Thursday, 23 March 2023

Blumenau slowtime

I’m awoken at 1 AM by a massive thunderstorm. Lightning crackles across the sky. Rain throws itself furiously down as slip back into sleep. Soothed by the white noise of the storm.

I rise properly just before 9:00. And trail downstairs for my standard breakfast. Scrambled egg and bacon for main, fresh fruit for pudding. After a while I’m joined by Jos Brouwer.

Before going back to my room, I have a quick chat with Claire and Tim.

“What are your plans for today?” Tim asks.

“None at all.”

“I was planning on having some lunch.”

“Sounds good to me.”

We meet in reception at one. Stephen Beaumont comes along, too. Seu Porco (Your Pork) is our destination. Which even I can work out is a specialist pork restaurant.

It’s not far. Just a short walk, which suits me.

We struggle somewhat with the menu. As the translation apps aren’t coping well. We all end up ordering roast pork. Which turns out not to be quite what I expected. It comes with rice, black beans and something I think might be potato, but is some other form of starch. It wouldn’t be a Brazilian meal without two types of carb.

I start with a Cerveja Blumenau IPA. Then switch to that most reliable of drinks: caipirinha.

We chat about many things. International relations, Jeremy Clarkson, the challenges of Brexit and why sludge beer is crap. Other things, too. But my brain goes a bit mushy after the third caipirinha. 

The décor is a bit weird. Human figures with pigs’ heads. “It’s like the name isn’t ‘Your Pork’ but ‘You’re Pork’.” I joke feebly.


When we’ve stuffed as much of the food mountain into our gobs as we can manage, we decant to E-10. A serve-yourself place. It’s a juicy Double IPA for me. A favourite style of mine. Not really. But it has a price/ABV ratio I find attractive.

E-10’s unique selling point is that it doesn’t close. Opening 24 hours a day. It would be even better if they sold caipirinhas. Can’t have everything, I suppose.

I start off with Swamp Grassroots Imperial IPA, at a modest 7.5% ABV. It’s OK. So I pour myself a larger one the second time.

The others have to leave quite soon. Tim to fly home, Stephen for his talk at the conference. Will I be going to the conference/beer festival? I don’t think so. Yesterday more than scratched that itch. It tore off the scab and left a bloody mess. I’m really not into torturing myself for no reason.

I’ve another excuse to stay put. All the credit on the fobs. I unwisely put 100 reals on mine. And Stephen gave me his. Lots of beer still to get through. Not going to waste credit, am I? That would be like throwing beer away. Which is against my principles.

Carolina, with whom I judged yesterday, turns up with her boyfriend. We have a good chat about beer culture and the importance of emotional attachment to beer. At least for me. And the fun of judging together.

That comes up. In retrospect, it was good fun. It may have dragged on for longer than I would have liked, but we had some good discussions. And I appreciated her very different perspective. Perhaps I should have told her that more openly. Simone’s views were similarly divergent from mine. Considered and with his own specific take from an Italian standpoint.

This is why judging with a diverse group Is so important. Balancing different cultural viewpoints. It’s not something I’d get if my fellow judges were all English.

Next is Locomotive/Se Val Sobrenatural Juicy IPA, 6.5% ABV. I know. Sludge filth. I can’t even blame it on a mistake. It’s clearly labelled “sludge filth”. Weirdly, they have Hoegaarden from one of the ten taps. Wonder where that’s brewed?

Then rain starts. The type you only get in tropical climates. Not too much a spattering as a splattering. Another good reason for me to stay put. Despite the hotel only being 200 metres away, I consider getting an Uber. But that would just be silly. And I still have credit on my fob to use up. Stephen’s, too.

I save the Imperial Stout until last. Salvador Cookie de Chocolate. I’m shocked that it’s rather sweet. No. Not really. The name is a bit of a clue. Nice enough. But I wouldn’t want to drink four pints of it.

When the rain has declined from a horse torrent to an old man trickle, I venture out. Stopping only to buy some weird stuffed bun thing in the petrol station opposite the hotel. It’s not very appetising. Even warmed up.

I debate with myself: should I venture to the hotel bar for a caipirinha? Being strong, I told myself: no. But now I write about it, the thought is more tempting. Hang on, I’ll just put my shoes on. For one last lovely cocktail.

I’ll tell you in a minute how it went.

The restaurant is closed. As I head back to the lift, Stephen is just getting out.

“They’re closed.“ I tell him.

“I’ll have to find somewhere else to eat.”

I only wanted a caipirinha. And I still have enough rum in my room to knock me out.

Seu Porco
R. Floriano Peixoto, 55
Centro, Blumenau,
SC, 89010-500.

E-10 Tap House

R. Curt Hering, 33
sala 7
Centro, Blumenau
SC, 89010-030.

Disclosure: Concorso Brasiliero de Cervejas paid for my hotel during the judging as well as for some food and drink.

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


The idea was simple. Turn a talk I'd quickly written on the history of Stout into a book. Dead quick. Mostly because I didn't want to waste the tables.

I'd already created slides, assembled tables. Sketched the outline, really. Filling in the holes, plumping the slides out to chapters, I could whack out a great little history of London Stout in no time. It wouldn't be much work.

It wasn't. Much work. Just a few weeks and I had 30,000 words. All the history - except for the vague early 18th century - polished off. Only the recipes to go.

That's when I made a bad decision for a very good reason. By bad, I mean bad for me, in terms of time consumption. Good for everyone else. I hope.

I don't know how many brewing records I have of London Stout. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. It would be stupidly impractical to include recipes for them all. How was I going to filter them? Rough or smooth?

Whitbread is the reason I went rough. I have their Stouts from 1805 to 1973 with just a handful of years in the 1960s missing. By writing as many recipes as possible, I'd get a huge amount of data. Grist composition and calculated colour and bitterness.

