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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Beer History in the (Re-)Making

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.


GenX at 40 said...

I don't write anything about beer history without getting Ron's approval on the drafts before the thing is posted. Not really bu I feel that should be the case. That is one man with a book waiting to come out.


Zythophile said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Lew: I used to happily repeat the received wisdom about beer history myself, until I decided to get a bit more background on all the famous old stories when I was writing Beer: TSOTP, and found that many of the old stories, when you poked them hard, simply didn't stand up. But that's probably true about a lot of "received wisdom" ...

Martyn Cornell

Stonch said...

It is about time Ron and Martyn were given more credit - kudos to you for doing so, Lew. You're a good'un.

Lew Bryson said...

Well, Stonch...I owed Pattinson for the great advice gleaned from his guide site for my January trip to K├Âln and D├╝sseldorf anyway! But what he's doing with his obsessive work with brewing logs deserves attention. As Alan says, there's a man with a book waiting to come out; maybe more than one.