Monday, 31 December 2012

Special announcement

That special thing. Book announcement for the New Year. There are two, really. But this one doesn't need to wait. Because it won't be around for long. Just one month.

Here, a few hours early/late, depending on which time zone you're in, is book announcement number one.

A limited . . .

Before I bullshit you further, I'll explain my main reason for creating this exquisite book. It's a simple, if selfish one. I wanted a copy myself.

Once I'd put it together, I thought about sharing. Or financing my copy. It was one of the two. I can't quite remember which. The Abt was visiting at the time.

Whatever the reaon, here it is . . . the ha . ...

Preservation was another motive. Preserving the last single-volume edition of everyone's favourite putative country:


Just for January. Then it's gone.

Why not have the very best for the New Year?

Why not ideed?

Hull Daily MailFriday 18 January 1924,page 4.

I'll have a crate of the Mild Ale, please. Do you think Dirk van den Broek stocks it?

More Mild Beer is Promised

Phew. That's a relief. I could do with some more Mild because, well, can you believe this, nowhere in Amsterdam stocks Mild.

HULL brewers will be represented at a meeting of the Brewers' Society in London tomorrow, and of the Yorkshire Brewers' Association in Leeds on Friday, when they will discuss the Ministry of Food statement that the average strength of beer is to be reduced by 10 per cent.

No comment can be offered on this decision until after these meetings, the Hull Daily Mail was told today.

The Brewers' Society state that they will co-operate loyally in giving effect to the Food Minister's decision.


An official statement from the society reads: "This reduction will, in most cases, be carried out by brewing more mild beer at present strength and less bitter pale ale or stout. But in some, cases this may not be possible, and the strength of particular beers may have to be reduced to some extent."

The present change will restore probably less than half of the quantity of beer lost when the last cut in output was imposed on May 1.

"The shortage will continue, but different parts of the country will be differently affected. Breweries will continue to produce as much beer as they are permitted to brew, and distribute it as evenly and fairly as possible."
Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 24 July 1946, page 1.

The shortages and restrictions the brewing industry had to suffer didn't end with the surrender of Japan in 1945. The situation actually deteriorated for another couple of years. It must have been incredibly depressing. The war's been over for a year but they're cutting the strength of a pint again. Still, things were much worse in Germany. In much of the country they hardly brewed at all in 1946.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Total bullshit

This is just such total bullshit.

The author seems to unaware that England and Scotland were part of the same country with identical taxes.

"Hops, however, has never thrived in Scotland.   The soil and conditions are poor for hop production, so hops had to be imported often from England at high expense.  As a result a variety of hop alternatives were traditionally used including spices, herbs and quassia.  Later when hops were used, they were added only sparingly resulting in a distinctly malty character.  In contrast to the South in England malt was heavily taxed and hops plentiful resulting in more highly hopped styles such as IPA."

Will I ever be able to stop people repeating this shit? I fear not.

Café Marie, Amsterdam

It was a sad day when De Beiaard on Marie Heinekenplein (the square hacked from the old Heineken brewery site) closed.That blow has been softeened to some extent by half of its former premises opening as a German pub, Café Marie.

Or German café. With its kitsch lightshades and homely wallpaper, it comes obver moreas a café than a pub. Despite the long pine tables and benches. Who exactly is their target market? I contemplated this as I sat nursing a glass of Salvator whiile Mike got money from a cash machine.

The strüdels and Sachertorte definitely say café to me. But what about the beer? Amstel and Paulaner Hefeweizen on draught, plus one guest tap. Which when I was there was dispensing Salvator. I asked for Dunkles, but was given a glass of Salvator. The lass serving didn't know the difference, which was slightly worrying. As she was pleasant and pretty, I let it pass.

Bottled they've got Paulaner Dunkel, Salavator and another wheat beer. Edelweiss, as German stuff. Plus a handful of  't Ij beers and La Chouffe.

Getting back to Salvator. It looks paler every time I drink it. Which is one reason it was surprising that the waitress confused it with Dunkles. It's now barely darker enough to count as an Amber Bock, let alone a Doppelbock. Look at the colour in the photo. Would you call that dark.

Salvator has turned into a bit of a syrupy mess, sadly. I wish someone would brew a 19th-century version. Not so alcoholic and full of foody goodness. And much darker. I should make it a project. What to call it, though, as Salvator is trademarked? What about Zacherl Doppelbock? There would be a nice irony in that.

Café Marie Amsterdam
Marie Heinekenplein 5,
1072 MH Amsterdam.
Tel: 020 – 22 32 096

Evolution and Ale

It isn't about what you think, the evolution of Ale. It's much more literal than that.

TUESDAY, APRIL 11th, 1922.

"The Kentucky Legislature has now before it a Bill to prohibit the teaching of Evolution in any State aided school, college, or university."— The Nation."

This, coming from the land of progress and freedom, is side-splitting. Some fifty — or is it sixty? —years ago a troublesome follow called Darwin published a book on Evolution. It caused a mighty fluttering amongst our grandfathers, but long, long ago the "pernicious doctrines" voiced by that great brain have passed into everyday life, and now opposers of the theory are classed with other small bodies of cranks, among whom may be included the gentlemen who sternly hold that the world is flat. All the investigations of modern science have only gone to prove how amazingly correct Charles Darwin was in his main facts.

The average man knows little Kentucky. He believes it is one of the Western States, somewhere near Tennessee, where rag-time comes from, but it is, incidently, even further from light than was popularly imagined.

If the Americans did not speak a language so closely resembling English, it might be more easy for us to understand them — at least we might make greater efforts. Is it, for instance, a general thing in America to have this fear of the awful doctrine of Evolution? It was generally understood that Professor Einstein suffered no great boycott when he explained his Theory on the other side of the Atlantic last summer. Kentucky must have been sleeping then. As an example of democracy, the United States seem singularly conservative. Although we have no authority for doing so, we say without much fear of contradiction that even Sir Frederick Banbury in this country would raise no fierce objection to Evolution being taught in English schools.

If Mark Twain were alive what a subject it would be for his pen! The best advice for Kentucky is to reintroduce a reliable brand of mild ale, and with it would probably go little breadth of outlook, and just a smack of toleration.
Hull Daily Mail - Tuesday 11 April 1922, page 4.

I loved this line "If the Americans did not speak a language so closely resembling English".

Once again, the smart advice is: Drink Mild!

A new Light Ale

What a confusing tem Light Ale can be. It hasn't always been what you might expect.

Whitbread's Light Ale, brewed in the interwar years, was a low-gravity Dark Mild of about 1028º. Watered-down X Ale, really. Not the low-gravity bottled Pale Ale that a modern drinker would expect. Possibly. If they know what a Light Ale is. The stuff's so rare nowadays I suspect few under 30 have heard of it.

Then there's the Light Ale from Flowers. A type of bottled Light Mild. I suppose at least the colour was right.

Palex is an extra light mild ale introduced Flower and Sons, Ltd., of Stratford-on- Avon. It comes as a boon to all those who have been searching for the ideal drink—a drink which has just the right soft, creamy flavour that is good for the health, gloriously satisfying and thirst-quenching and, at the same time, as light as a feather. The appeal of Palex is as varied as it is assured. After work, after play for luncheon, in the evening at home or during the day there is no better, cheaper, or more satisfying drink. It has been brewed with special care to suit athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen. You can buy Palex in all Flower's houses or from licensed grocers. Bottles only (not on draught) at 3s. per dozen small, or 5s. 6d. per dozen large."
Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 27 May 1933, page 1.

