Thursday 31 August 2023

Sheffield! (part one)

I wanted to get up to Sheffield. To see Dann and Martha. And Jules (of Hop Hideout). That the city has lots of great pubs is another attraction. But there’s a massive downside for me. One I’d forgotten.

It’s the same brekkie drill. Grill some bacon, cut some bread, assemble sandwich.

I like my tea strong. Dave makes it super-strong. The colour of dark chocolate. Even when loaded up with milk.

We’re taking the same train as on Friday. It’s on time, but even more packed. There’s an announcement that all the seats are reserved and that if you don’t have a reservation, you’ll have to stand.

Luckily, we have reservations. Of course, our seats are occupied. Who would leave seats empty on a train so packed?

We’re changing at Doncaster again. Not onto another fast train, as for Leeds. But a crummy DMU. It’s another pretty short ride.

Our train pulls in on platform 1. Conveniently, right next to the Sheffield Tap, where we’ve arranged to meet. We have to walk no more than a few feet.

We’re the first to arrive, so I get us some drinks. Jaipur for me. Girly Lager for the kids. Andrew will drink just about anything. Sometimes cask, sometimes cider, sometimes evil keg. He’s annoyingly cosmopolitan that way.

It’s not long until Dann arrives, followed by a couple of his friends. We agree that the next stop should be the Three Tuns.

While we’re climbing the hill into town, Alexei asks: “Can I get some food? I didn’t have breakfast.”

I spot a café-type place where he gets himself a bacon and egg sandwich. I get a chance to catch my breath while he’s inside. I’d forgotten how hilly Sheffield is. Far too hilly for my crappy lungs.

Over another couple of hills and we’re there. It’s a triangular building and we go and sit in its point. Not before getting pints, obviously.

After a while Jules (of Hop Hideout) turns up with her extremely cute daughter, Ivy. Followed by Martha and dog Grimbold.

It’s all very jolly. Other than the TV. Which is tuned to GBNews and is discussing the Lucy Letby case endlessly.

“All this baby-murdering stuff is a bit depressing. They could have selected a less miserable channel.” Someone says.

“Or a less fascist one.” Alexei adds.

With the gang all assembled we can move on. The consensus is Shakespeares. Which, fortunately, is downhill.

As we approach, I see that it has some grand Wards Fine Malt Ales windows. Cool. I can remember their beers. That’s how old I am. They had quite a nice Dark Mild. Though it was difficult to find in Sheffield itself.

As we’re huddling around the bar, Dann points out a unique feature: a dedicated pork pit fridge. With the temperature set to a perfect 13º C.

The multiroom layout has been preserved, which is cool. Though we don’t take advantage, as we sit in the garden. Which is fairly pleasant. As is the pork pie I’m munching on. The weather is atypically sunny and there’s a nice mix of sun and shade in the garden.

Ivy is remarkably quiet and well-behaved. Quite unlike mine were at her age.

Next on itinerary is the Kelham Island Tavern. I think I’ve been here before. Though I probably wouldn’t have recognised it, as the context has changed completely. The pub is now surrounded by modern flats. At least they left the pub intact. 

I can’t resist getting a pint of Acorn Barnsley Bitter. It was the first good cask bee I ever drank, in 1973 or so. This does remind me of it. Quite dark, dry and quite bitter. A lovely drink, really.

The vagaries of brewery takeovers left Newark with many pubs served by the Barnsley Brewery. This was the result of John Smith buying Warwick & Richardson, one of the Newark breweries. It was pretty well immediately closed and their beer replaced by Barnsley, another of John Smith’s purchases.

After Courage bought John Smith, Barnsley was gradually phased out and replaced by Courage-branded beers from the other Newark brewery, Holes. By 1974, the Wing Tavern was the last pub in town offering Barnsley Bitter.

We sit out the back in the garden again. It’s pretty busy considering it’s 15:30.

Our next destination is a pub I’ve definitely visited before. Albeit quite a while ago: the Fat Cat.

We sit outside again. Because of Ivy, I think. These crazy UK laws that make life difficult for parents. Particularly annoying for anyone whose kids are as well-behaved as Ivy. Or has lived on the continent.

“People keep asking us to rebrew the 1832 Mild Ale.” Martha says.

“The first brew was one of my favourite beers of all time. All those whole leaf Goldings were amazing.” I reply. “A shame they nearly broke the brewery.”

