I was listening to David Mitchell on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, one of Herring’s regular questions is about going back in time to try a food from a particular point in history and compare it to the modern version (his example is that he thinks Kettle Crisps have changed- and yes, I know they are called Kettle Chips but he apparently doesn’t…). Each guest is asked what they would go back through history to try and David Mitchell selected looking at beer throughout history and the idea really grabbed me.
I thought back to brewery tours and the descriptions I’ve heard of how beer has changed. Ok, I wouldn’t want to leave in an era when the water was so poisonous that it was safer to drink beer but wouldn’t be great to drink beer all day! I know that the beer back then wasn’t as strong as it is now but I do enjoy hearing stories of children drinking beer (albeit a smaller ration than adults). How brilliant would it be to try those 2% beers from those days or even the first beer (which I believe was probably in Ancient Sumaria). I know that there have been attempts to recreate some of those old beers and I will try to seek them out but I’m not sure if you can ever recreate a recipe of the time- espcecially with beer when you consider how particular breweries are with their own strain of yeast.
To a lesser extent I’d actually quite like to try some of the keg beers from the 60’s and 70’s when they became popular in Britain with landlords keeping cask badly, not because I think they’ll be great (pretty sure they’re not) but because I’ve never tried them and part of me wants to give them a go. I tried Turkish coffee for the first time at Borough Market at the weekend and, to be honest, I wasn’t fussed on it and I’m going to stick with traditional Italian style coffee, but I’m glad I tried it and I think its important to try new (or old!) things.