How many cats can YOU spot in the brewery cellar?

This is a fascinating picture, and not just because of the cats: it depicts the sort of labour-intensive cellar practice that the Burton union system was invented in the 1830s to eliminate, though this engraving  dates from 1875. It illustrates the scene in the cellar at Thomas Aitken’s Victoria Parade brewery in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia,… Read More How many cats can YOU spot in the brewery cellar?

How one Irishman’s ginger beard helped launch an entirely bogus style of beer

If a mediumweight French brewery had not been looking for another beer to add to its portfolio in the early 1970s, and if the owner of a drinks distribution company in County Wexford had not also owned a striking ginger beard, we probably would not now have that totally fake beer style, Irish Red Ale.… Read More How one Irishman’s ginger beard helped launch an entirely bogus style of beer

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 most dangerous brewery in the world

Breweries can be deadly places: invisible, choking gases, boiling liquids, whirling machinery, fires, falls from great heights for the unwary. But no brewery can have offered more ways to die unpleasantly than the one in what was British Baluchistan, from deadly diseases to murderous tribesmen to devastating earthquakes. The brewery was opened in 1886 by… Read More The most dangerous brewery in the world

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?

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

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

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

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