Sunday, 25 May 2008

Looking back

I've been writing this blog for exactly 11 months. A suitable moment for quiet reflection. . . . . .

That's enough silence. Now for some noise.

Looking back is one of the things I do best. I'm staring so resolutely backwards that I often stumble. Looking where you're going is sometimes not just appropriate but necessary.

When I laid out my manifesto all those months back, I had a very clear concept of what my blog would be about: the history of beer, my research into the history of beer, what bollocks others have written about the history of beer and a diary of my beer-related experiences. Not forgetting the essential quota of crap jokes and stuff about my kids.

How faithful have I been to those initial intentions? (Why do I keep asking myself such difficult questions? Do you have any idea?) I feel I've stuck exactly to the concept I had in my head. Whether or not I managed to articulate that in my manifesto, I'm not so certain. I still haven't managed to tidy up my desk (see above)

History of beer
There have been plenty of posts on the history of beer. Probably far too many for most of you. I could imagine snores coming from my monitor when I wrote about the history of early Swedish lager or in minute details about Berliner Weisse.

It doesn't really bother me if my posts entertain anyone. I keep repeating this, but I'm uncertain how much I'm believed: everything I write is for me. To crystalise my thoughts or record information I might otherwise misplace. And to give the kids some idea of what their dad was like, what he thought and what he did. It's all just me, me, me.

My research
I've served up plenty of undigested chunks of research. Raw data without much in the way of commentary or explanation. This has been partly through intent and partly lack of time. There's much information I've collected that I still haven't properly processed.

I wanted to make clear the process of research - which sources I use and what is to be found in them. Making the information available to others is equally important. It would be hypocritical to slag off others of not having the facts and then keeping them to myself.

The bollocks of others
This has mostly been limited to the odd attack on the BJCP. Kicking the BJCP is one of my hobbies. I've tried not to overdo it. Being perpetually negative is so unappealing. It would be easy to spend much of my time having ago at everyone I think talks bollocks about beer. But what would be the point?

Beer-related diary
A wide range of activities fall under this heading. Foreign travel, getting my beers brewed, dragging the kids around pubs, personal reminiscences. This is the stuff that Mike thinks is off-topic. Well, not all of it, but the travelogue bits. I especially enjoy writing the travel reports. There's no way I'll be dropping those. Sorry, Mike.

I estimate that I have about 100 regular readers. If you're one, comment on this post. That might give me more realistic idea of the true number. Especially those of you without a blog of your own.

I'm looking forward to providing more of the same over the next 11 months. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll put your fist through your screen. On second thought, best skip that last one. It might hurt.


Thomas said...

I'm a loyal reader, Ron. I found your work on Berliner Weisse perhaps the most interesting of all your posts, but that's because I'm a brewing science student and love all the technical detail.

Ron Pattinson said...

thom, as a special anniversary treat, I've just posted about Berliner Weisse again.

I sometimes wonder about the really technical stuff, because it often garners few responses. Nice to know there are some that appreciate them

Mark Andersen said...

Reading this blog is part of my morning routine. I simply cannot function the rest of the day without it (exaggeration of course).

I found it by accident when I was planning my first trip to Bamberg last year and was scouring the internet for information when I came across your Bamberg pubs page on the EuropeanBeerGuide website. Great website by the way that really gave me my first look at what I could expect from Bamberg.

Then shortly after I found this blog describing the trip you took with Stonch to Franconia.

While I like the technical/historical/educational stuff that you post I also enjoy the stuff about your trips. Reading about someone else's trips can be a painful tedious experience but somehow you make it entertaining.

In short, great blog. Cheers!

Lars Marius Garshol said...

I'm a loyal reader and have learned quite a bit from it. I keep returning for the quality of the writing and the interesting beer information.

So, when will the book be out?

Boak said...

I never visit.

Seriously, I'm rather enjoying the personal reminiscences, particularly about East Germany which is a rather unhealthy of mine.

As for the technical stuff - it's not like there's anything you can say, most of the time. "Wow, an 80% pale grain bill? I wouldn't have expected that!" - it's not to say it's not appreciated.

Rob said...

Ever since I've found your writings, I've made them a regular part of my daily digest. I especially enjoy your historical research and insights on gone and near-extinct historical styles.

Elektrolurch said...

i love your blog and i read it on a regular basis, as my comments may have already shown you;)
i like the travel and memory parts, not soo much the beer history thing, though sometimes there are posts on this topic i enjoy a lot,too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron, from another Brit in the Netherlands.

I'm not very technical myself, but I'm enjoying getting back up to speed on beer and brewing. The historical stuff is fantastic, but once it gets too involved I admit my interest wanes.

I did my work experience at John Willie Lees near Manchester and together with friends had a couple of beers brewed at Maximiliaan in Amsterdam, so I've a bit of an idea what you're talking about.
These days my interest is more drinking the stuff than making it.

Keep up the good work!

Andy Holmes said...

Hi Ron, not mich I can say that hasn't already been said. I particularly enjoy the eclectic mix in your blog, we never know what's coming next.

As a blogger myself I can only aspire to some small fraction of your wrtiting competance.

You're an inspiration to us all.

John Clarke said...

Hi Ron,

Count me in as a regular. I particularly enjoy you winding up the Yanks.

Keep it up.



PS - have you tried the imperial stouts yet?

