Sunday, 23 September 2012

Manx v. English Beer.

Here's an odd little article. Don't ask me how I found it, I can't remember. It's about the growing divergence of Manx and English beer.

The Free Mash Tun Act of 1880 didn't apply to the Isle of Man. A sort of Reinheitsgebot continued to be applied. Beer could only be breweed from malt, hops, water, yeast and sugar on the island. Some clearly saw thuis as an advantage to local brewers, who couldn't cut corners the way their English and Scottish colleagues could.

"Manx v. English Beer.
A Douglas contemporary has the following:-.
The increase of sixpence per barrel in the duty payable on English beer should give a filip to the Manx bowing udestry, which industry is not an inconsiderable one. Large quantities of Manx beer are consumed on the Island, yet ought the quantities to be still larger. It is said that the English and Scotch brewers view Sir William Harcourt's impost with equanimity, and the reason for this equanimity is to be found in the knowledge that by deteriorating the quality of their malt liquor they can easily reimburse themselves the extra sixpence and be a trifle to the good in the bargain. In England and Scotland beer can be - and frequently is - brewed from substitutes for barley-malt and hops, the brewers simply having, in order to make use of substitutes legal, to notify the authorities of their intention to employ the substitute in the manufacture of their beer. A different and better condition of things prevails in the Isle of Man. Manx brewers are bound by statue to use pure barley-malt and hop in the concotion of their beer, and the penalty for a breach of the law is a very severe one. This being so, it follows that beer-drinkers should favour Manx beer, which is much more likely to be the genuine article than is beer of English or Scotish manufacture. Should the deterioration in the purity of foreign beers in consequence of the increased beer duty, and to which reference has been made, take place — gentlemen connected with the brewing interest across the water say that it undoubtedly will — the purity of Manx ales as compared with those of England and Scotland will be more marked, and the result should be an increased consumption of the home product, with a corresponding decrease of the imported article. Such a result would be a very welcome one. If people who reside in the Isle of Man or who visit the place will insist on drinking beer, why should they not drink beer made in the Isle of Man, at breweries where Manx capital is invested, where Manx labour is employed, and where Manx-grown barley is converted into malt! There is a silly impression that Manx bitter beer is inferior to the bitter beer that comes from the adjacent islands. Let the people who labour under that impression, or rather delusion, take a glass of the average imported bitter sold, and a glass of the bitter brewed at any of the local breweries - Okell's, Clinch's, Woolfs, Castletown : it matters not which — let them test both samples by taste and by analysis, and their prejudice against the Manx liquor will speedily disappear."
Isle of Man Times - Tuesday 08 May 1894, page 2.

The Isle of Man had stuck with the laws on permitted ingredients in beer which had existed in the UK before the Free Mash Tun Act. I'm not sure why. Possibly nothing more than inertia.

Sir William Harcourt's impost was an increase in beer duty. In 1895 the duty on a standard barrel of beer (36 gallons with an OG of 1055º) was raised from 6s 3d to 6s 9d. This increase didn't apply to the Isle of Man as it had its own system of taxation.

Okell's and Castletown - both of those were still going when I started boozing. Not sure I ever tried them back then. Only when Okell's bizarrely bought the Swan in Newark a fre year's back did I get to try Manx beer.

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

A salutary reminder of this throwback to an earlier tradition in British (and area) brewing, despite that the permitted sugar seems an inconsistency. (If one allows one adjunct, why not another..?).

Here is the current range from Okell's:

It's an interesting list, the IPA looks very authentic, with three hop additions and the single pale malt. The name and taste description suggest indeed a Victorian origin. The porter recipe looks well put together, too.

I always wanted to visit Isle of Man. Beer and motorcycles!