Monday, 28 January 2008

Out of ideas

Alan over at A Good Beer Blog has been wondering what's up in beer geekdom. Bitchiness abounds, evidently. I can't say that I had noticed much difference. Squabbling is the daily bread of beer forums.

"One thing that I think is going on is there really isn't that much to talk about. How many times can the story of IPA or porter really be rewritten? "

Speak for yourself. I'll be flogging the Porter horse for a few more decades yet. I've barely scratched the surface of IPA.

I like to get in at least one mention of Barclay Perkins every week. And funnily enough, I just happen to have an appropriate quote to hand. How convenient.

"About thirty years ago, it was customary for the London brewers of porter to keep immense stocks of it for eighteen months or two years, with the view of improving its quality. The beer was pumped from the cleansing butts into store-vats, holding from twenty to twenty-five gyles or brewings of several hundred barrels each. The store-vats had commonly a capacity of 5000 or 6000 barrels; and a few were double, and one was treble, this size. The porter, during its long repose in these vats, became fine, and by obscure fermentation its saccharine mucilage was nearly all converted into vinous liquor, and dissipated in carbonic acid. Its hop-bitter was also in a great degree decomposed. Good hard beer was the boast of the day. This was sometimes softened by the publican, by the addition of some mild new-brewed beer. Of late years, the taste of the metropolis has undergone such a complete revolution in this respect, that nothing but the mildest porter will now go down. Hence, six weeks is a long period for beer to be kept in London; and much of it is drunk when only a fortnight old. Ale is for the same reason come greatly into vogue; and the two greatest porter houses, Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, & Co., and Truman, Hanbury, &. Co., have become extensive and successful brewers of mild ale, to please the changed palate of their customers."
"A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines" by Andrew Ure, New York 1858, page 142

Multiple birds, single stone situation. Another reference to storage of beer for more than 12 months. Even if it is only saying that it had gone out of fashion. That one's for Alan.

By the 1850's, the long, slow decline of Porter into extinction was well underway. That Barclay Perkins and Truman had gone over to Ale production in a big way was highly significant. A couple of decades earlier they had been 100% Porter breweries. The switch to Ale and the end of bulk longterm storage entailed considerable reconstrucion of their breweries. Not something they would have undertaken lightly. The removal of the great Porter tuns - the subject of much macho posing amongst London brewers (my tuns are bigger than your tuns) - must have been an emotional decision.

Out of ideas? Not yet. Or maybe I've just not quite finished kicking the old ones to death.

1 comment:

Alan said...

"...Or maybe I've just not quite finished kicking the old ones to death..."

Or maybe you are are one of a few not actually kicking the same old ones around at all?