Sunday 31 March 2024

Rose processes in 1896

Let’s take a look at some of the processes now. Beginning with the mashing scheme.

The scheme in the table below is specifically for a Light Bitter, though those for all the other beers were basically the same.

With a single infusion mash followed by an underlet and multiple sparges, it’s a pretty standard late-19th century English scheme. The underlet essentially turning it into a type of step mash. The temperatures also look pretty standard.

Moving on, we’ll look at boiling at fermentation.

The boil times are a little on the long side, but not stupidly excessive. In general, boil times were between 1.5 and 2.5 hours.

Pitching temperatures look pretty standard, at 60º F for the weakest beers and a few degrees lower for the stronger ones. Most interesting are the maximum temperatures, which are in a very narrow range of 66º F to 67 º F. That wasn’t by accident. As the temperature was maintained at that level for all but the first two days. Presumably through the use of attemperators.

As for the length of fermentation it’s a little bit on the long side, times generally being a day or two shorter, Probably, because they kept the temperature quite low during fermentation. At most breweries, it would be allowed to rise to the low 70sº F. 

19th October 1895 Rose AK
action barrels strike heat time stood (minutes) tap heat
mash 22 162º F 15 149º F
underlet 4 180º F 120 154º F
sparge 1 12 175º F    
sparge 2 12 170º F    
sparge 3 10 165º F    
sparge 4 10 160º F   160º F
Rose brewing record held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office, catalogue number ZDI.

Rose boiling and fermentation in 1896
Beer Style boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermentation temp length of fermentation (days)
M Mild 2 60º F 66º F 7
X Mild 2.17 59.5º F 66º F 8
XX Mild 2.17 58.5º F 66º F 8
XXX Mild 2.17 58.25º F 66º F 8
XXXX Mild 2.33 58º F 67º F 8
B Pale Ale 2.17 60º F 66.5º F 8
AK Pale Ale 2.25 59º F 66º F 8
IPA IPA 2.33 58.5º F    
PA Pale Ale 2.17 59º F 67º F 8
Stout Stout 2.25 58.5º F 67º F 8
Rose brewing record held at the North Yorkshire County Record Office, catalogue number ZDI.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Let's Brew - 2006 Youngs Special London Ale

Another recent Youngs beer for you. And one which was requested. By at least one person. Hopefully, I’ll soon have lots more for you. From lots of different eras.

I remember this beer quite well, as I drank it quite a few times. Mostly because it was bottle-conditioned. I'm not aware of it ever being sold on draught.

Though the recipe is very similar to the Pale Ale parti-gyle, this wasn’t part of it. In this case, it was with a beer called LA. Did that stand for Light Ale or London Ale? I’m not sure. I’ll need to ask one of the former Youngs brewers.

Not that the grist is much different. There’s just a slightly lower percentage of crystal malt. Otherwise, it’s just the same. Still just two types of maris otter pale malt to go along with the crystal.

All English hops again. The same ones as in the Pale Ale parti-gyle. 

2006 Youngs Special London Ale
pale malt 15.25 lb 95.31%
crystal malt 20 L 0.75 lb 4.69%
Fuggles 70 min 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
OG 1069
FG 1019
ABV 6.61
Apparent attenuation 72.46%
IBU 22.5
SRM 6.5
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 161º F
Boil time 70 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1968 London ESB (Fullers)

Friday 29 March 2024

Black Country

Having a train to catch, my breakfast appointment with Mike is a little earlier, at 8:30.

Mike is already there when I get to the breakfast room.

There are fried eggs today. I get one. Along with scrambled egg, mushrooms and quite a lot of bacon. I still daren’t take a sausage. With tea, today. Why not? They have fairly decent tea. 

When I meet Mike at the hotel entrance a little later, I immediately notice my mistake. He has his luggage with him. We’re checking out today. I rush back to my room and quickly pack.

Luckily, we’ve still some time before our train leaves. We’re at the station in plenty of time. For our train to Birmingham. Changing there for our final destination of Tipton.

There’s a strange bunch on the platform. Young men in suits carrying bottles of beer. It’s not yet 10 AM. Quite a way off still, in fact. After we’ve wedged ourselves into our seats, we discover why. When an announcement mentions the connecting train to Cheltenham. Where the festival is currently taking place.

Birmingham New Street is as depressingly subterranean as always. What a shit station this is. Almost as bad as Penn Station. Well, maybe not that bad. But still pretty shit.

