Sunday, 31 July 2011

The taproom and the lounge

Time for the remaining two classes of pub room: taproom and lounge.

"The taproom is the same price as the vault. The same simplicity—it is often like the kitchen of any small farmhouse in the villages outside Worktown. But unlike the vault it is entirely a sitting-room, wooden benches round the wall and wooden stools; unpolished wood tables, spittoons, dominoes. This is more of a club room than the vault. The same people, same clothes, same percentage caps and scarves, but few casuals dropping in. Casuals are somewhat resented if they do drop into the taproom. It would be bad form for a stranger to go in there for a drink. And he would probably notice that the regulars in there were not very pleased to see him."
"The Pub and the People" by Mass Observation, 1943 (reprinted 1987), pages 105 - 106.
This fascinates me. The idea of  a second public bar type of room. Pretty much exactly like the vault, except with seats. And reserved for locals. The public bars my youthful boozing days in Leeds were more like the taprooms described here. Though there was no restriction on who went in. Quiet hostility to strangers isn't uncommon in pubs. Who hasn't walked through the door of a pub only for all conversations to stop and for everyone to turn and stare? It's happened to me on numerous occasions.
"In the lounge there are padded seats and chairs; a piano with a stool for the pianist; no standing. Aspidistras or other plants in 75 per cent; pictures on the wall, or modern wall decor; never stone floored, but lino, rubbercloth, etc. Generally a hearthrug. No games. Seldom a bookmaker's runner. Often adverts for non-alcoholic drinks. And always someone to bring you your drinks on a tray. You cannot see the bar from the lounge. In brief, the lounge is a large comfortable room with decorations such as may be found in any Worktown home, but on a large scale, on a middle-class level of comfort, with servant and service, everyone in smart clothes. You do not come to the lounge alone. If you do you are conspicuous. You come to the lounge with your social group, ready made, and sit at a table, having no especial intercourse with people at other tables. There is no sex division within the lounge. Each table tends to be a hetero-sexual group—though often these groups are exclusively of men or of women. Sixteen per cent of all pub-goers are women. About a third of all pub clients are in the lounges in pubs outside the town centre. The rest in the tap and vault. Average close on 45 per cent of the people in the lounge are women; in pubs where there are several lounges one may have 90 or more per cent women, it will have become a snug or bar parlour type, reserved for regular women in the same implicit way as the taproom is reserved for certain male regulars.

The saying "A woman's place is in the home" is still current in Worktown where 44 per cent of the adult women earn their own or their families' livings directly (over half these work in cotton mills). And the woman's place in the pub is that part of it which is a home from home, a better home from ordinary worker's home, where  — the only time in worker life in Worktown — you don't have to do any more than order someone else to serve your physiological need or wish. And, as usual, the woman's part is the one of cleanness, ashtrays, no random saliva, few or no spittoons. The vault is the place where men are men. In the lounge they are women's men, with collar studs. For that, as usual, they must pay another penny."
"The Pub and the People" by Mass Observation, 1943 (reprinted 1987), pages 106 - 107.

Carpet. That was on the floor of the lounges I remember. Lino was just too Spartan by the 1970's.

Waiter service was the biggest difference between the lounge and the rest of the pub. Waiters, as far as I can tell, disappeared in the 1960's. A few pubs have retained them, but very few. I've only ever been in two myself. (One was in Grimsby, the other Wigan, which isn't far from Bolton.) It was an odd experience. I didn't really understand how it worked, ordering from the waiter and having my beer brought to my seat. If it had been more common, I might have been more comfortable with it.

I've read this sentence a dozen times and still don't understand what it means: "Each table tends to be a hetero-sexual group—though often these groups are exclusively of men or of women." The groups are mixed but exclusively either of men or women? That makes no sense.

"women's men, with collar studs": what does that mean? Silver-tongued seducers, I think. As we'll learn later, there was plenty of shagging going on in 1930's Bolton.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Horst Dornbusch on Pilsner Urquell

A Zymurgy article by Horst Dornbusch describing the origins of Pilsner Urquell.

