Sunday, 20 April 2014

A change in the habits of the people

In old newspapers you sometimes find items which are clearly adverts, but not marked as such. Come to think of it, that's not so different from newspapers today.

If I'm honest, I'm not quite sure what is being advertised. What is a Golden Ale Tablet? Some form of handheld computer?

"The problem to provide a wholesome, stimulating, and satisfying drink that will not intoxicate has at last been solved. This long-felt want has been met by Messrs. Brodrick's, of Dudley, whose Gold Medal Patent Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout Tablets recall the days when our forefathers brewed their own ale. These delightful home-brewed beers are indistinguishable from the best bottled beers, and are perfectly pure and wholesome; being made from the finest malt and hops, which, by Brodrick's patent processes, are rendered non-intoxicating, while preserving all the essential virtues, thus making an ideal beverage for meals. The reference made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his notable Budget Speech to the "remarkable decline that has taken place in recent years in the consumption of alcohol" shews the increasing need for such non-alcoholic beers as those produced Messrs. Brodrick's Patents. We are, indeed, as Mr. Austen Chamberlain went on say, "witnessing a change the habits the people." This is only natural and wise when the means satisifying the taste and palate are available at practically one-fourth the usual cost; while the same time the genuine beverage we have long been accustomed to is obtainable in this more desirable form. In addition to the Golden Ale and Nourishing Stout, Messrs. Brodrick manufacture Tablets of Concentrated Wine, and their Compressed Hop Tablets are invaluable in the house for making poultices, compressions, infusions, etc. Samples are obtainable from most grocers and chemists, redirect from Messrs. Brodrick's Patents, Dudley."
Lichfield Mercury - Friday 30 June 1905, page 3.
Just another weird, random old reference to Golden Ale.

Disclosing gravity

Here's another gem I uncovered while looking for something else.

There was a lot of friction between working men's clubs and brewers after WW I. Clubs suspected brewers of overcharging for beer. Which was one of the reasons many clubs breweries opened around then. They didn't trust brewers, so made beer themselves.

That might explain why clubs were keen to find out the gravity of the beer supplied by brewers. Supplying weaker beer would be a way of upping the price, without it being obvious.


Derbyshire branch of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, Ltd., is supporting a measure adopted by the national executive of the union  to compel brewers to state the gravity beer supplied to various clubs.

At a meeting of Derbyshire representatives Westhouses prior to the general election, a resolution to this effect, drawn by the executive in London, was presented and passed. All the M.P.s the county were approached and asked if they would support a bill, and opinion was divided.

This procedure was adopted in all the branches throughout the county, and, so for, 95 M.P.s have agreed to support the Bill, which will be introduced in Parliament during the next session. The Chancellor to asked to receive a deputation on the matter.

The union has four M.P.s of its own.


Derbyshire clubs obtain a good deal of their beer from the union's own brewery in Leicester, and this is always of standard gravity.

Other beer is supplied by Messrs. Offllers, Ltd.. Derby, Messrs. W. Griffiths, and Messrs. John Hair & Sons, Melbourne.

Mr. R. W. Griffiths told a "Derby Telegraph" representative that if the Bill passed the breweries would boycott the clubs and would not supply any beer. Mr. J. Wood, the local secretary of the Union, stated that this would not affect them, as they would be able to get all they required from their own brewery.

Mr. C. Offiler said: "As far this country is concerned, working men's clubs will never be able to compel us to disclose the gravity.


If they want to know the gravity of beer, it is a perfectly simple matter to send it to any analyst, and they have it analysed in half hour."

The executive of the Union took this step following repeated complaints from the clubs that thp strength of beer supplied appeared to vary."
Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 12 December 1931, page 7.
You have to assume that brewers were pulling the trick of dripping the gravity unannounced, based on the level of hostility from Mr. Offiler. And the fact he was prepared to lose trade rather than disclose his beer's gravity.

Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 23 March 1934, page 16.

Of course brewers could be forced to reveal their gravities, if parliament insisted. Which is what happened in the 1980's. Though CAMRA - by doing exactly what Mr. Offiler suuggested, getting beers analysed themselves - had already let the cat out of the bag.

I can only think of one brewery that voluntarily put the gravity on their labels: Federation. Unsurprisingly, a clubs brewery.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

BYO challenge

Can someone send me a scan of the article in Brew Your Own magazine that starts like this?