Five year intervals. That's what I chose. I should, perhaps, have worked out how many recipes that would be. I've completed 140. Good news is that Fullers, Reid, Combe and Lovibond are done. Less good news: I just finished the 1880 recipes for Whitbread. I'm not even halfway through.

Patience is the only virtue I've gained with age. It will take a while. As long as I knock off a few recipes every day, I'll get there eventually. And be all the richer, in terms of insights, than if I hadn't been arsed.

Do I regret my decision? Of course I fucking do. As I keep repeating, I'm incredibly lazy. Like a sloth on valium. And smacked up. That's me on a good day.

"Stout!" should be available sometime this year. Depending on how much I travel.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1870 Truman Imperial Stout

You asked for an Imperial Stout recipe and here it is. From Truman, whom you might not associate with the style. The version from Barclay Perkins being rather more famous.

Imperial Stout wasn't just brewed by those two breweries. Courage also produced one before WW I. And there was a bizarre trade in Scotland for London-brewed Imperial Stout. So much so that, between the wars, Barclay Perkins brewed a special (weaker) version just for the Scottish market.

Here we are at Truman’s strongest Stout, Imperial. Except that it isn’t. Going against naming conventions, it’s weaker than Double Export Stout.

The grist is the same as Running Stout and Double Stout. There’s a reason for that: it was parti-gyled them. Quite a low brown malt content and quite a lot of black malt. As in most of the other Stouts, apart from Double Export Stout.

As the mashing details are cryptic even for Truman. There were at least three mashes, but there could have been more.

All American hops, two types, both from the 1869 harvest.

Unlike in 1861, it was racked into a vat. Number 2 vat, to be precise. I can’t have been very big, as only 50 barrels were brewed. 

1870 Truman Imperial Stout
pale malt 17.75 lb 88.75%
brown malt 1.50 lb 7.50%
black malt 0.75 lb 3.75%
Cluster 120 min 3.50 oz
Cluster 60 min 3.50 oz
Cluster 30 min 3.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1084
FG 1023.5
ABV 8.00
Apparent attenuation 72.02%
IBU 155
SRM 29
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Free at last

Hoorah! With no judging, I can get up when the fuck I want. Which turns out to be not that late. As nature’s alarm clock wakes me at 6:30. How do I switch the fucker off?

I lie around in bed for a while dozing. But get bored.  I’ve arranged to meet Jos for breakfast at 9:00. I’ve a little time to spare and use it to traipse to a nearby supermarket. It’s cloudy and only in the mid-20s C. But the 300% humidity still makes it quite a sticky walk. Especially when I try to cross the road. Traffic is pretty crazy in Brazil. I’m lucky to make it there unscathed.

I soon find what I’m after: cheap rum. I finished off my hotel whisky yesterday. I take a few snaps of the stuffed fruit and veg shelves to send to my friends in the UK.

I breakfast with Jos. When he heads up to his room, I chat with Chris for a while. This is lovely and relaxing. Which is exactly what I need after the strain of yesterday.

I’ve arranged to go to Cerveja Blumenau with Jos. When I mention this to Chris, he says that he’ll get in touch with Alexandre Melo, who brews there, to show us around. That’s very good of him.

“Alexandre speaks very good English.” Chris tells me. That’s handy. I remember a visit to the Alles Blau brewery three years ago. No-one there spoke any English. We ended up using Google translate on a phone.

When we arrive at the brewery, we’re ushered into a waiting room. Where Alexandre collects us. Then gives us a tour around the shiny things. Which look much the same as the shiny things in every brewery everywhere.

We finish in the barrel ageing room. Where Alexandre pours us samples. Dead good, they are. A lovely clean, bright acidity. Overlaid in some with a little Bretty funk. I’m impressed.

We adjourn outside, where he pours us some more samples. Catharina Sour and, something I was quite apprehensive about: a Special Bitter. I shouldn’t have worried. It’s pretty good.

As we sit in the shade, talk pings around between beer styles, historical brewing in Santa Catharina, Crimea Porter, capivaras and much else.

A cooling breeze blows over us, and I think: “How did my life go so wrong?” I could still be a wage slave, working for an ungrateful boss. Instead, here I am sipping beer in the tropical heat. While back in Amsterdam everyone is freezing their arse off.

When we get back to our hotel, Stephen Beaumont trolls up.

“What are you going to do now?” he asks.

“I’m going to say hello to my bottle of rum. If you want to drink some really cheap and nasty rum, you’re welcome to join me.”

“You make it sound so appealing, but I think I’ll pass.”

He doesn’t know what he’s missing.

“Hello rum.” I say, “Do you want to be my friend?”


“I’ll take your lack of response as a ‘yes’.”

Not having eaten since breakfast, I drop down to the hotel bar for a snack at 16:30. I grab a seat outside. Stephen is in the pool. While I’m waiting for the food, I get myself a caipirinha. A ham and cheese toasted sandwich. And a pile of chips. Makes a change from another fucking barbecue. A little afternoon rum has given me a healthy appetite. For once.

Luckily, there’s time for a second caipirinha. Pity there was no vinegar for the chips.

I only stay for the two caipirinhas. Don’t want to get overexcited too early. It’s not that long until we’re bused off to the beer festival and awards ceremony. And I want to slip in a quick hotel room rum. Or maybe two. Let’s see how thirsty I am.

Not stupidly thirsty, it turns out. Leaving my legs in fully working order. For the time being.

The bus to the festival is at 18:30. It seems to take an incredibly circuitous route. Maybe that’s just the one-way system.

