Saturday 30 August 2014

Recommended Brewing History Books.

Once again Boak and Bailey's call for long reads has prompted me to pull my finger out. I don't think this will be my lengthiest post but there's links here to stuff that will keep you going for weeks.

Back in May when Chris Marchbanks gave a talk on brewing history he gave out a list of books he recommended. Here's the list with comments and some suggestions of my own. I've provided links for the books which in some cases link will take you to the complete book online, in others it's to an online retailer. Some of the books are dirt cheap and some are dead expensive.

Brewing History Books
30 or so of the must have/read interesting old and new books about all aspects of the history of beer, brewing and related topics.

Reynolde Scot – A Perfect Platform of a Hoppe Garden (1574)

This is the earliest English book on hops, to give you some idea of the age it's worth noting that the author is better known for his other book The Discoverie of Witchcraft.

Hubert H Parker – The Hop Industry (1934)
Not online but well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy as it a wealth of interesting historical information. I've posted a few titbits from it but I really should get round to doing more.
Ray A Neve –Hops (1991)
Out of print for many years and generally going for around two hundred quid a copy, I gave up trying to find a copy at a price I was prepared to pay and got my local library to order it for me, which was at the much more reasonable three quid if I remember rightly. Now re-printed in paperback but still pricey.

Malt and Malting

H Stopes – Malt and Malting (1885)

Classical malting text from the father of Marie Stopes, and this one's online.

Hugh Lancaster – Practical Floor Malting (1908)

This one can be searched in google books. 

Dennis E Briggs –Malts and Malting (1998)

A current text book from one side of the great barley modification controversy. Sadly it's not cheap, but on the plus side it's in the library at work.

Christine Clark – The British Malting Industry Since 1830 (1998)

Not read this one but some second hand copies are going at a reasonable rate.

Not read this one.

Or this one.

W L Tizard – The Theory and Practice of Brewing (1843)

Fortunately this one can be downloaded. Not that I have yet, but the books are starting to pile up around me again so it will have to wait.

L Pasteur – Studies on Fermentation (1879)

This one can also be downloaded. It's interesting to note that Pasteur didn't recommend pasteurisation for beer, though he did for wine. Things didn't work out as he suggested though, as much beer is now routinely pasteurised whereas it's hardly used with wine.

H Lloyd Hind – Brewing Science and Practice (2 vols) (1938)

I've heard these books still fetch a good price as a lot of the information is still relevant for modern cask ale brewers. Another one in the work library for me, though it can be searched on google books if your work library isn't so well stocked.

Hough, Briggs and Stevens – Malting and Brewing Science (2 vols) (1971)

Another one that's not cheap, but when it's in your work library that isn't such a concern. It's on google books.


Arthur Hartley – The Bottling of English Beers (1906)

For some reason this book is currently unavailable. Surely a re-print is due?

Couldn't find this one online either so it seems my knowledge of the history of beer packaging is going to stay limited.

Biographical/Brewery Company Histories

Guy Thorne – The Great Acceptance – FN Charrington (1913)

One that is online. I only got ten percent of the way through it before giving up though as it's about a brewery heir who rejected his inheritance and devoted his life promoting abstinence and evangelical christianity. All very interesting I'm sure, just not to me.

Walter P Serocold – The Story of Watneys (1949)

This one is on google books.

Sydney O Neville – Seventy Rolling Years (1958)

He had a long career in the brewing industry and his portrait is in Brewers' Hall. I got hold of a copy of the book after a recommendation from Ron and it is an excellent read.

Colin C Owen – Greatest Brewery in the World – Bass Ratcliffe and Gretton (1992)

On google books.

Jonathan Guinness –Requiem for a Family Business (1997)

This one can be got at a reasonable rate, though I haven't read it yet myself.


Richardson and Eberlein – The English Inn Past and Present (1925)

Haven't got this one.

Mark Girouard – Victorian Pubs (1975)

On google books. 

