Sunday, 14 July 2013

Gardening made easy!

You have to love the title of this advert. I liked it so much, I used it myself.

Tamworth Herald - Saturday 09 April 1910, page 1

Funnily enough, I've been doing a bit of gardening myself this week. The rest of the family are away in Germany visiting relatives. Before Dolores left she wrote down my tasks for the week. Top of the list was watering the garden. And picking the raspberries.

The raspberries have done really well this year. So well, they need to be pocked every day. It's strangely calming peering under the leaves, dodging the thorns and plucking the plump red berries. I'm beginning to get the appeal of gardening.

I'd always associated gardening with drudgery, a sort of slave labour. I associate it with being forced to work on my brother's bloody allotment, picking weeds and digging. Lots of bloody digging. What fun that was.

Picking raspberries reminded me of something else. Blackberrying. Dad used to drive out into the countryside around Newark to collect blackberries. There were masses of brambles in the hedgerows. After half an hour our plastic bags were bulging with fruit and our fingers stained purple. Blackberries are a good bit trickier to pick than raspberries. The fruit are less visible - the crimson of rapberries shines amid the pale green leaves - and the thorns thicker and crueler. And often we'd be stretching over a ditch to reach the bines.

Once home, Mum would transform the fruit into pies and jam. Apple and blackberry pie is still my favourite.

They're right in that advert. A couple of beers does make gardening easy. At least that was my experience yesterday. A brace of Abts helped me drift into serene contemplation. Thank you beer.

Got a bit distracted there. I did actually have a beery point to make. About the beers in that advert. It's a very limited range. There's no draught Porter or Stout. No strong beer of any kind. Mostly it's just Bitter and Mild (not quite sure what the Mild Dinner Ale was, but it's one of those two). It's an indication of the waning popularity of Stout in the provinces.

You probably want my guess at their strengths, don't you? OK, here are my carefully considered estimates:

Beer OG
Good Mild Dinner Ale 1040-45
Full Bodied Ale 1050
Light Bitter Ale 1045
India Pale Ale 1055
Nourishing Stout 1050

It's like a glimpse into the future, how British beer would be in 15 or 20 years time.

The brewery was quite small, brewing probably around 5,000 barrels a year. You can read more about it here.


Thomas Barnes said...

Your comment about picking raspberries begs the question as to why there are no indigenous British fruit beers.

Certainly, there are "beer cocktails" like shandy, "lemon and lager" or the feared and despised "snakebite/diesel", but nothing like the Belgian fruit Lambics or Witbier (if you count citrus peel as being fruit).

Where there once British fruit beers which have gone the way of Vatted Porter? Were there laws that made it impossible for fruit beers to be brewed commercially? Is there something about British beer and/or pub culture which makes fruit beer unpopular except for juice added at dispense?

Ron Pattinson said...


1816 to 1880 malt, hops and water (after 1847 also sugar) only were allowed. Yes, it was illegal to commercially produce a fruit beer.