Before the awards, I trail around the festival a bit with Chris. We kick off with an Old Ale from Lohn, aged with pediococcus. We’re given some chocolate to go with it. Which cuts through the acidity quite nicely. But I really can’t be doing with sour beer. The mixed fermentation beers on the first day of judging really did my stomach in.

Next, it’s the turn of Seasons. Where I get a couple of IPAey things. And have a dead good chat with a brewer. But time is passing. And we need to get to where the awards are.

They’re playing the Peep Show theme tune. Why the hell is that? I record some video so I can show the kids. They’re both massive Peep Show fans. Alexei is forever quoting Super Hans at me.

The judges’ enclosure is on a balcony. Where there’s left over beer from the competition. And a few seats. It’s boiling hot. Only made bearable by being able to grab a seat. Next to Jos Brouwer.

It’s not as unbearably loud as last year.  But it’s a lot warmer. Did I mention that it’s unbearably hot? It’s unbearably hot.  I’d prefer unbearably loud. Paper handkerchief in my ears would solve that. I’ve no way of cooling down.

Most of the beers seem to be either some sort of hybrid or sour.  My stomach isn’t going to thank me for anything acidic. Eventually I find a straight up IPA. That’s nice and cold. Between sips, I hold it to my temple.

There’s much rejoicing on the floor when the gold medals are announced. I know what the overall winner is. Because I judged the pre-BOS of the category: Italian Grape Ale. There was a good deal of discussion about which beer we should award gold to. Me and Carolina liked one beer. Simone a different one. Our eventual choice was a compromise. As these things often are.

When the awards are done, Chris says: “Fancy a nightcap?”

Of course I fucking do.

There’s a craft cachaca bar from the Moendao distillery, just at the bottom of the balcony stairs. We have a few samples. The ten-year old is dead good. So me and Chris each buy a bottle.

It’s time to leave. I’m feeling hot and tired. As there’s no wifi kerbside, we nip into a bar, where Chris connects to the wifi. And I drink a cachaca. Not as good as the ones at the festival. But, hey, it’s full of alcoholy goodness.

The uber returns us swiftly to the hotel. In my room I say hello to the cheap rum again. Still no reply. But it takes me by the hand and leads me to slumberland

Cerveja Blumenau

R. Arno Delling, 388
Itoupavazinha, Blumenau
SC, 89066-35

Disclosure: Concorso Brasiliero de Cervejas paid for my hotel during the judging as well as for some food and drink.

Monday, 20 March 2023

Blumenau judging again

Another 7:30 pick up so I rise at 6:00. After a quick shower, I finish off writing up yesterday. Yippee! I’m 100% up to date.  This is a first. I’ll have almost nothing to do when I get home.

I breakfast with Tim. Starting with bacon and scrambled egg, followed by fruit. I’m such a healthy bastard. Well, half healthy. And boringly repetitive. I could show a photograph of any day’s breakfast and you wouldn’t be any the wiser. But this is today’s. The first course.

Why do they cut up the bacon like that? It’s weird. Though nothing like as bad as the sliced-up sausage swimming in some red stuff. Never dared try that.

Tim and me have a good chat about taxation, the Stasi and bus travel in Scotland. Normal breakfast stuff. Neither of us mentions the bacon atrocity.

I sit next to Ben on the bus and he tells me more about his bar (Beer Lovers Bar). It’s sounds dead cool. I really must visit it sometime. It’s been so long since I was last in Antwerp.

In the judging hall, I’m having trouble with my network connection. Again. It says I have access but nothing is happening.  Today, it’s just me. Everything is working fine for the other judges on my table.

Stewards are called. Quite some fiddling occurs on my laptop, but still no luck. While I’m not looking, suddenly I’m in. At least it didn’t take over 2 hours, like yesterday.

9:05 – we haven’t got a flight yet. Experimental Beer first. Who knows what they will be? Nothing too insane, I hope.

Carolina Barioni and Simone Cantoni, my fellow judges, greatly embarrass me when they say it’s an honour to judge with me. “When we’ve finished judging you might have changed your minds.” I quip, lamely.

9:26 the first beers appear: a Catharina Sour mid-round. Whatever that is. Quarter final? Some pretty good beers. Others with obvious faults. Easy to pick three to go through. But these are extra beers. In addition to the scheduled six flights. Slightly dispiriting to still be on flight one.

Experimental Beer is a surprisingly good set. I was apprehensive, when seeing we were judging this class.  That’s being polite. Shit scared of having to let all sorts of anarchic shit touch my lips. How wrong I was.

A 1% ABV Catharina Sour is amazing. One of the best beers I’ve had so far. A crowd of tropical fruit flavours jostle for room in its amazing aroma. I can’t recall another beer this weak I would voluntarily drink. Though a shot of vodka would liven it up.

Historical Beer. I doubt that it’s a coincidence I’m judging this. Kicking off with Bernadynskie, which is a new one on me. There’s my specialist expertise made a sprint for the exit.

I’m better with the other styles. Which include two Lichtenhainers and a Kulmbacher. Pretty sure I judged a couple of these beers in Florianopolis last October. Especially the one incorrectly called Lichtensteiner.

The next three sets are all Scottish. In preparation, I launch into a rant about Scottish beer and how it’s all the same, really. 60/-. 70/- and 80/-, I mean. Not sure how coherently I put my point across. My fellow judges smile. Probably in pity.

Scottish-Style Light Ale. Three samples, all terrible. Riddled with faults and nothing like the style.

The guidelines we’re using are, to be honest, very wrong. Very, very wrong. And have the “conflicting theories” guff about peated malt in Light, Heavy and Export. Conflicting fucking theories? There’s the real history and shit people have made up. It’s like saying there are “conflicting theories” about whether Hitler was a Nazi.

Scottish-Style Export Ale. Most are OK, one is good enough for a gold medal.

