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?
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
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 …
As a man who owns 14 different books just on the subject of hops, I am not, perhaps, the target market for such recent volumes as The Little Book of Beer Tips,Yet Another Atlas of Beer, or even 1001 Beers to Try Before Your Liver Explodes and You Have to Spend Three Years on a… Read More Last-minute Christmas beer book recommendations
Two years ago I helped plant what was Surrey’s first new hop garden for more than half a century, and this week I went down and helped harvest hops from that same hop garden. Of course, “helped plant” is a wild and self-aggrandising exaggeration: I dug out and popped hop rootstock into fewer than a… Read More Hopping down in Surrey
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
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
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
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
“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?