Craft Keg Arrives in Cambridge

I popped into the Cambridge Brew House at lunchtime, as I was dropping off a couple of bottles of homebrew for James, the head brewer of the Cambridge Brewing Company. As he was telling me about his future trip to a hop farm to pick up some green hops, my eye wandered to the back of the bar, where I noticed a load of keg fonts coming out of a keg attached to the wall. I’ll admit to suddenly blurting out “you have Thornbridge Jaipur on keg…!?!” and stopping James in his tracks; it’s not everyday you see that sort of thing round here.

So evidently the Cambridge Brew House have installed a few more keg lines and have some national and international craft keg on tap! Today there was Camden Pale Ale and Freedom Organic Lager on the main bar fonts, plus Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted, Thornbridge Jaipur, Adnams Clump Sagin and Redhook Long Hammer IPA on the new keg fonts. If you can make out the prices on the photos above, you’ll notice that they’re craft keg prices, so a pint of the Jaipur would set you back £4.50. Which isn’t too steep if you’ve ever drank in Cask, Craft or The Euston Tap.

This is a definite step forward for pubs in Cambridge, especially as James told me that they had some Magic Rock stuff waiting to go on too. Which I’ll probably miss, due to being on holiday for the next three weeks, but those are the breaks. When I get back, I’m going to have to go down and see what they have on, fingers crossed for some Magic Rock

So Much Beer, So Little Time…

I was in London on Saturday for the South East regional heat of the Sainsbury’s Great British Beer Hunt 2012, I’ll be doing a full blog post about it soon. I managed to visit some pubs, both before and after, one of which was The Craft Beer Company, on Leather Lane. While I was there, I couldn’t help but think about Boak and Bailey’s recent blog post The Agony of Choice:

A place like the Craft Beer Company, unless you can visit it everyday, and have the funds to support such a habit, can actually be a little depressing. Even if we drink ourselves under the table, we’ll still leave wondering about the beers we didn’t try, the half that never was.

I’ve said before that I like choice and variety, which is one of the reasons that I hardly ever drink the same beer twice in a session. I also hate missing out on things, it’s one of the drivers of my obsessional behaviour and has lead to me getting into all sorts of trouble. I’m sure you can imagine that somewhere like The Craft Beer Co. is both an ideal venue and the worst nightmare for someone with these traits.

It’s the ideal venue due to the sixteen hand pumps, twenty one keg lines and over three hundred bottles. The choice is so staggering, you could easily drink all day for days without having to drink the same beer twice. At the same time, this staggering level of choice is my worst nightmare, especially when I’m on a time limited fleeting visit.

How am I supposed to choose which beers to drink, when at first glance there are at least seven cask beers I’m going wide eyed at? How can I not feel anything other than a bit of drression that I have neither the time nor money to try all the cask beers I’d like to, let alone any of the keg or bottled beers. To be honest, I stood upstairs with my phone plugged into a wall socket and felt pretty miserable, I didn’t even look at what was on the keg fonts as I walked past.

I know that I was tired from trying all the beers at the Great British Beer Hunt, both physically and mentally and as a result I didn’t really fancy having much beer after wards. But I can’t really remember feeling that despondent in a pub for a long time, as I had to chose between beers that I’ve never had and likely wont see again, potentially ever.

I know that quite a lot of the problem is in my own head, not letting my obsessions get the better of me is hard work. I’m sure plenty of people go through pubs like Craft, Cask or the Euston Tap and they have what they have and move on without much of a second thought. I’m with Boak and Bailey though, the last few times I’ve been to these pubs, I’ve left wondering about the halves that never were and wishing that their beer selection wasn’t quite so stellar.

28.845 Units

I thought it would be interesting to jot down everything I drank on Friday and add up the units. More to scare myself at the amount I drank, rather than to prove any kind of point. So here, in order, is what I imbibed and where (just to clarify, I drank half pints):