Scotch Ale or Wee Heavy – much more fun. Full of sweet, alcoholy goodness. One beer is very heavily peated. Weirdly, there’s no mention of peated malt in the guidelines for this style. Who the fuck wrote these things? I’m guessing someone who had never visited Scotland.

Baltic-Style Porter. A very good flight. No beer is really bad. This should have been our last flight. But we’ve made the mistake of getting through our scheduled flights too quickly. So, we’ve been given more extra ones.

While Stephen and Tim, on neighbouring tables, have been sitting around without anything to judge for hours. I’m not sure which is more frustrating: extra beer or no beer at all.

Gluten free. A nightmare, mostly. Surprisingly, the Kölsch is pretty good. I was expecting it to be terrible. Being a tricky style to brew

Italian Grape Beer. Mini BOS of 13 beers. Torture at 6 PM. I’m really not up to tasting any more. And it’s really hard to compare beers of different styles with different grape juices added. Unsurprisingly, we struggle to agree. I realise I prefer those with grape varieties I like. Is that the right or wrong way to judge these beers? I’ve honestly no fucking idea.

When we’ve whittled it down to 5 beers, we vote: 5 points for the one we think the best, one point for the worst. Then add up the scores to determine the medals. The gold winner wasn’t the favourite of any of us.

It’s already 18:45 when we’re done. Just in time to catch the bus to Blu Terrace. Great. No time to relax again. And I’m taking my laptop to the pub again.

I sit next to Ben on the bus. And in the pub, where Jos Brouwer joins us.

It’s loud. Not just on account of the live music. Also, from the general hubbub of a swarm of judges. It’s Eisenbahn beer. Heineken, really. I wisely opt for IPA rather than Pils. I’ve been burned before by crappy Brazilian Pils. The IPA is OK. Not great, but drinkable.

The buffet is a bit of a joke. About 2 metres of deep-fried stuff. It fills a hole rather inelegantly.

On the way to the bogs, I notice a miniature of Chivas Regal at the hotel reception.

“How much is that?” I ask.

“18 reals.”


It’s the only one they have, sadly. It partially fills a spirit-shaped hole. As the bar sells none. I really can’t face much more beer. I’m totally ausgebiert.

Chris turns up after a couple of hours. He’s done the pre-BOS judging. The BOS itself is still continuing. This is after 22:00. I’m so glad I wasn’t asked.

We have some more IPA and wait for the bus to arrive to take us back. It’s supposed to be at 11:00. When it hasn’t arrived at 11:10, we go outside to check. It’s already been and gone. We didn’t see it because it parked around the corner.

Not to worry, Chris sorts out an uber for us and we’re soon bipping and bopping back to the hotel.

“How about a caipirinha in the bar?” I ask.

Chris and Jos are keen. But the hotel bar is closed. The others head off to a somewhere over the road. I’m far too knacked for that. Instead returning to my room.

Where I subside into sleep in the warm glow of Ardmore.

Blu Terrace – Eisenbahn Biergarten

Rua Mariana Bronneman 230
Velha, Blumenau
SC, 89036-080.


Disclosure: Concorso Brasiliero de Cervejas paid for my hotel during the judging as well as for some food and drink.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Blumenau judging

The bus is at 7:30. Which means I have to be up early. Like just before six early. As I want to shower and write a little.

I hit the breakfast room at 6:50. Where I spot Marti Nachel and Stephen. After Marti leaves, I breakfast with the latter. The bacon looks a bit anaemic. And the scrambled egg has run out. Leaving me to opt for a cheese and fruit repast. Should give me some energy. Along with those three cups of coffee. But it still feels weird having no scrambled egg.

I take the bus with Marti. I mention that I spent a couple of days in Rio.

“Isn’t it dangerous there? Did you feel safe?”

He’s the second person to ask me that. “It seemed perfectly fine to me. Not threatening at all.”

“During the day, but not at night, I assume.”

“I felt safe at night, too.”

Ipanema isn’t the tiniest bit scary. I feel more unsafe in parts of Amsterdam. I certainly wouldn’t wander around the Red Light District on my own late at night.

I’m on table 37. With Rodrigo Veronese and Raul Schuchovsky. Both Brazilian. Their surnames are an indication of the diversity in origin of this country’s inhabitants.

The internet isn’t working. Great. I can’t even download the app, let alone start judging. But, it’s always a bit like this on the first day. At least I remembered to bring my laptop. Which means I can type this while I wait.

You get used to waiting when you judge. Either that, or you go crazy. Just being patient helps. Eventually they’ll get network access sorted. How long it will take? Who knows? Had I been aware that we’d be hanging around this long, I wouldn’t have got up so early to write.

They said yesterday that 47 of the 141 judges were women. Which averages out to one on each table.  We’re all blokes. Some tables have two women, obviously. What am I trying to say? No fucking idea. It’s a bit early for coherent thought. Just crushing the numbers. As I always do. (I could tell you the how many aircon units there are and the number of stairs up to the balcony.)

At 8:46 I finally get connected to a network. Yippee! I’m ready to rock. Bring me some beer, you bastards.

9:20 – the connection has gone again. This is so much fun. Will we get any beers before lunch? I hope so. The network connection has come and gone a few more times. This is getting frustrating.

All this doing nothing is tiring me out. Even with all that breakfast coffee coursing through my veins.

We take a break. For more coffee and snacks. At least it’s doing something. I have a nice chat with Claire of Good Beer Hunting magazine.

10:27 – I’m connected! I hope it lasts.

These are the styles we’ll be judging.  When beers eventually appear.