"It has been brewed with special care to suit athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen." You wouldn't be allowed to say that in an advert today. How do you brew a beer to suit athletes? Is that more or less alcoholic? Heavily hopped? Lightly hopped? Just made up and stuck in an advert? The answer to one of those questions is "yes".

There's an impressive amount of bullshit in that advert. Or rather advertorial, because it isn't identified as an advert. How can a soft, creamy flavour be good for the health? I've never heard of the health-giving propertiews of a flavour before. You can see theat the label expands on the sporting theme.

Sadly, I don't have an analyses for the beer. I do have one for Light Bitter Ale from 1936. That was a slightly more expensive bottled beer, that cost 6s 6d per dozen large bottles.  According to the Whitbread Gravity Book, that had an OG of 1041. So I'd guess that Palex was around 1037º. Or about normal Mild Ale strength for the period.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Mild by air

If only someone would fly in some Mild for me.

"Special 'Plane Flew Beer In
Isles of Scilly Hotel "Saved"

Island Air Services flew a "beer special" from the mainland to the Isles of Scilly yesterday afternoon when Holgate's Hotel ran out of supplies and rather than break their rule of "beer for all every night" a chartered special 'plane to bring it over.

Mr. Howard Pender, manager of Holgate's. told "The Western Morning News" last night:-

"Our policy has been to try to get a drink for working men and visitors every night.

"We usually get our supplies by steamer on Wednesday, but for some reason they missed the boat this week and realizing that there would be a gap unless something was done, Mr. Hilgrove Hill, proprietor of Island Air Services volunteered to bring over a supply in his monoplane.


"Arrangements were made at Penzance end to have a portion of our supplies sent from the station to The Land's End Airport and two barrels of mild and one of ale were flown over.

"The pilot could have brought more, but these barrels 6cwt., which was the maximum load for the 'plane.

"The beer will cost a little more but it will be worth it."
Western Morning News - Friday 19 September 1947, page 2.

The fact that two out of the three barrels contained Mild says much about the preferences of drinkers in the 1940's. I guess all three barrels would be Lager now.

Local beer arsenic free

That's what we'd all like to be sure of, surely? That there's no arsenic in our beer. Unfortunately that wasn't always true.

The great arsenic poisoning scare of 1900 must have been pretty scary if you were a dedicated beer drinker. It took a while to pinpoint the source as invert sugar that had been made using no food-grade acid. Many had died in the meantime.

The brewers around Wrexham were keen to demonstrate that tehir beer wasn't poisonous:


It will be noted by our advertising columns that Wrexham brewers have taken occasion, consequent upon tbe scare as to the presence of arsenic in beer, to assure the public of the absolute freedom of their beers from all injurious or deleterious ingredients, and a glance at what each firm has to say must convince all that they take great care to put only a pure article on the market.

Mr J. A. Chadwick, of the Burton Brewery, says: "My ales and stout are brewed only from the finest and best materials, and are guaranteed absolutely pure," and this statement is backed up by a certificate from Mr Alfred N. Palmer, F.C.S., who states respecting two samples of the beer he examined, "That neither of them contains the faintest trace of arsenic."

The old-established and well-known firm of Messrs C. Bate and Son "guarantee their ales to be up to the high standard they have hitherto been, and they have been tested proof against any impurities." The firm add "that they have had no occasion to withdraw one single barrel of beer owing to any deleterious matter."

Messrs Beirne, of the Albion Brewery, submitted samples of their "bitter beer," "mild ale," and "best mild ale" to Messrs Norman Tate and Co., the well known analysts, of Liverpool, and the certificate of the firm shows that after having carefully examined the three samples they "find them all to be free from arsenic."

The Wrexham Lager Beer Company also submitted samples of their beer to Mr Granville H. Snarpe, F.C.S., the eminent analyst, and he certifies them to be "perfectly pure in composition and free from objectionable admixture." Mr Sharpe adds that special and searching tests were applied in order to ascertain whether any contamination by arsenic or other poisonous metal was present, but no trace of any such could be detected.

After these specific and verified statements there should surely be no apprehension as to the purity from poison of local beers of all descriptions."
Wrexham Advertiser - Saturday 15 December 1900, page 8.

Good to know the Lager was safe, too.

Beer Boycott

The rise in the price of beer didn't go down too well with the workers. So much so that some decided to stop drinking beer in protest. Sounds a bit like shooting yourself in the foot to me. Though I could understand why that wasn't always such a bad idea during WW I. Plenty did it to escape the trenches.


A Rhondda Valley miners' meeting has decided to abstain from drinking beer until the present prices are reduced.

The beer boycott continues in the Liverpool district, and it is reported from various quarters that the price is being reduced. A few houses where the old prices still prevail are besieged.

According to a statement issued by the Brewers' Society, the cause of the rise of the price of beer may be explained as follows: The pre-war price of mild ale and porter was 2d per pint in London and most parts of the country. It is now 7d., and the trade claim that it cannot be supplied for less. For every 3.5 pints purchased by the public before the war and for every 2.5 pints purchased up to last month one pint only can now be supplied, so that, quite apart from all other reasons for raising the price, there is the absolute necessity to reduce consumption to that extent. The other reasons include: The increase since the war of the beer duty from 7s. 9d. to 25s. per barrel; the greatly enhanced cost and scarcity of all materials, labour, horsekeep, transport, coal; and the prohibition of all malting."
Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 12 April 1917, page 2.

What you have to bear in mind was that the price of Mild Ale hadn't been 2d a pint for a few years leading up to 1914. It had been the same for 40 or 50 years. Can you imagine that? If you were my age, you'd have been paying the same for a pint the whole of your life. Of course you'd be pissed off if the price suddenly more than trebled.

The Price of Beer and Stout

Aren't price fixing agreements great? Obviously not for the punters at the time, but for historians like me. They tell you all sorts of handy things. Like what beers were on sale in a pub and how much they cost.

There are a few fascinating things in the article. Like Mild and Porter being chosen as the standard beers. It would be the last time Porter was so mainstream. From what I've seen of WW I brewing records, it was fairly arbitrary whether a brewery called their weakened late-war beer Porter or Stout. By all accounts the same beer was often sold as both Porter and Stout.


It was stated to-day in reference to the price of beer and stout that, far as London is concerned, the recommendation of the Central Protection Society is that for mild ale and porter the retailer should charge 3.5d half-pint, 7d. a pint, and 1s. 2d. a quart on and off licensed premises, no reduction being made for quantities. Mild ale and porter will be the standard articles brewed. As regards bitter and Burton ales and stouts, it is marked, the prices vary in accordance with the particular speciality of the brewers, and will be fixed by the local societies in the various districts this week. The South-East London district, which comprises Parliamentary Divisions of Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, has adopted the recommendation with regard to mild ale and porter, and has fixed the following prices: Bitter and Burton ales and stout: 6d. half-pint, 1s. a pint, and 2s. a quart. Mild and bitter, mild and Burton, and mild and stout: 5d. a half-pint, 10d. pint, and 1s. 8d. a quart.

