Index to Gary Gillman’s Writing on Porter and Stout

1. Introduction

I prepared earlier an Index of my posts relating to beer and breweries in the British Mandate for Palestine, and a second Index for Jewish-owned breweries in pre-Second World War Central and East Europe.

In this post I do similar for porter and stout, indexing writing on this site since the site began in July 2015. This represents a large body of study and investigation, relying frequently on original research.

Not every post that mentions porter or stout is included, as some can be viewed as relatively minor or preliminary in nature, but the significant ones are covered.

Because of the notoriety and historical importance of Guinness Stout, many (not all) Guinness posts are collected as one group. This category will exhibit some crossover of topics, as indeed all categories to a degree, but still the groupings will assist readers to perceive the scope of the work done and identify areas of interest.

In the national section (no. 9), the posts describe a notable relationship of porter to each country or sub-unit, whether brewed in the country or not.

(Generally, the term porter as used in this Index includes stout, as historically they are the same type of beer. The difference was, basically, that sometimes stout was stronger. In the Guinness section though I usually use the term stout).

I will update this Index as new posts are produced, and fill any gaps or omissions in the picture as drawn to date. I will prepare as well in months to come a similar index for pale ale, steam beer, English pubs, Canadian whisky, and other topics useful to index.

A note re sources: Among the many sources used in the research is the Fulton History resource, a vast repository of American and some Canadian archival newspapers. If a link to Fulton seems inoperative, this does not mean the source has been removed.

Due to ongoing maintenance of the Fulton website, sometimes the original URL no longer functions and a newer one is needed. Usually a quick word search in Fulton can reveal the source, but if a reader needs assistance, I should be able to help.

2. The Name Origins of Porter 

Spitalfields Weavers, Three Threads and Porter, September 20, 2015. Argues for derivation of porter’s name from London weaving trade. Expanded by Addenda in Comments under post.

More On the Theory London Silk Weaving Gave Porter and Three Threads Their Names, September 25, 2015.  Develops further the argument for derivation of porter’s name as mentioned.

Textiles, Threads, London Beer, November 29, 2016. Continues/elaborates analysis as above.

Ned Ward’s Two-Threads of Beer, July 7, 2017. Discussion on possible meanings of this reference to a two-threads beer.

New Article on Naming Origins of Porter, April 13, 2021. Records publication of my porter-naming argument in April 2021 issue of the UK-based food studies journal Petits Propos Culinaires.

3. The Malts of Porter

From Oak and Alder to Porter, December 11, 2015. Examines Norfolk roots of wood-smoked malt for porter and connections to three threads and other thread beers.

Brown Malt and 1700s Porter: new Insight, March 14, 2016. Describes a 1760 book on malting not previously canvassed in literature that offers new insight on evolution of brown malt and porter mashing.

The Malts in Porter and Stout, March 15, 2016. Discusses malts of porter via a historical lens including with reference to kilning and mashing.

Back to the Future of Porter, via Michael Donovan, March 17, 2016. Evolution of porter mashing until early 1800s according to an Irish-based apothecary.

Draughts of Danish and the Ghosts of London Porter, January 16, 2018. Uncovers evidence that wood-smoked malt links early porter and Danish beer.

4. The Wood Casks Used for Porter

CMOS Brewing, March 18, 2018. Summarizes British attitude to casks for ale and porter up to World War II, namely that, in general, Memel oak from Baltic was favoured vs. vanillin-flavoured American oak barrels.

American Oak Over There, March 28, 2018. Further discussion and background to the wood preferred for British beer barrels.

(See also “A Right Royal Porter” in no. 9 below, confirming Whitbread in London used Memel oak for its classic porter).

5. Dispense Methods of Porter

“Donovan’s Apothecary Porter”, March 21, 2016. Irishman Michael Donovan, writing in early 1800s, projects use of metal barrels to dispense porter.

Handpumped Guinness in Living Colour, March 14, 2018. Irish archival film showing naturally conditioned Guinness.

Rich and Creamy Porter and Stout, Part I, May 3, 2020. Series discusses late-1800s blending practice for porter with reference to approved dispense methods including for British Army canteens.

Rich and Creamy Porter and Stout, Part II, May 8, 2020. Ditto.

Rich and Creamy Porter and Stout, Part III, May 22, 2020. Ditto.

See also in various entries under “Guinness Stout” (no. 5) re its nitrogen innovation and abandonment of natural conditioning.

6. Guinness Stout

Some Thoughts On Guinness, January 21, 2016. Assessing Guinness’ historic decision to abandon natural conditioning c. 1960.

The Classic Taste of Guinness Stout, January 22, 2016. The character of Guinness in the early 20th century, “real ale” days.

Guinness, Bottles, An Addendum, January 23, 2016. Bottled Guinness offering a superior, more traditional character than draught Guinness.

Guinness of My Dreams, April 24, 2017. Envisaging a recreation of historical Guinness.

My Early Experience With Guinness Stout, June 22, 2017. My recollections of Guinness flavour in the 1970s.

Guinness Special Export Stout, June 23, 2017. Some 20th century background on this iteration of Guinness.

Guinness Comes Alive in a 2009 Book, June 30, 2017. Many insights on Guinness in retired Diageo microbiologist’s book.