Contemporary American-Style Light Lager
Munich-Style Dunkel
Fruit Wheat Beer
Mixed-Culture Brett Beer
Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale
Chili Pepper Beer

It could be worse, I suppose. Not really fancying the Light Lager or Mixed-Culture categories. Or Chilli Beer. I’m glad that’s at the end of the day.  Come to think of it, the Fruit Wheat Beer and Double sludge don’t sound much fun, either. I do like me a good Dunkles, though.

I’m not table captain, which is fine. It means less work. And if there’s one thing I hate, it’s work. Ron lazy-arse Pattinson is what they call me.

The Light Lagers in the first set of six are all crap. Oxidation, DMS, diacetyl, you name a fault, it’s here. The second set of six are all crap . . . except one. The others are like a course in off flavours. Some have the full set: DMS, oxidation, diacetyl, butyric acid. And one weirdly tastes of strawberries. I’m glad that’s over.

Munich Dunkles next. One is spot on for the style, with a lovely nutty malt character that’s reminiscent of a good Bavarian example. Most of the rest are riddled with faults. And don’t taste very much like Dunkles.

There’s only time for two flights before lunch. We should have done at least three to be on schedule. It’s shaping up to be a long day. I’m just glad we got through any flights.

Guess what lunch is? A buffet. Salad, fish, meat, black beans. I try to make my choices as healthy as possible. I have a wander outside to get some fresh air and prepare myself for a busy afternoon. Even here in the city, there’s lush vegetation all around.

I take a deep breath and re-enter the judging hall.

Fruit Wheat Beer – we’re spending a lot of time discussing whether the base beer is of the right style. That’s fun. They mostly taste pretty nice, mind. Other than a couple being way too sweet. And one smelling like dirty socks.

Mixed-Culture Brett Beer - way too much of everything in some examples. Too much wood, too much fruit, too many bugs, too many spices. Just too much shit. And shitloads of acidity. Quite hard work.

Juicy or Hazy Imperial or Double India Pale Ale. After all those sour beers my stomach is getting a pummelling. I need me some rum. Quite impressed by the crystal-clear example. And least they’re full of alcoholy goodness.

Chili Pepper Beer flight isn’t as awful as I had feared. The Berliner Weisse with habanero was a real surprise.  I laughed out loud when I read the description. But it was by far the best beer. The only one to really get a chilli flavour and not just heat.

It’s getting on for six by the time we finish. We aren’t going back to the hotel, but straight to the restaurant, Thapyoka. I’d have liked to have had a little time back at the hotel to catch my breath. And to dump my laptop. I’m oddly reluctant to take it to pubs.

Going outside to wait for the bus, I bump into Tim and Stephen. Who seem to have judged a similar mix of the good, the bad and the ridiculous.

In the restaurant we’re joined by Claire. Making us the gringo table. When a waiter walks past with a tray of Pilsner, we grab some. It’s not the greatest beer ever.

The meal is a buffet, of course. It would be surprising if it weren’t. The second of the day. Not the most inspiring choice of food. I get potato salad, green stuff, a little bit of fish and some meat. It fills a hole. Nothing more. And it doesn’t even do that particularly well.

A pair of Policia Militar cops are loading up plates at the buffet. Seems to be a theme. I doubt very much that they’re paying. I hope they enjoy it more than I did. I wouldn’t like them to get angry while I’m around.

Stephen knocked back his first beer quickly. Too quickly. He’s now regretting getting a second. I’m not even half way through my first. He goes off in search of booze. I could murder a caipirinha, myself.

“They have no spirits.” He reports back. “How about we leave?”

Fine by me. There’s nothing here worth hanging around for. No chance of a caipirinha. And the bus won’t be for hours.

Tim checked on his phone earlier. The hotel is very walkable. So that’s what we do, once we’ve finished eating. No waiting around for the bus, like yesterday.

It’s just over the river and a little further. Not far at all. And, it being after dark, there’s no sun to worry about. Rather a short walk than ages of aimlessly hanging around.

Back at the hotel, we ascend to the bar. Where we find Marti Nachel and his wife drinking beer. We order caipirinhas. A very friendly – and very young – waitress takes quite a while making our drinks.

“I don’t know why it’s taking so long. There are only three ingredients.” Stephen says.

He’s right, but I’m in no hurry. I’ve learnt patience in my old age. Finally. And from judging South American beer competitions. Also, she seems very new to the job. Give the lass a chance to learn.

Chris arrives; rather than order a drink, he heads to the pool. Which is just outside the bar. The pool? At this time of night? It’s cocktail hour. Cocktail decade, for me.

Being a contemporary sort of bloke, I get another caipirinha. Weirdly, I’m feeling much better than when stuck in that crappy restaurant. So much so, that I celebrate with one more caipirinha.

Chris appears from the pool and, after much deliberation, gets the good cachaca Stephen has spotted behind the bar. There’s just about enough left for a single measure.

We don’t linger much longer. It’s getting late and we’ve another early start tomorrow. Early bus. Whether we start judging early is another matter.

When I get off at the third floor, I realise that 307 was my room number in the last hotel. Here I’m in 603. And I’ve just charged my drinks at the bar to room 307. Oh, well. I’ll let them know at reception tomorrow. I can’t be arsed to go down now.

Ardmore hurries me down the final flight to nightly oblivion.

Thapyoka Restaurante
R. XV de Novembro, 160
Centro, Blumenau
SC, 89010-001.

Disclosure: Concorso Brasiliero de Cervejas paid for my hotel during the judging as well as for some food and drink.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

Birthday homebrew recipe

When I mentioned my birthday homebrew offer to a fellow writer while in Blumenau, his reaction was:

"That's a great idea. But 25 euros is far too cheap. You should charge at least 50 euros. Probably more."  

Food for thought there. I'm still contemplating a price rise. What with inflation and me being unjobbed. But, for the meantime, my bespoke recipes re still a bargain at a mere 25 euros. I'd grab one at this price while you still can.

