Friday, 28 November 2014

Yule Logs!! competition!!

Ever wondered what brewing logs look like?

No obviously not. Unless you're a wierdo like me. And I'd like to hope you're fairly normal. Otherwise I'm a goner.

They've a beauty that transcends their functionality. Not just the flambouyant copperplate of the early 1800's, but also the clinical numbers of the early 1900's.

What about a competition? A little puzzle. With a prize, of course.

It's pretty simple. You have to tell me everything you can understand in one of the brewing logs featured in the book. It's from Whitbread and I think, Table Stout. See what you can make of it:

The entry with the most details wins a copy of the book. But, you have to have a minimum of these details:

ingredients, type and quantity
racking gravity
volume of TS in barrels

Extra points for yield per quarter and gyle volumes and gravities.  And Kristen - you're not allowed to enter.

Send in your entries via the "get in touch" form at the top left hand corner of this page. Or via the email link you'll find on my website:

It's hard. But that's the point.

Almost forgot the prize: my strange book.

Buy my strange book! Think up your own reason. Do you expect me to do everything for you?

Seattle day four

It’s my last bit of a day in the US. I don’t feel too bad despite the late-night whisky session. Just as well, as I need to be up reasonably early for breakfast.

This isn’t one I want to miss. Steve and Marissa have promised me home-made bacon and sausage, black pudding, crumpets and English tea. Sounds like heaven to me. They’re making me feel right at home. It's one of the best meals of my trip.

Dolores would love a garden as large as their 1.25 acres. That’s big enough to count as a farm here in Holland. Being that far away from neighbours does make it eerily quiet.

Breakfast done it’s time to go to the airport. Don’t want to cut things too fine. It’s another beautifully sunny day as Steve drives me along the motorway.

Once I’ve checked in my bag, toiled through security and snapped up some duty free, I park my arse at the closest bar to my gate. As usual, everyone around is in a chatty mood. I get a double Jack Daniels with a side of Deschutes Porter.

 There’s the Norwegian bloke going back for his father’s funeral. He doesn’t look that upset: “He was 93. His passing wasn’t exactly unexpected.”  And a young American woman, who, it turns out, is on the Amsterdam flight, too. She gets a text message from Delta: the flight will be leaving 17 minutes earlier than scheduled. Never had that happen to me before. Just as well I was sitting next to her.

I’ve had some interesting conversations in airport bars recently. And received some good advice about long flights: take your own food, get to sleep as quickly as possible, have a few drinks before getting on the plane. OK, I didn’t need to be told that last one.

I pick up some sushi for the flight. At least I’ll have something resembling food to nourish me.

The flight is as exciting as any overnight international flight. Boozed and sushied, I doze reasonably well.

Thankfully my bag appears quickly. I’m soon in a taxi heading for home. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I get the bus to work. What a fun day this will be.

I can't miss this last chance: buy my book!

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Dungeness Bay Seafood House
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA),
17801 International Blvd,
Seattle, WA 98158.
Phone: +1 206-787-5388

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Record early sales of Yule Logs!!

Double figures already!*

I'm delighted with sales so far, qua collectable value. And the five copies I've bought and inscribed:

"This is the personal copy of the author."

Or was that ten?

Tea is almost ready. I need to sign out.

It's a weird book, none of my usual dazzling wit and repartee**. Just photos - of varying legibility - of brewing logs.

Here's a crazy bonus - the first to ask me to sign a copy of Yule Logs!!*** will get an exclusive Barclay Perkins mug - for free!!.

Buy my weirdly pointless book! I'll get back to you later with a reason why.

* Remember I work in binary.
** F_ck off, you red-nosed c_nt.
*** In person, with a copy of the book for me to sign.

Seattle day three

I’ve an early start. A very early start. I’m taking the train to Seattle and it leaves at 6.30 am.

But, as it’s an international train, I need to be at the station an hour before departure. I ask for a 4.15 am wake-up call.

I buy myself a sandwich, drink and bag of crisps. That’ll do as breakfast. I get a Canadian history magazine for Andrew as well.

Once through US immigration, I settle into my assigned seat. It’s still dark when we pull out of the station. It takes longer than I anticipated – about two hours – until we reach the US border. Just before we get there, I spot two bald eagles sitting in a tree by the trackside.

At the border, we’re told to remain in our seats while border guards come around the train to check passports and collect our customs declaration forms. It doesn’t take long – not more than 15 minutes.

