Hard to believe, but yet another book is ready to go: "Peace!". A companion volume to, naturally enough, "War!". (Just like Tolstoy I've written War and Peace. Except mine are separate volumes.)
What's it about? Well, peace. The peacetime years between the two wars: 1920 - 1939.
The interwar period is fascinating. For me at least. It’s where modern British beer began. While Edwardian beers seem exotic and strange, those from after WW I are reassuringly familiar. Weak and watery Dark Mild, Bitter you could drink more than four pints of without falling over, Stout that isn’t really very stout at all, sweet Brown Ale. The standard beers you found down the pub when I started my drinking career all have their origins in the interwar years.
What would British beer be like today if the two world wars had never happened? That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times. Obviously, it’s impossible to answer without a machine to travel between parallel universes. Lacking such a handy device, we’re left with guesswork.
Looked at rationally, the wars only accelerated processes already in action. The move away from heavy, aged beers to light, running beers began in the 19th century. I can’t imagine standard Mild and Bitter having remained over 5% ABV. Maybe they’d be a little stronger, perhaps 4 to 4.5% ABV. Or maybe not. As I’ve already said, this can only be guesswork.
Luckily, the period is very well documented. To be honest, the Whitbread and Truman Gravity Books have provided far more information than I need. At least for London beers. Combined with the extensive brewing records held in archives, it makes study of the period a doddle. As an intensely lazy person, that’s why I picked it. Not too much work. When I’m feeling more energetic, I may take on the 18th century.
I've just remembered. New book = new competition. I need a question. Let's think . . . .
. . . . that's not working. I'll ask the kids . . . . . .
What's Andrew's middle name? [No, I've already given that one away.] Who's Alexei's favourite artist? Which is our least favourite tree? What colour is our new kitchen? Where did dad break his first ankle? How many jenevers can dad drink before we call him an alcoholic? When will you stop singing?
All excellent suggestions, I'm sure you'll agree. But, I'm the father here. My word is final. A specific question, with one, unambiguous answer is what I need. How about this:
What would British beer be like today if the two world wars had never happened?
A One Way Ticket to Munich - Another c. 1900 éloge of beer comes from another pen working for the Catholic Journal of Rochester, NY, this time scratching out praises to Munich, Bavaria...
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