Wednesday 30 November 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1910 Truman Keeping Imperial Stout

The question which immediately springs to my min is: “If this is the Keeping Imperial Stout, is the other one a Runner?”

Looking at the numbers, the answer could well be “yes”. The hopping rate is much higher: 10.1lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt compared to 5.6 lbs. That looks like the difference between a Runner and a Keeper. The OG here is a bit higher, too.

A classic London grist of pale, brown and black malt was employed. (Some of the pale being made from Chilean barley.) Along with some sugar of a not clearly specified type. “Fowler P.”. Fowler was a manufacturer of invert so No. 3 isn’t such a crazy guess. Still loads of other things it could have been.

The FG is a total guess. Something this strong would usually have been aged for at least 2 years. Depending on how active the Brettanomyces was, that could have left the FG surprisingly low.

Most of the hops were Kent from the 1908 and 1909 crops, the former cold stored, as well as some Oregon from 1908.

1910 Truman Keeping Imperial Stout
pale malt 15.50 lb 71.26%
brown malt 1.75 lb 8.05%
black malt 2.00 lb 9.20%
No. 3 invert sugar 2.00 lb 9.20%
caramel 500 SRM 0.50 lb 2.30%
Cluster 120 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 120 mins 1.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 3.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 3.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1100
FG 1028
ABV 9.53
Apparent attenuation 72.00%
IBU 87
SRM 61
Mash at 157º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale


Tuesday 29 November 2022

Busy day in DC

Two events today. Brewing a beer and giving an informal talk. I rise a little after 8.

Paul and Jamie pick me up at 9. Luckly, the traffic isn't as bad as last night. And we're at Bluejacket by 9:30. I sneak in the back while Paul finds somewhere to park. I make my way upstairs to the brewhouse where Colin has the mashing well underway.

We’re brewing a 1939 Barclay Perkins Sparkling Beer. A Lager meant for the export market. And one of the world’s first canned beers. It’s unclear what style, if any, it was intended to be. Making it even more fun.

(What would you call it? 1048º OG. 10.4 SRM, 39 IBU my brewing software makes it. Vienna Lager is closest, I think. Except it’s too bitter.)

They still aren’t sure what they’re going to call the beer. Worried that Sparkling Beer will have drinkers expecting a paler beer.

“Why was it called Sparkling Beer?”

“I’ve no idea. Maybe because it was crystal clear and highly carbonated.”

Ro fetches coffee and pastries. I have a delicious croissant filed with cream cheese and lavender. Yum. There’s something new for you breakfast fans.

There’s quite a lot of standing around, fascinating as the conversations are. I really can’t be doing with hours of standing. I’ll pay for this later.

Colin pulls out a lovely old wooden box. Inside is a 19th-century brass hydrometer. It looks great. And very like the ones authors used to push in their brewing manuals.

A second object appears. A large volume of notes of a student at the Siebel Institute. Being pointed out to me are a couple of experimental recipes in the book. I realise I recognise it. I had it in my hands in Powell’s Books in Portland in the summer. I was tempted to buy it but its size and weight put me off. Weird to come across it again here.

While the wort is running off, we head downstairs for lunch. Not that I eat much. Just a few tater tots. I don't even drink a beer, just a diet cola. What have I become?

We nip back upstairs for a hop addition. Where I make my contribution to the brewing by tipping in some Saaz pellets. I almost scald myself opening the hatch. Breweries are dangerous places. I should remember that.

Paul and Jamie drive me back to Silver Spring. Where I laze on my bed watching The Block NZ for 90 minutes.

The day's second appointment is at Birch and Barley for dinner. Mussels and New York strip steak for me. It's excellent.

A bottle of Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus appears. A fresh bottle. There's noticeably more cherry flavour than in the 20+ years old bottle I took to Williamsburg. Still a lovely beer.

Then upstairs for the event in ChurchKey. Before it kicks off, I'm handed a gorgeous-looking pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. On cask. It's absolutely delicious, with a lovely soft carbonation. When done well, cask-conditioning really lifts a beer. And this has been done really well.

The event is Mike Stein asking a few questions and me ranting on about brewing in WW I, with diversions off to WW II and other eras. It seems to go down well. Then there are audience questions. Quite a few. On a range of topics. Which I'm only too happy to answer.

My summary of summer beer choices – IPA, sludge IPA, sludge IPA with fruit, sludge IPA with fruit and shit, Sour with fruit, sour with fruit and shit, Pilsner – gets the biggest laugh of the night. What does that say about the state of beer?

When the talking is done, I flog some books. Quite a few books. Most of those that I have left. Damn. I should have brought more. Why can I never get the quantity right? I always have either too many or too few.

I'm my usual chatty self during the event. But fade badly when it's done. We leave a little before 10. Thankfully.

Happy to be back in my room and lying on my bed. And drift off in bourbon doze.

300 Tingey St SE,
DC 20003.

1337 14th St NW,
DC 20005.

Monday 28 November 2022

Silver Spring

Not the best of kips. I'm quite restless and do a lot of coughing. I get up just after 8.

