Wednesday, 24 May 2017

I'll be in Edinburgh soon

The 8th June, to be precise.

I'll be talking Scottish beer (and trying to flog books) at the Hanging Bat:

More interesting than me droning on, are the four historic William Younger beers Hanging Bat has brewed:

1851 60/- Ale (6%)
1851 80/- Ale (7.5%)
1851 Stock Ale (8.5%)
1885 140/- Ale (9.5%)
I'm really excited about trying the beers. A few pints of the 140 bob should really improve my presentation skills.

It's another leg in my weird Macbeth tour. Which rambles pointlessly around countries and continents.

Buy my new Scottish book. And put me out of my misery.

Let’s Brew Wednesday - 1839 Barclay Perkins XX Ale

Another Mild for May. This time a lightly beefier one from the 1830’s.

It’s as uncomplicated as an early 19th-century recipe can be. The original only had two ingredients (other than yeast and water): Herts white malt and MK hops. So not only two ingredients, but also ones that were relatively locally-sourced. This would be the case for much longer. After 1840 foreign hops and foreign barley were imported in increasingly large quantities. The UK wouldn’t be self-sufficient in brewing materials again until the 1940’s.

I’ve actually reduced the hopping a little – it actually worked out to 9 oz. in total. But as they were all from the 1838 harvest and this beer was brewed in September 1839, it seems logical to knock it down a bit to take into account their age.

Probably not most people’s idea of a Mild: pale, 9.5% ABV and 90 IBU. It just shows how much a style can change over time.

1839 Barclay Perkins XX Ale
pale malt 19.75 lb 100.00%
Goldings 150 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 90 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.75 oz
OG 1087.3
FG 1015.5
ABV 9.50
Apparent attenuation 82.25%
IBU 90
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Berliner Weisse more methods

I’m surprised at just how many different ways there were to brew Berliner Weisse. Though there were quite a large number of mostly pretty small breweries making it. So maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked at the diversity.

Not sure who or what R.S.O. was. But they recommended this method:

"III. Method. - R. S. O. shares the following procedure in the "Klein- u. Mittelbrauer":

Mash in at 5 o'clock at 28° R. [35º C], at 6 o'clock it is 35° [43.75º C], at 7 o'clock 44° [55º C], at 7:30 48° R. [60º C]; at this temperature there is a rest of 0.5 hours; Then go up at 8:30 to 54º R [67.5º C] and at 9 o'clock to 62º R [77.5º C], then let down 2/3 of the mash into the lauter tun (which must be preheated beforehand with hot water), bring what remains in the pan quickly to the boil, which lasts, according to wishes, 5-20 minutes, and immediately mash out at 61º R [76.25º C]. The wort should run off crystal clear and its flow should not be interrupted."
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, page 72. (My translation.)

As you can see this method consisted of a step mash and a short boil of two-thirds of the mash. I assume that the boiled mash was added back to the main mash in the lauter tun to hit the mash out temperature of 76.25º C.

And here is the final method. Bet you’re glad that we’re done, aren’t you?

“IV. Method. Sometimes the following infusion method is also used:

Mash in in the pan at 28-30° R [35-37.5º C], and mash for half an hour while stirring continuously with the fire covered; then it is slowly heated in 1.25 hours to 51-52 ° R. [63.75-65º C], and 1 pound of hops per Zentner [50 kg] of malt are added, Then the wort is left to rest for 30 minutes, then heated to 61-62° R [76.25-77.5º C], and then left in the mash and lauter tun, where the mash itself reaches a temperature of 60° [75º C]. Continue then as per method II.

The method with boiling is, of course, much more reliable, although boiling has no influence on the character of the beer. Take care that at mash out a temperature of 61-62º [76.25-77.5º C]  is maintained (at which all the germs and bacteria are rendered harmless), the method I is also recommended for rapid cooling, as well as for the immediate pitching of yeast.

If one has to struggle with "difficulties" in the clarification in bottles, the first wort and sparge are pumped into the kettle and there, during run off, the temperature is held at 78-80 ° R [97.5-100º C]. In case of "irregular fermentation", one reverts to boiling the wort.