The train mostly hugs the coast, a vista of wooded hills and mirror-calm water slowly unfolding beyond the window. Occasionally the tracks dart inland, across flat, fertile plains of farmland. Its one of the most scenic train rides I’ve had in a while.

We get to King Street station on time and Jim Jamison is there to collect me. I’ve an event in his brewery, Foggy Noggin, in Bothell this evening.

“Do you want to get some lunch?” He asks.

My sandwich has long since worn off: “Sure.”

We go a place just around the corner, an Irish pub called Fado. I order a Lagunitas IPA and corned beef hash. Both are rather pleasant. Though the IPA comes in a jam jar. A Lagunitas-branded jam jar. Not quite sure why they serve beer in things like this. What’s wrong with a proper glass?

I ask Jim if we can stop by a supermarket. “I need to get cookie mix and Kool Aid for my son.” Jim is slightly bemused by Alexei’s request.

When we’re at the checkout the woman in front of us asks if we’re getting the Kool Aid to dye hair. “Four packets of the Dark Cherry in boiling water. That’s how I dyed this.” She says, pointed to a red highlight. Urm – should Alexei really be ingesting something that dyes hair like that?

Jim has one of the oddest breweries I’ve come across. Somehow he’s got permission to have a brewery and tasting room at his residential address. The fact that he has a 2.5 acre plot probably helps. But it’s still on a very quiet residential street.

Jim’s daughter is pulling beers for a few punters in the tasting room – it’s a double garage, really – and when we go to the brewery in the back garden his son Matt is brewing. It’s very much a family business. It's a tiny setup - just half a barrel, which is about as small as a commercial brewery can be. I've seen bigger home brew systems.

The plan is for me to hang around the bar to chat and sign books for a few hours. Later, for the event itself, I’ll be talking about each of the eight recipes from my book Jim has brewed. I get stuck into his Dark Mild in the meantime.

There’s a steady enough stream of punters, quite a few of whom have my book and some of the self-published ones) for me to sign. It’s no hardship for me to scribble a few illegible lines and chat a while. I really do enjoy meeting my readers. I hope it’s mutual.

I have a fascinating chat with a geologist. “Geology is just as bad as beer for misinformation.” He informs me. And there I was thinking it was an objective science. He has some scary stories about exploring abandoned mines. Sounds like a good way of getting yourself killed. Or worse, buried alive.

Steve Nolan and his wife Marissa turn up. He’s an English expat who lives on the same street. In fact, that’s where I’ll be staying tonight as he’s kindly offered to put me up. They’ll also be providing some of the food – home-made pork pies and sausage rolls – for tonight’s event.

At four everyone is cleared out and the garage door closes. Which is a relief as I was starting to freeze my grillox off. It’s unseasonably cold. Bloody arctic vortex. At least it isn’t raining. That’s what it would usually be doing at this time of year, evidently.

The few books I have left are soon gone. At least I won't be carrying any home with me. But I regret not having brought more.

Kickoff is 6 pm. It’s a relatively small crowd – the size of the room dictates that – but an enthusiastic and knowledgeable one. Jim has brewed four pairs of beers – two beers in the same of similar styles from different periods – which we sample together.

Scotch Ale
1933 Younger No. 3 Pale
1879 Younger No. 3

Mild Ale
1950 Whitbread Best Ale
1868 Tetley XX

1886 Barclay Perkins Hhd
1821 Barclay PerkinsTT

Russian Stout
1941 Barclay Perkins IBS
1924 Barclay Perkins IBS Ex

I explain what the differences are between the beers and why the style changed over time. And lots of other random beer history stuff. It’s more tangent than arc this time.

In all, I‘m on for around two hours, which is knackering. Even I get fed up of listening to myself talk eventually. I think I’ve educated and entertained the audience a little.

Jim and his family, me and the Nolans stay on after kicking everyone out for more beer and more talking. After a while I forget how exhausted I am. Maybe because I’ve finally time to drink some beer.

It ends up being very late. I stay up talking to Steve and drinking Lapghroaig until after 3 am. By which time I’ve been up almost 24 hours. I honestly don’t know how I do it. I just know it’s been a really fun day. One of the best of the trip.

Fado Irish Pub
801 1st Ave,
Seattle, WA 98104.
Phone: +1 206-264-2700

Foggy Noggin Brewing
22329 53rd Ave SE,
Bothell, WA 98021.
Phone: +1 425-486-1070

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Yule Logs!!

