Friday, 30 September 2011

Brewing in Scotland in the 1840's

Just a short quote today. It's taken from a book published in the 1840's. One of those things called a dictionary but which are really more like an encyclopedia.

The Ale and Beer entry has some nice statistics which sucked me in. The mention of Scottish beer came as a bonus:

"The brewing of ale has long constituted a principal, or rather, perhaps, we might say the principal, manufacturing employment carried on in Edinburgh, The best Edinburgh ale is of a pale colour, mild, glutinous, and adhesive. It is much stronger and more intoxicating than porter, from 4 to 5 bushels of malt being generally used in brewing a barrel of ale, with about 1 lb. of hops to a bushel of malt. At present (1843) the produce of the ale breweries of Edinburgh may be estimated at about 195,000 barrels a year. Very good ale is also made at Preston Pans, Alloa, and other Scotch towns. Considerable quantities of Edinburgh ale are sent to London; though this trade has latterly been decreasing. Very good ale may be produced by brewers on a small scale, but it is doubtful whether this be the case with porter; at all events the best porter is all produced in very large establishments.

Formerly it was not supposed that really good porter could be made any where except in London. Of late years, however, Dublin porter has attained to high and hot unmerited reputation; though we certainly are not of the number of those who ronsider it equal to the best London porter.

Large quantities of a light, pale, and highly-hopped variety of ale have been for some considerable time past exported to the East Indies, where it is in high estimation; and is now, also, rather extensively used in summer in this country."
"A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical, of Commerce and Commercial Navigation" by John Ramsay McCulloch, 1844, page 9.

I'm particularly pleased to see a har figure put on the output of Edinburgh breweries. 195,000 barrels isn't a great deal, really. Not considering the fame of Edinburgh beer. Though it is a considerable percentage of the beer brewed in Scotland, which was around 500,000 barrrels a year in the 1840's.

Small beer indeed, compared to the big boys in London. The two largest each produced about the same as the whole of Scotland. Brewing was still on a relatively modest scale in Scotland in the first half of the 19th century. It was only in the latter decades that the big Edinburgh and Alloa brewers were able to rival the large London producers.

Here are the alrgest London brewers of the same period:

Barrels of beer brewed used by the largest London brewers
Brewer 1831 1838 1839 1840 1841 1842 1851
Barclay & Co. 388,792 429,820 449,104 462,244 425,380 456,360 462,168
Truman & Co. 202,896 360,560 364,276 392,840 352,528 369,876 420,088
Whitbread & Co. 198,852 181,840 207,916 214,488 207,368 208,392 207,200
Reid & Co. 173,520 179,712 176,040 192,520 191,920 200,480 226,560
Combe & Co. 138,736 173,776 162,848 153,472 145,840 185,936 173,128
Calvert & Co. 122,100 126,116 124,112 123,488 122,460 122,640 114,552
Meux & Co. 97,356 140,260 153,860 163,148 158,332 161,360 238,468
Hoare & Co. 96,408 125,112 124,032 121,240 117,800 118,428 140,000
Elliott & Co. 77,776 88,000 91,960 101,020 101,100 108,200 118,232
Taylor & Co. 87,380 109,280 103,820 109,200 149,200 78,120 63,480
Goding & Co. 65,228 58,524 52,256
Charrington & Co. 42,120 81,160 74,752 73,312 73,312 81,692 84,064
Courage & Co. 32,464 42,892 41,824 46,128 46,128 52,064 57,876
Thorne & Co. 5,780 83,384 88,088
Mann & Co. 5,208 46,616 96,120
Total 1,734,616 2,038,528 2,074,544 2,153,100 2,279,892 2,143,548 2,542,280
1831, 1841 and 1851:The food of London by George Dodd, 1856, page 463.
1838, 1839, 1840 and 1842: "A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical, of Commerce and Commercial Navigation" by John Ramsay McCulloch, 1844, page 12.
Noumber of barrels brewed estimated from malt usage - I've assumed 4 barrels from a quarter of malt.

The description of Edinburgh Ale isn't bad: "pale colour, mild, glutinous, and adhesive." Pretty gloopy stuff then. Not surprising when you see the final gravity of these beers.

Prestonpans is another of those obscure brewing towns. Its fame seems to have relies pretty much on a single brewer: Fowler. In a way, the memory of Prestonpans does remain. Fowler was, of course, the brewer of as certain beer called "Fowler's Wee Heavy". The beer that gave us that rather irritating beer style. Prestonpans beer, from the analyses I've seen, was even more syrupy than Edinburgh Ale.

I though I may as well continue the quote past the Scottish stuff because of the bit about IPA. And how it was drunk in Britian during the summer. Not particularly surprising, but I've not seen it mentioned before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A local news paper recently printed a review of a wee heavy. Not sure if their Scottish history matches your research.

"Heavys are a Scottish style of beer.
With a short growing season for hops in colder climes, Scotch brewers turned to grains such as barley to make their ales and - coupled with greater use of malt - came up with a beer style reminiscent of whisky."