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long for our train to Tipton. A local train which, surprisingly, has more legroom than the express we just got off. Don’t you just love English trains?

We arrive at our lodgings far too early to check in. Even too early to get a pint. We’re staying in a pub: Mad O’Rourke’s Pie Factory. It’s nothing like the monstrosity I imagined. It’s a 1920s pub that’s been pretty much left alone. Other than lots of pie-related décor.

Though, when we go upstairs to leave our bags it looks a little grim. Doesn’t bode well for the rooms.

We head for today’s appointment at Holden’s. Which isn’t far away. We’re stupidly early for our 13:00 meeting. But the nice lady on reception lets us wait in an office come storeroom.

I’m a bit shocked when George arrives. I knew he was young. Just not this young, looking barely out of school. He’s going to take us around some pubs. Great. First stop, the Beacon Hotel.

From the car park, the compact brewery is clearly visible, clinging to the back of the pub.

“That’s the brewery.” I say to Mike, pointing. I’m sure he could probably work it out for himself.

It’s a wonderful pub. With multiple rooms and no real bar counter. Just serving hatches. No TVs, no music, just the hum of conversation and the occasional jingling of classes. Exactly how a proper pub should be.

Obviously, I have Sarah Hughes Mild. Highly sparklered, it has a dense head. It’s full and complex, if a little on the sweet side. It is 6% ABV, though. Too sweet for Mike, he moves over to Bitter.

Even though we show up only about half an hour after opening, it’s still fairly busy. Though the customers are on the old side. I guess all the young people are at work.

“Do you fancy a cob?” George asks. I know what he means. Mike looks confused.

“It’s a roll. A very traditional pub snack.”

The ones here are cheese and onion. Very nice. Just right for soaking up a pint or two. We get one each.

Next stop is a bit of a drive away in Wolverhampton. The Great Western, just around the back of the station.

“I wish I’d known about this place last time I was in Wolverhampton.” I remark.I really do. On my last visit I struggled to find anywhere to drink in the city centre. Let alone somewhere as interesting as a Holdens pub.

It has a full range of Holden’s beers and a couple of guests, including Batham’s. I get myself a Holden’s Mild. It’s so great seeing Mild everywhere.

The pub is pretty busy, with a lot of people eating. Though, once again, it’s mostly older men. I’m really starting to worry about the future of pubs. Based on what I’ve seen in the Midlands, in twenty years; time pubs will be deserted. If any of them are still open. 

George is very enthusiastic and seems to have already performed lots of different tasks around the brewery, despite his young age. He’s been left in charge of the brewery for a couple of weeks while the rest of the family is on holiday.

“Nice of them to go away and leave you to do all the work.” I say. He doesn’t seem to mind. I suppose it’s good practice for when he takes on running the place full time in five years or so.

Unsurprisingly, given its name and location, the walls are covered in railway memorabilia. I move on to Holden’s Bitter for my next pint. It’s dry, refreshing and rather nice.

[I learn later that the pub was originally the tap of M & B’s Springfield Brewery, A brewery whose beers I really liked. Springfield Bitter, Dunkirk Pale Ale.]

Mad O'Rourke's Pie Factory
Hurst Lane, Tipton,
West Midlands DY4 9AB

The Beacon Hotel
129 Bilston St,
Dudley DY3 1JE.

The Great Western
Corn Hill,
Wolverhampton WV10 0DG.

my travel and all expenses were paid by Goose Island.

Thursday 28 March 2024

Judging ends

I rise at 7:30 and eat some fruit in an attempt to not puke up this morning.

I breakfast with Thomas. It’s the usual: scrambled egg and cheese, followed by fruit. It’s a bit of a rush as I was quite late getting down.

My judging companions are both Brazilian:

Julio Rangel de Freitas Barbosa. (With whom I’ve judged with him before.)
Felipe Baptista.

We commence with Dutch-style Koyt. 4 examples. Two quite bland, one sour other has DMS.

English Pale Mild. 2 examples. One gets a bronze. The other had off flavours.

Historical beer. 9 examples. 3 Lichtenhainer, 3 Rothbier, 1 Bernadynskie, Russian Stout, Doppelsticke, Sahti.

I take the Sahti over to Thomas for him to try. As, being Finnish, he understands the style far better than me.

