Saturday, 31 December 2011

Inside Aitken (part three)

Yes, more from Alex Young's letters to Charles McMaster. They're such a wonderful resource for plain old gossip. And who doesn't like a bit of gossip?
But we'll begin with beer and in particular Stout.

"Aitkens were one of the very few firms that brewed stout in fact there was four different qualities, most pubs had it on draught we had a large turnover in Firkins

Most other breweries converted beer into stout, by adding colour , priming, and stout caramel.but most of all they used up ullages and returned beer. Most of the cellarmen had moustaches and you allways knew when they had a go at the stout.

Their tongue was always out licking their moustaches All stout was in butts, Hogheads, barrels, kils, firkins,and sometimes pins. Beer casks had white paint on the chimes stout casks had red. The butts were on high gauntry's all the casks were racked off them. The cellars were the original cellars we did the racking by the open flame of naptha lamps the Bond cellar had gas jets on the walls"

Apologies for the lack of full stops. The original letter only occasionally bothers with them. There's much of interest in that small description. We've already learned that Stout was never as big in Scotland as in London.

I've heard of small provincial breweries in England converting their Mild into Stout in a similar way. Though not with ullage and returns, just the caramel. Though John Keeling told me that the Watney's Cream Stout brewed at Wilson's in Manchester was mostly ullage with loads of caramel and sugar. I wonder what it tasted like? One of the blokes on my course at university used to drink Watney's Cream Stout. And he came from the Northwest, so it probably was brewed at Wilson's. I doubt he ever realised what went into it.

I'm surprised that Scottish pubs had draught Stout at all it the period Alex Young was in the industry. Remember that he started in 1924 and it sounds like he worked at the brewery until pretty much its closure in 1966. Stout going into butts and hogsheads is equally surprising. From the description of casks being racked from the butts, it sounds as if they may have been vatting their Stout still. Fascinating.

Unfortunately, I only seem to have the details of a single type of Aitken Stout. A typical sweet, low-strength Scottish Stout:

James Aitken Stouts 1949 – 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1949 Stout Stout
pint bottled
1020 1038.5
2.38 48.05%
1954 A Stout Stout 1/2d half pint bottled 0.04 1021.2 1041.4 1 + 20 2.59 48.79%
1959 Stout Stout 14d halfpint bottled
1022.3 1039.4 250 2.19 43.40%
1961 Stout (no lactose) Stout 15d half pint bottled 0.04 1022 1038.9 275 2.11 43.44%
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Finally, can you recall me wondering if Aitken generated their own electricity?  I know the answer now. They did:

"The new brew house opened in 1900 by modern standards was antiquated, the beam engine drove everything inside and outside the building, all of the shafts with loose pulleys and driving pulleys. There was also a gas engine that generated their own electricity 100 volts Eventually it was led to the cellars Two bare copper wires ran the length of each passage the globe holder and flex was attached to a tee piece of metal that bridged the two wires to give you a light any where the length of the wires. clean the wires with your knife and bring both wires together with your fingers and it would ring a bell, you felt a little tingle in your fingers even if they were wet, but nothing like a shock The power house occupied quite a large space, rows upon rows of two feet sqare glass vessels filled with acid and zinc plates."

It all sounds a bit primitive with the bare copper wires. It's odd how Alex Young calls the new brewery "antiquated". Compare that with the newspaper description of the brewery when it opened. That said it was as modern as next week.

Still not quite done with Alex Young's letters.

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.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Aitken family

Remember the list of subscribers to the shares in James Aitken and Co. when it went public? You can't? Here they are again then:

James H. Aitken, Falkirk: Misses E. Aitken, Mary H. Aitken, Helen T. Aitken, Lily E. Aitken, Agnes Alice Aitken, and Mrs Elizabeth M. Aitken.

I think I might have discovered how they were related. Via that handy letter from Alex Young:

"I was brought up to beleive that the first owners of the Brewery Barr & Heugh. In fact James Hueugh Aitken was the name he was Christened with.