Sheffield Tap
Sheffield Station,
1b Sheaf St,
Sheffield City Centre.

Three Tuns
39 Silver Street Head,
Sheffield City Centre,
Sheffield S1 2DD'

146-148 Gibraltar St,
Sheffield S3 8UB.

Kelham Island Tavern
62 Russell St,
Sheffield S3 8RW.

The Fat Cat
23 Alma St,
Sheffield S3 8SA.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1964 Beasley Stout

It’s a real matter of chance that I have a couple of Beasley Stout recipes. They’re in a document I photographed which is incorrectly catalogued as a Courage brewing record. When I finally looked at it closely, I soon realised that it was really from Beasley. And not a brewing record. But a costing book. Which just lists the ingredients

There’s one real Beasley brewing record from 1965 in the archive. Sadly, in my impatience, I didn’t look far enough through and didn’t spot any Stouts. However, it does give me an insight into the processes at Beasley.

They used quite a different recipe to the large London brewers. In that there’s no brown or amber malt. Just black and crystal malt. Along with a couple of types of sugar: No. 3 invert, CDM and Carameline. I substituted caramel for the latter two.

This is the mashing process from another beer at Beasley, Courage Light Ale. The mashing seems to have been pretty similar for all their beers. I assume their Stouts were mashed in generally the same way.

Mash number barrels strike heat mins stood tap heat
mash 37 157º F 30 147º F
underlet 5 185º F 90 155º F
sparge 1 30 165º F   146º F
sparge 2 70 160º F   155º F

There were five types of English hops, two from the 1961 harvest and one each from 1960, 1962 and 1963.

1964 Beasley Stout
pale malt 3.50 lb 56.73%
crystal malt 60L 0.75 lb 12.16%
black malt 0.67 lb 10.86%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.50 lb 8.10%
caramel 500 SRM 0.75 lb 12.16%
Fuggles 90 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 min 0.50 oz
OG 1030
FG 1011
ABV 2.51
Apparent attenuation 63.33%
IBU 20
SRM 39
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale


This is one of the 277 recipes in my new book on London Stout. Get your copy now!



Tuesday 29 August 2023

About 1970s memories

I should have said this before. The reactions that you've sent sharing your memories of the 1970s, I intend to use in my book "Keg!".

My apologies if this wasn't clearer before.  If you don't want anything you've sent to me to be included in the book, please let me know.

I really appreciate all your contributions, which I know will really add to the book. Especially as the rest is just boring, old numbers.


Do it yourself bacon sarnie again today. Not that I mind. It’s a pleasure to cook bacon on an eye-level grill. So much healthier, too. Why do continental cookers never feature them?

Dave has already made tea. And has French TV on again. A news channel, this time.

I have to break up my tea with a spoon, it’s so strong. Does the job, mind.

When the kids have dragged their sorry arses downstairs, we watch the Women’s World Cup Final. To be fair, Alexei wasn’t up that late. And looked human when he rose. Unlike Andrew, who’s in mumble mode again.

A ketamine and rum binge today, Andrew seems to have been on. For, at a rough estimate, six days. With maybe just a smidgin of 2CB on the edges. He has a wild, but subdued air.

“Tea, Andrew?”


“Is that a yes?”

“What do you think?”


“Just shut up and pour me some tea.”

I love our morning interactions. Exactly why I became a father. Though, at least one of the kids is in a good mood. Or, at a minimum, inquisitive.

“When are we going to Spoons. Dad?” He’s been asking that since we arrived. Before, really. About a week before we left Amsterdam.

“Soon, Lexie, soon. We’ve still plenty of time.” Or maybe not.

After checking on the interweb, I notice that today is its final day. Better get there quick, before all the booze has gone. The plan is to eat at Spoons and then continue on to Collingham, the village about seven miles outside Newark where Henry has his Cat Asylum brewery.

Dave phones for a taxi. It takes a while to get through.

“Not too bad. It’s coming at quarter to four.” He reports.

“That’s crap. It’s only half past one.”

“Oh, I thought it was later.”

Yes, you senile old hippy. It’s a fucking hour later than you think. I only say that in my head. I hope. Dave hasn’t reacted. I must be in the clear.

Eventually, our taxi arrives. And whisks us to downtown Newark and Spoons.