In an interview with a representative of "The Midland Daily Telegraph" to-day Mr. Wm. Johnson, of Messrs. Johnson and Mason, said: So far as Coventry concerned, I may state that a meeting Birmingham on Monday last of the Brewers' Association and those interested in the trade it was decided sell one quality of beer and stout at 7d. per pint. This, it is believed, will be adopted in this city after a meeting of the trade this week. I have particularly urged in the interests of every "on" and "off" licence, both in the city and the country, continued Mr. Johnson, that the price should be sevenpence per pint for ale and stout, with a second quality of beer only, and of a lower gravity at fivepence per pint. It certainly ought to be understood that the working man engaged upon certain work that is not so remunerative as countless other occupations cannot afford to pay sevenpence for a pint of beer, and I have most strongly represented this fact before interested brewers, that the working man must have consideration in this matter. I yet have hopes that this view will recognised and dealt with as to prevent any discontent."
Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 29 March 1917, page 2.

The different tack of the Coventry district is also worth mentioning. I wonder what type of beer that 7d a pint stuff was? Most likely Mild. The 5d one, too.

Remember that in 1914 a Mild Ale of around 5% ABV cost just 2d a pint. Three years later it da more than trebled in price, and the strength had been cut. Though in early July 1917 Whitbread's X Ale still had a gravity of 1045º, down from 1055º in October 1914. Things would only get worse. X Ale was replaced in late July 1917 with GA (Government Ale) at 1033.5º.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Highgate Mild

I always had a soft spot for Highgate. Not only did they brew a cracking Mild, it was the only beer they brewed. The idea of a Mild-only brewery in the 1980's was just so charming and novel.

So it came as a shock to discover this advert from 1909. Not only was the brewery not Mild-only, they brewed two different Bitters. And a Stout. Part of me is deeply disappointed. The rest realsies expecting Highgate to have been Mild-only forever was a bit naive.

Lichfield Mercury - Friday 01 October 1909, page 1.

The Old Ale wasn't a surprise. They did brew one of those in the 1980's. And it's justy a sort of Mild really, isn't it?

Was Porter adulterated in the 1870's?

I've spent years trying to get to the bottom of beer adulteration. How common was it? Was it really almost impossible to buy beer that hadn't been tampered with in a pub?

I'm still not sure. There are plenty of accusations, but few actual analyses. Such as these ones. They're particularly useful because they were taken in pubs in, shall we say, the less posh parts of town. Exactly the sorts of places you'd expect adulteration to be performed.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph, on a "Pint of Beer," by "Our Own Commissioner," there is given an analysis of seven pints of porter taken from the very lowest of the beer family - common vulgar fourpenny, The following is the report:-

April 29, 1871.


Percentage of Real Alcohol by Weight Coculus Indicus, Picric Acid, or Copperas Common salt
M. (Bermondsey) 5.25 Neither Yes
T. (Shadwell) 4.5 Neither Yes
O. (Spitalfields) 5.5 Neither Much
H. (New Cut) 4.75 Neither Very much
Q (Shoreditch) 4 Neither Yes
F. (Whitechapel) 4.5 Neither Very much
L. (Kent Street, Boro') 4 Neither A little

Adulterated porter is commonly three parts or less porter and one part water, the resulting weakness in quality being masked by the addition of colouring matter, brown sugar, and bitter drugs, one of which produces lethargic stupor. I am of opinion that these samples have not been so adulterated. (Signed) JOHN BROAD,
Pharmceutical and Practical Chemist.

It may be as well to mention that the above-named gentleman, to make assurance doubly sure, in a matter of such importance, submitted portions of each sample to Professor Attfield, of the Pharmaceutical College, whose return precisely agrees with Mr. Broad's."
Western Mail - Friday 05 May 1871, page 2.

It looks to me as if the samples haven't even been watered. Whitbread Porter was about 5.25%  in 1871. But remember that's ABV, while the figures in the table are ABW. In ABV, they range from 5% to 6.5%. If anything, they look on the strong side for Porter of that period.

What does this tell me? That, other than salt, there wasn't likely to have been much added to the Porter you bought in a London pub. I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised.

Still more Mild cocktails

I'm still making the festive season extra special with Mild Ale cocktails. The material is piling up so much that I'm considering a new book. something along the lines of "Cocktail!".

These old recipes seem to like using nut-sizes rather than proper measures. This time it's a walnut. The nutmeg this time is a real one.

"To make Buttered Ale. Take a quart of mild Ale, put it into, a sauce-pan, with some cloves, mace, a whole nutmeg, and sugar to your taste; set it over the fire, and let it boil five minutes; then take it off and put in a lump of butter, the size of a walnut, and let it stand to melt; then beat six eggs, leaving out sour whites, in a little cold Ale, and mix it with the warm Ale, and pour it in and out of the sauce-pan, till it is fine and smooth; then set it over the fire and heat it again, till it becomes thick and quite hot.—Send it to table with dry toast.
"The family director; or, Housekeeper's assistant" By Addison Ashburn, 1807, page 79.

Buttered Ale, isn't that a Harry Potter thing.

This next one is very Dickensian:

"Dr. Kitchener's Receipt to make Gruel.—(No. 572.)

Ask those who are to eat it, if they like it thick or thin; if the latter, mix well together by degrees, in a pint basin, one table-spoonful of Oatmeal, with three of cold water;—if the former, use two spoonsful.

Have ready in a Stewpan, a pint of boiling water or milk, —pour this by degrees to the Oatmeal you have mixed,— return it into the Stewpan,—set it on the fire,—and let it boil for five minutes,—stirring it all the time to prevent the Oatmeal from burning at the bottom of the Stewpan,—skins and strain it through a Hair Sieve.

2d. To convert this into Caudle,—add a little Ale,— Wine,—or Brandy,—with Sugar,—and if the Bowels are disordered, a little Nutmeg or Ginger grated.
"The Cook's Oracle" by William Kitchiner, 1827, page 418.

Who would have thought that there was a posh form of gruel? I'll have to serve to the family next year instead of a boring old duck.

"We're having Caudle for christmas dinner this years, kids."

"What's that, dad?"

"A special type of gruel."


"New" Mild

The date of this advertisement is vital to understanding it. It comes from the Coventry Evening Telegraph of Saturday 02 March 1918, page 2.

Thanks to the government price controls I know exactly what strength this beer was. Between October 1917 and April 1918, beer that retailed for 5d a pint in the public bar had to be between  1036º and 1042º. After April 1918, that was knocked down to 1030º to 1034º.

That makes this a Government Ale. Not exactly the greatest hit with drinking punters. In most of the country it was a type of watered down Mild Ale which, as the war progressed, became more water than Mild.

They're taking a very upbeat approach to pushing this watery stuff. I guess they had no option. It's not as if breweries had much control over what they brewed, given the level of government interference in the industry.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

What should be the diet of a wet nurse?

Handy advice for nursing mothers. How much beer should you drink?

21.—Q. What should be the diet of a wet nurse or of a mother who is suckling?