The Wood For British Beer; an Anglo Russian Pact, March 27, 2018. Confirms via consular reporting that porter generally in Ireland in late-1800s was stored in North American oak.

Use by Guinness of American Stave Barrels in Late 1800s, March 28, 2018. Consular report for late 1800s showing “Dublin”, so Guinness mainly, used American oak staves for barrels.

Confectionately Yours, February 23, 2021. Witty 1950s ad compares Guinness to a confection made by a Guinness affiliate, not quite pastry stout before its time, but still.

7. Imperial Stout

Russian Stout and 1975 Canada, November 30, 2017. A Canadian writes a literate, pre-Michael Jackson assessment of Courage Imperial Russian Stout.

Cyril on Stout, October 28, 2021. Discussion of a landmark 1960s essay on imperial stout by English wine writer Cyril Ray, and his remarks from a different source on Guinness stout.

8. (Representative) Taste Reviews of Porter and Stout

A True Flavour of Porter – Black Creek Porter, March 10, 2016. Reviews this Ontario brand.

Innis & Gunn VP01 Imperial Stout, November 29, 2017. The Scottish brewery’s limited edition release.

Imperial Stout – Great Divide’s Classic Version, February 12, 2018. Traditional imperial stout from the Denver, Colorado brewery.

Porter Ponderings,  September 7, 2018. Reviews Maverick Stout from Toronto in light of 19th century readings of porter final gravity.

Guinness Extra Stout – Canadian Version, December 9, 2020. My comments on the bottled (non-widget) Guinness brewed in Canada under license from Diageo.

Avling Øresund Porter, April 9, 2021. A porter from Toronto’s Avling brewery and restaurant.

Porter Pursuit, Part I., October 15, 2021. Assessment of Founder’s Porter with contextual remarks on other brands and porter history.

Porter Pursuit, Part II October 15, 2021. Review of Cameron’s Crooked Nose Stout from Oakville, Ontario.

Porter Pursuit, Part III October 16, 2021. Assessment of a more recent Canadian-brewed Guinness stout.

2021 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Imperial Stout, November 27, 2021. The famed Goose Island BCB Imperial Stout tasted at Goose Island, Toronto.

Creemore Discovery Series Imperial Stout, January 14, 2022. I find a stab at the style by the craft unit of a mega-brewer wanting.

Porter and Paignton. January 15, 2022. My comments on an Englishman’s review of Black Sheep Milk Stout.

9. Porter in Different Countries 

Britain

A Victorian Meets London Porter, January 25, 2017. Writer and journalist George Sala describes porter characteristics in 1859.

A Right Royal Porter, April 8, 2018. Reviews a period account of the King and Queen’s visit to Whitbread Brewery in 1787.

When Black IPA Rules, March 22, 2020. Considers Black IPA (the modern craft style) in light of Frank Faulkner’s late-1800s typing of Burton-brewed porter.

France

British Beer in Boulogne, c. 1850, December 30, 2016. Irish porter brewer Lane finds a ready market for its beer in the French Channel port of Boulogne, mid-1850s.

Germany

Brewing British on the Moselle, July, 25, 2018. Describes a venture to brew British-style beer in German wine country in the 1850s. (Appreciation to German beer historian Andreas Krennmair who provided German-language interpretation).

Sweden

Carnegie Porter, Part I, March 14, 2021. Series on famed Carnegie Porter, developed in Sweden by a Scottish trading family.

Carnegie Porter, Part II, March 15, 2021. Ditto.

Carnegie Porter, Part III, March 17, 2021. Ditto.

Poland

Edward Hall, English Porter Brewery Warsaw, Part I, May 27, 2021. Briton Edward Hall establishes early porter brewery in Warsaw, Poland.

Edward Hall, English Porter Brewery Warsaw, Part II, May 27, 2021. Further analysis of this subject.

A Lviv Idyll, 1936, June 2, 2021. Porter, still commercially viable in interwar Poland, forms centrepiece of a melancholy meditation on a multi-ethic Poland that might have been.

Lviv Porter, 1924-1939, June 3, 2021. Examines Imperial porter in former Lviv, Poland (now Lvov, Ukraine), with reference to likely evolution from top- to bottom-fermentation.

Arc of the Jelen Brewery, June 9, 2021. Discusses pre- and post-World World II history of the Jelen Brewery including the current Perla porter produced, broadly in the Imperial style.

Ale and Porter on the Polish Main – Zwierzyniec Brewery, June 13, 2021. Early implantation of English-style ale and porter brewing in Poland.

Quebec, Canada

Ale and Porter – “Bière et Porter”, August 14, 2015. Discusses the main beer types, ale and porter, sold in Quebec in the postwar period as recalled from my adolescence.

Early Brewery in Quebec Leaves a Recipe, c. 1800. February 16, 2016. I unearthed a commercial recipe covering both ale and porter from a British Jewish family in Canada. They had arrived with the British forces who took Quebec, and later established a brewery.

The Hart Brewery’s c. 1800 Recipe and Recreation, October 20, 2016. This discusses the ale recreation but is of interest for porter as well due to the transcription I provide of the “joint” recipe.

A Taste of the Old Country in 1941 Montreal, June 15, 2017. Guinness Foreign Export Stout is touted in a war-mobilized Canada.