James and five sisters were brought up in the Gartcows Estate, Elsie was the last sister to live in the house she moved to a cottage in Killearn to let them set on with the building of the Falkirk Royal Infirmary, Off Gartcows Road is a street named Heugh St where members of the Brewery Staff were housed.

As far as I know Elsie and the Artist sister were spinsters another was married to a Crosthwaite and another to a Banker by the name of Dewhurst, her son worked for a spell in the brewery in the Brewers Room, I dont know whether he was a qualified brewer or not.

The other sister was married to Menzies the the retail and wholesale to bookshops and book stalls.

James Aitken had only one daughter, She married Commander Robertson ( the jam people) he was on the Caledonia the training ship at Rosyth."

My guess is that the five sisters were the 5 Miss Aitkens in the subscribers list. That is, James H. Aitken's sisters.

Fascinating the the workers lived in Heugh Road (that's its real name, not Heugh Street). It's still there today and looks rather nice, with its stone semis. Take a peek:

Fascinating stuff, eh?

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Inside Aitken

Many thanks to Barm for passing this on to me. Below are excerpts from a letter written by Alex Young, who worked for many years at Aitken's brewery in Falkirk. It was written to the brewery historian Charles McMaster. That's the bloke who wrote "Alloa Ale".

The punctuation is bizarre (most of the full stops are missing) and the spelling eccentric, but it provides unique insight to life inside the brewery.

First, a little something about bottling:

"My uncle John Young was 56 years in the brewery he did the bottling for the Overseas market and even did the Brewing during the 1914 - 1918 war. I joined the brewery in 1924 and took over where he left off in the bottling department, My first carbonated unit was a Pontifex 100 Gallon in each cylinder of four in the quick chiller I still did the natural conditioned beer and stout. At that time we had still beer coming out of the Bond going to Newfoundland, Karachi, Bombay, Hong Kong, etc. There was a Brussels Stout it was like treacle and deadly but so was the Export beer, two pints of any of them would see anybodys boots off."

The brewery's export trade to Asia wasn't quite dead after WW I. That's interesting to know. As is the fact that they were still naturally conditioning some of their bottled beer. Now there's something slightly odd. Plenty of Scottish brewers exported specially-brewed beers to Belgium. But they were usually Scotch Ales, not Stouts. Unfortunately, I've no record of this Brussels Stout so have no idea of its strength. The Scotch Ales were mostly 8 or 9% ABV, similar to the strength of domestic Strong Ales from before WW I.

I was delighted to find a explanation of Aitken's water supply:

"The water for the Brewing came from a disused mine in the Bantaskine Estate, The fore [sic] inch pipe went under the union Canal along the boundery wall of the Poorhouse (now known as the Windsor hospital) It went by gravitation untill it arrived at the Bleachfield, In the corner of a small field there stood a stone built pump house that pumped up to the Brewery, The pump house was still there, until the new Municipal building was finished.

There was two Artesian wells that went into an under ground loch the finest brewing water in the country One had a steam compressor the other an electric Ingorsal rand. I saw pipes that were withdrawn from the well and the two inch pipe you hardly get a pencil through, and the lime silt was as hard as the metal the pipes were made of.

The brewery was built on virgin sand that goes down to a great depth, at one time the sea came beyond it In fact Saturday was Mariners Day in Camelon the 9th June Camelon is fully a mile from the brewery on the road to Glasgow, At one time that was a sea Port There was a good seam of coal under the brewery but it was not workable as there was no roof, the seam was in the kerse thats on the road to Grangemouth, it was the same there only it was running sands."

That's confirmation that it was water from Bantaskine that was used for brewing. I'n not quite sure how you get water from a disused coal mine. Could it have been an open cast mine that filled up with water to form an artificial lake?