Peter Clark – The English Alehouse 1200 – 1830 (1983)

As is this one.


Alfred Barnard – Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland (4 vols) (1889)

These beauties are all online in PDF format.

Michael Jackson – The World Guide to Beer – 1977

On google books and The New World Guide to Beer can be snapped up cheap. From a quick comparison I don't think there's a huge difference between the two editions so if you're interested I'd get that one.

Pete Brown –Hops and Glory (2009)

My favourite of noted historian Pete Brown's books, his other offerings are also well worth a read.

General and Brewing History

John Bickerdyke – TheCuriosities of Ale and Beer (1889)

This one is online.

This one's on google books.

H S Corran – A History of Brewing (1975)

As is this one.

Gourvish and Wilson –The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980 (1994)

But this one isn't, though it is in the work library.

Brian Harrison – Drink and the Victorian 1825 – 1872 (1994)

Also available on google books.

Martyn Cornell –Beer: The Story of the Pint (2003)

A great book from the man behind the excellent Zythophile blog. Also well worth reading is his
Amber, Gold and Black: The History of Britain's Great Beers, and he has his own list of recommended beer history books here.

Ron Pattinson – Numbers! (2008)

I must have half a dozen of Ron's book, including the one I'm mentioned by name in, but I must admit this isn't one of them. I know Ron has a fondness for long tables of as many statistics as he can get hold of. As this book has the title 'Numbers!' I suspect that's exactly what it is: lots and lots of numbers with little in the way of text. I haven't got a copy as that doesn't sound like the most thrilling read but as Chris has recommended it I may have to reconsider. If you don't follow his blog you should if you have in interest in beer history, and he has a range of books on offer exploring different areas of mainly British beer hstory.

Brewery History Society – Century plus plus of British Brewery 1890 - 2012 (2013)

If you've ever wondered what breweries there were in a particular village, town or county this is the book for you, it lists lots.

That's it for Chris' recommendations, but whilst I'm here I'll add a few of my own:

George Clinch - English Hops (1919)

Apart from a supposed picture of a male Fuggle plant this is an excellent book on history of English hops and even better it's freely available in PDF form.

A H Burgess - Hops (1964)

This book is well worth getting, and contains more historical information than Neve. 

Mass Observation - The Pub and the People: A Worktown Study (1943)

 This is a fascinating and detailed account of pub life in 1930s Bolton. Compared to the modern day some things are strangely similar and some things are strangely different.

Andrew Campbell - The Book of Beer (1956)

Give a wide ranging account from the 1950s, and intriguingly includes some pub crawl lists. I have been tempted to try re-doing one and see how much has changed but I've never got round to it so far.

Frank Baillie'sThe Beer Drinkers Companion, Christopher Hutt's The Death of the English Pub and Richard Boston's Beer and Skittles give the story of British beer from the 1970s and should be on every discerning beer geek's bookshelf.

Jessica Boak and Ray Bailey -Brew Britannia: The Strange Rebirth of British Beer

If you weren't lucky enough to inherit the previously three books, and even if you were, Boak and Bailey's excellent account of the fight for decent British beer from 1963 to 2013 is a must. It also has the merit of being another book which I'm mentioned in by name:

Details 50 iconic ales from Britain, and when as is often the case the beer has sadly passed into history lists the most similar beer available today.

Ray Anderson - Brewers and Distillers by Profession (2012)

A fascinating history of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and its predecessor organisations, it's also an excellent source of information on over a century of British brewing. 

Friday 29 August 2014

The popular Pixham pop-up pub

At the weekend I was once more drinking differently in Dorking. After experiencing the delights of a micropub in the week it was a pop-up pub this time. Considering Dorking isn't exactly short of normal pubs - it's probably on a popular route somewhere or full of alkies, or perhaps like Ripley both - it's strange not to have gone to any of them but there you go.

