How important were hop varieties to pre-20th century brewers?

I was flattered to be asked to take part in one of the virtual symposiums (symposia?) at the Chicago Brewseum’s Beer History Summit last week, the panel I was on discussing “A History of Hops in the Western World”, and my particular brief being to talk about “An examination of hop production and use in… Read More How important were hop varieties to pre-20th century brewers?

So what happens if you mix the new Guinness 0.0 with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout?

I don’t normally believe in asking for free beer, but when a press release arrived with news of the latest product launch from Dublin, Guinness 0.0, and the only places to buy it were stores nowhere near where I live, I let eagerness to sample over-rule reluctance to blag. It’s not as if Diageo can’t… Read More So what happens if you mix the new Guinness 0.0 with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout?

The most dangerous brewery in the world

Breweries can be deadly places: invisible, choking gases, boiling liquids, whirling machinery, fires, falls from great heights for the unwary. But no brewery can have offered more ways to die unpleasantly than the one in what was British Baluchistan, from deadly diseases to murderous tribesmen to devastating earthquakes. The brewery was opened in 1886 by… Read More The most dangerous brewery in the world

Will the real Cecil Guinness please stand up?

You have, I think, to be a particularly hardcore Guinness nerd to know that the first Earl of Iveagh, the man who floated the St James’s Gate brewery on the London stock exchange in 1886, and headed the company until his death in 1927, a few weeks short of his 80th birthday, while generally known,… Read More Will the real Cecil Guinness please stand up?

So, er — when WERE brewers banned from using unmalted grain?

It’s an excellent idea for a historian never to make a claim that cannot be backed up with actual evidence. In particular, it’s a terrible crime to assume, without verifying. Forgive me, therefore, Clio, muse of history, I have sinned: for many years I have been asserting that British brewers were banned from using unmalted… Read More So, er — when WERE brewers banned from using unmalted grain?

Manufactured outrage and the missing facts in the Small Brewers’ Relief debate

There is no subject in the world of beer right now that creates more heat and less light than the issue of reforming Small Brewers’ Relief, with vitriolic attacks, calls for boycotts of old-established family brewers and accusations of attempted bullying after the Treasury responded to calls for reform of the system with a proposed… Read More Manufactured outrage and the missing facts in the Small Brewers’ Relief debate

The brewer and the slaver gang

Serendipity – I love it. I was searching for something else entirely when I came across this advertisement in a Kentucky newspaper, which is how I discovered that the first successful keg beer in Britain was called Flowers Keg because an English teenager successfully led an armed posse in Illinois in the early 1820s against… Read More The brewer and the slaver gang

Well, that all blew up into something bigger than I was expecting

I have to say I wasn’t expecting THAT – six days after I wrote here about the fact that Benjamin Greene, the man who founded what became Greene King was a slave-owning apologist for slavery, Greene King’s chief executive has now stepped up and admitted that “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited… Read More Well, that all blew up into something bigger than I was expecting

The Greenes of Greene King and the West Indian slave trade

If you want to see how people will twist and squirm to try to find justification for a system that is morally disgusting but greatly suits their economic interests, Benjamin Greene, founder of the brewery that became Greene King, is a good example. Greene was born in Oundle, Northamptonshire in 1780, the son of a… Read More The Greenes of Greene King and the West Indian slave trade

So what CAN an elderly white middle-class English beer writer say at a time like this that won’t sound like trite virtue-signalling?

I read this tweet thread by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery, at the weekend – if you haven’t read it yourself yet, please do so now, before we go any further – and I thought: “Apart from retweeting that, so hopefully some more people get the message, I cannot think of anything to… Read More So what CAN an elderly white middle-class English beer writer say at a time like this that won’t sound like trite virtue-signalling?