Monday, 30 June 2014

Grand Rapids day three

My breakfast date is earlier today, 7:45. We need to be at the convention centre by 8:30.

I stick to convention and have bacon, egg and those potato things. With toast coffee and orange juice, of course. Sugar, caffeine and fat: all the major food groups. Paul unwisely sticks to oatmeal. Very unhealthy.

This time we're in a larger hall, ballroom D. It's not quite as weirdly arranged as testerday, meaning I can actually see the slides on the screen. The crowd is bigger, but more subdued. It's being filmed, which has its up and down sides. Good that there will be a recording, shame it wasn't done yesterday when both me and the crowd were livelier.

Annoyingly, Stan Hieronymous was scheduled at the same time. Which means I've missed his talk. Bit of a bummer, that. A price you have to pay for being a participant rather than a punter.

I do a bit more wandering around the hall and get accosted several times while I'm on my eternal search for beer. I guess people know what I look like now. It's quite pleasant getting to chat for a few minutes with various people. I'm a sociable chap at heart.

I've a book signing scheduled at the, er, book stall. Stan is on before me and has a huge queue waiting for him. Mine is rather more modest. Queue, I mean. Impressive when you think Stan has already been at it for over an hour. I'm surprised when I'm handed examples of my self-published books to sign. I guess a few must have escaped over the Atlantic.

I make sure to get myself a big beer before I start. Someone has given me the glass from the ball park do last night. It's at least double the size of the conference glass. Using it is a pretty obvious choice.

I'm the last author scheduled for the morning signing sessions. So no-one on immediately after me. I hang around for a while after my allotted time for any stragglers, a few of which do show up.

The afternoon sees the seminar I most want to attend: John Mallett (of Bell's) and Andrea Stanley (of Valley Malt) talking about making blown malt. Couldn't be more perfect for me. I'm dead jealous when I see that they're both in costume. I should do that myself.

The talk is as informative as I had hoped. And I get to chew some malt and drink beer brewed with it. Hard to think of a better use of an hour. I get chatting to John and Andrea when they've finished talking. They ask me out for dinner. Cool.

But before that I've a second seminar to attend. Jason Oliver (of Devil's Backbone) is giving a talk on Lager brewing. He knows a thing or two about the topic, having won several awards for bottom-fermenting beers. I had the pleasure of brewing a Barclay Perkins Dark Lager with him a couple of years ago.

I'd like to chat with Jason but unfortunately don't have time.

Dinner is at Grove, a foodie sort of restaurant. We all get a three-course tasting menu. What can I say, other than that the food is knockout. They've a decent beer list, too. The conversation, which roams around various historical topics, malting technicques and barley varieties, is totally fascinating. I rarely get to have beer chats of this quality.

That's not the end of the evening. Back in the town centre we nip into Hop Cat for a beer or two. And who should be standing at the bar but Jason Oliver.Isn't that a happy coincidence. He's chatting with Neil Spake, a longtime blog reader of mine. It's the perfect finsh to a great day, as I get to talk Lager for a while.

Just one day of the conference to go. Unfortunately I'll miss the banquet. I'll be on my way to Chicago then.

How many different ways can I say "Buy my book, you bastard"? I think we're going to find out over the next few weeks. Aggression this time. Perhaps intimidation next. Let's see what works.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

919 Cherry St SE,
Grand Rapids,
MI 49506.
Tel: 616 454 1000

25 Ionia Ave SW #100,
Grand Rapids,
MI 49503.
Tel: 616 451 4677

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Yet more German rice beer

German rice beer. It's a minor obsession of mine. Not a major one like Scottish beer, but an obsession nonetheless.

I came across this little piece purely by accident

"Mons. A. METZ made an analysis of some beer manufactured at Weisenau, near Mayence, from a mixture of 40 cwt. of malt to 8 cwt. of rice. He found that it contained of

Alcohol  3.65 per cent. }
Sugar  1.63 }
Dextrine  5.13 } 7.36 per cent. extract.
Proteids  0.37 }
Inorganic matter, including phosphoric acid  0.22 }
Difference  0.01 }

Compared with an average resulting from the examination of 31 different kinds of Bavarian beer by Mons. C. Prandtl, it will be seen that the amount of alcohol is about the same; but the total amount of extract, and especially the quantity of sugar, exceeds that of any of the Bavarian kinds. Mons. C. Prandtl found in Bavarian beer—

On tbe average.  Maximum.  Minimum.
Alcohol 3.55 per cent.  3.98 per cent.  3.23 per cent.
Total Extract  6.07 6.61 5.42
Sugar 1.08 1.38 0.82
This rice beer is exceedingly clear and light: it effervesces, and has a peculiarly mild taste."
"Food Journal, Volume 3", 1873, page 209.

You learn something new every day. Like the fact that until recently Mainz was called Mayence in English. Weisenau is a suburb of Mainz. Which is odd, because Mainz is in Rheinland Pfalz. Didn't that use to be part of Bavaria? Where they were fairly strict about ingredients.

A quick check on the internet explains it. Pfalz was part of Bavaria, but Rheinland Pfalz covers a lot more territory. Including the bit where Mainz is. So it wasn't in Bavaria in the 19th century. Just very close to it.

