Monday, 25 August 2008

Northern beer is best

It's official - northern beer is much better than London beer. At least that was the case in 1700. Things can't have changed that much in just 300 years, can they?
"In most (if not all ) of the Northern Counties there are few or no Common Brewers. The Inn-keepers and Publick Ale Houses Brewing what they Retail in their own Houses. And Private Families for themselves. And in all these Counties 'tis as rare to find any ill Malt Liquors, as it is to find good in London, or the adjacent Counties."
"Directions for Brewing Malt Liquors" (1700)
I would certainly agree with the last sentence, though perhaps Stonch might have a different opinion.

There were other reasons why London brewers made crap beer. Northern malt was better quality:
"As for your Malt. The North Country Malts from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Cheshire, Lancashire, &c. are the best, especially for Ale, but are generally too slack dryed for March or October Beer , which is to be kept at least half a Year before it be Drank. The Goodness of these Northern Malts proceeds partly from the Corn which grows on Grounds more rested than in the Southern Countrys, where the Rents are more racked, and the Grounds more worn by continual Sowing; and partly from the making, in which they take more time then in other parts, and dry it leisurely with Pit Coal Charkt, called in some Places Coak, an in others Culm, which is sweet and gives a gentle and certain heat. Whereas in the South East parts, they dry their Malt with Straw, which is hard to keep to a moderate and equal heat."
"Directions for Brewing Malt Liquors" (1700)
And Common Brewers (commercial breweries) weren't as fussy about cleanliness:
"In short, the Reason why Publick and Common Brewers seldom or never Brew good Drink is, That they Wet more Malt at once, than 'tis possible they can have Vessels and Servants enough to Work, and set it cool emough to Ferment kindly: and withall, Brew so often, that they cannot sufficiently, betwen one Brewing and another, cleanse and scald their Brewing Vessels and Barrels, giving them due time to dry, but that they will retain such a Rest as will always Char and Sour their Liquors. And the Mischiefs accrewing by such Neglects are incredible to Persons unexperienced."
"Directions for Brewing Malt Liquors" (1700)
I would have said good beer was easier to find up North than down South. But I haven't lived in Britain for twenty years. My information isn't quite up to date. What do you reckon?

5 comments:

Jeff said...

You can get Northern beer in London so the point is moot!

[this is Stonch by the way - just call me Jeff]

Kristen England said...

HA! Thats pretty funny.

I do have a question. You see the term 'Nut Brown' ale everywhere now and I see it on that Boddingtons coaster. Any idea how it came about?

Ron Pattinson said...

Jeff, I was forgetting, you sell proper Northern beer, don't you?

Kristen, my guess (and it really is just a guess) is that "nut brown" is a description of the colour. There's a beer in the gravity books called "Golden Brown".

Golden black. That's how I describe the colour of properly cooked bacon to the kids. "Yes, the bacon's done, kids. It's a beautiful crispy, golden black."

Jeff said...

Not this week. I've got Hopback Summer Lightning and Adnams Bitter (the latter a beer I never rated until I got to look after it myself). A few nines of TT Landlord dropped in my cellar this morning however. If I take it off for a week, I miss it every time.

Boak said...

I'm not rising to any North v South stuff.