The Russian Stout says that it’s inspired by Kernel 1856 Imperial Stout. I know that beer. It’s a recreation of Barclay Perkins IBSt. Not my recipe, but one from the Durden Park Beer Circle. As I have my spreadsheets on my laptop, I can look up what the grist should be.

“It should have a really high percentage of roasted malts – something like 38% in total.”

Does this beer have that much? Probably not. Though it does just say “inspired by”. I’m not going to hold a lack of roast against the beer.

Wee Heavy mini-BOS. 11 examples. Some pretty good ones, others are too sweet. As in, really fucking sweet.

Old Ale mini-BOS. 10 examples. Not a bad set. Including one of my favourite beers so far. Which gets a gold.

While we’re judging Doug drops by and asks me to stay for the BOS. Damn. I’d hoped to disappear before he asked. There’s a fair bit of a wait before things kick off. What a surprise.

I go and have a quick look at the barbecue outside. It looks dead impressive. Two long lines of wood are laid out on the ground with lumps of meat hanging between them. My mouth is watering already. I send a photo of it to the kids. Just to annoy them.

I’m on a mini-BOS table with Alex Barlow and Eduardo Pelizzon. Which is a good combination. We get 14 beers, all English styles. The process is thankfully painless. One beer comes out a clear winner, being my favourite and the second favourite of the other two.

And then I’m free, as I’m not on the final BOS panel. I head back outside and chat to Chris while watching the meat roast. Then it starts to rain. A little at first, then becoming more tropical. So heavy that they erect a roof over the barbecue. It’s very high tech: just sheets of corrugated iron.

When the rain gets really bad, we all tip inside. Where they’re hacking apart big chunks of meat. I get some beef and some pork. The beef is a bit chewy, but the pork is yummy. Especially the crackling. There’s not much else on offer, other than meat, save for bits of lettuce and potato salad.

After eating, me and Chris go to see if a bus will be leaving for the hotel. It seems not. Doug tells Chris that the buses will leave at 20:00 and 22:00. It’s currently 18:45. We decide to get an Uber back to the hotel, then drop by E-10. As neither of us has used the 15 real voucher we were given for it.

When we get to E-10, they’re doing maintenance. Chris complains to the spectacularly bearded owner that he hasn’t had chance to use his voucher. So the owner orders an Uber for us and gives Chris 15 reals to pay for it, as the driver only takes cash.

We’re headed for Bier Vila, where some other judges will be. Soon we’re sitting at a table with a bunch of South Americans: Nicolas (Argentina), Jary and Claudia (Uruguay), a bloke from Paraguay and Marcus from Germany.

“I need something to get my dinner down. Let’s get a cachaça.” Chris suggests.

I don’t need asking twice. But I also get a Das Bier Morango e Maracuja, a Catharina Sour, to accompany it. The cachaça is from Xanadu, so it’s pretty good. As is the passion fruit Catharina sour.

The talk turns to football, which is pretty entertaining. Especially when Maradonna and David Beckham become topics. But it’s all very good natured.

“We don’t hate the Brits in Argentina.” Nicolas tells me. Good to know as I plan going there sometime soon.

At 21:50 me and Chris head to the liqueur shop around the corner that we saw on the way in. It closes at 22:00.

The nice young lady serving there gives us various ones to try. Most are far too sweet for me. But a mandarin one – made with only the peel – is really tasty and not too sweet. I get a bottle.

We have one more cachaça. And leave it at that as we’re both knacked. Soon we’re in an Uber and hotel bound.

Back in my room, I sip on Ypioca while watching Match of the Day from Saturday on my flipflap. No need to rush to bed today, there not being an early start tomorrow. I’ll be meeting Chris at 9:30 for breakfast, before he heads off to Florianopolis.

That spirit, whatever it is, eases me down the road to the blessed oblivion of sleep.

Choperia Bier Vila
R. Alberto Stein, 199
Sala 100
Velha, Blumenau
SC, 89036-900.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Let's Brew Wednesday - 2006 Youngs Ram Rod

This parti-gyle just keeps giving, with a third of Young’s range of Pale Ales, Ram Rod. Which was effectively their ESB. Except that it wasn’t usually sold on draught, only in bottled form.

I’m not sure if this is still brewed. It doesn’t appear on the Young’s beer website. Though RateBeer has one review from this year.  It’ll annoy my mate Lucas if it isn’t, as he’s partial to a “Ram and Spesh”, a sort of upmarket Light and Bitter. Which would come out at about 5.1% ABV.

