Sunday, 1 March 2009

Where are we going to put it all?

My latest book-buying spree has delivered mixed results. Buying brewery histories is a total lottery. Some have nothing at all of interest. The corporate ones are the worst. Scarcely even a mention of beer.

I'm often very critical of other beer writing. You get the written equivalent of the shouting I do at the television. Programmes about all sorts of things get me yelling. History. Language. Music. Architecture. House restoration. The weather. And especially beer.

Brewery histories. Local histories. A lottery. I hope for old adverts. Easy illustrations to find and black and white. Perfect for such books. There's rarely more in terms of hard beer facts than what's in the adverts. At least you learn what beers they brewed. I order these histories and hope. (Don't tell Dolores about that. "What! You don't even know what's in these books? Ronald! Stop wasting our money on that crap. Where are we going to put it all?"

A book that doesn't make me squeak in despair. "Cardiff Pubs and Breweries" by Brian Glover. It's got some pretty handy bits. "That looks just like the boring crap you write, dad." was Andrew's opinion. He's not far wrong. Lot's of letters. X's. OG's. The stuff I collect. I've already begun the harvest. It is very sad, I know, that a grown man can get so excited at the size of a beer's gravity.

A definite keeper. *

Dolores gave me the you're-bankrupting-us-with-these-stupid-books speech today. But only for 5 minutes. I'm good for another dozen, I reckon. Books. Not being told off. I'm used to that. My mum. My brother. Various bosses. Lexie ("You alcoholic!"), Andrew. Pretty much every Czech waiter that ever served me.

Here's the beer details I've gleaned from "Cardiff Pubs and Breweries". Plus some others from the Whitbread Gravity Book.

I'm not going to comment much on these today. Just a couple of points.

Pre-WW I, the beers are pretty weak. Hancock's XX was just 1040 in 1905. That's very weak. The weakest Mild from most breweries was over 1050. Treherbert's XX was a pathetic 1032 in 1915. I've never seen a Mild gravity so low before 1918. Post WW I, gravities dropped less than in England. In fact they were barely lower then pre-war. The net result was that Welsh beers became much closer in strength to their English counterparts.

There's also a large number of different Milds from each brewery. Hancock's brewed 3 right up until 1960.

That's it for now. More recipes tomorrow, I think. What about a nice, weak IPA?

* I never throw a book away.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My guess, Ron, is that a lot of these Welsh beers were miners' thirst-quenchers, when what was wanted was something that would wash the coaldust from your throat rather than get you smashed - so they were brewed closer to harvest ale strengths than English beers were.