No fruit and eggs this morning. Breakfast isn't included. My plan is to drop by Dog Haus (a sausage place) for a light lunch and a few beers. In the meantime, I watch Match of the Day 2.

Silver Spring isn’t somewhere you’d visit as a tourist. A bunch of shops and restaurants, many belonging to national chains. A swanky new library (of which I have a great view from my room) and a Fillmore complete the picture.

It’s just barely outside DC proper and is on the Washington metro. Effectively, a suburb.

One of the things about I like most about the contemporary US, is how random types of cuisine get mixed with craft beer. In this case, hot dogs.

Dog Haus is in a little pedestrianised precinct just around the corner from my hotel. I don’t really feel like doing much pissing around. Not exactly a bundle of energy today.

I order an Elysian Space Dust. At 8.2% ABV, it’s one of the strongest they have on draught. That should wake me up.

It’s reassuringly clear, an attractive amber colour. A decent malty base overlaid with citrus hops. Quite restrained, really.

It’s quite a modern place, with lots of TVs, in typical American style. They’re showing various bits of sport, as you would expect. You couldn’t accuse it of being overcrowded. There are just a few random blokes at the bar. Like me, I suppose.

I’m hanging out in Silver Spring because I can’t be arsed to lug all my books into town. Or my sorry arse. I’ve an event later today at Atlas Brew Works, somewhere in DC. Paul and Jamie will be driving me there.

Time for my next beer. Cigar City Jai Alai sounds interesting. I’ve heard of it, but never tried it. And it’s 7.5% ABV. It’s a bit darker than Space Dust. Reasonably clear, very malty in the mouth. Tastes a bit oxidised. Not a huge amount of US hop character. Does it have spices as well as hops? Not great.

It’s odd being on my own after several days surrounded by fellow geeks. Not just the other speakers. Attendees don’t usually get the chance to hang out with the speakers for the whole conference. Am amazingly positive vibe the whole time. Until the one twat at the end.

At least, now I’m unworked, I don’t have the deflating experience of going back to job where I’m underappreciated.

I get myself a sliced sausage. A bratwurst, to be precise. Without any bread or anything. That’s my very frugal lunch.

I’m now one of two customers. Soon to be the only one as the bloke at the bar has just asked for his bill.

Another beer, I think. Victory Golden Monkey, 9,5% ABV. I assume it’s a Tripel. Slightly on the dark side, but nothing too crazy. Has that boozy Tripel aroma, not too cloying. Could do with some more hops. OK. Quite perfumy.

The gents requires a code to unlock it. A very Manfred Mann code: 54321.

When I leave at just before 3 it’s pissing it down outside. Just as well it’s not a long walk back to my hotel.

Paul and Jamie pick me up at 18:45 and drive me over to Atlas Brewing. The weather is terrible. It's persisting it down. Which means the traffic is really bad. Even worse than usual. We crawl through a carousel of sparkly red lights. It's 19:45 - 15 minutes late - by the time we get there.

Mike Stein is outside to let us in. There's not much of a crowd. Which is probably connected with the awful weather. We chat and drink some beer for a while. And eat some pizza. It’s all very jolly, if incredibly low-key.

Until Mike gets out bottles of Obadiah Poundage and Black Eagle that Liz Garibay sent him. Everyone in dead impressed by the latter. It is a pretty nice beer, even if I say so myself. I’m glad I brought back a few extra bottles from

We don't stay too late. The weather is still dreadful when we leave, but there's much less traffic. I’m too tired to watch the city gliding by in a confusion of lights.

I don't stay up late, feeling exhausted again. Jim helps me over the edge of consciousness.

Dog Haus
933 Ellsworth Dr STE 933,
Silver Spring,
MD 20910.

Atlas Brew Works Ivy City Brewery & Taproom
2052 West Virginia Ave NE #102,
DC 20002.

Sunday 27 November 2022

Off to DC

My last morning in Williamsburg. Really no rush this morning. Paul and Jamie are picking me up at 10.

I trundle along to the breakfast room around 9. Boiled eggs and fruit. Again. This is so much fun. I really do enjoy a fruit breakfast. Though I’m sure you’re sick to death of reading about my first meal of the day.

Martyn turns up soon after me and sits at my table. Travis and Craig are already there. Pete joins in the fun, too.

Now he’s working full-time again, Martyn can’t hang around after the conference. He flies back to the UK today. As a man of leisure, I can dawdle as long as I like. Which is another four days in DC. Well, Maryland, technically. But in the DC metro area.

At 10, Paul and Jamie turn up. And drive me up to DC. Making the journey back up to Richmond in daylight, I can see just how wooded it is.

“Do you fancy stopping off for lunch in Fredericksburg? Jamie asks.

“Sure.” I could do with a piss before DC. This seems like a good chance.

Jamie remembers a place on the main drag. Which is easy enough to find. It’s the Sedona Taphouse. We can park nearby, which is even better.

It’s 11:45. Considering they’ve only just opened, it’s surprisingly busy. A big, modern, airy sort of place. It says taproom, but, unusually for the US, they also have a large selection of bottled and canned beers.

What to drink? There’s quite a selection. Hop Slam is the answer. Something with a bit of muscle to kick start the day. I have crab on flat bread to soak it up.