Pub Brewery Beer ABV Units*
King William IV Brodies Kiwi 3.8% 1.08
Brodies Citra 3.1% 0.881
Brodies Silver Bullet 4.7% 1.34
Brodies American Brown 4.8% **
Brodies Hoxton Special IPA 6.6% 1.88
Tap East Tap East Pale Ale 5.6% 1.59
Tap East Extra Stout 6.6% 1.88
Thornbridge Chiron 5% 1.42
Lovibonds 69 IPA 6.9% 1.96
Cask Pub And Kitchen Mikkeller / Redemption Mild Interpretation 3.5% 0.994
Dark Star Hophead 3.8% 1.08
Magic Rock Curious NZ 3.9% 1.11
Dark Star Green Hopped IPA 6.5% 1.85
The Southampton Arms Camden Town Show Boat 4.5% 1.28
Marble Chocolate Marble 5.5% 1.56
Magic Rock Cannonball 7.4% 2.1
The Euston Tap Magic Rock High Wire 5.5% 1.56
Thornbridge Raven 6.6% 1.88
Nøgne Ø Pale Ale 6% 1.7
Rogue Ales Brutal Bitter 6% 1.7
Total units   28.845

I was also in The Castle Inn on Tuesday lunch, The Cartlon Arms on Wednesday lunch and The Devonshire Arms on Thursday lunch. So all in all, last week was rather on the alcoholic side, not the worst week, units wise, that I’ve ever had, but certainly the worst for many, many years. I think I owe my liver a break and am planning on having this week off the booze, although there is an Adnams mini keg in the shed and my wife is away next weekend…

* Units calculated using the calculator here.
** I took this one back as it tasted funny, so it’s not inculuded in the calculation…

Live Blog: The Infinite Monkey Cage

I’m in London today for a recording of the BBC Radio 4 science show The Infinite Monkey Cage. I’m going to try and visit three pubs that I’ve not been to before and blog about them live. It’ll be interesting to see how we get on…

King William IV
I’m currently sitting in the Brodies Brewery tap and what a pub it is! I’ve never been to the East end before and I don’t know if this is a genuine example of a boozer, but I can imagine the it could get quite lively in here.

Even with half the pumps out of action, there is still a dizzying range of Brodies beer available. If I’m not careful, I might still be here come the evening!

Tap East
I’ve just left Tap East and am trying to write this on the underground, so apologies if it makes no sense…

Nestled away in a corner of the horrific Westfield Stratford, Tap East is a beery oasis in the midst of rampant consumerism. Run by Glyn, late of The Rake, the choice of beer is excellent, including two beers brewed on the premises, an Extra Stout and a Pale Ale. Both need a bit of tweaking, but for the first two beers brewed in a new brewery, they are hard to fault.

There is also an amazing choice of keg and bottled beer, so no one should be disappointed if they make the trip out to visit. The only problem on this visit, just like in any pub, is the occasional douchbag of a customer who oversteps the mark. I was very, very impressed with Glyn’s composure and restraint, I’m not so sure I’d have been so tolerant if I’d been in his shoes. I’ll be back…

Cask Pub and Kitchen
I don’t need to tell you how good this pub is. Do I…?

BBC Radio Theater
Bring on the monkeys…

The Aftermath
I’m writing this on Sunday evening, I would have written it last night, but I wasn’t really well enough to do much yesterday… As you can see, the live blogging stopped after I went into The Infinite Monkey Cage recording. This wasn’t my intent, but it just sort of, slipped by the wayside after a bit more beer.

My next destination was The Southampton Arms, which is a few minutes yomp North of Kentish Town underground station. It was busy, unsurprising for a Friday night, but this meant nowhere to sit, or to stand without getting in the way. I ended up stood at the bar, which meant that no only did I get through my drinks quicker, but I was chatting to people and what not, rather than blogging.

By the time I left The Southampton Arms, I was starting to feel the effects of drinking all afternoon. The half pint of Magic Rock Cannonball that disappeared in about ten minutes might have had something to do with that. However, buy the time I got the tube back to Euston Station, I’d never have made the fast train back to Cambridge from King Cross, so I headed for The Euston Tap.

In retrospect this was probably a mistake, as I was only there for forty minutes or so, yet managed to put away four halves, three of which were over six percent. So when I left, I was rather more than tipsy, but I did manage to stumble into the newly opened Cider Tap for a look. Don’t ask me what it look like as I can’t really remember, other than the bar isn’t where you expect it to be.

The train back to Cambridge was uneventful, other than feeling dangerously queasy. I nearly didn’t get off the train though, as I thought we’d stopped in Royston and as my media player was on quite loud and I had my head in my hands, I didn’t hear or see that were were in fact in stopped at Cambridge. When I eventually looked up, as we’d be stationary for ages, I realised where we were and go off onto a deserted platform. I’ve no idea how long the train had been sitting there, or how close it was to leaving, all I know is that I was rather lucky to actually get off on time and in the right station.