We take the back way in. Where new estates have filled in all the fields between Balderton and town. Detached houses, but packed tightly together, with almost no gardens. Lovely. That’s typical of the new homes around here.

Spoons is reasonably busy, but not packed. Obviously, there’s no cask. Hardly anything on draught at all. The kids are lucky: there’s still some cider. I have to make do with whisky.

The kids haven’t had lunch. Or breakfast, in Andrew’s case, and are hungry. But there’s hardly any food, either. Not really a surprise, I suppose, just a few hours before they close their doors forever. Luckily, they still have burgers. Both get one with chips. Nothing left tickles my fancy.

The fun begins when we try to get a taxi to Henry’s. Nothing doing with the numbers we call. Henry suggests that we try the rank by the stabby club.

After a quick walk through the deserted Sunday streets, we get to the rank. We’re in luck: there’s a lone taxi there. That’s relief.

“I thought we were going to have to walk.” I quip.

“Be serious. We remember how far it is.” Andrew replies. “I suppose we could get the train.”

“It’s still quite a walk from the station to Henry’s.”

“You could carry me piggyback.” Alexei suggests.

“I’d be radgebacked before we got two steps.”

“It would be funny, though, Dad.” Andrew interjects.

I’m starting to think the ungrateful gits are trying to hurry me on my way to perpetual oblivion. No, not another bender in Hong Kong. (I’ll never go for all-you-can-drink spirits again. The blood. So much blood. All mine, fortunately.) A permanent oblivion.

The sun is still out and Henry is sitting in the garden with a few mates. Including Chris Cunningham, his salesman and general helper in the brewery.

Lounging outside as the fading sun bathes us in soft, orange light is very relaxing. Birds chirrup and dart across a cobalt-blue sky Then a lorry thunders by a few metres away.  Rather spoiling the bucolic scene.

Aren’t villages were supposed to be quiet? The road running past the brewery isn’t exactly a major artery. And it’s a fucking Sunday evening.

I’m drinking a Stout. I’d tell you what it was called, but the bottles are unlabelled. Nice, that’s what it is. Don’t really give a toss what it’s called. Apologies for the totally useless tasting notes. I’m in holiday mode.

When the sun finally drops exhausted below the horizon, and the other visitors have fucked off, we resort to the tap room. That is, the plough workshop. As was.

Wow. He now has a proper bar counter. With casks stillaged behind it. And a proper cash register.

“This is looking scarily professional, Henry.” I remark.

“I thank you for your lack of faith.”

The contrary is true. I’m quite impressed by his current setup. But I’m not going to tell him that. What do you expect? I’m English. We don’t compliment each other unless we’re after a job or a shag. Except our children. Often, not even then.

In a corner there’s a decibel meter.

“We have to be careful of the noise when the tap room is open. A neighbour complained and we need to make sure we keep below a certain level.”

Every time a lorry goes past, the decibel meter sprints into the forbidden zone. I guess the lorries aren’t a nuisance for the neighbours.

No craziness today. On our other visits, everyone ended up totally plastered. Is today an improvement or a disprovement? Tomorrow will tell.

Despite my concerns – abject dread, really – we can get a taxi. We can all still walk and have our phones. It’s wins all around. No-one has lost any teeth, either. Or sustained any stab wounds. A really top day out.

We catch Dave before he goes to bed. The kids hacking into their slab, while I sip whisky in a sophisticated way.

“Is that a quadruple?” Andrew asks.

“More like an octuple.” Alexei ripostes.

“Can you two just fuck off and let me enjoy my whisky?”

In unison: “No.”

“I didn’t think so.”

The Sir John Arderne
3 Church St,
Newark NG24 1DT.
Tel.: +44 1636 671334

The Cat Asylum Brewing Co
12 Besthorpe Rd
NG23 7NP

Monday 28 August 2023


I grill my own bacon this morning. Having risen when the sun warmed my bedroom to intolerable levels.

Dave’s watching a French gameshow, Les 12 coups de midi. It’s very Channel Nine, with lots of weird ritualised audience participation. It forms a surreal background.

While I eat my self-made bacon sandwich. Dave has wisely bought in a lot of bacon. Easily enough for me to have a sandwich every morning I’m here. Unless Alexei goes into a bacon frenzy.

The kids are still lazing around in bed. No need for them to get up early today. As we don’t intend going anywhere. This is our one rest day.