The closer we get to DC, the busier the roads become. Which is pretty typical for the US nowadays. The traffic is bad around every major city. And not just at rush hour.

After weaving our way through and around Washington, we arrive at Silver Spring, where I’ll be staying. It’s a bit weird. The entrance is via the next-door parking garage. And on the third floor, not at street level. A weird place to say goodbye to Paul and Jamie.

Checked in, I suddenly feel totally exhausted. The last few days have taken quite a bit out of me. Despite consciously resting as much as possible. I’ll be here four nights, with four events in that time. Not exactly relaxing. Today is my only rest day.

At least I’m in the centre of Silver Spring. Plumb in the middle of the town centre. Which actually has shops and other useful stuff.

Despite feeling knacked, I have a bit of a wander. Where I spot a chance to use my CVS discount card. I get a bottle of cola. I’m not wandering randomly. I finished off my Tomintin yesterday and need some hotel whisky. There’s a liquor store not far away.

It has a fairly decent selection of bourbon. Which I note for later. Could be a good place to pick up bottles for the kids. Being a cheapskate, I get myself a Jim Beam. Which is very competitively priced.

On the way back, I look for somewhere to buy a sandwich. I didn’t see any in CVS. And I don’t fancy Chick-Fil-A. Instead, I get take out from a sushi place. That’s nice and snackable. I really don’t fancy a big plate of food.

I nibble the sushi and sip bourbon back in my hotel. While watching Match of the Day and some The Block NZ. This is the life.

Too knacked to stay up, I have a very early night - I'm in bed before 10. With Jim Beam as my guide to sleep.

Sedona Taphouse
591 William St,
VA 22401.

Saturday 26 November 2022

Let's Brew - 1909 Truman Export Stout

I would say that we’d scaled the first part of the trunk of the Stout tree. Except Export Stout is slightly weaker than Single Stout.

On the face of it, the grist is very much like Single Stout. On closer inspection, the proportion of roast is much higher, more than double. And instead of roast barley, brown malt has been used. Which leaves it looking much more like a typical London Stout recipe.

The proportion of sugar remains around the same as in Single Stout. No maize this time, though. A sign of a posher beer.

You’d expect more hops in an export beer and that’s exactly what you get. 3.35 lbs per barrel compared to 2.08 lbs in Single Stout.

The three same hops from the 1908 harvest: two from Worcester and one from Oregon.

1909 Truman Export Stout
pale malt 10.50 lb 70.00%
brown malt 1.25 lb 8.33%
black malt 1.25 lb 8.33%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 10.00%
caramel 500 SRM 0.50 lb 3.33%
Cluster 150 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1069.5
FG 1018
ABV 6.81
Apparent attenuation 74.10%
IBU 88
SRM 48
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale


Friday 25 November 2022

The talking ends

I rise at 8:15. Being a lazy git, I aim to get the first shuttle again. (Also, because I don’t know the way on foot.) Even though it means I’ll miss the start of the first talk.

Boiled eggs and fruit. Again. You may be noticing a pattern.

Martyn wanders in, grabs some fruit and leaves again without noticing me. Must be running late. Either that or I’ve pissed him off. Nah, can’t be that. He was gazing lovingly at my bottle of Rosé de Gambrinus when I trotted off to bed last night.

Martyn is there waiting at the shuttle stop. We ride the familiar way to the museums stop. To an accompaniment of recorded announcements. The warnings not to climb trees nor be inappropriate to the interpreters (the volunteers in 18th-century clothing) are both quirky and creepy.

Lunch is just over the road in Precarious. It’s much emptier – and quieter – than yesterday evening. As I can’t sell books in the museum for contractual reasons, I’m doing it here. I lay my books out on a table. And don’t have to wait long.

Pretty soon I’ve shifted pretty much all of them. I run out of a couple of titles. That went well. Time to eat.

I have pork belly tacos, which are excellent. And 3 Nectar Vector (Double IPA). Which liven me up a treat.

Martyn’s talk is about the long history of air-dried malt and the beers brewed with it. Good stuff, as you would expect.

When the last talk has been given and the final round table is almost at an end, comes the only discordant moment of the whole conference. I wrote “There are no stupid questions.” as a dedication in a book earlier. I’m now proved wrong. When someone who has only just turned up asks an incredibly stupid and self-aggrandising question.

I won’t grace said stupid question the undeserved attention of repetition. Just remark that everyone around me is uttering their dialect’s equivalent of “bollocks”.

Paul and Jamie give me a lift to tonight’s destination, Virginia Beer

We’re given a few free beer tokens and dive into the taproom. My eye is immediately drawn to the cask on the bar. Enquiry at the bar, reveals that it’s a cask Brown Ale of 7% ABV. Just the thing for me.

I sit at a table with Craig and Dan Lauro (of Carillon brewing in Dayton). Dan has the beard of the festival. A full Kark Marx. Craig is eating chicken tenders.

“Are they any good?”

“Yes. But a bit spicy.”

“I’m English. I like my food hot. Like my beer.”