A. It is an usual practice to cram a wet nurse with food, and to give her strong ale to drink, to make good nourishment and plentiful milk! This practice is most absurd; for it either, by making the nurse feverish, makes the milk more sparing than usual, or it makes the milk gross and unwholesome. On the other hand, we should not run into an opposite extreme. The mother or wet nurse, by using those means most conducive to her own health, will best advance the interest of the infant. A wet nurse should live somewhat in the following way:—Let her have tea for her breakfast, with one or two slices of cold meat if her appetite demand it, but not otherwise. It is usual for wet nurses to make hearty luncheons: of this I do not approve. If they feel faint or low at eleven o'clock, let them have a tumbler of porter or mild fresh ale, with a piece of dry toast soaked in it. A nurse should not dine later than half-past one or two o'clock; she should eat for her dinner fresh mutton or beef, with a nice mealy potatoe and stale bread. Puddings, soups, gravies, high-seasoned dishes, salted meats, and green vegetables (unless it be, occasionally, a few asparagus heads, or brocoli, or cauliflower), should be carefully avoided, as they only tend to disorder the stomach, and deteriorate the milk. It is a common remark that "mothers who are suckling may eat any thing." I do not agree to this opinion. Can impure or improper food make pure and proper milk, or can impure or improper milk make good blood for an infant, and thus good health? The wet nurse may take a moderate quantity of good porter, or mild (but not old or strong) ale, with her dinner. Tea should be taken at half-past five or six, supper at nine; which should consist of a slice or two of cold meat, or cheese if she should prefer it, with half a pint of porter or mild ale: occasionally a basin of gruel may be taken with greater advantage. Hot and late suppers are most prejudicial to the mother or wet nurse, and, consequently, to the child. The wet nurse should be in bed every night by ten o'clock. It may be said I have been too minute and particular in my rules for a wet nurse; but when it is considered of what vital importance good milk is to the well-doing of an infant, in making him strong and robust, not only now, but as he grows up to manhood, I shall, I trust, be excused for my prolixity.
"Advice to mothers on the management of their offspring" By Pye Henry Chavasse, 1839, pages 35-36.

I love the advice against eating green vegetables. My kids wouldn't need to be told that twice. Turns out a wet nurse could drink a few pints of Mild or Porter a day. remeber that both would have been around 6% ABV in the 1830's.

It'd great to hear my favourite piece of advice repeated. Drink Mild!

To bottle beer

Handy instructions for bottling beer when the cask is getting a bit stale. I'm not sure I'd recommend following them.

Leaving the bottles uncapped for 12 hours after filling sounds like asking for trouble to me. And what size are the botttles? A nutmeg-sized lump of sugar is quite a lot.I hope that they are quarts.

"To bottle Beer.—(No. 468.)

When the briskness and liveliness of malt liquors in the cask fail, and they become dead and vapid, which they generally do soon after they are tilted,—let them be Bottled.

Be careful to use clean and dried bottles; leave them unstopped for twelve hours, and then cork them as closely as possible with good and sound new Corks; put a bit of lump sugar as big as a nutmeg into each bottle: the Beer will be ripe, i. e. fine and sparkling, in about four or five weeks; if the weather is cold, to put it up, the day before it is drank, place it in a room where there is a Fire.

Remember there is a sediment, &c. at the bottom of the Bottles, which you must carefully avoid disturbing, — so pour it off at once, leaving a wine-glassful at the bottom.

If Beer becomes Hard or Stale, a few grains of Carbonate of Potash, added to it at the time it is drank, will correct it, and make Draught Beer as brisk as Bottled Ale."
"The Cook's Oracle" by William Kitchiner, 1827, pages 349-350.

The recommendation about putting in a room with a fire might be hard to follow for most people. Who has a fire in their house in the age of central heating.

Yet more Mild cocktails

I'm shocked, but pleased, at how many Mild Ale cocktails I'm finding. How come I've never seen one featured on the telly? There's enough for a whole programme.

this sound like a fun tradition. I wonder when it died out?

"Scotch Hot Pint.—Grate a nutmeg into two quarts of mild ale, and bring it to the point of boiling. Mix a little cold ale with a considerable quantity of sugar and three eggs well beaten. Gradually mix the hot ale with the eggs, taking care that they do not curdle. Put in a half-pint of whisky, and bring it once more nearly to boil, and then briskly pour it from one vessel into another till it become smooth and bright.

Obs.-—This beverage, carried round in a bright copper tea-kettle, is the celebrated new-year's-morning "Het Pint" of Edinburgh and Glasgow. In Aberdeen, half-boiled sowens is used on the same festive occasion. The above is the national beverage now. A more refined composition is made by substituting white wine for ale, and brandy for whisky."
"The Cook and Housewife's Manual" by Christian Isobel Johnstone, 1828, page 452.

It also explains Het Pint. It isn't Dutch, it's Scots.

"Wassail-Bowl, a Centre Supper-Dish.—Crumble down as for Trifle a nice fresh cake (or use maccaroom, or other small biscuit) into a china punch-bowl or deep glass dish. Over this pour some sweet rich wine, as Malmsey Madeira, if wanted very rich, but raisin-wine will do. Sweeten this, and pour a wellseasoned rich custard over it. Strew nutmeg and grated sugar over it, and stick it over with sliced blanched almonds.

Obs.—This is, in fact, just a rich eating posset. A very good wassail-bowl may be made of mild ale well spiced and sweetened, and a plain rice-custard with few eggs."
"The Cook and Housewife's Manual" by Christian Isobel Johnstone, 1828, page 420.

Wassail. People are always going on about that nowadays. I've always been dead dubious about much of what is written about it. This sound genuine enough, however.

Cheating maltster

When tax was levied on malt rather than beer (1830 to 1880), there were incredibly complicated rules about malting. Basically to try to stop maltsters cheating the Excise out of  tax. I won't pretend to understand them. I don't.

Many rules were to do with how and how long you soaked the grain. The whole thing was complicated by the fact that the tax was levied per bushel, a volume measure, rather than by weight. Maltsters weren't keen on all the regulations. They felt forced to operate in a way they didn't believe was the best from a technical point of view. And the Excisemen could turn up and pester you whenever they felt like it. They must have been ecstatic when the malt tax was repealed. Except then brewers no longer had to brew from 100% malt.


A court of the Justices of the Peace was held on Tuesday - Sheriff Shirreff, and Mr Stenhouse, of Stevenson's Beath, on the bench. Mr George Ainslie, Maltster, Brucehaven, Limekilns, was placed at the bar, at the instance of Mr Turner, Superintendent of Excise, charged with having, on the 30th of Nov. last, removed 8 bushels of grain from a cistern, to a place not entered in the Excise Books. Mr Ainslie pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr Macbeth. Mr Darling, writer, appeared for the Inland Revenue. The case then went to proof.

Mr Baxter, Excise-officer, being sworn, deponed - I am an officer of the Excise. I know the defender; he is a maltster at Brucehaven, Limekilns, and has three malting houses, all numbered in the Excise books. I visited defender's premises on the 30th November last, about 7 o'clock in the morning, for the purpose of inspecting the premises. On entering I met Alexander Small, one of defender's men, inside the gate, he was carrying a four-bushel bag, apparently full. I asked him what he had got there? He replied, "Naething." I then observed Wm. Black, defender's foreman, coming along to the west of the boiling-house ; he was carrying a four-bushel bag full of something. Observing me, be turned quickly round and entered the boiling-house, and emptied the contents of the bag into a tub. I asked what he had got there. He then said, "Beasts' meat." Part of the grain was in the tub, and a portion remained in the bag. I then took a sample of the grain, and said to Black, "Recollect that's seized," and cautioned him not to meddle it. I then ran to No. 2 malt-house, knowing that grain was in the cistern. Black ran after me; I got in first. I found they had been robbing the cistern ; a hollow was in the side, and some grain taken away, and a shovel remained sticking in the hollow from which the grain had been removed. On the 28th, at mid-day, I had seen the barley in this cistern; it was then all level, and no hollow in it. The barley was covered with water, and should have remained 40 hours in the same condition. It ought, then, to have been removed to the couch frame in connection with the cistern. There was no barley in the frame at this time. I took a sample of the grain in the cistern, and compared it with the sample I took from Black's bag, and found them to be the same. Black then commenced to throw the grain into the couch frame, while I went off after Alexander Small. On meeting him, I asked him to show me the bag he was carrying. He promised to do so. He then showed me a bag full of birds' seed ; it was not the bag I had previously seen him carry. The first bag was wet ; the one he afterwards showed me being quite dry. I then went to No. 3 house, and found a young flore or casting from the cistern. I found the slanting edge all broken and trodden down, Small having emptied his bag on the top of it, and scattered it over the flore with his foot. At this stage of my survey, Mr Ainslie, the defender, came to me. I charged his men with removing grain from the cistern. He said, "I know nothing about it, having been in bed." He then said if I would pass it over he would put away his men; it would raise such a talk. He then said, "I'll go and see what Will Black says about it," and then left me. I then proceeded to finish my survey of the premises. I gauged the grain in the couch frame and found it 3 bushels more than at my last survey, that being 28 hours previous. This was not a fair increase, the swell ought fo have been greater. Witness then produced his survey books, which were examined by the Court.