Getting back to the rice beer, there's the same sort of description as usual: clear, light, mild. 8 cwt. out of 48 cwt. is 16.67%. Or about the same proportion a British brewer would have used of maize or rice.

By extract they mean finishing gravity. So it seems that they're saying that the rice beer had a higher finishing gravity than Bavarian beer. Quite a feat in the 19th century when Bavarian beer was rarely more than 60% attenuated. Intuitively, you'd expect the opposite.

I think this is the earliest reference I've found to German rice beer. I wonder when it was first brewed? And when will an enterprising German brewer revive it?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Vintage Beer Festival

A reminder that this afternoon there will be  a selection of beers from my book available in Arendsnest. For a couple of hours only.

It's a unique opportunity to try an Imperial Mild, Imperial Stout, Light Dinner Ale and a watery 1930's Porter. I'm certainly looking forward to it. Another chance for me to drone on about historic brewing to a captive audience.

You'll also have the chance to buy a copy of the book so you can brew the beers yourself. Wouldn't that be fun?

Vintage Beer Festival
28th June, 13:00–16:00
Proeflokaal Arendsnest
Herengracht 90,
1015 BS Amsterdam.

My new book is this:
The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Grand Rapids day two

I've a busy day ahead. I jump in the shower and hurry down to my breakfast meeting.

I find Paul and Jamie already there. Paul is getting stuck into some oatmeal. I've gone for the healthy fried option: eggs, bacon, those potato things. It's only when I'm on holiday, is my excuse. True enough, too.

Paul is my co-presentor. We've still a little work to do nailing together our slides. Once breakfast is done, we head up to Paul and Jamie's room for the final editing. There's no rush. We've several hours before we're presenting. It doesn't take long to get everything sorted out. What to do now? Registering at the conference seems the obvious choice.

The conference is just a short stroll down the river from my hotel. The river is very swift. Wouldn't fancy dropping in there. Probably never come out again. It's called the River Grand. I think it may have something to do with the name of the city.

At the convention centre, I get my pass. It has a special bit stuck on the bottom saying "Speaker". As long as it gets me free beer I don't care what it ways. I pick up a bag full of stuff, some of it useful. Like a programme and a glass.Some of it - stickers and assorted bits of paper kack - not so handy.

Wyeast have a little stand giving away beer. It seems silly not to have any. Gives me something to do with that glass. I arrange to meet Jamie and Paul back by the registration desk at 14:30. We're due on at 15:15.

Inside the hall, first thing I do is check out the book stall. Yep, they've got my book there. Even have a little shelf talker on it. Hope they manage to shift a few.

I wander around, pausing to look at particularly tempting shiny things. The miniature stainless steel breweries are a sight to behold. I find myself working out excatly where I could shoe-horn one into my flat. If only I could persuade Andrew to move out. His bedroom would make a perfect little brewery.

I manage to snap out of my brewing daydreams and get myself some beer. I didn't know what to expect on the beer front. Lots of homebrew had been my guess. But that isn't what it's like. Most is from commercial breweries, either sponsors of the event or beer bought by one of the sponsors. I'm not complaining. There's a whole array of Lagunitas stuff.

Which is an opportunity I can't miss, as the servers are from the brewery. It's a question that's been nagging me for a while. How do you pronounce Lagunitas? I ask the friendly chav with a beard behind the bar. I can't have been the first to ask. It's written on one of their labels. La-gu-NEE-tas. There's one mystery cleared up. Any theories of the meaning of life while we're at it? Thought not. Worth a try, though.

Various people talk to me as I trundle around the hall. Some seem to know who I am. I do, that's something I'm very strict about in my head, remembering who I am. Makes life so much simpler. Not really used to anyone else knowing, other than those people who hang around in my house. Family, I think you call them.

There is some homebrew to be had, in a special section at the back. I wander down there to try some out. I can discern no appreciable difference in quality between the professional and amateur brews. Not that I had expected to. I've had plenty of experience with American homebrew. Almost all of it good.

Our talk is in Grand Gallery A-D. One of the smaller spaces. Or should I say less huge spaces, because it isn't exactly small. It's slightly oddly arranged, with screens showing the slides either side of the stage where me and Paul are.

There's a reasonable crowd when we kick off. Especially considering we're not in the programme. Another speaker cancelled and we agreed to give our talk twice. Our real slot is tomorrow morning.

It goes pretty well. I get several laughs, which is always a good sign. Jamie's idea of holding up signs with the remaining time was excellent. I manage to finish just about exactly on time so there is time for questions. Oh well, job half done.

We hang around for the reception. Where we have a few beers and a bit of nosh before walking back to the hotel.

There's an event out at the ball park but we aren't going. Too much trouble and a bit expensive. Instead we head for a brewpub, Grand Rapids Brewing, not far from our hotel.

It's pretty busy and we have to wait for a seat. We have food, beer and not too late a night. We're on at 9 am tomorrow. Can't afford to stay out too late.

These plugs are getting ever feebler. Maybe I should start begging . . . please buy my book . . . . please . . . . I'll stop beating the kids if you do . . . .

