Friday, 30 December 2011

Inside Aitken (part two)

That letter from Alex Young about his days working at the Aitken brewery in Falkirk was so much fun, we'll be taking a look at a second letter.

Here's something about bottling:
"I know very little about the take over of the breweries apart from working with the stock of boxes and bottles that came from them. At one time I was bottling for four breweries Patersons Murrays Fowlers and G, Youngers of Alloa- their Bottling Hall was burnt down

It was all Aitkens beer and stout with their labels on Aitkens wee heavies was brewed at 100 gravity was nearer 90 by the time it was bottled. Fowlers on the other hand was very sweet, but the gravity was brought up by added priming (sugar) They took out a bottling Unit and replaced it with a Kegging unit with the result that Heriot Brewery had to help with the Bottling, The Piper Export sales fell to zero, it finished up with having to send Falkirk Water in tankers through to Edinburgh"
It sounds like this is talking about the early 1960's.  All these breweries (and others) had been merged into Eddie Taylor's Northern Breweries in 1960. Sticking different company's labels on Aitkens beer was the first step in the process of rationalisation that eventually saw every brewery in the group close, with the exception of Tennent's.

This is the first time I've seen the term "Wee Heavy" used by someone within the brewing industry. I'm not sure exactly what is meant by what follows. by "100 gravity" I assume he means an OG of 1100º. But what does he mean by it being closer to 90 when bottled? Does he mean that it had attenuated 90 points?

Fowler's Wee Heavy was sweeter, apparently though the use of primings. It seems Mr. Young wasn't the only one to find Fowler's Strong Ale, real name 12 Guinea Ale, rather sweet:

Year Brewer Beer Style FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation Flavour
1929 Fowler Twelve Guinea Ale Strong Ale 1030 1114 No. 15 Same as our OSA. 11.06 73.68% Objectionably sweet & syrupy.
1929 Fowler Twelve Guinea Ale Strong Ale 1030 1115 No. 15 11.19 73.91% Very sweet - no bitterness.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11

The part about shipping Falkirk water to Edinburgh I don't understand at all. Though shipping water by road is a recurring theme at Aitken.

1 comment:

Marty said...

I think he's saying it was 90 or 1.090 when bottled, but with the priming sugar it was 1.1

it would never ferment all that, leading to the syrupy sweetness that was observed at the time