I trail outside to the food truck. Soon I’m clutching chicken tenders in my hand. Not literally, obviously. There’s a plastic container between my flesh and the chicken.

The tenders are very nice. Could maybe have done with a bit more chili.

Stan drags me across to meet the brewer. Who pours a Light Mild off the tank. Pretty good, it is, too, with a firm Goldings character. I wonder how well it will sell? Sub-5% beer isn’t hugely popular in the US. Especially if it’s called Mild.

The latecomer who asked the incredibly stupid question is at the next table. Talking to Frank. I quickly shuffle over to the other side of the room when it looks like Frank is going to introduce him. No desire at all to talk to him.

I leave quite late with Paul and Jamie. Paul has trouble finding the entrance to my hotel. We end up around the back but can’t get to the entrance. I just walk the last bit.

In the lobby, there’s another bottle share underway. I’m amazed anyone still has bottles to share. A punch draws my attention.

I don’t say much. Partly, from exhaustion. As Martyn Cornell, Travis Rupp and Marc Meltonville have a mind-melting conversation about beer in the Roman Empire. I just listen. I have nothing sensible to contribute. Not just out of my depth, totally submarine. Marianas Trench.

I head off to bed before my brains start dripping out of my ears.

Tomintin lays a friendly hand on my arm to guide me to slumber.

Precarious Beer Project
110 S Henry St,
VA 23185.

The Virginia Beer Company
401 2nd St,
VA 23185.

Thursday 24 November 2022

My turn to speak

The first talk is at 9 AM. I’m on third, at 10:45.

When I tip into the breakfast room around 8:20 AM, there’s no-one I recognise. All the tables are full and I can only find a stool. My food choice is the same a yesterday: boiled eggs and fruit. Washed down with coffee and orange juice.

The first shuttle is at 9. Meaning I miss the start of Travis's talk. A shame, as what I do catch is dead interesting. All about beer in the ancient world. Along with a good chunk of linguistics, looking at the terms for beer in various ancient languages. Right down my street. And miles away from the stuff I do. 

Stan Hieronymous has me struggling when his hop talk gets all sciency. In a very good way, don’t get me wrong. Fascinating stuff about hop genetics. Which, obviously, turns out to be more complicated than once thought. Like everything else.

I’m up after a short break. Brewing in WW I is the topic. I get several laughs, don’t spot anyone nodding off or fucking off. A win, in my book.

Lunch is at Josiah Chowning's Tavern. Or rather, outside it. Where there’s a stage for a musical performance. One which mostly seemed to be taking the piss out of Frank Clark (the brain behind the conference and one of Colonial Williamsburg’s food and drink experts). Or maybe paying homage to him. It’s all very light-hearted and fun.

We get a bag with a cold lunch: pasta, a chicken sandwich, an apple and two chocolates. Some salad, too. And a bottle of Williamsburg beer. In Paul’s case, two. Damn. It’s me that’s supposed to pull stunts like that.

It’s sunny today. And warm. 23-24º C. Something like that. Having turned up a bit late, we don’t get seats in the shade. I can feel my sensitive skin starting to crisp after half an hour. Shit. This is worse than Brazil. And literally as hot as some days in Florianopolis last month.

I'm enjoying spending time with Paul and Jamie. What with Covid and everything, it’s been a few years since we last met. It's great to catch up.

The talks after lunch are as fascinating as those before it. Very educational. Andrea, obviously, talks about malting. And the evil practices required to placate the excise man. All dressed in 18th-century garb.

To round off the day, there’s a round table of the speakers. A stimulating discussion ensues, with everyone filling in from their own area of expertise. And me talking some crap.

We’re on our own for dinner. Around half the panel – Pete Brown, Stan, Martyn Andrea and me – along with Paul and Jamie, trundle over to the Precarious brewpub. It’s packed inside. Mostly with rather loud kids playing computer games. We grab a table outside.

You don’t just pay the barman here. You order and pay at a till, then a barman around the corner pours it. An efficient system, I guess, when the place is mobbed. As it currently is. I get myself a Vector Nectar. A Double IPA. All that talking has given me a bit of a thirst. One only a pint of something stupid strong can quench.

Evidently Frank and some others are at Green Leafe. So that’s where we go. It’s a bit of a walk. But not too long a one. We pass by what are obviously college dorms.

“Which university is that?” I ask.

“William & Mary.”

“Like in the song?”


“Steely Dan. William & Mary won't do. I think that’s the title.”

Green Leafe isn’t very full. Frank and a few other conference stragglers aside.

While standing at the bar watching the football. a barmaid asks me if I want a beer. I’m not particularly queueing, but I won’t turn away a beer. This is like the reverse of my dreams, where I can never get served, no matter what I do.

I get an IPA. The non-sludge type. It’s fine.

“How did you get that beer?” Paul asks. He’s been waiting for a while.

“I just stood over there.”

“It was that easy?”

“For me, it was.”

Andrea pops up with a cocktail in her glass.

“Gin and tonic is only $5.”

Damn. I quite fancy one of those. And here I am stuck with a stupid IPA.