"Modern, in Groll's days, meant that the malt had to be finished the new-fangled English way, by drying it in an indirect-fired kiln, instead of a traditional, direct-fired, smoky one. This revolutionary method had been patented by Daniel Wheeler in 1817 as "an Improved Method of Drying and Preparing Malt." This was the first industrial kiln that allowed brewers to make clean-tasting malt predictably of any color, including pale."

"Finally, he [Groll] fermented the wort, not as an ale, but with bottom-fermenting yeast that had apparently been smuggled into Bohemia by an itinerant Bavarian monk. This subterfuge was necessary because the Bavarian government had slapped a ban on all yeast shipments beyond its borders in an effort to safeguard Bavaria's growing beer exports."

How many mistakes can you spot in those two paragraphs?

Thanks to Thomas Barnes for passing this on.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The destroying demon

NPOV. Or Neutral Point of View. Wikipedia nerds (trolls, vampires, whatever you choose to call them) are always harping on about NPOV. They should try looking at older encyclopedias. There are plenty of non-neutral standpoints.

The text below is a good example. A phrase like "disengage himself from the destroying demon of liquid fire" isn't particularly neutral. Sounds good, though. I'll try and drop it into a conversation. "I've been trying to disengage myself from the destroying demon of liquid fire. Not going too well, knocked back a bottle of Lagavullin over the weekend."

But I'm wandering from the path of relevance and collapsing into the bushes of incoherence. Must control my legs better.

The book is intended to tell a small farmer everything he needs to know about raising livestock, cultivating the land, that sort of stuff. Brewing, especially in an English context fits right in. Not quite as appropriate in Ireland because, as has already been stated, domestic brewing was never very big in Ireland. I'll leave the author to explain why.

"BREWING—The only feasible mode of counteracting the unhappily prevailing taste of our lower orders for ardent spirits, which engender more disease and pauperism and crime than all the direct inflictions of the Almighty put together, is by establishing the habit of domestic brewing; or to encourage public breweries to supply ale and beer of such quality as will gradually induce the consumer of spirits to disengage himself from the destroying demon of liquid fire, and attach himself in preference to the substantial compound of malt and hops—(how rarely combined at present in their due proportions, if at all!)—which, if used in moderation, is strengthening and refreshing. What is called beer, at the country breweries, is usually concocted from various villanous drugs, which the abused art of chemistry has rendered imposing substitutes for the true ingredients of that liquor. The legislature seem lamentably inattentive to the immense extent of moral mischief occasioned by the almost unrestricted use of ardent spirits, (these too are deleteriously drugged by unprincipled retailers,) else, at any temporary loss of revenue arising from a deficiency in the consumption of whiskey, gin, etc. they would charge almost a prohibitory tax upon these agents of the "foul fiend," which make the previously disposed sinner "two-fold more the child of hell" than he was before he submitted his reason to their influence, and encourage the manufacture of genuine malt liquors.

The expense of punishing and restraining those open crimes against the good of the state, and of relieving the misfortunes and indigence, which habitual indulgence in the use of intoxicating liquors occasions, is really more in amount than the income derived from the legalised permission to indulge in the free use of them.

While public spirit-houses are licensed for the merest trifle, and in almost unlimited numbers, by the voices of a too pliant magistracy, it is in vain to preach against intemperance, or to advocate effectually the case of Beer versus Whiskey and Co.; we must only hope for a better system of things, and in the mean time, proceed to give the best directions within our power for making real malt liquor—not that spurious mixture which brewers, (though sometimes without reason, inasmuch as neither malt nor hops are in its composition,) are politely disposed to term ale and beer.

Historians relate that the favourite beverage of the ancient Irish and Britons, from the most remote antiquity, was ale, (curmi,) made from barley and heather and other bitter herbs, until hops, which were introduced into England from the Netherlands in the reign of Henry the Eighth, became the substitute for these. Heather beer was a common drink in the British islands for a long time; and we believe that at this day heather and wormwood, when bitter drugs from the chemist or apothecary are not available, are more used in Ireland than hops. Nor was this kind of beer in the earlier ages confined to Great Britain and her western dependencies; the northern Europeans generally Indulged in heather beer; the Danes were well acquainted with the mode of manufacturing it, and it is said, in corroboration of this, that a mill and some brewing vessels, with a Danish manuscript on the art of brewing heather beer, were dug up some years ago in the county of Limerick.

