Monday, September 17, 2007

Connect Me To A Brewery

When I was very young and impressionable I met this old woman - the grandmother of a girlfriend I seem to recall. She was sat in the corner of the room and said very little, but she had a beatific smile on her face. The only time she entered into a conversation was when she was questioned on the state of her health. Then her smile widened further, she chuckled, and replied "I feel a little better now, but I think I'm rather dry, connect me to a brewery, and leave me there to die". I was always impressed by this response, to me it sounded like the height of adult sophistication. Perhaps my love of breweries dates from this early age. Perhaps my early teenage mind somehow mixed up breweries and cathedrals. Who knows. But whereas other people, on finding themselves in a strange city, will go in search of the local cathedral, I have always been drawn to the local brewery. As a young man trying to find his way through the moral maze that was Britain in the sixties and seventies I turned to Alfred Barnard's monumental book "A Tour Of The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1889-91" when my peers reached for their Kerouac or their Ginsberg.

All this is brought to the forefront of my mind by a large Manila envelope that landed on my doormat the other morning. As anyone sad enough to be a regular reader of this blog will know, for the last nine month or so I have been searching for a new identity (what my wife calls "a nice little hobby in your retirement"). Coming across the website of the Brewery History Society, I decided to join. The envelope contained my membership pack and what a delight it is. There's a learned journal (containing a series of wonderful articles with titles such as "The Sword and the Armour : Science and Practice in the Brewing Industry, 1837-1914"), a copy of the Rules and Constitution, even a laminated Membership Card.

At my time of life I need to start preparing for the afterlife. As I move ever-closer to the rusted gates of the Elysian Fields I am drawn to a quiet life of thought and careful contemplation. Has anyone got a copy of Barnards "Tour of the Noted Breweries" they don't want?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:30 AM

    Alan, re your question about is now available on a CD (all 4 volumes have been scanned onto the CD) using the Trinity College,Dublin set of Barnards. It can be purchased for a relatively modest amount from


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...