Will the real Cecil Guinness please stand up?

You have, I think, to be a particularly hardcore Guinness nerd to know that the first Earl of Iveagh, the man who floated the St James’s Gate brewery on the London stock exchange in 1886, and headed the company until his death in 1927, a few weeks short of his 80th birthday, while generally known,… Read More Will the real Cecil Guinness please stand up?

So, er — when WERE brewers banned from using unmalted grain?

It’s an excellent idea for a historian never to make a claim that cannot be backed up with actual evidence. In particular, it’s a terrible crime to assume, without verifying. Forgive me, therefore, Clio, muse of history, I have sinned: for many years I have been asserting that British brewers were banned from using unmalted… Read More So, er — when WERE brewers banned from using unmalted grain?

Manufactured outrage and the missing facts in the Small Brewers’ Relief debate

There is no subject in the world of beer right now that creates more heat and less light than the issue of reforming Small Brewers’ Relief, with vitriolic attacks, calls for boycotts of old-established family brewers and accusations of attempted bullying after the Treasury responded to calls for reform of the system with a proposed… Read More Manufactured outrage and the missing facts in the Small Brewers’ Relief debate

The brewer and the slaver gang

Serendipity – I love it. I was searching for something else entirely when I came across this advertisement in a Kentucky newspaper, which is how I discovered that the first successful keg beer in Britain was called Flowers Keg because an English teenager successfully led an armed posse in Illinois in the early 1820s against… Read More The brewer and the slaver gang

Well, that all blew up into something bigger than I was expecting

I have to say I wasn’t expecting THAT – six days after I wrote here about the fact that Benjamin Greene, the man who founded what became Greene King was a slave-owning apologist for slavery, Greene King’s chief executive has now stepped up and admitted that “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited… Read More Well, that all blew up into something bigger than I was expecting

The Greenes of Greene King and the West Indian slave trade

If you want to see how people will twist and squirm to try to find justification for a system that is morally disgusting but greatly suits their economic interests, Benjamin Greene, founder of the brewery that became Greene King, is a good example. Greene was born in Oundle, Northamptonshire in 1780, the son of a… Read More The Greenes of Greene King and the West Indian slave trade

So what CAN an elderly white middle-class English beer writer say at a time like this that won’t sound like trite virtue-signalling?

I read this tweet thread by Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery, at the weekend – if you haven’t read it yourself yet, please do so now, before we go any further – and I thought: “Apart from retweeting that, so hopefully some more people get the message, I cannot think of anything to… Read More So what CAN an elderly white middle-class English beer writer say at a time like this that won’t sound like trite virtue-signalling?

Today is 299 years exactly since the first known mention of porter

Happy anniversary: 299 years ago today the word “porter” appeared in print for the first time (as far as we know) as the name of a type of beer. The passing mention came in a pamphlet dated Wednesday May 22 1721 and written by the then-23-year-old Whig satirist and polemicist Nicholas Amhurst (1697-1742). Amhurst implied… Read More Today is 299 years exactly since the first known mention of porter

Brewers of Britain: hugely tough though this is, you’re making history right now – so if you have a moment when it’s all over, do please try to find time to record for posterity how you coped

This is probably the toughest time the breweries of Britain have ever faced, tougher than the restrictions of the First World War, tougher than the fight against the temperance fanatics of the 19th century. Cut off from their customers because of the lockdown caused by the covid-19 pandemic, brewers are having to find innovative ways… Read More Brewers of Britain: hugely tough though this is, you’re making history right now – so if you have a moment when it’s all over, do please try to find time to record for posterity how you coped

Catharina Sour, and other beers in Brazil in those long-vanished times six weeks ago

Was it really only six weeks ago that I was posing for selfies with attractive young Brazilians who were telling me how delighted they were to meet me? Apparently, according to the metadata in my own photographs, it really was. What a very different world Mid-March now seems, only 40-something days ago: coronavirus was a… Read More Catharina Sour, and other beers in Brazil in those long-vanished times six weeks ago