This newspaper article confirms the arrangement:

The Clerk read the following minute of the meeting of the Roads Committee held on July last:- "Mr James H. Aitken and Mr K. Gair attended on behalf of Messrs Aitken. and Co., and explained the course of the water pipes which they wish to lay from Bantaskine to the Falkirk Brewery, and, after deliberation, the committee agreed to allow the pipes to be laid in the public roads under the charge of the Commissioners on the following conditions:- (1) That the water is only used for brewing purposes ; (2) that the Brewing Company pay the Commissioners £1 yearly and lay their pipes at the sight and to the satisfaction of the burgh surveyor; (3) that the Brewery Company take all the risk of the  pipes, and maintain the same; and (4) that this permission is only to be given during the pleasure of the Commissioners; and (5) that in the event of the pipes being required to be shifted for the purpose of the Commissioners laying other Pipes, or making other operations, the Brewery Company shall remove their pipes to such other track as may be pointed out by the burgh surveyor: and an agreement to give effect to these to be adjusted between the agents, and executed at the expense of the Brewery Company."

Treasurer Stevenson moved the adoption of the minute. He thought the arrangement with Messrs Aitken would turn out a very good one for the ratepayers of the burgh of Falkirk, because he believed that Messrs Aitken intended to increase or rather to enlarge their brewery to a considerably extent. At the same time the Water Trust was not likely to lose anything by allowing them to take in a supply, because it was to be used for brewing purposes only.

After some little discussion, the minute was unanimously adopted."
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 2 September 1896, page 4.

I'm not quite sure how the Water Trust would not lose out. Perhaps they mean that because they would only be using the water for brewing, that the quantities would be limited. Presumably the water from the artesian wells was used for other purposes such as cleaning and cooling (you have to pump something through attemperators).

Securing the supply of brewing water was obviously a big deal from the brewery, in that they went to the trouble of laying the pipes themselves. The mention of Aitken's proposed expansion might be significant. Is that how they got the council to agree, by saying they would be creating jobs? It's a tactic often used by Tesco and the like.

Finally a little more about bottled beer:

"I used the Paterson and North Port boxes and bottles quite a lot of the North Port bottles were reputed pints which we used for the natural conditioned beers and stout a few of the publicans passed off our beer for Bass red Label and our India Pale Ale as the Blue Label that was the Bass carbonated beer"

A "reputed pint" is an odd measure that was once much used bottled beer. It was 365 ml. or about two-thirds of an Imperial pint. Passing of Aitken beer as Bass was a bit naughty. The beer they were passing off as Bass Red Label must have been naturally-conditioned, as the Bass product was.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

James Calder again

All that Aitken fun has made me forget Calder. Oh no. In fact I haven't told you some of the best bits about the shovel story yet.

And what better way to tell a tale, than through newspaper snippets? If you're lazy, I mean. I'm bone idle.

First let's move back a few months before Calder and McNellan's fight:

"ALLOA. Burgh Election.- The polling for six members to serve at the Police Commission Board of the burgh of Alloa took place in the Corn Exchange there on Monday, and was presided over by Sheriff Clark. The result was a most signal defeat of the party who were in favour of the Chief-Magistrate (Mr John Ewing) and his schemes, all of the successful candidates being new members at this time, though one or two of them have held office previously. The board consists of nine members, and the unusual number of six vacancies is caused by tho retirement of four members who were elected temporarily-viz., Messrs Andrew Allice, W. Lamb, S. N. Morrison, and David Brown. Mr Cummings and Mr Thos. Frame were the other retiring members, but the latter did not stand. The following is the result of the poll :- Mr J. Thomson Paton, 454 ; Major Mitchell, 452 ; Mr James Calder, 365 ; Dr John Duncanson, 355 ; Mr John McDonald, 344 ; Mr John Melvin, 320 ; Mr Andrew Allice ; 309 ; Mr Cummings, 260 ;Mr W. Lamb, 154 ; Mr S. M. Morrison, 125 ; Mr David Brown, 104."Falkirk Herald - Thursday 24 February 1870, page 5.

See who got the third largest number of votes? Why James Calder. Making him duly elected as one of the six Police Commissioners. An office he still held when he whacked McNellan with a shovel. Not very fitting his office, eh? Given the boos from the crowd after his court appearance, I can’t imagine he was re-elected.

