Monday, 30 April 2012

Cheap Mild in May

May is almost here and with it the month of Mild. This is the time when the baby Milds nibble their way out of their shells, and make their first joyful tweet. Or, in my case, blog post

To celebrate this happy time of year I'm hacking 20% off the price of my Mega Mild book.

And 25% off the price of my other Mild book (hardcopy).

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

And 25% off my other Mild book (digital).

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

The abortive sale of McLennan & Urquhart

This is a really weird story. Of a very unusual flotation. And it shows what a litigious bunch they were back in the 19th century.

Let's start with the article:

In the Court of Session on Tuesday, Lord Low closed the record in an action by Menzies, Bruce Low, & Thomson, W.S.. Edinburgh, and Robert Menzies, a partner of the firm, against McLennan & Urquhart, Dalkeith, for payment of (1) £480, (2) £62 14s 9d., and (3) £40 13s 4d. In May, 1889, Mr Menzies was authorised, if he could find a suitable purchaser, to enter into negotiations for the sale of the Dalkeith Brewery, he was to receive a commission of 1.5 per cent. on the purchase price. The pursuers state that in 1889 a sale was effected for £32,000, and the first sum sued for represents the amount of the commission on the price, while the second sum is the commission at 1.5 per cent, on the valuation of the stock-in-trade. The purchaser of the brewery made a deposit of £5000, but as the balance of the price was not paid, he forfeited that amount, and the defenders retained the brewery. The purchaser had arranged for the sale of the brewery to a limited company, and when the prospectus was issued to the public, it came, the pursuers state, under the observation of the officials of the Inland Revenue that the amount set forth in the prospectus as representing the profits of the brewery for 1885, 1886, 1887, and 1888 — the four years preceding — exceeded by £18,072 the amount set forth in the defenders' annual returns of income to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue for the period mentioned. The sum which duty had been paid for these years were respectively £965, £980. £1018, and £2040. The Inland Revenue accordingly claimed £545 18s 6d, in respect of duty on £18,072. The third item sued for represents account incurred in adjusting an  arrangement with the Inland Revenue and other work. The defenders, who deny that they are lucratus by the pursuers' services, maintain that no commission is due, on the ground that the pursuers did not obtain the price arranged for, and did not effect a sale; but the defenders state their willingness to pay the business account, subject to taxation."
Dundee Courier - Thursday 24 May 1894, page 2.

I'll summarise: the owners sold the Dalkeith Brewery to a third party who then wanted to convert it into a limited company. He paid a £5,000 deposit but, not being able to pay the other £27,000 of the purchase price, didn't acquire the brewery and lost his deposit. Quite an expensive exercise, £5,000 being a considerable sum.

I'm going to make a wild guess here. The unlucky purchaser must surely be the mysterious Mr. Beal mentioned in the prospectus. I suppose his plan was to use the money raised from the flotation to pay Mr. McLennan and Mr. Urquhart the balance of the purchase price. It's an odd -  and ultimately unsuccessful - way of selling a company.

Did the flotation ever really happen? Was it scuppered by the attention of the Inland Revenue? As the company was still a partnership in 1896, I suppose not.

Those tax officials, they have eyes everywhere. Lying about your income and then putting the real figures in a prospectus is just asking for trouble. £545 18s 6d is about 3% of £18,072. A pretty low rate of tax. I assume that was corporation rather than income tax.

It's a bit of a cheek claiming commission on a sale that fell through. Especially after waiting five years. I'd have told Menzies, Bruce Low, & Thomson to bugger off, too.

"Lucratus", another Scottish legal term, means having made a profit. I suppose McLennan and  Urquhart had made money from the transaction: the £5,000 deposit. Maybe letting the lawyers have 1.5% of that sum would have been fairest.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

ZBF 2012

"Two cans of Atlas, please" That's how my day started. Though, of course, I used Dutch words. The cans were to be my travel-time friends. Them and Mike. And a bacon and egg sandwich. Though the latter wasn't around long. It went to a better place before Schiphol.

A word of advice if you plan travelling from Holland to Belgium by train. Get on at Amsterdam Centraal. You've no chance of a seat otherwise. Yes, I felt a little sorry for the pensioners on crutches,  but it was their own fault for catching the train in Den Haag. They only had to stand for an hour. Or so.

We changed trains in Mechelen.Not been there in yonks. As we'd 40 minutes, Mike was keen on finding a shoarma place. Once he'd found one, I disappeared into the pub next door. My lunchtime sandwich was more liquid.

A beer and jenever sandwich. Admiring a rather nice old Whitbread sign, while sipping my Leffe Bruin. Quite spicy. Nothing like as bad as I'd feared. The jenever was a paint-strippery delight.

Leuven is another place I haven't been for ages. The square in front of the station has changed quite a bit. Not for the better. Most of the station has been demolished. The poshest stone parts remain, but not in use. Good one Leuven. You can get some idea of the horror here.

A bloke in an upper window of the building opposite seemed to be filming the crowds outside the station. Weird. He definitely didn't like me taking photos of him back, dodging inside.

Once in Leuven, we lacked just two pieces of information. Where the festival was and how to get there. It  only took us half an hour to work out. I say us. Mike worked it out. We sat outside a pub with wifi and Mike went ticky-ticky-tack on his phone. Smart phones - the Barcelona of the digital world. Lots of ticking and tacking with no visible result.

I took the opportunity of being on licensed premises to have my second jenever of the day. The pub's wifi, wittily, blocked all beer-related sites. I had chance to savour my jenever while Mike handled the technical issues.