Talking of kids, a couple of Dave’s grandkids are coming up from London today. That’ll be interesting. I’ve not seen them since they were pretty much babies.

Dave gets the goat curry on the go not long after breakfast. He knows how to make it the proper Jamaican way. He proudly shows me the scotch bonnet peppers he’s using. Cool. I like my food spicy. Those chili flakes on my lunch have trained me up a treat.

Alexei is up first, obviously. Followed by a dazed-looking Andrew. This morning it looks like he’s spent the last week on an opium and pervitin binge. So, much perkier than yesterday. That’s the pervitin, I guess.

There’s a phone call from Dave’s granddaughters: they’ve missed their train and are getting a later one. That’ll give the goat curry more time to cook all the way through.

Needing to book tickets for me and the kids to Sheffield on Monday, I log onto a train site. All is going swimmingly. Until I need to pay. I won’t go into details, but the two-level authentication insisted on by my credit card company is a nightmare. There’s a fair amount of shouting before it’s all sorted. But what can you do on a computer without shouting? Or maybe that’s just me.

I have a wander up to Sainsbury’s with the kids. It’s not far. And I need a whisky top up. The stuff evaporates so quickly here. It must be the climate. The kids get a slab of Carling and another of Strongbow.

Salt, spring onions and shoe polish. We need three things beginning with the letter “s”. Which makes them easier to remember. (Though I do spend some time looking for the syllabub section.) The first two for Dave, the last for Dolores.

No plans for today other than chilling at Dave’s. At least we’re stocked up with booze now.

In the early afternoon, Dave’s grandkids show up. Obviously, they’re a lot bigger than when they were babies, being full-grown adults now.

“What are we eating, granddad?”

 “Curry goat and rice and peas.”

“I’m vegetarian and my sister’s vegan.”


I guess it’s rice and peas for them. The rest of us get stuck into the curry. Which is nice and spicy. Dave really is set up for vegetarian food.
“Can I have some of the gravy, granddad?”

“I thought you were vegetarian?”

“I just don’t like the texture of meat. I’ve no moral objection to eating it.”

That’s an interesting take on vegetarianism.

We watch the live evening Premier League game. While sipping on Dunkles and cider. Well, the kids do. I’m mostly sticking to whisky.

It’s very low-key day. The farthest the kids get is Sainsbury’s for more cider, Dave’s well impressed at how quickly the pair can hammer through a slab.

Youtube time again later. Which ends for me after midnight. And for the kids rather later.

Sunday 27 August 2023


Dave has thoughtfully cooked a pile of bacon by the time I get downstairs. And made tea. Perfect.

I construct myself a bacon sandwich. Yum.

After my bacon sarnie and builder’s tea, I head over the road to the post office. Where I post off my UK pension application. Hopefully, the bastards will start paying me soon.

The kids roll downstairs before I need to go and wake them. That’s good. Andrew, as always after rising, looks like he’s been on a three-day ether and moonshine bender. Communicating mostly in short monosyllables, reluctantly spat from his mouth.

“Do you want a cup of tea, Andrew?”


“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“Ugh ugh, dugh.”

I think that was “Shut up, Dad.” Though it could easily have been “Fuck off, Dad.” The kids have no respect. Or enunciation.

Andrew is looking fairly sprightly this morning. For him. He’s still not far off a zombie. Lexie, on the other hand, is as chipper as ever.

Andrew has a cup of tea, refusing breakfast. Alexei isn’t going to say no to bacon.

The phone rings. It’s Henry. He’s halfway to Newark on his bike, but has forgotten his tickets. Can Dave print them again? Dave doesn’t look too pleased.

“I expect Henry will turn up two minutes before the train is due to leave. That’s what he usually does.” Dave says, rather cynically. “That’s why I gave him his tickets.”

Just to prove him wrong, Henry pops up in plenty of time. Especially as the train is running ten minutes late.

Its final destination is Edinburgh. And it’s packed. Luckily, we have seat reservations. Dave turfs some interlopers out of our designated seats and away we go.

Not that it’s a long journey. Just a short 20-minute dash to Doncaster. Where we get a connection to Leeds. In all, it takes about an hour. Including the obligatory buggering around in Doncaster.

It’s quite a while since I’ve been in Leeds. I have just two request stops for this visit: the Cardigan Arms and Whitelock’s.