Quebec Ale and Porter – the 1940s Heyday, July 10, 2018. Discussion of Quebec ale and porter brands legion in this period, from National Breweries Ltd.

The Sand Porter of Montreal, Part I, January 24, 2020. I identified an intriguing designation of porter sold in 19th century Quebec. I concluded finally that the sand term likely was derived from the practice of Guinness at this time to place sand on its vat lids to reduce ingress of air.

The Sand Porter of Montreal, Part II, January 25, 2020. Ditto.

The Sand Porter of Montreal, Part III, December 7, 2020. Ditto.

The Sand Porter of Montreal, Part IV, January 25, 2022. Ditto.

A Case of Champlain, February 27, 2021. Reviews various beer types including porter and stout from a Quebec City brewery of the interwar period, with reference to certain cultural considerations.

British Columbia, Canada

Dr. Johnson’s Stout Waters Distant Shores, Part I, March 9, 2019. London-based Barclay Perkins ships its porter to British Columbia, especially Victoria where many Britons resided for naval work.

Dr. Johnson’s Stout Waters Distant Shores, Part II, March 9, 2019. Ditto.

Dr. Johnson’s Stout Waters Distant Shores, Part III, March 14, 2019. Ditto.

Rallying Against British Stout, March 14, 2019. Local stout in British Columbia takes a stand against imported stout, raising quality issues and desirability to support local business.

Victoria Loved Them All, March 16, 2019. Swedish-originated Carnegie Porter makes a strong pitch in distant Victoria, British Columbia.

Ontario, Canada

Roistering in Toronto the Good, 1949, June 15, 2019. With Canadian industrial brewing well-established, English oyster stout is acclaimed at an international trade exhibition in Toronto.

Ireland

Guinness Stout in the Wood Barrel Days, June 14, 2017. Comments by an Irishman comparing 1960s wood barrel Guinness to bottled form, and cooled nitrogenated Guinness when released.

American Wood, Cork Porter, March 26, 2018. Reviews evidence of the 1880s that an Irish cooperage built vessels of American oak for porter brewing in Cork but used classic European oak for ale brewers.

Hops in the Pint, a 1930s Look, June 7, 2021. I discuss the impressively high hopping rate for Irish beer in the 1930s, then almost all stout and porter, with comparatives to other countries, using statistics in a Polish brewing journal.

United States

The 1936 Wine and Oyster Tasting in New York: an Attendee Reports, October 17, 2017. Guinness is included as a select “black wine” in a prophetic oyster- and wine-tasting event held by the New York Wine and Food Society.

Historic 1942 Beer and Food Tasting, November 2, 2017. Five porters or stouts, domestic and imported, were included among 42 beers in a landmark tasting event held during the war by the New York Wine and Food Society.

Relay, Something’s Brewing, March 17, 2018. Guinness recommences brewing in North America, this time in Relay, Maryland.

Guinness’s Shot Across the Bows, October 14, 2018. Describes attempt of Guinness to market a version of Guinness stout made in Long Island, New York, and its make-up.

The “First” Draught Guinness in North America, October 15, 2018. Describes launch of modern (nitro-dispense) draft Guinness in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1965.

Russian Imperial Stout in Truman’s America, March 3, 2019. Describes plan to import Barclay Perkins’ Russian Imperial Stout to America in 1950.

Donald F. Hyde Visits Barclay Perkins, 1950, March 4, 2019. Further background on the plan to import Barclay Perkins’ Russian Imperial Stout to the U.S. in 1950.

The Origins of Robust Porter, February 20, 2021. I explore the history of the emergence of this modern category of the porter family.

Beamish Stout Journeys to America, February 22, 2021. Describes plan to export Beamish stout to New York c. 1950 with related information on competition from Guinness and its newly established brewery in Long Island.

Iraq

Mild ale on the Main, Part II, or the Iraq Brewery, August 12, 2020. Discusses Diana Stout brewed by this brewery, among other brands, in 1940s and 1950s Baghdad, Iraq.

A Stout Supply of Beer, August 18, 2020. Discusses auction of surplus stores of Guinness by Royal Air Force at Margil, Iraq in 1948 with a tracing of stout brands available in Iraq since the 1920s.

Sudan

The Blue Nile Brewery (1956-1983), July 27, 2020. Discussion of the stout among other brands made by this brewery, established in the early 1950s by Barclay Perkins of London.

Gibraltar

A Porter of Gibraltar, May 12, 2020. Recounts an incident where a British officer on field work in Gibraltar, early 1800s, secreted a cache of porter, possibly still on “the Rock”.

Australia

Fate of Springfield Brewery, Mitcham, March 13, 2021. Discusses traditional features of the porter brewed by this brewery in South Australia in 1941.

Former British Malaya

New Writing on Malaya Beer History, January 23, 2021. This post describes in summary form my article “An Outline on Beers and Breweries in British Malaya. Part I” published recently in the U.K.-based journal Brewery History (currently print-only, available by subscription). That article describes the stouts inaugurated in the 1930s in Singapore by two breweries, Archipelago Brewery and Malayan Breweries Ltd.