The bottles are difficult to keep clean to avoid a "thread pull" (ropey beer), which often occurs in the summer.

As a fairly high amount of wheat is employed, the "run off" takes more time (5-6 hours); if the run off is too quick, the sediment will sit too fast. It is also not always appropriate, especially in the case of a fine grist, to sparge immediately after mashing out, in order to avoid clogging the holes in the false bottom. Here the use of a mash filter is recommended.
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, pages 72 - 73. (My translation.)

Interesting what Grenell counts as an infusion mash. Because there are still several different mash temperatures and a rest. I assume it’s infusion because there is no boiling of the wort. Though it does recommend holding the wort at just about boiling point during run off if there are problems with clarification.

These last two paragraphs seem to refer to Berliner Weisse in general, rather than to method IV in particular.:

“In the summer, when the carbonic acid content is too low, often 500 gr. of cooking sugar is added per barrel, too.

Weissbier requires a careful final handling by the publican, as otherwise the quality of the beer suffers a lot. But since nowadays every one becomes a landlord, and very seldom understands something from the handling of the beer, sales have been decreasing.”
"Die Fabrikation obergäriger Biere in Praxis und Theorie" by Braumeister Grenell, 1907, page 73. (My translation.)

Not sure why the CO2 content would be too low in summer. Surely there would be a more lively fermentation in warm weather?

That final comment could just as well be talking about cask beer in the UK. Just like cask beer, a lot of the old German top-fermenting styles were sent out to pubs before fermentation was complete. The final stage needed to be completed by the publican. I’m sure there were plenty of ways he could cock things up.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Random English labels

I'm afraid you're not even going to get some of my pathetic sketches this time. Just the briefest of bullshit and then some pretty labels.

The reason? I've another trip coming up. And I need to bash out some quick posts.

The reason I have so many fresh labels is another matter. I've been making a real effort to get through my floor beers. That's the beers clogging up the living room floor. It's incredible how quickly it can change from just a couple to 150. I've no idea how that can happen. It's almost as if they're breeding.

Below are labels from some of the English beers in the pile I've finished off. It's stuff I picked up on a couple of my UK trips. To be honest, I have trouble remembering all the different trips. Thus year will be even worse. Atlanta and Asheville later this week. Edinburgh a week or so after I return from that. Sheffield at the end of June. Berlin and Newark in August. Washington DC in September, maybe. Chile in October. I think that's about all I currently have planned.

Incidentally, despite my already crzay schedule, if you're a brewer or home brewer club in Europe and would like to host a Macbeth event, get in touch. I'm sure I can squeeze the odd weekend in.

Sunday, 21 May 2017


It’s an indication of how full my schedule has been that even on my final day, I’m squeezing in a brewery visit. Literally on my way to the airport.

Goose Island, to be specific. I check out of my hotel and jump in a cab. There’s a bit of buggering around at Fulton Market where a lorry is blocking the street. My driver tries to take a detour around it, but only finds a dead end. After a bit of messing around we get through.

Inside the brewery, Mike Siegel comes to greet me. He has Tyler of Present Tense with him. He just happened coincidentally to be in the brewery. Nice to see him again, too.

We go down to the pilot brewery to have a taste of the test run of our next collaboration beer. It’s just about finished in primary, though still a bit yeasty. Still a bit rough around the edges, but some time in oak should knock those edges off.

I’m really interested in getting a look at the snapped brown malt Andrea Stanley (of Valley Malt) has made for the project. The corns are very unevenly coloured, some near black others as pale as pale malt.

“Usually I’d reject malt that looked like that.” Mike says. It does look a bit odd.

Mike can’t stay with us long. He has a party to show around the brewery. He leaves us at the little bar area inside the brew house. We’re free to pour whatever we fancy. So I get myself a Bourbon County Stout. “Why not?” I think.

Tyler and I have a pleasant chat about various things, including his brewery (Present Tense). Which still isn’t fully up and running. A shame, because the cask of ESB he let us try in September was lovely stuff.