The transport arrangements were so confusing. The shuttle bus went from . . . . the bus station. Who could have guessed that?

Apart from being in the middle of nowhere, the ZBF's new location, Brabanthallen is great. Lots and lots of room. The main hall must be at least double the size of the one in Sint Niklaas. So much room. It made me quite dizzy. Though possibly that could have been the spinning around in circles

Every festival demands special tactics. At ZBF, I have a particular routine. Pick a type of beer, have all the examples that look worthwhile. With a trou lambic in the middle. Then finish off with four or five of the nicest beer.

It didn't quite work out like that this year. I blame the organisers. With all that space and more breweries, there were just too many tempting lambics. I began in the hole. In all honesty, after the journey's refreshments, I thought it best to avoid the super-strong stuff.

It's the best collection of flat lambic I've seen at ZBF. Girardin, 3 Fonteinen, Boon, Oud Beersel and a new one (can't remember their name*, tasted like a Boon base) all had at least one.

Only in Opstal have I seen a better collection of Lambic. I thought my Lambic days were behind me. Plat rekindled my love. Such damn drinakable stuff.

I bought 15 tokens. Plus two free ones for being in CAMRA. Just three hours to drink. "Do you think I'll get through them all, Mike? Remember that I often interpret simple comments as a challenge."

"Yes. And yes, I do."

Sort of cheating. That's how I got through them. I filled up a small water bottle for the return journey.

"That reminds me of the special drink I took with me on the nightmare blizzard journey. A blend of St Bernardus Abt and Lagavullin. There was so much whisky it changed a funny grey-brown colour."

"You have such wonderful stories, Ron. Are there any that don't involve drinking?"

Can't remember its name. The beer I put in the water bottle. I mislaid my programme. (Probably just as well. I've piles of old festival programmes clogging valuable living space.) It was in a big wooden barrel connected to a beer engine. Not proper cask, as there was a CO2 cylinder linked up. Very naughty. I felt dirty drinking it.

The train back was packed after Mechelen. Where Mike had another shoarma. Me, too, this time. Alcohol weakens my will. We couldn't get seats together. Never mind. I had my whisky beer to keep me company. If not awake.

I got home early. Surprisingly early. Time for a couple of Abts before bedtime.

* Tilquin, that was it.

That Pattison's Accountants Report

Oh dear. When the accountants finally presented their report the news wasn't good. There was an £80,000-odd hole in the accountants. Creditors wouldn't be getting 20 shillings in the £.

The size of the article telling the bad news confirms the importance of Pattison's failure. It takes up a quarter page. That's densely packed small print on a broadsheet. It's so long, I've had to cut it up into chewable slices.

We're starting with the balance sheet itself.

DEFICIENCY, £82,793.
As briefly reported in last night's Pink Edition, a meeting of the creditors of Messrs Pattison, Limited, convened by the Secretary of the Company, Mr Young, of the firm of Messrs Boyd, Jameson, & Kelly, W.S., Leith, was held yesterday in Lowell's Rooms, George Street, Edinburgh, for the purpose of considering certain proposals to be submitted by the Auditors, Messrs Tait, C.A., Edinburgh, and Murray, C.A., Glasgow.

Mr James Ainslie presided. The meeting having been made open, Mr Tait explained the steps which had been taken preparatory to calling the meeting and the meeting held last Friday. He stated that at the meeting last week of the leading creditors the whole position was explained, and the accountants suggested that there should be a scheme of reconstruction practically to bring the concern into form once more. He would just like to say that personally he was of opinion that there should be reconstruction, that it would be nothing short of a national calamity to allow a business of this kind to go to the wall. With that view he had framed a scheme of reconstruction. That scheme would be read to the meeting, and if they did not understand it he would explain. The report of investigation was then read.

The following state of affairs was submitted to the meeting:-

as at 6th December 1893.
Prepared by John Scott Tait, C. A., Edinburgh, and Robert Alexander Murray, C.A., Glasgow.


I. -Heritable properties, per valuation by Mr W. Maiden Beattie- 

(a.) Nos. 166-172 Constitution Street, Leith
£9,500 0 0 
(b.) No. 13 Bond, South Side Old Wet Dock (lease for 21 years from Whitsunday 1896)
6,000 0 0 
(c.) Bonded warehouses, Breadalbane Street., Leith
43,866 0 6 
(d.) Brewery, Duddingston (including plant, utensils, &c.),
23,769 0 0 
(e.) Warehouse, 62 and 64 Yardheads., Leith
5,300 0 0 

£93,435 0 0 
Plant, utensils, machinery, furnishings, &c,
5,378 14 6 

£98,813 14 6 

II. -Plant, utensils, furnishings, &c, at branches, estimated value, say,
2,186 5 6 

£101,000 0 0 

III. -Stocks of whiskies, wine, beer. &c , as per valuations by Messrs William Sanderson, R. S. Gray, and James Pringle : (A.) Total amount of valuations, £333,729 6s 8d : (B.) consignments &c, valued at £2389 16s,
386,087 2 8 
IV. -Balances due on open account,
240,653 6 8 
V. -Bills receivable not discounted,
36,936 5 5 
Whereof-Trade. .. £25,051 16 1 
Accommodation,   11,883 8 10
VI. -Investments,
24,368 0 9 
VII. -Balances due by bankers
405 8 5 
VIII. -Cash on hand
5,661 7 4 
IX. -Balance due by Sydney branch, as per cablegrams,
18,522 18 0 
X. -Bills receivable, current, and under discount, £442,649 15 3 
Whereof-Trade, 263,712 3 6 
Accepted for the accommodation of Company, Head VI. of contra 178,937 11 9 
XI. -Sundries,including show cards, mirrors, .stationery, &c valued at
7,000 0 0 
XII. -Balances due by acceptors under accommodation bills on which the Company appears as drawer
13,895 1 1 
XIII. -Balances due by drawers under accommodation bills on which the Company appears as acceptor, 
3,083 5 5 

£837,606 15 9 
Deficiency, subject to adjustment,
82,793 14 1 

£920,400 9 10 


I.-Bonds secured over heritable properties,
£9,400 0 0 
II -Balance due on open account,
79,111 16 4 
III. -Bills payable,
377,267 4 10 
IV. -Balances due to bankers, including interest to date,
194,687 17 4 
Note.-Certain assets are held by the banks by way of security. 