This just left an hours or so cycle home, after a ten minute stumble to the car to recover my bike. To be honest, I should probably have kipped in the boot, but after falling over a few times putting my cycling shoes one etc, I headed off for home. I stopped a couple of times on the way home, I had a bladder full of beer after all, but I eventually made it, where I promptly fell off my bike and landed in a heap in the front garden. Not wanting to disturb my wife too much, I passed out on the sofa, as I thought I may have to get up again to have a chat with someone on the giant porcelain telephone. Luckily that didn’t happen and I finally made it into bed around seven o’clock.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell you what the hangover felt like when I eventually got up, lets just say that it was one of the worst I’ve had for a few years. I had a great day out though and I’d definitely go back to all the pubs I visited, maybe not in quite the same state, but I’ll definitely be back.

In Pyraser Of Pilsner

I started this blog as I was stuck in a rut, week in week out I was buying and drinking the same beers from the local supermarket. I’d like to think that in the two years since I started this blog, things have changed, they certainly had last year judging from the stock take that I did. I’m not doing a similar stock take this year, probably, not because I think it will show me reverting to my old behaviour or anything, more that things have changed.

There has been a seismic shift in my mental state about my obsession with beer, I’ll be covering it in another blog. It centres around The Box Of Delights Demons that I have at the Bacchanalia and how that and other factors have created a self sustaining cycle of destructive behaviour. That blog will be necessarily dark, this one should be the complete opposite, as it’s about an awakening, basically the realisation that I like lager*.

I’m not sure when this new found love of Pilsner has come from, it’s sort of sneaked up on me a bit. It’s not like I’ve never drank lager though, although I think we can except the Skol & Lime from my later teenage years from this discussion. Till now, it’s mainly been bottles of Budvar, Karen, my wife, got me into that as we sat on various Cambridge commons and greens on balmy summers evenings when we first got together. I tried others, but I didn’t really get on with Pilsner Urquell, really, really didn’t get on with Staropramen and pretty much hated everything that came out of Germany, especially Jever.

I suppose I can trace the tipping point, to the day I bought some Bernard Nefiltrovaný ležák for Karen at The Euston Tap. Of course I had a sip and was blown away at the amount of flavour that it contained. When I found myself back in The Euston Tap a couple of months later, it was one of the first beers I went for before getting stuck in on the stronger stuff. Since then I’ve been buying copious quantities of Pilsner, both filtered and unfiltered, in bottles from the Bacchanalia whenever they’ve had some in stock.

Stand outs for me this year have to be Italia, the Thornbridge collaboration with Birrificio Italiano, Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager by Collective São Gabriel and Hopfenpflücker Pils by Pyraser. The later I’ve really been taken with and while we speed head long into Winter and strong, dark beer territory, I for one wont be giving up on the Pilsner in the coming months. I’m really looking forward to next Spring when our extension is complete and I can sit with the doors open and enjoy a cool, clean flavoursome, preferably, unfiltered Pilsner, with the evening breeze wafting into the house.

* I’m of course not talking about any old Lager, you wont suddenly see me necking cans of Carling or Stella any time soon…

Free Houses

I went out for dinner in Saffron Walden with my wife a few weeks back and we managed to squeeze in a quick pint in The Old English Gentleman before heading to Dish for some food. I’d never been to a pub in Saffron Walden before, so had to do a bit of googling to find somewhere that looked like it would server decent beer and was relatively near the restaurant. When we got inside I was disappointed to see that the beers on offer were, Adnams Bitter, Woodfordes Wherry, Shepherd Neame Spitfire and Exmoor Gold.

Personally I thought the selection of beer was ridiculously safe and boring, I could probably get the Adnams and Woodfordes beers in a number of other pubs in Saffron Walden (this is obviously conjecture as this is the only pub I’ve been to in the town, but hear me out), I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sheps Spitfire as well. One of the main issues I have was the diversity of the selection; Adnams Bitter is brown and 3.7%, Woodfordes Wherry is golden and 3.8%, Shepherd Neame Spitfire is brown and 4.2% and finally the Exmoor Gold is, unsurprisingly, golden and 4.5%.

