The surprising secrets behind the origins of the Fuggle hop uncovered at last

Despite being one of the most important hops in the history of beer, the precise origins of the Fuggle variety have been a puzzle for a long time. Its genetic parentage has been a mystery, since it appeared to be unrelated to other English hop varieties, and the long-accepted story of when it was discovered,… Read More The surprising secrets behind the origins of the Fuggle hop uncovered at last

How long have UK brewers been using American hops? 200 years, you say …

I’ve written before on how American hops were being imported to the UK in the late 1810s, after a couple of years of dreadful summer weather wrecked the English hop harvest, but this is the first time I’ve come across a specific advertisement by a brewer for American hops. This is from the Belfast Newsletter… Read More How long have UK brewers been using American hops? 200 years, you say …

Notes on a Fuggle: More light on the early history of a great hop

Leave a question up on the web long enough, and I reckon you’ll eventually get some sort of satisfactory answer. More than five and a half years ago I pointed out that, thanks to the researches of Kim Cook, we actually knew a great deal less about the history of the Fuggles hop than we… Read More Notes on a Fuggle: More light on the early history of a great hop

How I helped design a new lager at the White Horse

I’ve taken part in many beer-related events in the upstairs room at the White Horse in Parsons Green, from tasting porter rescued from a 19th-century shipwreck to making a presentation on my historical beer heroes, but I never thought I would one day be helping to brew a lager there. Even more unlikely, this lager… Read More How I helped design a new lager at the White Horse

Doing my bit for the Surrey hop-growing industry

I’ve been invited on plenty of brewery visits over the years, but never before has the invite come with the request: “Please bring wellies and a spade.” This, however, was a field trip in a considerably more literal sense than normal: to the two and a half-acre field right opposite the Hogs Back brewery in… Read More Doing my bit for the Surrey hop-growing industry

Why Shakespeare liked ale but didn’t like beer

An old friend of mine gained a PhD in the relative clauses of William Shakespeare, with particular emphasis on the later plays. Ground-breaking stuff, she told me, and I’m sure that’s true. My own contribution to Shakespearian studies is rather less linguistic and more alcoholic: I seem to be the first person in centuries of… Read More Why Shakespeare liked ale but didn’t like beer

India Session Ales – tremendous new trend or oxymoronic category fail?

“All the IBUs, half the ABV” is how the American beer writer Brian Yaeger describes the newest (?) beery trend in the United States: the “India Session Ale”. As you’ll have gathered, the ISA is meant to have the flavours of an American-style IPA, but at a more “sessionable” gravity. “Sessionable” is in the eye… Read More India Session Ales – tremendous new trend or oxymoronic category fail?

How long have English brewers been using American hops? Much longer than you think

How long have British brewers been using American hops? Far, far longer than you might have guessed: for around two centuries, in fact. The earliest evidence I’ve collected so far of hops from the United States in England is from exactly 196 years ago: May 1817, when the Liverpool Mercury newspaper carried a notice of… Read More How long have English brewers been using American hops? Much longer than you think