V. -Vendors
3,367 7 10 
VI. -Liabilities in respect of bills receivable- 

Total bills receivable, £479,585 0s 8d. Discounted (Branch X. of Contra), £442,649 15s 3d. Not discounted (Branch V. of Contra), £36,935 5s 5d. Bills accepted for tbe accommodation of the Company, as per contra-Discounted (Head X. of Contra). £178,937 11s 9d. Not discounted (Head V. of Contra), £11,883 8s 10d,
190,821 0 7 
VII.- Contingent liabilities, including bad debts, discount, and outstanding accounts
65,755 2 11 
VIII.-Obligations undertaken by the Company for third parties
£920,400 9 10

Dundee Courier - Wednesday 11 January 1899, page 2.

In case you still doubted how big a deal this bankruptcy was, the phrase "national calamity" should definitely sway you.

I was surprised that the brewery was worth less than 25,000 quid, including all the brewing kit. Why then was it first put on auction with a reserve price of £50,000? Were they being cheeky, or was this valuation unrealistically low? As we'll discover later, the brewery was eventually sold for more than the valuation. So I'd say £23,769 is definitely on the low side.

You can see that the major asset of the company - making up almost half the value - was their stock of whisky. Which must have been a worry to creditors, for a couple of reasons. First, the whisky trade was in poor shape and the value might decline. Secondly, it was a difficult asset to sell quickly and there were only a limited number of possible buyers. And, should that much whisky come onto the market at once, it would drive down prices further.

We'll also find out that those stocks of whisky weren't quite what they seemed. But we'll have to wait until the Pattison brothers are in the dock for that. Let's just say that they weren't worth as much as stated here.

Looking at the liabilities, that £200,000 owed to the banks jumps out. They were the ones who pulled the plug. Even though they had security for the debt. The other creditors weren't always best pleased with the actions of the banks. But - you guessed it - we'll learn more about that later.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

McLennan & Urquhart goes public

Prospectuses. What wonderful sources of information they are. Though, bearing Pattison's in my mind, it's unwise to trust everything in them as gospel.

This is one of the more modest flotation, the share capital amounting to just £52,000. That reflects the size of the brewery, which was nothing like as large as McEwan or even Aitken.

A couple of other things are odd about this launch. The date is one. 1889 is pretty early for a Scottish brewery flotation. Especially for such a small brewery. Most took place in the period 1895 to 1900.

Then there's the matter of exactly who was selling the brewery to the shareholders. Usually it was the partners in the private company. But this time they had already sold the company to a third party. It was he who was selling shares in the new limited company. McLennan and Urquhart had been attempting to offload the brewery for a while, as we will discover later.

Time for all the legalese:
"The SURSCRIPTION LIST for the undermentioned Capital will be OPENED on MONDAY, the 14th day of October, and will be CLOSED on or before WEDNESDAY, the 16th day of October, 1889.

The COMMERCIAL BANK OF SCOTLAND (Limited), Edinburgh, London. and all its Branches, are authorised to RECEIVE APPLICATIONS for the undermentioned Share Capital.

MCLENNAN AND URQUHART (Limited), DALKEITH BREWERY, EDINBURGH, the Brewery having been established over Fifty Years.

Incorporated under the Companies Acts, 1862 to 1886, whereby the liability of each Shareholder is limited to the amount of his Shares.

2,600 Five per Cent. Cumulative Preference Shares of £10 each        £26.000
2,600 Ordinary Shares of £10 each .......                 26,000
In all .......                                £52,000

500 of the Ordinary and 300 of the Preference Shares have been applied for by the Directors and their friends, and will be allotted in full.

The Shares are payable as follows:- £1 on Application, £4 on Allotment, £2 10s. on the 1st of December next, and the balance of £2 10s. per Share on the 1st of January, 1890; but Shareholders will have the option of paying up their Shares is full on Allotment, and interest will be allowed in advance of the call at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum.

Messrs. A. McLennan and W. Urquhart have agreed to lend £10,000 at 5 per cent. on the security of the Heritable Property for a period of 5 years.

WILLIAM URQUHART, Esq., Dalkeith Brewery, Dalkeith N. B., Chairman.
James McLennan, Esq., Dalkeith Brewery, Dalkeith N. B.,
James Mackintosh Gow, Esq.. Banker, 66, George. street, Edinburgh.
* Alfred H. Beal, Esq. (Messrs. Beal, Son, and Chartres) 20. Regent-street, London.
* Will join the Board after Allotment.

BANKERS.- The Commercial Bank of Scotland (Limited). Edinburgh, London, and all Branches.
SOLICITORS. Messrs. Menzies, Bruce-Low and Thomson, W. S., 16, Duke-street, Edinburgh.

Messrs H. Gilmour and Shaw, 18 St. Ansdrew's- square, Edinburgh.
Messrs. Oliver and Verity, 17, St. Ann's-square, Manchester.
Messrs. Lightbody and Forsyth, 35, Throgmorton. street. London.

