Wednesday 31 May 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Russell Light Dinner Ale

By the start of the 20th century most breweries were producing a range of Pale Ales at different strengths.

Light Dinner Ale was their second Pale Ale with a gravity under 1050º. This has a gravity more typical of an AK. While their own version of that style was a good bit weaker. Good that they were getting drinkers used to this strength of Pale Ale. They’d be seeing a lot more of them after WW I.

Note that Russell didn’t do any parti-gyling. All their beers were brewed single-gyle. Allowing them to vary the recipes between their Pale Ales. Which is exactly what they did. Here there’s around a third less invert sugar than in their AK, replaced by base malt. The tiny amount of caramel leaving it with the same colour as its weaker sibling.

A slightly higher hopping was also possible. 8 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt rather than the 7.5 lbs of AK. Leaving the bitterness a fair bit higher.

The same hops were used: English from the 1908 and 1910 seasons. 

1911 Russell Light Dinner Ale
pale malt 7.75 lb 79.32%
flaked maize 0.75 lb 7.68%
No. 1 invert sugar 1.25 lb 12.79%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.02 lb 0.20%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1046
FG 1011
ABV 4.63
Apparent attenuation 76.09%
IBU 36
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1768 English Special Bitter

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Off to Dotonbori

Andrew calls at 9:30. We head off to the combini. And then on further. Through the Kuromon market a bit and on to Dotonbori Street.

It's a bit early and most stuff is closed. Or just opening. We sit in the shade and have a drink. While trying not to get run over by the vans dodging around us.

Andrew wants to look at the river, so we head over there. And walk down the side a little. Snapping away like the other terrorists.

Feeling peckish, I get some strawberries on a stick. 300 yen (+-2 euros) for five. But very nice.

Just past an offie, we spot a craft beer. pub. Not open for several more hours. "I'll remember that for later."

“I’m sure you will, Dad.”

We walk a little more. And my old legs start complaining. My mouth follows.

"I fancy sitting down for a drink. Even just a coffee, Andrew."


We find a western-looking cafe. With an Hawaiian theme. Andrew has a draught beer, I get an iced coffee. It comes to 1,700 yen. Or about 12 euros.

We walk back through the big covered market. God, there’s some yummy looking food. All the local stuff: okonomiyaki, the octopus balls, lots of grilled things on sticks, including wagyu beef, marbled to hell.

"We need to eat here later."

"We can get something on our way out tonight."

We hit Lawsons before returning to our hotel. I get a bottle of Suntory whisky. At 1,500 yen, cheaper than the two drinks we had in the cafe. WTF?

After waiting out the hottest part of the day, we go through the market around 5 PM, just before everything starts closing down. My plan is to get some food. Starting with some wagyu beef. Which, though pricey, is dead good. It comes on a stick. As does pretty much all the carryout food in the market.

What seasoning do I want? Just the salt, I think. No need for barbecue sauce. Judging from the server’s reaction, that seems to be the right choice.

Our next course also comes on a stick. Some sort of shellfish. Not sure exactly what it is. There’s no English translation, as there is with the other items. An old bloke patiently grills it with twin blowtorches. Occasionally squirting over what I assume is soy sauce. It tastes dead good.

We continue on to Dotonbori, which is now really livening up. As coaches disgorge tourist parties to clog the street. Our destination is the tiny craft beer bar we walked past earlier in the day. 

On the way, I notice that the street is full of host bars. With the occasional hostess bar just for variation. How can they support so many of these places? Who goes to them?

“A lot of the customers are hostesses.”

“Did I just say that out loud?”

“Yes, Dad. It’s your senile thing, remember?”

“That all sounds a bit circular. Don’t they get into a feedback loop?”

“Don’t be stupid.”

The occasional work-bound hostess passes. I’d be much more reluctant to walk around the street the way they’re dressed, like stocking-clad maids. Then again, I am an old, fat bloke.

The bar is tiny. Even tinier than the one in Kyoto. But has nine draught taps. Unfortunately, no seats.

The barmaid is also tiny. Having the floor behind the bar six inches lower means she barely comes up to our midriffs. I order an Our Brewing Break Time, billed as a Juicy Double IPA. 8% ABV and 60 IBU.

