Wednesday 31 August 2022


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Let's Brew Wednesday - 1889 Harveys X Ale

We’re outside the major cities again with Harveys. Not exactly rurally based, but a fairly small market town.

The surprise here is that the base-level Mild Ale, X Ale, has a similar gravity to a London Mild. And is a good bit stronger than other small-town X Ales from Adnams and Hancock. Why is this? Perhaps because, being not that far from London, they were in direct competition with brewers from the capital.

There’s no malt other than pale base malt. Though there were three types of that: two made from English barley and one from Smyrna, i.e., Middle Eastern, barley. Nothing particularly unusual in that, given that the UK couldn’t grow enough malting barley to service the brewing industry.

The only other element in the grist is No. 2 invert sugar. Which darkens the beer a little, while still leaving it well short of a modern Dark Mild.

The hops, in contrast to the malt, were all English. Specifically, Kent from the 1888 harvest and East Kent from 1887 and 1888.

1889 Harveys X Ale
pale malt 10.25 lb 85.42%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.75 lb 14.58%
Fuggles 85 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1058
FG 1014
ABV 5.82
Apparent attenuation 75.86%
IBU 35
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 85 minutes
pitching temp 57.5º F
Yeast White Labs WLP025 Southwold


Tuesday 30 August 2022

Vancouver central (part 2)

A couple of things on today’s to do list. The first takes us to the second. The Canada Line of the Skytrain.

“Why’s it called Skytrain if it’s underground, Andrew?”

“No idea.”

Buying tickets is pretty easy. Everything works pretty well. But it’s a shock arriving on the platform. It’s tiny.

“Why’s it so small?” I ask my resident rail expert.

“They built it on the cheap.” Andrew replies.

“Won’t it cost a fortune to upgrade?”

“Obviously. While Amsterdam future-proofed the Noord-Zuid line by making the platforms longer than current trains.”

We get off at the terminus, Waterfront station. We’re headed for the steam clock. Not sure why, other than it sounds slightly intriguing. And has a cool name.

This is an older part of town.

“Oh, look! A brewery.” I exclaim, pointing at Steamworks. “I brewed a beer there, once.”

Quite a few people are standing around the clock. Which isn’t doing much, other than whirring. I guess all the action with the whistles starts on the hour. It’s 16:42. Bugger waiting almost 20 minutes.

“Back to the brewery?”

They don’t need asking twice. The place is massive, we’re led through several rooms before being deposited in the basement, with the brewing equipment and the kitchen. But through the window there’s an amazing view of the bay and the wooded hills beyond it.

There’s lucky. It’s happy hour here, too. But we don’t get beer.

“Fancy a cocktail pitcher, kids?”

“Why not?”

Coconut mojito is our choice. Quite nice it is, too. Not too sweet.

Andrew ordered a Pilsner and can’t share the pitcher yet. As, according to our waitress, you’re only allowed one alcoholic drink at a time in British Columbia. I’ve come across rules like that before. So many random, crazy rules connected to alcohol.

We order a second pitcher.

We’re a bit hungry. Not enough for a full meal. Onion rings and chicken wings will do. Spicy wings.

They’re quite hot, the wings, but not dead hot.”

“I’ve had much hotter.” Andrew states.

“Well, you did eat that bit of a Carolina Reaper.”

“True. But I meant actual food.”

We order a third pitcher.

We don’t stay too late. It’s almost the end of happy hour.

“Why is it still called British Columbia?” Lexxie asks. “Shouldn’t it be Canadian Columbia now?”

He has a point. “No idea. Email Mr. Trudeau and ask.”

On our way to the station, we drop into a car park to photograph the view of harbour and hillsides. There’s a fence in the way. But just by standing on a little bump, Lexxie can see over it. How many times has he been asked how tall he is? It must be at least a dozen.

A few chavs are hanging around the car park. For the view? I don’t think so. We don’t wait to find out. Back to the mini-metro for our ride home. It’s only a handful of stops. Then a walk of a couple of hundred metres. A doddle, really. Without any fucking hills.

Back at the hotel, the kids nip to the liquor store. And get some more beer. And a second bottle of Canadian Club. Plastic bottle, this time. What a party we have.

“What do you mean, Dad? A can of Molson and a convenience store sandwich isn’t much of a party.”

“You’re so negative, Lexxie.”

“Fuck off with that negative shit.”

“There’s whisky as well.”

“That doesn’t make it much more of a party.”

“It does for me.”

“Because you’re a drunk.”


“Don’t start that nonsense again.”

Argument won, I retire to my own room.

Where I Canadian club myself into dreamland.

Steamworks Brewpub
375 Water St,
BC V6B 1B8.

Monday 29 August 2022

Vancouver central (part 1)

“What about Tim Horton’s?” That’s Lexxie’s breakfast suggestion. Not that it’s really breakfast time.

I arranged to come to the kids’ room at 9:30. Lexxie was up and dressed. Andrew barely awake. It’s a while before they’re ready to rock and roll.

