Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A day at the archives.

Yesterday I had a daytrip to London. Visiting the London Metropolitan Archives. Fun, but totally knackering.

I still had a pile of request forms, unused last time when my camera battery ran dry. Which was handy, because it meant I could put then into the box as soon as I arrived. I like to keep up a fast pace. I only get there a few times a year and I have to get through as much as possible.

Unfortunately, they got my first order mixed up. They brought up Middlesex court records for some reason. While I was waiting for the right ones to appear, I flicked through "The Brewing Industry, A Guide to Historical Records". It lists all the documents from the brewing industry kept in archives. A very handy. I would have bought a copy, but I've never found it for less than 170 quid. That's a bit steep, even for me. Disappointingly, it doesn't seem any of Mann's brewing records have survived. Though it seems some of Meux's have.

My choice of records to peruse was pretty eclectic: Whitbread Potrter logs for 1880, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1962; Whitbread Ale logs for WW I, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1960 and 1965; Barclay Perkins logs for 1848, 1868, 1891, 1899 and 1906; Truman gyle books for 1921, 1930, 1953, 1959 and 1964; Truman square books for 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1925.

It total 30 items, in about three hours. I blame the weird postwar Truman's logs for slowing me down. They're so confusuing, I spent nearly an hour on them. Initially, I had trouble even working out which bit was the beer name. The weirdest names I've seen: P1, P2, P1B, R4, No. 7, S1 and S2 (not Stouts). And what crap handwriting their brewers had. Even worse than mine. I'll just take a picture so you can see how illegible mine is . . . .

See what I mean.

I'm not wearing black as a fashion statement. A couple of hours handling old manuals is like a shift at the coal face. I'll not make the mistake of wearing a white shirt again.

45 minutes. That's all I have left in Stonch's. His pub is very conveniently situated between the archives and Farringdon Road tube. 45 minutes max. That's if I sprint around the Tesco at Liverpool Street.

I'm glad Stonch has invested in a few beermats. Really smartens the place up. My first pint goes down in four gulps. Here's the proof:

Nice to see the barmaid doesn't recognise me. One you hit 50 you become invisible to girls under 25. I should have brought the kids with me. No-one ever forgets Lexie. And it's not just his two-tone hair they remember.

London prices seem quite cheap now a pound costs less than 1.20 euros. Three pound twenty a pint is just 3.85 euros. And that's for Old Puke, which is nearly 6%.

I love London pubs in the hole between frantic lunchtime drinking and frantic after-work drinking. The only sound is me scrunching my pork scratchings. Mmmm . . . deep fried pig skin. The food of the gods. At least the fat ones.

Why do I like drinking cask beer? Because it goes down so much quicker. I knocked back five pints of Puke in an hour. And still had room for a surprisingly spectacular pint of Landlord in a random pub by Liverpool Street station.

John Keeling (in charge of brewing at Fuller's) told me something great about drinakabolity. How do you measure it? Easy. Have a free bar and let your test subjects drink as much as they want. Under these conditions, drinkers will always knock back more cask than keg. Cask is intrinsically more drinkable.

Almost forgot, I found out something very revealing about Brown Ale from the postwar Whitbread logs. More about that later.


Anonymous said...

You need to spek to Derek Prentice (now John Keeling's number 2 at Fuller's) about those Truman's records - he was there in the early 1970s and wil be able to explain a lot, I'm sure ...

Tim said...

I was in Stonch's pub yesterday afternoon as well (probably at around 2pm'ish?).
I totally approved of the attire his new American recruit was wearing. Made it difficult to judge where to look!

Ron Pattinson said...

zythophile, I'd forgotten about that. Good idea. They seem to have been brewing loads of different Milds, which is a bit strange.

Tim, I wasn't there until 15:00. Different barmaid by the time I arrived.

ennislaw said...

"Nice to see the barmaid doesn't recognise me. One you hit 50 you become invisible to girls under 25. ..."

That's it, that's why we older folks take the beer so seriously, sad to say.

Although across the pond, I enjoy your blog immensely. Jealousy, if nothing else for the variety of decent beer.

Tandleman said...

"Nice to see the barmaid doesn't recognise me. One you hit 50 you become invisible to girls under 25. ..."

Indeed, but it makes ogling a less risky business!