My beer isn't bad. And hardly sludgy at all. Andrew has a Pilsner. Then a cider, which is so sludgy it looks like milk.

I can walk around OK, but too much standing does me in. A third of the way into my Juicy DIPA, I have to go over the street and sit on some steps. While I'm sitting there, someone comes out from the building behind me and set up a sign right next to me. It's for a host bar. I'm surprised he doesn't tell me to fuck off. I'm not the greatest advert for the place.

I only have the one. Then we go back to or hotel. Past ever thickening crowds of tourists. And men clearly on their way to work in host bars: jacket and tie, dyed hair, make up. Either that, or they’re on their way to a Eurovision party a week early.

Walking past a hostess bar, the draggers-in smile and wave at me.

“Look Andrew, the hostesses like me.”

“Dad, that’s literally their job.”

“Are you sure? They look really genuine.”

“Stop being stupid, Dad.”

Back at the hotel, we rest a little and I pick at some strawberries as we check out where to go next. There's a brewpub in Namba Station, Dotonbori Craftbeer. But it shuts at 10. And it's already after eight.

It's not obvious where the place is, as it's tucked inside a shopping centre under the station. Luckily, we find a map.

As we're walking down the stairs into it, Andrew bangs his head. First time this trip. Hopefully, he isn't concussed.

A waitress tells us when we enter that last orders are at 9 PM. We've about 20 minutes.

We're shown to a private booth and quickly order two beers. Pils, I think. It's hard to be sure as the menu is only in Japanese. We order a plate of gyozas, too.

Quickly knocking back the beers, I notice they also have a dark one. We order two of those. I'm guessing it's a Stout, as it's a bit roasty. We manage to slip in another brace of beers and a plate of gyozas before closing.

While Andrew goes for a piss in the shopping centre, I watch the salary men rushing to get their trains home. And a lone hostess, presumably on her way to work, looking very out of place. It's a very Japanese scene.

Outside the streets are bright and vibrant. People rush around. Like Blade Runner without the rain. Andrew takes a snap of me for Dolores.

We enter a weird “Lowsons”, which seems to be an anime-themed version of Lawsons. We get ourselves some more drinks and nibbles. Wouldn’t want to run dry.

Back in the hotel, I drink some whisky and Andrew some beer. While we watch the Standy-Uppy guys on Youtube. It's been a full, fun day. With lots of walking. Which is probably good for me.

Stand Umineko Craft Beer
2 Chome-2-11 Shinsaibashisuji,
Chuo Ward,
Mon - Fri 17:00 - 23:00
Sat - Sun 15:00 - 23:00

Kuromon Ichiba Market
2 Chome Nipponbashi,
Chuo Ward,

Dotonbori Craftbeer Brewery Namba
5-1-60, Namba,
Mon - Fri 11:30 - 15:00, 17:00 - 22:00
Sat - Sun & Holiday 11:30 - 22:00 

Monday 29 May 2023

Off to Osaka

I rise at 8. To watch Match of the day 2.

So depressing, as the fascist Arses win. The jammy twats. Totally undeservedly. Then again, I always think that. In my mind, the Arses never deserve to win. Just for being the Arses. I dream of their relegation from the Football League. If it was up to me, they'd start every season with a deduction of 60 points. Or maybe more.

We get to the station early. Very early. Andrew is a bit paranoid when it comes to travelling. We sit in the station for 2 hours waiting for our train.

There’s some shouting going on. A bloke is very unhappy about something at the ticket counter and keeps slamming down some piece of paper. All the station staff look very uncomfortable. Soon enough, it ends. Without police intervention.

There’s a little shop on the concourse. I go to check it out. That is, get something to drink for the journey.

At first, it looks like they don’t sell any alcohol. Then I spot some cans of beer. And, just further along, soju. Though only 200 ml bottles. I get two.

Every time a train rolls in and passengers tip off, a good percentage are in uniform. All young lads and obviously conscripts. Like Andrew’s university friend Robin, who recently started his military service.

“You should be glad they dropped conscription in Holland.”

