Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Monday, 2 June 2014

Brewing in Australia

Just some random piece of shit from an old brewing magazine about Australia.

It's a slightly frustrating article because the most interesting part of the pamphlet it quotes from - a trip around teh Carlton Brewery - isn't included, just the rather bullshitty and flowery introduction. I've chopped the crap out to save you the trouble of reading it

"BREWING IN AUSTRALIA
WE have received from Mr. Edward Latham, the proprietor of the Carlton Brewery, Victoria, Australia, a nicely-written and neatly-printed little pamphlet of thirty-one pages, descriptive of a visit to his well-known establishment, and of the premises, plant, and machinery. All these appear from the account, which is apparently reprinted from a local newspaper, to be just what they should be—the best of their kind, and need no Further notice at our hands. There is a pleasant, gossipy introduction, which we may very well transfer to our columns :—

. . . . .

And when a Briton leaves his mother-country, and settles down in one or other of her numerous colonies, he still retains his innate affection for the beer of his youth. Take, for example, our Indian brethren. That they do not outgrow their hereditary love of the national beverage is testified by the twin facts, that a special class of ale is brewed to suit their parched palates, and that ‘India Pale Ale’ is annually imported into the three Presidencies in astonishing quantities. We all know the story of the young Indian officer, who, on hearing through his agents that a fortune of £10,000 had been left to him, and receiving a request as to what should be done with the money, replied, without hesitation, ‘Send for a cargo of bottled beer.’ It is be hoped, for sobriety's sake, that there are not many such hundred-thousand-bottle men to be found now-a-days, but there are very few Indian residents who entirely banish bottled ale from their tables. Even on board the steamers running between England and the East, the consumption of bottled beer assumes gigantic proportions, for we learn from a report dated October, 1865, that the number of bottles of beer used on board the Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamers alone, for the twelve months prior to the date quoted, was no less than six hundred and ninety thousand, three hundred and fifty-nine bottles! Coming nearer home, we notice in the manifests of newly-arrived vessels, hogsheads of draught, and cases and barrels of bottled beers, sufficient to accompany the most Gargantuan repasts—enough, one would think, to wash down all the fresh and preserved meats in Australia. But there are drawbacks to the general consumption of this beer, carefully prepared as it may be, and set apart, like the left-off clothes we read of but never see, ‘ for the colonies.’ It is not thoroughly suited to the requirements of our climate. It is too heavy, too somniferous in its effects for the heat of our summer days, not sufficiently refreshing to the taste, and rather too expensive for universal use. What is wanted to recoup the ‘waste of tissue,’ to appease the ‘drouth’ of sun-baked Australians, is a beer that shall be light, yet good, pleasant to the palate, but not unpleasant to the system, a beer, to use an hackneyed quotation, 'without a headache in a hogshead of it,’ or a suspicion of cocculus indicus, grains of paradise, or strychnine, in a year's brewing. To meet this want, several breweries have, at different times, been started in Victoria, and have met with various degrees of success.”

The ales of the Carlton Brewery, we learn, are in high repute in the Colony, where they have taken many prizes and prize certificates at the various exhibitions. The employes have enrolled themselves into a volunteer fire brigade, not only for the protection of their employer's property, but for that of their neighbours, and have on many occasions rendered valuable service in the suppression of outbreaks in the town. From a footnote we leam that there are already no less than 124 breweries in Victoria, turning out in 1871 more than thirteen millions of gallons of beer, equivalent to eighteen gallons per head of the population, including children, annually."
"Brewers' Guardian vol 3", 1873, pages 320 - 321.
 The quantites of IPA shipped to India weren'y really that astonishing. Compared to the total amount of beer brewed by Bass and Allsopp the quantity taht went to India was really rather negligible. In 1872 167,597* barrels of beer were imported into in India. Less than half of that would have been IPA, say 70,000 barrels at the absolute maximum. Between them Bass and Allsopp brewed well over 1 million barrels.

Could that story of the officer spending £10,000 on beer possibly be true? I'd like to believe it was. But my head tells me there's some embellishment or fantasy at play. If £10,000 really did get you 100,000 bottles, that makes IPA 2 shillings a pop. Which seems pretty expensive, even considering it's in India. British adverts tell me that an Imperial pint of Bass IPA was just 4.75d - about a fifth of 2 shillings. Even if the Indian bottle was quart, that's still a big preice difference.