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
1 Ionia Ave SW,
Grand Rapids,
MI 49503.
Tel: 616 458 7000

Friday, 27 June 2014

Grand Rapids day one

I don't lie in too late. I don't want to be in a rush at the airport. I hate rushing, and especially at airports.

I take Monday's drive in reverse, down the same dully tan motorway. It's no prettier today. Nor are the rusting subway stations stuck between it carriageways. Occasional battered silver trains rock past.

I'm flying with United again. There's something disturbingly anarchic about self-service checkin in the USA. Confusion reigns. My confirmation number isn't recognised so I scan my passport, then enter the first three letters of my destination "GRA". I pick Grand Rapids from the list and it says . . . .  it can't find a reservation for Mr. Pattinson for that destination in the next 12 hours. What?

I try again and get the same result. Then I realise I've been trying to check in on the hand baggage only section. I try the deeply anarchic checked in bag section. It's like a refugee column, bags and confused people strewn everywhere.

Eventually the Chinese youth in front of me finishes checking in and it's my turn. Where the hell has my booking gone? I scan my passport again and enter "GRA" once more. Hang on - there are two Grand Rapids in the list: MN and MI. I'm going to Grand Rapids MI, not MN. Silly me. I gratefully clutch my boarding pass and dump my bag.

I'd counted on getting some breakfast here at the airport. But I'm too late. Everywhere stops breakfast at 10 am. Seems a bit early to me. I have to make do with a hamburger instead.

I get to my gate but can't see any mention of my flight. That's not good. I find a screen and sure enough "Delayed - awaiting aircraft.". Damn. Same shit as Monday. The gate has changed, too. I traipse off to the new gate. And wait. Isn't this fun?

I'm lucky. Today the flight's only a couple of hours late. Stan Hieronymous is supposed to be picking me up it 17:00 for a joint event this evening. Looks like I'll be just about there in time.

It's 16:45 when I drop my bag on the floor of my room. I've got enough time to put my toothbrush in the bathroom and quickly check my mail on my flipflop before rushing off to the lobby. Stan arrives a few minutes later.

Great to see Stan again. We've only met in the flesh once before, many years ago. Had plenty of email contact in the meantime. Steve Siciliano is waiting in a car outside. He's organised the event tonight out at Perrin Brewing, where me and Stan will be signing books. There will be a bunch of homebrewers there with beer, too. Sounds like fun.

But first Steve takes us to look at his shop, Siciliano's Market. He sells not just homebrewing supples and but commecially-brewed beer, too. It's pretty neat. We can't stay long because we need to get to the brewery and set up.

"Do you need the PA?" Steve asks me.

"Nah, I don't think so. I talk pretty loud, especially after a couple of beers."

I change my mind after going inside. It's a echoey barn of a place and all the noise from the crowded bar rises straight up to the upper level where we'll be. I'll be on a hiding to nothing without a mike.

Homebrewers start to trickle upstairs. They've got beer with them. A special beer that was brewed at a big outdoor event in a city square. Everyone got the same basic Brown Ale recipe but were free to play around with it by adding extra ingredients of leaving ones out. They're surprisingly diverse.

Stan speaks for a couple of minutes, then it's my turn. Twenty unscripted minutes on historic brewing. It goes OK, despite the din. I'm getting quite used to this, standing up and saying, sort of, "Buy my book." for a while. Well. not quite as upfront as that, but you get the idea.

When I've done talking bollocks, I flog a few books, sign rather more, chat, drink beer, meet people and do all the fun things you can do in a pub. Quite a lot of beer is drunk.

I don't get back too late. I've a breakfast appointment with the Langlies. We still have quite finished othe talk we'll be giving tomorrow. Oh well, what's the worst that could happen?

You'd be disappointed if I didn't take this opportunity to push my book. And I wouldn't want to disappoint you.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Siciliano's Market
2840 Lake Michigan Drive NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Tel: 616 453 9674   

Perrin Brewing Company
5910 Comstock Park Dr NW,
Comstock Park,
MI 49321

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Early craft keg

Keg beer has been around since the 1930's is the usual tale. Though I'd already found evidence of it in Edwardian Britain. But I'm pretty sure this is the earliest reference I've found to top-pressure dispence in Britain.

It's taken from an article about the City Restaurant on Milk Street in Cheapside.

"But about that water?" said somebody, anxiously regarding No. 6.

"Every drop filtered, even the water used for cooking," he said calmly. "I've spent the time looking at the cisterns and the kitchen; but how about the beer up at the top of the house?"

"All right," said sententious No. 4; "right as malt and hops. There's an automatic generator in the cellar, and all the beer is forced up by the pressure of a volume of carbonic acid gas on the vat, the only way to keep the Vienna Beer in condition."

Chorus: "Science is a great invention."

No. 4: "So is beer."
"Food Journal, Volume 3", 1873, page 266.

So they were serving Vienna Lager by top pressure in the 1870's. I guess something as exotic as that would count as craft keg nowadays. Don't I keep telling you that nothing is new?