“They didn’t. It’s still on the books. I received my papers.”

“But you don’t actually have to do it.”

“Not at the moment. They could easily bring it back, if they wanted.”

“It would be good for you.”

“In exactly which way, Dad?”

“Get you out of the house.”

“Good for you, you mean.”

“Cynicism is so unattractive in the young,”

“Fuck off, Dad.”

I’ve been surreptitiously working my way through a bottle of soju. I nip to the shop to replace it.

Maybe I should say a word about soju packaging. The larger bottles look very much like bottled water. Clear liquid in a clear plastic bottle. Only in Korean. One prominent brand even has an image of a drop of water. It would be dead easy to mistake it for water. It must happen.

I'm glad we booked up our seats when we arrived in Pohang. The train is packed after a couple of stops, with people standing. It’s almost like being in the UK. Though obviously nothing like as stupidly overcrowded as that.

We're lucky with our timing when we arrive in Seoul. The next express train to the airport is in 5 minutes. They only run once every 40 minutes. More lounge time. Yippee!

Checking in is a breeze.

"How many bags can I check in?"


Brilliant. Though we only have two that need checking. I wonder if I can save the extra one for a later flight?

Before going airside, I change the remnants of my wongs into yen. Always handy to turn up with local cash. And the wongs aren’t going to be any use in Holland.

There's a bit of a queue at security. Nothing too bad. We're through in 10 minutes. And go directly to the lounge.

It's pretty big. And rather good. They give me a decent slug of whiskey. And there's lots of hot food. It's even better than the Air France lounges. Though maybe not on the cheese front. Mikey still regales friends with tales of the Air France cheese counter.

I watch some Early Doors. Which is rather surreal. And continue stocking my belly with whiskey and scran.

“It’s your round, Andrew.” He doesn’t look very keen on going to the bar, the lazy git.

“What do you want, Dad?”

“Jim Beam, no ice. A Double.”

When he returns, he has that sheepish look again.

“They put ice in, didn’t they?”

“Sorry, Dad.”

We cut it a little fine with going to the gate. Everyone else has already boarded. A couple of staff hurry us towards the plane.

"Don't worry, we've checked in bags. They won't be leaving us behind."

Andrew just gives me a look. Faithless bastard.

“Have I ever let you down, Andrew?”

“Yes. Loads of times. It’s what you do.”

The ungrateful bastard. After all I’ve done for him. Right, well, I’ll not be wiping his arse again.

It’s a good two minutes, three even, perhaps, after we fasten or seat belts that the cabin crew close the doors.

“See, I told you we had plenty of time.”

“Just shut up, Dad. Really. Just don’t say anything.”

I'm not that hungry, but the food is pretty good: spicy pork stew. Lots of legroom, too. Even for lanky legs Andrew. Who is strangely uncommunicative.

I'm knackered when we land in Osaka. Immigration and bag collection go smoothly. And they have baggage trolleys. Free ones. Not like robbing US airports. The robbing bastards.

Customs insists we open our bags. Perhaps, because of our natural sweatiness. I'm tempted to say: "The drugs are in the other bag." But wisely keep my gob shut. Customs officials aren't noted for their sense of humour.

There’s a ticket counter for the express train. So up we traipse to it. We've just a couple of minutes until the next one. I’m not going to rush. We’ll get the one after.

There's a vending machine on the platform and Andrew gets us some drinks. I need a nice cold water. It was weirdly warm in the arrivals hall.

The train has airplane-like oval windows. Giving it rather the appearance of an airliner. If you don’t look too hard or worry about where the wings have gone.

It takes about 45 minutes to Namba. They whisk past in streaming lights and the occasional blinking tower. Impossible to get any impression of what it looks like in daylight.

At Namba Station, where the express terminates. we try for a while to find a taxi rank. It's not very well signposted. Not even on some of the maps. I can’t do with any unnecessary wandering around.

The first taxi driver can't read the name of our hotel. We have to get out again. Luckily, the next one can read Roman script.

It's not that far. But I'm too knacked to walk. It costs 740 yen. The minimum fare is 680 yen. That’s how short a journey it is. Yet one I really needed in my state of totally bollock knackered.