Mr. Latham seems to be describing Lager: "a beer that shall be light, yet good, pleasant to the palate, but not unpleasant to the system". His brewery would later become very big in the Lager trade. It still is, with delightful beers such as Victoria Bitter.

One of the reasons I've shared this is that I used to walk past the site of the Carlton Brewery every day on my way into work when I live in Melbourne in the early 1990's. God, that seems like several lifetimes ago.

124 is far more breweries than there currently are in Victoria, that's for sure. 13 million gallons is 361,111 barrels. Or about as much as one of the large London breweries. It's a average of just a little less than 3,000 barrels per brewery. Most must have been pretty small.





* Brewers' Guardian, Volume 3, 1873, page 14.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Kirkstall Brewery beer in Australia

I had imagined just knocking up a quick post about the Kirkstall Brewery's brewing records and leaving it at that. But as so often, I've been sucked in much deeper.

Searching the web for images relating to the Kirkstall Brewery I found a blue plaque which is presumably on one of its walls. It mentions that the brewery exported beer to Australia.This is it:


I couldn't resist a quick search of the Australian newspaper archive. This is what I found:


The Argus (Melbourne), Friday 13th February 1874, page 2.

Looks like they really did export beer all the way to Australia. I would never have guessed that.

Now there's just one question: which beer was it? A beer specially brewed for the purpose of one of their standard rang?

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Reputed Pint Bottles

This article highlights one of the nightmares of deciphering old price lists. The vagueness of the terms "pint" and "quart". Do they mean a reputed pint or an Imperial pint? Sometimes the distinction is made, but often not

I must say that I'm surprised by this case, pointed out to me by Korev in a recent comment. Even I know, almost 150 years later, that a reputed pint is way short of a proper pint. Why did the revenue inspector decide to prosecute this particular grocer? Especially when it was clear that everyone was aware that a reputed pint wasn't a full measure.

The other thing is, having lived myself in Melbourne, I know what measure they sell draught beer in there. One is something called a reputed pint. Or schooner. It's about two-thirds of a pint. Oh, the happy memories of nipping into the Canada for a quick schooner of Copper's Stout on the walk home from work. It was often 40º C. That's my excuse.


"REPUTED PINT BOTTLES.

The postponed cases in which Henry Black, grocer, at 175 Bourke-street west, and Alexander McIntosh, grocer, at 180 King-street, were summoned, under the Wines, Beer, and Spirits Sale Statute 1804, for selling bottles of liquor in bottles containing less than a pint, to wit, five-eighths of a pint, came on at the District Court yesterday, before Mr. Sturt, P.M., and Mr. Wilton, J. P. Black's case was taken first. Mr, F. Stephen prosecuting, and Mr. Gillott defending.

John Wilson deposed that he was a surveyor in the employ of the revenue inspector, Mr. Evans, and on the 10th inst., by the latter's direction, went to the defendant Black's shop, and purchased the bottle of "Guinness's stout, bottled by Burke," produced. Purchased it from the grocer's assistant.

Wm. McDonald gave evidence to the effect that he had measured the bottle produced when empty, and found it would contain barely five-eighths of a pint.

For the defence Mr. Gillott urged that there was no deceit proved, as the bottles were those universally known as pint bottles, though known by the trade and the public not to contain a pint. He also deprecated the style of doing business by the revenue inspector, who sent informers to buy these bottles, and pointed out that there was no proof of the reliability of such an informer. He called -

Hugh Miller Guthrie, customs officer, who deposed that he very frequently received through the custom-house bottles like that produced, reputed pint bottles, and sold in the trade as pints, though they did not contain a pint. Witness has been in Melbourne 23 years, and never saw a reputed pint bottle that contained-a-pint.

Cross-examined. - The duty on pints reckoned 12 to a gallon. The act said they should take them as reputed pints. About 20, or a good many, years ago they used to take them by usage as pints without any act, and afterwards they were required to measure them ; but that was put a stop to, and an act of Parliament was passed to take them as reputed pints, at 6d. per gallon. The bottle produced was a little smaller than usual. Five years ago pint bottles were not "much larger" than that produced. Quart bottles held more than a tablespoonful more than a pint. He should say they held six-eighths of a quart.

