like that kind of night.

It's well after 21:00 when the buffet opens. I nip straight in. Not that I'm feeling that hungry. It's a bit late for me.

I have a very interesting chat with one of the Polish judges about Grodziskie, one of my many beery obsessions.

By the time we get back to the hotel, it's pushing midnight. The bus to judging tomorrow is at 8:00. Unsurprisingly, everyone goes straight to their room.

Tip Tim
R. República Argentina, 74
Ponta Aguda,
Blumenau - SC.

My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Sao Paulo to Blumenau

I rise at 8:30. Mostly to allow time to type up yesterday. I'm very diligent now with my travel reports.

At 11:00 I go downstairs and check out. And ask them to call a taxi for me. Soon I'm bouncing down Sao Paolo's streets.

I know it's going to be a long journey. To the airport, I mean. I remember how long it took to get into town from the airport. And I checked on Google Maps: 1 hour 15 minutes, it reckoned.

The roads are busy. Very busy. We come to a stop several times. That's by no means the worst bit. Many of the lorries seem to be driven by lunatics on speed. One pulls out right in front of us and only misses us by a metre or two, This while we're going 80 kph. I try not to look at the road to much. I wouldn't like to sit on the plane in soiled underwear.

I look the other way instead. The road is following the River Tiete. It's not very scenic. There's a motorway on both sides of it. The banks are concrete and every 50 metres or so there are what seem to be drains emptying into it. Some of the water coming from them looks filthy.

We're in the outside lane. Suddenly there a bloke walking in the opposite direction between us and the next lane pushing a cart. He's selling drinks and snacks. Seems like a fairly suicidal occupation. we're not going full tilt, but at least 50 kph.

It's almost 13:00 when I'm dropped off. It says 140 reals on the taximeter, but I'm charged 106 reals. Seems like a bargain for 75 minutes travel.

I've over four hours until my flight so I'm in no rush. I drop off my bag and head airside. What I need now is a bar. I wander around a bit, but it's just shops and the odd little food place. I stop at one, Doog, and get myself a hot dog. Sem mostarda. Mustard is one of the few things I really don't like. It's not great. Dry, sweetish bread and a bland sausage.

I wander some more. Surely there must be a bar here somewhere? I'm almost at the end of the pier when I spot somewhere with spirit bottles: Gendai. A Japanese place. This'll do. I order one of those seaweed ice cream cones filled with salmon. And an Eisenbahn Pilsen. And a cachaca.

It seems they have a choice of two cachacas. The friendly waiter brings over the bottles so I can decide which one I want. I go for Selecta, as it's slightly coloured rather than pale.

Occasionally nibbling at my sushi, I vaguely watch the TV. there's football on. There always seems to be football one one channel or another. I sip my cachaca, too. And order another one. And another. Not that I'm rushing. I've still got a couple of hours until my flight. I order another ice cream cone. This is my main meal of the day.

About an hour before my flight is due to leave, I pay up and check which gate it is. Luckily it's right by where I am. There are only a few seats at the gate. One is empty. Just before I get to it a bloke asks the woman sat next to it if it's free, then dumps his bag on it. What the fuck? He doesn't even want to use it. What a twat.

I'm not going to stand until boarding. I look for somewhere else to sit. Oh look, there's a TGI Friday. Time for a traditional Jack Daniels send off.

It's brilliant. I can see the gate from my seat so I'll be able to see when they start boarding. The prices are much more reasonable than in the US. The whiskey is around 6 euros a pop. At that price it would be stupid to drink just the one.

When I see boarding begin, I troll over and walk straight onto the plane. This is incredibly stress-free. Just how I like to travel. One of the (many) annoying things about travelling with anti-American Mike, was that he'd insist on turning up at the airport as late as possible. We had to sprint to the gate on more than one occasion. No way I could do that now.

The flight isn't full. The seat to my left is free. Let's see, is the bloke sitting in front of me a recliner? Of course he fucking is. What sort of twat reclines their seat on a short daytime flight? Just as well there's that empty seat next to me. I fire up the laptop and watch some more Peep Show. I don't even get through two episodes before we start our descent.