AUDITORS.-Messrs. F. and F. W. Carter, CA., Edinburgh.
SECRETARY (frs tem.).-Mr. William Thomson W.S., 16 Duke-street, Edinburgh.
REGISTERED OFFICES,-The Brewery, Dalkeith.

The Company has been formed to purchase, carry on, and extend the old-established Brewery business of Messrs McLennan and Urquhart, at the Dalkeith Brewery, Edinburgh, which has been acquired from them by Mr. Alfred H. Beal, of London.

The partners of the late firm have subscribed for such a number of Shares as will give them a substantial interest in the business, and Mr. Urquhart has agreed to take the position of Chairman on the board of Directors for a period of five years, upon terms highly favourable to the Company. Mr. J. McLennan, the junior partner, who has been actively engaged in the management of the Brewery, will remain as Manager for a minimum period of five years, with a seat on the Board.

The business has been established for over 50 years, and commands a high reputation for its ales, and by the medium of a joint Stock Company with increased capital it is expected the trade can be largely extended.

The Property to be taken over by the Company is as follows:-

(1.) The Freehold Brewery, together with Cooperage, Coopers' Store, Cask Stores, Stabling, Stores, General and Private Offices, Chief Clerk's Residence, &c,
(2.) The Brewery Plant, Machinery, Horses, Drays, Carts, Casks, and Utensils of Trade.
(3.) The Freehold Malting, adjoining the Brewery, of 70 quarter capacity, Beer Stores, and Cask Yard.
(4.) The Goodwill of the Business.
(5.) Two Freehold Blocks of Dwelling Houses,
(6.) The Freehold "Railway tavern" Public House, adjoining the Brewery.
(7.) The loans to customers, &c., as they stand in the books of Messrs McLennan and Urquhart, on the 1st October, 1889.
(8.) The stock-in-trade of Beer, Malt, Hops, and other stock of any description, of the value of £4,220 1s. 11d., on the 1st of October, 1889.

The book debts due up to the 1st day of October, 1889, will be collected by the Company and handed to Messrs. McLennan and Urquhart, as received.

The following is a copy of the certificate of Messrs. F. and F. W. Carter, Chartered Accountants, of 6, St, Andrew-square, Edinburgh, and Messrs. Lees and Graham, of King-street, Manchester, Chartered Accountants:-

We have examined the books of Messrs. McLennan and Urquhart, of the Dalkeith Brewery, for the four years ending 1st of April, 1889, and certify that the net profits of the business during that period have amounted to the sum of £23076 6s. 6d., or an average of £5,768 16s. 7d. per annum.

This result is arrived at after making ample provision for bad and doubtful debts, discounts, &c, and writing off a sufficient amount for depreciation of plant and buildings.
F. and F. W. CARTER, C.A.
Edinburgh, Sept. 12 1889.

Taking the above profits as the minimum likely to be maintained, it shows £5,765 per annum, available as follows:-

To the payment of 5 per cent. interest on Mortgage        £500
To the payment of 5 per cent. on Preference Shares         1,300
To the payment of 10 per cent. on Ordinary Shares        2,600

Leaving a balance of about £1,368 a year for Manager's salary, Directors' fees, &c., which, in the opinion of the Directors, is in excess of what will be required.

Prospectuses and Forms of Application can be obtained at the Offices of the Company, or at the Offices of the Bankers, Brokers, Solicitors, and Auditors."
October 9th, 1889.
Pall Mall Gazette - Monday 14 October 1889, page 8.

Generous as ever, I've thrown in a contemporary map of the brewery. It even shows the Railway Tavern. You can also see just how small the brewery was.

£5,768 sounds a pretty decent profit for a company that only cost £52,000 to buy. That's more than a 10% return. I wonder why the partners had been so keen to sell? What's weird is that, through the shares they were took, they were buying back part of the brewery. I'm confused. The partners had also promised, as is usual in these sales, to stay on for a certain number of years after the flotation.

Who was the mysterious Mr. Beal? He doesn't seem to have taken a very active role in the brewery he owned. Maybe that's why he was quick to turn it into a limited company. Of course, if he really was based in London, it wouldn't be very easy to be involved in the day to day running of the brewery.

Next time I'll be revealing the abortive sale that preceded Mr. Beal's purchase. Through the medium of - what else? - a court case.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The UK and the USA

I meant to post a link to this earlier. A post that tells a little of the relationship between British and American brewing. Go and read it, then you'll understand what I'm on about.

I've been considering the topic for a while. (The kids complained about the clunking sounds, I was thinking so hard) How long it's been going. And how it swings from one direction to another. One type of connection to another.

Ignoring the obvious colonial links, you've got ingredients. Hops and barley from the USA flowed into Britain from 1850 onwards. English farmers couldn't keep up with the population growth and ceased to be able to grow enough ingredients for the demands of the brewing industry.

Then there are the techniques. The method of making "chilled and carbonated" bottled beers in the late 19th century was developed in the USA then adopted in Britain.

Equipment, too. In the 1890's Allsopp bought a shiny new Lager brewery from the USA. It was a big deal. They compared at Continental and Amercan brewhouses and chose the latter. I've been meaning to post about the Western Brewery article about it.

OK. It's really an enamelly brewery, but you get the idea. Ultra-modern. Love the poses those blokes are striking. Why's the one on the right all by himself? And why is the chav in the middle staring at him? The longer you look at it, the more disturbing it becomes.

Almost forgot a really basic piece of beer equipment. The crown cork. First produced in the USA.