"Beer historian Ron Pattinson, of the blog Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, is famous for writing about the longevity of ideas in the brewing community. His research provides some necessary grounding to the lofty ambitions of today's inventive craft brewers, who are fond of re-inventing the wheel and then arguing about what to call it. As Pattinson often points out, there are very few concepts in beer you could come up with that weren't already being brewed a couple hundred years ago.

But I would like to issue a bit of a challenge to Mr. Pattinson, or any other beer historians, for there is a realm of beer that I believe has never bubbles inside any historic fermentation tank--those fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces. When it comes to 100% Brett-fermented beers, we may be dealing with the only style of beer truly invented by modern brewers during the craft beer revolution."


Me in San Diego

Since getting back from my last US trip several people have said: "I wish I'd known you were going to be in Philadelphia/ Boston/New York/Washington DC. Despite me having banged on about it for weeks here on the blog, many still didn't notice.

I don't want that to happen in San Diego because, while I'll probably be on the East Coast again, I'm not sure when I'll return to California. It's such a long way from here. I'm already dreading the flight.

14th to 18th of May is when I'll be there. I hope the weather's nice.

There will be at least one other event while I'm in town, but this is the one that's all firmed up. An event intended for home brewers where I'll give one of my legendary off the top of my head little chats about historic beer, followed by a question and answer session.

It's on Saturday, May 17th from 11am - 1pm at ChuckAlek Independent Brewers in Ramona, CA.
You can find more details about it here.

I'll also be signing (that's what I call it, someone less kind might say scribble) my book:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

ChuckAlek Independent Brewers
2330 Main St, Suite C
Ramona, CA 92065

Random brewery - Clarkson's Berkshire Brewery

You'd never believe it, but I've been searching the newspaper archive looking for something about Simonds of Reading. Particularly unsuccessfully. It didn't help that I spelled Simonds with two M's. I can never remember that. No idea why.

Here's an advert for another Reading brewery that I did find.

Here's the text in, er, text form:


A. CLARKSON'S Fine ALE and BEER, equal to the best Home-brewed, being brewed from the best Malt and Hops that can be produced, regardless of expense.

MR. A. CLARKSON begs leave to return his sincere thanks to his numerous friends and supporters, for the very liberal patronage they have been pleased to bestow upon him since his commencement in the Brewing business. He also begs leave to inform his friends and the inhabitants of Reading and the vicinity that his Fine Mild October ALES of the present season, are now ready for consumption, which he can confidently recommend to all who love a glass of pure Home-brewed Beer.

Orders thankfully received and punctually attended to at No. 53, King's Road, Reading.

Supplied in Casks, of any size, at the following prices:"
Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 24 January 1852, page 1.

Why have I bothered?  A couple of reasons. First, that the brewer claims his beer is as good as home brewed. What commercial brewery today would make that claim?  I'm pretty sure by home brewed he means domestically brewed beer. Which had a good reputation because domestic brewers didn't skimp on ingredients.

Secondly, there's a distinction made between Ale and Beer. Even though there's only one Beer in the list, T.B. or Table Beer. All the others being Ales.

Thirdly, the use of the phrase "Fine Mild October ALES". Why? Because October Ales and Beers were usually Stock or Old, not Mild. Never seen Mild October Ales before. I thought the whole point of brewing them in October was because they kept better. Not something that's very relevant with an Ale that's going to be sold young.

And finally, the fact that there are only Ales and a Table Beer. No Pale Ales but, more unusually, neither Porter nor Stout. Very odd.

Why no potted history of the brewery? Because it deosn't get a mention in "A Century of British Brewers Plus". There is something in there called the Berkshire Brewery. But it's a much later brewery. Because that was the name of the huge Courage brewery in Worton Grange, the one which replaced the Simonds brewery in Reading.

Amazing how many words I span out of that random find.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Book tarting again

I'm not just trying to persuade North Americans that they need to own my book. I'll be pestering Europeans, too.

In what might be my only UK appearance this year (I'm fast running out of holidays) I'll be at the Birmingham Beer Bash on 26th July.

