There's supposed to have been a brewery on the site of Heriot Bridge, Grassmarket from the early 16th century. After a couple of changes of ownership in the early part of the 19th century, it was bought by the brothers John and David Jeffrey in 1837. In 1865 land was purchased at Roseburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh and maltings, an ale store and a bottling plant built. In 1880 a brewhouse was also built at Roseburn an in 1900 the Grassmarket brewery was closed and the land sold to Heriot–Watt College. It remained independent, gobbling up Edinburgh United Breweries along the way, until 1960, when it merged with Hammonds of Bradford and Hope and Anchor of Sheffield to form Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd. Renamed United Breweries Ltd, the merged company was itself absorbed into Charrington United Breweries Ltd in 1962.
Aitchison Jeffrey was formed in 1961 as a subsidiary of United Breweries combining John Aitchison & Co. and John Jeffrey & Co. Brewing at Aitchison stopped immediately and was concentrated at Jeffrey's Roseburn site. Brewing continued there, latterly under the ownership of Bass Charrington, until the 1990's.
"The Brewing Industry. A Guide to Historical Records" by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton (eds), Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1990.
"A history of beer and brewing" by Ian Spencer Hornsey, 2003, page 387.
That bit of company history out of the way, we can get on with the meat. Details of Jeffrey's beers.
Now here's a funny thing. Despite being early champions of Lager brewing in Scotland and being pretty damn famous for brewing the stuff, I've only two analyses. Both from the 1930's, one for Pilsener one for plain old Lager. Both look pretty strong compared to modern British Lagers. The Pilsener has an interesting profile. With 85% attenuation, it must have been pretty dry. The Lager has quite a different character: lower gravity and a lower degree of attenuation. A good bit weaker than the Pilsener, but, at 4.32% ABV, still no watery session beer.
Pale Ales are the most represented style in the table. Usually weaker types. The 54/- PA from 1906, at just over 1040º, is pretty weak for the period. A London PA was usually at least 1050º. I'm a bit surprised at how weak Jefffrey's Pale Ales were in the 1920's and 1930's. Most are not much, if anything, over 1030º. London versions were 1045 to 1055º at the time.
Just to be perverse, the two IPAs are stronger than the vast majority of the Pale Ales. Though I'm not sure how significant that is. During the interwar years, Scottish IPA was pretty schizophrenic.There was McEwan's Export IPA at 1055º, Barnard's 90/- IPA at 1040º, and Usher's IPA at just 1032º. Jeffrey's looks like the 90/- type.
The No.1 Strong Ale, which was presumably intended to compete with William Younger's No. 1, wasn't really all that strong. Younger's beer was in the low 1080º's, a good 20 points higher than Jeffrey's. Weirdly - and this must have been true of very, very few British beers - the gravity was higher after WW II. And was only 7 or 8 points weaker than Younger's No. 1.
The Stouts are rather odd. I don't mean the Nourishing Stout. That's about what you'd expect: low gravity, low attenuation, bugger all alcohol. The two from 1947 are completely different. And unusual for postwar Scottish Stouts. For a start there's the high gravity: 1076.5º and 1064.5º. For contextual purposes, in the same year Guinness Extra Stout was 1042º. The attenuation, especially of the Double Stout, is higher than you would expect, too. 95%. That must have been bone dry. And significantly dryer than the Guinness with just 75% attenuation.
But the most interesting thing about the 1947 Stouts is the comment on the flavour: "very sour". Was that intentional? Is that why the Double Stout was so highly attenuated - there was something brettanomyces-like at work?
Green Beer. The name says it all, because, judging by the colour noted in the William Younger Gravity Book, it really was green. I know they put food colouring in beer for St. Patrick's day to make a green beer. I hadn't realised anyone really marketed one outside a one-day gimmick.
I've saved the best until last. It was in my mega-gravity table as ??sher's Extra Strong Ale. I hadn't been able to decipher the entry in the Whitbread Gravity Book first time through. But I've learned more about Scottish beer in the meantime. I know who brewed an extra strong Ale and whose name ended in ..sher: Disher.
John Disher & Co. was an Edinburgh brewery famed for its ridiculously strong Ale. A monster of well over 100º that was served on draught. Disher became part of Edinburgh United Breweries in 1889. That's the Edinburgh United Breweries that Jeffrey bought in 1934. After they had a little difficulty with Customs and Excise. Something to do with not paying all the tax they should have.
Blethering done, time for the table:
|Jeffrey & Co beers 1906 - 1961|
|1906||54/- PA||Pale Ale||pint||draught||1041.4||6|
|1926||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1006||1032||35||3.38||81.25%|
|1927||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1005||1037.75||4.30||87.42%|
|1928||No. 1 Strong||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1014||1063||6.39||77.78%|
|1928||Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1025||1083||100||7.55||69.88%|
|1929||Pale Ale (carbonated)||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1008||1034||Between 7 - 8.||3.44||77.94%|
|1929||No. 1 Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1015||1059||100||5.72||74.58%|
|1929||No. 1 Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1015||1062||110||6.12||75.81%|
|1930||Green Castle||Strong Ale||10.5||half||bottled||0.06||1006||1050.4||5.82||88.29%|
|1930||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1005||1038||4.30||86.84%|
|1930||Green Beer||Green Beer||8d||half||bottled||1007||1046||green||5.09||84.78%|
|1931||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1011||1035.5||3.24||70.42%|
|1931||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||4d||half||bottled||1009||1029||25||2.59||68.97%|
|1934||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||draught||1008||1039||4.03||79.49%|
|1934||120/- Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1017||1054||4.86||69.44%|
|1934||No. 1 Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1017||1059.5||5.59||72.27%|
|1936||Lager||Lager||7d to 7.5d||pint||bottled||0.06||1013||1046.4||4.32||71.77%|
|1936||India Pale Ale||IPA||6d||pint||canned||0.06||1012||1039.5||3.55||69.37%|
|1937||60/- or 50/- Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1004||1029.75||14 – 15||3.32||85.71%|
|1938||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||6d||pint||bottled||0.05||1011||1032.6||37||2.79||66.26%|
|1939||60/- Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1008||1036.25||13 – 14||3.67||77.93%|
|1939||60/- Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1009||1037.5||3.70||76.00%|
|1941||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1015||1038.5||3.03||61.04%|
|1947||Double Stout||Stout||pint||bottled||1005||1076.5||9.53||94.12%||Very sour.|
|1947||XXX Stout||Stout||pint||bottled||1015||1064.5||6.52||77.52%||Very sour.|
|1948||Strong Ale No. 1||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1025||1067||5.43||62.69%|
|1948||Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1020||1065||5.91||70.00%|
|1949||PA 60/-||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1007||1029.5||2.98||77.97%|
|1953||Strong Ale||Strong Ale||1/2.5d||nip||bottled||0.06||1020||1064.3||11 + 40||5.79||69.36%|
|1954||Nourishing Stout||Stout||1/2d||half||bottled||0.05||1019||1036.1||1 + 14||2.16||46.54%|
|1957||Dishers Extra Strong Ale||Strong Ale||2/8d||half||bottled||0.07||1017||1088.6||27||9.40||80.70%|
|Document WY/6/1/1/14 of the William Younger archive held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.|
|Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002|