Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Brewing Porter the Irish way (part two)

 As promised, part two of the description of Irish Porter brewing in the early 19th century. This time with the big boys: Messrs. Arthur Guinness, Sons, and Co.

Though first there's quick catalogue of Ireland's brewing centres.

"In Ireland, the brewing trade, though not so extensive as in England, is, notwithstanding, conducted on a respectable scale. In Cork, Bandon, Limerick, Fermoy,Waterford, Clogheen, Clonmel, Kilkenny, and Carlow, are the principal establishments of the south. That of Beamish and Crawford, situated in the South Main-street, Cork, is the most considerable; it is elegantly fitted up, having appropriate machinery, with vessels on an extensive scale, and is capable of brewing upwards of 150,000 barrels of porter annually. The concerns of Messrs. Lane and Co., W. Cashman and Sons, W. Condon and Co., in that city, are respectably conducted, and the liquor produced is of superior quality. In the north, there are many highly respectable breweries,viz. Drogheda, Castlebellingham, Dundalk, Newry, Armagh, Monaghan, Dungannon, Donoughmore, Lurgan, Belfast, and Derry, where malt drink is manufactured to great perfection. The ales of Drogheda, Castlebellingham, Lurgan and Belfast, have obtained a high character, while the porter and ales of Dublin are accounted equal to any brewed in the empire: the extensive exportation of these articles is a proof of this assertion, for, until within these few years, there was not any export of porter to England, the British manufacturers supplying that commodity; and such was the force of prejudice, that nothing but an English beverage could satisfy an Irish palate.
"A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of Ancient and Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Intoxicating Liquors" by Samuel Morewood, 1838, pages 629 - 630.
This is early enough that Beamish and Crawford, brewing a very respectable 150,000 barrels a year, were the biggest brewery in Ireland. That wouldn't last much longer. Guinness managed to double their output every 10 years for most of the rest of the 19th century.

Drogheda and Castlebellingham were renowned Ale brewing centres, as we've already learned. But Belfast and Derry? I don't think so. Belfast was notable for the exact opposite: for never developping hardly any brewing industry at all.

This is really just the beginning of Dublin Porter's fame. 1814 was the first year Ireland had a positive trade balance with England in beer. And in 1828 Ireland only exported 11,328 barrels to England.

Let's continue with a more detailed look at Guinness:
"The house of Messrs. Arthur Guinness, Sons, and Co., was the first to open the trade of exportation, and they have been successfully- followed by several other respectable houses in Dublin. The premises of this most enterprising firm are situated at James's Gate, in the west of the city. The range of buildings covers nearly four acres; the arrangement and machinery are upon the most complete and efficient plan, and every department is so systematic and well-managed, that the work proceeds with the utmost precision and regularity ; no confusion, bustle, nor disorder ensues; the grain is taken up, and weighed in its passage to the lofts, by ingenious mechanical contrivances. There are three mash-tuns capable of mashing 600 barrels at a brewing, with three coppers containing 2,040 barrels. The mashing is performed by rakes worked by steam-engines, of which there are two of fifteen horse-power that work all the machinery on the premises.

Under the bottom of the mash-keives there is a screw fixed in a trough, so contrived as to draw off all the grains into an adjoining yard, where they are disposed of to the public. The labour of one man is sufficient for a keive, through a hole between the real and artificial bottom of which he is employed to discharge the grains, to be carried off by the screw. This aperture is secured and rendered water-tight by means of a cover fastened down to prevent the egress of the liquid. There are three immense fermenting tuns, and forty-four vats calculated to hold from 850 to nearly 3,000 barrels; three of which contain the latter quantity.

In one apartment are an immense number of fixed casks in which the liquor undergoes the process of cleansing, and in another a number of cylindrical vessels, termed rounds ; there are 100 of these, holding six barrels each, so arranged in rows as to admit between them large and deep troughs to hold the discharge of the barm, as it works off from each vessel.