Still not managed to find if he was found guilty and, if so, what punishment he received. Funny thing is, although I know James Calder eventually took total control of the business, it was still trading under the name of McNellan & Co. in 1874:

McNELLAN and CO., Brewers, Alloa, require an Agent to represent them in Dublin and district ; security required. Applications to he made to Messrs M. Larkin and Co., Solicitors, 51 Dame-street, or direct to the Brewery.
Freeman's Journal - Friday 6 February 1874, page 8.
(As an aside, interesting to see that the brewery was trying to break into the Irish market in the 1870's. Like most of England, Ireland became a very difficult market for Scottish brewers towards the end of the century and most pulled out.)

Remember, the story usually told is that McNellan went bankrupt in 1862 and James Calder took the brewery over. Yet, as we've seen, James Tait McNellan was still a partner in 1870. Well it seems that one McNellan did go bankrupt:


John McNellan, lately brewer in Alloa, and residing there, now deceased-creditors meet in the Royal Oak Hotel, Alloa, 23d January, one o'clock-D. MacWatt, writer, Alloa, agent. "
Caledonian Mercury - Saturday 13 January 1866, page 2.
So John McNellan had gone bust in the 1860's, then died. Presumably James Tait McNellan was his son. Looks to me that rather than buying the brewery outright, James Calder bought a share, presumably as part of the fallout of the bankruptcy. It's frustrating still not to be able to get to the full story. Have to keep digging.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Industrial accidents at Aitken

Breweries could be dangerous places. The number of reports of accidents at Aitken's brewery prove that. Some were even fatal.

We've already heard about the well-digging tragedy. The construction of the new brewery also claimed a life:

Serious Crane Accident - One Man Killed and Two Severely Injured. - On Saturday morning a serious crane accident, involving the death of one man and the severe injury of two others, occurred at a new building in course of erection at Messrs James Aitken & Company's brewery, on the north side of Newmarket Street. Falkirk. It appears that John Gunn and Daniel McKay, joiners, Melville Street, Falkirk, and James McCue, labourer, Manor Street, Falkirk, were on a scaffolding -10 feet high lowering, by means of a steam crane, the stay of a hand crane which had formerly been used in place of the present steam one, when the jib of the steam crane, which weighed about 16 cwts., unaccountably gave way and fell with a crash on the scaffolding, breaking in two pieces. Gunn was knocked down by the falling jib, which caught him across the body and pinned him to the scaffold on which he had been working, while the other two men were thrown off the scaffolding by the jib, and fell to the ground, sustaining severe injuries. The scaffolding, beyond a portion of the wooden girder which was broken by the jib, remained intact, and as soon as the accident was observed the workmen about the place hastened up to the top to remove the jib from Gunn. This was expeditiously accomplished. He was quite conscious, and when the weight was taken from him he complained of internal pains, and asked for a drink of water, which was given him. He also gave some instructions with regard to his mother, and never spoke afterwards, dying from his injuries within half-an-hour from the time of the accident. Dr Fraser, who was sent for, was soon on the spot, and found that Gunn had been badly crushed internally by the heavy stroke he received from the jib, and that there was no hope of his recovery. McKay was seriously bruised about the body, chiefly through his striking a beam in his fall, and it was found necessary to convey him to the Falkirk Cottage Hospital, McCue was less severely injured, and was taken home. On inquiry last night we were informed that both men were progressing favourably, and that they are quite out of danger. It appears that somehow the chain which held the jib to the crane had run down, and that the last link had snapped. The men employed on the scaffolding had not the least warning of the occurrence, so as to get out of the way of the falling jib. Gunn and McKay were joiners in the employment of Messrs J. & A. Main, Falkirk. They both belonged to Edinburgh, and had been in the firm's employment for about a month. Gunn, who was 22 years of age and unmarried, was a very quiet and respectable young man, and was greatly liked by his fellow-workmen. His dead body was conveyed by train from Grahamston Station to Edinburgh on Monday forenoon, and as a token of respect to him his fellow-employees stopped work, and, proceeding to Grahamston Station, carried the coffin from the hearse to the train. The joiners and bricklayers employed at the erection of the new building at the brewery also subscribed for a beautiful wreath to be placed on his grave. The wreath hid the following inscription on an accompanying plate:- "In affectionate remembrance of John Gunn, who was accidentally killed at Falkirk Brewery, June 24th, 1899, aged 22 years. A token of sympathy from his fellow-workmen."
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 28 June 1899, page 4.
That sounds pretty nasty. The poor bloke hit by the jib didn't stand a chance. For those not acquainted with Imperial measures, 16cwt. is three-quarters of a ton. But how did the others fare? Luckily for us nosy bastards, a later newspaper report tells us about what happened to McCue, the least seriously injured.