There was no mild, no stout, nothing that was pale and hoppy and nothing that could be considered strong. Like I said, I thought it was a safe and boring selection and worryingly, it’s a trend I’ve seen in a number of other free houses near where I live.

The Black Bull in Balsham, is in the next village and generally has three cask ales on. I’ve been in there when the selection has all been sub four percent brown bitter, but similarly I’ve been in when they’ve had pale and hoppy beer from Oakham Ales on. However, every time I’ve been there, they’ve also had Greene King IPA on, even though there is a Greene King pub, The Bell, less then two hundred metres up the road.

Similarly, The Three Tuns in Great Abington, a 10 to 15 minute drive away, is a free house and while it’s food led, it’s still a locals pub as well. I was in there a few weekends ago picking up a take away, they do excellent Thai food and I noticed that they only had two cask ales on, instead of the normal three. Yet again, one of those ales was Greene King IPA, but I’ve seen the usual bitters from Adnams, Woodfordes et al when I’ve been in before.

I can sort of understand why these pubs have the beer they have, The Black Bull probably wants to temp drinkers from The Bell, so has their usual on tap all the time, just in case they fancy a change of scenery. The Three Tuns, being food led, probably doesn’t want anything outlandish to scare the diners, so sticks to what most people will know. I’m sure the cricket teams who frequent the bar after a match just want something to slake their thirst before heading home.

At the same time, in this kind of financial climate where hundreds of pus are closing all over the country, I really don’t understand it. Surely you want to differentiate yourself from your competition, so people will come to you because you offer something that those pubs around you don’t. I can get Greene King IPA in literally hundreds of local pubs, including my local, which is about fifty metres from my front door. Why would I want to travel to the next village, or further away, to drink the same beer in a different pub?

I’m not expecting every free house to be like The Euston Tap, or even The Cambridge Blue. So maybe someone could explain the rational behind free houses offering very similar beers and the same beers as tied pubs in the same locality, because I just don’t get it.

Cambridge Tap Location Revealed

Last week the Cambridge Tap twitter feed announced that they would unveil the location of the Tap this week:!/CambridgeTap1/status/100614674277609473

Today a photo was posted to their twitter feed showing a portion of the building:!/CambridgeTap1/status/103435352643084289

I knew it had to be at the station, you just need to look at their other locations to know that it had to be there. The Sheffield Tap and the York Tap are both in the station buildings and the Euston Tap is right outside, so it couldn’t have been anywhere else.

Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t know there was any free space in the station building. It was only when I was going to London to see Iron Maiden (post coming soon), I found out that there was in fact space at both ends of the main station complex. The photo looks like it’s from the North end of the station, which has a load of bike racks in front of it. Don’t fret though:!/CambridgeTap1/status/103475958291513345

That tweet cause a bit of a consternation:!/APogonowski/status/103488705091743745

But not to worry, they aren’t disappearing:!/CambridgeTap1/status/103492840151203841

Roll on November!

My First GBBF

Don't drink Hophead...

It’s amazing how time flies as it’s now been over a week since I went to the trade session of the GBBF, my first ever visit. I’d been saying that I’d go since 1999, so it was about time really. I had to get a later train to London than the friends I was going with, that coupled with the fact that I was getting my trade ticket from @jamesbwxm, who wasn’t going to get there until 13:00, all meant that I had time for a quick half in The Euston Tap before I had to head to Earls Court. I was after a nice cool unfiltered Bernard, but the Thornbridge Versa caught my eye and I plumped for a half of that and very nice it was too.

Sandstone Sweep and Hardknott Sooty...While standing at the bar I noticed someone a few places down who looked vaguely familiar, it turned out to be Richard Burhouse from myBreweryTap and Magic Rock Brewing fame. This was the first opportunity of the day to put a face to someone who I only know from social media, or being a customer of. I joined Rich and his colleagues outside to finish our beers and then headed to Earls Court with them on the tube.

This turned out to be a shrewd move as we got there before @jamesbwxm, but Rich had a few spare tickets, so I managed to sponge one off him, for which I’m most grateful. Once inside I realised that I knew a few of the orange shirt wearing stewards from the Cambridge beer festivals, so I went one way, while Rich and co went the other. I never saw them again, which meant I couldn’t buy them a beer, maybe next year.