And there's been plenty of traffic in the other direction. But that's not for me to write about.

Remeber I said the Lager brewery was a big deal. This is how they celebrated its arrival:

Special train. That's what I call making a fuss. It's the private jet of the steam age.

I remember now why I hadn't written yet about that fascinating Lager brewery. Page 504 of the Western Brewer article is missing in the scans I have. Did I lose it?

Pattison's Oatmeal Nourishing Stout

"I wonder if any Pattison's labels still exist?" I asked myself the other day. The answer is: yes. Despite the brewery only existing for three years.

I have Ike, who sent me these labels, to thank for confirmation. But the labels tell me something else, too. Something that quite surprised me about Robert Deuchar. I think it's pretty obvious when you see the labels:

I'd assumed that Deuchar's only wanted the brewery and that they would brew their own beers there. But clearly they also took on at least one of the Pattison's brands. That they kept the label identical with only the brewery name changed implies that the label was recognised. Quite a surprise given Pattison's short life - just three years - as a brewery.

Oatmeal Stout. That's so 1890's. You have to love the nurse with the bottle of beer in her hand and the red cross. Not sure you'd get away with that now. Probably not the name Nourishing Stout, either.

Talking of Deuchar's, I'll be looking at the takeover of the Duddingston Brewery from their point of view soon.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1949 William Younger DBS

I would have posted this last week. Except I was away from home. Better late than never, eh?

We continue in the bewitching world of postwar Britain. When the food and raw materials situation was in some cases worse than during the war. That was certainly the case with brewing materials.

I'll be straight with you. This recipe was a nightmare to interpret. The malts (other than the base malts) are nothing more than a scribbled letter with a number under them. Somehow - I'm not sure how - the brewer managed to write "Rst" so it looks like "Lac". That crazy old-fashioned writing. I could only work it out by looking at other DBS brews.

See what I mean:

We've made educated guesses as to what M and C stand for, I'm pretty sure C is crystal. And the only type of malt that starts with  an M that I can think of is mild malt.

As you can probably guess from the shitload of lactose, we're in Sweet Stout territory here. Scottish Sweet Stout territory, which is the sweetest of all. That's a stack of caramel, too. Black and sweet, that's what this baby must have been. A real granny Stout.

DBS is a beer that underwent radical changes in character over its long life. Here you can see those changes in table form:

William Younger DBS 1851 - 1939
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp
1851 DBS Stout 1089 1025 8.47 71.91% 14.00 5.68 2.25
1858 DBS Stout 1071 1020 6.75 71.83% 20.00 6.84 1.75
1869 DBS Stout 1065 1018 6.22 72.31% 13.33 3.83 2.25 3 62º
1879 DBS Stout 1073 1035 5.03 52.05% 12.86 5.00 1.75 2.25 58º
1885 DBS Stout 1073 1025 6.35 65.75% 15.86 5.51 2 2.5 56º
1898 DBS Stout 1069 1023 6.09 66.67% 7.50 2.26 3 3.5 59.5º
1913 DBS Stout 1065 1022 5.69 66.15% 10.65 2.63 2.5 3 59.5º
1921 Btg DBS Stout 1060 1019 5.42 68.33% 10.65 2.63 2 2.5 60º
1923 DBS Stout 1058 1029 3.84 50.00% 4.21 1.67 2
1933 DBS Btlg Stout 1066 1025.0 5.42 62.12% 9.31 2.14 2.5 3 60.5º
1939 DBS Btlg Stout 1066 1023.0 5.69 65.15% 6.06 1.59 2.5 3 60.5º
Documents WY/6/1/2/5, WY/6/1/2/14, WY/6/1/2/21, WY/6/1/2/28, WY/6/1/2/31, WY/6/1/2/45, WY/6/1/2/58, WY/6/1/2/70 and WY/6/1/2/76 of the William Younger archive held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.

See how, in general, the attenuation fell over time. As did the gravity. The FG, on the other hand, remained fairly constant. The beer in the recipe has a higher FG than the much stronger 1869 version. The hopping rate fell dramatically at the end of the 19th century, which must have had a big impact on the flavour of the beer.

Though I haven't shown it in the table, there were big changes in ingredients, too. The 19th-century incarnation was pale, brown and black malt, with no caramel or lactose.

Tha's me done. Over to Kristen . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:


This beer has a ton of different malts in it. Let’s just keep it simple shall we? The blend of pale malts makes this more complex so at least use two if you can. Some Golden Promise and Optic work very nicely but use what you can. The Mild malt can be replaced if you can’t get it with any type of pale…there isn’t enough to make that big of a difference. The two big keys to this beer are the caramel and the lactose. If you don’t have access to caramel, don’t worry about it. If you do, you’ll see you need about 30srm (60ebc). Is it needed, no, but for all those that have it, its easy enough to do. The lactose. You need it. The beer won’t be the same without. Go and find it if your shop doesn’t have it. Crunch hippy stores usually have it. Add it any time during the boil.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

George Younger's Export Trade 1914 - 1925

I'll tell you what surprises me most. That George Younger had any export trade at all by the end of WW I. Pretty much everything you could imagine had been against it. Not least of which were the German U boats.

"The start of the Great War in 1914 generally upset all continuity of trade. Sales abroad dropped off, more particularly in bulk, due to the difficulty of securing transport, and also to the home demand and the Government restriction on brewery output. Sales in bottled ales and stouts still remained fairly steady during the four years of the War, although they also declined for similar reasons.