There are, however, it must be fairly admitted, some admirable breweries in Ireland, on a scale of enterprise and with details of manufacture highly creditable to the proprietors; but these are generally limited to great cities, or districts not remote from them; the petty provincial brewers, with few exceptions, make very bad beer; and domestic brewing, though the excise laws have been at length rendered favourable to the practice, has not been renewed.

The facility of obtaining beer—though execrable in quality—from the public brewery, ignorance of the process of brewing, so long abandoned in Ireland, and a notion that it is very troublesome, prevent the farmer from making beer. He can have a gallon of whiskey without any trouble at all, and this too often becomes the companion of his solitary and leisure, as well of his festive hours."
"A cyclopædia of practical husbandry and rural affairs in general", by Martin Doyle, 1839, pages 64 - 66.
In England gin would have been given as the scourge of the drinking classes. Sorry, labouring classes. In Ireland it was whiskey. That sort of makes Ireland sound classier. His main point - that cheap spirits had discouraged brewing - is borne out by other sources. Though by the name this book was published, that was becoming less true. The brewing industry - especially in the large urban centres of Dublin and Cork - underwent a reveal in the early decades of the 19th century and Ireland's tradition of exporting beer began.

He isn't very kind about country beer. His claim that bitter herbs or drugs were more commonly used than hops is a bold one. And one it's difficult to check. I do have evidence that considerable quantities of hops were imported from England in the 18th century. So clearly someone was brewing with hops in Ireland.

I've mainly reproduced this text because of the reference to heather beer. I know heather had been used to flavour beer in parts iof the British Isles, but I'm surprised the practice still continued in the 19th century. If only because it was illegal for a commercial brewer. And, as has already been said, domestic brewing didn't really exist in Ireland.

Does that Danish manuscript describing how to brew heather beer still exist? What a fascinating document that must be.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Devenish OHB

I still haven't quite finished going through the Whitbread Gravity Book. There's so much of it. Literally hundreds of pages. Yesterday, I reluctantly pulled on my swimming trunks and dived in. Like one of those lunatics breaking the ice on New Years Day.

I'm on 1920's beers, mostly bottled, from what they call "Sundry Brewers". Basically the ones not important enough to get a whole page to themselves.There's often a regional theme going on. One page will have several brewers from Brighton, then some from the Isle of Wight. (It's amazing how many breweries there were in Brighton. My favourite is Kidd and Hotblack)

There are problems other than just struggling to read the handwriting. My table includes a column for style. Flagon Ale, Shire Ale, Imperial Ale, Pioneer - four new beer style? I can only guess.

This one in particular has me stumped: Devenish OHB. Notable for having the lowest FG, 1000.9º. A puny OG. Must have been yummy. Anyone know what type of beer it was?

Here are some of the highlights so far. My favourite name is Smithers and Son, of Brighton. The Rock Brewery from the same town being a close second.

Date Year Brewer Beer Style Price size package FG OG ABV attenuation
09 1928 Devenish OHB Pale Ale ?? 6.5d pint bottled 1000.9 1032 4.06 97.19%
10 1926 Kidd & Hotblack L.A. Mild 3d pint draught 1004.1 1024.8 2.69 83.47%
11 1926 Disher Ten Guinea Draught Ale Strong Ale 20d pint draught 1034.5 1115.4 10.61 70.10%
10 1926 Smithers & Son L.A. Mild 4d pint draught 1009.6 1032.6 2.98 70.55%
02 1931 Shipstone Mild Mild 6d pint draught 1013 1048 4.54 72.92%
02 1931 Shipstone Bitter Pale Ale 8d pint draught 1011.9 1052.5 5.28 77.33%
02 1931 Shipstone Best (Dark) Strong Ale 8d pint draught 1016.8 1058.1 5.36 71.08%
12 1926 Rock Brewery Rock Pale Ale Pale Ale 12d reputed quart bottled 1002.8 1036.2 4.36 92.27%
12 1926 Rock Brewery Double Stout Stout 6d pint bottled
1006.4 1036.7
02 1928 Tetley Imperial Ale Strong Ale 7d pony bottled 1034.8 1089.6 7.10 61.16%
03 1928 John Smith No.5 Mild Ale Mild 8d pint bottled 1009.8 1038.8 3.76 74.74%
05 1928 McEwan Scotch Ale Scotch Ale
pint bottled 1017.2 1069.6 6.83 75.29%
05 1928 McEwan Strong Ale Strong Ale
pint bottled 1026.4 1087.4 7.95 69.79%
04 1927 Cornbrook Flagon Ale Mild
pint bottled