After checking in, Andrew goes down to get some beer from the hotel's vending machine.

“No proof of ID needed.” He says grinning gleefully on return.

“Japanese only channel” a notice says on the TV. Though on NHK they’re showing a programme teaching English. Hah, win for us.

I just drink some water. That’s how tired I am. Then collapse into bed. Over 12 hours travelling, in total. That takes it out of you. Especially an old git like me.

Sunday 28 May 2023

London Bitters in 1978

And here we are. In the capital and at the final region in this survey of 1978 Bitters.

Once again, I drank all these beers, bar one. That being Export Ben Truman. Why did I never try that? It was a keg beer. I wasn't going to waste my time drinking evil keg. It doesn't look like I missed much "Bland, slightly sweet, characterless beer.". Yum.

In 1979, however, I did drink Truman Tap Bitter, their first cask beer in a while. They sold it at the Tenterden, a Truman's tied house on Devon's Road. Not far from the squat I was living in at the time. It was around the same OG as Export Ben Truman, so may well have been a cask form of it. How good was it? So great, I usually mixed it with bottled Guinness.

The average score is pretty high at 9.5. Not sure I would rate them the same way, based on my memories. I'd rate London Pride top. Then the two Courage beers. Followed by Ordinary and Special from Youngs and ESB. I never cared for Fined Bitter. Maybe it was just never looked after properly. Watney's landlords hadn't seen cask for a long time.

Just pipping the Southeast, the average price is the highest, at 36p. But that's an average for just three of the eight samples. The three weakest samples. The real average price would have been much higher. Though, in terms of value for money, London averages slightly better than the Southeast.

Boosted by the presence of many Special Bitters, the average OG is a heady 1043.1º. The highest of any of the regions.

Are we finished? Are we hell. Next there will be an overview of the regional Bitters.

Then we'll move onto the Lagers. Don't you just love the 1970s?  

London Bitters in 1978
Brewer Beer Price º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation score Flavour
Fullers ESB       1052.3 1012.9 5.12 75.33% 10 A powerful beer with » kick in every sip.
Youngs Special Bitter       1047.1 1014.2 4.27 69.96% 9 A nice heavy malty brew.
Courage Directors Bitter       1046 1012.8 4.31 72.17% 11 A classic, strong, genuine beer.
Watney Fined Bitter       1043.6 1006.3 4.87 85.67% 10 Well flavoured. Clean, tasty. Nice bite.
Fullers London Pride       1041.8 1007.5 4.46 82.06% 9 A good well flavoured beer with a slight bite.
Courage Best Bitter 35 1.11 0.11 1038.7 1008.8 3.88 77.26% 10 A fine, well-flavoured, distinct bitter.
Truman Export Ben Truman 40 0.96 0.10 1038.5 1008.9 3.85 77.01% 7 Bland, slightly sweet, characterless beer.
Youngs Bitter 33 1.11 0.11 1036.6 1007.7 3.76 79.10% 10 Lightish bitter with pleasant, tangy taste.
Average   36 1.06 0.11 1043.1 1009.9 4.32 77.32% 9.5  
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 17 September 1978, pages 22 - 23.

Saturday 27 May 2023

Let's Brew - 1911 Russell XXX

They only went from X to XXX at Russell. And, in any case, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t a Mild Ale, but a Strong or Old Ale.

I make this assertion for two reasons. First, the hopping rate. At 10 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt it’s just a tad short of the 10.5 lbs per quarter of their top-flight Pale Ale and considerably more than in their Mild Ales.

Second, though I don’t have a price list for Russell themselves, I do have one for one of their Gravesend rivals, Walker and Sons. They also brewed an X, XX and XXX Ale. The first two are described as Mild Ales, the last as Strong Ale.

The grist is generally similar to that of the Mild Ales. Except around a third of the invert has been replaced by more base malt.

The hops are the same mix of one third from the 1908 harvest, two thirds from the 1910. Both types English.

Was this aged? Probably for at least a little. My guess would be three to six months in trade casks. 