To Mr. Gillott.-Witness had measured thousands, and never found a reputed pint bottle that contained a pint. Six reputed quart bottles were reckoned to a gallon, but it would take about seven, or six and a quarter, or six and a half, to actually make up the gallon. Some brewers placed more than others did in a reputed quart bottle. There were no twelve bottles of brandy containing two gallons of brandy. The nearest was Hennessy's, and that was 2-32nds short. That mode had been in the trade ever pince Johnny Fawkner sold liquor.

To the Bench.-Witness never saw a full imperial pint or quart to come in full-sized bottles, and they used to measure every cargo that arrived. The nearest was Byass's porter.

Euler Smythers, wine and spirit merchant and grocer's licence holder, said he bad been 17 years in the trade. Burke's stout was sold as pints. The bottle produced was exactly the same as those sold as a pint in the trade. Quart bottles were about six to a gallon. Bottles like that produced had always been sold as pint bottles during the last 17 years. The public, of course, knew they were not getting a pint. It would not bo safe to import such large sizes as bottles holding a quart, on account of the loss which would result from breakage.

To Mr. STEPHEN.-Witness knew that by his grocer's licence he must not sell a less quantity than a pint. Had never measured the bottles to see what they contained. He believed that produced held about six-eighths of a pint.

- Smithson, grocer and wine and spirit merchant, in Queen-street, said he had been 18 years in the trade, and sold bottles like that produced as reputed pints. Had sold that class of ale and porter since the act came into force in 1865. Never came across a case of brandy containing two gallons.

Cross-examined. - Never compared other bottles with that produced. Did not think Guinness's pint bottle wad a whit smaller now than 10 years ago. Did not know that the importers at home had been reducing the size of the bottles in order to make a greater profit.

Isaac Sewell, of Elizabeth-street, 16 years in the trade, deposed that be had never had any complaints from the public, and he sold the bottles as reputed pints.

This was the case for the defence.

Mr. Sturt, P.M., said that the Bench considered that in complaints of this kind under a penal act, it must be a wilful evasion of the act to constitute an offence. Now in this case there was not wilful evasion of the act, and, moreover, it was selling by the pint bottle by repute, and custom, he thought, bore it out ; and the case was therefore dismissed. On the same plea, he might observe, persons might be actionable for selling a dozen quart bottles of wine, which would be for selling less than two gallons.

Mr. Stephen said ho would apply to have a case stated.

The case of McIntosh was the next, and the only difference being that the bottle in question was one of Tennent's reputed pints, Mr. Stephen said he would allow it to be dismissed with the other, and it was accordingly dismissed.

Two other cases, in which Henry Black was charged with permitting to be sold on two occasions liquor not in the quantity and manner which his grocer's licence authorised under the Act of 1804, were by consent postponed until Thursday.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Tuesday 28 March 1871, page 7.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/5845043

It all seems like a huge waste of time and money. Everyone except Mr. Evans, the revenue inspector, understood perfectly well that the bottels weren't an Imperial pint in size.

One thing that struck me was that the beer was being imported already bottled.I'd have expected mostt to be sent out in casks and to be bottled locally. Did they really avoid large bottles because of the risk of breakage? Sounds like a godd excuse for using under-sized bottels to me.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

British beer exports 1890 - 1932

I told you we'd be returning to British beer exports. Another thromise. I'm so good at thromising. That's why I'm such a good dad.

I've only a few holes to fill in the late 1930's and early 1940's (can't imagine there was much exporting going on then) and I'll have most of the 20th century up to the 1980's. Pretty impressive, eh? Not sure what I'll ever do with the information, other than bother you lot.