The City Restaurant seems to have been a pretty famous spot:

34, Milk Street, Cheapside,
London, E.C.
Amongst other questions asked when parties are visiting the great metropolis is Where shall dine? The reply, which is becoming as familiar as household words is, Why at Perrett’s City Restaurant, where the best and cheapest dinner is served in the most unique style in the City of London ; where, also, chops and steaks are served from the silver grill. This room, as well as the dining rooms, are admitted by the public to be the most comfortable and luxuriant in the City; also will be found the most elegant luncheon bar yet fitted up.
Please note the Address!
34, Milk Street, Cheapside.
Oxford Times - Saturday 04 August 1866, page 1.

That's it for now. Just a random bit of stuff I thought I'd share.

Meux Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

This series really does seem never-ending. Will it dishearten you if I say we've still a way to go? I thought so.

I'll liven things up with a random newspaper article mentioning Meux from the 1890's. "Liven" obviously being a relative term in terms of this blog. It still amazes me anyone reads this stuff. There's so much I'm not sure even I could be bothered.

It's a court case (as so many brewery mentions in newspapers are) about the nuisance of  a power station:

(Before Mr. Justice Kekewich.)

Meux Brewery Company (Limited) v. City of London Electric Lighting Company (Limited). — Shelfer v. the Same. — This was an action by the Plaintiffs, the owners of the freehold, and the tenant of a public-house, for an injunction to refrain the Defendants from the use of any dynamo, or other engine or machinery, so as by vibration or otherwise to injure the Plaintiffs' premises, The Plaintiffs, licensed victuallers, complained of subsidence, vibration, and noise, and asked for an injunction and damages. The Plaintiffs' premises were the Waterman's Arms, Bankside, situate on the Surrey side of the river Thames, between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges. — Mr. Warmington. Q.C., and Mr. Badcock appeared for the Meux Brewery Company (Limited) ; Mr. Warmington, Q.C., and Mr. Waggett for Mr. Shelfer: Mr. Moulton, Q.C., Mr. Renshaw, Q.C., and Mr. W. C. Braithwaite for the Defendants.

Mr. Justice Kekewich said that the Plaintiffs, the Brewery Company, were not entitled to an injunction in respect of noise and vibration, and that part of the action must be dismissed with costs, but they were entitled to an inquiry as to damage to the structure. As to the Plaintiff Shelfer, there was no doubt that there was an interference with the ordinary comfort of the house, and there must be an inquiry as to damages caused by noise and vibration, and also injury to the structure, together with costs of the action."
London Standard - Friday 20 April 1894, page 2.
My guess is that it was the pub just blow and to the right of the letter N in BANKSIDE. It is pretty close to the power plant. None of what's shown on the back, this being the later site of Bankside power station. Now known as Tate Modern

Let's look back at Meux's earlier scores. Amongst the Burton Ales, Meux came a respectable fourth from eleven with an average score of 1.11. Its Milds did rather worse, the 5d Ale coming 13th (average score -0.57) and the 7d/6d Mild 11th (average score 0). So a bit patchy in terms of beer quality.

Now their Pale Ale. As you can see, an 8d/7d Ordinary Bitter. The gravity is a tad lower than the average across all breweries of 1046, but a slightly higher degree of attenuation leaves it a touch over average ABV.

Meux Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1008.8 1043.3 4.49 79.68% gray fair 1 8d
1922 PA 1007.3 1043.5 4.72 83.22% bright fair 1 8d
1922 PA 1006.7 1044.7 4.96 85.01% bright fair 1 8d
1922 PA 1007.6 1046.6 5.09 83.69% bright fair 1 8d
1923 PA 1007.6 1043.6 4.69 82.57% brilliant thin & nasty -3 8d
1923 PA 1007.5 1044 4.76 82.95% piecey fair 1 8d
1923 PA 1007.8 1047.3 5.15 83.51% fairly bright good 2 8d
1923 PA 1008 1041.5 4.36 80.72% gray fair 1 7d
1923 PA 1008.8 1046.8 4.95 81.20% not bright going off -2 7d
1923 PA 1006.8 1044.3 4.89 84.65% gray cask -2 7d
1925 PA 1007.6 1046.6 5.09 83.69% bright good 2 7d
1925 PA 1004.8 1045.3 5.29 89.40% thick fair 1 7d
Average  1007.4 1044.8 4.87 83.36% 0.33
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Clarity is once again poor with fewer than half - five from twelve - of the examples bright. An impressive 75% (nine from ten)have a positive score for flavour. Unfortunately for the average score, the bad ones were pretty bad and none of the good ones really great. The result, a small positive score of 0.33.

My conclusion? Meux's Bitter seems a fairly safe, if unexciting, bet. Unless you're in one of the pubs where it's crap.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Calling all publishers

Are you a publisher? No - you can ignore this post.

Yes - I've a project that you might be interested in. The book is essentially written. It just needs a bit of designing and tidying. Knocking it into a publishable form shouldn't take long.

And it's a proper book, not blog posts nailed together. Nicely structured with chapters and all that stuff.

E-mail me if you're interested in publishing it.

Chicago day two

Nothing planned for this morning. Let's take a look at the shops. In particular Trader Joe's. That's a supermarket and I have a pocketful of food orders from Lexxie.

Invisible Kool Aid he particularly keen on. Pretty sure I'm not going to find that here. It's a bit of a hippy shop. And most of the stuff is their own brand. I get some chocolate covered coffee beans. A big package. Lexxie was really past off last time when Andrew polished them off. Plenty for everyone this time. I get myself  bottle of beer, too.

