If you haven't yet followed the links down there on the left side of the page to Ron Pattinson's Shut Up About Barclay Perkins and Martyn Cornell's Zythophile blogs, you really should. These two have been re-writing the history of British beers -- oops, I almost wrote "British beer styles", which might have caused Pattinson's head to explode. I've been reading them recently with slack-jawed admiration.
Cornell, the author of Beer: the Story of a Pint, just posted last week about Burton Ale. If you've heard of Burton Ale, it's probably not what you thought, according to Cornell: Greene King Burton Pale Ale was, for example:
a sweet, dark, fruity warming beer, just like its few surviving brother beers in the Burton Ale style, which include Young’s Winter Warmer, Marston’s Owd Roger and Theakston’s Old Peculier.
Food for thought. Pattinson, meanwhile, has been tearing apart the lazily accepted history of porter, stout, and mild (as does Cornell, BTW), using great drifts of data he's collected from brewer's logs. He's a self-admitted obsessive about this stuff, but the results he's getting make me very glad he's taking the time.
I apologize for all the mythical stuff I've repeated as "beer history." I'm not talking about beer history at all until I've digested this stuff. Do yourself a favor and go get a big helping of it yourself. Two excellent blogs, two writers doing yeoman work, by doing primary research. Cheers, gentlemen.