After a brief discussion, we decide to start in Friends of Ham. Partly, because Dave wants to eat. It is, handily, right next to the station, though.

Dave and Henry order the one cask beer. The kids go for cider. I need something to wake me up. Newbarns BA Plain Dark Beer. A warming 11% ABV. It’s evil keg. I’ll just have to put up with that. The price on the board is for a third.

“Can I get a half of the Newbarns?”

I won’t take the piss and ask for a pint. As that would be over twenty quid. It’s full of Stouty goodness, however. And will stand in nicely for lunch.

Dave has a toasted sandwich of some sort. A fancy thing, with a French name. We don’t linger, though. We venture in search of a taxi. It takes a while, the rank being carefully hidden behind the station where you would least expect it.

The others are dropped off at the Cardigan, while I continue on to the Kirkstall Brewery. Which I believe is in Kirkstall. After a bit of discussion with the driver, I realise that it’s moved. And is on the Kirkstall Road. A few hundred metres closer to town than the Cardigan. No more than 100 metres from one of the houses I lived in back in the early 1980s.

Oh, well. Got here eventually. I ask the barman for Stuart, the brewer I’ve arranged to meet.

As I’m waiting for Stuart, I have a look around. The room is dead cool. With some amazing old advertising signs.

After a quick pint, Stuart shows me around the brewery. Which is full of the usual shiny things. Stuart mostly works on the older, smaller kit which was in the original premises in Kirkstall.

When we’re done, he gives me a lift to the Cardigan. The others have already moved on. I know that. But I’m not going to visit Leeds without a pint in the Cardigan, my former local. And one of my favourite pubs of all time. How many hours did I spend in the public bar?

I can’t hang around too long. Unlike in the old days. Though it’s reassuring to see how little it has changed. Only downside: no Tetley’s Mild.

When I drank here in the mid-1970s, the landlord was Irish. With several kids who took care of most of the bar-keeping duties. I’m guessing he mostly concerned himself with looking after the beer. Which was always in perfect condition. One of the most reliable pints in Leeds. When I had my Tetley’s Mild tastebuds fine-tuned. Up there with the Black Dog and Fisherman’s Hut in Cross Green.

I sit at the table me and Simon usually occupied. Next to it, that’s the one where the couple in their fifties used to sit. Pint of Mild for him, two halves for her. So many memories of this places. Though I forgot where the gents is.

I’m meeting up with the others in Whitelock's. Which means I need a taxi. Where the fuck do I get one? There’s a McDonalds over the road that seems to have some taxi activity. Let’s try there.

No luck. In desperation, I return to Kirkstall Road and, after a while, manage to flag down a cab.

Whitelock's, please.”

“I’ll have to drop you on Park Row. Is that OK?”

I guess it will have to be. The alleyway where Whitelock's is located is off Briggate, a pedestrianised street. Which one is Park Row?

I don’t really recognise where I am when I get out. It’s been so long since I lived in Leeds. Where the fuck is Whitelock's from here? I wander in what I think is the right direction and spot signs for the Ship Inn. I know that’s off Briggate, too.

Yes! It’s just down here and on the right. What a clever boy I am. No, that was way scarier than it should have been. What a forgetful old git I am.

They’re here, which is good. And have seats, which is even better. You’ll understand if you’ve ever been held in Whitelock's incredibly narrow embrace. 

Relieved, I shovel down a pint. Not Younger’s No’3, unfortunately. That’s what I drank here back in the 1970s. When it was a rare free house in the city centre. As with many “free houses”, that meant some sort of tie to Scottish & Newcastle.

The kids look pleasantly surprised. Shocked, even, when I walk through the door.

“We thought we’d have to come looking for you.” Andrew says.

“We? I was going to let you make your own way back.” Alexei is very unforgiving.

They’re on cider again. I guess it’s a novelty for them. In Amsterdam, you only really get draught cider in Irish pubs.

Henry has already pissed off home. The lightweight.

As some of us are feeling the weight of hunger, we have one last stop before the train home: Bundobust. For some Indian street food. And beer, obviously. Handily, it’s on the way back to the station.

Dave orders some sort of combination vegetarian platter.

“What meat dishes do they have?” I ask, plaintively.

“It’s all vegetarian.” Dave says gleefully. The man who lasted a whole week as a vegetarian when he moved to Jamaica.

