Saturday, 23 April 2011

Messrs. Salt and Co. (part two)

I promised you a glimpse inside Salt's brewery and here it is. The first bit. Just too many fun facts to fit into a single post.

"The new brewery is of the most complete character, the machinery and utensils in connection with it being of the best and most improved kind, and some of the vessels of enormous capacity. Ascending a flight of steps, we came to the mash room, a lofty apartment 52 feet by 36 feet, well-lighted and ventilated, the floor of which is both fire and waterproof. It contains five mash tubs, each capable of mashing fifty-five quarters of malt, four of which are fitted with Steels mashing machines, and the other with the old-fashioned stirring rakes, and all possess perforated copper false bottoms. The operation of "mashing" is an important one, and the greatest possible care has to be taken by the brewer, that the water to be used is of the proper temperature, and at no time during the process is his art put to a more severe test than at this period, After the wort has remained in these vessels the requisite time, it is drawn off the underbacks, of which there are two below the floor, both constructed of copper ; these are merely temporary receptacles for the wort, which runs therefrom direct to the coppers. Crossing a timber bridge, stretched over the hopbacks, we reached the copper house, a large place 60 feet square, with glazed roof and side lights. Here we were shown seven large coppers by Briggs and Morton, in each of which eighty barrels, or 2,880 gallons of wort is boiled with the hops at one time. Boiling is continued in these vessels for some hours, after which the hops are separated from the wort, and subsequently pressed under hydraulic presses. On our way thither we noticed, from the bridge, the two copper hop backs, each holding 170 barrels, where this separation takes place, and which is accomplished by draining the wort through gun-metal strainers.

In the copper house we also noticed Daniel's patent apparatus for condensing the washings obtained from the hops after the wort has been drained from them The process was explained to us by our guide as follows :—After separation from the wort, the hops are allowed to remain in the circular hop-back, and over them the necessary quantity of hot water is sparged, until all the saccharine matter they hold is completely washed out of them. These washings are then drawn into the apparatus and very quickly evaporated to the required gravity ; after which, they are pumped up to the coolers, and then mixed with the brew to which they originally belonged. The great advantages of this process are the rapidity of the evaporation, and the avoidance of anything like decomposition or colour in the wort, these ends being obtained by boiling the liquor in a vacuum at a low temperature. The process has been in operation in this brewery for several years with most satisfactory results.

From the copper-house we ascended to the cooler-loft, which forms the roof of next building, and measures go feet by 63 feet.

It contains one of Briggs and Co.'s copper coolers, 44 feet long, 28 feet wide, and 12 inches deep, with a capacity of 200 barrels, and three of Morton's horizontal refrigerators; but the greater part of the floor is covered with four open shallow coolers, wherein the cooling process commences ; the wort then runs over the refrigerators into the fermenting squares placed on the floor below. We noticed a novelty in this cooling room, consisting of two dreg filters - the first we had seen of that description in any brewery - being square timber vessels used for filtering the grounds which are left behind in the coolers, by atmospheric pressure.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 119 - 122.

Five mash tuns, each with a capacity of 55 quarters. Assuming their Pale Ale had an OG of 1065 and they were getting an extract of 85 brewers pounds per quarter, I make that about 200 barrels of beer per mash tun. Or, in total, about 1,000 barrels a day. That's quite a lot of beer. The annual capacity would have been 250,000 - 300,000 barrels. Not quite on the same scale as Bass or Guinness (who each brewed around 1 million barrels), but enough to put them in the top twenty. I'm sure I've got a league table of brewers somewhere. Here it is:

Largest breweries in the UK in 1884
Beer Bands (barrels) sugar (lbs) sugar estimated as malt (qtrs) malt (qtrs) sugar + malt (qtrs) license and beer duty paid Average OG of beer brewed
Guinness 1,300,000 0 0 310,930 310,930 391,843 16s 3d 1056.3
Bass 1,000,000 1,172,010 5,581 234,495 240,076 302,677 0s 9d 1056.5
Allsopp 850,000 326,081 1,552 212,091 213,643 257,689 16s 3d 1059.2
Combe 500,000 816,480 3,880 118,513 122,393 153,123 16s 3d 1057.6
Barclay 550,000 4,076,016 19,409 108,191 127,600 157,050 13s 9d 1054.6
Watney 450,000 3,294,035 15,686 205,816 221,502 273,383 5s 0d
Truman 450,000 0
Charrington 400,000 2,205,800 10,504 89,824 100,328 123,359 15s 0d 1059.1
Reid 350,000 1,800,008 8,571 76,985 85,556 104,972 5s 0d 1057.6
Whitbread 300,000 2,392,572 11,379 129,484 140,863 177,605 5s 0d
Courage 300,000 0
total 6,450,000 16,083,002 76,562 1,486,329 1,562,891 1,842,425 1s 3d
Document ACC/2305/8/246 part of the Courage archive held at the London Metropolitan Archive
Output based on the cost of the brewing licence which was based on bands of output, 
the figure given is the top of the band into which the brewery's output fell.
Average OG assumes a yield of 85 lbs of extract per quarter and is my calculation.

It's from a few years earlier, but close enough. See how well London is represented: 8 of the top 11. Though tellingly none of the top three was in London.

Now didn't I have another table showing the number of breweries of each size. Yes, that's it:

Number of UK breweries by output (barrels per year)
<1,000 publican brewers 1,000 - 10,000 10,000 - 20,000 20,000 - 100,000 100,000 - 500,000 >500,000 <10,000 >10,000 Total
1870 26,506 - 1,809 210 128 23 3 28,315 364 28,679
1875 22,138 - 1,864 260 194 25 4 24,002 483 24,485
1879 17,542 - 1,863 301 217 27 3 19,405 548 19,953
1880 16,770 - 1,768 272 203 23 4 18,538 502 19,040
1881 14,948 14,479 1,677 275 183 24 3 16,625 485 17,110
1885 12,608 - 1,537 270 187 27 4 14,145 488 14,633
1890 9,986 - 1,447 274 255 34 4 11,433 567 12,000
1895 7,213 - 1,162 267 256 34 5 8,375 562 8,937
1900 4,759 - 910 262 308 42 9 5,669 621 6,290
1905 3,787 - 832 232 280 40 9 4,619 561 5,180
1912 2,868 2,663 673 205 266 43 7 3,541 521 4,062
1913 2,700 2,502 615 210 271 42 8 3,315 531 3,846
1914 2,536 2,357 580 197 280 46 8 3,116 531 3,647
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 118.

In 1890, there were 34 breweries producing between 100,000 and 500,000 barrels a year. Salt were about bang in the middle of that group.

That's odd. It's called the new brewery, but one of the 5 mash tuns only had rakes and no Steel's masher. Why was the one fitted out differently? Was it used for a particular purpose? If the brewery had been newly fitted out, you'd expect them all to be the same.

Seven coppers, eh. Helpfully, Barnard has provided a drawing of them. They look like open coppers to me. They definitely aren't domed coppers, like Fullers had. If you remember an earlier text mentioned that they preferred open coppers for Pale Ale.

"Daniel's patent apparatus" is intriguing. Hop sparging was pretty standard practice by this time - no-one wanted to waste extract. Presumably the liquid drawn of was pretty low gravity, so concentrating them would make sense. But, this being a Pale Ale brewery, they wouldn't want to boil for long for fear of changing the colour. They were, after all, trying to produce a beer with a pale colour. It sounds very Heston Blumenthal, boiling at low temperature in a vacuum. Does any brewery still do this?

The cooling process is very standard. Start off in a shallow open cooler, partly to remove all the sludge from the wort, then finish by running over refrigerators.

Now the wort is nice and cool, it s ready to ferment. But you'll have to wait for part three to find out about that.


brewguru said...

What exactly is a "brewers pound"? It's not terminology we use here in the states.

Ron Pattinson said...

brewguru, brewers pounds is a system of measuring beer gravity. In the 19th century much more common than specific gravity as a system of measurement. It was used well into the 20th.

Thomas Barnes said...

It's possible that the oddly fitted-out copper was either:

1) Old equipment moved to the new brewery.

2) Specifically designed to deal with bigger, thicker or gummier mashes, such as when brewing with wheat malt or adjunct grains like maize. The rakes might help prevent scorching and would certainly help channel the sparge liquor through the wort.

@Ron. Any idea of how brewers pounds convert to Plato or SG?

Ron Pattinson said...

Thomas, to convert brewers pounds to OG:

(Brewers pounds*2.77)+1000 = SG