You know, there was a time when I wrote posts about the history of beer. Then I got in a bit of a dust up with Ron Pattinson which then became quite civil when I said something like "if you are so clever about all this history stuff you should write a blog" which, we all know, he then did and now we are like two houses on fire. Without, you know, the skin grafts and reading of the life insurance policies.The other great reason to not pretend that I need to or even can write about the history of beer is the fact that Martyn Cornell exists. He has this very day posted two massive halves of one long essay on the origins of the term "India pale ale" - including this interesting passage on the response to his research by some beer gits:
If saying “the generally accepted story about the birth of IPA is almost entirely wrong” is nit-picking, that’s a bloody big nit. Someone else complained that...
“this guy is just going out of his way to poke holes in the common story about the ipa style … The point is that Hodgson was the first to brew ‘india pale ale’ (from everything i’ve read) and therefore brewed the first of the style”
which is entirely not grasping my own point, or points. The first is that the “common story” already has huge holes in it, and I’m not poking them, I’m just holding them up and saying: “Look – big holes!”.
Wow - real research and analysis presented without bias or the compromise of populism. What I think is most interesting is that the two focus on different sources. Martyn seeks his information from primary sources like beer ads, books of an age and other contemporary writings. Ron seeks his wisdom mainly through review of brewery archives and the actual brewing logs kept by those who made the beer at the time. When the power of their combined research is read side by side it is quite impressive - not to mention detailed and not to mention authoritative.
It boggles my mind that each of these gents are not subsidized to the full extent of the necessaries of their lives by brewers associations of one sort or another. Boggles my mind.