British Mandate for Palestine

Imported Beer in Mandate Palestine, Part VIII, July 27, 2020. Both Guinness and British milk stout are available in a Jerusalem restaurant in 1935 connected to German Templars.

10. Porter Blending and Miscellaneous

The Black Watkins, Porter-and-Elderberry, August 16, 2017. Elderberry has an early connection to porter, among the porter “additives”, which I explore via George Watkins’ enlightening, early porter discussion (1770s).

Dry-Hopping of Porter and Stout, April 3, 2018. Considers to what extent porter and stout were dry-hopped, historically.

A Black and Tan Please, May 30, 2018. Describes some history of this mixture of stout and pale ale, with description of my home-made version.

The Three Angels, September 19, 2020. Russian Imperial Stout features in an upscale London beer cocktail, early 20th century.

The Broadway Blend, December 7, 2021. Porter blending in gas-lamp America including a rare branded example of Guinness and Bass Pale Ale.

Note: in no. 8 above, in “Historic 1942 Beer and Food Tasting”, the menu provides examples of mixed porter and ale, continuing a pre-Prohibition practice of some American brewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spice in Your Beer

Since the onset of craft brewing spiced beers are a regular part of the scene. Initially one tended to see them at close of the year, as a festive offering. The iconic Anchor Brewing in San Francisco lead the way with its annual Our Special Ale, a series now almost 50 years old, and many brewers followed.

These days the popularity of so-called pastry stout and the ever-ranging spirit of investigation result in many beers laden with spice year round.

Belgian brewing, which never gave up on spicing beer even at the apogee of industrial brewing, played some role in this. While I have always felt its ales were overrated, and have explained why on numerous occasions – the monochromatic yeast flavour in much of it – I will say the Belgians handle the spicing with more finesse than we have seen in craft brewing until recently.

A good example is St-Feuillien Cuvée de Noel, a Christmas beer with a delicious yet natural beer taste informed by a selection of herbs and spices. I detect light anise and orange, in particular.

Centuries of experience have shown them that less is more, frequently. Whereas too often craft brewing has delivered the spicing with a Tommy gun. The results to be sure were often enthusiastically received, but the value of the productions left much in doubt, imo.

(Below is a an antique portrait of the nutmeg bush, via Wikipedia Commons).

 

 

I must say though craft brewers are learning how to handle spicing better, at least judging by Ontario spiced beers in the last few years. A vanilla porter from Beau, or Charles Maclean’s Cherry Porter, show a more subtle approach that makes the final result particularly enjoyable. It is recognizably porter still, but set off in some way from the usual result.

Some might say they cannot notice the flavour added but if it wasn’t there the result would be different – the whole trick lies in using the spice, or other flavour added, to achieve a good synergistic effect.

I was writing this week of the English food author Elizabeth David, of her inspiriting, romantic style of writing and (I should add) particular dry humour. But as I also noted, the books are replete with sound culinary knowledge and tips.

She understood very well what good flavour was and how to achieve it. ln her 1977 English Bread and Yeast Cookery, she included an excerpt from an American baking manual that stressed the importance of nicety in balancing flavours, but the words apply no less in the brewing arts.

The passage appeared in J. Thompson Gill’s 1881 The Complete Bread, Cake and Cracker Baker, 5th ed., and, in full, reads as follows:

 

 

While the word nauseating is a bit excessive perhaps, one gets the point Gill was making. A deft balance of spices or other flavouring in beer, as in baking and confectionary, can make all the difference to palatability – to a dazzling product vs. the commonplace.*

Brewers should know this from the fact of modern hops presenting often themselves a wide variety of flavours. Hops have always been used to get a good balance and pleasing final result, whether the taste aimed for is assertive or nuanced.

It should be no different with spices. An ale using coriander should not reek of the stuff. The spice should inform, interleave, intrigue, not inundate. Pop gun, not the Sten. Yes?

*Take a product such as Coca Cola, or Heinz Ketchup, albeit neither is beer or baking. Their success undoubtedly is due to a careful balancing of spice and other flavours.

 

Elizabeth David’s Romantic Spirit. Part II.

In Part I I discussed how David contrasted Near and Far East cookery* with (aspects of) the “brandest-new” 1970 London supermarket.

I instance below a further example of David’s particular temperament, which blended passion with engaging social and cultural observation. She references a book of cookery by Sir Harry Luke, a British diplomat of the early 20th century.

Luke seems to have been of that numberless group of mid-level Colonial Officers who peppered Empire and environs in that period. He found time to compose books on travel and foreign cultures, with one on cookery as noted, The Tenth Muse (Putnams, 1954).

David was much taken with this production and composed notes on the book published in the Spectator in December 1962. A portion appeared in her 1970 Spices, Sales and Aromatics in the English Kitchen, including these lines:

Sir Harry collected recipes from British Residences and Government Houses, from their chatelaines, their cooks – cooks Maltese and Cypriot, Hindu and Persian and Assyrian, cooks Goanese and Polynesian, cooks naval, military, and consular, cooks in Union Clubs at La Paz and Santiago di Chile, cooks of French pioneers and Brazilian countesses, Turkish Grand Viziers, and Coptic Archimandrites….