We’ve dinner reservations at Amber Ox. Luckily, it’s not far away. At least that’s what I’m told. I’ve no idea where I am. Just as well someone else is leading me around.

"It's weird how there all these bars just opposite the university campus." I remark dumbly. No-one bothers to reply.

Our table at Amber Ox is outside. Not a problem, given the clement weather.

Inspired by Andrea, I order a cocktail with some witty name. I don’t care about the name. Just the shots inside. It’s warmingly alcoholic. Just how I like my cocktails.

We get sharing starters. But I really just stick to the octopus. Tender and smoky. Very good.

We walk back. Paul and Jamie split away in Colonial Williamsburg. Leaving me and Andrea to make our way back to the hotel. She knows the way. She’s walked it every day.

Things look different at night. Andrea doesn’t quite find her usual way. After a while I realise she’s lost her way.

“Are you sure this is the right way?”

“No worries. I’ve just gone a little off course.”

We make it back eventually, mind. In only about double the expected time. There’s my exercise for the day.

In the lobby, there’s a bottle share going on again. I’m not tempted. I feel double knacked.

Tomintin has to kick me down the stairs to sleepy town.

Josiah Chowning's Tavern
109 E Duke of Gloucester St,
VA 23185.

Precarious Beer Project
110 S Henry St,
VA 23185.

Green Leafe Cafe
765 Scotland St,
VA 23185.

Amber Ox Public House
525 Prince George St Suite 102,
VA 23185.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1909 Truman Single Stout

Here we are at base of the Truman Stout tree. With plain old Single Stout. Or Stout.

At a bit over 1070º, it was strong enough to distinguish itself from their Porter. Don’t take the FG as gospel. That’s just my wild guess. In this period, Truman had separate fermentation records.

The grist is pretty weird for a London Stout. Also, a dead confusing one for style Nazis. No brown malt, but both black malt and roast barley. How’s that for weird? Other than that, there’s just flaked maize and sugar.

Not sure what the bulk of it was, The description is “Fowler” and “Fowler Pgs”. I’ve taken the easy way out and specified No. 3 invert. There’s also rather a lot of caramel, with no hint as to its colour.

Three types of hops: two from Worcester and one from Oregon, all from the 1908 season. 

1909 Truman Single Stout
pale malt 12.25 lb 77.78%
black malt 0.50 lb 3.17%
roast barley 0.50 lb 3.17%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 3.17%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 9.52%
caramel 500 SRM 0.50 lb 3.17%
Cluster 120 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1072
FG 1020
ABV 6.88
Apparent attenuation 72.22%
IBU 47
SRM 38
Mash at 157º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Speakers assemble

No need for an early start. My rehearsal is at 12:30. I just need to register before then. I stumble into the breakfast room a little after eight.

“Ron!” someone calls as soon as I enter. It’s Craig Gravina. The Albany Ale man. When did we last meet? I think it was when I went to Albany. Whan was that? (March 2016.)

I grab some food and join him. It’s a continental breakfast. No scrambled eggs. No bacon. Just boiled eggs. Though there is fruit. I revert to Brazilian mode. Plus two boiled eggs.

Martyn Cornell rolls up and joins us. Not been as long since our paths last crossed. Just eight months ago in Blumenau.

After a while fiddling with the internet in my room – no problem getting it to work this time – I wander down to the visitor centre to get the shuttle bus.

It’s full of pensioners and schoolkids. With very little inbetween. At least I fit part of the demographic.

I can remember almost nothing about Colonial Williamsburg. Looking on Google Maps I recognised nothing. (It turns out there was a reason for that.) I get off at the Museums stop. The auditorium, where the rehearsal takes place, is tucked behind the museum bit.

The conference registration desk is on the way to the auditorium. Where I meet Whitney Thornberry, who has done much of the organising. I can only envy her energy. Especially as she has the thankless task of herding beer writers.

I’m able to get my rehearsal in early. It’s a useful process, as some of the slides are incorrectly formatted. That fixed, I’m free to go.

What to do now? Maybe I could catch the end of Andrea Stanley’s malting demonstration? On my way out to do just that, I bump into a very wet Stan Hieronymous and his wife Daria. It’s pissing it down outside, evidently.

After they’ve registered for the conference, we head off in search of lunch. There’s supposedly a small break in the weather. It’s raining, but not too badly. Our destination is one of the taverns on Duke of Gloucester Street.

We haven’t got very far when it really starts pissing it down. We shelter under a porch for a while. Of a private house, which isn’t open to the public. Must be a weird place to live. With the constant threat of random strangers just wandering into your house.

When the rain relents enough for us to venture further, we discover it’s a 40-minute wait at the tavern. OK. Let’s give the places in Merchant Square a shot.


At the DoG Street Pub there’s a 30-minute wait for food. But we can have a beer inside while we’re waiting. I call that a win.

I get an IPA of some sort. As I usually do nowadays in the US. The old-fashioned type.

Our table is ready more quickly than expected. I stick with just a starter of calamari rings. Don’t want to stuff myself too much. They’re pretty nice. The others have something much more substantial. 