See that Ten Guinea Draught Ale? Over 10% ABV. Why doesn't my local sell that?

Amiable and useful

I'm going to pin this up in our kitchen. Dolores will really appreciate it.

"The putting of the beer into barrel is not more than an hour's work for a servant woman, or a tradesman's or farmer's wife. There is no heavy work — no work too heavy for a woman in any part of the business, otherwise I would not recommend it to be performed by the women, who, though so amiable in themselves, are never quite so amiable as when they are useful; and as to beauty, though men may fall in love with girls at play, there is nothing to make them stand to their love like seeing them at work. In conclusion of these remarks on beer brewing, I once more express my most anxious desire to see abolished for ever the accursed tax on malt, which, I verily believe, has done more harm to the people of England than was ever done to any people by plague, pestilence, famine, and civil war."
"Cottage Economy" by William Cobbett, 1824, page 33.

The vault

A handscanner is a very handy device. It's what I've been using on the "Pub and the People". I scan in the pages then OCR them. Not too bad, effort-wise.

Lexie needs cash and was asking for jobs he could do. "You could scan this pub book for me." "How much will I get?" Kids. Such mercenary bastards. "Three cents a page, Lexie. That'll be three whole euros if you finish it off."

He didn't, of course. I'm too fussy (I insist the scans are legible) and Lexie's too impatient. I finished it myself. Made for an thrilling Saturday morning. Adrenalin junkie, that's me.

All of which is irrelevant to the rest of this post. Which is about the different rooms in a 1930's pub. I have to smile at the attempt to rationalise and categorise something as amorphous and anarchic as pubs. But that's what middle-class academics love to do. It;'s a harmless enough activity.

We'll begin with my old stomping ground, the vault:

"The real difference between these rooms is in the relationship between the people in them, and the relationship of all the people to the permanent personnel of the pub. Broadly, this is the subject of most of the rest of this book, but it will be useful here to specify some points in the general pattern. The fact that the vault is the place where you often stand is first important. You do not come to the vault to relax physically. And many of the people in any vault are working nine hours a day on their feet. (The great majority of workers, both sexes, in Worktown have jobs which involve standing or walking about, mainly in artificially hot or damp atmospheres, tropical all the year round, so noisy that a lip-reading system has developed as language.)

Only men are allowed in the vault. There is a sawdust strip along the bottom of the bar, or the derived spittoons with sawdust or (further derivation) without. The seventeenth century usage of vault-lavatory has already been mentioned. There is something of the gent's lavatory and structure in a vault, which is almost always long and thin, and stone floored (in the older pubs). The vault is nothing like home. It is an exclusively male gathering. And the males who come to it come singly. They know that they will meet company there. To the vault you go singly, to the lounge in groups.

There are seldom pictures or decorations of any sort in the vault. There are very seldom aspidistras. There is generally some sort of game, often several. There is usually a bookmaker's runner who comes in at certain times. And the landlord spends most of his time there. There is of course constant contact between the people in the vault and the person or persons behind the bar, who may be a woman, and may then become focus of a whole pattern of banter and flirt. You may spit on the floor or burn the bar with a cigarette, and the barmaid won't reprove you. Indeed, as one pub-goer remarked, "You can do almost anything you bloody well like in the vault, short of shitting on the place."

The vault is thus the place where the male comes to relax mentally, though not so much physically. To meet other men, many of whom he only knows here, who may never have seen each other's wives except on the last half hour on Saturday when the man may accompany his wife in the lounge."
"The Pub and the People" by Mass Observation, 1943 (reprinted 1987), page 105.

