Showing posts with label brewing history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brewing history. Show all posts

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Other Burton Beer

Despite the fact that the making of beer has been part of the human experience for at least 6000 years, indeed one of the marks of being civilised in the Epic of Gilgamesh was to be a beer drinker (though I am sure ancient Sumerian 'beer' was a very different beast from the modern stuff), there are places which are renowned for their beer throughout the world, for various reasons. Whether it is Plzeň for its pale lager, which spawned endless imitations, Dublin and the stout porter that would define not just a beer style but an entire country in the minds of many, or Munich for its dunkels, there are some cities where beer is the very stuff of life.

One such city is Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands, an area rich in the history of the Industrial Revolution. At one point the city was home to more than a dozen breweries including such world famous names as Bass, Allsopp and Ind Coope. To put that into context, Burton is about the same size as Charlottesville and in the city proper there are currently 2 breweries. When people think about the Burton brewing industry they think of a style of beer which has come to embody in many way the modern brewing industry, India Pale Ale. However, when in 1948 The Brewer's Art listed the four main types of beer being brewed in Britain they were 'pale ale, mild ale, stout and Burton'.

Burton Ale is one of those beer styles which is almost extinct, I say almost because it would seem from my reading (mostly Martyn Cornell's 'Amber, Gold and Black', various of Martyn's blog posts and magazine articles, and naturally Ron Pattinson's blog) that the style lives on in the Winter Warmer genre of strong English ales. In common with many beers, Burton Ale evolved. Over the years it went from being a super strong nut brown ale shipped to the Baltic region to the Victorian era beer made to a recipe of pure pale malt and Kentish hops to create a beer which was about 6% abv and slightly less hopped than the IPAs being sent from Burton to India. Seemingly, and again most of this information is from Martyn, as the Victorian age gave way to the 20th Century Burton Ale became darker again and then in the decades immediately after the Second World War, the style practically died as the public turned away from dark, sweet beers in favour of pale, bitter ones.

According to Martyn's book though, there are still some beers out there which meet the description of a Burton Ale, whether the paler 19th century version or the darker 20th. Fuller's 1845 is apparently based on a Burton style recipe from the Griffin Brewery, Timothy Taylor Ram Tam is an example of a lower strength dark Burton, and is, according to Martyn, a 'classic of the Burton Ale type'.

Of those three, I have only had the pleasure of the Fullers 1845, and a mighty great pleasure it is, but I have it in mind to try creating some clone recipesof the various stages in the development of Burton Ale for my homebrewing this year. Brewing old beers is one of my favourite types of history (and history is probably one of my favourite things in general), the type you can drink.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

International Homebrew Project Reminder

For those that took part in the brewing of the historic Scottish ale, remember to blog about it tomorrow, please remember to put a link to your post in the comments section after my post tomorrow.

If you brewed the recipe but don't blog, feel free to leave tasting notes and any comments about the beer in the comments after my post tomorrow.

I am really looking forward to this beer when I get home from work tonight...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Brew York, Brew York!

I am sure you have noticed that I have something of an interest in the history of beer. More broadly speaking I have an interest in history generally, though someone should point out to the History Channel that more has happened in the millennia of the evolution of man than their 3 Ns - the Nazarene, Nostradamus and the Nazis.

Returning to the theme of beer history, I love reading both Martyn's and Ron's blogs about various facets of beer and brewing history and have been known to dabble in writing about it myself (though I should point out that I know a mere smidge of our learned friends). Given that I am, to re-use my friend Eric's phrase, a "pubcentric" person it is no surprise that my particular interest is more in the role of beer in the history and development of society.

It was, therefore, with interest that I got an email yesterday announcing an upcoming exhibition at the New York Historical Society Museum and Library called "Beer Here: Brewing New York's History". The PR blurb says that the exhibition:

"traces 350 years of the production and consumption of beer in the city—from colonial New York, when beer was a vital source of nourishment and tax revenues, to the current artisanal revolution occurring in microbreweries throughout the state".

As part of the exhibition there is to be a small beer hall showcasing some of New York state's "artisanal brewers", which serves to remind visitors that beer is not just part of the history of New York but a vital part of the present and the future. The exhibition runs from May 25th to September 2nd. I wish I knew if I would be able to get up to New York between those dates because this sounds like just my kind of exhibition, but truth is I doubt I'll find the money and time.

However, what I can do is encourage all of you who will in the city during the exhibition to get along and see how beer has been involved in the shaping of this country.

* the pictures are from the exhibition website and the announcement email I got yesterday.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...