It’s around 2 PM when we’re done noshing. Three hours until Pete Brown’s Keynote Speech. Time enough to return to the hotel for some serious lazing around. Brazil taught me to rest whenever I get the chance. I’m turning into such an old git.

Pete's talk is excellent and sets up the conference. Some of his themes are returned to by other speakers. Like how history is constantly changing as we learn more. And just how old beer is - at least 13,000 years. A date which keeps getting pushed further back into the past.

 When the talking is done, we’re ferried over to Shields Tavern for food.

It’s in buffet form throughout the building. A bunch of us sit upstairs next to the dessert table: old friends Paul and Jamie Langlie, plus Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt in Massachusetts.

There are bottles of the Colonial Williamsburg beers. I go for Old Stitch, a Brown Ale. Though, at just 5% ABV, it’s well short of an 18th-century Stitch. It should be more like 8% ABV. A little too much knowledge can suck all the fun out of just about any topic.

As I get stuck into a chocolate I say: ”Until recently, I hadn’t eaten chocolate for over 50 years.”

“Why didn’t you eat it for so long?” Andrea asks.

“I cut all sugar out of my diet. That’s why I’m so svelte.”

“Why did you start eating chocolate again?”

“I’ve no idea how many more chances I might have to. Oldie person that I am. Best give it another try while I still can.”

We’re shuttled back to the hotel. Where a very special event is planned: a bottle share of old beers.

We had one at the last Williamsburg conference, way back in 2016. Dolores is a big fan as it means getting rid of some of the dusty bottles hanging around our house that she hates so much. I suspect possibly even a little bit pathologically.

Martyn Cornell has brought ten bottles, while I have just seven. Coincidentally, I have the last Gales bottling of Prize Old Ale, while he has the most recent version. A good chance to compare and contrast.

Others contribute bottles, too. Paul and Jamie have some Old Dominion from the 1990s, when John Mallet still brewed there.

The Rochefort 10 I brought with a 1998 sellby date is pretty impressive. Perhaps not quite as good as at ten years old. But by far the best beer is a Rosé de Gambrinus that I think I bought in 1996. It’s amazing. By no means spoilt and incredibly complex. Just wow. You’d never guess the beer was pushing 30 years old.

I don’t stay until the end. Too tired for that. I retire just after 11 PM.

I tiptoe with Tomintin to sleepland.

DoG Street Pub
401 W Duke of Gloucester St,
VA 23185.

Shields Tavern
422 E Duke of Gloucester St,
VA 23185.

Monday 21 November 2022

 Virginia here I come

I have to get up fairly early. My flight is at 11:15. Don’t want to get to Schiphol later that 8.

The airport much emptier than last time. Thankfully. I have two bags to check in. One is full of books. I hope I don’t have to drag them all back. No real queue to speak of in Priority Security. And a fairly short one for passport control.

I’m through it all in 20 minutes.

I get a basket in the duty free. And a bottle of Tomatin. No accident this time. As I'm flying with Delta, I get 6 Jameson miniatures.

My usual order of a Teachers and a Jim Beam won’t fly as there's no bourbon. 2 Teachers, then. And two chipolatas and a little omelette. My breakfast.

Another desperate breakfast.

Food eaten, I nip back for more whisky.

“They aren’t both for yourself, are they?”

“No, of course not.” The second is for my imaginary friend.

There’s time for four “doubles” before I need to trudge to the gate. Luckily, not too far away. The distances can be crazy at Schiphol. If you’re unlucky, it might be a kilometre (or more) trek to your gate.

My timing is a little off again. I have a bit of hanging around before I can board. Then have to fill in some stupid form that they don’t even look at properly. What bollocks is this?

The young twat, sorry, man, in the seat next to me has brought his own pillow. Not a neck pillow, but the type you find on a bed. WTF? It’s a daytime flight. Who takes a pillow with them for a flight like this?

I watch Bad Moms (again), Then Book of Love. Not quite as bollocky as some films I’ve watched recently on flights.  The upside of Delta is that they have a far wider selection of films than KLM. Mostly shit films. But enough that they accidentally choose a few decent ones.

The flight isn’t very full. Pillow Boy has fucked off to an empty row. Leaving me lots of space. I switch on the flight tracker on his screen. I feel much safer without that weirdo next to me.

The food isn’t greatly inspiring. Some sort of chicken. That’s always the meat choice nowadays. Along with some veggie crap. I’ve learnt not to rely on the crap they serve for my sustenance. Fuelling up before boarding is the way to go.

I wash down what I do eat with some of my illicit whiskey. Washes my mouth out a treat. And makes whatever crap I’m watching vaguely pleasurable. Like watching your team draw nil nil at home in a game without chances against a way inferior team.

We land in Boston on time. Not that I’m in a rush. Of course, we land on time when I’m not in a rush. And it isn’t too much of a walk to immigration. Where there isn’t much of a queue. Obviously, because I’m not in a rush.

The immigration official has quite a lot of questions. Why am I coming to the USA? How long will I be here? What was I doing in Florida in February? What’s my job? She seems to miss the stamps from my two other US trips this year. Maybe that’s just as well. She stamps my passport and wishes me a pleasant stay.