I pop into the smaller shop opposite called Milk & Stuff or something. Seems to be mostly cheese, booze and sweets. I see they sell spirits in ordinary shops here. Trader Joe's was selling it, too. You don't see that much in the US.

I've had an email from Ted Perez, who orgainsed this evening's event. Do I want to meet for lunch? Sure. We agree on a sushi place close by. Nice and light. We have a very pleasant lunch, chatting of various beery things. You know how it is. Hard to stop once you get started. At least it is for me.

Ted can't stay long because he's working. I've still some time to kill before this evening's event. I go back to Trader Joe's and get another beer. Seems silly not to. A bomber of something IPA-ey. Nothing too heavy.

Tonight's event is downtown-ish. Me and my box of books take a cab. The weather isn't great: grey and grisly. I'm still trying to get a handle on the city. We're heading directly towards the the skyscrapers of the city centre. To begin with. We vear right to skirt the downtown and get to the south, which is our destination.

Moxee Kitchen & Madmouse Brewery is embedded in the Iniversity of Illinois. A good spot for a brewery, I guess. All those thirsty students nearby.

Due to organisational difficulties (I left it too late) the format is slightly different.There won't be a set of homebrewed beer, but some De Molen SSS and maybe something else to try. Not 100% sure what.

After setting up my books in an attractive pile, I'm called over to the bar. One of the brewers from Green Flash is there chatting with the bar manager. He's trying to persuade him to take some of his beer. Doesn't seem like much persuasion is necessary. We chat a little and  Ipersuade him to buy a copy of my book. Result.

The event is pretty low key. A bit too low key, perhaps. There is some homebrew. Someone has brewed a Younger's No. 1. They've even used the proper label. I'm dead impressed. The beer is pretty good, too.

One of the audience, Mark Linsner, offers to take me around a few pubs when the event is done. We head off into the rainy night, with nothing to protect us but our thirsts.

We arrive at the Map Room. "Ron!" someone calls. Well blow me if it isn't Joe Stange. What sort of coincidence is that? Turns out he's also headed to Grand Rapids and the NHC. What a small world it is.

I'm not too late. My flight is at midday tomorrow. No need to be up too early. Which is how I like it.

I'm not going to stop plugging my book now. I'll be carrying on to the bitter end.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Moxee Kitchen & Madmouse Brewery,
724 W Maxwell St, Chicago,
Illinois 60607.

The Map Room
1949 N. Hoyne
Chicago, IL 60647.
Tel: 773 252 7636


Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Danziger Jopenbier again

I love weird old German styles. One of favourites - probably because it's so odd - is Danziger Jopenbier. Or Joppenbier. It's another of those styles with multiple spellings.

It had a couple of unusual features: a huge original gravity, an almost as huge finishing gravity and here's the best bit, it was spontaneously fermented.

"Top-fermented beers, especially Danziger Jopenbier, are discussed by P. Mumme (W. Brauer, 1906, 13). This is a top-fermented, highly concentrated beer, which is seen and drunk more abroad than at home where often not even its name is known. The peculiar smell and taste, reminiscent of port wine, the production methods, fermentation and treatment give Jopenbier something characteristic, because it greatly differs from all other top-fermenting beers from and stands alone in its type. - The wort is left to sponataneously ferment. First of all a thick blanket forms on the surface on which all sorts of moulds grow. These blankets in various vats are again very different from each other in appearance and strength, depending on the points of attack the moulds have found. Gradually, the yeast has developed so that it is able to cause fermentation. - The head, which is often so strong that a 20 gram piece won't fall through it, begins to lift itself. - This is the time when the vats must be covered, because after 2 to 3 days a very vigorous fermentation begins. Before the mould layer has risen to avoid it collapsing. The lids have at the front a wide, somewhat overhanging outlet; through this channel, for 8 to 12 days the beer often pushes out large amounts of loose foam, which is collected in barrels or tubs placed below, until the primary fermentation calms and peaceful secondary fermentation takes place. The foam subsides, the ejected, very bitter beer is filled after the lid is lifted, and the tub is left to itself again. Now in long-lasting secondary fermentation and slow clarification take place, during which the sediment settles. - An analysis of Jopenbier revealed :

Alcohol 3.52%
Real extract 45.04%
Apparent extract 43.20%
calculated OG 49.94%
apparent degree of attenuation 13.49%
Real degree of attenuation 9.81%"
"Jahresbericht über die Leistungen der chemischen Technologie (1907)", 1907, pages 352 - 353. (My translation.)
49.94º Plato is 1230º in SG. The finishing gravity is 1195º. That's quite an achievement having an FG higher than the OG of a Scottish 160/- Ale.

What can you say about the fermentation, other than that it sounds scary and disgusting at the same time. I wonder what it was that caused the fermentation. The slime sounds like some sort of bacteria, despite being described as mould. Did Saccharomyces play any part in the fermentation?

From the comparison to port wine, it sounds like there was both some acidity and considerable sweetness in the finished beer. Given the description of the fermentation, it would be a miracle if there were no trace of sourness.

