In one hand I held "Die Herstellung Obergähriger Bier", in the other the "Vienna/Märzen" in the Brewers' Publications series. Both are books, both are about beer. Are they equally trustworthy? (If you answered that question with a "yes", eff off and leave by blog at once, Homebrew Twat.) I would say obviously not.
(Just the title "Vienna/Märzen" is enough to raise serious doubts. The two aren't synonymous. Not all Vienna lagers are Märzens and neither are all Märzens Vienna lagers.)
I always ask myself these questions:
- Who wrote the text?
- Where did they get their information from?
- Was the author an expert?
- What was the intended audience for the text?
- Where was the text published?
- When was the text published?
The lack of academic rigour in the beer world can be disheartening. What am I saying, "can be". It is disheartening.
Private sources. I have a couple of those. Archive stuff. There's a project with them I've partly finished. Combining the information from the Truman and Whitbread Gravity Books. They give the OG of British beers for the period 1926-1966. There are literally thousands of entries, from dozens of breweries. It will be an invaluable resource for researching the development of British beer in the 20th century. I'll also include details from the brewing logs of Whitbread, Barclay Perkins and Truman. Then it will span 1815 - 1966. Pretty handy, eh?
Crazy, generous fool that I am, I'm considering making the finished spreadsheet available on the web. Good idea? Or just shouting in a deaf school?
There's something that could make my super OG table even more supertastic. The OG's of beers for that last 25 years, taken from the Good Beer Guide. Does anyone have this in electronic form. Copying it all would take a long time. As a card-carrying member of the Sloth Club, I'd rather not do it if I don't have to.
Perhaps there are some public-spirited souls out there? Who am I kidding? But should there be, what about this: transcribe the OG's from one year of the Good Beer Guide. Just pick one year (my advice would be to go for the early 1980's when there were fewer breweries) and copy the details into a spreadsheet.
Here's an example of both my table and what you could fill in from the Good Beer Guide. Call be an optimist.