Mr Macbeth then cross-examined Mr Baxter, but failed a to shake the testimony of the witness. Mr Brown, Supervisor, was then examined. He met the defender on the 31st Dec. last, who spoke to him regarding a paragraph that had appeared a few days previously in the Alloa Journal. The paragraph in question hinted that a brewer in the vicinity of Dunfermline had been tampering with the Excise laws. Mr Ainslie then said be intended to prosecute his men, and expected a letter about it that night from Mr Macbeth.

This being the evidence for the Crown, the Court adjourned till the following morning, to hear evidence for the defence.

The Court met on Wednesday - the Sheriff and Mr Stenhouse on the bench - when the following evidence was led for the defence:-

William Black, foreman to defender, being duly sworn, deponed - I remember putting barley to steep on the 27th of November last; I put 64 bushels into the cistern. I had given 24 hours' notice to the Excise. Mr Baxter gauged the cistern on the 28th November. I commenced to cast the cistern on Monday morning at 7 o'clock, the legal hour for that purpose. Small went to the cistern to cast the grain into the couch frame, and remarked that the barley was not thoroughly drained. I told him to make a hole in the barley above the couch frame. He did so. He then left for No. 2 loft and filled two bags - one full of birds' seed the other full of cummings or refuse. It took the bag of cummings and went to the door with it, and carried it to a platform in the barley house. I had no light there. I then met Mr Baxter, who asked what the bag contained. I said "Beasts' meat." He took a sample of it. We then went to No. 2 house and found the cistern the same as we had left it. I went into the cistern and commenced to cast the grain into the couch frame, Mr Baxter standing looking on. I then smoothed it for Mr Baxter taking the gauge of it. The cistern often gets choked up with grain, or dust, according to the quality of the material. I removed no grain from the cistern that morning.

Alex. Small, John Macleod, David Mollison, workmen at defender's establishment, corroborated the evidence of Wm. Black.

Mr Sturpton, manager of Well Park Brewery, Glasgow; Mr Tait McMillan, brewer, Alloa; Mr James Grant, manager, Glen Forth Distillery, South Queens ferry; were examined regarding the process of brewing, and the swell that wetted grain usually takes on. This was the evidence for the defence.

Mr Macbeth then addressed the Court for the defender, and was followed by Mr Darling for the Crown. The Sheriff then said - The bench having given the case a patient hearing, were of opinion that the defender was guilty. He then sentenced him to a fine of £150. On both days the Court was crowded, those engaged in the malting trade being well represented."
Dunfermline Saturday Press - Saturday 06 February 1864, page 2.

Looks like they were bang to rights. The cheating bastards. I think I understand what was going on here. They were removing grain before it could be measured by the Excise. That is, they were going to make malt that no tax had been paid on.

£150 is a hefty fine. The equivalent of a few years pay for most people. But that's the way the Excise system worked. Because it was difficult to check up on maltsters, the fines were enormous to act as a disincentive to cheat.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Busted for sugar possession

The Excise rules were very strict regarding all sorts of substances, but especially sugar. I wonder if it's still illegal to have sugar in a pub cellar?

The reason for the prohibition is simple: if you were watering beer, by adding sugar you could get the gravity back to the right level. Should the weights and measures people pay a call and sample the beer, the fraud might go undetected.

That's what I assume was going on here:

Before a full bench magistrates in Dundee, John Blair, retailer of beer, Scouringburn, was charged with having in his possession 8.5 gallons of emgas in solution, the same being a preparation used as a substitute for malt, whereby he had rendered himself liable to a penalty of £200. Among the witnesses examined was Henry Burge, an analyst from Somerset House, who had analysed the substance in dispute, and found that it was a chemical composition, identical with a superior kind of molasses, admtted that it would be a very suitable substance for mixing with porter shortly before tapping the casks, or shortly before bottling. It would give it a "nice brisk head and a brilliant appearance." This sugar was extensively used among dealers in London for giving a head and brilliancy to their porter. The use of it was not permitted by the Excise, and during the last two years something like 500 prosecutions had taken place in London for using sugar and water for that purpose. If the preparation had been put into a cask which had previously contained porter, and where there was a little dry yeast, that would be sufficient to start fermentation. The Court found Blair guilty of having a solution of sugar in his possession as a substitute for malt, and imposed the modified penalty of £20, or one month's imprisonment. Notice of appeal was given."
Shields Daily Gazette - Wednesday 25 July 1883, page 3.

It sounds like he was lucky to get away with just a £20 fine. Which was still a hefty amount. But £200 would have been a couple of year's wages.

Even more Mild cocktails

I'm amazed how many of these recipes there are. I keep finding more. It being the festive season, it seems appropriate to share them with you.

"Cool Tankard, or Beer Cup.—(No. 464.)
A quart of mild Ale, a glass of white Wine, one of Brandy, one of Capillaire, the juice of a Lemon, a roll of the Peel pared thin, Nutmeg grated at the top, a sprig of Borrage (or Balm,) and a bit of toasted Bread.

Cider Cup—(No. 465.)
Is the same,—only substituting Cider for Beer.

Flip—(No. 466.)

Keep grated Ginger and Nutmeg with a little fine dried Lemon Peel rubbed together in a mortar.

To make a quart of Flip:—Put the Ale on the fire to warm,—and beat up three or four Eggs with four ounces of moist Sugar, a tea-spoonful of grated Nutmeg or Ginger, and a quartern of good old Rum or Brandy. When the Ale is near to boil, put it into one pitcher, and the Rum and Eggs, &c. into another;—turn it from one pitcher to another till it is as smooth as Cream.

N.B. This quantity I styled One Yard of Flannel.

Obs.—The above is given in the words of the Publican who gave us the Receipt.

Tewahdiddle.—(No. 467.) A pint of Table Beer, (or Ale, if you intend it for a supplement to your "Night Cap,") a table-spoonful of Brandy, and a tea-spoonful of brown Sugar, or clarified Syrup (No. 475;) — a little grated Nutmeg or Ginger, may be added, and a roll of very thin cut Lemon Peel."
"The Cook's Oracle" by William Kitchiner, 1827, pages 348-349.

I love the name of that last one: Tewahdiddle. Where the hell might that come from?

Andrew Roy and Son's pure Alloa Ales

I'm still trying to get my head around how the modest town of Alloa came to be so well-known for its beers.

Newcastle Journal - Saturday 17 April 1858, page 1.