It’s overcast outside and not very warm. Perfect Andrew weather.

“We could go to that retro diner in the centre. It’s licensed, remember.” That should swing it with Andrew.

Lexxie manages to find it pretty quickly on the internet. Before you know it, we’re off in an Uber and over the bridge into town. It’s easy to spot the Templeton. That’s where the queue is.

It takes a while to get inside. Pretty sure it’s going to be worth it. Lots of others clearly do.

I remember it pretty well from four years ago. That classic retro diner look. Checkerboard floor, chrome stools and long counter. Just like in films.

“Is this the same table we sat at last time? I seem to remember all this Elvis stuff.”

“I think you’re right.”

We start by ordering some beer. Andrew goes for a Lager. While Lexxie takes a double boozy chocolate milkshake. 

“That’s in keeping with the diner theme.” I quip.

“Shut up, Dad.”

I do. And try my

R & B Brewing Dude Chilling Pale Ale
A bit grapefruity, fairly bitter, almost clear. Not bad for a diner.

Time to think about ordering food. I go for a farmer’s breakfast with a side of bacon. Lexxie’s choice is a Big Ass Breakfast. He must be hungry. While Andrew isn’t at all. He’s just sticking to beer.

“How’s the milkshake?”


“Full of boozy goodness?”


“How’s your ass?”

“Don’t be annoying, Dad. Just shut up.”

I feel stuffed. So stuffed, I let Andrew have half a slice of my toast. With some butter, that’s his breakfast. That’s saved me some money. Though all the beer he’s knocking back sort of negates that.

“What’s next, kids?”

“There’s a brewery not far away.” Says Lexxie, the one with a map on his phone.

“Lead the way.”

Lexxie leads us across the road.

“Look at that, Dad.”


“Those workmen over there. They’re washing the pavement.”

“LA council should offer them jobs.”

We wander a few blocks in no particular direction. I’m not totally convinced Lexie knows where he’s going. But he’s the one with the map.

“It’s just down here.” He says, taking us down a very unpromising street.

I can’t see anything that looks vaguely like a brewery. “What’s the brewery name?”


“That’s one of the big Canadian breweries. That doesn’t sound right.”

We do find an entrance marked “Labatt Brewery”. It’s an office. We can’t be the first to have made this mistake as there’s a sign saying “this isn’t a brewpub”.

There is a brewpub down the hill: Yaletown. Another spot we visited last time. We sit outside on the terrace.

It’s 13:55. And happy hour starts at 14:00. That’s lucky. Pints are just $5. Canadian. That‘s around 4 euros. Win.

Any guesses what I order? An IPA, of course.

Loading Bay IPA, 6.5% ABV, 66 IBU
Quite dark compared to most I’ve had recently. Weirdly sweet and harshly bitter at the same time. Not a great combination.

The kids go Lagery, again. They seem to really like that pale, fizzy piss.

It’s also happy hour on some food items. We order two pretzels. They’re almost, but not totally, unlike German pretzels. Only the shape is just about right. And that’s not 100% there.

“They probably can’t get Natronlauge.”

“What’s that, Andrew?”

“The stuff that they soak pretzels in. It probably isn’t allowed here.”

That could be it. They are quite nice. Like bread rolls curled into a weird shape. Just nothing like a pretzel.

I get a second IPA Despite not really enjoying the first. Mmm. This one looks a bit murky. Doesn’t seem to taste much different, mind. Not any better, mind.

Although he had that monster late breakfast, Lexxie is a bit peckish. Andrew is finally showing signs of hunger, after fasting all day. We order poutine.

“Have you had poutine before?”

“Yes, Dad. I told you that a couple of days ago.”

“I can’t remember eating it before.”

“That’s because you’re old. You did.”

“Thanks, Lexxie.”

After a few beers, we pay up and leave.

“Do you want to go to that liquor store around the corner?”


It’s tiny. And is part of Yaletown. You can see right through to the bar. It’s pretty claustrophobic in the beer fridge, with only just enough room for me to squeeze between the six packs. Andrew gets some Molson.

I’d like to look at the craft cans. But some twat with a yuppie 3-wheel monster pushchair and a wolf of a dog is filling up most of the floor space. When he eventually bothers to move, I grab a couple of cans. Then get a bottle of Canadian Club.

The Templeton
1087 Granville St,
BC V6Z 1L4.

Yaletown Brewing Company
1111 Mainland St,
BC V6B 2T9.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Oh, Canada

No huge rush to get up. Our flight is at 12:55. Though we want to take proper advantage of our lounge time. A couple of hours should do.

We have business class tickets. When I was booking, I noticed they didn’t cost that much more and jokily suggested buying them to Dolores. To my surprise, she agreed. Thought it might be a good experience for the kids.

Air Canada doesn’t have its own lounge. They use United’s. It’s pretty small. But they have bourbon and bits and bobs of food. We all tuck in. Even Andrew. I worry that beer is his only source of calories. Sorry, I was forgetting whiskey. All in liquid form, anyway.