Obviously, being parti-gyled, it has the same basic recipe as Ordinary and Special. A very simple combination of maris otter pale malt and crystal malt. Along with English hops.

The bitterness level – as with the other two Pale Ales – seems on the low side. But that’s what BeerSmith spat out when I fed in the recipe. 

2006 Youngs Ram Rod
pale malt 11.75 lb 94.61%
crystal malt 20 L 0.67 lb 5.39%
Fuggles 75 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
OG 1053
FG 1011.5
ABV 5.49
Apparent attenuation 78.30%
IBU 25
SRM 5.5
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1968 London ESB (Fullers)



Tuesday 26 March 2024

Judging continues

I rise at 7:15, throw up and have a shower. Not at the same time, obviously.

I bump into Chris at breakfast.

“Where were you yesterday? Why weren’t you at the barbecue?” He asks.

“What barbecue?” It seems it was for European Beer Star judges so I didn’t get invited. That’s why almost no-one I knew was at Thapyoka. The bastards.

I have my standard breakfast: scrambled egg and cheese, followed by fruit. Lots of fruit. And quite a lot of coffee. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep at the judging table.

At least the bus is a little later, at 8:30.

Thomas joins us for breakfast. I sit next to him on the bus and we chat about beer history.

It’s 9:30 when we start judging. Not too late. Today my partners are:

Jary Rocha – Uruguay.
Nicolás Boan - Argentina.

We start with Franconian Rothbier. 5 examples. 1 pretty good, another one OK.

Hefeweizen. 12 samples. Best set so far. Almost no off flavours and a couple of really quite good ones.

Session IPA. 12 examples. Mostly OK to good.

We’ve been rumbling along at a good pace and are ready for lunch just after noon.

I have lunch with Chris and some other South Americans. As always, just meat and salad. I would say it’s because I’m very careful with my diet. In reality, I’m just not very hungry.

The organisers are getting really worries about the toilets. About them getting blocked with toilet paper. Which you aren’t supposed to put in the toilet here in Brazil.  Worrying that foreign judges might forget, the toilet cubicles are plastered with warnings.

After lunch, we begin with West Coast IPA. 8 examples. All are reasonably good and one totally outstanding, packed with complex tropical fruit flavours.

Wood- and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer. 4 examples. A mixed bunch.

American IPA midround. 12 examples. Several have obvious faults, including diacetyl and DMS.

Irish Red midround. 10 examples. I’ve nothing good to say about these. So I’ll keep quiet.

Brazilian wood aged beers midround. 8 examples. Lots of amburana – some very intense. One aged in amburana cachaça barrels is way over the top. Far too much of everything. Most base beers are Barley Wine, Quad or Imperial Stout. But the best was a Catharina Sour.

We finish off at about 17:30. Which isn’t too bad. Though I judged 71 beers. I never want to drink beer again. That’s how I feel at the moment. It’s been an exhausting day.

How can you be knackered when all you’ve done is drink beer all day? Judging is very tiring. If you take it seriously. Which I do as did everyone I’ve judged with. And there‘s precious little drinking involved. Though I do usually finish off any good beers. Just to be polite.

I sit next to Chris on the bus.

I debated about whether to go to Schornstein in Pomeroda for dinner. I’ve been there a couple of times before. And it’s 22 km outside Blumenau, meaning I can’t just get an Uber back if I’m feeling knacked. But Chris persuades me to go. His enthusiasm can be infectious.

Luckily, the first bus leaves before the scheduled 18:30.

Chris, Thomas, Alex, Shweta, the Norwegian bloke and I all sit at one table. Most go to look at the brew house. I give it a miss. I’ve been there twice before. Both times I thought I was going to die of heat stroke and had to leave.

When the buffet is laid out and we collect food, Chris suggests sitting on the terrace. Where it’s now much cooler as it’s pissing down with rain. I go for a meat and salad combination again. Some of the meat is really good. Though I had hoped for feijoada like last time. I do like some black beans.

The beer is OK. I have s Pils and then a couple of IPAs. But that’s enough beer for me, so I get a caipirinha. Which I have to pay for. It’s well worth 24 reals.

Chris gets himself a Bock and lets me try it. It’s pleasantly thick and chewy. But very cold. A little later, when it’s warmed up, I can smell the diacetyl from across the room. It’s clearly totally undrinkable.