The term Alloa Ale definitely had a cachet, and was used like Burton Pale Ale or London Porter as a sign of quality.  How did Alloa's brewers achieve this? Obviously by brewing good beer, but also by selling it all over the country. In terms of distribution, Alloa and Edinburgh punched well above their weight. Without much of a home market to speak of, Scottish brewers had to seek sales elsewhere.

That explains how a relatively small brewery like Andrew Roy could be famous enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Bass or Allsopp. Admittedly, in the case of the advertisement above, their beer isn't being sold that distantly from Scotland, just in Newcastle. But they did supply London, too.

And Exeter, which is about as far away from Alloa as you can get and still be in the UK:

Exeter Flying Post - Thursday 06 May 1852, page 4.

Robert Younger's beers in the 1940's and 1950's

I hope you're enjoying this series as much as I am. And we haven't even got to the most exciting bit yet: Robert Younger's recipes.

Today's beers, at least the Pale Ales, nicely frame WW II. I'm pretty sure that the 1940 Pale Ale is also 60/- PA. It is only 0.25 of a degree lower than the 60/- PA from 1939 we looked at last time. It highlights nicely the effect on beer gravity of the war. Average gravity continued to drop after WW II, hitting its nadir in 1947:

Average OG 1939 - 1951
Year OG
1939 1040.93
1940 1040.62
1941 1038.51
1942 1035.53
1943 1034.34
1944 1034.63
1945 1034.54
1946 1034.72
1947 1032.59
1948 1032.66
1949 1033.43
1950 1033.88
1951 1036.99
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50

It's revealing that the 1947 80/- is a similar gravity to the 1940 60/-. Basically the war had knocked 20 bob off Pale Ales.

How can you call a beer of 1028º a Stout? With a lot of cheek and the hope that the punters have forgotten that the word means "strong" in a beer context. The example from 1953 is a bit better in terms of gravity, but a pathetic degree of attenuation leave it even weaker in alcohol terms, a puny 2.38% ABV.  Folköl, really.

And finally we have those Strong Ales. A bit weak compared to some of the others we've seen from Scottish breweries. The colour of the second, 16 + 40, is dark. Very dark. Just short of Stout territory.

The next part of this series will be dead, dead exciting. That's when I open up Robert Younger's brewing records and take a peek inside. Because there was something odd about the way they brewed. Logical, in a twisted way, but still odd.

Robert Younger's beers in the 1940's and 1950's
Year Beer Style package FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1940 Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1008 1037.75 3.90 79.47%
1946 60/- Ale Pale Ale bottled 1008 1028.5 2.65 71.93%
1946 60/- Ale Pale Ale bottled 1011 1027.5 2.19 61.82%
1946 60/- Ale Pale Ale bottled 1006 1027.5 2.79 78.18%
1947 80/- Ale Pale Ale bottled 1010 1038.5 3.76 75.32%
1947 Stout Stout draught 1008 1028 2.66 73.21%
1953 Sweet Stout Stout bottled 1017 1035.7 1 + 12 2.38 51.82%
1948 Strong Ale Strong Ale bottled 1015 1048 4.34 69.79%
1953 Strong Ale Strong Ale bottled 1017 1066.3 16 + 40 6.45 74.66%
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Tuesday, 25 December 2012



 String and boiled egg. Living in perfect harmony.

You can probably recognise the bottle of Laphroaig in the background. You'll need that just as much as the string and boiled egg. You could get by with another whisky Just as you could get by with wire instead of string. BUT IT WOULDN'T BE THE SAME.

String and boiled egg. Don't forget.

Drinkalongathon 2012 - string and boiled egg


I've got mine ready - have you?

Drinkalongathon 2012 - some white wine and some food


The acidity of the white wine - "What sort is it, Dolores?" "Sauvignon Blanc. Wild Pig brand." - cuts the . . . no used cut already . . . . disects the creamy flumpiness of the goats cheese. And washes the oil olive of the salad dressing nicely off my lips. Don't want anything oily on my beer glass.

"OK, port"

"No, not until later, Dolores. I've not finished the whisky yet."

"Do you want to spoil some spuds, Ronald?"

"Yes, it's my speciality."

I think my aural comprehension might be failing.

Got your string ready yet? Mine's right here, next to a boiled egg and a tube of E45 cream.

Drinkalongathon 2012 - sherry and Laphroaig


Time for a change of pace. To forget, for a while, about food. While we remember those poor starving kids in Africa. That's why I'm moving on to cocktails. Is sherry and whisky a cocktail? Close enough for me.

They age whisky in sherry barrels. So whisky and sherry must go well with whisky, musn't it? Let's give it a try. Mmmm.... yes, yes, yes. Just don't underdo the Laphroaig. 80 - 20 whisky to sherry is my advice. Otherwise that funny wine flavour overwhelms the getting-you-pissedness of the whisky. What I think is its best feature.

Do you have your string ready? This is really important. Get your string ready. And your boiled egg.

Drinkalongathon 2012 - Abt and Laphroaig


Christmas isn't all about eating. There's drinking to be done, too. And what goes better with whisky than St. Bernardus Abt? Or should that be: what goes better with St.Bernardus Abt than whisky?

The whiskiness of the . . . no, I've done that one already. The medicinal gauziness of the laphroaig reminds me that hospital is probably where I'll end up later today. The brown Belgian beeriness of the Abt rinses the out the iodine taste from my mouth. Um, Kopstoot Royale, as I like to call this combination, lovely.

It helps me cope with a dual tragedy this year. I broke both my Chimay and St. Bernardus glasses. I'm reduced to using a Leffe glass I got cheap on Koniginnen Dag. Sacrilege, I know.

Talking of sacrilege, with all the weight Andrew's lost, he looks like Jesus on the cross if he lifts up his shirt. I'll have to trick him into doing it and take a quick snap later. What could be more Christmasy that Jesus on a crucifix?

In case you've forgotten, please have your string ready. I want you to be able to spring into action and without the string it just isn't going to work.

Drinkalongathon 2012 - wild boar paté and Laphroaig


Time for my breakfast. Being the frugal type, it's toasted 5-day-old bread and wild boar paté, the very best Dirk's Trousers could supply.

The oldness of the bread perfectly matches the whiskiness of the whisky, while the grease and smoke mingle and combine like the fat that drips off sausages onto the charcoal of a barbecue. But less ashy.

Remember to have your string and egg ready. It's really important, asd you'll learn in a little while.

Drinkalongathon 2012 - bacon and egg and vodka


Lexie's special Chriatmas breakfast is a family tradition. Bacon and egss and vodka. We're responsible parents. Christmas Day is the only time we let Lexie drink vodka before noon.

"How's your breakfast Lexie?"

"Shut up dad, I'm trying to enjoy my vodka."

"Is it full of vodkaey goodness?"


"Does the alcholey booziness of the vodka complement the greasy smokiness of the bacon?"

"Can you just shut up dad, you're killing my buzz."

"I'll take that as a yes."

Drinkalongathon 2012 - sherry and stuffing


I hope you all remembered to buy in all the items on the list. Because this is where you'll need the three cloves of garlic, 1 apple, 2 slices of toast, 2 (organic) sausages and fresh herbs.

The saltiness of the sherry combines particularly well with the smell of the bread, onion, garlic and apple mixing in the mixer. Sticking my finger into the stuffing and giving it a good suck, the raw meat fattiness is cut beautifully by the sharp, dry acidity of the sherry.

You'll have to excuse me for a few moments as I stuff something up a duck's arse.