Sir Harry must have been an ideal guest. The wife of the British Resident in Brunei prefers to mix her own curry powders, so off Harry goes with her to market, noting that she buys, separately and in varying quantities, black pepper, aniseed, cardamon, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, poppyseed, saffron, tamarind, turmeric…

David reproduces a number of his recipes in the book including that for Cyprus Sausages. Luke wrote it was a village recipe from Paphos, a mountain district of Cyprus where he was once Commissioner. Chopped young pork is macerated for 48 hours with salt, pepper, coriander, herbs, and red wine.

Cleaned gut soaked in vinegar is filled with the meat, tied at intervals of about three inches, hung to drain a few days, and eaten “after 7-10 days, fried or grilled”. (Greek or Greek-influenced sausage often contains orange rind. One can see coriander fitting within this scheme, or the other way around, I suppose).

It would be a mistake to conclude David knew only rudiments of cookery and ingredients and the books relied for their appeal on her romantic temperament. One needs to read the books and collected essays in toto to understand how well she understood food and cooking, the basics if you will.

She simply approached them in her own way, which gave an extra allure. But when I see on television, say, a Jamie Oliver handle food, with a deftness and savoir faire born of years of experience, I know from reading her work she had no less, as ditto a James Beard, Julia Child, Graham Kerr (yes), Nigella Lawson, Delia Smith, et al.

Where she sets off from these estimable figures is her original way to present the material, or particular tone, which benefitted too from her historical researches, a factor that deepened as the years passed.

Her 1970s English Bread and Yeast Cookery presents all facets of her writing personality to a t: detailed attention to ingredients and technique, the historical depth, and flashes of passion and daring.

It is a cliché to say a writer is one of a kind, but this was very true of Elizabeth David. She was born Elizabeth Gwynne, issue of minor Sussex gentry although she claimed also some Indonesian ancestry.

Before turning to food writing she was a theatre actress, model, traveler (1938-1940 and postwar), and British civil servant (Alexandria during the war). She hobnobbed with writers and Bohemia in earlier years, including in Capri c. 1950.

She had lived in Greece as well earlier, first arriving after the outbreak of WW II when escaping the Axis in course of a Mediterranean trek with a London boyfriend, Charles Gibson Cowan. In 1944 she married Anthony (Tony) David, an Army officer, with whom she lived in India after the war.

She returned to England alone to reside in London. Her husband later joined her, but they divorced in 1948, whence her writing career blossomed, resulting in her first book Mediterranean Food, in 1950.

Her interest in France derived probably from a spell as a schoolgirl with a French family, absorbing fundamentals of housekeeping and bourgeois French cookery. She also spent time in Corsica in the late 1930s.

Every part of her early years contributed to the masterful, highly original writer she became. There can never be another, but she can stand as inspiration to her posterity.

*Specifically, Muslim India and Levant.

 

 

Elizabeth David’s Romantic Spirit. Part I.

The great English food writer Elizabeth David (1913-1992) was, when minded, a fine stylist. Flashes appear in her earliest work, especially on Mediterranean cookery.

But her subject matter to convey this artistry embraced in general food in France, southern Europe, and the Near and Far East. Its colours, scents and manner of presentation, the way she explained them, could shift her prose into another realm.

Her Spices, Salts and Aromatics in the English Kitchen (Penguin, 1970) reveals numerous passages or bon mots in this vein. By this time Britain was suffused with the spirit of the Swinging Sixties, but this colour had simply caught up to David’s older-school food psychedelia.

Generally she wrote long sentences to achieve this, to build an effect. A good example from the 1970 book is her discussion of Indian Domestic Economy and Receipt Book, published in Madras in 1850 (author not credited).

She admired it especially for its section on Eastern recipes, “mostly of Moslem origin… [which] I have never seen in any other book, in or out of print…”.

Further:

The dishes have wild and beautiful names like “Ash Lingra Jagurath”, and “Zarebrian Mahee Baykhar” and “Korekah Kubah”. A typical list of ingredients, given in Bombay weights and measures, reads ‘mutton, wheat flour, ghee, Kabellie henah, white chennah, or dhall, chukundar, carrots, paluk, native greens, saffron, onions, sugar, green ginger, cloves, cardamoms, capsicums, cinnamon, lime juice, salt’.

She was taken especially by the Eastern method of roasting in a closed vessel, where butter, onion and other flavours penetrate the food and are not allowed to escape during the cooking process.

On the opposite page where this account appears, she turned to her own era, to how English supermarkets were adopting self-service with check out at registers near the entrance. Her first experience of such shopping involved a wait of ten minutes to pay, as the customer ahead of her had her items checked “orange by orange, almost sprout by sprout”.

David also noted that the store, on the King’s Road in Chelsea, featured “serried ranks of spit-revolving chickens”. This was then new on the British scene, but a sight long familiar in the North American supermarket, the evident model for her King’s Road version.

She found the spectacle of cooking birds in this fashion, and resultant odours, highly disagreeable (“terrible smell of dirty basting fat”). On the plus side, she was heartened by a stall in the store “devoted to the display of spices”.

This too was new in Britain then, selling branded cans or packets of spices in what we call now a spice rack or display. She liked this development and bought some, all of course sealed but with contents at least visible through a “transparent window”.