1911 Russell XXX
pale malt 12.50 lb 77.78%
flaked maize 1.50 lb 9.33%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.00 lb 12.45%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.07 lb 0.44%
Fuggles 120 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1076
FG 1017
ABV 7.81
Apparent attenuation 77.63%
IBU 60
SRM 12
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1768 English Special Bitter

Friday 26 May 2023

Off to the offie

I rise a little before ten. And write up yesterday on my laptop. Then watch Match of the Day. Thankfully, City win. That'll learn those Arses.

We’re saying goodbye to Alexei today. He needs to finally get back to his dorm. He has a morning class tomorrow and needs to be early to bed. At least that’s what he says. More likely, glad to escape, after almost a week with us.

Outside the hotel, we wait for Alexei’s taxi to turn up. Then it’s time for a tearful farewell.

“Enjoy the rest of your time in Korea.”

“Have a good time in Japan. You bastards.”

“I’m sure we will.”

“See you in a couple of weeks.”

Then off Alexei’s taxi goes. His roommates will be surprised to see him. They probably assume that he’s been kidnapped by the North Koreans. Most likely already drawn lots for who gets his laptop.

It's an extremely quiet day. We do fuck all, other than hang around in Andrew's room watching Youtube and drinking. Interspersed with the occasional trip to the shops for more booze.

We haven’t done a great deal in Pohang at all. Other than hang around together. Though I can hang around with Andrew for free at home. (Could would be a better word. Most of the time he’s in zombie mode, plugged into his laptop.) It was nice for the three of us to have time together. Not sure how many more chances we’ll have for that.

“Do you think Lexxie was pleased to see us?” I ask.

“He stayed here the whole time, didn’t he?”

“I suppose he did.”

Alexei coming out here must have been weird for Andrew. They’ve never spent a long period apart before.

“It’ll prepare them for the future.”

“What, Dad? Who’s ‘them’?”

“Did I say that out loud?”

“Dad, you’re speaking out your thoughts again, aren’t you? Who’s ‘them’?”

“No-one you know. Don’t worry.”

“You really are going senile.”


“And stop saying ‘thanks’ when I insult you.”


“Just fucking shut the fuck up.”

We go to bed early. While Andrew is in such a good mood.

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow. Most of it spent travelling. Train to Seoul, another train to Incheon airport, flight to Kansai airport, and a final train to Osaka city centre. It’ll be late evening by the time we get to our hotel.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Southeastern Bitters in 1978

We're now in the bottom right hand corner of the UK. In the prosperous Southeast.

I can confidently say that I drank every one of these beers except one: Paine EG. They only had a handful of tied houses and I don't remember their beer turning up very often at beer festivals.

There are some cracking beers in this set. Lots of classic Southern Bitters: Harveys, Morland, Adnams, Hook Norton, Brakspear. And my favourite of the lst: King & Barnes. Their beers were so good, It still upsets me that those bastards at Hall & Woodhouse closed the brewery.

Want to know what Southern Bitters tasted like in the 1970s? Drink Harveys. There were lots of distinctive and idiosyncratic ones about. Sadly, most have either since disappeared or become much blander.

What a surprise. This is the most expensive and worst value for money set so far.

The average OG is a touch higher than the national average at 1038.1º. While the 79% apparent attenuation is around much the same mark as elsewhere.

London next time.

