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.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Random brewery price list - Crowley of Alton

This one isn't an obscure, unimportant brewery. Because this was the brewery founded by James Baverstock in 1763*.

In the 1760's, James Baverstock Jnr. carried out some of the first serious experiments with the thermometer and the hydrometer in the brewery**. It was the beginning of scientific brewing. Which makes the brewery incredibly important in the history of brewing.

The brewery was bought by the Crowley family in 1821 and it operated as Crowly and Co. until it was taken over by Watney in 1947. It must have been a decent size, because it had 248 pubs. It closed in 1970***.

Here are the brewery's beers from 1870:

Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 19 February 1870, page 4.

Looks like they specialised in Pale Ales, which isn't surprising seeing as they were located in Alton. Which, if you remember from a couple of days back, had similar water to Burton. It's the B that I find interesting. At only 32 shillings a barrel, it can't have been more than about 1045º. Pretty damn weak, even for a Light Bitter, at that time.

What else? A nice use of theterm Imperial Mild. That really is a ting range of Mild Ales. Just a weak and a very strong one. And just one Stout. Like I said, clearly a Pale Ale specialist.

Here's my guess at the gravities:

Crowley beers in 1870
price per barrel guess OG
BBB Bitter Ale 54 1065
BB Bitter Ale 44 1055
B Bitter Ale 32 1045
Imperial (Old or Mild) 60 1095
X 36 1055
Stout 54 1085
Porter 36 1055
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 19 February 1870, page 4.

I must do this again. It's so much fun.

* "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 205, page 46.
** "A History of Beer and Brewing" by Ian Hornsey, 2003, pages 424 and 426.
*** "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 205, page 46.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Some money would be nice

Brewers, feel free to use the recipes I provide. But an occasional financial contribution would be appreciated.

I might get bored of giving them away.

Courage Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925

This beer was definitely not brewed Horselydown (the brewery next to Tower Bridge). I can be so certain because in the 1920's Courage brewed no Pale Ale of any description at their original London brewery.

They were slightly unusual in that. Even Truman, which owned a brewery in Burton, brewed some Pale Ale in London. There was something even odder. Several London firms had breweries in Burton to produce Pale Ales. But Courage had one on Alton in Hampshire which was, admittedly, a good bit closer to London. They had bought it in 1903, when it was trading as G. & E. Hall*.

Courage's Alton Brewery from the air in 1928.

From 1872 to 1886 Courage had a contract with Flowers of Stratford-on-Avon to supply Pale Ale**. In 1886 the contract was switched to Fremlins of Maidstone. Now isn't that odd? Both of those breweries were later taken over by Whitbread. The deciding factor seems to have been transport costs. It was cheaper to ship the beer up the Medway (a tributary if the Thames) than shift it by rail from Stratford***.

Alton wasn't a random choice. I addition to being close to London, it also had water similar to Burton's. The Alton Brewery stopped brewing in 1969****, but continued bottling and canning until 1979, when it was bought by Bass. They knocked the brewery fown and built a new one*****.

That introduction and explanation made, let's move on to the beer. I'll remind you that the results for Courage so far have been mixed. The Burton came second with an excellent score of 1.25, while the Mild was a slightly disappointing 8th with a score of 0.38.

As you can see, this is a stronger 9d/8d Best Bitter. Once again, the specs are virtually spot on the average for the period, except for the FG being a little high.

Courage Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1009.8 1053.9 5.75 81.82% hazy mawkish -1 9d
1922 PA 1010.5 1053 5.54 80.19% hazy thin v fair 0 9d
1922 PA 1014.4 1056.4 5.46 74.47% fairly bright v good 3 9d
1923 PA 1011.6 1054.6 5.60 78.75% pale v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1015.2 1055.7 5.26 72.71% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1013.4 1056.9 5.66 76.45% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1014.4 1053.4 5.06 73.03% bright v fair 2 9d
1923 PA 1007.2 1048.7 5.42 85.22% bright good 2 8d
1923 PA 1010 1052.5 5.54 80.95% v bright v fair 2 8d
1924 PA 1053 fairly bright poor -1 8d
1925 PA 1014.6 1056.1 5.39 73.98% brilliant v good 3 8d
1925 PA 1010.4 1051.2 5.31 79.69% cloudy mawkish -1 8d
Average  1012.0 1053.8 5.46 77.93% 1.25
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Dear oh dear - couldn't any brewery make sure their beer was clear? Just six out of twelve properly bright. Whereas there were only three negative flavour scores. Interesting that this time none of the poor samples was bright. Nice to see the word "mawkish" pop up twice. It means sweet and sickly, on case you're wondering.

The average score -  1.25 - isn't bad at all. A majority of beers score d a 2 or a 3. But I wouldn't expect less of a beer from a specialist Pale Ale brewery. Good Burton, OK Mild, good Best Bitter. Courage pubs are starting t look a good bet.

There's still loads left in this series. Loads and loads.

* "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
** "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
*** "Courage's 1787 - 1932", by G.N. Hardinge, 1932, chapter 3.
**** "A Century of British Brewers Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 46.