You might have noticed the “Worts of Wisdom” on the front page of our calendar. Ludwig tries hard to avoid commonplace beer quotes, like the famous quote by Ben Franklin who, by the way, probably never uttered it.
Ludwig has found a kindred soul in Martyn Cornell, who blogs at The Zythophile. Cornell recently compiled a collection of 20 beer quotes that even Ludwig hasn’t run across.
For example, there’s a good chance that you’ve read 1984, but do you remember the scene in which a now-brainwashed Winston Smith goes to the pub?
“You must have seen great changes since you were a young man,” said Winston tentatively. The old man’s pale blue eyes moved from the darts board to the bar, and from the bar to the door of the Gents….“The beer was better,” he said finally. “And cheaper! When I was a young man, mild beer–wallop we used to call it–was fourpence a pint. That was before the war, of course.”
Cornell explains that “wallop” was a 1930s slang term for mild ale, a style that Orwell was fond of. There’s plenty more in his article–enough, in fact, to get you through a pint, even if it’s stronger than the mild that Winston Smith alluded to.
A website called FirstWeFeast.com recently convened a panel to choose the 20 “most influential” beers of all time.” It didn’t take long for Martyn Cornell, The Zythophile, to file a dissenting opinion.
Never one to mince words, Cornell called the selections “a totally crap list, with far, far more misses than hits.” The hits include Gablinger’s Diet Beer, which inspired the “lite” beers that dominate America’s beer scene; Pilsner Urquell; and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Heading the list of notable misses are Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye, Allagash White, and Sam Adams Utopias.
Cornell goes on to list his 20 Most Influential list. Topping the list is Spaten Dunkel because brewmaster Gabriel Sedlmayr’s lagering techniques, and the yeast he shared with other European breweries, powered the lager revolution the swept the world. Pilsner Urquell is second, followed by Hodgson’s East India Pale Ale, which inspired Bass Pale Ale. Cornell gives the number-four spot to Sir Humphrey Parsons, of the Red Lion Brewery in London, for his porter that everybody else copied. Rounding out the top five is Barclay Perkins Russian Imperial Stout, the first brewery known to have made this style.
You get the idea. Cornell is a beer historian, and to him “influential” has a specific meaning: the size of the effect it had on subsequent beer history. By that criterion, Budweiser earns a spot in his top ten: “It pioneered national beer distribution around the US, and it set the standard for what American beer was expected to be.” That’s influential.
Martyn Cornell’s latest post on his blog, The Zythophile, deals with the history of porter. He dismisses another bit of beer folklore–namely, that the style was invented in 1730 by a brewer by the name of Harwood–and turns instead to Volume III of Dr Lardner’s Cabinet Cyclopaedia (1830). Here’s an excerpt:
About the beginning of the eighteenth century a malt liquor called entire butt was much in use; and afterwards a variety called brown stout: these were heavy, strong drinks; and about the middle of the eighteenth century they began to give place to a liquor the brewing of which was then much improved, and which happened to be, as Malone informs us, in great request amongst the street porters of London; hence it obtained the name of porter….
The secret of inducing sudden old age on an infant brewing of porter was soon found out; and the method of making best old London porter in a fortnight, was to mix porter that had become sour, in a certain quantity, with fresh drink….
At present the public taste has undergone a new revolution, and nothing but a full, sound, fresh, dark-coloured porter will be relished.
Makes you want to jump in the car, drive the your local brewpub, and bring home a growler of it.