I gave a talk at the Victorian Society’s “Beer and Brewing Study Day” yesterday in the Art Workers’ Guild building in Bloomsbury on “The Decline and Fall of Heavy Wet”, “heavy wet” being a 19th century slang expression for porter. I described how in 1843 the Scottish journalist William Weir called porter “the most universally… Read More Will Big Lager one day go the same way as Big Porter?
Excuse the indentations in my forehead, that’s where I’ve been banging my head hard against my desk. I’ve been reading the “Beer Styles” section in the just-published 2014 edition of the Good Beer Guide. Ron Pattinson gave a comprehensive triple kicking last year to the effectively identical section in the 2013 GBG, and yet this… Read More Why is Camra still getting beer history so very badly wrong?
The huge sign on the outside of the building on the corner of Hanbury Street and Brick Lane is clear enough: Truman Black Eagle Brewery. Nobody passing by could have any doubt what used to happen here, even though no beer brewing has taken place on the premises for more than 20 years. But what… Read More When Brick Lane was home to the biggest brewery in the world
Beers, like animals, can be endangered species: some can even go extinct. Nobody’s seen West Country White Ale in the wild for more than 125 years. Camra, I’m very pleased to say, has recently decided that it could be doing much more than Make May a Mild Month for promoting endangered beers, and has set… Read More Endangered beers
Sometimes you find stuff on the internet that is just so fabulously fantastic: this is Irene Stacey, who used to serve George Orwell pints of mild in that very jug, peeps, when she was landlady of the Plough in Wallington, North Hertfordshire and he was living next door with his first wife, Eileen O’Shaughnessy, in… Read More The woman who served George Orwell pints of mild
If a 21st century time tripper stepped through the door into the public bar of a London pub in 1900, what would be the biggest surprise? Probably not the sawdust on the floor, or the lack of seating: most likely, I’d guess, the draught ginger beer on handpump. The existence – and importance – of… Read More The 1900 Pub – the biggest surprise
A festival-full of regional ales were available in Britain in the 19th century, including Reading Ale, Windsor Ale, Dorchester Ale, Stogumber Ale and Alton Ale, of which only two or three – notably Burton Ale and its close relative Edinburgh Ale – achieved much lasting appreciation. One regional style of ale that is effectively unknown… Read More Yarmouth Ale, sweet and salty
It’s now less than one month to go to the official publication of Amber, Gold and Black, The History of Britain’s Great Beers, the first book devoted solely to the development of beer styles in Britain, from bitter to porter, covering every aspect of their history, what they were when they started , how they… Read More Order the definitive book on British beer styles now
In the mid-1970s I had a girlfriend who was a student at Liverpool University. The campus pub-of-choice was (and still is, I believe) the Cambridge on the corner of Mulberry Street, which was, back then, a Burtonwood Brewery outlet. Its popularity was partly down to its closeness to the university, of course, but also for the excellent,… Read More What colour was mild?
This is going to bring me large numbers of search engine hits from people looking for something else entirely, but I’m going to talk about the joy of X, which inevitably means mentioning XX, and XXX of course, and XXXX and so on, right up to Simonds of Reading’s strong stout, Archangel XXXXXXX. The usual… Read More Everything you wanted to know about X