Myth 1: Ralph Harwood invented porter as a substitute for three-threads

No he didn’t, and no it wasn’t. In 1802 one of the most influential articles in the history of beer was published. It appeared in a guidebook called The Picture of London, written by John Feltham, and the myths and inaccuracies Feltham recorded about the birth of porter, then by far the most popular drink … Continue reading Myth 1: Ralph Harwood invented porter as a substitute for three-threads

A short history of beer and food

The history of beer and food in Britain is easy to summarise: we all, men women and children, used to drink beer with every meal, from breakfast to supper. Then, some time between around 1860 and 1914, due to changes in attitude and culture not easy to find a simple explanation for, we slowed and … Continue reading A short history of beer and food

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

Brewer accused of getting excise men drunk in order to avoid paying tax

A few days since, two Excise Officers came to Mr Harwood’s Brew-house near Shoreditch to Gage the Liquors, but instead thereof, finding several of his Men drinking hard therein, sate down with them, and tipled so heartily with them, as to be thoroughly fudled. In the meantime the Surveyor came, and finding a Guile of … Continue reading Brewer accused of getting excise men drunk in order to avoid paying tax

Last-minute Christmas beer book recommendations

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 … Continue reading Last-minute Christmas beer book recommendations

What if Michael Jackson had never lived?

Back in May I was asked by Johan Holm, editor of the Swedish beer magazine c/o Hops, if I would like to write 2,500 words for the 10th anniversary of the death of the beer writer Michael Jackson, to explain to young Swedish beer drinkers who might never have heard of him who he was … Continue reading What if Michael Jackson had never lived?

Czeched out at last

Sitting 30 feet below the surface at a table in a workmen’s refuge dug out of the soft Bohemian sandstone, drinking unfiltered, unpasteurised lager made in 80-year-old open wooden fermenting vessels and poured from big copper jugs, I reflected on how long it had taken me to make this journey. Being a beer writer who … Continue reading Czeched out at last

What’s a brewer’s bucket? No, you’re wrong …

“He shall charge you, and discharge you, with the motion of a pewterer’s hammer, come off and on swifter than he that gibbets on the brewer’s bucket.” Sir John Falstaff, Henry IV part 2, Act III, Scene 3, by William Shakespeare Better brains that yours or mine have failed to identify what Falstaff meant by … Continue reading What’s a brewer’s bucket? No, you’re wrong …

Fanboy investors put £50m into UK craft breweries: but is that money down the drain?

A total of £50m has been raised in the UK over the past four years in crowdfunding efforts by more than 40 different craft breweries, and half a dozen craft beer retail operators who have tapped tens of thousands of – overwhelmingly male – investors. More than half the money raised went to just one … Continue reading Fanboy investors put £50m into UK craft breweries: but is that money down the drain?

Going wild (yeast) in Amsterdam

If there is a more international, more fascinating, more illuminating, more must-not-be-missed beer celebration on the planet right now than Carnivale Brettanomyces in Amsterdam, let me know immediately, because it must be marvellous. Carnivale Brettanomyces, now on its sixth year, calls itself a beer festival, but it’s more a three-day massively parallel series of dozens … Continue reading Going wild (yeast) in Amsterdam