We’re told that the first bus will leave when 40 people are ready. Which is cool. It leaves at 21:45 rather than 22:00. So we’re back in Blumenau by 22:15. Which is great. I can get to my bed early. Except Chris suggests we have a nightcap over the road. And he can be a very persuasive man.

We end up in Curt, a wine bar, as everything else is shut. We get a cachaça each. One aged in amburana. Which ties in nicely with some of the beers I judged a few hours earlier.

Several other judges turn up after a while. And get stuck into cocktails. Me and Chris only have the one, as we’re both feeling pretty tired.

I fancy another drink, but can’t unseal the cachaça bottle I have. It’s a problem I’ve experienced before. And I know the solution. I go down to reception, where they manage to unscrew the top for me.

I watch some more Boarders on iplayer while sipping my cachaça. Which soon gets me in a sleepytime mood.

Schornstein Kneipe
R. Hermann Weege, 60
Centro, Pomerode
SC, 89107-000.

Curt Wine & Bar
R. Curt Hering, 99
Centro, Blumenau
SC, 89010-040.

Monday 25 March 2024

The home of beer

I’ve arranged to meet Mike at 9:00 for breakfast. Which is a buffet.

What do I get? What do you think? Bacon, scrambled egg and mushrooms. Quite a lot of bacon. Why? Because it’s there. And you can’t go wrong with bacon.

There’s quite a good view from the breakfast room, as it’s on the top floor. To one side is the bus station, the other the city centre shops.

After breakfast I nip around the corner to the bus station where there’s a shop. In which I pick up some water for the hotel. And a little hotel whisky. I’ll be needing that later.

We meet Shane, who’s staying in a different hotel, at the station. And James, another AB Inbev person. Our train is at 11:10. And in ten minutes were pulling into Burton. Past what I recognise is the former Allsopps brewery.

As we’ve quite a while until our 13:00 appointment at Marstons, we wander into town, hoping to find a pub that’s open.

No luck. Even after noon. This is another worrying trend. No pubs seem to open before 14:00. Some not until 16:00. The lunchtime session seems moribund. Really annoying for me, as I love a lunch session. When it’s nice and quiet and you can sit in a corner reading a newspaper. While slowly slurping down a few pints. Now Wetherspoons is often the only option for midday  pints.

We get to Marstons a little early for our appointment. As there’s nothing else for us to do.

We’re greeted by Callum Turner, the surprisingly youthful head brewer. Who gets us kitted out in full protective gear: high-vis jacket, protective shoes, glasses and hat. All very proper.

Our tour starts in the brew house. An attractive (and listed) brick building, originally built for London brewer Mann, Crossman and Paulin.

First, we visit the room housing the old mash tuns. Massive, wooden-clad affairs with lids. They were still in use until surprisingly recently. In an adjoining room are their replacements. Two enclosed vessels built from shiny stainless steel.

Opposite are three similarly shiny coppers. Looking very similar to the mash tuns, save for the absence of grist cases.

I ask Callum: “Do you parti-gyle at all?”

“No, not since we stopped brewing Owd Roger. We used to parti-gyle that with Pedigree.”

“Owd Roger has been dropped?”

“Yes, a few years ago.”

That’s a shame. Owd Roger was a proper strong Old Ale, weighing in at around 8% ABV.

We walk the short distance to the fermentation room. Or hall of sadness, as it should be called. Where they’re currently dismantling the world’s last working union sets.

It’s a depressing sight. Especially as I never saw them in action. Which Mike did, the jammy bastard. I try to stifle my sobs as we survey the remnants of the sets. Will we ever see their like again?

According to Callum, one of the main reasons for using the union sets was yeast propagation. The yeast harvested from the sets being particularly healthy and active. They aren’t quite sure how they will replicate that.

The squares are up against the walls. Of a design I’ve never seen before. Totally enclosed and with a manhole. Though I don’t think it’s airtight and under pressure.

One square is being filled with Pedigree and they’re making sure to blend the right quantities of first and second wort to hit the target gravity.

We get ear plugs for the packaging department. Which is pretty noisy with all the bottles rattling around.

There is something hypnotic about cans or bottles shuffling around a filling line. But, other than that, there isn’t a great deal to see. Especially as they aren’t racking into casks at the moment.