“Eat up, Dad. You’re always telling us to eat lots of vegetables.” Alexei says, helping to stick the boot in.

Fortunately, there’s some full-meat cask in addition to the evil keg offerings. That’s something. Though the prices are at near-Amsterdam levels.

We take a later train than planned. Dave had some crazy plan to head back around five. It’s half seven when we actually step onto a train. It’s getting on for nine when we stumble over Dave’s front door.

There’s still Dunkles. And the kids’ cider. Not finished my whisky, either.

We chill for a while in front of the TV. Then slowly peel off to bed. Dave first. Kids last. Me inbetween.

Friends of Ham
4-8 New Station St,
Leeds LS1 5DL.

Kirkstall Brewery
100 Kirkstall Rd,
Leeds LS3 1HJ
Tel: 0113 898 0280

Cardigan Arms
364 Kirkstall Rd,
Leeds LS4 2HQ.

Whitelock's Ale House
Turk's Head Yard,
Leeds LS1 6HB

6 Mill Hill,
LS1 5DQ,
Tel: 0113 243 1248

Saturday 26 August 2023

Let's Brew - 1939 Maclay PA 7d

Top of the Maclay Pale Ale pile was PA 7d. Despite its relatively modest strength.

In London, a beer of this gravity would have barely even counted as an Ordinary Bitter and was well short of the strength of a Best Bitter. It doesn’t make being a Scottish drinker seem very attractive. The beers local breweries supplied were both weaker and more expensive than elsewhere.

I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the colour I list for any Maclay beer. With their penchant for colouring beers with caramel at racking time, Scottish brewers regularly sold the same beer in as many as six or seven colour  variations. Depending on which city you were drinking in, PA 7d could have varied in colour from the 7.5 SRM as brewed to 20 or even 25 SRM.

Based on how often it turns up in the brewing records, PA 7d was being brewed in considerably smaller quantities than PA 5d and PA 6d.

1939 Maclay PA 7d
pale malt 6.75 lb 77.14%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 5.71%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.50 lb 17.14%
Styrian Goldings 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1042
FG 1014.5
ABV 3.64
Apparent attenuation 65.48%
IBU 32
SRM 7.5
Mash at 149º F
After underlet 156º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

This recipe is from my recently-released Blitzkrieg!, the definitive book on brewing during WW II.

Get your copy now!

The second volume contains the recipes. But not just that. There are also overviews of some of the breweries covered, showing their beers at the start and the end of the conflict.

Buy one now and be the envy of your friends!

Friday 25 August 2023


This is going to be a new experience. We’ve had to change airports again for visiting Newark.

First East Midlands stopped having flights to Amsterdam. Then, after Flybe went bust, Doncaster airport closed. Where the hell do we fly to now? Stansted and take a train? My brother Dave came up with a suggestion: Humberside.

“Where the hell is that?” I asked him.

“Half way between Scunthorpe and Grimsby.”

“In the classy part of Lincolnshire, then.”

“KLM flies there.”

That’s what I wanted to hear. I can earn some airmiles. And, even better, XP points. Enough to secure me gold status again next year.

“How do we get from there to Newark?”

“A taxi. It costs 90 quid and takes an hour.”

“That’s not too bad. Certainly, better than fucking around on a train from Stansted.”

Our flight isn’t until 17:00. Making it a fairly relaxed day. We jump into a taxi quite early, around 13:30. For two reasons: you never know how crowded Schiphol will be in the summer; I want to get in some decent lounge time.

Schiphol is surprisingly queue-free. Both at security and passport control. It’s just minutes before I’m in the duty free with a bottle of whisky in my hand. No need for miniatures, as we’ll be in the air for under an hour.

Me and Andrew go to the lounge bar while Lexie loads up on food. I have my normal Bourbon and Scotch combination. The kids go for Pils.

I get myself a few nibbles while Andrew concentrates on his beer.

“They’ve got hot dogs.” Lexie announces.

He brings one back smothered in ketchup and mustard. It makes me feel a little sick. I’ll just not look at him while he eats it.

Andrew finally gives in ands gets some food. A cheese roll.

“Don’t stuff yourself too much, Andrew. Leave room for the chips.”

“Fuck off, Dad.”

He isn’t struggling with the beer. He’s knocked back half a dozen, at least.

When he gets up to return to the bar, I ask him: “Can you get me two whiskies, please.”