Here's the original text in case you don't trust my translation:

"Obergärige Biere, besonders das Danziger Jopenbier bespricht P. Mumme (W. Brauer. 1906, 13). Es ist dieses ein obergäriges, hochkonzentriertes Bier, welches im Ausland mehr geschaut und getrunken wird als in der Heimat, wo es oft nicht einmal dem Namen nach bekannt ist. Der eigenartige, an Portwein erinnernde Geruch und Geschmack, die Herstellungweise, Gärung und Behandlung geben dem Jopenbier etwas Charakteristisches, denn es weicht von allen anderen obergärigen Bieren stark ab und steht in seiner Art wohl allein da. — Die Würze wird der Selbatgärung Überlassen. Zunächst bildet sich auf der Oberfläche eine dicke Decke, auf der alle möglichen Schimmelpilze wachsen. Diese Decken sind wieder bei den einzelnen Bottichen untereinander im Aussehen und in Stärke sehr verschieden, je nachdem die Pilze Angriffspunkte gefunden haben. Nach und nach hat sich die Hefe soweit entwickelt, daß sie im stände ist, Gärung hervorzurufen. — Die Decke, welche oft so stark ist, daß ein 20 Grammstück auf ihr nicht untersinkt, fängt an sich zu heben. -Dieses ist der Zeitpunkt, in welchem die Bottiche abgedeckt werden müssen, denn schon nach 2 bis 3. Tagen beginnt eine sehr kräftige Gärung. Vorher wird noch die Schimmelschicht abgehoben, um ein Untersinken derselben zu vermeiden. Die Deckel haben nach vorn eine weite, etwas überragende Ausfloßöffnung; durch diese Rinne stoßt das Bier oft 8 bis 12 Tage lang große Mengen lockeren Schaum aus, der in untergestellten Fässern oder Wannen zum Absetzen aufgefangen wird, bis dann die Hauptgärung nachläßt und eine ruhige Nachgärung Platz greift. Der Schaum geht zurück, das ausgestoßene, sehr bittere Bier wird, nachdem der Deckel abgehoben, aufgefüllt, und der Bottich bleibt wieder sich selbst überlassen. Es erfolgt nun in demselben eine langandauernde Nachgärung und langsame Klärung, bei welcher die Trubteile nach unten gehen. — Eine Analyse des Jopenbieres ergab:
Alkohol......... 3,52 Proz.
Wirklicher Extrakt...... 45,04 „
Scheinbarer   „   ...... 43,20 „
Berechnete Stammwürze    .   .   . 49,94 „
Scheinbarer Verganingagrad    .   . 13,49 „
Wirklicher „ . . 9,81 „"

Monday, 23 June 2014

Chicago day one (part two)

I'm already late for my appointment when I land. No time to piss around. Thankfully there's no immigration shit to do, it's as if I'd arrived on an internal flight. I collect my bag and go directly to the taxi rank.

I've done my homework. I know exactly how much a cab from the airport should cost every city I'm visiting. No point getting stung unnecessarily.

It's a long drive. Through another set of sprawly suburban housing a low industrial boxes. I don't bother taking any photos. My hotel is to the north of the city centre, in Lincoln Park.

Working out where to stay in Chicago was a nightmare. I'd no idea of its geography. Where was a reasonable place to stay? I had no idea. After looking into the city's neighbourhoods (and checking hotel prices) I finally settled on Lincoln Park. It seems it wasn't such a bad choice. What finally swung it was seeing that the hotel was on what looked like a little High Street, with normal shops. Lexxie has given me quite a shopping list. This is where I plan picking up most of the items.

As I'm checking in, the desk clerk tells asks me if I want to take my box taken my room. I'm glad he reminds me of that. I forgot I had books arriving. "I'll pick them up later."

I hurry up to my room on the third floor, stick in the key and rattle the handle. Bloody door won't open. I try several more times before returning to reception.

"Had a little senior moment there, sir. Your room is on the fourth floor." Great. Extra delay is just what I need.

I stay in my room just long enough to switch on my flipflop and send Mike an email to let him know I'm on my way.

"1800 West Fulton Street, please." I say to the cabbie and I'm bouncing through the city again in no time. We take the motorway. Good thinking - it's a bit longer in distance, but much quicker in time. The final approach is urban, but in a low-key sort of way. Nothing much over three or four storeys. More New Jersey than New York. Though it does have a bit of Brooklyn about it.

Mike is waiting at the door of the brewery when I arrive. He's wearing an Augustiner shirt. Salzburg Augustiner, which is even cooler.

"Nice shirt." I say as we shake hands.

It's Mike Siegel, one of the brewers at Goose Island who has generously offered to show me around. It's in a low, nondescript building much like the others on the street. In a couple of minutes, pausing only to give me safety glasses, he leads me into the brewhouse. You'd think after all the breweries I've been around recently that I'd be getting bored of looking at brewing kit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I love hanging around in breweries, especially when I'm with brewers. They're always delighted to show off their toys. Me having an unhealthy interest in brewing equipment, I always happy to listen and learn.

On the first floor is the brewhouse. Like most I've been to recently, it's a smaller capacity than the fermenters, meaning they have to make a couple of brews of the same beer to fill one. 50 US barrels ins the brew length, 100 US barrels the capacity of most of the fermenters.