It's not totally settled what I'll be doing, but I'll definitely be giving a talk about Brettanomyces in British brewing in the afternoon. Something aimed squarely at the geek crowd. In the evening I'll probably be doing a less formal, for a slightly less geeky audience. Hopefully involving drinking beer and me fielding questions. I'll be bringing along my baseball glove to make sure I don't drop any.

And, of course, at both sessions you'll have the chance to buy my book and have me scrawl something indecipherable in it. I think it's rather good, but I would, wouldn't I? So far reviewers have agreed with me.

If you can't wait to read the crystalised perfection of my prose, buy a copy now and bring it along for me to sign:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928 (part one)

No, I hadn't forgotten about this series. Just got distracted by all sorts of other crap.

Let's start with the Porter. I've just been checking the strength of London Porter in the 1920's. There's a surprising degree of variation. At the bottom is Whitbread Porter, with a pathetic gravity of just 1028º. At the top is Mann, at 1041º. Most are between 1035º and 1038º, which puts Courage Porter at the weak end.

The degree of attenuation is pretty typical. Most of the other breweries' versions are between 70 and 75% apparent attenuation.

That's fairly decent hopping, around 1 lb per barrel, for a beer of this gravity. It's about the same as Whitbread's but 50% more than Barclay Perkins'. I'm sure that you're glad to hear that.

Courage's was a 7d Stout (8d until 1923). That is, a pint  on draught cost that much in a public bar. Most London Stouts were 1d a pint dearer and had gravities between 1050º and 1055º. Wenlock was one of the few other 7d Stouts and that also had a gravity around 1045º. There were plenty of bottled Stouts in the 1040's, especially the cheaper ones sold in quart bottles. Some were even under 1040º

Not sure why Double Stout suddenly became just plain Stout. Maybe they realised it was a bit of a cheek calling something of such a modest gravity double. Or perhaps it was just that, with only one Stout in their lineup, qualification of the name wasn't needed.

Courage Porter and Stout 1920 - 1928
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp
1920 Double Stout 1043.8 1011.6 4.25 73.42% 7.37 1.62 1.5 1.5 1 62º
1920 Stout 1047.4 1015.0 4.29 68.42% 5.09 1.18 1.75 1.75 1 62º
1921 Stout 1043.8 1010.0 4.47 77.22% 7.14 1.56 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1923 Stout 1043.8 1011.4 4.29 74.05% 7.54 1.58 1.5 1.5 1 60.5º
1926 Stout 1045.4 7.34 1.36 1.5 1.5 1 62º
1927 Stout 1045.4 7.17 1.33 1.5 1.5 º
1928 Stout 1046.5 7.71 1.37 1.5 1.5 1 61.25º
1920 Porter 1029.6 1007.2 2.97 75.70% 7.12 1.07 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1921 Porter 1029.6 1007.2 2.97 75.70% 7.14 1.05 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1922 Porter 1032.7 1008.9 3.15 72.88% 6.79 1.15 1.5 1.5 1 60º
1922 Porter 1032.7 1008.3 3.22 74.58% 8.56 1.17 1.5 1.5 1 61º
1923 Porter 1032.7 1008.3 3.22 74.58% 8.29 1.18 1.5 1.5 1 60º
1926 Porter 1032.7 7.50 1.01 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1926 Porter 1032.7 7.34 0.98 1.5 1.5 1 61.5º
1927 Porter 1032.7 7.17 0.96 1.5 1.5 º
1928 Porter 1032.7 7.71 0.96 1.5 1.5 1 63º
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/251, ACC/2305/08/253, ACC/2305/08/255 and ACC/2305/08/256.

Next time wwe'll be looking at the grists.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Courage makes an acquisition

The 1920's were a great time for expansion, if you had the cash. And Courage was one that did.

There were plenty of breweries which had already been faltering before  WW I, who the 1909 People's Budget had hit hard. The war years had been anything but easy, though many brewers did see their profits rise. The downturn in trade caused by the slump in the early 1920's left many brewery owners looking to sell businesses from which they could make no profit.

Of course, in most cases the purchaser had no interest in the brewery itself. They were just after its pubs, which were still valuable assets.