The season of gluttony and excess is almost upon us - time for my December-only, different every year, Yule Logs!!

Yes, I know it isn't quite December. I was trying to be ahead of the game this year. It was a dreadful rush last time, with Andrew nagging in my ear: "Daaad, just finish it. Don't have another Abt, get on with it. It won't be ready until January at this rate."

I hope the five extra days will boost sales into triple digits*. For anyone wanting to make fortune (in the unlikely event of me being collectable at some point), this is the book to invest in. My set will be Dolores's widow's pension. The illegible 2012 edition - I've the only copy - should see both kids through college.

Ramble, wander, ramble. You can tell I've already broken the seal on the floor (I'd call it my beer cellar, but that would be pretentious and not strictly true), the words are tumbling out like rats from a sewer.  I'm supposed to be convincing you to buy another of my wordless books.

It's odd that, as someone who thinks he knows his way around a sentence, two of the books I'm most proud of contain none. Sentences, I mean. And precious few words.

Yule Logs!!, my annual tribute to Norse responsible consumption, has a total of 249 words. (I said to Dolores: "My payment per word has just shot up. You won't believe how much I getting for this book.") I'm now going to bollox that up by giving them away for free:

Yule Logs!!
Ron Pattinson

Copyright © 2014 Ronald Pattinson

The right of Ronald Pattinson to be identified as the author of his work has been asserted by him in
accordance with the


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed upon the subsequent purchaser.

3rd edition

Published in  December 2014 by

171 hs Warmondstraat, Amsterdam, Noord- Holland

ISBN 978-94-90270-23-0


1805 Barclay Perkins BST
1813 Whitbread Table Stout
1826 Truman Keeping
1832 St. Stephens X
1848 William Younger sheet 1
1848 William Younger sheet 2
1858 Tetley XX 4 top
1858 Tetley XX 4 bottom
1868 Medway Porter and X
1870 Simmonds XX sheet 1
1870 Simmonds XX sheet 2
1886 Hodgson XX sheet 1
1886 Hodgson XX sheet 2
1890 Hodgson Bitter Ale sheet 2
1899 Fullers AK sheet 1
1899 Fullers AK sheet 2
1904 Whitbread IPA
1906 Barclay Perkins KK
1917 Kidd LPA
1915 Drybrough sheet 1
1915 Drybrough sheet 2
1922 Camden PA
1930 Russell 6d Ale
1939 Maclay SA and PA 6d
1941 Barclay Perkins IBS and LS
1954 Whitbread DB
1962 Barclay Perkins Export Lager
1965 Beasley IPA
1964 Truman P1 and P2
1972 Whitbread Final Selection

I can see I'm not really selling the book. Which is the idea, if I want Dolores to have a merry widowhood.

If you have to, purchase my rubbishy, word-free book sometime over the next five weeks, if you can be arsed.

* I'm an assembler programmer. My digits are binary.

Vancouver day two

I've arranged to meet Tak pretty early - 09:30. Just as well I didn't get hammered yesterday. We're going to do a small brew on a tiny pilot system at Parallel 49.

The view from my bed is incredible. I sort of wish I had more time just lounging around in my suite, it's so nice. See what you think of the view:

Our first call is a food truck for breakfast. As you can see, it's a beautiful sunny day again. Everyone keeps telling me how untypical it as for this time of year. I'm not complaining.

Fed we head for Steamworks, a brewpub where Tak worked until recently. As it's not yet open, we enter through the back.

The brewery is in the basement, just about touching distance from the nearest tables. I guess they have to be areful not to accidentally scald any diners. I get a quick tour of the cramped equipment then a chance to sample some of the beers. Tak meanwhile loads up with ingredients for our brew later that day.

While he's busy collecting the malt and hops, I watch Scotland vs. Ireland a little. Who do I want to win? Difficult one that. I'll get back to you later.

We take a bus over to where currently works, Parallel 49. It's a good bit bigger than any of the breweries I've seen so far in Vancouver. Bigger than any on the whole trip. It covers several buildings, all crammed full of stuff, be it brewhouse, fermenters, packaging equipment or stock. It's hard to believe it's only a few years old.

The tour takes longer than most I've done. Logical enough, as it's so big. Sure enough there are both oak barrels and cute little metal firkins.

We dive into the tasting room for a beer or two. They've dead impressive counter-pressure growler fillers. It's doing a brisk trade in growlers and bottles.