It only takes ten minutes tops to queue and get through immigration. Obviously, because I’m not in a fucking rush.

My bags pop out reasonably quickly. And I quickly redump them for the flight down to Richmond. No need to check in again, as I already have the boarding pass for my next flight. It all works remarkably smoothly. Doesn’t it? Just to fucking taunt me. I could have easily made the shorter connection.

As it is, I’ve quite a lot of time to kill in Boston. Over 7 hours. Not quite so bad as it could be, given I can lounge around in the lounge. Typically, now I have loads of time, everything has run like fucking clockwork.

 It’s a Delta lounge. Not my favourite. They charge for some of the booze, the cheeky bastards. I have to make do with Old Forrester.

I watch the new Alex Horne programme. And The Block NZ via the wifi. Time doesn’t drag too badly. A little whisky helps. And the occasional bite of food. I doubt I’ll be getting another meal today.

I’ve no problem with drinking Old Forrester. To prove my point, I have a couple more doubles. Or is it three? It’s hard to keep count while you’re making a point.

The flight to Richmond only takes two hours. Not too bad. Just that I’m feeling rather tired. I did leave home almost 20 hours ago. That’s going to knock the steam out of anyone. Let alone an old twat like me.

It’s around 23:00 when we touch down in Richmond. On time, obviously.

Despite the “international” in its name, Richmond airport seems barely larger than a basketball court. Fine by me. I need to find my ride. The smaller, the easier.

I expect the driver to be holding a sign with my name. No “Pattinson” anywhere to be seen. After a while of hanging around, I spot a possible chauffeur.

“Are you waiting to pick someone up?”

“Yes, are you Mr. Pattinson?”

I doze a little as we rock and roll our way along the highway. It’s a bit of a drive to Williamsburg. About 45 minutes.

By the time we get to the hotel, it’s just about midnight. I’ve been up for 24 hours.

It doesn’t take much of a Tomintin nudge to tumble me into slumber.

Sunday 20 November 2022

A day downtown

All I have to do today is get downstairs before ten for breakfast. I just about manage.

A fruit breakfast again. I've been trying to eat as healthily as possible. Four different types of fruit today. I’m still feeling knackered. No gallivanting about and a very early night. That’s the plan.

After eating, I doss around in my room for a while and work out where I’m headed later.

Around midday, I walk down the hill to the city centre. A bit of light shopping first. As I’m headed to the supermarket, I spot a chemist and nip in there. A couple of things I need to pick up.

When you don’t give a fuck about looking an idiot, shopping without a language in common can be quite fun. It's amazing how far the odd word and hand gestures can get you, even when buying medicine.

After a few minutes of non-verbal communication, I get what I want and go to the till. Where the charming young woman chats away with me in pretty good English. That’s Brazil for you. Delightfully random.

In the supermarket, I make directly for the booze section Which isn’t bad. I would get some cachaca for the kids. But then I’d have to check in my bag at Florianopolis. It’s easier just to pick it up at Sao Paulo duty free. Instead, I get myself a bottle of rum. And some chocolate and cheese. Typical shopping, really.

I’ve pencilled in Boss Beer in the old central market for food. Mostly because the name includes the word “beer”. And it’s easy to find. I can’t be doing with too much messing around. Easy is the key word today.

It’s also handy, as Boss Beer is at one end of the market. No fiddling about walking to one of the places in the middle along crowded narrow corridors.

There’s a selection of draught beer: Lohn Pilsner, Schorstein IPA and Roseta Rossa Session IPA. I order a caipirinha. Why? Past experience has taught me to be wary of craft beer in non-specialist places in Brazil. Had a terribly oxidised Eisenbahn IPA at another place in the market last year.

There’s a band playing in the centre of the market. Covers of English-language songs, mostly. There’s also political noise from Lula supporter. The final round of the presidential election is tomorrow. Hopefully, it will all run smoothly. But will the pubs be open?

Another caipirinha is in order. It’s another warm day: 28º C. Not great for me. And the sun isn’t even out.

The second caipirinha seems to be settling my gut. Half-way down and I’m starting to feel vaguely human again. So much better, I may even eat.

I order some oysters as they are apparently a local speciality. They cost an extortionate 1 euro each. Then a pasty with some lurid green sauce. Pretty good. You can’t go wrong with a pie.

A third caipirinha has me on top of the world. I wouldn’t like to overdo it, mind. That will be enough for today. I have to climb back up that hill, after all. Three decades of living in Holland have left me terrified of the slightest incline.

It’s about 15:30 when I walk back. Pretty much everything in town is shut. It’s like the old days in Germany. Spooky.

I lounge around in my room for a while. And fancy a rum. I struggle to get the top off with my weakened wrist. I drop down to reception where a nice gentleman opens it for me.

Feeling that slices of cheese and chocolate isn't a full evening meal, I nip to the little corner shop and get a sandwich and a bag of nachos. I beef up the sarnie with extra cheese. That's better.

I watch Match of the Day from Wednesday and today. What has happened to Newcastle? Someone has taught them how to defend.

I retire early - 21:45. I need my sleep.

Luckily I have my rum friend along for the ride.