CITY OFFICE of "The Yorkshire Post,"
1 and 2. Great Winchester Street,
London, E.C.2.
Monday Evening,
We understand that Courage and Co., the well-known London brewery undertaking, has made offer to purchase the shares of the Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.). the prices offered being 25s. for each £1 Six Per Cent. Preference Share and 45s. for each £1 Ordinary Share. Farnkham United Breweries Shares have recently been advancing, especially the Ordinary, which at the end of last week were quoted about 38s., while the preference stood about 19s., so that the prices offered by Courage and Co. seem favourable to the Farnham Company's proprietors. Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.) have a share capital of £225,000, of which £100,000 is in Ordinary shares, and the balance in Six per Cent. Preference shares. The distribution to Ordinary holders has in recent years been rising, that for the twelve months ended September last being 10 per cent., or 2 per cent. more than for 1924-25. Courage and Co. are, of course, a much larger concern, with a share capital of £1,500,000, of which £1,100,000 is in Ordinary Shares. There has been a very substantial advance in profits year by year, the net figure for 1926 being £383,914, increase of £62,458 on that for the preceding twelve months. The Ordinary dividend for 1921 was 15 per cent., that for 1925 20 per cent., ; that for 1926 23 per cent. Courage Ordinary' Shares stand in the market at just over £3 per share."
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 12 April 1927, page 15.

Farnham is in Surrey, to the Southwest of London. Not far from Courage's home and in a relatively prosperous part of the country. I can understand why it would be an attractive target. Judging by the share capital of the two companies, Courage must have been at least 10 times the size of Farnham United Breweries.

I make Courage's offer worth £381,250 - or quite a bit more than the nominal value of Farnham's share capital. And a fair sum of money back in those days.

Despite that expense, Courage still made a very decent profit:

"Courage & Co.— The whole of the expenses in connection with the acquisition of the Farnham United Breweries and of the new share issue during the year have been written off profits. Profit £378,682 (against £421,914). £40,000 to rebuilding reserve account. Final dividend on Ordinary shares 16 per cent., less tax, making again 23 per cent, for year: carry forward £97,602. The premium on the new share issue, £262,500, has been placed to premium on Ordinary shares reserve account.
Dundee Courier - Thursday 23 February 1928, page 2.
And they still had half a million quid in reserve:

"Courage & Company.
As generally expected, the directors of Courage & Co., Ltd., have maintained the interim dividend at 7 per cent. The shares were little affected by the announcement, being around 67s 6d.

This concern has had a very successful career, and has paid 23 per cent, for each of the past two years, this payment being on a slightly increased capital last time.

There is a reserve fund of nearly half a million pounds, but, as the company has recently acquired two other breweries, this fund may be utilised for further purposes."
Dundee Courier - Monday 30 July 1928, page 2.

All this left Courage in a great position to expand through acquisitions and they would have been fools not to. The way the pub trade was structures, buying other breweries for their pubs was about the only way to grow rapidly.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

1923 Whitbread IPA

There's not been a Let's Brew Wednesday recipe for a while. And I need to keep pushing my book*.

Not had a recipe from Kristen in a while, so this one of my efforts. (The recipe is for  6 US or 5 Imperial gallons. I forgot to mention that in the book.)  It's one of the recipes I had to cut for space reasons. But it's also that most trendy of beasts: a session IPA.

Whitbread's IPA didn't have a long history at this point. It was first brewed in September 1899**, whereas their PA had been around since 1867. And that wasn't the only Pale Ale that predated IPA, Family Ale was first brewed in 1871 and 2PA in 1888. IPA was late to the party.

Let's make this plain: it always had a lower gravity than the Pale Ale. Usually 10 to 13 gravity points lower. Another point worth making is that these two beers weren't usually parti-gyled. The only example in the tables below is the PA from the 10th May 1922. That was parti-gyled with IPA, which explains the heavier rate of hopping.

Originally, PA and IPA were both hopped at around 12 lbs per quarter. Then in 1908 the rate for PA was cut to 9 lbs per quarter, but for IPA to 11 lbs. From this point on, the IPA, relative to gravity, was more heavily hopped than the PA. I think that's quite significant. With getting on for 2 lbs per barrel of hops in a beer with a gravity in the mid-1030's, the 1920's version must have tasted pretty bitter. Especially given the high degree of attenuation.