I'm at the carousel only about 10 minutes after landing, but my bag is already doing the rounds. I grab it and head outside. And there's my taxi driver holding up my name.

It all happens so quickly, I forgot to go and have a piss. Fortunately, my driver stops for petrol. Here's my chance.

"Sanitarios?" There's one handy word of Portuguese I've learnt.

On the way back from the bog, I get myself a bottle of water and a bottle of beer. This is all working out perfectly.

The light is fading as we speed along the road. As darkness falls so does the rain. Not quite as bad as on my first night in Sao Paolo, but bad enough.

At 19:30 I check into my hotel. Oh, that's handy: the bar is open. That's where I head once I've dumped my bags in my room.

I get an ice cold beer and a cachaca. the latter once again served from a little cask on the bar. For once, I'm glad the beer is that cold. It doesn't improve as it warms up. A couple more cachacas help wash away the nasty taste of the beer.

I don't make a late night of it. I vaguely point my eyes at yet more football on the TV. While Laphroaig gently laps the shores of sleep. 

My accommodation most of my food and some beer were paid for by Concurso Brasileiro de Cervejas Blumenau. All travelling expenses I paid myself.

Friday 25 March 2022

London Porter adjuncts and sugars 1880 - 1899

You can probably tell that I'm cracking on with my book after next. More than 10,000 words over the last few days. Admittedly a lot nicked from a couple of remarkably useful old blog posts. I'd forgotten writing them and only stumbled on them by chance. Saved me hours of work.

I've been working on the London Porter section. Fairly obviously, if you've been paying attention to some recent posts. I banged together some of the tables while in the USA recently. I'm really living on the edge when I travel. Fiddling around with spreadsheets. Wild, man.

With one exception, “Black Sacc.”, none of the sugars are given a name. Chances are the unnamed sugars weren’t really pale, as that would lighten the colour too much. And people expected their Porters dark. But it’s anyone’s guess really as to what they were. Possibly some sort of invert sugar.

To call the quantity of sugar used a bit variable would be a huge understatement. From nothing in the Whitbread examples to more than a third in a one of Truman beers. While fifteen years later it was down to less than 10%. All over the place, really.

Adjuncts only pop up in one, the 1899 Truman. In the form of the brewers’ favourite: flaked maize.

London Porter adjuncts and sugars 1880 - 1899
Year Brewer Beer flaked maize Black Sacc. other sugar total sugar
1887 Fullers Porter     19.81% 19.81%
1893 Fullers Porter   20.25%   20.25%
1897 Fullers Porter     25.09% 25.09%
1880 Truman Runner     36.93% 36.93%
1890 Truman Runner     15.72% 15.72%
1895 Truman Runner     7.76% 7.76%
1899 Truman Runner 8.75%   12.50% 12.50%
1880 Whitbread P        
1885 Whitbread P        
1890 Whitbread P        
1895 Whitbread P        
  Average   8.75%     19.72%
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery.
Truman brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers B/THB/C/082, B/THB/C/092, B/THB/C/096 and B/THB/C/102.
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/075, LMA/4453/D/09/080, LMA/4453/D/09/084 and LMA/4453/D/09/090.

Thursday 24 March 2022

London Porter malts 1880 - 1899

No surprise that everyone was sticking with the Holy Trinity of London Porter malts: pale, brown and black. Despite all the upheavals in UK brewing in the 19th century, London brewers remained faithful to their three favourite malts. It’s one of the big constants. Not just in the 19th century, but right through until after WW II.

The proportions of the three malts do vary quite a bit between the brewers and over time. Even the base malt, where the lowest is well under 50% and the highest over 80%. Though in the case of the latter, that’s partly on account of Whitbread eschewing both adjuncts and sugar.

Brown malt ranges from 8% to over 20%. Enough of a difference to have a big impact on the character of the finished beer. With black malt the variation is even greater. A factor of five divides the low of 2% and high of 10%. In general, there seems to have been a reduction in the percentage of brown malt and an increase in that of black malt as the final decades of the 19th century ticked by.

Overall, the percentage of malt in the grist was high, averaging over 85%. Whitbread brewing all-malt influenced that figure.