I have a window seat and get a good view of the US rolling slowly below. Quite varied. Sometimes dusty brown. Others, the lush green of innumerable deeply wooded islands.

The kids are really enjoying the extra legroom.

“For once, I’ve more than enough space.” Lexxie says.

“It’s you own fault for being over 2 metres tall.”

“I think you’ll find it’s you and Mum who are to blame for that.”

“I’ll have another whiskey.”

“That’s your answer to everything, isn’t it?”

“You say that as if it’s some sort of problem.”

“Right. You’re in denial, Dad.”


“Let’s not go through this again.”

Immigration is no problem Once I’ve shown them the photo of that stupid form thing we had to fill in. How I love modern travelling.

Our bags, again, beat us to the carousel. Soon we’re in our hotel. Our, frankly, ludicrously expensive hotel. At least the view isn’t bad. Looking onto the harbour and the mountains beyond. As well as part of the multi-fingered downtown high-rise forest.

“Are you hungry, kids?”


“Not really.”

“That averages out to a probably.”

“Don’t be stupid, Dad. You can’t average it out, and if you did, it would be possibly. Let’s just you and me go.” Lexxie is very logical.


“There’s a Japanese place just down the street.”

That’ll do for me. Nothing too heavy and lots of little bits. Just what I feel like.

And that’s what we get. Sushi, tempura, spring rolls, gyozas. All the usual stuff. It’s pretty good. Dependable stuff, Japanese food.

“This is very similar to what we eat in Kokusai, Lexie.”

“It’s called Japanese food.”

“I know that. I mean the specific bits of Japanese food we’re eating.”

“Chill out, Dad. Don’t overthink everything.”

“Me? Overthink?”

“Just shut up and eat, Dad.”

There aren’t many other customers. It is pretty early, mind. Just after 6 PM. Two teenage girls speaking Spanish with someone who I assume is their grandmother. Every now and again the girls lapse into English when talking to each other. Now that’s interesting. Their Spanish sounded perfect to me. Clearly bilingual, just like my kids.

Fed, we head for the 7 11. It’s down a fucking steep hill, Lexxie and I discover. Magic. And it doesn’t sell beer. At least the sandwich selection is different from the US branches.

I limp far behind Lexxie up the monster hill. It’s a double whammy of ankle and lungs. At least he’s considerate enough to wait for me at the summit of Everest.

The view from the hotel is even better now. We can see the downtown skyline and part of the harbour, its water studded with cargo ships. It’s spectacular as the sun sets. And captivating after dark, as car lights dance across the bridge.

Andrew has to do without any beer. Poor thing. He could have had some, but he couldn’t. be arsed to walk to the liquor store.

“You couldn’t have wanted it that much, then. I made it up that fucking hill from the 7 11 on my damaged ankle.” (Definitely not broken, in case you’re interested.)

“Shut up, Dad. I can do without your gloating. And self-pity.”

“Are you hungry yet?” As he seems a bit grumpy, I change the subject.

“A bit.”

No change there, then.

“What did you say, Dad?”

“He’s saying out loud what he’s thinking again, Andrew.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, Dad. You do it all the time.”

“You’ve never mentioned that before.”

“Yes, I have. Several times.”

No, you haven’t you lying little fucker.

“You’re doing it again. And yes, I did.”

We watch some TV and later nibble on some sandwiches. Luckily, I’ve still got some whiskey to chase down the food.

I realise we haven’t visited a pub or brewery today. Now there’s a record. I can’t imagine we’ll hold out very long tomorrow. The joy of having a check-in bag.

Mr. Knacked is the only one accompanying me on my route to sleepland.

Kisokoma Japanese Restaurant
805 W Broadway #112,
BC V5Z 1K1.

Saturday 27 August 2022

Let's Brew - 1890 Truman Double Stout

At times, Truman did some weird stuff with their parti-gyling. The way they brewed Stouts in the 1890s being a good example.

Because, as well as blending pre-fermentation, there was a second blending post-fermentation. In the first, 3 gyles of 1113º, 1089.2º and 1038.2º were blended to create these three worts:

Beer barrels OG
Imperial Stout 189 1097.0
Double Stout 189 1083.1
Single Stout 296 1070.4

After fermentation, 69 barrels of Imperial stout were mixed into the other two Stouts. With this result:

Beer barrels OG
Imperial Stout 120 1097.0
Double Stout 218 1082.0
Single Stout 345 1076.2

Not sure why you’d do this rather than get the quantities and OGs you want in the pre-fermentation blending.

I know from a Truman square book that Double Stout at least sometimes was vatted. I’d guess for at least 12 months.

For recipe details, see the Imperial Stout recipe I published a while back. 

1890 Truman Double Stout
pale malt 12.75 lb 70.83%
brown malt 1.75 lb 9.72%
black malt 1.00 lb 5.56%
No. 3 invert sugar 2.50 lb 13.89%
Fuggles 120 mins 4.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 4.00 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1082
FG 1022
ABV 7.94
Apparent attenuation 73.17%
IBU 111
SRM 38
Mash at 157º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday 26 August 2022

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“Do you fancy going to a baseball game?” I asked the kids while planning the trip. They replied yes enthusiastically enough that I started to investigate which teams were playing when we were in town.