Here's the table:


British Beer exports 1890 - 1932 (standard barrels)

1890 1900 1910 1913 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932
USA 48,991 47,700 69,688














Egypt 6,591 18,597 20,600 20,530 10,408 9,796 11,619 11,305 8,592 8,971 9,840 10,760 10,510 10,659 12,571 14,603 14,409 11,627
Anglo-Egyptian Sudan







271 450







Cuba




14,261 2,254 3,151 3,258 4,148 2,665 2,410 1,070




Irish Free State







28,007 36,549 40,135 37,884 38,073 38,740 43,271 41,208 36,878 34,995
Malta & Gozo 20,390 22,932


12,849 13,219 16,406 16,825 20,390 22,932 23,036 18,822 22,256 19,982 15,011 14,335 6,262
British S. Africa  25,582 31,446 5,937 5,253 464 3,302











British W. Africa




10,640 6,830 5,193 2,480 1,497 2,250 4,000 5,530 6,373 8,298 8,176 6,627 8,854
British India  97,196 94,918 96,914 100,181 23,776 60,751 45,555 45,548 39,515 46,180 47,562 57,600 60,814 66,714 71,594 70,124 60,031 53,630
Straits Settlements


37,740 7,928 22,063 6,588 8,827 9,312 5,855 8,287 16,003 16,360 18,759 25,351 19,150 9,974 7,407
Ceylon


2,335 956 2,154











Australia 


89,013 4,812 15,459 10,644 14,958 10,164 1,026







New Zealand 


9,598 477 2,717











Australasia  147,014 96,785 90,416

18,176











Brit. West India Islands  26,882 18,794 21,726 21,901 5,161 13,688 6,517 9,510 12,190 12,064 12,544 14,484 15,144 18,865 19,979 19,436 14,364 12,546
Belgium




128,237 88,852 80,216 69,942 62,703 75,772 52,805 55,820 71,305 81,512 79,338 82,132 65,310
France




29,436 19,256 15,664 12,607 10,886 11,381 9,234 7,865 8,936 8,463 8,455 7,265 4,729
Other Countries  150,565 202,605 285,065 368,910 177,691 390,252 259,690 263,982 50,190 53,284 57,456 54,817 58,507 65,422 61,921 53,023 43,501 41,165
Total  502,921 510,845 590,346 655,461 231,673 390,252 259,690 263,982 263,353 264,003 290,824 283,033 287,445 328,029 352,942 328,524 289,516 246,525
Sources:
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115, Brewers' Journal 1921, page 24, Brewers' Journal 1923, page 26, Brewers' Journal 1925, page 27, Brewers' Journal 1927, page 28, Brewers' Journal 1928, page 29, Brewers' Journal 1929, page 30, Brewers' Journal 1931, page 34, Brewers' Journal 1933, page 41

A bit of a monster, I know. That's why I've included an image, too. For those who have narrow screens.

A few long-term trends are apparent. The total collapse of the trade to South Africa and Australia just after WW II is the most obvious. Unsurprisingly, there were no exports to the USA in the 1920's. Though you have to be suspicious about all that beer sent to Cuba in 1920. Could that really have been for the locals?

I was surprised that the Indian trade held up as well as it did.  It eventaully recovered to about 60-70% of the 1913 volume. That's proportionally better than average, as total export volumes were about halved.

I really wish I had the figures for pre-war expoprts to Belgium. There must have been some, though I suspect on nothing like the later scale.  From nowhere it became the biggest recipient of British beer. Many British brewers made beer specially for the Belgian market, usually brewed at something close to pre-war strength.

The British West Indies took relatively small but steady amounts of British beer. Longterm, it was one of the most stable export markets. Presumably because of the slow development of local breweries.

And finally one other significant new market devloped in the 1920's: the Irish Free State as it was sos quaintly called back then. Beer had always been sent there, it just hadn't counted as a foreign country. The impact of Irish independence was far greater on imports. Of the 1,349,515 barrels imported into the UK in 1927, all but 20,000 came from Ireland*. The vast majority of it was Guinness.




* Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

British beer exports 1913 - 1920

Remember those posts about George Younger's export trade? Well here's a follow-up with a few more numbers. For the whole of the UK, but better than nothing.

The figures confirm what was seen at George Younger: exports to Australia were greatly reduced after WW I. They dropped from almost 90,000 barrels in 1913 to just 15,000 in 1920. I think we can guess what happened. When British beer became unavailable due to the war, Australian-brewed beer replaced it. After the war a large part of British beer's market was gone forever.

Browsing through the other figures, I was surprised to see how much beer was still being shipped to India. And, while the absolute quantity might have declined post-war, the percentage of exports that went to India remained constant, at around 15%.

Also telling are the countries selected for individual inclusion. All were part of the British Empire.  While these accounted for 44% of exports in 1913, in 1920 it was just 33%. Looks as if the market for British beer was moving away from the Empire.Which is reflected in a change in the countries included in the Brewers' Journal table during 1921. Belgium and France were added.