Here is a brace of nice tables with all the details of Whitbread PA and IPA:

Whitbread IPA 1900 - 1923
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
19th Feb 1900 IPA 1051.3 1014.0 4.94 72.72% 12.96 2.91
16th Nov 1901 IPA 1050.1 1012.0 5.05 76.07% 12.04 2.69
20th Feb 1902 IPA 1049.9 1013.0 4.88 73.93% 11.97 2.65
4th Jun 1904 IPA 1050.1 1013.0 4.91 74.07% 12.03 2.77
5th May 1905 IPA 1050.1 1013.0 4.91 74.07% 11.13 2.48
12th Mar 1906 IPA 1049.7 1014.0 4.73 71.86% 11.97 2.60
22nd May 1906 IPA 1050.1 1013.0 4.91 74.04% 11.99 2.63
14th May 1906 IPA 1050.6 1014.0 4.84 72.34% 12.09 2.68
29th May 1907 IPA 1050.4 1013.0 4.95 74.21% 10.99 2.39
3rd Jun 1908 IPA 1049.6 1013.0 4.84 73.78% 11.03 2.40
29th Nov 1909 IPA 1050.1 1012.0 5.05 76.07% 10.90 2.43
15th Aug 1910 IPA 1049.9 1014.5 4.68 70.92% 10.92 2.36
11th May 1912 IPA 1048.8 1011.0 4.99 77.44% 9.99 2.13
5th May 1913 IPA 1050.1 1015.0 4.65 70.08% 11.91 2.65
6th Oct 1914 IPA 1049.9 1015.0 4.61 69.92% 10.97 2.39
3rd Jul 1916 IPA 1046.8 1011.0 4.74 76.50% 11.96 2.43
31st Jan 1916 IPA 1047.1 1015.0 4.25 68.15% 10.94 2.26
16th Oct 1917 IPA 1038.8 1007.0 4.20 81.95% 11.41 1.91
11th Jun 1918 IPA 1033.0 1008.0 3.30 75.73% 11.68 1.69
11th Nov 1919 IPA 1036.0 1009.0 3.57 74.97% 12.95 1.98
5th Mar 1920 IPA 1034.0 1007.0 3.58 79.44% 12.99 1.90
27th Jan 1921 IPA 1033.0 1006.0 3.57 81.80% 12.91 1.86
31st Jan 1921 IPA 1033.0 1006.0 3.58 81.84% 12.89 1.74
8th Mar 1921 IPA 1035.5 1007.0 3.76 80.26% 12.94 1.81
15th May 1922 IPA 1036.3 1006.0 4.01 83.47% 12.98 1.95
9th Jan 1923 IPA 1035.7 1007.0 3.80 80.41% 13.07 1.93
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/065, LMA/4453/D/01/067, LMA/4453/D/01/069, LMA/4453/D/01/070, LMA/4453/D/01/071, LMA/4453/D/01/072, LMA/4453/D/01/073, LMA/4453/D/01/075, LMA/4453/D/01/076, LMA/4453/D/01/077, LMA/4453/D/01/078, LMA/4453/D/01/080, LMA/4453/D/01/081, LMA/4453/D/01/083, LMA/4453/D/01/085, LMA/4453/D/01/086, LMA/4453/D/01/087, LMA/4453/D/01/088. 