When Mike has finished showing his guests around he comes the bar for a chat. And gives me a few bottles to take home, as does Tyler. I love Mike’s (literally) white label bottle which simply says in large letters “Test beer, not for sale”. No worries on that count. I plan drinking it myself.

I can’t stay too long. Got a transatlantic flight to catch. Soon another taxi is taking me along the concrete hell of the motorway to O’Hare.

I’ve a few tasks to accomplish. Like getting Andrew his bottle of Bourbon. And myself some food for the plane. I buy two sandwiches and it comes to almost $25. They aren’t even that big or particularly good. Robbing bastards. I should remember not to shop in airports.

There’s not much in the way of a bar in sight. So I make do with an Italian food place. Calamari and bourbon. That should set me up nicely for the flight.

Which it seems to do. I nod off nicely shortly into the flight, only to awake in Amsterdam with a yellow stain down the front of my shirt. Presumably from the dinner that was served.

The end of a really fun trip. Where once again I met loads and loads of people. Most of them pretty nice. Just three weeks and one day until I next cross the Atlantic. “You’re crazy, Ronald.” As Dolores always says.

Goose Island Beer Company
1800 W Fulton St,
IL 60612.
Tel: +1 800-466-7363

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why I was in the USA.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Let’s Brew - 1838 Barclay Perkins X Ale

Pretty sure that it’s still May. Got to keep those Mild recipes coming.

I was rather shocked to see how few Barclay Perkins recipes there are in my book “Mild! plus”. Just a couple from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

I’ll admit to ulterior motives. And not just trying to slip in as many Barclay Perkins references as possible. Though that’s always good, too. No, my aims are far more noble. I want to remind everyone that Mild Ale wasn’t always a low-gravity beer. That it’s a piss simple recipe for me to write is by the by.

The original recipe was slightly more complicated than mine, the grist being about a 50-50 split of Herts. pale and Herts. white malt. I suppose you could use half mild malt and half pale malt to emulate this.

The hops in the original were half 1837 EK and half 1838 MK. So all pretty fresh hops (it was brewed on 22nd November). Usually to interpret MK as Fuggles and EK as Goldings. But this is a few decades too early for Fuggles, leaving me no option but to go for all Goldings. You may have noticed that there are rather a lot of them. Which brings me onto another point: Mild Ale wasn’t always lightly hopped.

The mashing scheme is pretty complicated: and infusion mash with a strike heat of 170º F, flowed by an underlet at 190º F, then a third mash at 200º F. There were two further mashes for return worts. This is pretty typical of the multi-mash schemes favoured in London in the first half of the 19th century.

Not much else really to say. Other than: drink Mild!

1838 Barclay Perkins X Ale
pale malt 16.25 lb 100.00%
Goldings 300 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 90 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.50 oz
OG 1071.5
FG 1012.4
ABV 7.82
Apparent attenuation 82.66%
IBU 89
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 300 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 19 May 2017

Crystal Lake

Another day of travelling ahead. Though not that complicated. Just a single flight to Chicago.

The taxi queue outside the hotel is as weird as yesterday. This time it’s the turn of the rearmost taxi. I’m glad the drivers are keeping track. This time mine doesn’t get lost. Though I guess the airport is pretty easy to find.

Checking in and security are a breeze once more. Why isn’t it like this in European airports?

Sweets. I need to buy Alexei some sweets. Andrew gets bourbon, Alexei gets sweets. I see a spot selling just that. I get him two packets. What the fuck, $14! It shouldn’t really be more than $4, the robbing bastards. I must remember not to shop in airports.

I need some food. Ah, there’s a steakhouse. That’ll do. As usual my arse is parked adjacent to the bar. I order a Sun King Osiris. and a steakburger. That should see me through the next few hours. I have to say that the beer choice is usually pretty good in US airports. Unlike most countries. (Wetherspoons in the UK being an exception.)

The woman behind the bar is quite pushy. She keeps asking everyone if they want more drinks. No thanks, missus. I’m happy just nursing this pint, thank you.