Our final stop is the sampling room. The proper sampling room, with rows of casks along the floor. All firkins.

“What’s the largest cask size you use?” I ask Callum.

“Firkins. Other than Bass. That’s in 10-gallon casks.”

What? That’s a weird size.

We start with some Bass that’s been open for a few days. It’s dry and finishes satisfyingly bitter. And no trace of sulphur. Quite like the pint in the Smithfield. Moving on to a freshly-tapped Bass, the contrast is striking. It’s full of sulphur on the nose, not as dry and with less perceived bitterness.

I try a couple of the Marstons beers. Pedigree, which being quite fresh, is also quite sulphurous. But quite different from the Bass. I really like the Old Empire. A beer I’ve never encountered in cask form before.

Derek’s question is answered by the presence of Youngs Ordinary and Special. They’re brewed here in Burton.

As are Courage Best and Directors. A whole load of legacy brands has ended up here. My attention is drawn to the shelves of bottled beer.

“Do you brew Manns here?”


I explain to the others that Manns was the original modern Brown Ale. And how the Brewers Association guidelines for English Brown Ale are way off the mark. Even on a basic characteristic as ABV. The guidelines say 4.2% to 6% ABV. While Manns, the classic example, is 2.8% ABV.

They ask Callum if they can try it. He goes to fetch a bottle. Which the others share. Its wateriness is quite a shock.

I give the Hobgoblin a try, not expecting much. And I’m not disappointed. I just don’t care for it. Never have. I’m not sure exactly why.

We spend quite some time in the cellar. Which has been very instructive. It’s time to go and drink some beer. In town.

We start at the Roebuck, a curved corner pub close to the station. Which we walked past earlier, when, frustratingly, it was closed.

The landlady is dead impressed by Mike’s Bass jacket. It is rather loverly. With an embroidered red triangle and the word “Bass”. Guess what we’re drinking? You’ll never get it. Bass!

It’s very good. The sulphur is almost all gone and there’s the dry bitterness that I liked in the older sample at the brewery. I can see why Bass still has a following. It’s excellent when looked after properly.

There are a fair few customers for 4 PM. But the customer profile is rather worrying, again. Most are 50 plus. This doesn’t bode well for the future of pubs. Maybe it’s just the time of day. And the young people all turn up later. That’s my hope.

We need to be moving on. Not far. To another pub that was closed at lunchtime: the Devonshire Arms. A former Ind Coope pub. That just happens to be selling Bass. Well, we are in Burton. Why not have a Bass?

The polished copper table tops reflect and enhance the deep amber colour of the Bass. It looks lovely, with its creamy collar and proud red triangle. It’s still a thing of wonder, a well-kept and pulled pint of Bass.

After a couple of pints, hunger, which has been lagging behind us all day, finally catches up with us. What about a curry?

There’s a curry house nearby and we decant there. For various starters and main courses. Not spicy enough for my taste. Do I like really spicy stuff now? I don’t think so.

The final Burton stop is the legendary Cooper’s Tavern. We have trouble getting in as a folk band is blocking the door. Not sure why they don’t just move a little further into the room.

The Bass is served by gravity here. Unfortunately, the cask is almost empty and the beer is pretty flat. Had we arrived a little later, we’d have had lovely, fresh Bass. What a shame.

We only stay for a couple. Before heading back to Derby.

“Fancy a pint in the White Horse?” Mike asks. It’s the pub opposite our hotel.

“Why not?”

It’s fairly full. Many middle-aged (or older) men, watching Derby playing. Though there are some younger drinkers as well Oh, look. They’ve got Bass.

The Bass is pretty good. Mike and I discuss football as we watch the game and sip our Bass. I mention Jim Baxter, who was sent off in the first football match I went to.

“You had to thump someone to get sent off back then. Which is what Jim Baxter did.”

We don’t make it too late. More travelling tomorrow.

On our way out, one of the old chavs comes up and says:

“I heard you talking about Jim Baxter. Great player.”

A tot of hotel whisky has me tooting away to sleep.

The Roebuck Inn
101 Station St,
DE14 1BT.

Devonshire Arms
86 Station St,
DE14 1BT.

The Coopers Tavern
43 Cross St,
DE14 1EG.

The White Horse

25 Morledge,
DE1 2AW.

Disclosure: my travel and all expenses were paid by Goose Island.