You;ll get the recipe, a couple of hundred words of explanatory text and an image of the brewing record. What a bargain!

Just click on the button below.

Let's Brew - 1867 Reid Export Treble Stout

I'm done with the IPA recipes, for now. T could be encouraged to do more. Especially if you throw some money my way. Did I mention that I'm currently in a limbo between work and retirement. I haven't officially retired, but I'm neither working nor on the dole.

We're back with London Stout. Because that's what I've been writing loads of: London Stout recipes. For my upcoming super book on the style. I've finished 135 recipes, do far. Which is maybe half way. I really need to crack on if I'm to publish the book by June. Which is my aim.

On with the recipe.

After a quick glance at this beer, I thought it wasn’t worth a recipe of its own. Then I looked at the grist.

The gravity is exactly the same as straight Treble Stout. But the grist is very different. Over 50% of the grist is amber malt. There’s no pale malt at all. Instead, there’s some white malt. But only about 25% of the grist. There’s almost as much brown malt. Less black malt than the other Stouts, mind.

A very similar mashing scheme was employed, however. Three mashes and a sparge. Not sure why it needed to be quite so complicated.

Mash number barrels strike heat tap heat
1 315 168º F 147º F
2 210 178º F 159º F
3 525 173º F 153º F
sparge 490 160º F  

English hops, harvested in 1865 and 1866. Quite a lot of them, too.

At least 12 months ageing with Brettanomyces is required. Maybe more. It is a bit of a beast with all that dark malt.

1867 Reid Export Treble Stout
white malt 5.50 lb 23.91%
brown malt 4.00 lb 17.39%
amber malt 13.00 lb 56.52%
black malt 0.50 lb 2.17%
Goldings 150 min 4.50 oz
Goldings 60 min 4.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 4.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1094
FG 1027
ABV 8.86
Apparent attenuation 71.28%
IBU 138
SRM 39
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 55.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale



Friday, 17 March 2023

USA - here I don't come?

You've probably noticed that I usually drop by the USA a few times a year. Last year, it was four times. But here we are in March, and I've nothing organised.

It's not for want of trying. A couple of putative trips have come to nothing. Everything I try this year comes to nothing. It's driving me to despair.

Which is a reason for this appeal. Feel like brewing a collaboration beer or hearing me lecture on  some beer history topic? Or both? Then get in touch with me.And I'll see what we can sort out.

This is all getting very random. But such unplanned trips can be some of the best. Both for me and the brewery, pub , home brew club, or whatever.

Blumenau, Blumenau

I rise quite early, not long after seven. Nature has worked its wonders and woken me again. The bastard.

Leaving me more than enough time to prepare for checking out. Not much to pack. Just my computer and associated bits.

The breakfast room is fairly empty. That’s what getting up early brings you. I get the same as every day: three slices of bacon, scrambled egg and some bits of fruit. Coffee, too, of course. I won’t be going anywhere without a few cups.

No breakfast photo today. I forgot to take one. I hope you aren’t too disappointed.

Most other diners look like they’ll be hitting the beach. Why else would they be wearing swimming costumes underneath loose outer clothing? Not so odd for a hotel that’s a couple of hundred metres from the beach.

My sunburn hasn’t got any worse. Except that my nose is peeling. Not exactly the classiest of looks. At least I have a good excuse for having a red face.

I love Rio. Now I’ve been here in daylight. On my previous two visits, I spent more time asleep than awake.  I get to see a bit more of the city as my cab rocks and rolls towards the airport. Santos Dumont, this time. Quite a small domestic airport. Small is good, when it comes to airports.

I also get to see some trams. “Tram, tram.” I say quietly to myself. A shame the kids aren’t here to hear it. Though I do hope that the driver hasn’t. Don’t want him thinking I’m some kind of crazy man.

I dump my bag pretty quickly. Security is over in a minute and I have ninety minutes to kill. What could I possibly do? I know – go to a bar. Just for a change.

This place will do. It looks like they make cocktails. “Uma caipirinha, com limon y cachaca.” I’m getting so fluent. In ordering caipirinhas. Though if doesn’t have lemon and cachaca in it, how the hell is it a caipirinha? I can’t say fuck all else. At least I can sound confident when ordering a caipirinha.

I wonder if it’s as strong as the beach ones? It is quite small. And cost 25 reals. On the beach 500 ml was just 20 reals.

Everything has gone really well, so far. I’m really getting the hang of Brazil. The people are so laid back, they’re almost falling over.

Time for caipirinha number two.

The people on the next table had a soft drink that came in a 510 ml bottle. WTF? They love weird sizes in Brazil.

The other customers are getting stuck into large plates of food. Bits of beef with a big pile of chips is popular. Along with draught beer. I’m an outlier with my diet of cocktails. And sunburnt knees. No-one else has those.

I’m yawning like a stoned hippo again. What could the reason be? Maybe those caipirinhas. Or that food I ate three hours ago. That’ll be it. Always the food that gets you.

Caipirinha number three is double the size of the first two. Does that mean there’s more booze in it? Or just more ice? The next question is: what size will number four be?

It’s big!

Not much to report about my flight. It takes off, I’m fed a snack and a drink. It lands again. The luggage is coming off by the time I get to the carousel. It couldn’t have gone any better.

My driver is waiting for me and we head north. Just as we leave, a few spots of rain trace dotted lines on the windows. Then all hell breaks loose. We splish and splash through a massive thunderstorm. Illuminated by jagged stabs of lightning. I’m glad I’m inside.

The tops of the flanking hills are invisible, obscured by swirls of cloud. Below, ranks of trees slowly march down the slopes. Their deep luscious green contrasting with the exposed terracotta earth closer to the road. Like the colours of the Portuguese flag.