A warning: have your 10 inch piece of string ready. You'll be needing it soon. And the boiled egg.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Ales

What could be more Chrismasy than Mild Ale?

 North Devon Journal - Thursday 14 December 1911, page 1.

That reminds me. I actually do have some Mild Ale to drink this Christmas: the Meantime Royal Wedding beer. That's based on Lovibond's XXXX Ale specially brewed for Christmas. So not just a Mild Ale, but a real Christmas Mild Ale. How cool is that?

35 Bear Street, Barnstaple is now a bed shop.

Opium in Porter

I've always been sceptical about the claims that beer was regularly adulterated with opium. Especially I'd never found any evidence of it actually happening. Until now. Sort of.

Because I'm not totally sure this is a reliable account. And it's rather avague of specific details, other than some dodgy sounding phorensic tests.

Among the criminal abuses of the diffusion of knowledge which characterises the present times, the administration of opium, or its tincture, concealed in various vehicles, by the lower orders, with the most felonious purposes, holds a conspicuous place. An atrocious crime of this nature, says Mr. Lawrence in his Lectures, was brought specially under my notice, about a year ago, in examining, by desire of the magistrates of Glasgow, the contents of the stomach of a man who had fallen a victim to these murderous devices. Here the laudanum had been largely mixed with strong beer, and was sensible to the smell, in the liquor extracted by the stomach pump. One portion of that liquor, treated with acetate of lead, afforded an insoluble precipitate, from which an acid, strongly reddening permuriate of iron, was separated by the agency of the sulphuric. Another portion afforded directly, with a few drops of the permuriate of iron, an evident reddish brown tinge, very different from the drab or fawn coloured precipitate occasioned in strong beer of the same quality by the same salt of iron. Other experiments were made, which it is unnecessary to detail at present. The chemical facts, joined to a body of circumstantial evidence, led to a conviction of the guilty pair, a man and wife, who were accordingly executed.

When opium is dissolved in porter (good London), the detection of the drug becomes much more difficult than when it is dissolved in strong beer; for permuriate of iron produces with porter (lightened with an equal volume of water) nearly the same brownish colour, whether it be used as delivered by the brewer, or mixed with laudanum to the extent of thirty drops in two ounce measures. A very copious grey coloured precipitate is thrown down from London brown stout by solution of acetate of lead - nearly as copious, in fact, as from porter drugged, as above, with tincture of opium. And when these two precipitates, washed in filters are decomposed by a little dilute sulphuric acid, they afford two liquids, which strike nearly the same red brown tints with permuriate of iron. It is difficult to resist the evidence thus disclosed or the presence of opium in genuine London porter. Tincture of hop, diffused through water, becomes, with a few drops of permuriare of iron, a greenish liquid, quite different from the diluted porter treated in the same way. Porter becomes turbid when super-saturated with water of ammonia, and lets fall a brown sediment, which, collected and washed on a filter, bears some resemblance to impure morphia, but possesses a very remarkable peculiarity: it neither reddens with nitric acid, nor does it suffer morphia mixed with it to be thereby reddened, or at least the redness is merely momentary, and passes on the slightest heat into a light yellow shade. This precipitate I shall make the subject of future researches. Tincture of hops, which becomes slightly turbid on mixing with water, is rendered limpid by super-saturation with ammonia. It might be imagined that bone black (animal charcoal) would decolour porter, so that the agency of permuriate of iron on its supposed meconic acid might be made more manifest; but this process is at best fallacious; since bone-black boiled with a portion of dilute solution of opium, deprives it almost entirely of the power of affecting permuriate of iron ; while the corresponding portion receives from that salt a deep red brown colour."
Freeman's Journal - Wednesday 28 April 1830, page 4.

The main thrust seems to be: it's hard to detect opium in Porter. Rather than: I found opium in lods of samples of Porter.

I'm still not convinced about opium adulteration.

Ale for inmates

This little report highlights the most annoying thing about teetotallers: not their choice to deny themselves alcohol, but their insistence on everyone else not drinking as well. Like religious fanatics, they consider their own beliefs so perfect, that the whole world has to adopt them.

Well they can just fuck right off. Sorry, if that didn't come over very christmasy. Trying to deny the poorest of the poor a little christmas cheer doesn't make me feel very charitable.

Christmas fare for the inmates was discussed by the Colchester Board of Guardians on Tuesday.—Mr. Lord, moving that the usual quantity of beer be supplied to those inmates who preferred it, said his resolution was mild as the beer itself. (Laughter.) He wished ail the Guardians a Christmas — even those who did not agree with his resolution, and who preferred water or ginger-pop to beer.—Mr. Cater, seconding, said the small quantity of beer the inmates would get could never harm them.—Mrs. Fox hoped they would never allow the inmates any beer. There would fewer in the House but for the curse of drink. —Mr. Pritchard said beer was not necessary for human beings.—Mr. Osborn asked what quantity of beer was allowed at Christmas?—A Guardian: One pint.—Mr. Lord's resolution was carried by 12 votes to 5.—Mrs. Fox (looking at the Rev. T. S. Raffles) ; I am surprised the rev. gentleman did not vote against the resolution.—The Rev. T. S. Raffles: I am not a teetotaler, and I don't see why the poor people should not have glass if they want it. (Hear, hear.)
Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 01 December 1922, page 2.

Good on the Reverend Raffles for putting the killjoy Mrs. Fox in her place. I suppose she was one of those nutcases who didn't believe Jesus drank, despite all the evidence to the contrary in the bible.

I realise that I should have explained exactly who these inmates were. It was the Board of Guardians for the workhouse.

Mrs. Fox, what a total Jeremy Hunt.

Yates's water-proof glue or cement

Now here's a use for Mild Ale that I would never have thought of: making glue.


Take of the best Irish glue, four ounces; and of isinglass, two ounces: these must be dissolved in mild ale (not stale), over a slow fire, in a common glue-kettle, to the consistence of strong glue; when one ounce and a half of wellboiled linseed oil must be gradually added, and the whole well incorporated together by stirring. To increase the. strength of the glue, more isinglass may be added.

This cement is applicable to the joints of wood, in every branch of manufacture; as also to joining earthenware, china, and glass ;—care being taken to press the parts well together, and to allow them sufficient time to set .

The cement, when cold, and made into cakes, assumes the appearance of India-rubber; and, like it, is elastic. It may at any time, when wanted for use, be dissolved, by a gentle heat, in any proper iron or glazed earthen-vessel; first putting into it a little mild ale, to prevent it from burning at the bottom of the vessel; and adding more ale, to bring it to a proper consistence for use. To cement leather together, for harness, bands for machinery, &c, having prepared the joints in the usual way, as if for sewing, apply the cement while hot, laying a weight upon each joint, as it is made: let them remain six hours before using, and the joints will then become nearly as firm as if made of one entire piece of leather. An excellent cement for stopping leaks in casks, &c. may be made by putting a little tow to the other ingredients. The Editor had this receipt from a Mr. H. Yates, in the year 1811."
"The Technical repository" by T. Gill, 1822, page 373.

Like India rubber? It sounds weird. Must have had a nice beery smell, though. I wonder why isinglass was included in the recipe?

Santa drinks Mild

Here's a little tip for all good little boys and girls who want to impress Santa: leave out some Mild for him.

I realise that me and Santa have much in common: our svelte form, red nose and a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times.

Little City Girl's Kind Thought Rewarded !