British Beer exports 1913 - 1920

barrels percentage

1920 1919 1913 1920 1919 1913
To Egypt 9,796 10,408 20,530 2.51% 4.49% 3.13%
British S. Africa  3,302 464 5,253 0.85% 0.20% 0.80%
British India  60,751 23,776 100,181 15.57% 10.26% 15.28%
Straits Settlements 22,063 7,928 37,740 5.65% 3.42% 5.76%
Ceylon 2,154 956 2,335 0.55% 0.41% 0.36%
Australia  15,459 4,812 89,013 3.96% 2.08% 13.58%
New Zealand  2,717 477 9,598 0.70% 0.21% 1.46%
Brit. West India Islands  13,688 5,161 21,901 3.51% 2.23% 3.34%
Other Countries  260,322 177,691 368,910 66.71% 76.70% 56.28%
Total  390,252 231,673 655,461 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
Source:
Brewers' Journal 1921, page 24

I'll be coming back to exports. I've just noticed how many untabulated figures I have knocking around. I must knock them into tables.

Friday, 20 April 2012

George Younger's Export Trade 1876 - 1914

George Younger's export trade needed flexibility, initiative and enterprise to maintain. As is shown in the constantly shifting destinations for their beer. That they made such an effort to keep it going demonstrates the importance of exports for the company.

As markets closed, they sought out new ones. A policy that seems to have succeeded up until WW I. A cataclysmic event for British brewers. One from which, you could argue, they've never fully recovered. The following paragraphs tell a complicated tale. I'll paraphrase it for you later.

"A steady and ever increasing export trade both in bulk and bottled ales and stout is shown in the records from 1876 up to the start of the great war in 1914.

It is of interest to note the change in the various markets during the 21 years from 1875-1896. The American and Canadian markets came to a sudden stop in 1875; while a steady and increasing trade had been developed in the South African ports; Algoa Bay, Port Elizabeth and Durban are regular entries.

The West Indian market also was flourishing; Demerara, Barbados and Trinidad being the principal places. The Australian market appears, however, to have weakened during this period, Brisbane and Sydney being the only ports to which shipments were made.

It was during this period that the Indian and East Indian markets became more prominent. There were regular shipments to Madras with an occasional shipment to Bombay and more frequently to Calcutta. Singapore, Rangoon and Penang are becoming better markets, while there is also an occasional order for Malta and Hong Kong.   Colombo, on the other hand, which prior to 1875 had been a good market, had by this time dropped out completely. From 1897 to 1907 Export Sales both in bulk and in bottle remained fairly stationary, the tendency being rather for a slight fall in the former and a correspondingly slight increase in the latter.

The actual position of the various markets, one which in most cases did not change to any appreciable extent up to the start of the Great War in 1914, was as follows: New markets in Egypt and Constantinople took occasional supplies. The South African markets practically erased to take up supplies by 1908, and like the Australian markets, although making an occasional shipment up to 1914, ceased to be of any importance after 1908. A final effort to keep the Australian trade going in Sydney was made in 1911 when a chilling and bottling plant was established; these efforts, however, did not meet with any success.

The West Indian trade continued to take supplies steadily, Trinidad in particular, being the best and largest market, while Demerara and Barbados continued to be good customers. The Indian trade from 1898 was a steadily increasing one up to 1914, and was the main market for bulk supplies after the Australian bulk trade ceased, to all intent, in 1908.

There were regular and steady shipments to Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras and these continued up to 1914. Colombo also began taking supplies again in 1900; Hong Kong and Shanghai were steady markets up to 1907, but were gradually dropping off from that date and ceased taking supplies by 1914.

The market with the most interesting history was the Straits Settlements. This had been an improving market, with a growing connection, and increasing shipments to Rangoon, Singapore, Penang and Port Swettenham.

The rubber boom which started in 1911 brought with it such sudden and unexpected demand for bottled stout, that it was impossible to ship sufficient supplies to meet it. A representative from the agents representing George Younger & Son Limited in the Straits Settlements actually came to Alloa with a very large sum of money with him, as he thought the firm was holding back supplies, owing to lack of confidence in their financial standing. He had not realised that stout for export bottling had to mature in cask for a year before bottling, and that the shortage in the stock of stout could not be remedied for several months."
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, pages 6 - 8.