Once home she pounded away at ginger and cumin, coriander and garlic, and:

…it wasn’t long before the clean wholesome smells of an ancient Levantine bazaar were edging away the fumes of London’s brandest-new supermarket.

Note how she turns around a stereotypical image of the Eastern market then – disorganized, odoriferous, maybe dirty – to level the charge on her own doorstep.

For most Britons then, despite the enforced travels of part of the population around the world due to two world, and other, wars, and despite the colonial legacy then in twilight, such Eastern spices and foods were largely still a mystery.

This was of course before international jet travel became more available to the populace, and some 25 years before anyone heard of the Internet. Immigration was rising but still relatively minimal back then.

Today, the foods she described are available routinely on many high streets or in town districts. They can be created at home with benefit of the most authentic spices and herbs sold in bulk at markets. I had a chance to observe this on my last visit to London a couple of years ago, at Shepherd’s Bush Market.

But this is now. Elizabeth David was then. Still we remember her artistry and questing spirit to understand the foods of distant places, to introduce them to a bemused but interested domestic readership.

She predicted in her way what we call world cuisine today, and played her role in countering the excesses of the industrialized food system although never with the facile naivety that too often characterises food media in 2021.

The image below, attribution not known, was sourced from David’s (excellent, well-referenced) Wikipedia entry.

 

 

See our Part II which concludes this look.

 

 

The Editor’s Christmas Party

After the Civil War, in Nevada Territory in 1868, a newspaper office was inundated with Christmas presents, of the (mostly) alcoholic kind. Or was it?

That is the premise of a Christmas Day editorial that year in the Gold Hill Evening News – the “gold in them there hills” days in old Nevada. The editor, in a slightly dissociated tone that features periodically in American comedy since the 1800s, mused on the riches sent by town merchants and personages like Captain Vesey.

Below you see the journal’s headquarters, the editor surely among the suited group shown (source: Special Collections of the University of Nevada, Reno).

 

Captain Vesey, a “truly pleasant friend and philosopher”, made the editor a present of Tom & Jerry, a gallon no less. This venerable American mixture is a kind of heated milk punch, or warmed egg nog. So good was it the newsman thought himself “Jeremiah” – Jerry Thomas that is, who made an éclat in the decade with his bartending arts.

To enjoy the regale and provide musical accompaniment, musicians were called in, who drank the Tom & Jerry with the editor:

 It had a truly magical effect on the musical notes, for we imagined they played “Biagen on the Rhine,” Edinborough Town,” “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” “Hail Columbia,” “Dixie,” etc. The Band enjoyed it, and so did we—that is, the Tom and Jerry—as also the music—the occasion being one of rejoicing, of adoration, of general admiration of “all the world and the rest of mankind.” Another pitcher of delicious egg-nogg came from the Bank Exchange, with the compliments of Mr. Ferguson and his polite attaches. Then came half a dozen bottles of superior old Bourbon, sherry, cognac, etc., from the family grocery of Stern & Son; after which followed a pitcher of foaming egg-nogg from the Express Saloon, kept by Messrs. Hay & Ross. Mr. Geo. Stockle (he who makes gentlemen’s hoots which last two years, constant wear) smilingly invaded our sanctum and presented us with a “Dutch Turkey”, a most acceptable dish for anybody from “Faderland”.

This Dutch Turkey was probably from the repertoire of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, “Faderland” in this case probably referencing accurately the German origins of this American sub-ethnicity (a Yankeefied “Deutsch”).

George Frederick, founder as I wrote earlier of the Manhattan-based Gourmet Society (1930s-1960s), wrote the Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book. It sets out a recipe for Dutch Turkey Scallop.

Sometimes scalloped turkey was eaten in sandwiches and termed Dutch Turkey Barbecue, although it is not a true barbeque.

 

 

And so went the festivities, related in a spaced-out fashion that brings to mind modern comedians like Bob Newhart, Tommy Smothers, Steve Martin, Aubrey Plaza, or Sarah Silverman. Americana is remarkably consistent, despite the multiple generations elapsed and many changes in society since the gold rush times.*

At the end of his account, we learn the editor has awoken from a dream whence his tale told. This makes me think the whole thing was made up, perhaps to lampoon upstanding citizens in town, perhaps to chasten a few for not making seasonal tribute to the Fourth Estate.

If it did all happen the way told – so the dream just a jape at a post-libations snooze –  the episode can be viewed as a kind of brewery or distillery tour. I related examples earlier of journalistic treks though a brewery or distillery, a kind of junket that endures in reduced form to our present time and media.

With the difference though, for our editor, that the products came to him, the reverse of the usual procedure. Whatever degree of reality attended the proceedings related, it seems doubtful any music sounded through the brick structure, the drinks providing a music of their own.**

But for readers of my notes today, it may interest to hear a song mentioned in the account. YouTube provides a stirring example, Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rendition of the English folk march, The Girl I Left Behind Me.

That will help evoke the time when a weary citizenry, building its quarter in a remote patch of the nation, was offered down-time in the daily paper.

The gold rush is long gone, tapped out by the 1890s. The Gold Hill News and its editor, long gone. Captain Vesey, bootmaker Stockle, grocer Stern. All gone.

But we are here to read and think of their days, or I do.