It's cask day and I'm asked to tap the barrel. I'm slightly reluctant remembering the incident with a 10-litre barrel of Schumacher Alt in our old flat. I didn't get the tap properly in and sprayed our living room with beer. After that, I was only allowed to tap barrels in the bath. It works fine this time, thankfully.

The half-barrel pilot plant has only just been delivered and the manufacturer is helping to assemble it and explain how it works. It's incredibly compact. I could easily fit it into my flat. Which starts me daydreaming. Until I imagine Dolore's reaction to me turning up with $3,000-odd worth of brewing equipment. No way that will fly.

It's got a bit late to brew. We decide to drop by the nearby Storm Brewing for a quick beer then to get something to eat. It's a good idea to eat at least two meals a day, I've realised.

I've been around a few breweries in my life. But never one like Storm. I'm told the owner built it himself. I can believe that. It looks like a pile of scrap metal. So ramshackle that I'm shocked when I taste the beer. Pretty good. How on earth can he brew in here? The "tasting room" is really just the space between the scrap.

The owner is as characterful as his brewery. We chat a little and he gives us some distilled thing. Not quite sure what it is, but it warms me nicely for the upcoming journey.

It takes a while to flag down a cab. Making me appreciate that final warming drink. We're headed for an English-style pub. But it's packed. No chance of finding a seat. Instead we go to one of the Japanese restaurants nearby. The food is outstanding. The best of the whole trip.

The day ends with a Laphroaig eye-closer  and a dreamy view over the bay.

My book won't sell itself. THAT'S WHY I KEEP SHOUTING ABOUT IT.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Alibi Room
157 Alexander St
BC V6A 1B8.
Phone: +1 604-623-3383

375 Water St,
BC V6B 1B8.
Phone: +1 604-689-2739

Parallel 49 Brewing
1950 Triumph St,
BC V5L 1K5.
Phone: +1 604-558-2739

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Vancouver day one

My flight is quite early, at 10.30 am. Thankfully the airport isn’t as far out of town as in Denver. Twenty minutes is all I need to get there.

I’ve got TSA pre again. Yippee! Not that I’m complaining, but I still wonder why. Is it a lottery or is there some sort of rational procedure?

I’m doing the eating brekkie close to the gate thing again. This time at a brewery-owned pub: Rogue Ales Public House. But I’m foregoing my usual side of Jack Daniels. I don’t even have a beer.  The relatively early hour isn’t the only reason. I’m not feeling too great. Too many strong beers over too long a period yesterday.

Breakfast is a standard two eggs and bacon-centred dish. Bacon is exactly what I need at a time like this. And lots of coffee. Lots and lots.

The weather has turned vile: cold, windy and a little snow. Great. I’ll be making the hop to Vancouver in a little propeller aircraft which means I have to walk over the tarmac. It isn’t pleasant.

For the first half of the journey, cloud veils the ground. It suddenly clears and a knife-sharp view of the coastal plain, backed by the Cascade Mountains, emerges. For once I’ve a window seat and I snap merrily away.  As we near Vancouver, clumps of timber clot every waterway. Never seen that before.

The airport is fairly central and I’m soon at my hotel, Auberge Vancouver. It looks very posh. When I open my room door, my flabber is once again gasted: I’ve got another suite. Even nicer than the last in Denver, with its ridiculous views of the harbour and city. And there’s my box of books sitting on the counter. What more could I ask for?

My talk isn’t until 7 pm but Jeff Longland, one of the home brewers who helped organise it, is picking me up at 1 pm. We’re visiting a few breweries before kickoff.

We head for a part of town that used to be called Brewery Creek and is once again home to several breweries. We start at Main Street Brewing which, appropriately enough, is housed in a former brewery building.

The tasting room is simple, but functional: plain white walls and wooden tables with a bar area separating it from the brewery. It looks brand new, which in pretty much is, having been open less than a year. I'm excited to see four beer engines. (It's sad what gets you excited at my age. I found some fascinating turnips yesterday.) I opt for a Sessional IPA from one of them. I’m not making the same mistake as yesterday: too strong for too long.

The hate shit-balls thrown at Session IPA baffle me. Tasty beers you can enjoy drinking without fear of permanent brain damage. I'm as big a pisshead as the next bloke. And he's Josef Stalin. (Or is it Winston Churchill? I often get those two confused.) But sometimes a change of pace is a good idea. Or a liver transplant.