A Sequel to the Accident at the Brewery. -
In the Falkirk Sheriff Court on Wednesday proof was led in an action at the instance of John Gardner, builder, Falkirk, against Edward McCue, labourer, Manor Street, Falkirk, in which pursuer sued for cash advanced to the defender on loan at various times, amounting in all to £8 15s 6d. From the evidence it appeared that the defender was engaged as a labourer with the pursuer at the Falkirk Brewery in June last, and was so injured by an accident which occurred through the breaking of a crane there that he was unable to work for six weeks. The pursuer said that after the accident he sent the defender a sum, equal to the wages he would have earned, out of sympathy. He thought, he said, that as McCue was a young man newly married he would be in need of money, and pursuer's foreman spoke to having taken the money to McCue on more than one occasion. The foreman, however, never told McCue that it was a loan, or that he was to pay it back, and Mr Gardner had never mentioned it to him. The defender stated that the money was sent to him unsolicited. Nothing was said to him that it was by way of loan, or that it was to be repaid Mr Gardner after his claim had been settled by the insurance company. He never saw Mr Gardner during the whole period of his incapacity, and after he resumed work no mention was made about his repaying the money until he was leaving the pursuer's employment some time afterwards. He had received £20 from the insurance company, who were instructed by Mr Gardner. Pursuer's agent maintained that the onus was on the defender to prove loan, and as he had failed to do so, he would ask decree. For the defender it was pointed out that the action was one for the sum of £8 15s 6d originally - over £100 Scots - although it had now been restricted to £7 10. As it originally stood, the onus was on the pursuer to prove a loan, and that by the writ or oath of the defender, and though the sum was now restricted to £7 10s, that did not remove the onus on the defender, and as the pursuer himself had admitted that the payments made was money advanced out of sympathy, it was clear that the payments were gratuitous in a way, and therefore not liable to be sued for. The pursuer had paid through his agents the insurance company's £20, without mention of the former weekly payments having to be repaid. The Sheriff thought that defender's position was unreasonable. He received £20 from the insurance company plus £7 10s as wages, which amounted to about £4 10s a week, and was a great deal in excess of what he was entitled to under the Compensation Act. He therefore decided for the pursuer. Agents - For pursuer, Messrs A. and J. C. Allan and Co., solicitors, Falkirk; for defender, Messrs Marshall and Hunter, solicitors, Falkirk.
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 27 December 1899, page 6.

I found this report fascinating. I'd wondered what happened to the injured workers. Remembering that this was before the Welfare State, I was intrigued to find out how workers fed themselves and their families while unable to work through injury.

The employer's initial reaction - to send McCue the wages he would have earned if fit - seems pretty fair. After that, it gets more complicated. It sounds as if the employer decided to get the money back after McCue found work elsewhere, claiming it had been a loan. It doesn't sound to me as if it had been presented that way. And I suspect that if McCue had continued in his employment, he wouldn't have asked for it back.

I'm surprised that McCue was insured. Presumably through his employer. £20 is a decent sum, especially as it seems his wages were only £1 5s a week. But the Sheriff's judgement that £4 10s a week was too much for McCue to receive doesn't seem based the law, but on how much he thought a labourer should receive.

I'd have been dead pissed off if I were McCue. Because despite it not being proved that the money had been a loan, he still had to pay it back. Just because some twat thought he'd received too much. Much like the courts today really. Do the working classes get the same justice as the better off? Like buggery.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Gift idea #12: Amsterdam Pub Guide

What better place to end than at the beginning? And the Amsterdam Pub Guide is where my publishing career began way back in  . . . now what year was it? Can't remember, to be honest

Yes, Mini Book Series volume 1. At the time I published, I didn't have my plans for a series of books fully formed. Come to think of it, I still don't. There were supposed to be 11 volumes. But I'm fairly certain I've issued at least 13 volumes, a couple with the same volume number. Hang on, "Scotland" is volume XIV and wasn't "Trips! (East)" volume XIII? I don't envy someone the job of trying to catalogue my books. Even I can't keep track of them

You'll probably have noticed the more professional-looking cover. That's because it was designed by a proper graphic artist, Craig Gravina. Thanks Craig.