The years 1919-1925 have been years of struggle in the Export Markets. The Indian markets, in bulk, are now coming back to normal; the West Indian markets are recovering slowly. The biggest market, the Straits Settlements, is now, however, in 1925 only just beginning to show welcome signs of recovery from the trade slump which overtook it after the War; a slump not dissimilar in magnitude from the trade boom it enjoyed 14 years previously.

It has also to be recorded that in 1925 the firm bought the business of J. E. Jowitt & Company, India, who had been acting as their agents in that country. A private Limited Liability Company has been formed, J. E. Jowitt & Company Limited, and will manage the important interests which George Younger & Son Limited have in that country.

Finally, it should be explained that the loss of the Australian and South African markets was entirely due to the fact that, following on a greatly improved knowledge of the science of brewing, breweries were founded in these two Colonies, which supplied all local requirements. Government assistance was also given in the shape of a heavy protective duty."
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, pages 8 - 9.

Given the nature of the German U boat campaign in 1917 - it came close to starving Britain - I'm amazed there were any ships available to transport George Younger's beer. Especially to such distant colonial markets. And British breweries struggled to supply their pubs with something vaguely alcoholic.

It seems the only export markets George Younger had left were India, the West Indies and the Straits Settlements. I was at first surprised that the West Indies market lasted so long. But, the situation there was quite different to, say, South Africa and Australia, which were large territories that were establishing their own industrial base. The West Indian colonies were much smaller and based mainly around agricultural products. It's telling that Jamaica's Desnoe and Geddes was only founded in 1918. The brewing industry was much more developed in South Africa and Australia by that time.

There's a surprising omission from the export markets. One that was to become important for British brewers: Belgium. Perhaps it's before they started selling beer there. But other Scottish brewers were active in Belgium by the early 1920's. Usher's and McEwan, for certain.

The book I'm using as a source was published in 1925 so that's where this tale of George Younger's exports has to end. Unless, of course, I find another source.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Mild for Mild Month

It's that time of year again. When Jack Frost starts nipping at your arse and that scary bloke in the red suit breaks into your house and tries to seduce your wife. Yes, it's Krim......

There's something not quite right here. I can see the buds of Channel 4 HD death sprouting on that effing oak tree in the garden behind us. It must be . . er . . Autumn! No, it's the other one with leaves - Spring!

Sometimes I have these odd jumps. When months seem to have passed in an instant. I must be making incredible journeys across space and time, exploiting some strange warp thingy that thrabs my mind as a side effect. Or I'm in the early stages of dementia.

Now that we're agreed it's Spring, I've had a look in my wallet. It seems I'm a life member of a camera club. I looked up their website. They've a special four-weeks-and-a-bit-except-in-February-apart-from-leap-years coming up. Now I'm getting on I can't stand the cold. And I've never liked the heat. That's why it sounds made just for me: Mild Month.

A whole four-weeks-and-a-bit-except-in-February-apart-from-leap-years with tepid temperatures. Reason for any left-thinking person to celebrate. And when I celebrate I buy a book. Just like when I'm sad. Or happy. Equivocal or in a rage. Or inexplicably ecstatic. I'll tell the truth: I buy a lot of books. The mood I'm in is pretty irrelevant.

Buy my Mega Mild book.

Or my other Mild book.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

How can you call that a Stout?

Guinness. Love them or leave them, you sometimes hate them. My own relationship with Guinness is equivocal. Just to prove that, I'm drinking one* right now.

Stout. What did the word originally mean, in a beer sense? Strong. Brown Stout is the name Stout began with, back in the 18th century. It had a brother, Pale Stout. Stout = strong, pale or brown = base malt.

Many things annoy me. My evenings are spent screaming at the TV, while Dolores covers her ears and the kids hide cower behind the settee. Pretty much top, beer-wise, is the assertion that you can't have an IPA under 4% ABV. Because IPA "was a strong beer" in the 19th century.

I've just two problems with that argument. First, IPA wasn't a strong beer in the 19th century. It was about standard strength. I've plenty of examples of a base-level X-Ale Mild that were stronger than Bass IPA (or whatever they called it, I think it was often just Pale Ale) in a given year.

Second problem: assuming beer styles are flies trapped in amber, unchanging. British beer styles have been exceedingly dynamic, in terms of strength, ingredients and even colour. Judging a modern British beer by the style guidelines of 1850 is ludicrous. Surely everyone can see that? Well, no they can't. Otherwise there wouldn't be the repeated, tedious complaint that Greene King commits fraud with their IPA.

I'm going to move this over the Irish Channel. And look at Guinness, applying the same logic that condemns Greene King IPA. Does Guinness match up to its 19th-century ancestors? How strong was Guinness Extra Stout in, say 1870? Or 1880? Or 1914?

Let's take a look at one of my traditional tables (I've deliberately thrown in some FES examples as a benchmark):

Guinness Stout 1870 – 1914
Year Brewer Beer Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1870 Guinness Extra Stout 0.24 1015.51 1078.06
8.20 80.13%
1870 Guinness Stout 0.24 1015.51 1078.06
8.51 80.13%
1870 Guinness Stout 0.20 1019.56 1078.01
7.75 74.93%
1888 Guinness Stout 0.52 1018.1 1072
7.03 74.86%
1896 Guinness Extra Stout
1017.55 1072.26
7.05 74.43%
1901 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout
1013.302 1075.67
8.18 82.42%
1901 Guinness Extra Foreign Stout 0.243 1013.20 1074.98
7.86 81.34%
1914 Guinness Extra Stout


British Medical Journal June 25th 1870, page 658
"Chemie der menschlichen Nahrungs- und Genussmittel" by Joseph König, 1889, page 839
Wahl & Henius, pages 823-830