We have a quick tour of the brewery, which is shinily impressive and was made not far away. They’ve already had to buy more fermenters to keep pace with demand. No oak barrels this time but lots of lovely new firkins. I'd take one home with me, but it wouldn't fit in my bag.

A few more people turn up, including Tak who’s recently started brewing at Parallel 49, the town’s biggest brewery. After Molson.

We’re soon heading down the road to Brassneck, which is only a few blocks away. It’s quite a different sort of place, though also quite new at just about a year old. The tasting room is very much about growler fills, which make up a big chunk of sales. There is no bottling.

Seating is at the rear, a separated from the brewery by a collage wall of scrap wood. Great look.

In the brewery at the side and rear, things are much more cramped than up the road. And it isn’t filled – though filled it is – with the usual stainless kit. They’re three open fermenters and a wooden vat. Dead cool. I’ve seen neither in a North American brewery before.

The odd firkin lazes between the fermenters. In the cold room there’s one filled with 1987 Boddington’s ELM and another with 1923 Courage Stout. Wonder where they got those recipes?

Before trawling up at The Cobalt, where I'm eventing, we drop by Pizzeria Farina, conveniently located right next door. It’s a classy and simple, pizza joint. Not bad pizza at all. And they sell decent beer. What more could you ask?

The Cobalt is an old hotel with a colourful past, having long been home to "exotic" entertainment. It's now a grungy pub/music venue. It reminds me a bit of the Esplanade in St. Kilda, though without the glue-like residue masquerading as a carpet.

The event is in a side room called the Boxcar. It doesn't look quite finished. And isn't heated. On the upside, there is a screen and a projector, which is all I need. And three pins of beer. Two versions of Barclay Perkins East India Porter and one of Boddington's ELM.

When it's time for me to do my talking thing there's a pretty good crowd - 60 or 70 - which packs the place out. It's an easy talk to give. I've done it a few times before. And I wrote it out of my head. I bounce off on a couple of tangents not really part of the talk as written. I usually do that, when I have time. I've a stack of good beer-history stories.

A few of us continue on to the Alibi Room for more beer and a bite to eat. I'm surpised that my hotel is close enough to walk to. Which is what I do when they throw us out.

A Laphroaig is again my late-night travelling companion to the land of dreams.

Buy my book.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Rogue Ales Public House
7000 NE Airport Way
Portland, Oregon.
Phone: +1 503-282-2630

Auberge Vancouver
837 West Hastings Street,

Main Street Brewing
261 E 7th Ave,
BC V5T 0B4.
Phone: +1 604-336-7711

Brassneck Brewery
2148 Main St,
BC V5T 3C5.
Phone: +1 604-259-7686

Pizzeria Farina
915 Main St
BC V6A 2V8.
Phone: +1 604-681-9334

Cobalt Hotel
917 Main St,
Phone:+1 604-685-2825

Alibi Room
157 Alexander St
BC V6A 1B8.
Phone: +1 604-623-3383

Monday, 24 November 2014

last few hours to get 50% off my Lulu hardbacks

there's also 30% off my paperbacks until the end of Monday (24th November) with this code:


But this code will get you an amazing 50% off hardbacks over the same period:


I notice a couple of you have done what I would have - bought the whole Mega Book Series: Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong!.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Some people have mentioned that Lulu wouldn't let them ship to a US address. If you're in the right bit of Lulu it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure you're in the Lulu US bookstore.

This code may only work in the US Lulu bookstore.

Portland day two

It’s another leisurely start to the day. I quick continental breakfast downstairs followed by some lazing around my hotel room. I’m such a slob.

I’ve arranged to meet David Hauslein in the early afternoon at BeerMongers. It’s a combined bottle shop and bar in a light industrial building.  David’s already there when I arrive and recognizes me. Maybe it’s the box of books I’m carrying. We cosy up to the bar and set about the serious task of getting some peeve down our necks.

It’s not a huge place. A few tables, some seats at the bar and fridges full of beer lining the walls. A smattering of customers here and there. Today’s event – at Hair of the Dog – isn’t until 4 pm, leaving me time for a decent session beforehand. Possibly too much time.

On the TV Holland are playing Mexico – and losing. Everyone is a little bemused at why I’m so happy Holland are getting stuffed. I’d even want them  to lose if they were playing Arsenal, and that’s saying something. Because, to quote Terry Collier, “I hate Arsenal”.