Thoughtful Sonia Coad (aged 5), of 80, Beaumont-road, Plymouth, is a proud and happy little girl this Christmas.

On her daddy's suggestion she left a bottle of mild ale for Father Christmas, with the message that "no doubt he would be very tired and thirsty by the time he arrived at her chimney, and would he accept a present from her with her love."

Sonia's excitement over the toys Santa had brought was completely eclipsed when she saw the empty bottle and a signed photograph of Father Christmas himself thanking her for her kind thought. "
Western Morning News - Tuesday 30 December 1947, page 3.

If mykids are reading this, Dutch Santa prefers St Bernardus Abt.

Andrew Roy goes bust

Time to return to Alloa. I've been away far too long.

You probably haven't heard of Andrew Roy and Son before. That's because the brewery is much better-known under another name: Archibald Arrol. Or the Alloa Brewery. Later the Scottish plant of Allied Breweries and the penultimate of Alloa's 19th-century breweries to close.

The brewery was in the hands of the Roy family for more than 50 years, first Andrew Roy, then later his son Robert Roy. The son doesn't seem to have made as good a fist of it as his dad. Hence this bankruptcy hearing. The business does appear to have been viable, as its long survival after Robert Roy's departure attests. The reason for it financial difficulties tells us much about the perils of being a Scottish brewery with a minimal home trade.

At this Court yesterday Andrew Roy & Son, brewers, appeared for examination in bankruptcy before Sheriff Clark. The sederunt comprised Mr James Moir, banker, trustee; Mr McWatt, writer, agent in the sequestration; Mr James Younger, brewer; Mr Thomson, wood merchant; and Mr H. Baird, maltster, Glasgow, creditors.

Robert Macfarlane Roy, sole partner of the firm, examined by Mr McWatt, deponed - I am sole partner of the firm of Andrew Roy & Son. Previous to my joining the firm in 184S the business had been carried on since 1810 by my father, Mr Andrew Roy, in his own name. My father died in 1853, about seven years after I became his partner. The Alloa and Hutton Park Brewery works belonged to him, and were conveyed to his trustees by his deed of settlement. His trustees had an interest in the business from the time of his death till 1860. Their interest then ceased, and they had no longer any connection with the business. The whole works were acquired by me under an arrangement with my father's trustees. I was obliged to suspend payments in May last; and a private meeting of my creditors was held at Edinburgh on 2d June last, at which I made an offer of composition of 15s. per £1 on the debts due by the firm, payable by three instalments at three, six, and nine months. That offer was accepted by the creditors, and the first instalment fell due on 17th December last. I was unable to meet the first instalment. The reason why I could not meet that instalment was principally because I was disappointed of funds which I expected to receive from the business carried on by the firm in London under the management of Mr Andrew Roy. In June, when the private meeting of my creditors was held, there was due by the London agency £5055, arising from outstanding debts, a large portion of which I counted on getting previous to December. A considerable portion of that sum was collected by Mr Andrew Roy, but only a small portion of it reached me. Mr Andrew Roy, in December last, sent me a statement of his intromissions, from which it appeared that a large proportion of the money collected had been applied in paying salaries and expenses. The sum forwarded to me would not exceed £150. From reports sent to me by a London solicitor, there are now but about £400 of good debts. The business in London was carried on in Upper Thames Street, where the ale was sent to Mr Andrew Roy to be sold. The account transmitted to me by Mr Andrew Roy, to which I have referred, is amongst the papers which have been given up by me to the trustee. Full sets of books have been kept at the brewery since I became a partner, and previously. I also kept a private ledger showing the statements of profit and loss in the business, and also showing my private expenditure. A balance was regularly made each year on the 31st July. The books were regularly kept by clerks under my superintendence. They contain full and regular accounts of the whole transactions of the firm, and are capable of being brought to a proper balance. I have prepared and lodged with the trustee a full statement showing the firm's liabilities and assets. This was produced at the first meeting of creditors under the sequestration and considered. It gives (Ist) a list of debts due by the firm; (2d) list of assets; (3d) abstract state of the affairs of the firm; (4th) list of outstanding debt due to the firm; (5th) bills receivable; (6th) account of casks; (7th) statement of ale, malt, and hops on hand and (8th) statement of losses sustained by the firm. I have also produced states applicable to my own private affairs, consisting of (Ist) statement of heritable property and moveable effects belonging to me; and (2d) list of private debts owing to me; also a record of the heritable properties as required by the Act. These states are all correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I am willing to give any other explanation as to these states if required by the trustee. The whole books and papers have been delivered to him. The abstract state of the firm's affairs show that the liabilities are £19,803 odds, and the assets, after the deduction of preferential claims, £8927 - thus showing a deficiency of £10,876. I account for this deficiency by bad debts sustained within the past three years. The chief loss has been in London under the successive agencies of Mr Alexr. Ford, Mr Patrick Robertson, and Mr Andrew Roy. The loss under Mr Ford's agency £2200, under Mr Robertson's £2620, and under Mr Andrew Roy's £4197 - amounting in all to £9017. Other losses were made in 1863-4 by John Orr, John Angus, and others in Glasgow, amounting to £1538, and losses under small accounts in different parts of the country, amounting to £1076 - making the total losses £11,631. Full details are given in my ledger. The different heritable properties mentioned in the state belong to me individually. They consist of the Alloa Brewery, Hutton Park Works, Hutton Park House, and Whins Road House. These have been valued by Mr Paterson, city valuator, Edinburgh, and Mr John Melvin, Alloa. The brewery and utensils are valued at £5802, Hutton Park Works, £2696; Hutton Park House, £1600; and Whins Road House, £450 - total, £10,548. The mortgages, amounting to £7345, 1s. 3d., leave an apparent reversion of £3202, 18s. 9d. My private expenditure might be £460 to £500 per annum. The whole states lodged by me with the trustee have since been submitted to a chartered accountant, appointed by the trustee, who has examined and compared them with the books.

Mr JAS. Moir, the trustee, stated that he had carefully examined the books, and had submitted them to an Edinburgh accountant. He had not yet received his report, but he had received word so far as to show that a full and fair statement had been submitted. He did not, therefore, consider it necessary to put any additional questions to the bankrupt. The statutory oath was then administered."
Caledonian Mercury - Friday 20 January 1865, page 2.
The losses seem to have mostly been incurred by the London agency. The size of the losses there is revealed by the valuations of the brewery's property. £9,017 was lost in London. Almost twice the value of the brewery itself, £5,802. How had they managed to lose so much money? Fraud is my guess.

The London agency owed the brewery £5,055, but all except £400 of this was eaten up by expenses and wages. That seems a ludicrously large amount, more than £4,500. Someone must have had their hands in the till.

Scottish brewers, who did the bulk of their trade far away from their brewery, were particularly dependent on agents to sell their beer in England. The newspapers are full of court cases brought by brewers against agents and advertisements seeking agents. This was in sharp contrast to London brewers, most of whose custom was on their doorstep and could be supplied directly from the brewery.

The bankruptcy hearing didn't mean the immediate end of Andrew Roy and Son, as they were able to placate their creditors:

Andrew Roy and Son's Sequestration.- At a statutory meeting of the creditors of Andrew Roy and Son, brewers, held yesterday, the bankrupts' offer of composition was accepted. The Alloa and Hutton Park Brewery works will, therefore, continue to be carried on by the old firm."
Dunfermline Saturday Press - Saturday 28 January 1865, page 3.

It was just a stay of execution. Archibald Arrol bought the brewery in 1866.