More books. That's what the New Year should bring. "Strong!", the final volume in my Mega Book Series, is my number one priority. And maybe "Lager!", if I decide to extend the series to five volumes.

Buy the Amsterdam Pub Guide now! If you plan coming to Amsterdam. Not much point otherwise.

Scottish IPA 1947 - 2004

Look at that. I'm getting so modern. Writing about something in the 21st century. It makes me feel all weird.

IPA has been brewed in Scotland for a long time. More than 170 years, to be precise. Despite the fact that few outside Britain associate Scotland with the style at all. Or are only away of such latecomers as Deuchars or Twisted Thistle. As we've learned these beers are just the most recent in a long lineage.

The Scottish IPA that's been around the longest - it was one of the first to be brewed - is Younger's IPA. It's one of the first IPA's I tried. Believe me, that was yonks ago. Back when I could still see my feet and walk up two flights of stairs without collapsing in a wheezy heap. It's not many people's idea of an IPA nowadays, but it has been around for an awfully long time. Let's think. Is there one that's been brewed longer? It depends if you count Draught Bass an IPA, I suppose. Other than that and White Shield, I don't think there are any contenders.

The two conflicting strands of Scottish IPA are clearly visible in the table below. There's the type typified by William Younger's draught IPA and McEwan's Export IPA. Beers somewhere in the 1040's. It's nice to see that some of the more modern versions - Broughton and Deuchars - fit into this mould.

The other type is the piss-weak bottled variety. As epitomised by Younger's bottled IPA from 1954. Beers with a gravity around 1030º. You'll notice one - Bernard's from 1949 - is billed as a 90/-, despite having a gravity below 1030º. Remember what I told you about the use of 90/- for Strong Ale being very recent? This is an example of 90/- being used with a completely different meaning.

One thing just about every beer in the table has in common is a decent level of attenuation. Something which isn't always the case with Scottish beer. Only one beers has an apparent attenuation of less than 70%. High attenuation is something you would expect in an IPA. One of the skills in brewing IPA for export to the tropics in the 19th century was to get the attenuation as low as possible, so there was no food for anything nasty during the long voyage.

One last point about colour. Somewhere in the low 20's EBC is what you'd expect an IPA to be. The canned Bernard's from 1958 is more than double that at 50. But as we've already learned, the Scots often liked their Pale Ales quite dark.

Here's the table:

Late 20th century Scottish IPA
Year Brewer country Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1947 Younger, Geo India Pale Ale 120/- 14d half bottled 1010 1042 4.16 76.19%
1949 Bernard 90/- India Pale Ale pint bottled 1006.5 1029.5 2.98 77.97%
1949 Fowler India Pale Ale (Extra Pale) pint bottled 1009 1030 2.72 70.00%
1949 McEwan India Pale Ale Export pint bottled 1008 1045.5 4.89 82.42%
1949 McEwan & Co. Export IPA half bottled 0.06 1008.5 1046.8 19.5 brown 4.99 81.84%
1950 McEwan Export IPA 1/1.5d half bottled 0.05 1012.6 1048.8 25 B 4.70 74.18%
1954 McEwan India Pale Ale bottled 0.05 1008.2 1048.6 24 5.27 83.13%
1955 Younger, Wm. India Pale Ale 9.5d half bottled 0.04 1006.9 1030.2 22 3.02 77.15%
1957 McEwan Export India Pale Ale 2/2d 16 oz can 0.05 1010.7 1046.4 22 4.64 76.94%
1958 Bernard India Pale Ale 21d 16 oz can 0.04 1008.9 1030.6 50 2.71 70.92%
1958 Bernard IPA (Bottling) pint bottled 1010 1030 2.59 66.67%
1959 Usher India Pale Ale 10d half bottled 0.03 1008.4 1032.3 18 2.99 73.99%
1961 Jeffrey & Co Export IPA 15d half bottled 0.05 1010.8 1042.3 24 3.94 74.47%
1961 McEwan Export India Pale Ale 17d half bottled 0.04 1011.6 1045 20 4.18 74.22%
1961 McEwan Export IPA 15d half bottled 0.05 1012.2 1048.1 22 4.49 74.64%
1972 Younger, Wm. IPA 13.5p pint draught 1008.2 1043.5 4.59 81.15%
1977 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1043.2
1979 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1043.2
1981 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1043.2
1982 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1042.2
1983 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1043
1986 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1042
1989 Younger, Wm. IPA pint draught 1042
1993 Caledonian R&D Deuchars IPA draught 1008 1038 3.9 78.95%
1994 Borve Tall Ships IPA pint bottled 5.00
1994 Caledonian Deuchars IPA pint bottled 4.60
2001 Caledonian Deuchars IPA IPA 1008.7 1038 3.8 77.11%
2001 Caledonian Lorimers IPA IPA 1014 1054 5.2 74.07%
2004 Broughton Clipper IPA IPA 1009.7 1042 4.2 76.90%
2004 Broughton Greenmantle IPA IPA 1009.7 1042 4.2 76.90%
2004 Cairngorm Highland IPA IPA 1008.3 1036 3.6 76.94%
2004 Caledonian Deuchars IPA IPA 1009.7 1039 3.8 75.13%
2011 Belhaven Twisted Thistle bottled 5.3
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002
T & J Bernard's brewing records held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
1993 Real Ale Drinker's Almanac
Good Beer Guide 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990, 2002, 2005
The Best of British Bottled Beer
Daily Mirror July 10th 1972, page 15

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Gift idea #11:Mild! plus

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
Time for a very special book pimping. I've deliberately kept this one back until Christmas eve. No, that's a lie. The real reason is that I only finished it this morning. The Mega Book version of "Mild!". With the rather clumsy title of "Mild! plus".

Why such a shit title? Because I unwisely used the title "Mild!" for the Mini Book version. See my problem?

Where was I? Trying to flog you my new crappy book. What's the difference between this and the Mini Book "Mild!"? About 140 pages. More recipes, more beer details plus a completely new section on Brown Ale. Not that means I think Brown Ale is a type of Mild. Just that there's nowhere more suitable to put the info I have on Brown Ale. I've even added a couple of Brown Ale recipes, you lucky children.

Buy "Mild! plus" now! Before I change my mind.

How the Scottish "free" trade worked

Just because Scottish brewers physically owned few pubs, doesn't mean that they didn't have many pubs tied to take their beer.

Let's be honest, how many genuinely free houses are there in the UK today? Far fewer than there appear to be. The sort of agreement detailed below - where a publican gets a loan from a brewery on very favourable terms in return for buying their beer - is still around.

This is a report of a court case between a Scottish brewer and a publican about their loan tie agreement:

Glasgow Publican's Claim.
A case, in which a Glasgow publican claims damages from a Musselburgh firm of brewers, was commenced before Lord Robertson, in the Court of Session, Edinburgh, on the 2nd inst. The action is at the instance of Matthias Flood Cahill, publican, residing at 8, Limeside Avenue, Rutherglen, against John Young and Co., Ltd., brewers, Fisherrow, Musselburgh, for £10,000 in respect of loss, injury, and damage sustained by him through alleged breach of contract on the part of the defenders.

The pursuer carries on business at 222, Abercromby Street, and at 134, Dalmarnock Road, both in Glasgow. He states on record that in November, 1930, he entered into an agreement with the defenders whereby the latter agreed to take over an existing loan, and he came under an obligation to purchase his supplies of draught beer from the defenders exclusively. The defenders contracted with him that the beer should be of good quality and should be sold to him on terms at least as favourable as they sold to other publicans.