It’s mostly eased off by the time we get to my hotel. Where I’m soon in the lift clutching my goody bag.

The hotel is much nicer than last time. That was a little, er, basic. Putting it politely.

The bus for the introductory dinner is at 7 PM. I go down to the lobby a bit after 6, hoping to find some fellow judges and bar action. The former works out, the latter not. I chat with Ben for a while until it’s bus time.

Dinner is at the same location as last year, Moinho do Vale. We’re given radio headphones as we enter. Well, the non-Brazilians are. Brazilians won’t be needing them.

Having stood around more than enough already, I sit at a table. Where I order a big bottle of Tripel (from Cervejaria Leopoldina). Full of alcoholy goodness. And pretty drinkable. I’m certainly not complaining when I’m getting it for nowt.

After a while, Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont show up and sit at the table. I hadn’t realised that they’d be here. Claire from Good Beer Hunting joins us, too.

It’s pretty loud, just from the assembled pissheads. Sorry, judges. You can only really hold a conversation with an immediate neighbour.

A man in lederhosen and a woman in a dirndl come around offering rollmops. Some turn up their noses. Not me. I love me a rollmop. So much so, I have another when they appear a second time.

When I next get the waiter’s attention, I order two large bottles of Tripel. And another of Grape Ale. Wouldn’t want to be running out of beer. The Grape stuff isn’t for me, though. I’ll be sticking to beery beer.

There are various speeches, which, thankfully, don’t last too long. Without too much shouting. Who was it last year with rock star delusions? Weird and crazy. Just not in a good way.

Finally, we get fed. I can see why they had the speeches first. A buffet, obviously. It’s OK, for what it is. Resisting the multiple carbs, I get a little potato salad, some green stuff, beef and fish. Not a huge pile. I’m not a gutsy bastard, despite my fat gut.

Tim and Stephen, not wanting to wait until the bus at 11, head off in search of an Uber. I can’t say that I blame them. I’m ready for home, too. They return a bit later: no Ubers to be found.

Chris Flaskamp turns up with his luggage. He’s come straight from the airport. It’s great to see him again. We’ve become quite good mates. Hopefully, I’ll get to see his brewery again. It has a cracking location, surrounded by vineyards, the snow-capped Andes in the background.

I take the first bus. And go straight to my room. Not even tempted by the offer of a bar. I’m knacked. And I have a nice bottle of whisky waiting for me upstairs. I hope they’re suitably dressed for the occasion.

Early start tomorrow: the judgment bus is scheduled for 7:30. After cuddling up with the whisky to watch Match of the Day 2, I turn in.

Ardmore takes be by the hand, and we go to Potatoland.


Restaurante Moinho do Vale
R. Porto Rico, 66
Ponta Aguda, Blumenau
SC, 89050-010.

Disclosure: Concorso Brasiliero de Cervejas paid for my hotel during the judging as well as for some food and drink.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

More Ipanema beaching

I’m up earlier today, around seven. Woken by nature’s alarm clock (daybreak).

I get a shock when I look in the bathroom mirror. My face, arms and legs are all bright red. How the fuck could I have got sunburnt? The I was only exposed to the sun walking to and from the beach. Maybe five minutes each way. It’s almost as bad as Australia. Where I couldn’t go two steps from my front door without turning into a lobster. 

After messaging the family a bit (I’m getting dead modern I can now use a laptop and a phone simultaneously), I rumble downstairs. Same drill for breakfast: bacon and scrambled egg to start, fruit for pudding. I try to keep the vitamins flowing when on these trips. Wouldn’t want to go down with scurvy. Though the limes in the caipirinhas are probably enough to stave that off.

What’s the plan for today? Get pissed and go berserk. As always.

Getting any redder not being an option, I give myself a good greasing with factor 2000. Will that be strong enough? Maybe two or three more coats will help.

The walk down to the beach is mostly in the shade. I quickly jump between each patch of cool. (Well, as quick and as jumpy as I can manage with my crappy old body.) I go a bit further along the beach than yesterday. Where there are more manageable steps. I had to be helped up yesterday.

I randomly choose Shack 58. Where a very friendly young lady sorts me out with a big umbrella (I’m taking no chances with the sun today) and a big caipirinha – 700ml.

It’s a similar scene to yesterday. Lots of muscular chests and exposed arse cheeks. But also plenty of flabby bellies and droopy bottoms. It’s very egalitarian. Everyone seems pretty comfortable with hanging their bits hang out to dry. I like that. Means I don’t feel out of place. Though I am the only fully-clothed person in sight. 

A beach vendor tries to sell me some fags. When I refuse, he shows me what looks like a lump of compressed weed. After I turn that down, he starts rubbing his nose in the international symbol for coke. “Now you’re talking”, I say.  Of course, I don’t.

That escalated quickly. Does he go through the whole routine with every potential customer? Or assume all gringoes are druggies? Even a washed-up old twat like me?

Two caipirinhas in two hours is enough for me. Feeling a bit tipsy. And a bit hot on the beach. So, I’ve escaped back to my room’s airco. I’ll go out again later when the sun is setting and the local beer pub is open.

I can’t be arsed to go to Flamengo now. That beer pub 150 metres away is calling. After I’ve had a kip. And a sandwich. Not eaten since breakfast. Ham and cheese, in case you’re wondering.

I get to Espaço 09 just after the 5 PM opening time. Obviously, I’m the only customer. With four staff to take care of my needs. They have an Imperial Stout on draught. But it’s too early for that. I’ll save it for my last pint. Instead, I order:

Mad Brew, New England DIPA, 8.7%, 32 reals for a US pint
Pretty damn sludgy. Nice head, mind. Not a bad price (about 6 euros) for a half litre of beer of this strength.