As I walk to my gate I pass a Granite City brewpub bar. Damn. I remember now noticing it when I flew in. I blame my poor whatdoyoucallit, that thingy. What is it? Memory, that’s it.

Sadly, my United flight isn’t overbooked. Looks like I’m condemned to more years of working.

Once again, I have little time to rest after my arrival in Chicago. I only have an hour or so before I need to be on a train to Crystal Lake, which is about 75 km northwest of the city centre. Why did I agree to do this event? Because they asked me. It’s as simple as that.

It’s my final event of the trip. I realise that I’ve only really had one free day.

I take a double-decker commuter train. It’s pretty full, but I get a seat. Everyone but me is clearly on their way home after a day’s work. My work is just beginning.

I’m trying to take a photo of the outside of Duke’s Tavern, location of tonight’s event, when someone pops out and say “Ron, we’re in here.”

After a second or two, I recognise who it is: Les Howarth. We met in Chicago last September. He takes me inside to meet some other members of his home brew club.

We start the evening with some food. Just as well, as it’s hours since I last ate. Obviously accompanied by a beer or two. Once that’s all out of the way we repair upstairs, where the meeting will take place. It’s supposed to start at 19:00.

I have some equipment difficulties. There’s no projector, just a large TV. And I don’t have the right cable to connect by laptop up to it. They’ll just have to make do with my laptop screen. Fortunately, it’s not an enormous room.

There’s beer to accompany me droning on. That’s been the plan for most of my events. Me talking, home brewers serving historic Scottish beers. It’s worked out pretty well, really.

I get a few laughs, which is usually a sign of things going well. But I can’t linger too long afterwards. If I miss the 21:00 train I’ll have to wait until 00:30 for the next one. Which would have me getting to bed far too late.

Once I’ve dumped all my stuff back in the hotel, I realise that I’ve still got a bit of a thirst. The internet tells me that there’s a TGI Fridays a couple of blocks away. That’ll do for a quick eye-closer. On my last night in the USA.

It doesn’t have the greatest beer selection. I go for a Sam Adams Rebel. It does the job. I vaguely stare at the basketball on TV while I drink it. The trip is winding down. No more events, no more talking.

Just one place I need to drop by on my way to the airport tomorrow. Then I’m done. At least until the end of the month. When I’ll be back in the USA again. This time for Asheville Beer Week.

Duke's Alehouse and Kitchen
110 N Main St,
Crystal Lake,
IL 60014.
Tel: +1 815-356-9980

TGI Fridays
153 E Erie St,
IL 60611.
Hours: Open today · 10:30AM–2AM
Tel: +1 312-664-9820

Thursday, 18 May 2017


As I promised myself, I rise fairly late. After a good, long, deep sleep. It’s done me a power of good.

While I’m in the bathroom I hear a crash. The light next to the door has fallen down. I’m glad I wasn’t standing underneath it at the time.

Having spotted a Rock Bottom brewpub just past that huge column, I trawl along there about noon. I’m not meeting Rick until 2 PM.

On the way, I take a good look at the monument. It commemorates Indiana citizens who fought in a whole series of wars, some obscure and some of which I haven’t heard of. Most interesting is what isn’t represented: WW I and WW II. I suspect the reason was that there was no space left.

They might not offer the most exciting beers in the world, but Rock Bottom brewpubs are pretty reliable, not stupidly priced and have OK food. Good enough for me. Especially as I plan on having a late breakfast here.

Mm. Don’t really fancy any of the food for breakfast. I’ll just have a double bourbon instead. Almost as nourishing as a fry up. I’m sure I’ll be eating with Rick soon, anyway. What’s the worst that could happen?

The footie is on the telly. And the Arses are getting whipped. Teehee.

Rick picks me up as arranged at 2 PM. Our first stop is at Daredevil. Which is out by the speedway. Which we go and take a quick look at.

The speedway is dead impressive. Mile-long stands, it looks like. Unfortunately, it’s pissing it down again. I’m not getting out to take snaps. You’ll have to look it up on the internet. I’m sure it has way better photos than I can take in this gloomy weather.