1875 the North American markets disappear.
1876 - 1896 West Indian trade strong, East Indian trade strong, Australian trade weakening.
1897 - 1914 South African and Australian trade disappears, East Indian trade stable, West Indian trade strong, some new trade in Turkey and Egypt, after 1911 a boom in trade with Malaya and Singapore (Straits Settlements)

Organising the shift in focus around the globe must have required a great deal of effort and planning. Which implies there must have been good money in the trade otherwise why go to all that trouble?

There are several other points of interest in that passage. Like the gradual switch from bulk to bottled exports around 1900. And the attempt to hang onto the Australian business by building a bottling plant there. Again, something that seems like an awful lot of effort. It seems there were two ways in which Younger lost export business: local breweries being established in their markets; import tarifs. I'm sure that as breweries were established in Malaya, Singapore and India in the early 20th century that these markets also dried up.

The section about Stout for the Straits Settlements is worthy of particular attention. Firstly that Younger was exporting Stout there. Strong Export Stout isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Scottish breweries. It certainly wasn't a speciality north of the border. It's an example of the flexibility required to keep trade abroad. Younger brewed it, presumably, because there was demand, even though it wasn't something that would be in their portfolio of domestic products. Unlike Pale Ale and Strong Scotch Ale. I was also interested to learn that Younger were ageing their Stout for a year before export. Just like Guinness did with Foreign Extra Stout. Guinness had exactly the same type of difficulty in getting the stocking level right of a product where demand had to be anticipated more than twelve months in advance.

There's a final instalment to come in this series. A much shorter one. The size reflecting what happened to Younger's foreign business in the aftermath of WW I.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Aitken's Ale in Australia (part two)

Aitken, big exporter, shipped loads of beer to Australia. That's a quick summary of the story so far. But why didn't they use their famous red "A" trademark?

From various newspaper reports of beer arrivals, I've been able to discover much. Like just how widely distributed in Australia Aitken's Ale was.

Let's go through the different colonies. First New South Wales:

Aitken's Ale, in hogsheads and half-hogsheads, in prime condition-HARRISON AND ATTWOOD, 251 George-street.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Previous issue Thursday 12 October 1893

Now Queensland:

The shipment of Burke's stout per Pass of Balmaha has been sold, and two consignments of Aitken's ale have been sold to arrive.
The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 8 May 1901, page 8.
Where we also discover that Aitken's bottled Ale was brewery-conditioned:

Aitken's Ale, being entirely free from sediment, is the best for hotelkeepers' use.
The Brisbane Courier, Monday 19 October 1891, page 5.

Now Victoria:
Bottled ales and stouts are moving off freely at agents' prices. Besides other parcels, we are advised of 100 casks of Aitken's ale having been cleared off at current rates.
The Argus (Melbourne), Tuesday 21 September 1886, page 4.

And finally Tasmania:

10 casks Aitken's qt. ale, 10 csks do. pt do., 20 css Burke's light sparkling ale qts., 10 do. do. pts.,
The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania), Saturday 29 April 1882, page 2.
Right, that's Aitken's considerable presence in Australia confirmed. Let's move on to their trademark. In Australia, from what I've been able to glean from the newspapers, their bottled beer was sold with the bizarre "Lifebuoy" branding. You can see what it looked like to the right. Probably the oddest old label I've seen



Here's some proof of its use in Australia:

James Aitken and Co.'s Bottled Ale, "Life Buoy" Brand (quarts).
Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland), Thursday 18 July 1901, page 4

Aitken's Lifebuoy Ale is the best and purest in the Queensland market.
The Brisbane Courier, Thursday 3 December 1891, page 3.