People are streaming past from the beach No surprise. it’s getting close to dusk. Some haven’t bothered getting fully dressed and still have their arses hanging out. Never seen anything like that in Amsterdam. Not out on the street, at least.

Back to the beer. Smells like grapefruit juice. Which is what you would expect. Hoppy, but not that bitter. OK, if you like this sort of thing.

Is there a brewery at the back? There are various shiny things. Or are they just serving tanks? On closer inspection, that’s definitely what they are.

Fiorentina against AC Mlan is on the TV. I can also watch a Spanish game which is showing in the pub over the road. Quite odd simultaneously watching matches in different pubs. Another win for microchip technology and its massive TVs.

Odd that they have Lagunitas IPA on draught. I wonder where this version is brewed? Probably in a Heineken plant in South America. (It won’t be California, as that brewery has closed.) There was a lot of Heineken being sold on the beach. Someone was even selling it on draught. Lugging all the kit required for that must have been fun in 35º C heat.

I’m still the only customer. That’s OK with me. I did my misanthrope bit yesterday. No need to repeat it.

Feeling quite knacked again. I’m yawning like a basking alligator next to a swimming pool full of kids. Not sure why I’m so tired. All I’ve done is sit on the beach and drink caipirinhas. Only two

I really like Ipanema. Cool beach and lots of bars and restaurants. Plus normal shops. Which are handy if you want to buy cheese for your hotel room. And who doesn’t? You can never have too much cheese.

I ask for the same again. I can be a right boring bastard. I can happily drink four or five of the same beer. But they’ve run out. The waitress brings me a taster of another beer. It’s:

Odin, NE IPA, 7.5%, 32 reals for a US pint
Even more sludgilicious than the last beer. Though it tastes very much like it. Had I not been told it was a different beer, I’d have assumed it was just the end of the barrel.

Music has been pootling around in the background. Mostly classic rock. But The Charlatans’ The One and Only has just started up. Great song. What got me into the band. Love the organ sound.

Fiorentina AC Milan has finished. Now they’re showing Corinthians in what I assume is a local league game. It’s like baseball: when a ball goes into the crowd, whoever catches it, keeps it. I’m automatically rooting for Corinthians, what with their weird history. It’s a pretty good game. Corinthians come from 0-1 down to win 3-1.

They’re now playing Stalins of Shite. I hate that song. Oh well, it’ll be over soon enough.

The Imperial Stout is off. So, I’m sticking with Odin. Which sounds like something a Viking might have said. It’s not got any less sludgy.

The Policia Militar are parked outside. I think they’re getting some food. I would take a snap. Except Andrew warned me off that in Tijuana. Seems being photographed can make military police quite angry.

I get some more cheese and ham in the supermarket on my way back to my hotel. I nibble on it while I watch Match of the Day. Which I’ve recorded from Dutch TV and watch via a VPN. Isn’t modern technology wonderful? It does mean I have to watch those bastards Arsenal win again. God, how I hate them.

I’m so depressed by the Arses winning, that I need to watch a few episodes of Spirited to cheer myself up.

A few sips or Ardmore drive me into the warm embrace of sleep. Well, as warm as it gets with the airco cranked up to eleven.

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

A priceless book

Well, over $100 a pop, if you want to get the original spiral-bound version of my proper book. Maybe not priceless, but pricey.

While you can pick up a signed copy of the paperback edition for just a fraction of that cost. While still getting 100% of the historical fun and recipes. All in my own inimitable, idiosyncratic style. An heirloom that will be passed down through future generations. Becoming priceless.

Here are some testimonials:

"I don't believe there is a book that is as comprehensive on British styles."
"A well-assembled collection of properly researched material"
"Compendious summary of British beer styles across nearly three centuries"
"Simultaneously the densest and one of the most easy-reading books on brewing."
"Not the most amazing brewing book ever written"

I think an extraneous "not" has wandered into the last one.

Buy a signed paperback edition of the Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. For locations inside Europe.

Buy a signed paperback edition of the Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. For the USA, Canada, Australia and other locations outside Europe.


Let's Brew Wednesday - 1898 Cairnes I.P. Ale

I promised you lots of regional IPAs. Today there's the special treat of an Irish IPA.

Lying at the top of Cairnes’ Pale Ale pile was I.P. Ale. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that surely stands for India Pale Ale. Irish IPA, then. Weirdly, I can find it in any style guidelines. Who knows if it’s true to style or not.

In terms of gravity, it looks similar to a Burton IPA. Though the hopping is much more restrained. More similar to that of the weaker London type. Just brewed in a much smaller volume. A mere 60 barrels, in this case. While even a modestly-sized brewer in the capital, such as Fullers, churned out 200 barrels at a time.

Pale Ales of this period usually had pretty simple grists. Often a combination pale malt and sugar or just all pale malt. Cairnes opted for the former. They’ve also gone for the very vague description of “Sacc.”. But, at the very far right of the record, the actual sugars are scribbled in: 4 cwt of No. 2, 1 cwt of No. 3 and 6 lbs of No. 1.

The base malt was 75% from Irish barley, 25% from Chilean. One of the favourite foreign sources.

Both types of hops were English, one from the 1897 and the other from the 1898 harvest.

I’ve lowered the FG to account for secondary conditioning. The racking gravity recorded in the log was 1023º. I’d guess this would have had at least 12 months secondary conditioning in hogsheads. 

1898 Cairnes I.P. Ale
pale malt 12.25 lb 89.09%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.25 lb 9.09%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.25 lb 1.82%
Goldings 120 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1064
FG 1018
ABV 6.09
Apparent attenuation 71.88%
IBU 72
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1084 Irish ale