Southeastern Bitters in 1978
Brewer Beer Price º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation score Flavour
Greene King Abbot Ale       1048.3 1014.1 4.43 70.81% 8 Strong fruity & sweet. A distinguished beer, but too sweet for me.
Paine EG 34 1.34 0.14 1045.7 1008.9 4.79 80.53% 11 Good, strong, fruity taste. Honest & full-bodied
Harvey Best Bitter 38 1.00 0.11 1038.1 1006.9 4.06 81.89% 8 A pleasant real ale with a sweetish flavour.
Shepherd Neame Master Brew Bitter 40 0.92 0.10 1036.9 1006.3 3.98 82.93% 9 A satisfying hoppy beer.
Whitbread Fremlins Trophy 32 1.11 0.11 1035.5 1007.4 3.65 79.15% 7 Pleasant bitter but rather thin.
Morland Best Bitter 34 1.04 0.11 1035.4 1006.9 3.70 80.51% 10 A good, pleasant, clean, light well-rounded ale.
Adnams Best Bitter 40 0.89 0.10 1035.4 1005.9 3.84 83.33% 11 An excellent light beer with a fruity flavour.
Hook Norton Best Bitter 34 1.04 0.11 1035.3 1006.9 3.69 80.45% 9 A bright “beery” dryish ale.
Brakspear Pale Ale 36 0.98 0.09 1035.3 1010.5 3.21 70.25% 11 Pleasant, tangy, clear genuine English beer.
King & Barnes Best Bitter 34 1.03 0.11 1035.1 1006.1 3.77 82.62% 9 A good tasty beer which slips down easily.
Average   35.8 1.04 0.11 1038.1 1008.0 3.91 79.25% 9.3  
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 17 September 1978, pages 22 - 23.


Wednesday 24 May 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Russell XX

Unlike most big London brewers, Russell was still producing more than one Mild Ale. Logically enough, the next one up the strength pole was XX.

There’s an essentially identical grist to X. Which I suppose isn’t a great surprise. Though both beers were brewed single-gyle. Why would that be? Well, one element of the recipe did differ: the hopping rate. X was hopped at 6.1 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt. While XX had 8.77 lbs. That greater hopping rate is reflected in the considerably higher (calculated) bitterness.

Exactly the same hops were employed as in X (as you’ll see, they pop up in all of their beers): English from the 18908 and 1910 harvests. And in the same proportions, too/ One third old, two thirds fresh. 

1911 Russell XX
pale malt 7.75 lb 71.26%
flaked maize 0.75 lb 6.90%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.25 lb 20.69%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.125 lb 1.15%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1055
FG 1015
ABV 5.29
Apparent attenuation 72.73%
IBU 42
SRM 14
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1768 English Special Bitter

Tuesday 23 May 2023

Off to the pub

I'm up even earlier today, around 10.

Andrew has been up since 8. He did sleep pretty well all of yesterday. He's looking much perkier.

I grab hold of the chambermaid and ask her to clean my room. Hopefully, that will help. To try to make sure, I hang around in the kids' room again.

Me and Alexei go to a convenience store. But they have no sandwiches. Maybe that's because of the public holiday yesterday. We try another shop - they're every 100 yards or so - which has one sad, lone sandwich. That'll divvy up well between three. Just as well Andrew has the appetite of an anorexic ant.

Back in the hotel, I bump into the housemaid and she says something while pointing at a bag of rubbish. Probably about how much of it there was in my room. After a couple of days of drinking with the kids there, it was like the aftermath of a student party.  Empty bottles and cans everywhere. My guess is: three or four bin bags full.

After a bit of lounging, drinking and watching Youtube in the kids' room, we decide to go to the craft beer pub.

“What’s the pub called, Lexxie?”

“The Goethe and Baby. “

“The what? What sort of name is that?”

“I don’t know.”

“They’re just random words again. Like those shops the other day. “

“I suppose so, Dad. But I really couldn’t give a shit.”

The pub is out at the beach, where we were the other day. Meaning we need to get a taxi.

Outside it's raining more heavily. Which may explain why Lexxie is struggling to find a cab. What to do?

"Why don't we go the chicken place we went to the other night?" Lexxie suggests.

"Sounds like a plan." It's just around the corner. And I’m a lazy git. There we traipse.

It’s pretty empty again. Which is fine by me. I don’t need crowds of other people to feel justified in my choice of restaurant.

Fortunately, the menu has pictures. It makes ordering less of a leap into the unknown.

“It takes the thrill out of ordering.”

“What, Dad?”

“Having pictures. It removes the excitement. The thrill of the unknown.”

“Dad, don’t be stupid. It makes sure you don’t order crap you hate.”

“Or stuff you didn’t realise you loved.”

“You’re so full of crap.”

We boringly order a mixed platter to share: fried chicken, prawns, chips and roast spuds. Along with some salad.

“That’s very South American?”


“The dual carbs.”