The San Diego padres were the most viable option. Especially as there was a day game. Likely to be less busy. And not ending inconveniently late. I duly ordered three tickets.

Originally, the plan was to visit Midway (a preserved aircraft carrier) in the morning, then continue on to the baseball. But this would have required us to be up and out by 9:30. Not much chance of that with Andrew.

Lexxie and we make the long one-block trek to the 7 11. To pick up some breakfast. A couple of sarnies and a Big Gulp of diet cola. Lexxie doesn’t put any ice in the cup. There’s plenty of ice at the hotel. And without the ice taking up space, we get double the cola for our money.

After breakfast, we fill in the form we need to enter Canada. Yet another fucking form. It’s so much fun, entering the same crap yet another time. When we’re done, it asks us to print out the page, as we’ll need it at the airport. Both Lexxie and I take a snap, us having no access to a printer. Best to be on the safe side.

The Petco Stadium, home of the Padres, is close to a tram stop. Which isn’t always the case in the US. Lexxie tells me about the size of some of the stadium parking lots as we walk to pick up the tram. The largest are around the size of Amsterdam, it seems.

“Fuck! Fuckitty, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“What is it, Dad?”

“I’ve just turned my ankle over. I hope I haven’t broken it. Again.”

“Can you walk on it?”


“It can’t be broken then.”

“I beg to differ. Based on past experience.”

“Shut up and stop whinging.”

It’s hurting. But nothing like the agony of a break. I suppose expecting sympathy from the kids is too much.

I continue. Limping. And lag even further behind the kids than usual.

The tram is fairly full. I’m fairly sure they’re all going to the game. Not hard to guess, as they’re all wearing some Padres gear.

Lexxie has to dump his backpack in a mobile locker. $12 it costs. The robbing bastards. Card only, so I have to hobble over the road to pay.

As soon as we’re inside the ground, I spot a Pizza Port bar. It’s at the back of the section where we’re sitting. That’s handy.

Our seats are closer to the pitch than I expected. And in the sun, which isn’t great. Lexxie and I go to fetch beer. I get a Designated Hopper. A Double IPA. The kids get some Pale Ale or other.  The prices are like a swift kick in the balls: they make my eyes water.

It’s no fun walking all the way down to our seats. Pretty sure my ankle isn’t broken. I must check if it’s swelling.

The father and son sitting behind us have moved along a few seats. I guess the kids were blocking their view.

I’ve no sunscreen on. And I can’t keep my arms out of the sun. And it’s hot.

“Why don’t we move back into the shade?”

“Can we do that?”

“Why not? No-one is checking who’s in the seats. And it’s not sold out.”

It’s much more pleasant in the shade.

“This is much more pleasant, isn’t it?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Can you get the next round? All this walking up and down stairs isn’t good for my ankle.”

“Right, Dad.”

“I’m not joking. I really hurt my ankle.” They aren’t very sympathetic, these kids.

There’s a bloke a few rows over in a Mexican wrestling mask. And a load of Padres gear. Sort of like an unofficial mascot. 

Colorado Rockies hit a couple of homers, scoring three runs. The game pootles along, as baseball games tend to. Then, also as is typical of baseball games, all of a sudden, lots of things happen.

Like foul balls flying our way. It’s scary if you haven’t been paying attention or lose track of the ball in flight. It’s no wonder there are signs warning about “objects” leaving the pitch.

I think the people behind us are impressed that Lexxie knows all the words to “Take me out to the Ballpark”. Especially as they stumble and mumble through the second verse.

The Padres score a couple of runs and the Rockies get a couple in return. Quite exciting. But weird how quiet it is – other than a few boos – when the away team score. Because there aren’t any away fans. Quite different to football.

Then it all goes mad. The Padres score a hatful of runs in a couple of innings and win 13 – 5. The crowd go crazier with every run.

“Don’t expect every game to be as exciting as this.” I warn. “They usually end up 3 – 2 or 4 – 3.”

I limp slowly behind the kids and out of the stadium.

“You know where we could go now? There’s a . . .”

“brewpub around the corner. I know. That’s where I’m going.”

“How did you know that? You must be psychic.”

The kids give me a pitying look.

Half Door, the brewpub, isn’t as crowded as I had feared.

“Do you want to sit inside or outside? It’s very hot inside.” A waitress asks.

Outside it is, then. In the shade, it’s a lovely temperature.

Surprise, surprise, I order an IPA:

Half Door Hazy IPA
There’s a reason I ordered a sludge IPA. It’s the one that’s cheap for happy hour. Full orange juice. Not too overly fruity. And only $5.

We didn’t eat at the baseball. I’m not made of money. I don’t like to think about how much I spent on beer. That’s one of the reasons I choose happy hour food items: salt and vinegar chips and BBQ chicken flat bread.

