Wednesday 22 March 2023


The idea was simple. Turn a talk I'd quickly written on the history of Stout into a book. Dead quick. Mostly because I didn't want to waste the tables.

I'd already created slides, assembled tables. Sketched the outline, really. Filling in the holes, plumping the slides out to chapters, I could whack out a great little history of London Stout in no time. It wouldn't be much work.

It wasn't. Much work. Just a few weeks and I had 30,000 words. All the history - except for the vague early 18th century - polished off. Only the recipes to go.

That's when I made a bad decision for a very good reason. By bad, I mean bad for me, in terms of time consumption. Good for everyone else. I hope.

I don't know how many brewing records I have of London Stout. Hundreds. Maybe thousands. It would be stupidly impractical to include recipes for them all. How was I going to filter them? Rough or smooth?

Whitbread is the reason I went rough. I have their Stouts from 1805 to 1973 with just a handful of years in the 1960s missing. By writing as many recipes as possible, I'd get a huge amount of data. Grist composition and calculated colour and bitterness.

Five year intervals. That's what I chose. I should, perhaps, have worked out how many recipes that would be. I've completed 140. Good news is that Fullers, Reid, Combe and Lovibond are done. Less good news: I just finished the 1880 recipes for Whitbread. I'm not even halfway through.

Patience is the only virtue I've gained with age. It will take a while. As long as I knock off a few recipes every day, I'll get there eventually. And be all the richer, in terms of insights, than if I hadn't been arsed.

Do I regret my decision? Of course I fucking do. As I keep repeating, I'm incredibly lazy. Like a sloth on valium. And smacked up. That's me on a good day.

"Stout!" should be available sometime this year. Depending on how much I travel.


Christoph Riedel said...

I appreciate the effort, Ron. Even if it doesn't change much in the sales whether you have 50 recipes in there or 500, in the end it will make you proud to have such a comprehensive list of recipes. It will most likely be unique just because of that, and then all your texts come on top.

Can't wait until it gets out. Really looking forward to the book!

Anonymous said...

Have you thought about doing a book on lost Irish beers?

Ron Pattinson said...


yes, but I don't have enough information to make a good job of it. If anyone wants to send me photographs of Irish brewing records, that might help me change my mind.