“Dad, don’t go crazy. I’m just getting you one.”

Great. He’s acting as my nanny now.

“When did I ever go crazy?”

“Lots of times, Dad. Let’s not have this discussion again.”

He brings me back a sad little single of Bourbon. At least he remembered to get it without ice.

A new feature of the lounge are creepy dustbins that creep up to your table and demand your plates and cutlery. But when you try to dump stuff on it, it swerves away at the last minute. Now that’s not going to piss people off.

We chomp and munch at a leisurely rate. And are just about to drink and eat up, when the board shows our flight delayed for thirty minutes.

“Time for another drink, kids.”

I go to the bar with Andrew this time. To make sure I get the brace of whiskies. After taking a sip from one glass, I absentmindedly tip it into the other.

“Dad. You just mixed Bourbon with Scotch.”

Thinking quickly to cover my mistake: “Yes. It’s the fashion now.”

Alexei buts in: “Don’t talk bollocks, Dad.”

“That’s a charming way to talk to your father.”

“Don’t talk rubbish, then.”

“That would take all the fun out of chatting with you.”

“You’re pathetic.Just shut up.”

It’s a bit of a walk to our gate. Over on D pier. It takes a while to get there. Enough for Andrew to start panicking a little.

“It’s still 30 minutes before departure and I’ve checked in a bag. No way they’re leaving without us.” I reassure him. He doesn’t look convinced. I bet he’s remembering that time in Incheon.

Boarding is already underway. Which, in this case, means sitting on a bus for ten minutes before being driven to the plane.

It’s just a short hop. Up and then straight back down again.

Humberside is even smaller than Doncaster. Which is great. After a quick call to the taxi company, we’re off to historic Newark. As the town always bills itself.

On the way, our driver tells us that the nightclub in the Corn Exchange, after being closed for a while due to a stabbing incident. I can’t say I’m surprised. The town is full of nutters. As only small towns can be. In absolute numbers, there might be more of them in Nottingham. But relative to population, I’m sure Newark wins, hands down.

Dave has left the gate open and the taxi can pull into his drive.

After saying hello to Dave and dumping our bags, we head to the chip shop. Which is literally next door. Dave’s house having originally been built by a former owner of the chippie.

No beef and onion pies, unfortunately. Andrew and I make do with steak and kidney. Alexei gets a piece of haddock almost as long as his arm. Plus, peas all round and a large bag of chips. It costs just shy of twenty quid. Not bad for a huge pile of food.

The chip portions are enormous. I was brave getting a large one for just three of us. Despite them being delicious, we can’t finish the lot. The peas are pretty disappointing. Fluorescent green and like mashed-up garden peas.

There’s beer to go with the food. Henry, a friend from school who owns a brewery (Cat Asylum) has brought a firkin. A Dunkles, in this case.

It’s rather lively. When Dave hammers in the tap, beer spurts all over. Just as well he has it over a sink.

Once the froth has settled in the glass, it’s rather lovely, too. Quite like a Dark Mild.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Henry’s beers. He had no brewing experience and just a few days of help from a professional brewer to work himself in.

The kids head off to Sainsbury’s to get some cider. Even though there’s free beer on offer. Though, come to think of it, as they’re paying with my money, the cider is free for them, too.

We sit around and chat with Dave. He finally has internet at home and the kids can show him some stuff from Youtube.

I try not to go to bed too late. We need to be up at a reasonable time to catch our train to Leeds. Which is at 10:48. The kids are still up when I turn in.

Thursday 24 August 2023


Having great fun today. Kicked off writing about my trip to the UK with the kids. Then onto tackling the hops section of "Keg!". A bit of writing and lots of playing with tables. Before you know it, the clock has rolled around to almost five o'clock.

The days just fly by. Unlike when I was a wage slave. Talking of working, I officially retired last week. At least in Holland. Not sure when it will be official in the UK. What do I feel? A great joy that I'll have to fucking work again.

Not for other people. I work every day for myself. But that's fun, so it doesn't feel like work. What freedom!

Now I just have to claim all mt many pensions.

Average Alpha Acid Content of individual hop varieties in the 1970s

The varieties being grown were the relatively low alpha acid older types and newer varieties, partly developed for higher bitterness.

As you’ll see, if you can be arsed to look at the numbers in the tables, there was quite a bit of variation in the alpha acid content from year to year.