Based on that, an Irish Stout should be 7-8% ABV

Guinness Stout 1964 – 1966
Year Brewer Beer Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1964 Guinness Foreign Extra Stout 0.07 1015 1072.8 200 7.56 79.40%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.5 1043.1 225 4.64 82.60%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.9 1044.9 150 4.82 82.41%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.9 1044.8 175 4.81 82.37%
1964 Guinness Extra Stout 0.06 1007.8 1044.8 175 4.82 82.59%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.05 1007 1043 160 4.69 83.72%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1006.9 1043.5 170 4.77 84.14%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.4 1043 190 4.64 82.79%
1966 Guinness Extra Stout 0.04 1007.3 1043.6 170 4.73 83.26%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Look at that. Modern Guinness Extra Stout is barely half the strength that it was 100 years ago.  How can you call that a Stout? Fraud, I call it.

* Guinness Special Export

Monday, 23 April 2012

Scottish beer in the USA

Here's some more material scavenged from the Journal of the Scottish Brewing Archive. In this case, Vol. 1, 1998, pages 36 - 37. It relates to William Younger's and J & R Tennent's export trade to the USA in the 19th century.

There's a fascinating twist: most of the excerpts refer to southern states: Savannah (Georgia), Charleston (South Carolina), Mobile (Alabama). That must have been  a problem for Scots brewers a few years later, when the Union side blockaded southern ports during the Civil War.

The reports prove that Scottish brewers often exported their beer bottled rather than in casks. And those bottles could be either stone or glass. Don't be confused by the references to casks. These would have been the dryware barrels in which the bottles were transported, padded with straw.

"Sold the ale a few days ago at $1.50, a low figure but finding the wires mostly green and some bottles rather tart thought it best to sell quickly as it might spoil. It did not look fresh when we received it... Large quantities of ale sold in this market. It does not matter whether stone or glass bottles sent. It should not be too brisk. Better not send over 150-200 casks at one time. If you feel disposed to ship generally then you can keep me supplied."
William Younger & Co.s agent, Charleston, South Carolina, 8th June 1858.

I'm sure plenty of retailers do the same today: sell beer quickly when it's on the turn. "Brisk" refers to the amount of carbonation, i.e very fizzy. I can understand why that could be a problem with a naturally conditioned beer. The older the beer was, the fizzier the beer would get as the yeast continued to work. It seems beer being to fizzy over-conditioned was a common problem:

"Just received 72 casks India from F & T of which 25 stone jugs appear recently imported and will sell without trouble at $1.75, but 42 are unsightly both casks and bottles being dirty and mouldy about the corks and wire. Messrs F & T have probably had it some time [and] it is also too brisk. When a bottle is opened half the ale flies out. We want pale ale and sent sweet, not too brisk, and the best time for arrival is March or April but a little will sell always."
William Younger & Co.s agent, Charleston, South Carolina, 15 November 1858.

Good to discover what beer it was they were exporting (well, one of them). Rather surprisingly, it was Pale Ale. Wasn't that supposed to East not West? I'd sort of assumed that it was Scotch Ales that were shipped to the Americas. Obviously it was more complicated than that. Thinking about it, Pale Ale was developed after American independence. The only way it could have become known in the USA was from British imports.

"I think I see a prospect of a really good business in this country. We must, however, brew a special beer - our Pale Ale is too matured for the winter here (it is bitterly cold just now), but will suit splendidly in summer - some people whom I saw say it is the best beer they have seen. What is wanted for winter is an X4. I remember that, some twenty years ago, we had an excellent business for X4 in the States - New York especially, and Mr Kemp might overhaul some of the old brewing books, as far back as '56 or '57 and brew about 60 hogsheads of the same class of ale - I expect it is the kind of liquor that will also suit Montreal, but I shall see about that when I get there."
Letter from New York, James Marshall to J & R Tennent, 17 December, 1875.

What could they mean by the Pale Ale being too mature for winter? That makes no sense to me. Though I can understand why X4 (presumably XXXX) would go down well in the colder months. It would be a very strong, warming beer, with a gravity somewhere beyond 1100º. The type of beer for which Scotland was famous.

And here's a novel use for empty bottles:

"...many merchants in Savannah, Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans can recollect the arrival on dock at those cities of five hundred or six hundred barrels by each vessel, regularly, all in stone jugs, and all "Scotch ales" of different strengths.

So great at one time was the quantity imported that the jugs became a nuisance and until this day one may see the pauper's graves at "Magnolia" and "Bonaventure" cemeteries surrounded with Scottish ale bottles, having their necks driven into the ground, and the round stone bottoms forming quite a unique substitute for plain boards or other borderings. "
National Guardian. 27 January, 1899, p11.

Here again you have the juxtaposition of stone jugs and dryware barrels. If that had been bulk beer, I'd have some idea of how much was being imported. But I've no idea of what volume a barrel of stone jugs would contain. Nor what size such casks were.

Note how the article clearly places the importation of Scottish beer in the past. Within living memory, but still in the past. George Younger's North American trade came to an abrupt halt in 1875. What happened then and did it affect other Scottish brewers? I'll need to dig more.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

George Younger time line

It's nice when someone saves you the trouble of doing something yourself. Which is what some kind person at the Scottish Brewing Archive did by putting together this time line. I'd ut it out and keep it, if I were you. It's what I've done, in an electronically sort of way.

"1762 George Younger purchased a property which included a malt kiln.

1764 adjoining property belonging to the brewer Robert Stein was purchased - combination of two sites became the Meadow Brewery, seemingly one of the first public breweries in Alloa.