Beer Boss
Largo da Alfândega
Centro, Florianópolis
SC, 88010-400.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Into town

I feel really shit this morning. Totally exhausted. Too much standing around yesterday at the awards ceremony.

I drag myself downstairs at 9:30 for a fruit breakfast. Maybe that will help. The cough has resurfaced. After breakfast, I lie in bed until checkout time, coughing my guts up every few minutes. What a joy it is to be alive.

A few other judges are in reception when I check out and I say good bye to them.  A nice bunch this year, with quite a few people I've never met before.

I'm taking it really slow today. I get to my city-centre hotel around noon and spend a couple of hours just relaxing in my room. It doesn't help that it's much warmer today - 32 C. I'll go out for some food later when it's cooled down a bit.

Searching the internet for beer and food destinations, I come across Beer and Pork. Sounds perfect. Two of my favourite things. It opens at 6 PM. Which is exactly when I jump into my Uber. It’s a bit of a ride away, on the mainland.

The doors are still locked when I arrive at 18:20. I’m not the only one hanging around outside. Fortunately, we only wait a minute or two.

Inside a band is finishing up its soundcheck. Obviously, this is a live music sort of place. Pretty sure I’ll be long gone by the time they hit the stage for real. I’m planning an early night.

Handwerk American IPA sounds the best of the 14 draught options. It’s OK, but there isn’t a huge amount of hop character. Which is sort of what you expect in an American IPA. On the hazy side, too. Thankfully not too sludgy. Lovely copper colour.

I take a seat outside, where there’s an amazing view of the island. Clouds shroud its hills While water laps just a few metres away. Joggers jog along the narrow beach. Florianopolis is so beautiful. So much so, it’s hard to do in justice in words. Only what looks like a wastepipe spoils the scene.

Of course, there’s no printed menu. I have to log onto the wifi and scan a QR code to pull it up on my phone. And then order via the phone. Why can’t you just order from a fucking waiter any more? What do you do if you don’t have a mobile? Just as well I’m getting all modern.

I’m not 100% convinced that I’ve ordered my food. I wander over to the bar to enquire. While I’m there, my sandwich is delivered to my table. I had ordered it, then.

A pork sandwich with barbecue and stuff. Quite nice. And not too much.

Darkness has thrown down its blanket. Lights glisten like crystals on the island opposite. Two men cast nets from the beach, an arc of seabirds waiting hunched behind them. It’s all very scenic.

Only the one beer. I don’t really fancy another. And I want to get back to my room early.

Soon I’m in a cab weaving through the night-time city. A blur of light and colour flowing by.

Back in my room, I lie on the bed and watch football. There’s always football in TV in Brazil.

A rum sambas me to sleep.

Beer & Pork Brewery
R. Des. Pedro Silva, 2019
Coqueiros, Florianópolis
SC, 88080-700.

Friday 18 November 2022

Going home

 No, not from Brazil. From my trip after that. I know. It's confusing.

From a really groovy time in Williamsburg and DC.

In the geekout fest that was Williamsburg we had a bit of a bottle share (as is traditional). This was my contribution.

The Rose de Gambrinus, which I bought in 1996, was absolutely amazing. I'm so glad that I still have 4 bottles of it at home.

I'm currently in Dulles. One double bourbon away from boarding my flight home.

Mid-19th century London Stout grists

I'm sure you're been wondering: what happened to Stout grists later in the 19th century? I couldn't possibly disappoint you.

One of the things that struck me about beer history when I first really dug into it  With my special history spade. How dynamic it was. What was 19th-century Stout like? Lots of things. It depends an awful lot on when.

I'd assumed far less change over time. I imagined Victorian Mild was just like modern Dark Mild, except quite a bit stronger. How wrong I was. Which I realised after a couple of visits to the archives. 19th-century Mild was a different beast altogether. 

I'd been fooled by post-war British beer. Not realising that was one of the least dynamic periods in the last 300 years.

No surprise, then, that 30-odd years on from the introduction of black malt, London Stout grists had evolved further. Not much change in the pale and brown malt content. But the proportion of black malt has trebled.

Mid-19th century London Stout grists
Year Brewer Beer pale malt brown malt black malt amber malt
1850 Truman M Keeping Stout 78.64% 18.76% 2.61%  
1850 Truman Running Stout 89.54% 7.26% 3.20%  
1850 Truman Export Stout 76.75% 20.34% 2.91%  
1850 Truman Double Stout 83.11% 14.68% 2.20%  
1850 Truman Imperial 79.25% 18.53% 2.22%  
1850 Whitbread KS 75.49% 21.13% 3.38%  
1850 Whitbread S 75.49% 21.13% 3.38%  
1850 Whitbread SSS 75.49% 21.13% 3.38%  
1849 Barclay Perkins FSt 78.17% 18.48% 3.36%  
1849 Barclay Perkins BSt BI 64.26% 23.95% 2.81% 8.98%
1850 Barclay Perkins BSt Expt  64.30% 23.95% 2.77% 8.98%
1850 Barclay Perkins IBSt 62.58% 25.55% 2.86% 9.02%
  Average   75.25% 19.57% 2.92% 2.25%