Whitbread PA 1901 - 1923
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
18th Nov 1901 PA 1060.9 1017.0 5.81 72.10% 11.09 3.05
15th Jun 1903 PA 1065.1 1021.0 5.83 67.74% 13.12 3.98
18th Mar 1904 PA 1063.4 1022.0 5.48 65.32% 12.97 3.87
26th Apr 1905 PA 1063.2 1019.0 5.84 69.92% 11.98 3.50
12th May 1906 PA 1063.4 1022.0 5.47 65.29% 12.01 3.40
24th May 1907 PA 1062.3 1020.0 5.60 67.91% 11.48 3.21
22nd May 1908 PA 1063.4 1020.0 5.74 68.44% 8.97 2.44
4th Jun 1909 PA 1062.7 1019.0 5.78 69.68% 8.98 2.49
27th Sep 1910 PA 1061.0 1021.0 5.29 65.57% 8.99 2.43
26th Mar 1912 PA 1061.2 1017.0 5.85 72.22% 8.88 2.44
7th May 1913 PA 1060.7 1020.0 5.38 67.03% 8.88 2.38
7th Oct 1914 PA 1061.1 1021.0 5.31 65.63% 8.91 2.39
14th Jul 1916 PA 1051.8 1015.0 4.87 71.04% 10.00 2.23
17th Oct 1917 PA 1044.3 1009.0 4.67 79.67% 10.61 1.96
14th Jul 1918 PA 1036.9 1008.0 3.83 78.33% 9.89 1.59
6th Nov 1919 PA 1047.7 1013.0 4.59 72.73% 8.50 1.76
4th Mar 1920 PA 1047.5 1012.0 4.69 74.71% 7.46 1.52
26th Jan 1921 PA 1048.2 1013.0 4.66 73.03% 8.97 1.81
10th May 1922 PA 1046.8 1006.0 5.39 87.17% 12.92 2.49
9th Jan 1923 PA 1046.4 1013.0 4.42 71.98% 9.03 1.77
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/067, LMA/4453/D/01/068, LMA/4453/D/01/069, LMA/4453/D/01/070, LMA/4453/D/01/071, LMA/4453/D/01/072, LMA/4453/D/01/073, LMA/4453/D/01/074, LMA/4453/D/01/076, LMA/4453/D/01/077, LMA/4453/D/01/078, LMA/4453/D/01/080, LMA/4453/D/01/081, LMA/4453/D/01/083, LMA/4453/D/01/085, LMA/4453/D/01/086, LMA/4453/D/01/087, LMA/4453/D/01/088.

How would 1923 Whitbread IPA compare to a modern Session IPA? I'm not sure. It's weaker than most contemporary versions, that's for sure. And uses different hops. I guess someone will need to brew it for us to find out.

Best give the recipe, then.

1923 Whitbread IPA
pale malt 2 row 4.50 lb 58.06%
pale malt 6 row 2.25 lb 29.03%
No.1 invert sugar 1 12.90%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1036
FG 1008
ABV 3.7
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 43
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1098 British ale - dry
Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/088.

It's pretty damn simple: 2-row and 6-row pale malt, No. 1 invert sugar, Fuggles and Goldings. Not the complete absence of crystal malt. As I keep telling you, it wasn't really that common in British Bitters until after WW I. There was probably also some caramel added for colour adjustment, even though it is fairly pale in colour.

IPA was one of Whitbread's most popular beers. The most popular in 1923, when they brewed 116,247 barrels of it, or 23% of their total production. While in the same year only 89,145 barrels of their Mild, X Ale, were brewed.***

One last point. This was exclusively sold in bottled form. A trend followed by Barclay Perkins and quite a few other brewers in the South of England. Though their version was stronger, with an OG in the mid-1040's. But their PA, with an OG of 1052º, was also stronger than Whitbread's.****

*The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer

** Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/065.

*** Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/088.

**** Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/614

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Random brewery - Strong of Romsey

Here's a nother random brewery. Except this time it was quite big and around until quite recently.

First, a potted history. Founded in 1778, it was run by Thomas Strong after 1858, first under a lease then full ownership. Became Strong & Co. Ltd. in 1894. Bought along with 940 pubs by Whitbread in 1969. Closed 1981*.

I could have drunk their beer, but didn't. Never made it to that bit of the South coast. Another lost opportunity I look back on with regret. I should be more poitive. Think of the odd beers I did get to try. Like Ma Pardoe's Bitter and Yorkshire Clubs Mild.

Here's a newspaper article about them building a brand new brewery:
The New Brewery.— Messrs. Strong and Co. having, during recent years, purchased and amalgamated several breweries, notably, The Horse Fair, Hundred, Bell-street, Weyhill, Redbridge, Chilbolton, Hythe, and several others, now find the demand for their ales and stout increasing beyond the limits of their productive power, consequently they have decided to erect a complete new fifty-quarter brewery adjoining the well-known Horse Fair Brewery. The building will be on the semi- gravitation system, constructed of red brick of local manufacture, with string courses, and cornice of similar materials, the windows and doors being relieved by crowned arches. The roofs being of best Welsh slate, with wrought iron terminals, and the chimney being circular with improved interior arrangements, and of similar materials to the building. The building will be equipped with the most modern well-tried improvements for the production of high-class ales and stout for public and private trade, for which the firm have long enjoyed high repute. The contractor for the building is Mr. George Wheeler, jun., Romsey, the plant will be manufactured and erected by engineers of high repute, but, in the face of the coming winter, the proprietors intend, as far as possible, to employ local labour. The designs have been prepared by Mr. Charles Johnson, maltsters' and brewers consulting engineer, London and Bristol, and the work will be executed under his personal supervision."
Hampshire Advertiser - Saturday 08 November 1890, page 7.
There was plenty of confidence in the brewing industry in the 1890's. Trade was increasing, profits were good and a flood of new capital had washed in through restructuring into limited companies.

