Zymurgy November/December

Just wrapped up the Zymurgy “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” issue the other day and now it’s time for me to ramble.

Zymurgy November/December

Wow, I was just flipping through to see what I wanted to write about and didn’t hit anything worth mentioning until page 19, yikes! Seems like BYO and Zymurgy may have switched roles for content quality this release. The article that grabbed my attention is an article about recreating historical Porter at Colonial Williamsburg. The writer, Frank Clark, is a food historian at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and it is his job to research and make food without modern conveniences the same way others did in the past. Of course beer is a beverage and beverages are lumped in with food so naturally it would be his responsibility to research and make Colonial-style beers. The beer he chooses to focus on and talk about its slippery history is Porter. Clark states; “Most historians agree that the first porter was brewed by Ralph Harwood, a brewer at the Bell Brewhouse in the Shoreditch section of London in 1722. Harwood created this “new” beer…” It appears to be a decent well informed article, but is later contradicted in the same issue by another writer who talks of some of the Porter myths whom this historian is stating as fact, like name, place, and date. Seems like some editor wasn’t paying full attention to which truth they were going to publish.

The next article, the main article, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”  was written by one of the homebrewers I recognize from the internet and seems always on point, Drew Beechum. He is very good at writing from the homebrewers perspective and really for the homebrewer. I this article he explores the different styles of stout and supplies tried homebrew recipes for each, including the infamous Jonny Lieberman’s Blackwine IV recipe for the “new” American Mega Stout category (think WWS from DFH).

Later there is a second article on Porter by Randy Mosher where he also tries to explore the mystery / history behind the beer Porter. This is the article that contradicts the historian in the first article. Mosher even adds his main contradiction in an aside by placing it in parenthesis that could easily have been omitted; “Far from being invented (despite the tales about Ralph Harwood and the Bell Brewhouse in Shoreditch), porter emerged over a generation or more… [saying] There never was a single thing called porter.” Ummm, OK? Anyway, both articles read well but were amusing to read hard contradictions 20 pages from each other, whatever.

Next was an article that was an excerpt from Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer’s up coming new book “Brewing Classic Styles” that I have talked about on FC before. This, I believe, was what a ‘section’ in the book was supposed to be like and this was for wheat beers. I was mildly disappointed. I had been anticipating this book to be really sweet, and instead the article (excerpt) read very dry and a little repeatative.  The best part is when they relate a story about how dad would carry a Weizenbock with him in the wagon at Halloween when he pulled the kids around the neighborhood as his treat. I’ll probably still get the book anyway.

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