Sunday, 21 August 2011

A milestone and a millstone

I've reached another milestone. After just two and a half years I've extracted all the data from volume one of the Whitbread Gravity Book. My ridiculously large spreadsheet of beer details* has grown even more ridiculously large. But I've noticed a slight problem.

The spreadsheet covers around 200 years: 1804 to 2005. The 19th century details come mostly from brewing records with a few from chemical magazines. I've the most information for the years 1920 to 1960, courtesy of the Whitbread and Truman Gravity Books. There are a few odd entries for the later 1960's and odd analyss from newspaper articles of the 1970's. After that, the Good Beer Guide is my main source.

And that's where the gaping hole emerges. Because the Good Beer Guide doesn't cover all beer. Just cask beer and the odd bottle-conditioned beer. There's a whole world of British beer that suddenly slips from view. I can tell you next to nothing about Brown Ale after 1965. I don't have any data.

While I know all about the cask beers from a mayfly micro of the mid 1980's, British bottled Stouts of the same period are a total blank. It's frustrating. The Good Beer Guide lets me track changes in strength of cask beers because it was published annually. Each edition is a little time capsule of the beers as they were in a specific year.

I'm working my way around to a request. An appeal. Does anyone know of another source of British beer gravities of the last 40 years? Especially of bottled and keg beers. Without them, I can only see half of the picture.

It's weird that the 1980's should be more problematic than the 1920's.

* It hits 20,000 entries later this week.


Gary Gillman said...

Thinking on the bottled British stouts of the mid-1980's, surely it was a small group. There was Mackeson and finally Sam Smith's Imperial Stout, Oatmeal Stout and Taddy Porter although not all the last three were, or are, regularly available in the U.K. Tennant's made some excellent strong stout that you could buy in various export markets but not Scotland at the time I believe. Apart from that, the odd micro may have made one, in fact I think Pitfield's - the craft brewery associated to the beer shop near Old St. tube London - made a good one, brown not black. But overall a very small group IIRC.


Rod said...

I think you're thinking about the original Dark Star, brewed in the cellar uderneath the Pitfield St shop in the early 80's. Lovely beer.

Gary Gillman said...

That's it Rod, thanks.


dave said...

You mean this place?,-0.083646&spn=0.002854,0.006968&sll=51.514969,-0.106382&sspn=0.035559,0.04765&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&fb=1&gl=us&vpsrc=6&fll=51.526371,-0.084313&fspn=0.00277,0.006968&z=18&layer=c&cbll=51.526929,-0.083646&panoid=h9lAjX7OKVIBrZXb-08-yQ&cbp=12,66.36,,0,13.16

I lived above the place (University dorms). I went once into the shop (I'm not sure if it still was a brewery at the time) and didn't recognize any of the beers so I left. Was quite naive about beer at the time. Down the street from a shut Truman's.

Martyn Cornell said...

The Daily Mirror did a study on ber strengths, bottled and draught/cask/keg, in 1972 which I have somewhere, when I get a moment I'll look it out for you.

And I vaguely recall that (1) WHICH did some stuff on beer strengths and (2) in its early days Camra also analysed keg beer strengths - you might get somewhere with Iain Loe, the research chief at Camra in Snorbuns.