Ian, Terri (from The Cambridge Blue), Toby and Bov....My first impressions upon walking in the hall aren’t fit for publication, they involved quite a bit of swearing. I knew it was going to be big, but I just didn’t realise how big. While I managed to get a free program, got to have some benefit to the CAMRA membership, I didn’t bother consulting it, I just went for a quick wander around the cavernous interior to see what was where.

I really wasn’t sure what I was going to drink until I got there, I was conflicted between trying all the British cask ale that I can’t normal get in Cambridge, or drinking the more esoteric world beers that I’d probably never see again. Given the vast size of the hall and the weird way the beers were distributed amongst all the bars, what’s wrong with alphabetical by brewery anyway…? I decided to try two British cask beers that I really wanted to try and then move onto the world beer.

Andy Mogg, Craig Garvie and Simon Johnson...After wandering for a while, I eventually ended up on the bar that had the festivals sole Moor beer, shame it had a "not on till later" sign, so I headed for the Thornbridge bar and had a half of Chiron (how are you supposed to pronounce that…? Ch-ee-ron Ch-iron, Ki-ron…?). Once I had a beer, I set off to find my friends, which turned out to not be that difficult. There were in one of the seating areas in a small enclave of Cambridge beer festival people, so I could finally dump my rucsac and get some suggestions for beers to try.

It was at this point I started to recognise people I only know via Twitter and other social media, wandering around. I’m not going to name check everyone, but it was nice to met you all. I think it’s human nature to form preconceived ideas about what people are like and I have to admit that I’m quite bad at doing that. I expected quite a few people to be taller, smaller, fatter, thinner, grumpy, cheery, you get the picture, so it was nice to have the vast majority of my preconceived ideas shattered. I’d like to say everyone I met was really nice, but after insulting both Jonathan Queally and Adrian Tierney-Jones within thirty seconds of meeting them, it wasn’t surprising they both looked at me like I was a creature that had just appeared from a black lagoon…

In need of more beer...In the end I split my drinking mainly between the Czech beers and the US cask beers, with the odd European thrown in for fun. I had tastes of loads more, some were fabulous, some a bit meh, one even looked like someone had been sick in the glass. I did plan of buy some of those I tasted, but for some annoying reason they took two of the US cask beers off, even though they weren’t finished (those would have been the Stone SoCal and the Green Flash Palete Wrecker).

Eventually it was time to leave, where the time had gone I have no idea. Loads of people had decamped hours before to Cask Pub & Kitchen, but we needed to head back to Cambridge. I was getting a lift home, so there wasn’t the opportunity to hit one of the excellent London pubs. We had to make do with a sneaky half in The Devonshire Arms before heading home.

I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my first visit to GBBF, but I’m still not sure what I thought of it, I’m not sure if I actually liked it or not. I certainly enjoyed myself and I drank some cracking beer, but then I didn’t have to pay to get in, it wasn’t massively crowded and I did have access to a seat. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed myself as much if I’d had to pay to get in and it had been really, really hot and busy.

A fridge full of Budvar...I suppose I’m a small event kind of person, I’d never do the London Triathlon for example, I’d rather do the Bedford Classic, it’s smaller and more intimate. I think I feel the same way about the GBBF, it was too big for me, too much aimless wandering around trying to find the beer I wanted to try. I’m sure the organisers have their reasons for setting it up like that and for splitting up Bières Sans Frontières into four separate bars, I’d just do it differently (I know I’m not the only one who thinks that putting all the UK beer out alphabetically by brewery would be a better idea).

The range of beer was fantastic though, as were the people I met (when I wasn’t insulting them) and I did have a good time. I’m just not sure if I’m being overly critical of what I thought about it because I’ve never been before and it didn’t quite meet up with what I was expecting. I suppose the only way to find out, is to go back next year.

These are the beers that I actually bought while at the GBBF:

The Cambridge Tap

I received and email last week from Bert Kenward, the Cambridge CAMRA Summer Beer Festival organiser. He’d just had the Cambridge Beer Festival Twitter account followed by @CambridgeTap1 and was wondering if I’d heard anything online. Intrigued, I fired off a tweet to Yan Pilkington, who I know was instrumental in setting up both the Sheffield and Euston Taps, so was bound to be involved in this new venture.!/RecentlyDrunk/status/80669567239733249!/PivovarYan/status/80712358992949248