Detchon said...

i read every day ron. although i like nearly all of it, the fact you take lager seriously is something i particularly enjoy. and the travel stuff. it helps me daydream.

Alan said...

I read you. I do mind all the beer related content but other than that - and the travel and recollections, too, now that I think of it - it is coming along nicely. How about working more meat into your, I do mean meat. Roasted savory flesh. Surely there is a whole aspect of carnivoristic gorging you are keeping from us. Carnavoyeurism: that's what I like. And noting your relative position vis a vis sea level for each post. What is the point of speaking from the Netherlands if the neder is never noted?

Anonymous said...

Every day reader

Anonymous said...

I am also a regular reader, though relatively new to your blog my favourite elements are the beer-related reminiscences.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a crap blog and I don't read it ever.

The Beer Nut said...

Ron Patterson is my favourite blogger.

Stan Hieronymus said...

Ron - Add me to the body count. Next time I have a real Internet connection (as opposed to sitting outside a Fairfield Inn in Yakima, Wash., and stealing a weak signal) I'll read the comments and try to be more clever.

Prosit, Stan

BJCP rulz!

Anonymous said...

I've only really discovered your blog in the last few months, but I'm now a regular.

I particularly enjoy your historical stuff, including old recipes and treatises on styles, which keep challenging my own assumptions. I love your travelogues too, but managing both a small child and a small business (in that order), I don't get to travel as much as I'd like right now.

If there's a better beer blog out there for sheer information, I haven't found it yet. You could occasionally use a 'designated proof reader' when you're on field research, though ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am also one of the regulars, and I have to say I prefer the travel writing and personal asides more than the statistics. But you are one of the bedrocks of the beer blogging scene!

Anonymous said...

Love the blog, especially the travelogue stuff. But it's all interesting, even the raw data. Not a daily reader, more like an unhealthy binge every week or so.

I raise my Kölsch ale in your general direction.

Spencer said...

Ron, I've been reading your blog for ... well, I don't know exactly how long, maybe 6 months? It's in my Google Reader, so I get my regular dose.

I'm finding the historical brewing info fascinating, although the raw numbers make my eyes glaze over. As a card-carrying member of the BJCP, I am trying to take your bollocking as mind-stretching. The recent rants on German top-fermenting beers are making me think, especially about the tendency of US folk to simplify and categorize.

Before I found the blog, I used your European beer guide on a trip to Berlin. Thanks so much for that!

Unknown said...

Loyal, daily reader through the grace of google reader. I enjoy the history, the rants and the technical stuff. The memories are also good, because they put your other writings into context and nicely frame your point of view. Waiting for the book, I raise my iced stout to you.

David said...

Count me in as a regular reader. I especially enjoy the travelogue bits. I have often read-aloud the family and travel posts to my wife.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron,

I've read every post since you started! I love the beer history - if you wrote a book one day I would definitely buy it. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot - I, at least, do very much enjoy the tables of specific gravity.

Anonymous said...

Jawohl, HoppyHead tanzen musike im die haus, eins zwei drei!!!!!!!!11!!

DJ Ron-the-Don drops it big, kaboom!

I enjoy reading your blog daily.

All good, nothing bad.

Anonymous said...

I read the blog primarily to annoy my wife and to a lesser degree to destroy all my misconceptions about brewing and beer.

Tim said...

Hi Ron, I've been reading since about January. The brewing stats and history are what I keep reading for. I think because I'm a homebrewer (An American homebrewer? Oh, the horror!) and an engineer that I find all those numbers and facts fascinating.

Stephen Lacey said...

Regular reader despite a bit of down time there in the last few months due to personal stuff.

I like all your posts and your (quirky? ireverent?) writing style. I'm enjoy the perspective you bring to the world of beer and am fascinated by the research and certainly enjoy the way you are challenging the lumpers and splitters among us all to re-examine the assumed knowledge being passed down and around as gospel.

The brewery log research is great, but I'd like to get a sense of there being some kind of method to the madness. Why do you choose a particular breweries set of logs? What questions are you trying to answer (at least eventually, if not immediately)? Sometimes it comes across as a bit random. Might be a case of patience grasshopper, all will be revealed.

Ron Pattinson said...

Stephen, there are a couple of reasons why I've looked at the logs I have.

1. Porter is one of the main themes of my research. Whitbread, Truman and Barclay Perkins were three of the largest London Porter breweries.

2. Amount of records. The Whitbread and Truman's are pretty well complete from 1815 to when the breweries closed in the 1970's and 1980's.

3. Location. All three are in the London Metropolitan Archives.

It will take me years to look at these three sets of brewing records properly.

I've jumped around a bit in the time because of limited access to the archives (I live in another country). Patience.

Mr Mohawk said...

Hi Ron!
I must admit it was really just to stalk you that I started reading this. Well actually, since I first met you at the 24 Uur festival ten years ago, I haven't really tried to stay in contact with you, so the blog was a great way to see what you are up to these days. And being a Porter supporter as I am, I really enjoy your research into the subject. So I must confess to rather liking the statistics and technical information about different styles.

Porter Porter!

Doc said...

Another loyal reader (by RSS) from Australia.
It drives me crazy seeing all the great places you trip to that I'll probably never get too.
Love the insight to rare/extinct styles, which gives me inspiration for my brewing.

Beers, Doc