Aitken's Lifebuoy ale 9s.; bulk half-hogsheads £2 5s; hogsheads, £4. i.b.; Tennant's, 8s. 6d. Frans Joseph Lager, 12s. McEwan's, 10s. 6d. and 7s. 6d.; bulk, £4 10s., i.b. Beaver brand ale, 9s. 6d. ; Beaver brand stout, 10s. 6d. to 10s. for parcels. Dogs Head, quarts 11s., pints 7s. 6d. Burke's stout, quarts, 11s. Tennant's, 8s. 6d. Dagger stout, quarts, 10s., for parcels, to 10s. 6d. Pig stout, quarts 10s. 6d., pints 7s. 6d. Foster's 10s. 9d. and 7s. 6d. Aitchison's ale and stout, 10s. and 7s. Lager Bier : Crown brand, quarts, 11s.; pints, 7s. 6d.
The Brisbane Courier, Tuesday 8 May 1900, page 8.
I'm pretty sure I know why Aitken used this design rather than their usual distinctive red "A". Because someone had beaten them to it. Take a look at this label, registered in Victoria in 1871:




It's from Thomas Aitken's Victoria Parade Brewery of Melbourne. Who must have been one of the earliest breweries in Melbourne. Funnily enough, the brewery can't have been far from where I used to live. This is the first reference I've been able to find to the brewery:

THE Subscriber, in returning thanks to his friends for their post support, begs respectfully to acquaint them and the public that he has opened the premises No. 12 Flinders-lane west (opposite the Rob Roy Hotel), where always will be kept a Stock of Ales and Porters, in bulk and bottle, direct from the brewery, at brewery prices.
THOMAS AITKEN, Victoria Parade Brewery, East Melbourne.
The Argus (Melbourne), Tuesday 4 September 1855, page 8.

I'll finish with a question. Anyone know:

  • the exact address of Thomas Aitken's brewery?
  • when it closed?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Aitken's Ale in Australia

I've told you that Aitken was a big exporter of beer. Particularly to Australia. Well here's some evidence of that trade.

Let's begin with an article. Perhaps advertorial might be more accurate. Because it's really just a puff for Aitken's wonderful new Ale:


Aitken's Falkirk World-famous Prize Golden Ales.

BULK AND BOTTLE.

The thousands of people in Australia who believe in the superiority of British beer over anything else of the kind yet produced, will be downright glad to hear that that colossal English propretary, the Aitken Ale people, have determined on making Australia a separate and distinct field for their enterprise. People who have turned their attention to the subject, will have noticed the marvellous improvements effected in the draught British Ale offered for sale throughout the colonies daring the last few years. Previously it was heavy, always unsuitable to Australia or wants. This, doubtless, arose from a non-acquaintance with the climate of Australia. The British Ale which has come to Australia in bulk has been much improved, and but for the colonial article and the protection duty of 25 per cent, per hogshead, the consumption would have been much greater. The means of communication are more expeditious, and the brew is delivered her in excellent condition. The proprietary of the world famous Aitken's Ale have resolved, however, on yet greater improvement, and for some time past started on the important work on providing a brew specially for Australia. The coming summer season will find this available all over Australasia. The British firm's agents are Messrs. Phillips & Co., of Bridge-street, their agents for New South Wales, and these gentlemen are prepared to do business on special terms in bulk and bottled ales of this special Australian brew at, we are informed, very reduced prices. The attention thus given to the colonies in this important essential of British Ales is satisfactory evidence of the growing importance of these colonies in the eyes of the world beyond the seas.
North Australian (Darwin, NT : 1883 - 1889), Friday 4 September 1885, page 8.

There's lots of good stuff in there. First: Aitken brewed an Ale specifically for the Australian market. What was it like? From the description of the unsatisfactory Ales as being heavy, I suppose it must have been light. Was it a type of Pale Ale. Or was it an "Australian Ale"?

It's difficult to believe that a brewery in Falkirk was a supplier of draught beer in Australia. When you think of the distance involved and the Australian climate. And people think globalisation is something new. It's hard to think of a more global institution than the British Empire. The United Nations, there's one. But you know what I mean.

I'd not realised that the Australian clonies imposed an import duty on British beer. 25% is a fair whack. It's easy to see how Aitken's profit margins could have been squeezed once colonial brewing picked up.

You know those weird Aitken labels with a figure clinging to a lifebuoy? I think I might know a reason why they exist. And why Aitken didn't use their red A trademark in Australia. But that's for next time.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Scottish beer in Australia

People are always sending me stuff. Often quite useful stuff. Like what I'm about to share with you. It's from the Australian Brewers' Journal of 21st february 1910 and shows the prices of various imported beers in Sydney.

Let's take a look, shall we?

