Oppskåka: the true meaning of beer

There were eight or ten of us sitting on benches and chairs around the walls of the smokehouse on Jon Gjerde’s farm at Ringheim, mostly middle-aged Norwegians, drinking cool, citrussy, lightly conditioned farmhouse beer, telling jokes and stories, talking about brewing and the creating of ale, and the local district’s long line of skiing champions,… Read More Oppskåka: the true meaning of beer

The Marsden Murders, or the tragic lives of three brewing brothers

There are stories you come across while researching the history of beer, sometimes, that set the mind boggling on its springs. Such a tale is the one we can call The Marsden Murders. It centres on Arthur Eagles Marsden, born in 1849 in Pimlico, London to a dynasty of operative brewers. His father, Robert, was… Read More The Marsden Murders, or the tragic lives of three brewing brothers

How I uncovered the long-forgotten story of America’s first porter brewery and then sat on it for three years

It’s a huge thrill to uncover facts that totally rewrite history. You’ll read in a great many places – here, for example, in a book published in 2014 – that the first porter brewed in America was made by Robert Hare, son of a London porter brewer, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775. So when in… Read More How I uncovered the long-forgotten story of America’s first porter brewery and then sat on it for three years

Running with Sceptres is not the ditch to die in over the Portman Group and its bans

You’ll have seen, I’m guessing, the row that has exploded over the ban just announced  by the Portman Group, the alcohol industry’s self-appointed regulatory body, on the Bristol-based brewery Lost and Grounded’s “India Pale Lager” Running with Sceptres for breaching paragraph 3.2 (h) of its code by appealing to children. The problem is the artwork,… Read More Running with Sceptres is not the ditch to die in over the Portman Group and its bans

In defence of sitting in a pub on your own

The pub: centre of conviviality, the place to meet old friends and new friends, an open, welcoming, warm, communal space free from the stresses of work and the confines of home, where people gather to relax, mingle, talk, laugh, enjoy companionship, exchange news, views and jokes, revive, support and celebrate. But what about that fellow… Read More In defence of sitting in a pub on your own

A quick plug for my friends at ABK

A couple of years back, in the summer of 2018, I was in an argument involving assorted brewers, beer retailers and beer writers over the relative merits of an imperial stout versus a German Hell. This is, of course, like choosing which is better between apples and potatoes, or judging the attractiveness of golf versus… Read More A quick plug for my friends at ABK

When 200,000 pints of beer went overboard to save a ship

If you are ever in Picton, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, take a two-minute walk along the foreshore from the Cook Strait Ferry terminal to Dunbar Wharf, and marvel at a unique survival: the Edwin Fox, last remaining wooden sailing ship to have carried India Pale Ale from London to the thirsty… Read More When 200,000 pints of beer went overboard to save a ship

Barrel-aged stout and my own egregious selling-out

Amid all the dodgy news that has hit the American craft beer scene over the past month or so – Founders Brewing Co, the largest in Michigan, having to settle a racial discrimination suit, AB-Inbev  stealing the slogan a small brewer has been using for nearly ten years, Lagunitas dumping all over community groups that… Read More Barrel-aged stout and my own egregious selling-out

The legendary Mercer’s Meat Stout returns after 75 years

There is not a lot will make me drop everything and rush 200 miles north to Blackburn, but a message saying that the recipe for the legendary Mercer’s Meat Stout had been discovered in an attic and the beer was being brewed again got me on the first available train out of Euston. Mercer’s Meat… Read More The legendary Mercer’s Meat Stout returns after 75 years