Sunday 24 March 2024

Judging begins

The bus is at 8:00. So I rise a little before 7:00. I could have done with another couple of hours kip. But isn’t that almost always the case?

I have breakfast with Alex. There’s no bacon, so I go for scrambled egg and cheese. Plus some fruit for pudding. I don’t eat a huge amount. Not feeling that hungry.

As Alex worked for Bass Charrington, the conversation turns to Runcorn. Which Alex helped shut down. I’m weirdly obsessed by the brewery. Alex tells me that not only was the packaging plant miles away from the brewhouse, it was also downhill. Such a great design.

There’s a bit of messing around to start. Like logging onto the wifi. Meaning it’s a while before we get our first flight. But it’s not too much of a delay. I’ve experienced much worse.

My fellow judges are:

Claudia Di Battista Morin – Uruguay.
Gean Carlo Vila Lobos – Brazil.

We start with Bohemian Pilsner. There are a couple of quite good ones but also some real stinkers. Plenty of DMS and oxidation kicking around. 12 samples.

Vienna Lager next. None that I really liked. A couple are just about OK. 12 samples.

I have lunch with Alex, too. Just a bit of beef and salad, as I’m still not that hungry. I studiously avoid the multiple carbs on offer. Unlike the Brazilians, who pile three or four of them onto their plate.

We kick off the afternoon with European Dark Lager. The first two beers lull me into a false sense of security. Most of the beers that follow are awful. A couple make me gag, they’re so unpleasant. 12 samples.

Munich Dunkel. I didn’t really like any of them. 7 samples.

English Pale Ale. A few quite nice ones.  7 samples.

English Brown Ale. Some real stinkers.  7 samples.

I have a look at the style guidelines for English Brown Ale. 4.2% to 6% ABV, they say. I explain to my fellow judges that, apart from Newcastle Brown and Vaux Double Maxim, there are no examples that fall into that strength range. And that most are around 3% ABV. The handful of Brown Ales that are still brewed.

I’m not sure they totally believe me, as Gean Carlo looks up Manns Brown Ale on the internet. He looks quite surprised when he discovers that it’s just 2.8% ABV.

It’s 17:45 by the time we’re done. By which time I’m totally done. Plenty of other tables are still in full swing. The bus to Thapyoka is at 18:30. Supposedly. I chat with a Norwegian judge while we wait. It’s well after 19:00 when the bus finally leaves.

I sit at a table, expecting some people I know to show up. None do. Eventually, Eduardo Pelizzon, a jolly Brazilian comes over:

“Are you sitting by yourself? Join us on our table.” Where he gives me some Catharina Sour. Which is good, as I remember the draught beer here being crap. While the Catharina Sour is pretty good.

The second bus hasn’t arrived and they haven’t even put the buffet out. Looks like we won’t be eating until 20:30, at the earliest. So we decide to share an Uber and eat elsewhere. I really don’t want another late night.

I decide that I’ve enough food in my room. I’ve a roll left over from yesterday and some cheese and salami. That’ll do me. Along with whatever that spirit is I got in the supermarket – 51. I only bought it because it was dead cheap. In typical Brazilian fashion, it comes in a weird size bottle: 965 ml.

This is great. I’ve got a few hours to relax. I watch some stuff on my flipflop. Internet Today then, after firing up the VPN, Boarders from the BBC iplayer. I’m really happy to get a couple of hours to myself. Lazing around doing nothing. Much more fun than whatever might be happening in Thapyoka.

I don’t stay up too late. Propelled into sleep by whatever that spirit Ypioca is.

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

Saturday 23 March 2024

Let's Brew - 2006 Youngs Special

Where would Youngs Ordinary be without a Special to go with it? So here you go. No need to thank me. Honestly.

Obviously, the grist is identical to that of Ordinary. As the two were parti-gyled together. What do I have to say? Not a huge amount, really.

The grist of mostly pale malt leaves a pretty pale colour. At the very bottom end of the scale for a Bitter of this gravity. Looking at a 1967 analysis from the Whitbread Gravity Book, the colour seems to have become a little paler, around 1º SRM. Maybe that was as a result of switching to all malt.

It's a little more bitter than Ordinary, but still very much at the low end for the style, Though the relatively high degree of attenuation probably accentuated what bitterness there was. 