I keep banging on about how I recognise so much in these pubs of the 1930's from my own experiences in the 1970's. But almost none of the description applies to the pubs I knew. First off, most people sat. None of this standing lark, except for the odd person at the bar. There were neither spittons, nor sawdust, nor were the customers exclusively male. There were decorations, too. Like the Brassmoulders collection of Rugby League photos. Arial shots of a packed SCG, where Great Britain were playing Australia. Bookies runners were long gone, though, like at the Whip, a bookmakers was often only a few steps away.

I wouldn't have spat on the floor or burned the bar in any pub I knew. Not if I wanted to drink there again. Shitting on the floor was definitely out. They'd obviously got more houseproud over the decades.

Long and thin - yeah, that was true of many. Stone floors? Mostly tiled in Leeds, as I remember. Quite often lovely decorative tiles. Or is that my memory playing tricks?

Almost 800 words already. Far too many for a blog post, according to the blognoscenti. I'd best stop now. Taproom and lounge will follow soon.

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.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

GBBF 2011

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

In case you haven't heard me bang on about it yet, I'll be at the GBBF this year. After an absence of about 5 years.

I just had to go this year. My last chance to breathe in the unique atmosphere of Earl's Court. No, that's not it. I need to sell more books and I've the chance to tag along on Tim Webb's book stall.

I'll be there on Thursday and Friday, hoping to jam in the odd pint between the book sales. Most of my books will be available. Including a special paperback edition of "Porter!" that will only be available at the festival. There are only 10 copies, so I'd come early if you want one.

'Course, you're welcome to give me beer as well as buying my books. Strong and dark is how I like it.

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.

Monday, 25 July 2011


I thought I knew a thing or two about 19th century beer types. Then I come across one I've not heard of before. Amber.

This passage explains something about what Amber was like. What it doesn't say is who brewed it.

[Mr. J. J. Homer giving evidence, wine and spirit merchant, publican and committee member of the Licensed Victuallers' protection Society of London and of the Incorporated Society of Licensed Victuallers.

"4014. Are there not people in the trade supplied by brewers who cannot get a living without diluting or adulterating the beer, at the price at which they advertise to sell it ?—My impression is, that there are houses which do not dilute the beer at all; they sell it genuine as they receive it from the brewery, and there are others who have an inferior article, which they draw with the beer, and thus escape the penalties to which they otherwise would be exposed for diluting their beer.

4015. Are they exposed to any penalty for diluting the beer, distinguishing diluting from adulterating ?—I think they are.

4016. A publican has stated before this Committee, that they cannot sell beer at at 3d. a pot at the price which they pay to the brewer?—He is not a good tradesman, or he would not say so.

4017. How does the fact stand ?—If the people will have beer at 3d. a pot now, it must be manifest that it cannot be a good article ; if the publican pays 3d., he never can sell that beer at the same price, and live ; they have, therefore, an inferior article, which is bought very much lower, and which they draw with the porter.

4018. Is that inferior article some of the New River water?— It is an article called amber, bought at a low price, and mixed with the porter.

4019. Do you deny the practice of diluting the beer in order to be able to sell it cheap?—I do ; by far the greater portion of the houses sell the beer as they receive it from the large brewers, without adulteration at all. If a man sells beer at 3.5 d. or 4 d. a pot he sells it, I believe, as genuine as he receives it. In some places they are now selling beer at 3d. a pot. I do not think they draw the beer as they receive it from Hanbury's or any other of the large houses, but they have from the small brewers an inferior article, which they draw with that beer. Instead of paying 36 s. a barrel for it they would not pay more than 20 s., and that is how they realize a profit: but it is a very inferior article.

4020. As far as you know the trade, the publicans are under no such terms with the brewer who supplies them, as necessitates their resorting to this practice of either adulterating with water or inferior beer ?—No.

4021. Mr. Gregson.] Some persons sell Hanbury's entire, you think?—No doubt, when they sell the beer full priced.

4022. Are there many parties who do that ?—I think since the last rise of price some parties who used to sell threepenny beer before, have gone up a halfpenny, and, therefore, they give the public a good article.