1771 Robert Meiklejohn established his 1st public brewery in Alloa.

1787 Meiklejohn moved his brewing to Candleriggs brewery. 1816 Shore Brewery built.

by 1820s Meiklejohn's known as R Meiklejohn & Son (son James returned from London).

1850 Railway came to Alloa - little impact at first, with water transport remaining crucial for Alloa's links to the rest of the world. It was not until 1890 and the opening of the Forth Bridge that the North British Railway had a reasonably direct route to Edinburgh, but the Caledonian Railway delivered an alternative route to Alloa in 1885 and it provided transport for Meiklejohn's.

1852 George Younger leased Candleriggs Brewery of Robert Meiklejohn & Co (purchased in 1871). Meiklejohn's moved to Grange Brewery.

1853 Alexander Blair founded Townhead Brewery.

1856 Ownership of Grange Brewery passed to Maitland, Gorrie and Boyes - Charles Maitland adopted his family crest of the Bass Rock and the motto "Non Fluctuo Fluctu" both of which had been granted to his family by Charles II. The use of the Bass Crest name led to continuing legal battles with Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton of Burton fame.

1850s George Younger exported strong ale to the West Indies.

1856 A new brewery opened with an Alloa connection, but not in Alloa. This was the Fountain Brewery established in Edinburgh by William McEwan, who hailed from Alloa.

1862 Shore Brewery bought by James Calder (it prospered greatly). Its proximity to the harbour meant that Calders beer was easily exported. The company owned its own ships. Ale for England also went by sea.

1874 Meiklejohn Centenary.

1889 George Younger Candleriggs brewery damaged by fire and rebuilt 'bigger & better'.["A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, gives the date of the fire as 1899.]

1891 Alfred Barnard visits Shore Brewery on his famous tour

1897 George Younger registered as a limited liability company began to trade to India, far East and South Afirca (particularly pale ales).

1898 George Younger purchased R Fenwick & Co of Sunderland.

1913 Calders took over the failing firm Samuel Allsopp & Sons of Burton and thus established a long-standing link between the great ale towns on the Forth and the Trent, which was only effectively severed in 1998 with the closure of Alloa Brewery.

1921 Brewing moved to Arrol's Alloa Brewery (brewing both pale ale and lager for Calders)

1920 Under the threat of temperance campaigns, the George Younger company bought Grange Brewery to brew non-intoxicating beers and stouts!

1941 George Younger closed Grange Brewery.

1944 Calders bought Robert Henderson's Mills Brewery. During Second World War, Fenwick of Sunderland was bombed while brewers continued to face restrictions on availability of ingredients.

1951 Ind Coope & Allsopp took control of Alloa Brewery, which then concentrated on lager. Later modernisation of the brewery to create a magnificent continental-style brewhouse with its famous huge coppers, led to the years of Skol Lager as a product that had its followers, but never toppled Tennents of Glasgow from the number one lager spot in Scotland.

1954 BA Ltd acquired Robert Knox (Cambus) Ltd.

1957 BA Ltd acquired Ideal Taverns (Scotland) Ltd.

1959 George Younger took over Blair's of Alloa. BA ceased to brew.

1962 BA Co Ltd went into voluntary liquidation.

1963 Brewing ceased at Candleriggs brewery."
Journal of the Scottish Brewing Archive, vol. 7, 2006, pages 36 - 39

There you go. 200 hundred glorious years of George Younger. It's such a shame they closed. I console myself with at least having drink beer from one of the great Alloa breweries, Maclay. Note how the history of Meiklejohn and Younger entwine. Strange, isn't it, that George Younger bought two former Meiklejohn breweries?

That's worrying. "A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)" gives the date of the disastrous fire as 1899. It turns out that's wrong and the date really was 1889. As this newspaper article of the time proves:

At an early hour yesterday morning fire was discovered to have broken out in the extensive brewery in Candle Street belonging to Messrs George Younger & Sons. The Alloa Fire Brigade, with their steam fire engine, under the direction of Superintendent Nicol, was early on the spot, but it was found that the flames had obtained a firm hold of the old portion of the works, where all the brewing plant is situated. Strenuous efforts were made to subdue the conflagration, and after several hours' work the flames were got under and prevented from spreading is to the new buildings in close proximity. As it is enormous damage has beets done. The, brewing department has been entirely destroyed including seventeen tons of beer, three valuable engines and a boiler, refrigerators,  &c., while the cast metal mash tuns and copper' mashing machines, coolers and shafting have been crushed, twisted, and otherwise damaged. The firm at present are very busy and having been working night shifts, but no night work was going on on Tuesday evening, and the cause of the disaster has not been ascertained. The damage, which is only partially covered by insurance, is estimated at between £11,000 and £12,000.
Glasgow Herald - Wednesday 27 November 1889, page 8.
I hope that was just a typo when the book was transcribed for the reprint.

There was a smaller fire in 1897:

Between seven and eight o'clock this morning fire was discovered to have broken out in the draft drying room in Candleriggs Brewery, belonging to Messrs George Younger & Son, brewers, Alloa. The flames were extinguished before much damage was done. The draft-room was gutted, and a considerable quantity of draft was destroyed. The origin of the fire is unknown, and the damage cannot be accurately estimated, but will probably amount to £200."
Edinburgh Evening News - Monday 15 November 1897, page 2.

I assume by "draft" that they really mean "draff", or spent grain. That was clearly a much less serious fire. There was only  £200 of damage compared to more than £10,000 in the 1889 fire.

Breweries, what a fire risk, eh? I wouldn't want to live next to one. There's hardly one that didn't have a serious fire sometime.