Tuesday, 11 February 2020

What I learnt at the archives (part 95)

I should get out more. To archives, not anything crazy like the outdoors. Because I always learn stuff from my visits. The unexpected is what keeps it exciting.

My recent trip to the London Metropolitan Archives was my first in 6.5 years. Partly because I still haven't processed all my earlier photographs. I've stacks of them. I think 15,000 or so. And they take a while to churn through.

For example, I took 660 photos at the archives on Monday. I've made a real effort to go through them this week. I've got through 60. In about 10-12 hours. To process the lot, I'm looking at 120 hours.

But I'm not that daft. There's a lot of overlap in the Truman's WW II logs. Each book only covers about four months. Being an obsessive bastard, I wanted, no, had to, photograph every record. But I'm being more practical about what I transcribe. What I need for my current project.

There were a limited number of WW II records left for me to snap. I wasn't going to waste the opportunity. And did a bit of pre-emptive research for my next book. (Yes, I am thinking that far ahead.) And got stuck into some Truman's records from the 1880's.

It's always worth looking in the front and back covers of brewing records. You never know what you'll find. Things like this:

It's a record of Truman's last Keeping Porters, from 1879 and 1880. It's taught me so much. Laet's go through it all.

First, that Keeping Porter lasted longer than I thought. I'd believed in fizzled out in the early 1870s. Clearly it dragged on until at least 1880.

As the "started" (put into a vat) and tapped dates are given, I can see how long it was vatted. Which is between 5 and 10 months. Which is about what I would have guessed, but it's nice to have some confirmation.

Surprising is the size of the vats being used. And just how small they were. The largest batch is 1100 barrels. This tells me that Keeping Porter may have survived the removal of the massive Porter vats. These look of a size which would have been used for Stout.

You can also see which hops were added to the vats. Rather surpringly, "American" and "Alost" (Aalst in Belgium). The cheapest and hops with the least valued aroms around.

Bit of an underestimate on the brewing record photos. Just counted and it's 28,000.

I remain number-obsessed as ever.

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