Thursday 22 September 2016

Shepherd Neame

Obsessive is all 73 of my middle names. But collecting brewing records is my biggest obsession. I claim it's to record brewing's true past. Really I'm just a nosy git.

John Humphries of Shepherd Neame graciously invited me come and have a rustle through the brewery's undercrackers. Wasn't going to turn that down. The brewery has outlasted most, including a couple of royal dynasties. Bound to be some good stuff.

Thought I'd give you a quick overview of what I dug out of the grime. There's always lots of dirt involved in archive research. My hands were black by the end of the afternonn. I'm amazed that Kathryn Tye, who helped me get settled in and prise open a cabinet, shook my hand at the end. Before I'd had chance to scrub off the filth.

Highlight is a brewing log from 1798. Now I just have to read the bloody thing. Paper must have been expensive back then looking at how tiny the handwriting is. I'll need a while.

The 20th-century records are pretty decent. Except for the brewer in the 1930's with the terrible handwriting. It's almost as bad as mine. And one really, really annoting feature.

The first records I looked at were a real disappointment. Just fermentaion records. I thought I was screwed. Then realised the brewing records were a different set of books. The false start was really a blessing. Had I seen the brewing records first, I might not have realised the fermentation records were elsewhere.

I didn't match everything up. As not all the fermentation records were to hand. But they did for 1956. For the beer* that was brewed on the day I was born.

* A watery Bitter, if you're interested.

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