After a couple of hours of beer and beery chat, David drives me over to Hair of the Dog. Where Alan Sprints, who’s organised the event, is waiting for me. It’s another industrial type building, half of which is dedicated to the tasting room, the other half to the brewery.

Alan gives me a spin around the shiny thing room. Though it’s not as full of those things as many breweries I’ve been to recently. No, here there are loads of wooden things. Quite a large number of oak barrels, most of which seem to be filled with one form or other of Fred.

There’s a wide variety of barrels, all around hogshead size. What look like second-hand wine or bourbon barrels, Aardbeg ones from Islay and even brand new ones stamped with the brewery’s logo. Barrel-ageing is obviously a big deal here. And by here I mean both Hair of the Dog and the USA.

Snuggling up to the oak casks are piles of dull and dented golden gate kegs in a couple of sizes. I’ve seen a lot of them this trip. I suspect that they’re being used as firkin substitutes.

The line up of beers for the event is pretty impressive:

1804 Barclay Perkins TT
1848 Barclay Perkins TT
1931 Ushers Brown Ale
2014 Blue Dot
1839 Reid’s BPA
1846 Truman XXXXK
1848 Younger 100/-
1916 Whitbread KKK
1860 Truman XXX (on cask)

All but the Blue Dot are from my book. Which I’ve started selling even before my short, impromptu talk.

It’s another decent-sized crowd and they seem to enjoy my historical blether. Not sure how long it lasts again. I can keep on going for hours if no-one stops me. I love the chance of speaking uninterrupted. I rarely get that at home.

I shift most of the books I brought. It’s a nightmare estimating how many to bring. I had to order an emergency extra box to be delivered to Vancouver. Took a bit of a hit on the shipping cost, but that’s better than running out of books with a couple of events still to go.

I hang around for a while to chat and drink. Obviously the latter. When else will I get a chance to drink KKK? I never dreamt anyone would make a commercial beer called that.

Things are getting blurry. At some point we had back to the city centre, to Bailey’s Taproom. I’m beginning to regret my early start. I polished off two bombers in my hotel before setting out. That may have been a mistake.

I suppose I walk home. It’s not far.

No need of a Laphroaig eye-closer tonight.

Tomorrow I’ve a short flight to Vancouver. Hope I remember to wake up.

Intrigued by my book? Then buy the bloody thing.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

The BeerMongers
1125 SE Division St,
Portland, OR 97202.
Phone: +1 503-234-6012

Hair of the Dog
61 SE Yamhill Street
Portland OR 97214
Phone: +1 503-232-6585

Bailey's Taproom
213 SW Broadway,
Portland, OR 97205.
Phone: +1 503-295-1004

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Get my Lulu hardbacks for half price

30% off my paperbacks until the end of Monday (24th November) with this code:


And an incredible 50% off hardbacks over the same period with this code:


Your only chance to get my Mega Book Series cheap: Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong!.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Some people have mentioned that Lulu wouldn't let them ship to a US address. If you're in the right bit of Lulu it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure you're in the Lulu US bookstore.

Portland day one

Today’s flight is a little later, almost noon. But, the airport being miles away, I need to get up reasonably early. If only to catch breakfast in the hotel, which is free. No need to eat at the gate, which also saves time.

It takes me a while to find the United check in. Which is odd as Denver is one of their major hubs. Somehow I’ve missed a whole long row of bag drop offs. I blame the cold. In turns my brain to that thing that’s sort of ice and sort of water. What’s it called? . . . . . Slush, that’s it.

I’ve got something called TSA pre. It means a slightly less humiliating security experience. You don’t have to strip off quite as many pieces of clothing and disassemble your baggage. No idea why I got it, but I’m not complaining. Security checks irritate the arse off me.

With an hour or so to strangle, dismember and bury in a forest before boarding, I hunker down at the closest bar. It’s called Pour La France! and has a weird French theme. You’d never have guessed from the name.

“Double Jack Daniels, straight up.”

The bar is fringed with the like-minded. Loading spirits before boarding.

Airport bars are remarkably sociable. Knowing you’ll part soon and never meet again, why not take a punt on a chat? I don’t indulge myself this time, but watch others strike up conversations and smoke them to the fag end.

I mosey over to my gate at boarding time. Remarkably, my United flight is again on time. On my last book-flogging trip every single one was late. One very late.

This flight isn’t total sardine time, but still pretty full. I indulge in a couple of whiskies. There’s no in-flight entertainment: how else can I entertain myself in-flight?