Between 1930 and July, 1937. he ordered supplies of beer from the defenders. The defenders, he states, in breach of contract supplied him with beer of a specific gravity substantially lower than that contracted for. Immediately after the pursuer began to retail the defenders' beer he received numerous complaints from his customers and the custom in both his shops began to depreciate rapidly. His bar drawings dwindled from £5,303 per annum in 1929-30, to £2,546 in 1936-37. In July, 1937, another firm of brewers took over his loan and his contract with the defenders came to an end.

He states that as a direct result of the defenders' breach of contract the income from both his shops and their goodwill had fallen during the seven years' currency of the contract between the parties.

The defenders on record denied breach of contract, and pleaded that the pursuer was personally barred from claiming damages from them by a composition on June 11, 1937. They further pleaded that the pursuer was not entitled to found on any breach of contract on their part in respect of his own breach of contract, and that in any event the sum sued for was excessive.

They explained that in 1930 they agreed to grant the pursuer a loan of £1,400, and thereafter he gave certain regular orders for beer which the defenders supplied and the order and supply of each consignment constituted a separate contract between the pursuer and the defenders. There was no contract for the supply of beer of any particular quality or gravity.

The gravity or quality of the ale supplied to the pursuer was not guaranteed by the defenders and the beer was invoiced at a net price to suit the circumstances under which the defenders were trading with him. He was under no obligation to purchase his supplies from the defenders as they had refused to supply him except on a cash with order basis. On numerous occasions in letters to the defenders he expressed his gratification at their treatment of him.

Any deficiency in the condition of beer supplied by the pursuer to his customers was due entirely to the condition in which it was served by him, caused by his failure to allow his beer time to settle and his failure to maintain the supply pipes in a proper state. The defenders averred that the pursuer had accordingly failed to fulfil his obligations under the contracts and was not entitled to found on any alleged breach by the defenders.

The pursuer's indebtedness with accrued interest as at May. 1937, amounted to £2,205. On June 11. 1937. the defenders accepted an offer of £1,250 relieving the pursuer of his total indebtedness to them. That composition was a full and final settlement of all claims outstanding between the parties and was entered into by the parties on the footing that no further claims were exigible in respect of past transactions. The pursuer was, therefore, personally barred from insisting in his present claim.

The hearing was adjourned.
"The Brewers' Journal 1938", June 15th 1938, pages 302 - 303.

A small point to begin with. This Glasgow publican made a agreement with a brewer from Fisherrow. That's a town a little to the east of Edinburgh (I actually know that out of my head now - mapping Scottish breweries has really helped my knowledge of Scottish geography). It wasn't even that big or famous a brewery. I mention it as an illustration of Glasgow pubs being supplied by non-local breweries.

It's illuminating to see exactly how these loan tie agreements worked. The brewery leant him £1,400, he bought their beer. Though from the later paragraphs it's clear that it was a bit more complicated than that. I wonder why he needed the money? Even in the good times he was only turning over £5,303. That meant he'd borrowed more than 25% of his annual turnover. Seems like a pretty big loan. Especially in the later years when it amounted to more than 50% of his turnover.

Mr. Cahill couldn't have been a very good payer. Otherwise why would the brewery have insisted that he pay for beer in cash? He certainly wasn't paying off the loan, because after 7 years he owed £2,205. The final deal he got, being let off almost a thousand quid, seems pretty generous. It sounds like he borrowed the money from his new brewery to pay off the £1,250 to the old one. It sounds all a bit like a scam to get free money from brewers.

The arguments from either side about beer quality sound familiar: the publican blames the quality of the beer supplied, the brewery the landlord's incompetence in looking after it.

As the full addresses of the pubs were supplied, I thought I'd look to see if they still exist. The one at 222 Abercombie street apparently does. At least when the Google Maps car drove past. It's called the Treble Two. It doesn't look that bad. Better than in the 1991 photo on this site. There's a pub I wouldn't have entered.

Another interesting bit of info from that site. There's a photo of a dilapidated sign on a side wall of the pub. Advertising Bernard's beer. Could that be who the new brewer was? Bernard's were in Edinburgh, which would have made his new supplier slightly more local than before. But not much. Maybe he'd already burned all the closer breweries.