Daredevil is a cavernous modern space. Brewery one side, taproom the other. It’s a pretty standard layout. That I’m seeing copied a lot in Europe.

We chat with Michael Pearson, head brewer and founder, and drink a couple of beers.

Before leaving, I’m given a couple of cans. That’s a relief. I dare put these fuckers in my luggage. My faith in crown corks has been broken. And I’m sure those cans will come in handy, sometime*. When I don’t fancy lugging a bottle along,

Next stop is Sun King. Who are fairly well-known, I hear, over here.

The weather hasn’t improved. But the colourful muriel lifts my mood. Though really it’s my stomach that needs lifting. I really should have had some breakfast. Still, what’s the worst that could happen?

Excuse me if my brewery descriptions are turning to total crap. I’ve seen so many. Adored my reflection in so much stainless. I’m getting breweries out.

A brewers shows us around. But I’m feeling a little vague. We have eaten haven’t we? I fear not. Still, these beers aren’t that strong, are they?

Why am I lying on my bed fully clothed? Must have nodded off. I blame low blood sugar.

In the lobby I find an almost inedibly dry sandwich and a bag of crisps. Almost inedible. I manage to force it down.

At least they’ve fixed the busted light while I was out.

Where was it I had breakfast again?

* They do, indeed, come in handy.

Rock Bottom
10 W Washington St,
IN 46204.
Tel: +1 317-681-8180

Daredevil Brewing
1151 N Main St,
IN 46224.

Sun King Brewing
135 N College Ave,
IN 46202.
Tel: +1 317-602-3702

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why I was in the USA.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1914 Adnams XX Mild

While it’s still May I suppose I should come up with some more Mild recipes. Like this slight oddity.

Why is it odd? Because of its strength. Or maybe I’m just too used to looking at London beers. This beer was originally brewed just as WW I was breaking out. At the time, a standard London X Ale had and OG of around 1055º and an ABV of 5.5%. With a gravity of just 1042º, Adnams XX looks more like a 1920’s Mild.

But maybe  I shouldn’t be do surprised. Before WW I, breweries didn’t really compete on price. The cost of a barrel of beer of a certain type was the same whichever brewery you bought it from. Large, efficient breweries, such as those in London, instead of discounting the price simply made their beer stronger. As quite a small, rural brewery, Adnams wouldn’t have been able to brew as efficiently as Whitbread or Truman.

The grist is pretty simple, though there are three types of malt: pale, crystal and “medium”. For the latter I’ve substituted mild malt. Other than that, there’s a bit of flaked maize and sugar. The latter mostly in the form of “cane blocks”, but also a little tintose, which was presumably a type of caramel used for colour corrections. Not sure what colour that was 5000 SRM is a guess on the dark side.

The hops I only know to have been from Oregon and East Kent. I’ve interpreted those as Cluster and Goldings, respectively. You could replace the Goldings with Fuggles or some other appropriate English hop.

1914 Adnams XX
pale malt 2.75 lb 30.32%
mild malt 4.00 lb 44.10%
crystal malt 80 L 0.50 lb 5.51%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 5.51%
cane sugar 1.25 lb 13.78%
caramel 5000 SRM 0.07 lb 0.77%
Cluster 105 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1042
FG 1008
ABV 4.50
Apparent attenuation 80.95%
IBU 23
SRM 25
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


My flight from St. Louis is quite early. And the weather is dreadful – a heavy thunderstorm. So we leave for the airport in plenty of time. But at least all my clothes are clean.

Stan and I say our goodbyes and I do the airport formalities of check in and security. Once again it’s pretty much empty and the whole process only takes a few minutes.

Time for some breakfast. I look around for options. Some of the restaurants aren’t even open yet. But I can see one that is. The Budweiser Brewhouse. They do breakfast. The fatty bacony kind I love.

I plonk my bum on a barstool, as usual. I assume they have some decent beer from one of the acquisitions. But the taps I can see only offer Bud variations and Belgian stuff like Stella and Hoegaarden. Not going to drink them in the US. Sam Adams Boston Lager looks the best bit. Only when it’s already been plonked in front of me do notice the taps on the other side of the bar. Featuring a distinctive long-necked goose. Bum.