The Petco Stadium is just at the end of the street. We can see right through to the stands. People, presumably going to tonight’s game start drifting away and drifting by. As it gets closer to game time there’s more noise from the stadium as the stands fill up.

After a few beers, it’s back to the tram. Dropping off on the way to the hotel by the 7 11 for beer. For the kids. Pabst Blue Ribbon for Andrew. He has a strange liking for cheap American Lager.

The kids have been quite amused by watching planes fly past their window. They really are at rooftop height here.

I tango with tequila to slumber land.

Half Door Brewing
903 Island Ave,
San Diego,
CA 92101.

Thursday 25 August 2022


The kids are very keen on a day in Mexico. I'm a bit more apprehensive. I've always been driven around by someone with local knowledge.

The plan is simple: get a tram to the border, then get a taxi into the centre of Tijuana.

We walk down to the Santa Fe Depot tram stop. The tickets are only $2.50. Not bad for a ride that takes 45 minutes. On the way we get glimpses of several US Navy ships. This really is a huge naval base.

As we get off the tram, I notice a change place selling pesos at 20 to the dollar. Which seems a pretty good rate. So, I change $100. At least I'll have some local dosh when we arrive.

Crossing the border is a piece of piss. before we know it, we're outside picking up a taxi. We have them take us to Cesar's on Revolucion, the main drag. Because I know a brewery, Norte, is just around the corner.

When we turn that corner, what we see is a multistorey car park.

"I remember this place," Alexei says, "it's the one with the entrance that's almost impossible to find."

Damn. I remember thinking last time that I'd never have found the entrance without a guide. And I'm not going to try now.

"Is there another brewery nearby?" I ask.

"Yes, just past Cesar's the other way."

So that's where we head. I recognise the place. It's Mamut, located on the first floor. We take seats on the balcony, where there's a nice breeze.

Most of the beers are off. About all they have are a Hazy Pale Ale and a Hazy Rye IPA. I go for the latter, the kids the former. They cost 80 pesos - that's $4. About half the price of the USA.

Hazy Rye IPA, 7%, 57 IBU
It certainly is hazy. But only 80 pesos. Quite bitter for a sludge bomb.

The waitress really struggles with our order. Despite most of the beers being off. She brings us two Hazy Rye IPAs. Andrew doesn’t seem to mind drinking the stronger beer.

I notice a mention of mezcal on the menu.

"Can we have 3 mezcals?" I ask the waitress. She explains that they only sell it after 16:00. It's currently ten to four. She brings over the mezcal menu. We order one each. At $3.50 a pop, they're pretty cheap. And full of burny, smoky goodness. What size is that measure? 40 cl? 50 cl? Good value, whatever the size.

We talk a bit about Germany. “Berlin is Germany’s Amsterdam.” I declare. Much to the bemusement of the kids.

A pickup full of heavily-armed soldiers pulls up outside. The soldiers pile off and disappear down an alleyway. I start to take a photo, but the kids say: “Don’t do that, Dad. They might get pissed off.”

It is sort of reassuring, the heavy police presence. Probably why the streets, at least in this part of the centre, seem safe.

We're thinking about food. But Mamut only does typical brewpub fare. I want proper Mexican. We head to another brewpub on the main drag, Teorema.

The streets are a good bit cleaner than downtown LA. And much less pissy-smelling. They still have those weird donkeys painted as zebra, mind. What is the deal with that? What’s the point?

Tijuana is full of chemists, all aimed at US citizens.

“It’s very sad that they can’t afford their medicines in the US.” Andrew says sympathetically.

“Shall I see if I can get some Temazepam?”

“No, Dad! Really, no!”

“Is that a maybe?”

“No! Be serious, Dad.”

“Where’s your sense of humour, Andrew?”

“You don’t joke about that stuff. Just shut up about it.”

“I guess it would end up like Breaking Bad, with everyone dead.”

“They don’t all end up dead.”

“Don’t they? That’s not how I remember it”

“Jeezus, Dad. Your brain really is turning into mush.”

We were here last time, as well. It's a very minimal Scandi-looking sort of place. There aren’t a great number of customers. Just us and another young trendy looking bloke in the corner. We only just outnumber the staff.

I opt for the strongest beer on the menu.

Public Hop White IPA, 6.5% ABV
It’s OK. Fairly bitter.

The kids have an Irish Red. I don’t tell them it’s a bollocky made-up style. Why spoil their fun?

We only have the one. We’re getting peckish. And noticed a proper Mexican place on the way here. So that’s where we go. El Perico, it's called.

The young waitress is very shy when she approaches us. She seems intimidated by our English-speaking. I try to be nice to her as we order margaritas.

The menu is very long. I’m not quite sure what everything is and order a burrito. The kids opt for quesadilla supreme.

The food is dead good. Very fresh and tasty. We get a second round of margaritas. The waitress seems more relaxed now.

Time for another brewery. As Lexxie is the one with a map on his phone, we’re relying on him. Luckily, there are plenty of brewpubs in this part of town. Like, just around the corner there’s one. No more than a couple of hundred metres. Kaminari.