For example, the difference between the highest and lowest years for Wye Target was 29%. For Goldings, 33%. And for Bullion a massive 46%.

Interestingly, the good and bad years don’t match up for the different varieties. For example, 1976 was the top year for many types: Goldings, Bullion and Progress. But a poor year for Wye Target. While for some 1978 was the best year: Wye Northdown and Wye Challenger.

Now, if I was being dead clever, I’d incorporate the exact alpha acid level into the recipes. Mmm. Good idea that.

From the overall average, it seems that increasing volumes of the higher alpha varieties were being grown. 

Average Alpha Acid Content (%) of individual varieties 1969 - 1974
Variety of Hops 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
Goldings - - 4.5 4.2 5.2 4.9
Fuggles - - 3.7 4.1 4.4 4.4
Northern Brewer 7.1 6.7 6.1 6.5 7.6 6.9
Bramling Cross - 6.2 5 4.7 6.4 5.6
Bullion 6.6 6.3 5.9 7.4 8.4 7.7
Wye Northdown  - - 7.2 7.7 8.5 8.4
Progress   - 5.4 4.9 4.7 5.9 5.4
Keyworths  - 6.5 5.5 5.7 7.7 6.3
Wye Challenger  - - 7.1 7 7.4 6.9
W.G.V.  - - 5 4.7 5.7 5.6
Wye Target  - - - - 10 9.3
Others - - 4 4.1 5.3 5
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1974, page 20.
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1978, page 20.

Average Alpha Acid Content (%) of individual varieties 1975 - 1980
Variety of Hops 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
Goldings 4.8 5.6 4.6 5.2 4.5 4.7
Fuggles 4.2 4.5 3.9 4.6 3.9 4.2
Northern Brewer 7.1 7.5 6.9 7.5 7.5 7.4
Bramling Cross 5.6 6.8 4.8 5.7 5.5 5.5
Bullion 7.7 9.2 7.1 8.3 6.7 7.8
Wye Northdown  8.1 8.4 8.1 8.6 8 7.9
Progress   5.1 6.3 5.1 5.9 5.1 5.4
Keyworths  6.9 7.4 5.9 7.4 5.7 6.2
Wye Challenger  6.8 7.4 7 7.8 7.2 7.3
W.G.V.  5.1 6.2 5.2 6 5.2 5.7
Wye Target  9.7 9.9 10.2 11.8 10.5 10.8
Wye Saxon - 6.7 7 7.2 6.9 6.8
Others 5.7 7.1 6.4 7 6.7 6.4
Overall average - - 6.9 7.8 7.1 7.3
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1974, page 20.
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1978, page 20.
The Brewers' Society UK Statistical Handbook 1980, page 24.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1899 Barclay Perkins Brown Stout

I have almost no Barclay Perkins Stout records from this period, as explained in an earlier recipe. What doesn’t help is that some of the photos are crap, too.

Like for this beer. I took the photo on one of my earliest archive visits when I didn’t have a very good camera. Leaving the records pretty difficult to decipher. I think I’ve got it about right. Though I could be the odd bushel out in the coloured malts.

The grist is surprisingly similar to in 1887. All the individual elements are the same. And in not too dissimilar quantities, other than crystal malt, of which there’s a lot more.

While over at the mash tun things have most definitely changed. There are still three mashes, but one is an underlet. And there isn’t just one sparge, but two. All in all, very different from the 1887 scheme.

Mash number barrels strike heat tap heat
mash 1 64 150º F  
underlet 2 166º F 144º F
mash 2 50 164º F 150º F
sparge 1 30 170º F 153º F
sparge 2 39 160º F 153º F

More hops than last time. Two different types of East Kent, both from the 1897 crop.

No more than a few weeks in trade casks to condition. 

1899 Barclay Perkins Brown Stout
pale malt 9.00 lb 56.25%
brown malt 1.50 lb 9.38%
black malt 1.00 lb 6.25%
crystal malt 60L 1.50 lb 9.38%
No. 3 invert sugar 3.00 lb 18.75%
Goldings 150 min 2.00 oz
Goldings 60 min 2.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1076
FG 1022
ABV 7.14
Apparent attenuation 71.05%
IBU 69
SRM 43
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This is one of the 277 recipes in my new book on London Stout. Get your copy now!