The breakfast isn’t the best I’ve had. But it’s greasy enough to slip down without much problem.

I notice a Hudson as I’m walking to my gate. Ah, I remember I need a pen. Should be able to get one here. I can. But it’s a St. Louis souvenir pen that costs over $5. I must remember to stop shopping in airports.

The weather is still filthy. It’s announced that our flight will be delayed by 10 minutes. Not good. My change in O’Hare was already tight. It’s now positively claustrophobic. I try not to fret. I’m sure everything will be fine.

It’s a pretty small aircraft, two seat on one side, one on the other. But it’s full. We pull away from the gate, but just hang around ion the tarmac. The crew are negotiating with the tower about their route. Can’t use the original one because of the weather.

The minutes tick by. Then the pilot announces that were too heavy for the new route. We’ll have to return to the gate so someone can get off. Did I mention that this is a United flight? You can imagine the sort of jokes my fellow passengers make. I pity the poor flight attendant. The jokes and comments must get wearing after the first couple of hundred times you hear them.

I prepare to dig in my heels and be dragged into early retirement.

Back at the gate the attendant announces. “There’s an employee on board so we’ll be removing him.” They’ve just been playing with us. They must have known this all along.

We’re running over an hour late when we finally take off. I’m in full fret mode now. Will my connection also be delayed? I console myself in the knowledge that it’s far more serious for some of my fellow passengers. The lass sitting next to me is going to Singapore.

Getting off the plane is a drama. We pull up to the gate, but they can’t connect the air bridge. The plane backs out and tries again. After some fiddling around, the air bridge is finally secured, but another 15 minutes have ticked away. Will I get a flight to Indianapolis today?

I go to the United rep at the gate. While we were in the air, they rebooked me onto the next flight. Which is due to board in 10 minutes. I’ve just about got time to walk to the gate. I’m reluctantly impressed by United’s service.*

Why are there racing cars all over the airport? That’s a bit weird. Then I twig. I’m in Indianapolis. They have some sort of car race here, I believe.

I worry about whether my back was redirected to my new flight. I needn’t have. It soon pops out onto the carousel. A few minutes later I’m in a taxi heading towards my hotel.

Doesn’t look too bad, Indianapolis. Not totally effed up like some cities. St. Louis had some wrecked streets. Not as bad as Detroit, but still pretty depressing. Can’t spot any of that here. And look, they actually have some shops in the city centre.

Just before arriving at my hotel, I notice an enormous column. Judging by the date on it, I assume it’s a Civil War memorial. And a pretty damn massive one.

I don’t have long to rest in my hotel before this evening’s event, which is quite a way out of the centre, in Broad Ripple. Not having eaten since breakfast, I need some food. Something simple, like a sandwich. I consult the computer and spot a sandwich shop, Pot Belly, just around the corner. It overlooks that huge column so isn’t much of a challenge to find.

I quickly eat the sandwich back in my room. Roast beef, if you’re interested. With lots of chili on the top. Nice and spicy.

“Can you call me a cab?” I ask at the hotel desk. “There should be one outside.”

There indeed is. In fact there are several. I head towards the one at the front, but the drivers all start waving at me. It’s not that one’s turn, but the next to last one in the queue. Explain that system to me? How was I meant to guess that?

We head north but when we get close to our destination, my driver seems to get confused. He’s overshot, but then has trouble finding his way back. He switches off the meter “I’ll only charge you $20. That’s the right fare.” Very fair of him.

When we pull into Broad Ripple’s car park, there’s quite a crowd there. As soon as I step out of the cab, one of the crowd comes up to me: “Hello, Ron.” It’s my contact here, Rick Burkhardt. He’s a trim and active-looking retired police detective, with a beard that is in no way ironic.