My bag thunks onto the belt pretty promptly. Before I know it I’m cabbed and hotel-bound.

As the taxi crosses the Willamette River into downtown, I notice something odd. Portland looks like a city. A proper city, with shops and stuff. And those fleshy mammally, two-legged things I like chatting with. Human beings, that’s the word. I’m liking Portland already.

We pass a city square lined with ethnic food trucks. I’ve fallen asleep and this is all just a wonderful dream. Isn’t it?

Bags dropped, I head for a nearby shop to get water. And in this case, beer, too, as Oregon doesn’t have stupid laws. For a corner shop, the beer selection isn’t bad. The prices are a shock. In New Jersey, bombers started at $6 or $7, heading north into crazy territory, before reaching totally fucking crazy do you think I’m a complete fucking idiot land. Here I can pick one up for under $3. Robbing New Jersey bastards.

There’s a Deschutes brewpub just a few blocks away.  I don’t feel like going far because it’s dead windy. On the way there I bump into a massive book shop, Powell's City of Books. It covers a whole city block. Another sign this is a cool city.

I slip in and search for the beer section. Easier said than done. The place is meganormous. But not particularly well signposted. After a few minutes of wandering I find it. Not bad at all. A stack of beer books. I’d give you a number, but do you think I’m the sort of sick obsessive that counts everything? *

Deschutes is pretty full, but I’m able to get a seat at the bar. Oh, look – they’ve got Fresh Squeezed IPA on cask. No long deliberation this time. It’s rather nice, in a citrusy US sort of way. And a bit too drinkable. Before I know it my first pint is almost gone. Just as well it’s only 6.4% ABV.

They’re missing a trick, many US brewers and publicans. People drink well-kept cask more quickly than keg beer. And drink more of it. I’d be trying to push it to boost sales volumes.

Though I notice a reassuring number of casks when I take the obligatory snaps of the shiny things**. It’s a recurring theme in breweries I’m visiting. As with oak barrels, most have some. Maybe I was a bit hasty is saying they were missing the barge.

I order an Elk burger. Never had Elk before. It’s also rather nice.

Three pints of Fresh Squeezed disappear in 40 minutes. No greater compliment than that from me. I'd happily drink another three. Which is one of the reasons I leave. Plus I’d like to visit more than one brewery today. Gotta keep to my quota.

Fat Head's Brewery is just a few blocks away. It’s a bit of an industrial barn with a pretty decent-sized brewery behind glass.

Buuut . . . . . they’ve a cask Stout. A Julie Andrews (or is it John Coltrane?) of a beer for me. It’s quite nice. Did I ever tell you of my youthful dreams of cask-conditioned Guinness Extra Stout? Not whimsical musings, things that pinged around my brain whilst sleeping.

It’s getting late, as my ramblings reveal. Time to ramble homewards, remembering to grip the camera better.

Laphroaig is my lullaby once more.

* You’ve hacked my webcam, haven’t you?
** “This is boring, Ronald. Didn’t you take any pictures of people. It’s all brewing stuff and buildings.”

Please buy my wonderful book.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Pour La France!
B Gates
Center Core
(303) 317-9472

Powell's City of Books
1005 W Burnside St,
Portland, OR 97209.
Tel: +1 503-228-4651

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
210 NW 11th Ave,
Portland, OR 97209.
Tel: +1 503-296-4906

Fat Head's Brewery
131 NW 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97209
Tel: +1 503-820-7721

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Incredible Lulu books offer still on

30% off my paperbacks until the end of Monday (24th November) with this code:


And an incredible 50% off hardbacks over the same period with this code:


An unmissable deal - a great chance to get the whole Mega Book Series: Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong!.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Some people have mentioned that Lulu wouldn't let them ship to a US address. If you're in the right bit of Lulu it shouldn't be a problem. Just make sure you're in the Lulu US bookstore.

This code may only work in the US Lulu bookstore.

Denver day two

This was always going to be a quiet day. I've arranged to meet up with Todd around midday, leaving me the morning to myself.

I'm feeling a bit knacked, but need to get before 9:30 for breakfast. As it's free and includes bacon, no way I'm missing out on that. Fed, I go back to bed for another couple of hours kip. Why make life hard for yourself?