The pop-up pub was a one day only event held in the Old Pixham School, just outside Dorking. I know the guy behind it all through the IBD and when he mentioned it was happening I was intrigued. When I mentioned it to my mates that live in Dorking they were also interested so to Pixham we popped.

The building looked suspiciously like it was Brewers' Tudor which was rather appropriate.

Inside there was a handy sign so we soon found the bar...

...and the friendly bar staff.

There were two polypins of beer and plenty of bottles. The draught beers were both £3 a pint, despite one being 2.8% ABV, and the other 5.6! I stated on a mix of both as I couldn't quite bring myself to drink a 2.8% beer but didn't feel like having a session on a 5.6. If I remember rightly the weak beer was by Siren and the strong one by Buring Sky, anyway both beers were of the popular pale and taste of American hops style so they mixed well.

Very reasonably priced food was laid on by locals, and you got to vote for your favourite with the winner being presented with a trophy in the shape of a kebab.The only real drawback of the event was it was like drinking in an old classroom.

Still, I had a great night so I'll certainly try to get there the next time it's held, which will apparently be in February. 

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Cobbett's Real Ale micropub

I finally got to a micropub last week. Having worked as a brewer in Kent, where micropubs were invented, and even met Martyn Hillier, the the inventor himself, this was long overdue.

Specialist beer offie Cobbett's Real Ale has now opened a micropub in a small room and courtyard at the back of the shop. There were a few people there when we called in, so with numbers still below double figures it felt a bit crowed. But the atmosphere was friendly, and we all got seats so it wasn't a problem. We maybe picked the wrong day to call in though, as they only had one cask beer on and it was more than a little tired. But never mind, I enjoyed myself there and would happily call in again.  

There's a supply of beer books to read, and a shelf of books to borrow or exchange.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

The Beer Hunter of Mauritius

The BBC have something on the beer revolution coming to Africa:

How many breweries is too many?

I'm going to another do at Brewers' Hall next month so I've started reading up on The Worshipful Company of Brewers. As the company goes back a long way so does Mia Ball's history of it. One of the fascinating facts it contains was the number of breweries in London in 1380. Records collected for a poll tax that year show there were over 1,000 brew houses, one for every twelve inhabitants. If that's extrapolated to the current population across Britain there would be over five million breweries. That would keep the beer tickers busy!

As the current booming number of breweries has caused some concern we might be reaching saturation point, it's interesting to see quite how few we have now compared to 1380.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Great British Beer Festival 2014

Things worked out well for me at the GBBF this year. I met all the people I planned to, as well as a few I hadn’t, I made it to the IBD meeting on hops, off loaded some books I’d brought up for a mate, and I even managed to drink some beer. Which is probably for the best as the meeting on hops was a little disturbing.

The rise of craft beer, with its higher rates of hopping means that it’s now approaching the stage where half the American hop crop is going to craft brewers. As craft beer sales continue to rise real hop shortages are looming, so contracting ahead for hops is highly recommended.

Even more worryingly three more British hop growers have packed it in, so overall acreage is down over 8%. As there are so few British hop growers left  every loss makes a difference. The one glimmer of hope is that the craft beer boom means exports to the US are picking up, particularly of East Kent Goldings.

As to the beer I'd started early at a do put on by Sharp's, and the Atlantic IPA was most excellent, the fact it was free being balanced by the fact I was drinking it before noon so couldn't just get guzzling. At the festival seeing Harvey's Prince of Denmark on draught I couldn't resist it, the beer having the flavour of a historic Imperial Russian Stout at an intensity I can cope with. There may have been a couple of other beers but they're the ones that stood out. As usual I stayed longer than I'd planned but I managed to pace myself well, and took lots of water, so had a cracking day without unduly suffering when it was time to get up the next day.

Monday 11 August 2014

Crisis in craft beer

The results are now in and they shockingly reveal a crisis of craft beer in Britain. Over 70% of voters don't know who John fucking Kimmich is, despite there being a link to Total Ales where this all important information is disclosed. This shows an almost wilful levels of ignorance, as if people don't even care! This sorry state of affairs shows that even most beer geeks are no better than Wetherspoons drinkers, and therefore unworthy of craft beer.