N.B. I add in the Comments a link to a Twitter thread where David Wondrich, the cocktails historian, adds further interesting information.

*Speaking of Nevada, journalism, and humor, the name Mark Twain cannot be omitted. As far as I know though, he had no connection to the Gold Hill News.

**See my Comment added below.

 

 

 

 

A Darling Brown Ale

The beer shown is brewed by Collectif Brassicole Ensemble in Boucherville, Quebec, part of its Vagabond series. CBE produces under five brand groupings, another is Boldwin, a third Loop.

See details on Darling in the website. Brown ale is one of the traditional British or Irish styles featuring in the palette of contemporary Quebec brewers. Others include, as currently styled, British red ale, English red ale, British amber, porter and stout including milk stout, extra special bitter, and pale ale.

I have had many such brands while not all of course. In general, I find them decent beers but modestly hopped, intending therefore to replicate today’s trad British beer palate, not its historical one. Consumed ice-cold many seem to have little character at least compared to modern craft styles, at which Quebec brewers excel no less than elsewhere in Canada.

This is a missed opportunity. There are exceptions, including at least one historical revivalist brewer I have written about earlier which makes shining brews. But this is the picture generally, at least judged by the beers that reach general distribution in large “surfaces” and other outlets.

(These can easily offer a couple of hundred beers or more, and are not to be dismissed as simply channels for mass market brewers).

The CBE website states Darling is a northern brown ale:

...inspirée des racines du Nord de l’Angleterre, Darling se veut généreuse et ô combien équilibrée. Cette ale foncée confère en bouche un bouquet délicat de pain grillé, de biscuit, de caramel et une pointe de chocolat noir.

Bière biologique.

Double Maxim Brown Ale in the UK would be an avatar, so is Newcastle Brown Ale although its character these days is restrained. Whatever the legitimacy of hiving off northern browns from southern sweeter ones in English brewing typology, that many still accept a distinction is unquestioned, and we see an example with Darling.

The beer has good lightly toasted (not roasted) notes shot through with a caramel sweetness, a decent finishing gravity, and 29 IBUs of hops. The hopbill according to the website is high-alpha Bravo, an American (Hopsteiner) release first seen in 2006, and the enigmatic Malling.

Malling, of English origin as the name suggests, somehow transplanted to Austria and features in many of its beers, this from sparse information available online. It is only rarely used by craft brewing, a pity as the hop offers good character.

There is a soft fruit note typical of English landrace, some say melon or pear but hard to place, with a peppery undertone. The current can for Darling mentions only Malling, so I am unclear if any Bravo is currently used. Possibly one is used when the other is not available.

The beer, especially consumed at cellar temperature, has excellent character, beyond most British-style beers produced by Quebec and Ontario brewers. If the hops were ramped up and (often) the final gravity, all these would be even better, but it seems rarely again to occur to the brewers to do this.

English beer to them means quite firmly by my canvass, but not unreasonably, contemporary British (and Irish) stylings. These often are quite delicate in character, even UK craft interpretations.

Malling, for its part, remains one of the hop enigmas, a kind of counterpart to Styrian Golding (link via Toronto Brewing). Hop Store, a French supplier of a “bio” Malling, has some data. Possibly this source was used in the Darling, which is an organic beer.

Hop Store endearingly states “good question!” under the entry “Possible substitutes”, which tells you something right there. In fact a series of hops, quite diverse though, is set out as “similar” at bottom of the page. This suggests Malling combines characteristics not easily found in one hop.

 

 

 

East Malling in Kent was the site of extensive hop breeding research and test cultivation in the mid-20th century. Many of its hops were crosses of English landrace with a North American wild or domesticated hop.

Malling as used in Darling to me has a decided English cast, not New World, but more than that I cannot say. The Bravo if used would confer some North American character, but I don’t detect this in the beer, and judging by the can currently marketed, it seems only Malling is used.

Anyway it’s an excellent taste, and I’d love to try it embedded in rich pale malt for English pale ale, Maris Otter would be ideal, or Golden Promise.

Spearhead Brewing Candy Cane Lager

This beer was part of the pack sent to me as mentioned in my notes yesterday on Spearhead Lighter Lager. Candy Cane originally came out last year for the Christmas lead-up, and is back again.

This is the brewery’s page for the beer.

It is 4.8%, a full-strength lager, with rich mash tun flavour. Peppermint is added which complements the beer well here, in part because it is used judiciously, almost an extension of the hop bill, in part because peppermint suits many beers.

I have tasted porter flavoured with peppermint, an Ontario example if memory serves, and it worked well there, as here.

Spearhead gives you authentic beer taste. Whether you like it or not, and I usually do, they don’t stint on flavour, don’t seek a supposed golden mean. I’m not dissing the strategy for some – carve the niche that will ring the till, I’m all for that – but both for palate and sentimental reasons I incline to the breweries that prize full flavours.

Spearhead is among this group, who go for the gusto as the old advertising phrase has it. That was a Schlitz line, and in its day, the beer must have delivered. In our day, Spearhead delivers, and then some.

Below you see Beer et Seq aka Gary Gillman with a Candy Cane lager. For more details on the release, see the recent Canadian Beer News item by editor Greg Clow.

