Category Archives: Beer history

We’re Stumped – Help!

We’ve reached dead ends in various strands of research and thought we’d throw these questions open to the floor in search of solid leads.

Book of Beer advert, 1956.1. Who exactly was Andrew Campbell? We can’t find out anything about the author of 1956’s Book of Beer, published by Dennis Dobson. We asked Barrie Pepper, collector of beer books and veteran beer writer, and he put the word out through his network, to no avail.  Our guess is that it was a pseudonym for a better-known writer or journalist not eager to be associated with beer.

AK mentioned in an advertisement, 1846.

2. What did AK stand for? This is Martyn Cornell’s fault: he’s been trying to work this out for years but, in an idle moment, we joined the hunt for evidence and are now obsessed. Bailey managed to find an early reference (1846) in the newspaper archives but that trail went cold. Have you come across an earlier reference? Or does your local archive or family brewery have old brewing records and papers that might hold the key?

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VIDEO: Trussing the Cooper, 1956

Filmed at Whitbread’s brewery in the City of London, and part of the vast British Pathé library available on YouTube:

Jim Elliott of Dagenham is put into a barrel and covered with dirty water and a barrel of “muck”. The workers hammer the sides of the barrel, laughing at the apprentice who is black from the water and muck… Women shriek with laughter as the poor boy is rolled around inside the barrel and generally mistreated.

Proper Job IPA: Cornwall Via Oregon

Several times in the last couple of years, we’ve said that we thought St Austell Proper Job began life as an homage to particular American IPA, but couldn’t for the life of us work out exactly where we’d got that idea.

So, last Sunday, we travelled up to St Austell and spent the day with its creator, Head Brewer Roger Ryman, and got the story straight from the horse’s mouth.

My friendship with Karl Ockert [head brewer at BridgePort Brewing, Portland, Oregon, from 1983 to 2010] is well-known and has been written about many times. 

In around 1999, I was invited to take part in judging for the Brewing Industry Awards. That’s the one that’s been running since the 19th century and, if you’re going to win anything, that’s the one you want – the players’ player of the year, judged solely by working brewers. You’re all cooped up in a hotel together for three days and you get to know each other. When we were leaving, we all exchanged business cards – “You must get in touch if you’re ever in town, let’s stay in contact,” – but you never expect to do anything about it. A couple of years later, I was in Denver with Paul Corbett from Charles Faram, the hop merchants, and I did actually give Karl a call. He arranged all these brewery visits for us – Anheuser-Busch, Odell, Coors…

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Pubwatching With Desmond Morris, 1993

When Dave Tweeted the above at us last week, even before responding, we had ordered a copy of the 1993 book in question from Amazon for £2.81, delivered.

Pubwatching with Desmond Morris. (Cover)Pubwatching with Desmond Morris, despite his name and face on the cover, was actually written by anthropologist Kate Fox, based on research commissioned by the Brewer’s Society. It packs a lot of observations into its 64 pages: there are notes on types of pubgoer, games, typical pub conversations and etiquette, among other subjects. Of greatest interest to us, however, was an attempt to categorise pubs as they were at the turn of the 1990s.

Even if no such attempt can ever be definitive, every time someone tries, it is illuminating in some way. If nothing else, such exercises provide a snapshot of a particular point in time, and a particular perspective, as with the academic paper on pubs and bars in British cities c.2001 we stumbled upon last year.

The Morris/Fox categories from 1993 were:

1. The Serious-traditional pub, where ‘greater importance is attached to the authenticity of the ales’, customers are ‘middle class, and in the 25-50 age group’ and include ‘students… social workers, teachers, university lecturers and other dedicated non-profit-making professionals’, some of them ‘members of CAMRA… who are drinking for a cause, as well as for the taste’.

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Book Review: Built to Brew by Lynn Pearson

English Heritage/Brewery History Society, June 2014, 256 pages, large format paperback, £25, ISBN 9781848022386

Just when you think there are no new angles from which to approach the subject of British beer, along comes Lynn Pearson with a book which focuses not on the products or the people, but on bricks and mortar, copper and iron, stone and steel. In so doing, she has created something which combines the rigour of a scholarly reference work with the ‘dippability’ of a coffee table book.

Built-to-BrewIt would be easy to overlook this volume – the cover features one of the least exciting images in the book, and English Heritage’s off-the-peg guidebook design template renders it rather bland. Inside, however, the barrage of arresting imagery begins at once with a photograph of a brewery worker tending to mash tuns at Shipstone’s in Nottingham c.1900, and doesn’t let up thereafter. There are multiple images on every page – plans, sketches, paintings, photographs. Because she has made good use of the English Heritage archive and her own original photography, most of them are new to us, despite the increasing availability online of major picture archives.

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