We descend to the ground floor where the fermenting vessels, bright beer tanks and various other bits of kit are crammed into pretty limited space. Somehow they've found room for a couple of dozen oak barrels. They all appear to be full of sherry Bourbon County Stout. I wonder how much that little lot is worth? I'll probably never even see a bottle in the far distance, let alone taste it.

Mike takes me outside to show me the giant conicals they have there.

"This isn't the nicest area. We had a to build a wall and put barbed wire on the top. Before we did, stainless steel fittings kept disappearing." Mike tells me.

The building contains more than just the equipment to brew beer. The malts stores and the packaging department are here, too. The malts are stored slightly chaotically, pallets loaded with sacks piled several high. In the kegging room I show my usual bizarre interest in keg-washing machinery. There really is something wrong in my head.

Probably more interesting for geeks is our next stop: metal shelves packed with boxes of beer. Mike tells me that they keep a box from every batch for reference purposes. They've an impressive collection of Matilda. It reminds me of the one cellar at Fuller's, where they have bottles from every batch of 1845.

Now comes the fun part. Mike has some beer for me to try and Brett Porter, the head brewer, is joining us. There's an impressive array of their beers on the table. We begin with the lower-gravity stuff. Of particular interest is Matilda of different ages: one fresh, the other with a couple of years on it. Unsurprisingly, Brettanomyces has a much tighter grip on the latter. Almost a strangehold on its flavour. Rather nice.

They've kindly included a couple of Bourbon County beers: Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Coffee and Bourbon County Barleywine.

Bourbon County Stout is rich and luscious, an almost sugary sweetness offsetting the raw roast and boozy bourbon. I'd have another, if there was one of offer, but there isn't. I move on to the coffee version which is similar but with more coffee flavour. Not really much of a revelation, that.

I realise what a jammy bastard I am. I get to drink loads of rare beers, mostly without making the slightest effort. People just give me stuff.

Once we've done drinking, Mike takes me over the road to a warehouse they rent. It's stuffed wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with oak barrels. I struggle to keep my chin off the floor.

We head for Hopleaf when I finally tire of looking at all that wonderful wood. For more beer, more talk, more fun.

I've not given up trying to sell my book. Probably never will. I'll still be tacking this stuff onto the end of posts years from now.:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Goose Island
1800 West Fulton Street,
Chicago, IL 60612.

5148 N. Clark St.,
Chicago, IL   60640
Tel: (773) 334-9851

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Mann Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

Yes, we're back with the Whitbread Gravity Book's assessment of rival beers. Bet you were hoping that I'd forgotten. No such luck.

Mann started off as a modestly-sized Ale brewery, but grew rapidly in the course of the 19th century. By the start of WW I it out-produced all of the large Porter breweries except for Whitbread.

Mann output 1850 - 1913
Year barrels
1850 97,802
1860 128,179
1870 217,575
1880 231,942
1890 293,845
1900 500,029
1901 557,403
1910 590,608
1913 611,704
"The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980" T. R. Gourvish & R.G. Wilson, pages 610-611.

To have grown in the years 1900 to 1913 is particularly impressive. They were difficult years for the brewing industry, with consumption falling and taxation rising.

Mann's Albion Brewery was built speculatively by Richard Ivory, landlord of the Blind Beggar pub, in 1808. It was initially leased by John Hoffman but he struggled to make it past and was declared bankrupt in 1818. The lease went up for auction and was bought by Philip Betts Blake, who had been brewing at the Strandbridge brewery in Lambeth. He transferred operations to the Albion Brewery at the same time changing the name of the firm from P. Blake and Co. to Blake and Mann. James Mann was a brewer and the partner of Blake.*

Like several other London brewers, Mann also owned a brewery in Burton. Which means there's a good chance the beers in the table weren't brewed in London. Truman brewed mist of their Pale Ales in Burton, but did brew an Ordinary Bitter at Brick Lane. Mann might have done something similar but, judging by the high gravity, I'd put money on these having been Burton-brewed.

This is an example of a 9d/8d Pale Ale, or Best Bitter. The high degree of attenuation means that it's the strongest of all the Pale  Ales sampled, even though its gravity is very similar to other beers of the same class.

Mann scored very well for the other beer types we've looked at. Its Mild came first with a score of 1.33 and its Burton joint second with 1.25.