 

 

Spearhead Brewing Lighter Lager 4% ABV

Spearhead Brewing’s Lighter Lager reached our door as part of a complimentary, Xmas 4-pack, so full disclosure.

The beer is a glowing light amber, against the pale gold of most macro lights and most craft light lagers that come my way.

Nor is the hue the end of its character. The beer has a pleasing upfront bitterness (vs. the finish), despite only 15 IBUs,* and malty body.

I can’t show a personal image as it seems I didn’t take one – I guess the brew went down too fast! But the can is shown in the link above.

The brewing team, founded by a Czech-trained veteran, shows its experience to create a satisfying, natural beer taste like this. The hops end as kind of arbor-like, to my mind – almost English in effect.

All good and natural in the palate, nothing contrived or outré. Much preferable to the typical session IPA, which often seems unbalanced and, well, contrived as I said.

*International bitterness units, for those not familiar with this abbreviation. 15 is on the low end of the scale, but much depends, for any brew, how the hops are used.

Union College and the Time of Schaefer. Final Part.

Following on from Part III, this will conclude my “literary Schaefer” ad survey. F. & M. Schaefer of Brooklyn and Albany, NY placed a series of writerly spoofs in a college newspaper in Schenectady, NY ca. 1960.

This ad was the third I located, published in Concordiensis on October 17, 1958:

 

 

In this case, the literary allusion is grasped more easily (for me) than in Part II. Clearly the “hardboiled” detective genre is being sent up, adroitly as for each ad in the series, and not just that but the latter-day, gothic version of hardboiled. It was typified by the novels of Mickey Spillane and his hero Mike Hammer.

While evidently parody is involved, a kind of pastiche is, too, given the Concordiensis audience, indeed for all three ads.

Putting it differently, the idea was to sell beer/entertain but also instruct. The didactic element may have been designed to deflect criticism of pitching beer to impressionable youth. Or maybe it was just, hey this is a campus audience, let’s get clever.

The Spillane sub-genre stressed violent outcomes and remorseless motives, but ultimately in the name of justice or other values of heart to Mike Hammer.

The parody takes it to cartoonish lengths – after all it is parody – yet not without irony in this case.*

Did these Mad Men move any Schaefer, though? Hard to say. Probably among some of the male audience they did (see Part III), at least.

Whatever its success, the Schaefer campaign reveals a literate quality of which modern advertising seems largely innocent. In 2021, short vague declarations are order of the day for ad geniuses, at least for mass market beer by our gleaning.

In truth such lapidary formulae were always used in some beer advertising, or at certain times, but it seems competing forms have been banished to Coventry.

Beer ads of 50 and 60 years ago provide other examples of brainy bruiting. I discussed the Guinness Lewis Carroll send-up, the Carlsberg Revolution series, and the Labatt 50-Montreal university example.

I’d have thought all these, frankly, would capture more interest from my readers than seems the case. Craft beer has its share after all of ex-arts, -literature, and -marketing students – maybe then some.

Perhaps it’s all too far back, “a foreign country” in the famous phrase. I’ll continue to course its by-ways, for those who appreciate it, while not neglecting less musty routes, shall we say.

Note re image: Image drawn from the 1958 advertisement linked in the text, via New York State Historical Newspapers. All intellectual property in the source belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.

….

*Before turning novelist Spillane had a successful career as cartoonist.

 

 

Union College and the Time of Schaefer. Part III.

Parsing the Parody

In Part II I referenced a 1958 ad for Schaefer beer that took the form of literary parody, part of a mini-series placed with a college newspaper in New York State c. 1960. The ad seemed to aim at a writer or style of writing, I couldn’t quite place it.

I put the question out on Twitter. Historian Maureen Ogle, author of the standard reference Ambitious Brew: A History of American Beer suggested Schaefer was aiming at a young American male audience. I’d agree with that, taken especially with its ad I discussed in Part I, a Hemingway send-up.

No opinion came from other quarters. I asked my friend Steve Rive, a poetry editor for a literary journal, about the ad. He replied:

This is clearly a parody of “existentialist” writing. Full of angst and ennui and “life is meaningless.”

This seemed on the mark too. The rhyming, comical references to “Babette, Yvette” can be seen for example as alluding to French sources. At the time, French authors such as Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre created an international wave of interest in existential philosophy.

I recall that in 1968 I was studying Camus’ novel L’Etranger in university. Quite possibly the vogue was already established on North American campuses 10 years before.

There wasn’t really an American existentialist avatar, not as far as I know. There were the Beats, a diverse group unto themselves but withal quite different I think, except perhaps in portraying sympathetically, or at least non-judgmentally, anti-social personalities or perspectives.

But more than these, if avatar there was in the Anglosphere, he was probably the Briton Colin Wilson. His landmark 1956 book The Outsider, a study of ennui and social dislocation, seems in tune with the heroine’s angst in the Schaefer ad.

Wilson was on the existentialist wavelength, a British home-grown example. Likely the copywriter had him in mind with marquee French names.

If there was a specific source for the study though – novel or memoir, say – I am unaware of it.

I thank again those who pitched in with ideas.

N.B. Steve added in our chat that to some extent the American image of Sartrian angst was exaggerated. He said Sartre apparently was known for his wicked impression of Donald Duck!

See our Final Part.