4023. Selling the pure beer ?—Yes.

4024. Lord D. Stuart.] Is that inferior article, which is called "Amber," sold as amber ?—I never had it, I do not know what it is ; I never tasted it; it is a very dark beer, and resembles, in its colour, porter as much as possible; at least so I am told.

4025. Mr. Gregson.] It is called beer?—The little brewers send it in as beer ; what it is made of I do not know.

4026. Chairman.'] It is the case also with spirits, that some houses sell them lower than they could do profitably if they were genuine?—Some people dilute gin more than others.

4027. Should you say that these things occur more in brewers' houses than others?—I think not.

4028. Mr. Gregson.] Do those houses which sell the beer pure get more custom, and are they better conducted houses ? — I think so; I think both are well conducted houses. There is a large amount of competition in the beer trade, particularly amongst seme gin-shopkeepers and other publicans; the people will have a cheap beer, and they do not care whether it is inferior or not; the publican says, " I must keep two sorts of beer, I must keep iburpenny beer and threepenny beer."

4020. Chairman.] You do not think that the Beer Act, and the consequent competition in the trade, has improved the quality of the article; the public do not get cheaper and better beer in consequence ?—I do not think they do; although some say so.

4030. Do the beersellers profess to sell beer cheaper than the publicans ?—I think not.

4031. Mr. Gregson.] I presume, by the aid of the taps which are to be seen in a public-house, any quantity can be sold ?—Yes ; I was at Sheff1eld two or three years ago, and I saw 2.5d. beer marked up; I suppose that was to suit some customers.

4032. Chairman.] You cannot inform the Committee what ingredients are put in besides this peculiar stuff, which is called amber ?—I do not think there is any inducement to do anything else ; some years ago there were a great many Excise informations laid against publicans for adulteration ; so I am told; and the publicans said, " As the people will have very cheap beer, and will not give our price for it, we cannot sell the same sort;" and that gave rise to this amber.

4033. Mr. Gregson.] Is the amber a universal ingredient?—I imagine so; I am not speaking from my own knowledge, but only of what I have been told ; I am speaking from hearsay, that is all.

4034. Has the amber been analysed?—I have not the least idea; I know nothing about it; it has been described to me.

4035. Chairman.] Has there been any information laid for selling amber?— No. A good tradesman, for instance, who has found that it will suit the palate of the people, their taste, and so on, would have this amber.

4036. Lord D. Stuart.] It is not sold openly as amber?—It is mixed with the beer ; so much is drawn of one and so much of the other. I believe they have an arrangement to draw both from one tap.

4037. Do you mean that a man who goes into a public-house and asks for one beverage gets another in place of it, while he thinks he is drinking beer? — If a man wants threepenny beer, I do not think he gets it genuine as it is sent from Hanbury's, or other large brewers. I think half a pint of genuine beer is worth a pint of threepenny.

4036. Mr. Gregson.] Of course the customer names his price, and the publican gives him quality accordingly?—Yes. When the last rise took place, consequent on the increase of the malt duty the people said, " We will not drink any beer; we will make them reduce the price of beer." The result was, that some of the publicans in very low localities, for instance, in the New Cut, there is one class selling at 3.5d. in the upper part of the New Cut, and in the lower part of the New Cut they are selling it at 3d. The beer which is sold at 3.5d. I have no doubt would be sold just as it came from the brewery at Hanbury's or Barclay's; whilst at 3d. men could not live if they did not mix amber with it.

4039. Lord D. Stuart.] Do not they advertise to sell amber; is there not at some houses "Fine ale and amber" written up?—I have never observed it.

4040. If they sell it as amber, and do not profess it to be anything but what it is, it is no fraud ?—None at all.

4041. Mr. Gregson.] Is this amber sold at houses belonging to the great brewers ?—I dare say it is in some cases.

4042. Chairman.] Have they not an interest in keeping up the character of their beer ?—Yes.

4043. Mr. Gregson.] Do they allow amber to be sold ?—A man may have borrowed £2,000, £3,000, £1,000, or £500 to go into the house; if he says, " Well, I cannot sell my beer at 3.5d., the people will not buy it, and my trade is going away, I must have threepenny beer;" the brewers say, " We do not like to supply you, because we know you cannot sell it genuine, therefore you will get our house a bad name." He then obtains some article from some other brewers who do not sell good beer; I know one case myself in which Hanbury's did interfere at the east end of the town ; they said, "You cannot afford to sell our beer at 3d. per pot."