“Shut up about Brazil, Dad.”

The kids order a 3-litre pitcher of Cass. While I get a bottle of soju. I’m going to miss it when I’m back in Amsterdam. I wonder if Ton Overmars sells any?

The platter comes with three colours of sauce: red, yellow and brown. A bit like the Belgian flag. The red one is pretty spicy. Which isn’t much of a surprise.

It's about exactly the right amount of food. We pick away at it. Some of us picking rather more than others. About 60%, 30% and 10%. In the order Alexei, me and Andrew.

Maybe that wasn’t quite enough for all of us. Alexei is still peckish and nips into a shop for more food. Where does he put it all? I suppose he is 2.10 metres tall.

“Are you looking forward to Osaka, Andrew?”

“What? Are you going to Japan?”

“Yes, just for a couple of days on the way back. Didn’t we mention it?”

“No, you didn’t.”

“We’re going to Japan, Alexei.”

“Oh, right. Now you tell me.”

“Sorry about that. We’ll send you some photos.”

I’m such a generous father. No wonder the kids love me so much.

Back at the hotel, feeling a bit knacked, I lie in their bed watching Youtube. After an hour or two my stomach feels bad. Really bad. So bad I return to my room. Fuck. I can do without a fucked stomach.

Sleep is what I need. And what I get.

Goethe and Baby
395H+RG Pohang-si,

Monday 22 May 2023

Southwestern Bitters in 1978

As we make our way down through the country, we've now got to the bottom left pointy but. Or, put more simply, the Southwest.

The type of beer that I most associate with this part of the country is Boys Bitter. A low-gravity Bitter which often filled the price and strength slot that elsewhere still belonged to Mild. I'm not sure why I brought that up, as no beers of that type appear in the table.

As if to mock me, this set has the highest average OG so far: 1042.8º. Not so surprising, as half the samples are over 1040º and the strongest of all the beers analysed, Kingsdown Ale.

It doesn't come as a shock that the average price is the highest so far, even without the strongest beers included. Generally, beer on the periphery was more expensive. Value for money is also the poorest so far.

On the upside, the average quality score is the highest. There was a seven for Ushers BB, but all the others scored nine or above.

Despite having lived in the region for a couple of years in the 1980s, I've tried quite few of these beers. Wadworth 6X was always a pretty decent pint and a few places in Swindon (where I lived) sold it. I probably had Royal Oak at a festival. Can't be sure and I have no memory of it.

I'm not sure why Kingsdown Ale, which was pretty rare, was analyses, but not Arkell BBB, which was much more common. That was a lovely drop, with an underlying malty richness, which I found typical of the region's Bitters.

Southeast next to bat. 

Southwestern Bitters in 1978
Brewer Beer Price º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation score Flavour
Arkell Kingsdown Ale       1059.5 1013.6 5.98 77.14% 9 Clear, strong and sweet. A good winter drink but too syrupy for me
Eldridge Pope Royal Oak 36 1.31 0.12 1047.3 1013.6 4.37 71.25% 11 Full-bodied malty beer with satisfying flavour
Devenish (Weymouth) Wessex Best Bitter       1042.2 1006.6 4.64 84.36% 11 Clean, tasty, refreshing with a good flavour.
Wadworth 6X       1041.4 1009.75 4.11 76.45% 10 Golden coloured. Slightly fruity but clean-tasting.
Whitbread (Tiverton) Best Bitter 33 1.18 0.12 1039 1007.8 4.06 80.00% 9 Clear, light, bitter.
Palmer IPA 35 1.09 0.12 1038.1 1006 4.18 84.25% 9 A well-hopped bitter with a tangy taste.
Usher Ushers BB 34 1.11 0.13 1037.7 1004.55 4.32 87.93% 7 Pleasantly light but slightly insipid.
Hall & Woodhouse Badger Best Bitter 33 1.14 0.11 1037.5 1008.85 3.72 76.40% 10 Pleasant nutty flavour with a hint of sweetness.
Average   34.2 1.17 0.12 1042.8 1008.8 4.42 79.72% 9.5  
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 17 September 1978, pages 22 - 23.