Wednesday, 27 July 2011

James Eadie, Cross Street Brewery (part two)

We're back in 1890's Burton. One of my favourite places. Looking inside one of the town's less well-known breweries.

We'll begin with boiling.

Before proceeding to the boiling department, we paid a visit to the hop room, adjoining the brewer's office. It is situated over the engineers' shop and general store house, is 50 feet long, and will hold 500 pockets of hops. As this place is not large enough to warehouse all his purchases, Mr. Eadie allows the bulk of his stock to remain in the London warehouses. Retracing our steps to the mashing stage, our guide pointed out to us, in the centre of the floor, the pull-up holes, by which means the malt trucks, on the railway beneath, are emptied under shelter in wet weather, instead of by the hoist cages outside.

"Passing through a wide doorway, we descended a few steps to the copper-stage, another room as large as the mashing stage, noting as we progressed, that the water tanks occupy the remainder of the mashing floor, and are separated from the mill room by 14-inch walls, carried on iron girders. The copper house is also a fire-proof building, open to the roof, and contains two eighty-barrel coppers, of the newest form manufactured by Morton. It is worthy of notice, that in front of these splendid vessels, there is a pathway 10 feet wide, for the use of the coppermen, when engaged superintending the boiling worts, to prevent them being scalded when in attending to their duties. On this wide passage are placed the bags of hops for each day's supply to the coppers, and here we may remark that, having witnessed every process throughout. we can safely state that the ale, in this establishment, is brewed from malt and hops alone.

Bearing round in a westerly direction, and ascending some steps, we reached the hop-back room, abutting on to the copper hearth, which contains a hop-back with a capacity of 120 barrels, and is fitted with gun-metal draining plates. At one end are the hop presses, adjacent to a platform on which the pressed hops are wheeled away from the presses into the farmers' carts. From the hop-back, the wort is pumped up to the top of the brewery, whither we followed it; and this is the first, as well as the last time, that a pump is required in connection with the ale ; as, with this exception, the work in this brewery is done entirely by gravitation."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 229 - 230.

That's unusual. The hops weren't stored at the brewery, but in a warehouse in London. Doesn't sound very practical. 500 pockets of hops is, hang on, let me work that out. A pocket is 1.5 cwt., or 168 lbs. 500 pockets then is 84,000 lbs. Truman's Pale Ale of around this time contained 4.75 lbs of hops per barrel. For simplicity's sake, let's say 5 lbs per barrel. So sufficient hops for 16,800 barrels.

Beers "brewed from malt and hops alone". Unlike brewers in most of England, those in Burton often stuck to just malt and hops, with perhaps the odd dash of sugar. I've never heard of them using maize or rice like some London brewers. The only other place where the use of adjuncts and sugar was virtually unknown was Ireland. Here's something to ponder: none of the three biggest breweries in the UK at this date - Bass, Guinness and Allsopp - seem to have used sugar. I wonder if there's any significance in that?

All that fireproofing wasn't a bad idea. Breweries quite often went up in flames. Barclay Perkins, for example.

Let's move on to cooling.

"On our way to the cooling department, we passed through a brick-built room, the remaining relics of the old brewhouse building, containing an ancient copper, and an old-fashioned mash tun. Here was laid the foundation of Mr. Eadies fortune : and our guide mentioned, with pride, that by working these vessels day and night, he had turned out 800 barrels per week, in a little building.

We were glad to rest in the cooling room, which is situated at the top of the brewery, after climbing such a number of staircases. This admirable chamber is 60 feet square, with an open roof, lined with stained wood; the principals, which are constructed of wrought-iron, being painted a light blue. Two sides of the room are lined with white glazed bricks, the others louvred from top to bottom, consequently this is a breezy place in a north-east wind. The open cooler does not rest on the level asphalted floor, but on massive iron girders, elevated 2 feet above it, thus allowing room for a man to get underneath, for the purpose of frequently washing the place down, which is highly necessary to keep it sweet and clean. This splendid cooler is the only one we have seen of its kind in Burton. On the same floor, but placed at a lower level, are two of Morton's refrigerators, cooling sixty barrels per hour.

A few steps, down on the half-landing, there is a large tank for receiving the waste water from the refrigerators, which is there heated by steam coils, and afterwards runs by gravitation through a main pipe alongside the railway to the cask-washing department, situated in the maltings enclosure, where it is utilized. Opposite this vessel, on the same landing, is Mr. Melbourne's private room, neatly fitted up and furnished, and used for receiving travellers, customers, and visitors ; and it is an open secret, that a "wee drappie" of Mr. Eadie's own blend of Scotch whisky is here dispensed to a favoured few. Mr. Eadie is the fortunate possessor of a recipe, bequeathed to him by his father, for a particular blend of whisky, and it was to taste this ancient Scotch mixture, that we rested awhile, before proceeding to the next and following departments.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 230 - 231.

Sounds like Fullers, keeping some of the old equipment in the brewery.

Morton's refrigerators. We've discussed those before. One of those pipe and cold water contraptions for cooling wort. There were variations on this theme, but the principal remained the same: cold water cooling pipeds through which the wort ran. Even after refrigerators had been installed, breweries often retained their old-fashioned cool ship, as was the case here. Presumably because coolers performed a dual purpose. They didn't just cool the wort, but also retained the sludge that settled out of it.

Barnard liked his whisky. "Noted Breweries" wasn't his first book. He'd already toured and described distilleries for an earlier work. I wouldn't have turned down a dram from Mr. Eadie's personal stash, either. All that walking up and down stairs is knackering.

That's enough for now. I'll save the treat of the fermentation department for the next installment.

3 comments:

Barm said...

Off-site storage of hops was also practised by the Bass group in the 1960s who were presumably doing some sort of centralised purchasing. There are letters in the Scottish Brewing Archive saying things along the lines of "Dear Burton, Please forward approx 90 pockets of WGV to the Heriot Brewery, yours etc".

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, that's interesting. I can understand that Bass might have centralised on Burton. It is, after all, pretty central and was one of their biggest sites.

Oblivious said...

Was there not a massive amounts of hops destroyed in the bombing of the warehouse in the end of London during the Blitz?

A good proportion mush have been storage rather than just waiting to be sold?