A 50-quarter plant is good for about 200 barrels per batch of standard-strength beer. So avout 70,000 barrels per year capacity. Which was a decent sized brewery in the 1890's.

Here are some for their bottled beers, courtesy of, ironically, Whitbread:

Strong bottled beers 1931 - 1955
Year Beer Style Price size Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1931 Treble Brown Brown Ale 6d half 0.05 1014.9 1057.2 5.50 73.95%
1934 Dinner Ale Pale Ale 7d pint 0.05 1011.3 1038 3.46 70.26%
1934 Golden Ale Pale Ale 8d pint 0.05 1014 1044 3.88 68.18%
1938 Dinner Ale Pale Ale 4d half 0.07 1009.2 1039.9 21 3.99 76.94%
1952 Black Bess Stout Stout 9.5d half 0.05 1007.3 1036 1R + 9B 3.73 79.72%
1955 Pale Ale Pale Ale 1/- half 0.05 1011.5 1044.3 19 4.26 74.04%
1959 Strong 'un Strong Ale half 0.02 1010.2 1040.3 100 3.91 74.69%
1959 Black Bess Stout Stout 11d half 1012.2 1034.1 300 2.83 64.22%
1959 Golden Ale Pale Ale 11d half 0.04 1006.3 1032 18 3.34 80.31%
1960 Black Bess Stout Stout 10d half 0.04 1014 1034.2 250 2.53 59.06%
1960 Golden Ale Pale Ale 11d half 0.02 1006.3 1031.8 16 3.19 80.19%
1960 Special Pale Ale Pale Ale half 0.02 1009.7 1041.3 23 3.95 76.51%
1960 Black Bess Stout Stout 11d half 0.04 1015.1 1034.9 300 2.48 56.73%
1961 Romsey Brown Brown Ale 10.5d half 0.04 1010 1032.3 140 2.79 69.04%
1962 Royal Old English Ale Strong Ale 20d half 0.06 1013.9 1058.2 45 5.54 76.12%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Treble Brown. There's one for the style guide writers. Strong 'un, ironically, qualifies as a bona fide sesion beer. A Stout below 1035º. It's enough to make a man cry. And who thought Golden Ale was only invented in the 1980's?

Strong's brewing records are bound to be out there. That's why I love Whitbread. They never threw any brewing records away. It would be interesting to take a look. Especially to see if anything changed after Whitbread took over.

Here are some of their drsught beers:

Strong draught beers 1961 - 1979
Year Beer Style Price size Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1961 Barley Corn Bitter Pale Ale 22d to 24d pint 0.04 1006.3 1037.6 23 3.91 83.24%
1968 Mild Mild 18d pint 0.04 1006.4 1029.4 75 2.88 78.23%
1968 Royal Old English Ale Strong Ale 33d pint 0.07 1014.3 1058 65 5.46 75.34%
1968 Barley Corn Keg Pale Ale 27d pint 0.08 1007.8 1037.4 45 3.70 79.14%
1968 Best Bitter Pale Ale 21d pint 0.06 1003.3 1037 30 4.21 91.08%
1977 Trophy Pale Ale pint 1037.8
1977 Mild Mild pint 1031.5
1979 Trophy Pale Ale pint 1037.8
1979 Mild Mild pint 1031.5
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Good Beer Guide 1978 and 1980.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that the Trophy and Mild of the 1970's were just the old Strong's beers rebranded.

Just spotted the small print on the label. "Also controlling Thomas Wethered & Sons Limited Marlow." So that's how Whitbread got their hands on Wethered. One of the breweries I miss most. Loved their Trophy.

* "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 205, page 49.