4044. Chairman.] Was that man one of their tenants?—He was not a tenant of theirs, but the man was under some pecuniary obligation ; they advised him to sell the beer at 3.5d.; he did f1rst raise bis beer from 3d. to 3.5d. when the rise in beer took place, and because his trade fell off he reduced it to 3d. ; the publicans in the neighbourhood complained of the breach of faith on his part in reducing the price, and as I understand Mr. Hanbury interfered in the matter, and said, "You must sell a good article, and sell the beer as it comes from the brewery, and that will give you a fair living profit and keep up the reputation of our article," and the man raised it up to 3.5d. in consequence of their representation. He might, however, have sa1d, "I have resolved not again to rise the price of my porter; true it is I owe you money, but 'Reid's' or any other brewer, will lend me enough to pay off your loan."

4045. To pay off Hanbury's ?—Yes.

4046. Would Reid's allow him to sell their beer at 3d. ?— I do not know.

4047. The brewers have an interest in the men selling a large draught of beer, does he sell more when he is adulterating and charging a low price ?—I do not suppose he sells more of their beer.

4048. Does not the goodwill of the house sell for more, if he can prove that so much is sold ?—No ; they calculate the amount of profits.

4049. Do the brewers look after their tenants to see whether they sell their beer diluted or adulterated ?—1 believe they are exceedingly anxious that they should sell the beer genuine. They were, in reference to the late movement) anxious that all their customers should supply beer at a pr1ce at which they could get a living profit, and sell it genuine, namely, 3.5d. and 4d. per pot.

4050. Are you alluding to the tax recently on made?—Yes.

4051. They were anxious that the publicans who took their beer should raise the price, in order that they might sell a genuine article ?—Yes.

4052. You say that has been done generally throughout the town ?—I should say very generally; there are a few exceptions ; if they raise the price to 3.5d. they can make a very fair profit indeed.

4053. Is it not more than the tax?—Yes; but the public get a better quality, which they did not before, through this amber being used.

4054. Mr. Gregson.] I see beer is still advertised at some of the houses at 3d. Is all the 3d. beer adulterated with this amber?—1 should not like to go so far as to say that.

4055. Is that your impression?—Yes; because it is charged 36s. a barrel; a man cannot sell it for the same price, and live, and pay his expenses."

"The Sessional Papers of the House of Lords in the session 1854; Reports from Select Committees of the House of Commons, and Evidence; Public Houses" "Minutes of Evidence Taken by the Select Committee on Public Houses, etc." pages 230 - 233.

Let's see what we've been told about Amber:

- it cost 20 shillings a barrel rather than the 36 shillings Porter cost
- it was very dark in colour, similar to pOrter
- it was mixed with Porter to make a beer that could be sold at 3d. per quart
- it wasn't sold straight, only mixed with Porter
- it was pulled through the same tap as the Porter so customers couldn't see it being mixed

Based on that price of 20 shillings a barrel, I calculate that Amber had an OG of about 1031º (that's based on Porter being about 1055º). Mix it 50-50 with Porter and you get something at 1043º.

Mixing Strong Beer and Table Beer (and selling it as Strong Beer) had been one of the favourite dodges of publicans. A easy way of increasing the profit on a barrel of beer. And avoiding tax. Which was why it had been illegal. After 1830, when the tax on beer was abolished, it no longer mattered to the Excise if beers of different strengths were mixed. The tax had been paid on the malt and hops. So, while it might have been misleading to mix Amber and Porter, it wasn't the serious offence it would have been 30 years earlier.

