Monday 4 February 2019

How this research shit works

No-one has been beating down my shed door to understand how my research process works. But, as I don't have the 1.89 for my cans of Lager yet, I'll take a little time to explain. Hopefully it will help dull that terrible craving for Ace.

"How do you come up with one of your wonderful historic recipes, Ron?"

I'm glad you asked that. As it's a far more complicated process than you might imagine.

There are three routes: public archives, private archives and the stuff I've been able to buy on the interweb.

I'm going route one today. Public archives.

Step 1.
Plan ahead. Try to work out from the proorly-described pulic catalogue what might be useful. Put all the reference numbers and description in a document and print it out. Hope that the catalogue really matches with the documents and that the descriptions are vaguely accurate.

Step 2.
Prepare your equipment. Charge your camera bateries - always have a spare and a charger to hand. And a few extra memory cards. And another extra battery can't do any harm.

Step 3.
Dress for the occasion. Black, black, black. Your clothes will most likely end up black from the grime coatint the records. Best to go with that. Very dark brown or blue will do at a pinch.

Step 4.
Prepare mentally. An hour of meditation or a monster line of speed work equally well. Make your choice based on time available, predisposition and the procurability of high-grade amphetamines. If neither is practical, have a really nice cup of tea. (Remembering to put the milk in first.)

Step 5.
Go mental photographing. Really mental. Really, really, really mental. Then go mental some more. Until your back aches and your mind moans stop this shit you mental bastard.The only photos you'll regret are the ones you didn't take.

Step 6.
Wind down. Prefereably at a pub run by Jeff Bell that serves Old Peculiar and Lagavullin. Have five of the former and two of the latter. Remembering to leave enough time to get to the airport for your flight home. And not to leave you camera in the pub.

Next time: how to turn those blurry photos of brewing records into recipes you can sell for cash money. Or exchange for beer.


Edd The Brew said...

Hi Ron ,
I agree with allmost everything , though I`d plump for Palmer`s Tally Ho and Royal Lochnagar !

Roel Mulder said...

This is so recognisable, Ron :-)
All those city and provincial archives where I got my fingers blackened by 19th century dust... Usually, the inventories are pretty vague, what seems interesting often isn't, and what seems dull might just yield very useful information.
...And always ask for what is NOT in the inventory, there often is quite a lot.

Anonymous said...

What kind of shape are those records in? I'm curious how good the paper is, and how often they get stored in clean dry conditions versus moldy, buggy soggy conditions.

I've found I have a hard time with historical records due to allergies. I've also found that in some locations you need to carefully think through your opportunities for bathroom breaks.

Ron Pattinson said...


the condition of the records varies a lot. Those in public archives are usually stored pretty well. The ones in breweries, not necessarily. Some of the Lees records are water damaged. And the cellar wherre Fullers records are held is far from optimal.