We’re there in minutes. It’s very dark inside. And there’s a group doing a mezcal tasting. We settle in towards the back

What do we do? Order ourselves some beers. An IPA for me, of course. One of the staff wanders over and asks if we’d like to try some of the mezcal. Why not? We’re on holiday, after all.

When we settle up, we pay two bills. One for the beer and one for the mezcal. It seems that this place, called Mestizo, housed two businesses: a brewery and a mezcal bar. I’m not complaining, as I quite like both beer and mezcal.

Time is pressing. It’s already 7 PM. It’s going to take at least two hours to get back to San Diego. We need to start heading for the border.

As there’s a liquor store literally next door, we drop by there for some take-home tequila.

“Don’t buy any of that not for human consumption alcohol again on the border, Dad.”

“Why not? My eyesight got back to normal after a couple of days. Just about.”


Tequila bought, we grab a cab and speed to the border. Where, unsurprisingly, there’s a long queue.

The masses of red tail lights look quite magical with the sun setting behind them. And help ease the pain of queueing.

As we approach the control point, we hear someone singing the US national anthem. When we get inside, we see there’s a besuited religious nutter waving a bible in people’s faces and shouting about sin.

It’s not going down well with the crowd. A woman in her sixties yells “Shut up!” A young woman behind us has a go at him, too.

One of the border guards has a word with him, but lets him continue. He’s a regular, it seems. And evidently harmless. I wonder if they would be so tolerant were the nutter not white?

We jump on a tram and are off almost immediately. Andrew wants to pick up some more beer and time is pressing. He remembers that San Diego stops outsales at 10 PM. It’s ten to when we roll into our tram stop.

By the time we get to Riteaid, it’s just chiming ten. No more beer tonight. Just as well they bought two twelve packs yesterday.

Tonight, it’s the exotic beat of tequila dancing me to sleep.

Mamut Cervecería
Carrillo Puerto y o Tercera 8161,
Zona Centro,
22000 Tijuana.

Teorema Brewing
Av. Revolución 1332,
Zona Centro,
22000 Tijuana.

Taqueria El Perico
Av. Revolución 1388-1230,
Zona Centro,
22000 Tijuana.

Mestizo Tasting Room
Flores Magón 8297,
Zona Centro,
22000 Tijuana.

Licores Cactus
Flores Magón no. 602,
Zona Centro,
22000 Tijuana.

Wednesday 24 August 2022


Just had a look at the all-time sale of my self-published books. And there was a slightly surprising winner. Especially as it was a relatively recent book

On the other hand, maybe not so surprising. As it is, basically, an add-on pack for The Homebrewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. My best-selling book by quite a long wa.

Which means there are a lot of people out there with the Vintage Beer book, but not the expansion pack. If you don't have it, I can highly recommend it:

Buy your copy now!

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1914 Hancock Stout

Has Stout followed the trend of the other Hancock beers and had its gravity reduced? Of course, it had. None of their beers were immune. Though it’s only 3.5º lower.

The gravity is not where the big changes are. They are in the recipe. The 1897 version was a simple beer, consisting of just pale, crystal and black malt. Three new ingredients have been added, two of them types of sugar: Durax and oatine. The other was flaked oats.

What does this tell us? Well, obviously, they were selling at least some as Oatmeal Stout. It’s interesting that the style had already made it to the Southwest. The first oat Stout, from Maclay of Alloa, had been brewed less than 20 years earlier.

The sugar content is pretty high, just shy of 30%. Which makes it all the more annoying that neither of them exists any more. I’ve substituted No. 3 for both, but who knows how close that might be. You may want to add extra flaked maize for the oatine.

There were two types of hops, one from Oregon and the other English. No harvest date is given for either.

1914 Hancock Stout
pale malt 5.75 lb 47.92%
crystal malt 60 L 1.50 lb 12.50%
black malt 0.50 lb 4.17%
flaked oats 0.75 lb 6.25%
No. 3 invert sugar 3.50 lb 29.17%
Cluster 120 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 120 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
OG 1062
FG 1015
ABV 6.22
Apparent attenuation 75.81%
IBU 34
SRM 32
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity

Tuesday 23 August 2022


Our flight is just before two. Not knowing what sort of chaos might await at the airport, nor what traffic will be like, we check out at 10:30.

The traffic, it turns out, isn't that bad. Then again, it is Sunday morning.

No sign of chaos at departures, either. Sky Priority has us checked in within a few minutes. Security takes just a few more and we're airside with more than 2 hours until our flight.

“It’s disappointingly unchaotic.”

“Don’t you mean reassuringly unchaotic, Dad?”

“I know what I mean.”

With all the airport crap done, it’s time for more important matters.

"Let's find a pub." I suggest. As always. The kids don't argue. I’m so proud of them.

And sure enough, there's one, Barney's Beanery. Conveniently on the way to our gate. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a queue. It'll be 20 to 25 minutes to get a table. Other options being few on the ground, we wait.