Wouldn't it be great if we had some analyses of the Porter sold in pubs in the 1850's? Hang on, I do:

Let's start with Porter at the brewery or brewery tap:

Porter analyses from the 1850's
OG FG ABW ABV app. attenuation
From brewery
Reid No. 1 1051.40 1014.00 3.94 4.95 72.76%
Reid No. 2 1055.80 1013.00 4.51 5.66 76.70%
Truman No. 1 1052.30 1015.00 3.93 4.93 71.32%
Truman No. 2 1053.70 1014.00 4.18 5.25 73.93%
From taps
Druce (Chelsea) 1043.00 1009.00 3.58 4.50 79.07%
Meux 1058.60 1017.00 4.38 5.50 70.99%
Reid 1049.50 1014.00 3.74 4.70 71.72%
Combe 1042.10 1011.00 3.27 4.11 73.87%
Truman 1055.50 1018.00 3.95 4.96 67.57%
Barclay Perkins 1013.00
Whitbread 1035.00 1012.00 2.42 3.04 65.71%

"Food and its adulterations" by Arthur Hill Hassall, 1855, pages 632-633

ABV, OG and apparent attenuation my calculation

Then the same beers as sold in pubs:

Porter analyses from the 1850's
OG FG ABW ABV app. attenuation
From publicans
H. Weston, 242 High Holborn 1050.40 1014.00 3.83 4.82 72.22%
Hospital porter 1049.70 1012.00 3.97 4.99 75.86%
G. Goddard, 22 Berwick Street, Soho 1047.10 1015.00 3.38 4.25 68.15%
Messrs. Coates & Co., 25 Whitechapel High street 1046.30 1018.00 2.98 3.74 61.12%
Mr. Scarfe, 100 Berwick Street, Soho 1045.60 1016.00 3.12 3.92 64.91%
J.H. Hutchinson, 19 Little Pulteney street, Golden square 1044.50 1017.00 2.90 3.64 61.80%
H. Brand, 77 Leman street, Whitechapel 1042.40 1014.00 2.99 3.76 66.98%
H. Rennell, 16 High road, Knightsbridge 1042.10 1014.00 2.96 3.72 66.75%
T. Sulway, 7 Little Newport street, Soho 1041.90 1014.00 2.94 3.69 66.59%
J. Brown, Whitechapel High street 1040.70 1015.00 2.71 3.40 63.14%
W. Hancock, 1 Whitechapel High street 1040.00 1013.00 2.84 3.57 67.50%
J. Cotton, 5 Edgeware road 1039.50 1012.00 2.90 3.64 69.62%
J. Bishop, 48 Gerrard street, Soho 1039.30 1016.00 2.45 3.08 59.29%
H. Hubbard, Holborn hill 1038.90 1009.00 3.15 3.96 76.86%
R. Skipper, 3 Cable street, Wellclose square 1038.80 1009.00 3.14 3.94 76.80%
H. Ridler, 9 Brewer street, Golden square 1035.45 1010.00 2.68 3.37 71.79%
Messrs. Young & Co., 13 Hemming's row 1035.35 1010.00 2.67 3.35 71.71%
J. Medworth, 167 Oxford street 1034.95 1017.00 1.89 2.37 51.36%
H. Lloyd, 28 High row, Knightsbridge 1034.30 1012.00 2.35 2.95 65.01%
T. Bell, 25 Cable street, Wellclose square 1031.20 1014.00 1.81 2.28 55.13%

"Food and its adulterations" by Arthur Hill Hassall, 1855, pages 632-633

ABV, OG and apparent attenuation my calculation

Of the 20 pub samples, 11 are in the range 1038º to 1045º, suggesting they were about 50% Amber and 50% Porter. Four samples are in the range 1034º to 1036º, suggesting a 75-25 split in favour of Amber. The weakest sample looks like it could be 100% Amber. Only the two strongest samples look like they could be free of Amber or water.

Let's look at the financial aspect. If a pub mixed Amber and Porter 50-50, they'd effectively be paying 28 shillings a barrel. Or 2.33d. per quart. Selling the mixture at 3d. a quart would give the publican a decent profit. No wonder they did it, really. If no-one wants to pay a realistic price, what else can a publican do?

Is there any evidence in the brewing records of Amber? Not underthat name. But remember, the name is misleading. The beer was very dark. In 1850, Barclay Perkins brewed something called Table. It had a grist of pale and black malt and an OG of 1039º. Sounds a likely candidate for Amber.

Can beer be too cheap? I think this proves it can.