The number of persons employed is very great, among which are no less than eighty coopers. The concern is lighted with gas, and to secure it from fire, there are pipes so contrived that any quantity of water can be instantaneously conveyed to every part of the premises ; these pipes are supplied from a cistern holding 1,100 barrels, and so elevated as to command the entire establishment. The quantity of porter capable of being sent out annually, is, at an average, upwards of 100,000 barrels, that of the other brewers of the city is equally respectable in proportion to the magnitude of their concerns. The reputation of the Dublin double X porter being so high, the demand for it in England is almost incredible; and it is said to be improved by the voyage, the motion of which is thought to operate upon it, in the same manner, as Madeira-wine is acted on by the agitation of the ship. The export houses are Messrs. Arthur Guinness, Sons, and Co., Manders and Powell, Watkins, D'Arcy and Co., O'Connell and Co., L. Finn, Messrs. Sweetman, and the Messrs. Conlan, etc . etc Besides the places already mentioned, there are several breweries in Ireland which manufacture excellent malt-drink; of these, the establishment of Mr. Cassidy at Monasterevan, and that of Darley and Co. at Stillorgan, are eminent, while the neat concern worked by Mr. Colgan at Kilcock, endeavours to rival more extensive houses in the quality of its liquors."
"A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of Ancient and Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Intoxicating Liquors" by Samuel Morewood, 1838, pages 630 - 631.
Three 600 barrel mash tuns. That's more like it. Or does he mean 600 barrels capacity in total? I suspect it's the latter. 1,800 barrels a day is more than 500,000 barrels annually. Guinness weren't that big in the 1830's. Assuming 600 barrels is the capacity of the three tuns combined, I get a more realistic figure of 186,000 barrels. In 1840 Guinness actually brewed 79,803 barrels (Source: "A Bottle of Guinness please" by David Hughes, pages 276-278.)

Nice to see that Guinness, just like James Eadie in Burton, had fitted their mash tun with a labour-saving device for the removal of spent grain.

The description of fermenting vessels and vats is again rather vague. Just three fermenting tuns doesn't sound like anywhere near enough, even if they are huge. Then there are those vats, forty-four in all.  Assuming all but the three large ones have a capacity of 850 barrels, I calculate a total capacity of 43,850 barrels. Or enough to hold more than half of their annual production. That implies that they vatted beer for long periods.

The cleansing system appears to be pontoes: relatively small, round vessels with troughs to take away expelled yeast. Most of the large London Porter brewers cleansed in a similar way.

That's an interesting claim about the motion of the ship helping to mature the beer during the journey. Like madeira. Didn't Pete Brown talk make that connection, too, in reference to IPA? Just one slight problem. The Irish Sea is no Atlantic Ocean. The journey from Dublin to Liverpool, even by sailing ship, isn't going to take weeks. Or even many days. London's a bit further, but still no great journey.

The other Dublin brewers mentioned were driven out of business - or bought up - by Guinness over the next 100 years. By the late 1950's Guinness was the only brewery left in Dublin.

And finish, a few remarks about domestic brewing.

"The practice of domestic brewing is not carried on to any extent in Ireland, the making of malt-drink being almost exclusively confined to the public establishments. The art of extracting a good ale, or beer, from malt is very simple, and it is surprising this has been so long overlooked when the means are sufficiently ample for the purpose. Many have neglected it on account of their ignorance of the process, others from a fear of the revenue laws, and some from not having proper apparatus, and the public drink being so easily procured. From a careful perusal, however, of what has been just written as well as the account given of domestic brewing in England, it will be seen that it might be to the advantage of the landlords and farmers to brew for themselves. This practice could not fail at all times to produce a pleasing, wholesome beverage, alike acceptable to the poor and to the rich."
"A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of Ancient and Modern Nations in the Manufacture and Use of Intoxicating Liquors" by Samuel Morewood, 1838, page 631.
At this time domestic brewing was still common in England. Not just amongst farmers and the better off, but by agricultural labourers, too. It was a deep rooted tradition that never totally died out, even in the 20th century.


Oblivious said...

"The reputation of the Dublin double X porter being so high, the demand for it in England is almost incredible; and it is said to be improved by the voyage"

Dublin lore has it that Guinness did not travel well, but i suspect that it refers to the town porter with its lower hopping rate. Especially in summer month went off much fast that country porter or stout porter

The Beer Nut said...

Definitely think he's over-egging the North there. There were two breweries in Lurgan but I'm fairly sure there was none in Armagh city and I don't think there was one in Dungannon.

And a slight correction on the end: Findlater's Mountjoy Brewery survived until the late 1950's. The gap between its closure and the opening of Dempsey's in Inchicore was only 25-odd years, so Guinness didn't have Dublin to themselves for as long as one might think.

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, thanks for the correction. I knew I should have checked the date properly.