Yes, London’s big brewers happily used Thames water to make beer from

The canard that brewers in London did not brew with water from the Thames because the river was, supposedly, full of sewage and dead dogs quacked up on Beer Twitter last week, so I thought it would be useful to run an extract from the (long-overdue) Great Porter History Book to try to squash this… Read More Yes, London’s big brewers happily used Thames water to make beer from

A Canadian visits four of London’s biggest porter breweries in the reign of William IV

Descriptions of London’s big porter breweries in the 19th century by an actual brewer are exceedingly rare. One of the few such reports was made by a young Canadian named William Helliwell, who visited four of the capital’s big breweries in the summer of 1832, and left his impressions in a diary. William’s father, Thomas… Read More A Canadian visits four of London’s biggest porter breweries in the reign of William IV

The one where I start an argument with a professor

It’s not necessarily a great idea to start arguing with an actual professor of history over matters historical when one is, let’s be frank, an amateur with no actual qualifications in the subject. Still, here we go: Richard Unger, distinguished scholar, professor of medieval history at the University of British Columbia, former president of the… Read More The one where I start an argument with a professor

A short and stout history of chocolate creme eggs

I remember exactly when and where I first ate a chocolate creme egg: in 1957, in the kitchen of my parents’ council house in Stevenage. My Uncle Bert, who had no children of his own, had clearly decided to treat his little nephew with an Easter novelty. My experience of chocolate Easter eggs to that… Read More A short and stout history of chocolate creme eggs

So what’s the difference between porter and stout – Canada 1898-99 version

In 1898-9, Canada’s Inspectorate of Foods and Drugs analyzed beers from 33 Canadian breweries in four provinces, of which 27 brewed a porter or a stout, and one stout brewer sold a half-and-half. They also analyzed the extra stout from George Younger’s brewery in Alloa, Scotland, to give historians a useful comparison with stout brewing… Read More So what’s the difference between porter and stout – Canada 1898-99 version

Believing the name porter comes from the Dutch word ‘Poorter’ is only a short step from QAnon

I’ve never met Larry Hatch, but I’m sure he’s a great guy: kind to small animals, regularly helps old ladies cross the road safely, buys great bagloads of girl guide cookies. However,  he’s written some dumb nonsense about porter, and I’m feeling grumpy, so he’s going to get a kicking. I bought his publication Hatch’s… Read More Believing the name porter comes from the Dutch word ‘Poorter’ is only a short step from QAnon

The Anchor labels were never that great to begin with, and probably should have been changed long ago

There are some brands that no marketer should, would or could ever change: the Lyle’s Golden Syrup tin, for example, with its iconic — in the real meaning of the word — illustration of a dead lion surrounded by bees (which Victorians would have understood immediately), and its biblical quote. And there are some that… Read More The Anchor labels were never that great to begin with, and probably should have been changed long ago

It’s Baltic Porter Day — a good excuse for punching a few Baltic Porter myths in the face …

Today is Baltic Porter Day, an event started by the Polish brewer and porter fan Marcin Chmielarz, and that gives me an excellent excuse to try to kill some Baltic Porter myths. A few facts: ● Baltic Porter, if you want to be historically accurate, should NOT be as strong as an Imperial Russian Stout.… Read More It’s Baltic Porter Day — a good excuse for punching a few Baltic Porter myths in the face …

The forgotten love of rural Jamaicans for draught porter

The history of beer is largely working-class history, which means, given the status of working-class history, much of it is forgotten. When it’s black working-class history … Thus the long love of rural (and urban) working-class Jamaicans – and probably other West Indians as well – for draught porter is a subject you will struggle… Read More The forgotten love of rural Jamaicans for draught porter