While the range of British beer in Cambridge pubs is very good, it’s still quite conservative and there is practically no international beer on draft, certainly none from US or new wave European breweries. Taking nothing away from pubs like the The Cambridge Blue (10 to 14 beers on hand pump, German ales on keg, plus over a hundred bottles in the fridge), but Cambridge is finally going to get a pub that will be stocking a wide range world class beers from both Britain and further a field. Practically all Cambridge pubs are on the conservative side, there’s not much in the way of new wave, progressive beer around, especially from European or American brewers…!/CambridgeTap1/status/80755114293465088!/CambridgeTap1/status/80905488929271808

It took a while for the @CambridgeTap1 Twitter account to get going, but at the end of last week they tweeted a hint about the location they are going to develop. This caused a deluge of emails, as a few of us tried to work out where they could be talking about. It didn’t help that I’d been told the The Mitre had shut and was to reopen as a poncey pub, evidently it’s already reopened and isn’t poncey, besides, it doesn’t have "a cracking south facing beer garden".!/CambridgeTap1/status/81662301521981440

I think the main things that has a lot of us thrown, is the comment about the "stuning (sic) building with buckets of history", which sort of rules out a location in the new station development, as that is flattening wast swathes of real estate, so there wont be much left that has buckets of history. Since all the other Taps (Sheffield, Euston and York) are either, in, or next to a station, I can’t for the life of me think where they may be talking about, I can’t wait to find out though…

The Session #52: Beer Collectibles & Breweriana

This months Session is being hosted by Brian Stechschulte at All Over Beer and the topic is Beer Collectibles & Breweriana

The SessionAfter missing the last couple of sessions due to various reasons, my heart sank when I saw the topic for this months topic. I’ve always associated breweriana with sad old men trading faded beer mats, or rather obsessive geeks who fill their houses with empty cans. I know this is a terrible generalisation, but the only stories you ever see in main stream media seem to back up this view, see this article as an example.

I’ve been racking my brains for the last few weeks trying to work out if I have any breweriana or not. To start with I was pretty sure I had none, but now I’m not so sure, here’s a list of what I think I’ve got around the place:

  • Box of assorted beer festival pint glasses, each carefully wrapped up in paper to avoid damage
  • Castlemaine XXXX beer mat that a friend mailed from Australia instead of a postcard
  • Two Milton Brewery pump clips from the two poly-pins of beer we had at our wedding
  • A, now, empty 1L beer bottle from U Fleků that I brought back on the plane, when you could still do that, after a weekend away in Prague
  • A Thornbridge pint glass that I liberated from The Euston Tap, it was actually given to me by Tim Anderson, the winner of Master Chef when I asked if I could have one
  • An empty 2.2kg tub High5 Energy Source, that is currently three quarters full of branded bottle caps

I started off thinking that I wasn’t a collector of any beery paraphernalia, but now I’ve listed everything I’m quite surprised by how much stuff I’ve got hanging around not doing anything. If I am a collector, it’s more of an unconscious collecting, rather than a proper planned out hobby. I doubt I’ll ever reach the geeky heights of people like banker Nick West, my wife would never let me for starters. I can see me hoarding to occasional item though, especially when it has a bit of sentimental value.

I’ve just remembered that I also have one of those finger shredding BrewDog key rings. Plus I have a Flying Dog Raging Bitch and a Brooklyn Lager keg clip, which I’m going to turn into key rings.

As I read everyone else’s contributions to this months session, I keep remembering things I’ve got, or things I’ve done in the past. During lunch I remembered the key rings, see the edit above, then reading a tweet from BeerReviewsAndy, I remembered that I also have empty bottles of BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink The Bismark!. They sit on a shelf in my shed, the one I do all my homebrew in, probably as a reminder to not be sucked in by marketing again.!/BeerReviewsAndy/status/76632712693288962

Then when I read Brian Stechschulte’s contribution, I remembered that I used to collect beer bottle labels when I was a student at university. I did it to remind me what beers I’d drunk, I had quite a collection and was even scanning them into stick on my website. That was way back in 1996 and it’s not something I’ve done for years. I did find a load of the labels last Autumn, they were stuffed in between the pages of a book on how to learn Italian. Looking at them brought back lots of memories, like the time I shared a couple of bottles on a train from Milano to Padova with an Italian solider on his way home for some leave.

I said earlier that I didn’t think I had any Breweriana and that I didn’t collect anything. I find it quite funny that I’ve actually been collecting breweriana of one form or another for practicality my entire beer drinking life without realising it.