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.