As trying to spread information has clearly failed I will have to resort to direct action. I've knocked on the head all my plans for the GBBF tomorrow and will now be touring the foreign beer bars armed with a cattle prod to drive anyone can't answer the all important question back to the boring brown bitter bars where they belong. It may seem harsh but you've left me no choice.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Historic hopping

I've been woefully slack in disseminating the fascinating facts from Hubert Parkers 'The Hop Industry' (1934) so here's another chunk, this time on the amount of hops used in beer and where they came from: 

" should be recalled that less hops are now used for brewing, i.e. there is a reduced rate of 'hopping'. For European countries, the present rate of hopping does not exceed 250 grams per hectolitre in most cases: for England it is rather more than double this amount, and in the Irish Free State it is about treble the continental rate of hopping. There rates are substantially lower than they were a generation ago and account for a proportion of the reduced demand for hops."

In modern terms 1000 grams per hectolitre is full blown craft beer dissolve your tongue standards so even in the dark days of depression they were still using a lot of hops in some pretty weak beers.

On the following page he has more details showing how many hops were needed for this:

"England is a very large consumer of hops, her annual consumption, home and imported, amounting to not much short of 30 percent of the world's total supply. Her imports of hops represent 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the production of the rest of the world. The record of the last thirty years shows that it is to America that England turn for the bulk of her foreign supplies. In very few years in this period did the importation of hops from America fall below 50 per cent of the total importation.: frequently it exceeded 75 per cent. On balance therefor the European hop growing countries, taken together, have contributed only about 40 per cent of our foreign supplies, while imports of hops of the Bavarian or Bohemian types are represented by a much smaller proportion."

The ending of prohibition in the USA caused problems for the British brewers:

"The increased demand for hops in America which has come about through the modification of the prohibition laws may result in English brewers having to take a larger proportion of English hops until American production of hops has adjusted itself to the new demand, and customs may veer round in the direction of an English 'hopped' beer. It need hardly be said that we could undoubtedly grow in this country hops in sufficient quantity to meet brewers' requirements, but so long as brewers insist on a mixtures, it is on America that the trade will mostly rely for the foreign portion of it's supplies."

American hops contained more alpha acid than English hops so provided more bitterness. Though the hops breeding programme at Wye College was by now well established and things were moving on from the old landrace varieties:

"But the trade is taking great interest in Professor Salmon's new varieties - some of which, it will be recalled, combine the virtues of the American and English hops - and is is hoped that he will be able to satisfy them with types of hops of this character, which will reduce, if not altogether obviate, the necessity for the use foreign hops."

Professor Salmon's hop breeding programme was highly successful, and all of the high-alpha varieties grown today contain hops bred by him in their ancestry. Germany and the USA are however by far the biggest growers of them.

Monday 4 August 2014

Are you worthy of craft beer?

Though the question of what craft beer actually is has now been answered, you might not be aware that the equally vexing question of whether you are worthy enough to drink it remains. Like me you may have though that you qualified by a simple willingness to hand over your money and pour the beer down your throat, but if you did you were sadly mistaken. 

I've only just become aware of this, but I really should have realised it earlier. Modestly talking of their own beers craft brewers Stone, and by an amazing coincidence Brewdog, have put it clearly:

"It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth." 
Now thanks to a post on the Total Ales blog I know that by answering a simple question you can learn if are one of the sophisticated craft beer elite and worthy enough to drink the nectar of the gods, or just a low life bottom feeder that deserves nothing more than boring brown bitter that oxidises instantaneously the moment it’s tapped. 

The ultimate question of life, the universe and craft beer that must be answered is:

Do you know who John fucking Kimmich is?

I’ve put up a handy poll on the blog so you can register your answer, don’t forget to close the door on the way out if you answer no.