Todd messages me that he can't get away from work until later - can I meet him I Hogshead at 4 pm? No problem. I'm sure I can amuse myself for a few hours. What to do in Denver? I consult Google Maps and BeerAdvocate, then remember Falling Rock. It was mentioned last nigh as the town's top beer bar. And I'd spotted it from my airport taxi. Not that far away, lots of beer - a total no-brainer.

I notice something when I leave my hotel. It's effing freezing. It feels like it's about to start snowing. I though the cold weather wasn't due to sweep in until after I'd left. Evidently not. Wind, there's lots of that, too. I'm starting to wish I'd listened to Dolores and brought warmer clothing.

What's that hitting my face? Snow. It's bloody snowing! Brilliant. When I arrive at Falling Rock, I'm frozen.

"Hello, Ron." Someone says as I walk through the door. Which is slightly disconcerting. It's the owner. He was at my talk yesterday. Thankfully. Not some random crazy.

I settle into a seat at the bar and we chat a little. He notices me looking admiringly at a Hammonds Ales sign.

"It's one of only two in the US." He tells me. "Michael Jackson was impressed when he was here. He used to drink Hammonds beer when he was starting out as a reporter. He recorded an interview here and insisted on having the sign in the background."

It's a cosy enough bar. The bar counter runs the whole length of one wall and the rest of the space is filled with booths. Breweriana is everywhere. Mostly in the form of bottles and tap handles, but there are also sign, mirrors and trays. I can never get enough of that stuff.

Some random dudes wander in and order beers.

"What about some shots?"

"Yeah, why not?"

Why not, indeed? It is effing snowing outside. I'd join you, but I left my crazy head back in the hotel. I'm stuck with the vaguely sensible head.

For once on this trip, I'm taking notes. Here goes:

Odell's IPA
A classic US IPA - citrus, lemon zest, lemon, grapefruit. Slips down very easily for 7% ABV.

Comrades Super Power IPA
Similar flavours to the Odell's, but bitterer and just 7.6% ABV. Bit more grapefruity.

Boulder Shake Porter
Looks like it's on nitro. It really does taste like a chocolate milkshake, as the barman said. Slightly weird, but drinkable.

Great Divide Oatmeal Yeti
This stuff is effing black The head is pretty dark, too. A stack of roast going on - fairly acrid. Some hops going on, too, but the bitterness mostly seems to come from the malt.

After a couple of beers, I need some food. I'm split between the buffalo burger and the Texas burger on a bed of jualapenos. In the end I go for the buffalo burger and ask for it with a bed of jualapenos. They're happy to oblige.

My favourite item on the menu is the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo.

"Two 1/2 pound patties cooked rare, topped with bacon, American cheese, 1/3 pound of pastrami, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, a fried egg guacamole & mayo on a big-ass bun. Served  with onion rings, fries and a defribillator. Price overinflated, just like Elvis. $46.40."

After a few hours, I head back to my hotel. It's now snowing way harder than is pleasant. More like specks of ice. Whipped by the wind makes them prick my face like needles. Lovely. I'm not used to this sort of weather. It didn't freeze last winter in Amsterdam. Which is why there were so many bloody mosquitoes this year.

It takes ages to get a taxi to go to Hogshead. Probably the change in the weather. It's caught a few people unawares. I see someone on a bike wearing shorts and another strolling down the street in a tee-shirt. Must be a random Geordie.

Todd, Steve and I share a few pints of cask beer. They sold two firkins of the Lovibond Mild yesterday. Not bad at all considering the size of the pub and the fact that they were selling several other cask beers. We get talking with a young baker. She's here because of her name, which is the same as one of the beers they brew: Julie Brown. We chat a while about the dreadfulness of American factory bread. She tells me of the revival in bakeries making proper bread. There are many parallels with the beer scene.

After a couple of hours Steve heads home and me and Todd drop by Lucky Pie for dinner. It's a combined pizzeria and beer joint. That sort of odd combination doesn't seem odd anymore in the US. Good beer is popping up all over the place. Like Copenhagen.

My hotel is within walking distance. But frostbite is nibbling at my grillox when I get there. I warm up in the hotel bar which, of course, also has plenty of beer options.

Tomorrow is just a travelling day, with Portland as my destination. Can't wait.

This is the reason I was in the US: to sell my book.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Falling Rock Tap House
1919 Blake St,
Denver, CO 80202.
Phone: +1 303-293-8338

Hogshead brewery
4460 W 29th Ave,
Denver, CO 80212.

Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse
1610 16th Street Mall,
Denver, CO 80202.
Phone: +1 303-825-10