On a sun-filled Saturday morning in July, we were waiting to hear from beer historian and travel writer Ron Pattinson, anticipating his arrival in Sheffield ahead of our planned event at Hop Hideout that evening. It'd been a while since his last visit and the city landscape has changed dramatically, so we were slightly nervous of whether he'd find us in our south-westerly outstretch of Sheffield.
We'd arranged a collaboration brew with local brewery friends Abbeydale and Ron for Sheffield Beer Week and the clock was ticking! Early afternoon a friendly face appeared at the counter and introduced himself as Ron, we had a quick chat and drink, then set-off up the road to the brewery (see photo above on our arrival). Jim and Laura kindly gave us a quick tour, including the new barrel aging store room and brought us up to date on where the brew was at. The recipe is based on an historic Scottish strong ale from Ron's recent publication. The beer will be aged in different barrels and should be ready for a tasting event in March during Sheffield Beer Week 2018! Well, that's the rough plan....
If you haven't discovered Ron's beer and travel blog, we highly recommend you head over HERE for a read. We've found it especially interesting for our home brew club and personally fascinating to look back at beers from the past. We decided to ask Ron a few questions, hopefully giving him a bit of breathing space between his avid researching.
Was there a specific moment that captured your interest in beer history that you remember? Please share.
I don't think there was one particular moment. It's an accumulation of things. Like old advertising mirrors listing exotic beer styles. Or old labels. I often looked at old labels and wondered what the beers themselves had been like. How strong were they? What colour? I was amazed to discover that the information was out there. If you knew where to look.
You've collaborated on a number of 'historical' beers, is there a particular one that you enjoyed most and can you tell us a little about it and why is stands out?
Pretty Things 1832 XXXX Mild Ale. A lovely, simple beer, brewed from just mild malt and Goldings hops. One of my all-time favourite beers. And surprisingly drinkable at 10% ABV. Plus it's the exact opposite of what everyone expects Mild to be: pale, strong, heavily hopped.
With a wealth of beer publications under your belt - which one would you say you enjoyed researching and putting together the most and why?
My two books about Scottish beer. Because I really felt that I was breaking new ground, finding out the truth about Scottish brewing. Which is very different from what we've been told.
Is there a particular part of Sheffield beer history you'd like to share with us? It's always interesting to hear about the city you live in!
It has to be about Gold Label. One of my many beery obsessions. How many realise that it was originally a top-class beer, aged in oak for 12 months before bottling...?
If there's one beer book out there (that's not your own!) you would recommend our readers go out and immediately pick-up, what would it be and why?
Martyn Cornell's Amber, Gold and Black. It's an excellent overview of the history of British beer styles.
Your current home is Amsterdam - if we were to visit your city which three beer venues should we visit?
In De Wildeman, Het I'j and Bierkoning.
I've got to ask about your favourite beer!!! Let's give it a historical reference point though. So, if you can, favourite beer from 10 years ago and favourite beer currently (or multiple, if you'd like to mention more).
My favourite beer from 10 years ago was St. Bernardus Abt. My current favourite is St. Bernardus Abt. I'm a creature of habit. For a long while it was Tetley Mild. I drank almost nothing else the seven years I lived in Leeds.
Is there anything you're currently working on that you would like to share with us - writing or event wise?
An Historic Lager Festival. Looks like one in St. Louis will definitely happen. I'd like to organise one in the UK, too. But I need to find someone committed to doing most of the organisation. And enough brewers interested in brewing beers for it
Ron's blog: http://barclayperkins.blogspot.co.uk
Want to read more from Ron, check out his writing on All About Beer - http://allaboutbeer.com/author/ron-pattinson/