2006 Youngs Special
pale malt 9.75 lb 93.57%
crystal malt 20 L 0.67 lb 6.43%
Fuggles 75 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.50 oz
OG 1045
FG 1009.5
ABV 4.70
Apparent attenuation 78.89%
IBU 20
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast Wyeast 1968 London ESB (Fullers)

Friday 22 March 2024

Off to judge

A 7:00 AM start today, as my flight is at 10:00. I have my usual breakfast. It being earlier, the breakfast room is much emptier. As it will be quite a complicated journey, I eat some extra fruit.

After eating, I quickly pack and go downstairs to check out. Before you know it, I’m rocking and rolling through Rio in an Uber.

Check in is a doddle. And soon I’m sitting at the same bar as last time, sipping a caipirinha. It’s not far to my gate, thankfully. Where quite a few people are hanging around. Departure time comes and goes with no sign of boarding. Great. My connection in Sao Paolo is quite short.

We eventually board about 30 minutes late. The flight is pretty short. Before we land, there’s an announcement in Portuguese that mentions Navegantes. Are they talking about the connection?

Landing is pretty scary again. As soon as we hit the tarmac, the pilot jams on the brakes. It’s a pretty short runway.

Once off the plane, I look for the gate of my connecting flight. It’s the same one I just arrived at. No need to worry about missing the connection, as it’s the same plane. When we get back on, I notice some people never got off. That must have been what the announcement was about.

Another short flight has me in Navegantes. Where my bag soon rolls onto the carousel. Just a few metres away, my driver is waiting for me. In a couple of minutes we’re boinging down the highway. That was fairly painless.

The scenery around is as lush as ever as we race inland. Towering clouds billow above the hills. Flat, fecund fields spreading between them. Very impressive. Despite this, I start to doze during the hour so it takes to get to Blumenau.

After checking in, I head down the road to the supermarket. Man, it’s hot. Too hot for me. Much worse than Rio. I’m covered in sweat by the time I get to the shop. Where I stock up on provisions. I need some food, as I haven’t eaten since my early breakfast.

When I get back to my room, I’m covered in sweat. Time for a shower. After fiddling around for a while, I only seem to get cold water. A quick cold shower it is, then. I’m so hot I don’t actually mind.

There’s time to recover a little before the dinner in the evening. So that’s what I do. Watching some crap on my computer.

I wander downstairs at 18:50. 10 minutes before the bus is due to leave. I bump into Chris Flaskamp and we have a bit of a chat.

At the evening’s venue, Restaurante Moinho do Vale, we sit at a table together. Along with Alex Barlow and Thomas Sjoberg. And a German hop grower and his wife. A good group.

A quick look at the beer list tells me one thing. As I remember the beers from last year. That Quadrupel will come in a 75cl bottle. So that’s what I order. It’ll save lots of pissing around.

There’s a cold buffet to start. And rollmops, if your stomach is up to them. Which I don’t think mine is, at this particular moment. Cheese is another matter.

Things kick off with a lot of speeches. And then awards to various people in Brazilian brewing.

“You’d better get ready to get on stage.” Chris tells me.


“They’re about to give you an award.”

That’s a surprise. I’ve never had an award before. My main concern is that my shorts will fall down while I’m walking up to collect it. That doesn’t happen. Quite.

I genuinely don’t know what to think. The award itself is quite impressive. A solid sheet of metal. That’ll go nicely over my desk.

The food is a buffet, obviously. I’m a bit past eating when it’s served at 21:30. I’m feeling totally knacked, to be honest. I can’t wait for 23:00 to roll around when I can get the bus back to the hotel.

Some of the others head off for a nightcap. I just want to get to my bed. The bus to the judging location is at 8:00, so I’ll need to be up before 7:00. I don’t want to start tomorrow dead on my feet.

There’s just time for a little hotel whisky to gently nudge me over the edge into sleep.

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

Thursday 21 March 2024

Stout! erratum

I just noticed a mistake in one of the recipes in my book "Stout!" The quantities for black and amber malt were the wrong way around.

This is the corrected recipe:

1849 Barclay Perkins Imperial Brown Stout
pale malt 16.00 lb 63.37%
brown malt 6.25 lb 24.75%
black malt 0.75 lb 2.97%
amber malt 2.25 lb 8.91%
Goldings 90 min 7.50 oz
Goldings 60 min 7.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 7.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1105
FG 1031
ABV 9.79
Apparent attenuation 70.48%
IBU 176
SRM 41
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This is the book in which the recipe appears. Get your copy now!