Eventually, we get in. And promptly order some beer. Well, Andrew and I do.

“What do you want to drink, kids?”


“Cider. And a Diet Cola.”

“And an IPA for me.”

“You’re so predictable, Dad.”

“Thanks, Lexxie.”

“That wasn’t meant as a compliment.”

“But that’s how I took it. Victory to me.”

“You’re weird.”

A bit of food seems a good idea. We haven’t eaten yet. I get a taco. It's not bad, but pretty pricey. It is an airport, after all. Lexxie goes for a burger. Andrew has a few of his chips. The greedy bastard.

We time getting to the gate perfectly, arriving just in time for priority boarding.

It’s a short fight. Just 20-odd minutes in the air. We leave the gate and start to taxi. Down the airport one way. Then back up the other. Despite gong to the toilet right before boarding, I'm starting to feel the need for a piss. After 20 minutes, we still haven't taken off. It's 25 minutes after leaving the gate when we finally get airborne.

I wait anxiously for the fasten seat belt sign to be switched off as we climb. When we seem to have levelled off, I say "Fuck it." to myself and make my way to the bog.

Alexei gives me a what the fuck are you doing look. I’d rather ignore the sign than piss myself. And I’m sure the airline would, too. I couldn't have waited much longer.

Just after I get back to my seat, Lexxie heads for the bog. The fasten seat belt sign is still on. I try to give him a look. He ignores my gaze. The bastard. These are the few moments of victory that make parenting worthwhile.

A few minutes later, we're back on the ground. For another long taxi.

Our bags are on the carousel by the time we get there. Cool. We wander outside and grab a Joe.

It's not far to our hotel. But the taxi costs us over $30. Which is taking the piss.

“You’re taking the piss.” I don’t say. Because I’m English. “Here’s a tip.” Sometimes I wish I could shut up the voices in my head. They are my only true friends, though.

The hotel is much better than in LA. Which is saying fuckity fuck all. It’s hard to imagine a crapper one. Four walls, roof, windows, bed. That’s good enough to better the LA hotel. Oh, and no weird smells.

We've arranged for Sheldon Kaplan to pick us up to go around a couple of breweries. We start off at Deft, which specialises in European styles with a small twist. I get Dawn of the Deft, which is billed as an English Porter. It’s pleasantly roasty.

It's good to see Sheldon again. It's been a while. He's always interesting to talk to.

After a couple of beers, we go to Lost Cause, the meadery next door. This is a new experience for the kids. Neither has tried mead before.

“It’s just fermented honey, really.” I tell them. ”Bee piss, essentially.”

“That makes it sound so much better.” Alexei says.

We get a couple of sampler fights. They're certainly a varied bunch. Not sure I'd want to drink a pint of many of them, though.

The toilets have a witty collection of Soviet anti-alcohol posters. Ones I’ve never seen before.

Gravity Heights, which is a bit out of town, is our next spot. It’s a pretty massive place. Very modern and pretty impressive. I worry about getting lost when I go to the bogs.

Of course, we drink some beer. As usual, I go for an IPA. It's what I mostly drink in the USA. Daybreak, to be precise, which is billed as a West Coast IPA. None of that sludge rubbish. Bitter and very drinkable.

For food, I go for duck liver tostini. It's very good.

Sheldon has some great stories to tell about watching football games during the apartheid period. Both fascinating and scary.

On the way back, Sheldon takes us to a CVS to stock up on supplies. My new CVS loyalty card saves us $15.50, including $7 off a bottle of Jack Daniels. Result.

Jack is my companion in the trip to slumberland.

Barney's Beanery.
LAX Terminal 2 - Departures

Deft Brewing
5328 Banks St A,
San Diego,
CA 92110.

Lost Cause Meadery
5328 Banks St Suite B,
San Diego,
CA 92110.

Gravity Heights
9920 Pacific Heights Blvd,
San Diego,
CA 92121.

Monday 22 August 2022


I drag the kids out of bed at 9:00. Well, Lexxie, at least. Andrew remains semi-comatose for a while.

We have a plan for today. Visit USS Iowa. One of only two preserved dreadnaughts. We went around the only preserved pre-dreadnaught, the Mikasa, when we were in Japan three years ago.

It's out in Long Beach. Which is quite a way from downtown, where we're staying.

There are some strange smells in the hotel. Ones I'm not inclined to investigate. The lift smells a bit like bread. At least that's what I think.

A fellow lift traveller says: "It smells like pizza. Cheap pizza."

Not so sure it’s that nice, myself. Let’s not start on the smells in the lobby. No wonder the staff are wearing masks.

We Uber it out to Long Beach. Which takes a while. Though I suppose part of the LA experience is being stuck in traffic. And on a seemingly endless motorway, in a sea of cars.

USS Iowa is impressive. Especially the enormous main guns. We tag along with a group of scouts taking a guided tour.

“It’s a shame they didn’t preserve the Yamato. Those guns would have been even more impressive.”

“It was sunk, Dad.”