London Porter malts 1880 - 1899
Year Brewer Beer pale malt brown malt black malt total malt
1887 Fullers Porter 52.44% 20.98% 6.77% 80.19%
1893 Fullers Porter 55.60% 18.07% 6.08% 79.75%
1897 Fullers Porter 54.36% 18.56% 1.99% 74.91%
1880 Truman Runner 43.88% 13.71% 5.48% 63.07%
1890 Truman Runner 63.65% 12.97% 7.66% 84.28%
1895 Truman Runner 68.14% 14.96% 9.14% 92.24%
1899 Truman Runner 55.00% 13.75% 10.00% 78.75%
1880 Whitbread P 80.83% 11.67% 7.50% 100.00%
1885 Whitbread P 70.77% 19.23% 10.00% 100.00%
1890 Whitbread P 83.53% 8.24% 8.24% 100.00%
1895 Whitbread P 81.72% 8.60% 9.68% 100.00%
  Average   64.54% 14.61% 7.50% 86.65%
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery.
Truman brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers B/THB/C/082, B/THB/C/092, B/THB/C/096 and B/THB/C/102.
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/075, LMA/4453/D/09/080, LMA/4453/D/09/084 and LMA/4453/D/09/090.


Wednesday 23 March 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1901 Boddington IPA

I’m not sure where this beer fits in with modern concepts of “English IPA”. Though I’ve always considered the American definitions of that style as what they thought it should be rather than reflecting IPAs actually brewed in the UK. BeerSmith tells me that this beer is too hoppy for the style. There you go then.

To me, this is too weak to be classed with a contemporary Burton IPA. They had gravities around 1065º, a good ten points stronger. And were far more heavily hopped. So, what makes this an IPA? That’s what the brewer called it. Simple as that. Another brewery might well have called it just Pale Ale. There’s absolutely no logic to this stuff.

There’s a slight variation in the recipe here, in that the type of sugar is different. While in the Mild Ales the sugar is described as “Garton”, here it’s simply called “invert”. As this is consistent, I have to conclude that it’s a different type of sugar. I’ve plumped for No. 2. It could just as easily have been No. 1, which was mostly employed in classier Pale Ales.

Unlike in the Mild Ales, there’s no Ouchac malt, just English and Californian.

Hops came mostly from England, there types, backed up my one Californian. All undated, sadly.

1901 Boddington IPA
pale malt 11.25 lb 91.84%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 8.16%
Cluster 130 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1054.5
FG 1017
ABV 4.96
Apparent attenuation 68.81%
IBU 68
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 130 minutes
pitching temp 60.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday 22 March 2022

Coloured malts 1880 - 1914

Towards the end of the 19th century some coloured malts, such as brown and amber became less popular and brewers relied on other malts to mimic them. This doesn’t seem to have been a total success, leading to a resurgence in their use.

“Brown and amber malts have of late years fallen somewhat into disfavour, black being relied upon for colour, crystal for flavour. There is. however, latterly a tendency to employ an increased proportion of brown and amber malt, and without doubt such malt if really well made gives a characteristic flavour not possessed by either black or crystal. It is, indeed, by a skilful blending of the several types of coloured malt that some of the most successful black beers are produced. It is true that in such grists the total proportion of the coloured malts will often be large and the cost price of the beer as a consequence high, but the result of the adoption of such grists generally fully justifies the expenditure." 

One of the problems with brown and amber malts had been their extreme variability, both in terms of flavour and colour. A brown malt from one maltster was often very different to that from another. However, changes in the method of manufacturing such malts to a large degree eliminated these differences making their use more attractive to brewers. 

Coloured malt analyses
  Black. Brown. Amber. Crystal.
Extract per quarter (336 lbs. ) 57.75 57.12 84.33 58.26
„ per cent. . 44.3 44.04 65.02 45.07
Acidity of wort 0.29 0.23 0.19 0.17
Total proteids or albuminoids 6.11 7.13 7.62 8.71
Soluble 3.99 4.81 5.69 5.88
Insoluble ,, ,, 3.99 4.81 5.69 5.88
Mineral matter or ash 0.32 0.29 1.2 0.76
Moisture 5.37 6.23 4.14 2.12
The Brewers Analyst, by R. Douglas Bailey, 1907, page 234