At the bar, I’m introduced to the owner and founder, John Hill. His grey beard and musical northeast tones – still strong after 50 years in the USA – immediately conjures up my father. Who, like John, left his native Northeast as a young man. Except my father returned, John never did. Marrying, settling and eventually building his own pub, so he’d have somewhere to sit in his retirement.

I admire his long-term thinking. He also put in a brewery to make sure he could get the type of beer he likes to drink. It was the first brewery to open in Indiana for many decades.

I’ve ordered a cask ESB, but John warns me “Get something else. It’s not ready yet. They’ve put it on too early. Have a Wobbly Bob.”

I do. Though because they’ve run out of imperial pints, I get it in a 16 oz. glass.

John looks at my glass strangely, then explains: “It’s named after my Dad. He could be a bit wobbly at times.”

I spot a plate of scotch eggs being hurried to a customer. Now there’s authentic for you.

There’s a crowd of about 40 when I start to talk. Then it gets chilly. Someone goes inside and returns with a blanket to shelter under. The wind has picked up and the sheet functioning as a screen is flapping about like crazy. Slightly challenging circumstances. But I soldier through.

Once the questions are over, we adjourn inside out of the chill. Where I set up my impromptu book stall. I flog a good few books again. And sign some of mine people already own.

Bookselling done, I chat with Rita Kohn, legendary local beer writer. All I can say is that I hope I’m still as mentally sharp when I’m her age. Dolores already thinks my natural forgetfulness is the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

I don’t leave it too late. After eating my burger, Rick gives me a lift back to my hotel, along with his brother and a friend. We get talking about music and am surprised to find myself in the company of fellow punk fans. We talked punk all the way back to my hotel.

I don’t have to be in bed too early tonight. Rick is picking me up in the early afternoon. I can rise whenever I please.

* They even sent me an email while I was airborne telling me about the rebooking.

A-06 Budweiser Brewhouse
Lambert International Airport

Potbelly Sandwich Shop
55 Monument Cir,
IN 46204.
Tel: +1 317-423-9043

Broad Ripple Brewpub
842 E 65th St,
IN 46220, USA
Tel: +1 317-253-2739

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why I was in the USA.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Big boys and little kids in St. Louis

Another busy day ahead. But one really important task first.

Loading my dirty clothes into Stan’s washing machine. I’d always planned a laundry drop here, but now it’s really needed. I’ve a couple of pairs of rinsed and rescued socks that aren’t that aren’t too smelly and some undercrackers that just about pass muster. Clean shirts I’m totally out of.

Stan knows a great place for breakfast, Southwest Diner. A diner, er, that sells food from the Southwest of the USA.

Stan used to live down that way and understands the food. On his recommendation I go for a meal that combines Southwestern and St. Louis cuisine, a Southwest Slinger. A slinger is a St. Louis dish consisting of breakfast potatoes, two burger patties, melted cheese, topped with two fried eggs. The Southwestern twist are the dollops of green and red chili. Dead good. It warms me up a treat.

Civil Life is our first stop. Another single-story industrial building, though in this case surrounded by a beer garden. There are even little serving hatches so you don’t have to go inside to fetch beer. Though there’s no-one in the garden at the moment. It’s too early. And it’s raining.

The brewery concentrates on British-style beers. Which is, I guess, why Seymour, the brewer was at my talk yesterday. Soon he’s pressed a glass of Wee Heavy into my heads and we head into the brewery at the rear.

It’s pretty compact and boasts all the usual shiny tanks, tuns and fermenters. It doesn’t take that long to tour. It isn’t huge. We do our best to keep out of the way of the working brewer. A young woman who also attended my talk, who’s fiddling with pipes and valves.

Before leaving, Seymour offers us some of his cask Bitter, served by handpump. It’s not bad at all. Stan gets the keg version as well, so he can compare the two. He’s surprised at how different they are.

We can’t stay too long. Lot’s still to do today. We need to make our next appointment. Which is at a slightly larger enterprise: AB.

It’s still raining when we get there. Stan drops me at the beer garden while he finds somewhere to park. I roam around it looking for Rob Naylor, someone else who was at my talk yesterday. He runs the pilot brewery here. Now what did he look like? Rob appears at the same time as Stan.