“I know. They could have salvaged it.”

“Don’t be stupid. That’s totally impractical.”

“The Nagato, then. They just blew that up in some stupid nuclear test. One of my favourite battleships.”

“Shut up. You’re weird.”

The lads have to be really careful not to bang their heads. The ceilings are very low. Too low for me, let alone the kids. We mostly go through the crew quarters and messes. There's even a bakery. Like a self-contained town, really.

I have to bite my tongue a couple of times. Like when D Day planning is described as a totally American affair.

Andrew is quite hot by the time we're done. It's warming up, though there is a cooling sea breeze. We still have a plan. Walk to San Pedro Brewing and have some beer and food.

It's only 4 or 5 blocks, luckily.  At least that’s what Lexxie says. I’m not so sure myself. How does he measure blocks? I suspect not the same way I do.

We don’t get too sweaty. Though I wouldn’t fancy walking much further. Especially as the kids already have a half-block lead. If they hadn’t needed to stop for lights at crossings, their lead would be a couple of blocks.

Inside it's quite pub-like, with the brewery tucked away in a corner. We get a seat by the window. Andrew, obviously, looks half-melted. 

The beer list is quite long, as they also sell beer from other breweries. It's a Battleship IPA for me - what else? Andrew has some Lagery thing, while Lexxie is still on his cider kick.

We've learnt from previous lunches not to go over the top. I've ended up having to box half my food pretty much every time. We take a different tack today and get two starters to share: buffalo wings and gyozas (or potstickers as they call them on the menu). Andrew, as usual, isn't hungry.

The beer is fine. Though, unfortunately, I can't see the baseball game from where I'm sitting.

“I can’t see the baseball.”

“You could try talking to us.”

“I hardly ever get to watch baseball. You two are always hanging around. I can talk to you anytime.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

“Just being honest.”

We hang around for a few beers. We're in no rush. It's Venice Beach next. Somewhere Lexxie is keen on visiting. He reckons early evening is the best time to show up there. So, that’s what we do. With a plan, as always.

We rock up around 18:00. Our planned destination is packed. So, we head a little down the beach to another bar, Venice Ale House. The music is booming, but there's some room for us to squeeze inside. 

It's very lively. Possibly too lively for me. With people dancing and the like. Definitely too lively for me. Damn these young people. After one beer we move further down the beach.

We don’t have to go far. Barely the length of two cricket wickets. To Candle Café. And are lucky enough to find seats on the first floor looking out over the beach. A band is playing just outside.

"That's brave, taking on a Hendrix song" As the guitarist strikes up the Voodoo Chile riff.

“Why’s that?”

“Because Hendrix was a fucking genius.”

To be fair, the guitarist makes a pretty good job of it. The drummer, not so much. He keeps missing beats. Not so much missing, as completely ignoring.

“You’re so negative, Dad.”

“Me? I’m positivity itself.”


“Realistic, but positive. When warranted,”

“You’re as negative as fuck, Dad. Just admit it.”

Fuck off. I am positive. Did I say that aloud? I think not, as Lexxie has stopped shouting at me. Maybe he’s just tired.

As the band pack up, the sun begins to set over the hills. It's all rather beautiful. As are most of the people walking, skateboarding or roller-skating along the beach.

"It's just like in films." Lexxie says. And he's right It really does look like it does in films. Not a disappointment at all. Now there’s a surprise. I’m a bit disappointed at my lack of disappointed.

“I didn’t come here to be appointed.”

“What the fuck are you talking about, Dad?”

“I was supposed to be disappointed with Venice Beach. I feel cheated.”

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

We have a couple of beers and a couple of tacos. It's all dead relaxing. Exactly what you’d expect from a California beach.

As we head towards our Uber pickup point, we come across a shirtless, fat, middle-aged man ranting incoherently. No-one is paying him any attention. A bit like the kids with me.

After being surrounded by beautiful people for a while, it’s reassuring to see someone less together than me both mentally and physically.

It's still as depressing and filthy when we get back downtown. How do they get those stains on the pavement? 

“Do you think they ever clean the pavements?”

“Don’t be stupid, Dad. Of course not. That’s years of filth.”

“I’d rather not think about that.”

“Or what it was that made the stains.”

“I’m feeling sick just at the thought.”

Despite the grime, we’re still a bit peckish. Well, me and Lexxie are. What to eat?

“We could get some sarnies at CVS.” I suggest.

“That’s boring. What about that Japanese place?”

“That’ll do.”

So, we nip down to Suehiro Mini again for some take out Japanese. No ramen, this time. That’s a bit too messy for hotel room eating. Gyozas, of course. Who would order Japanese food without gyozas?

Jim Beam is my partner in slumber.

San Pedro Brewing Company
331 W 6th St,
San Pedro,
CA 90731.

Venice Ale House
2 Rose Ave,
CA 90291.

Candle Cafe & Grill
325 Ocean Front Walk,
CA 90291.

Suehiro Mini

642 N Broadway #5,
Los Angeles,
CA 90012.