Mann Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1007.6 1051.1 5.68 85.13% hazy poor -1 9d
1922 PA 1005 1054.3 6.46 90.79% hazy doctored? -3 9d
1922 PA 1004.4 1054.9 6.63 91.99% hazy musky sweet -2 9d
1922 PA 1012 1059 6.13 79.66% rather grey v good 3 9d
1923 PA 1007 1054 6.15 87.04% bright good 2 9d
1923 PA 1006.8 1054.3 6.22 87.48% hazy unpleasantly sweet -1 9d
1923 PA 1007.6 1053.6 6.01 85.82% hazy very dark not nice -3 9d
1923 PA 1006.2 1053.7 6.22 88.45% grey fair 1 9d
1923 PA 1013 1052 5.07 75.00% hazy only fair 0 8d
1923 PA 1010.6 1053.1 5.54 80.04% grey v good 3 8d
1924 PA 1055.6 bright fair 1 8d
1925 PA 1010.2 1055.2 5.87 81.52% brilliant v good 3 8d
1925 PA 1007.6 1042.1 4.49 81.95% bright sour and without character -3 8d
1925 PA 1009.4 1054.9 5.94 82.88% bright good but highly hopped 1 8d
Average  1008.3 1053.4 5.88 84.44% 0.07
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

This is a much poorer showing from Mann. Only five of fourteen examples were bright. That so few were clear is no longer a surprise - it's a trend we've seen across all breweries and all styles. Exactly half of the examples had a positive score for flavour. And three get a maximum score of three . . . but there are the same number with the worst possible score.

Again there's no correlation between clarity and quality. Two with the best flavour were "grey" and a really bad one was bright.

* "Albion Brewery 1808 - 1958" by Hurford Janes, 1958, pages 10 - 14, 26 - 27.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Chicago day one (part one)

Time for the next journey. An international one, too. That's always extra special fun. Especially when travelling to the US.

I don't bother with breakfast in the hotel. My flight is at 10 am. I want to be there in plenty of time and I'm pretty wary of Toronto traffic, having seen the congestion at the weekend. Today is Monday. I decide to get a taxi at 7 am. I get an orange juice and a coffee while I'm waiting for the cab to trundle up. Breakfast proper can wait until the airport.

The traffic isn't as dreadful as I'd feared. I've still more than two hours until my flight leaves. But I immediately check in and go airside. Or at least start going airside.

It's all a bit strange. After I check my bag, it isn't whisked off on a conveyor belt but handed back to me. I'm told to take it off that way, so that's where I go. And find a long queue waiting for the security check. My favourite part of flying. There's a flight soon to Beijing, which explains the number of Chinese in the queue. After a while we're told to walk a couple of hundred metres to another security queue. Now isn't this fun. We're on a queue crawl.

We were told it was shorter. The queue, I mean. Doesn't seem appreciably so to me. There are several returns on the taped-off snake. I'm glad I showed up early. Why do I still have my checked in bag with me? One of the reasons for checking it in is so I don't have to lug it around the airport.

I picked up one of the US customs forms on the way to the initial queue. I thought I could fill it in before I got on the plane. So much easier when you're not crammed in an economy seat with the Samoan sumo-wrestling team either side of you. I realise why those forms were lying around and why I still have all my luggage when I emerge from security, my belt in hand and my shoelaces untied, to another queue. One for US immigration.

I'm actually pleased. For two reasons. The queue isn't that long. And it means I won't be pissing around after landing in Chicago.

The US immigration officials are always polite and often quite friendly. Quite a contrast with the bastards at Schiphol who keep picking me out for special attention. Ha ha, they couldn't get me this time - my initial destination was Canada, not the USA.

Right, all the official crap is out of the way. Time for some scran. There's bound to be somewhere selling a Full American. Always is, places like this. I decide to get as close to my gate as possible before my bacon and egg-based feast. There's a bar/restaurant on the right pier that's just the job.

Soon I'm staring wistfully over a plate of fried things at the planes outside. My mind is a wonderfully empty space, doing little but regulate chewing and breathing. Sometimes you just have to switch off. Especially when you schedule is as busy as mine.

I refuse a coffee refill. Time to get to the gate. It's surprisingly quiet, given the flight is due to leave in 40 minutes. I find a seat and start reading. After a while I get concerned about the lack of activity. Checking the screen, I see that the gate has changed . . . . as has the flight status. It's now "delayed awaiting aircraft" and the departure time has been pushed back an hour. I move to the new gate and continue reading.

The news doesn't get any better. It's the old trick of only slowly revealing how bad the delay will be. It starts as an hour and gradually edges up to two.

I wander back to the restaurant and sit at the bar.

"Double whisky, please."

"We can't serve alcohol before 11 am."

What? Never come across an airport, even in Britain, with that sort of restriction.

"I'll have a coffee, then."

The waitress remembers me from before and lets me have it for free. Guess my right to a refill didn't lapse first time I walked out the door.

There isn't even a gate assigned to the flight now. Where to sit? The bar is prickling with iPads, I guess. You're allowed to use them even if you don't buy anything. That's what a sign says. So that's what I do. Start fiddling with an iPad. I can check my mail. And write a blog post.

Other delayed travellers around me are doing the same, fiddling with iPads. After a while they start ordering drinks. First coffees. Then a bottle of wine. Which gets me thinking. Ordering is so easy. Just a few taps on the ipad and a Wellington Imperial Russian Stout and a double Maker's Mark are on their way.

Finally the delay stops increasing and the time to departure begins to tick down. The incoming aircraft appears to great rejoicing. At least in my heart. I may be only an hour late for my 2 pm appointment, if I'm lucky. Thankfully I've had a chance to warn Mike that my flight is delayed.

It's after 2 pm when we take to the air. I'm just glad to be on my way. And that I'll make that meeting. It's special because . . . . well, we'll discover that next time.

The main reason for my trip to Canada and the USA was to gently encourage sales of my fantastic new book:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.