I was in the middle of praising one of Roger Protz’s articles — when he writes on social history, pubs and clubs, he can be very good indeed — when the narrative turns to brewing itself and it all goes wrong:
Thrale’s Brewery, in which Dr Samuel Johnson was a shareholder, dates from the early 18th century. It closed following the death of its owner, Henry Thrale, in 1781 and merged with the rival Anchor Brewery founded by John Courage in 1787. Courage was taken over by members of the Barclay family, who also went into banking with some success. The name Courage was maintained and the Anchor Brewery survived until 1981 when its brands were transferred to a modern plant in Reading.Roger has managed to disappear the 175-year history of Barclay Perkins. Even though there are entries in the Companion for both Barclay Perkins and Courage which contradict the account above (If you don’t know what’s wrong with this narrative, get yourself over to Ron’s).
Given that beer experts, and Horst Dornbusch, have worked on this thing for the best part of five years, this is unbelievably shoddy. I was expecting some poor stuff but this is just incredible. Especially since Protz has written stuff in the past that shows he did once know Barclay Perkins and Courage were separate concerns and didn’t merge until the 1950s.
How can I trust anything in this book on the subjects that I don’t already know about?