Classically Inclined

August 22, 2013

History Down the Pub: London, August 28th

Filed under: Out and about — lizgloyn @ 9:09 am
Tags: ,

So, apparently thanks to Twitter I’m now vaguely associated with organising this sort of thing… do come along if you’re free, and pass details on to interested friends! Original announcement here.

Harvey Quamen: Using Digital Humanities Techniques to Study the History of Beer and Brewing

Three major questions—all difficult to answer—prompt this talk:

  1. what caused the sudden demise of porter around 1820?
  2. how did the style called India Pale Ale spread so rapidly?
  3. can we locate the historical London breweries?

Although surrounded in some mystery, these questions might be answerable using some techniques from the digital humanities. In particular, building a database of historical recipes will help us understand the movement and growth of beer styles (especially as those styles moved through homebrewing) and we can begin to track master-apprenticeship relationships with the use of propopographies, databases that serve as “collective biographies” of groups of people. Finally, using historical maps (like the Agas map digitized at the Map of Early Modern London project), we might begin to reconstruct the historical distribution of beer around the capital.

Harvey Quamen is an Associate Professor of English and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta, Canada. A longtime homebrewer, Quamen spent the 2009 academic year as a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London. Drinking with KCL and UCL friends began his foggily remembered interest in the history of London brewing.

This lecture is the inaugural event of the History Down the Pub series, and will be held in the Plough, 27 Museum Street, London (opposite the British Museum: see, at 6pm on Wednesday August 28th 2013.
All welcome.



  1. Dammit! In transit to Chicago today, otherwise (as an obsessive home brewer) I’d be hastily re-arranging all existing plans to join in what ought to be a furious argument…

    Comment by NevilleMorley — August 28, 2013 @ 8:24 am | Reply

    • There was not a furious argument, as the prompting questions were (it turns out) all symptomatic of massive beer history myths… but the talk went down very well, we had a good audience and it was a great inaugural! Hope you can make it to the next one, whenever that turns out to be.

      Comment by lizgloyn — August 29, 2013 @ 7:43 am | Reply

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