It’s a curious fact that the expression “pale ale” does not seem to appear in the English language until 1705, in a catalogue of newly published books sold at a shop in Little Britain, a street just off Smithfield. What makes this particularly surprising is that pale-coloured ales had been available for a very long… Read More Pale ale: it’s much, much, MUCH older than you think
I had a run-in with a clown on Quora recently who was repeating the myth that medieval peasants never drank water, only ale. After I smacked him hard with actual statistics, strangely, he never came back. Pity, really, I’d have appreciated at least an apology. The usual argument for debunking the Great Medieval Water Myth… Read More So how much ale did a medieval peasant actually drink? Much, much less than you think
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?
That’s another one crossed off the bucket list … standing in a “live” floor maltings, watching the chemical magic that is barley enzymes turning starch into sugar in many millions of little seeds, all spread in a carpet four inches deep and probably 60 yards long and 15 yards wide. I grew up in Hertfordshire,… Read More Malt geezers: in which we look at everything from an Anglo-Saxon maltings to the most modern bit of malting kit in the country
I am green – viridian. Ron Pattinson has been dropping hints every time I see him about his secret big new project with Goose Island in Chicago, and it’s now been revealed: a reproduction of a London porter from 1840, including authentic heritage barley, properly “blown” brown malt, and blending a long-vatted beer with a… Read More AB Inbev’s new 1840 London porter and the hornbeam question
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… Read More Last-minute Christmas beer book recommendations
In Hornindal, in beautiful remotest Western Norway, if you tried to explain to the locals the fuss being made about cloudy New England IPAs, they would laugh, or look bemused. There are around a hundred or so people in the area who make beer, in a tradition going back hundreds of years. All of it… Read More Fjord fiesta: the Norwegian farmhouse ales festival 2017
Beer made from immature “green” barley – who knew such a thing was possible? Or “red lager” made from actual red-coloured barley? And what does a beer taste like made with barley so controversial it caused a protest led by a marching band through the streets of Munich back in June? If you’re one of… Read More Red beer, green lager, immature barley beer: the innovations I drank on a ‘jolly’ to Carlsberg
It looks as if the history of brewing in London can now be taken back to the very earliest decades of the city’s existence, with the discovery of what is claimed to be the city’s – and Britain’s – earliest known brewer, named on a writing tablet from nearly two millennia ago, found in waterlogged… Read More London’s earliest named brewer – or London’s earliest named maltster?
In a move that has thrilled beer style revivalists, a beer has been brewed from what was Victorian Britain’s most popular barley variety for the first time in at least 70 years. What is most interesting for historians of brewing is the way the revived malt acts when used to make beer, putting a new… Read More Revival of ancient barley variety thrills fans of old beer styles