Rob has his two small children in tow. It’s bring your kids to work day. They’re about six and eight years old, a boy and a girl. Much better behaved than my kids at that age. Mine would have kept trying to run off. Rob’s follow him around obediently. Where did I go wrong?

The pilot brewery isn’t such a small affair. It’s a 15-barrel plant. And is designed to replicate the processes of the big kit. It has a couple of purposes. Principally to brew control batches of Budweiser, Bud Light, etc. So they know that what they brew on the pilot replicates that of the full-size kit.

It's also used for scaling up the recipes of AB’s craft purchases, such as Goose Island, to the large production facilities. That probably makes some of you a little uneasy. I can’t say that it worries me.

They also produce trial and experimental batches, which sound like more fun.

After tasting, most of the beer they make is thrown away. Though some of the experimental beers are sold on draught in the beer garden.

One of Rob’s experimental brews was an historic Scottish recipe of mine. I hoped I’d be able to try it today. Unfortunately they couldn’t get the yeast in time and the brew is behind schedule. Bum.

Just a couple of times Rob asks me not to take photographs. Like, for example, in the hop store. I’m fine with that. It’s his brewery. And I’m a nosy bastard.

I’m dead jealous of the perfect little brewery he has. Complete with an enormous lab, stuffed full of expensive equipment.

Once we’re done in the pilot brewery, we take a quick spin through the main old Brewhouse. Which is absolutely gorgeous. Who takes the trouble and expense to build breweries like this anymore? Most are just sheds full of equipment.

Dodging the rain, we meet the archivist, Tracy Lauer, for a look around the museum. Lots of cool old photos and advertising stuff. Whatever you may think about AB’s products, the brewery has played an important role in brewing history. Ignore the big boys and you miss a big part of beer’s story.

Perennial Artisan Ales is our final brewery stop for the day. It’s in a large industrial building that once produced soft drinks. The upper floors are now loft apartments, the ground floor a mix of businesses, though Perennial is gradually taking over more and more of the space.  With two complete brew houses, they need a fair amount.

Brewer Jonathan Moxey is there to meet us. Impressive beard, is my first impression. They aren’t open yet, but staff are scurrying around in preparation.

Would I like something to drink? Sure. I opt for Cave Torch, their flagship fruity IPA. Which also comes in actually fruited versions, I see from the menu. It’s pleasant, in a fruity murk sort of way.

We look first at the original brew house, which is where all their sour beers are made. Unsurprisingly, there are many oak casks and a couple of larger vats.

The new brew house – where all the clean beers are brewed – is on the other side of the tap room. I think I’d have left a little more space between the two. Closer to 50 km than 50 m. What can I say? It’s full of shiny stuff, like every brewery.

We go to a barbecue place for dinner. Pretty nice and it makes a change. Then head on to the final brewery of the day, 2nd Shift Brewing. It’s a bit out of the way. Literally on the other side of the tracks. We have to dodge a huge coal train that’s blocking one of the roads.

It’s another shed, split in half with the taproom on one side and the brewery on the other. Not the most atmospheric of places, but my beer is fine. Stan’s Pilsner, on the other hand, is a bit weird. And far too dark for the style. It turns out to have been a brewing mistake that some customers liked the taste of.

We only have the one. Though I do manage to sell a book to an acquaintance of Stan’s we bump into. Yeah, another book gone.

We have another beers back at Stan’s, but don’t stay up late. More travelling tomorrow. I’ve two flights on United. Including a 45-minute change at O’Hare. Looking forward to that. Let’s hope they drag me off the plane and I never have to work again.

Southwest Diner
6803 Southwest Ave,
St. Louis,
MO 63143.

The Civil Life Brewing Company  
3714 Holt Ave,
St. Louis,
MO 63116.

Perennial Artisan Ales  
8125 Michigan Ave,
St. Louis,
MO 63111.

2nd Shift Brewing  
1601 Sublette Ave,
St. Louis,
MO 63110.

Buy my new Scottish book. It's why I was in the USA.