First it's Ales. Take a close look and you may find something odd about certain Ales:



10 of the 13 draught Ales are Scottish. At least that I can recognise. I'm not sure where Palace and Guild & Co. are from. Just checked. Looks like they're both Scottish, too. Let's get this right: every draught beer except Bass No. 4 is Scottish.

Talking of which, what an odd beer to have exported. Not all the Bass beer I would have guessed. That's a Burton Mild Ale which, in 1870 had an OG of 1070. It probably hadn't changed much by 1910.

It's a shame that it's not more specific as to what type of beer most of them were. I could guess. But as there are no clues, there's not much point.

In the bottled beers, only four English brewers are represented. Two pretty obvious ones, Bass and Allsopp. Plus two less obvious ones, Combe of London and Tennant of Sheffield. Hang on. That can't really be from Combe. Their brewery closed in 1899, when they joined Watney, Combe, Reid. It must really be a Watney's beer.

Spot the funny Ales? Bit obvious, all those German Lagers. Amusing that they lumped the Lagers with Ales but listed Stouts separately. They couldn't have been paying attention in BJCP class. Note the the two Scottish Lagers, from Tennent and Jeffrey.


Now the Stouts:


I can only spot two Scottish breweries: Jeffrey and Tennent. That's hardly surprising. Stout wasn't such a big thing in Scotland. The best-known Stout brewers were in London and Ireland. Which is reflected in the list. Glad to see Barclay Perkins putting in a cameo. They certainl;y picked some odd brands to sell beer: Beaver, Fish, Pelican, Dog's Head, Dagger (my favourite) and Pig. Lots of different flavours of Guinness, though I'm sure the beer inside the bottles was the same.

Scotland is ridiculously over-represented, especially in the draught Ales. The percentage of beer exported must have been much higher in Scotland than in England.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A fair price for Barclay's Stout?

What is a fair price for beer? It's a question that's recently been asked in connection with sales of rare beer on e-bay. But beer pricing has been the subject of discussion much longer than that.

A word of explanation. By the Diggings, they mean the gold fields of Victoria. After gold was discovered in 1851 thousands of prospectors flooded in. Funnily enough, I've been to Ballarat. It's a lot quieter than in the 1850's.


"If there is one place in this world which gives us a better lesson than any other concerning prices, it is the region of the Diggings. Who can possibly tell what is a fair price for a bottle of Barclay's Stout at Mount Alexander or at Ballarat? Sixpence or 6s.—which? The expenses necessarily entailed in conveying that beverage from London to Melbourne by water, and from Melbourne to the Diggings by land, raise the original value; but besides this, the diggers—thirsty souls as they may well be—eagerly desire the welcome draught; and as they have nuggets of gold in their pouches, they will be liberal in dispensing their nuggets for the Stout. If the bottles of Stout be few, and the diggers and the nuggets be many, then the bottles— like pit-tickets, and Chertsey omnibuses, and fancy tulips—rise to a premium: nothing is a fair price; or rather, everything is a fair price; for if the digger would rather give an ounce-nugget for a bottle of Stout than do without it, who shall say him nay—who shall say that the seller ought not to take so much? Sitting quietly in our own room, and meditating on these things as judged by ordinary dealings, we may give a moral shake of the head, and exclaim: 'O what extortion!' Again and again we say, it is not until we have closely tested our everyday conduct, that we shall be justified in hurling this charge against the Australian speculators."
"Chambers's Edinburgh journal volume 19", 1853, page 219.

See? A fair price is what someone is prepared to pay. It holds just as true for today's rare beer auctions. If you think the price is too much, then just don't pay it. Without willing buyers the market would simply collapse. Ridiculous prices are determined by the buyer, not the seller.

Moving away from the philosophical aspects, exactly how expensive was sixpence or six shillings for a bottle of Barclay's Stout? In 1871, a dozen pint bottles of Barclay Perkins Brown Stout cost (in the UK) 3 shillings. Double brown Stout was 4 shillings and 9 pence a dozen. Or 3 pence and 4.75 pence per single bottle. Even allowing for considerable transport costs, 6 shillings a bottle is a hefty markup.

I bet you're expecting me to come up with some details of the beer, aren't you? Not one to disappoint, here's Barclay Perkins Export Brown Stout from just a couple of years earlier:


Barclay Perkins BSt Export 18th March 1850
OG FG ABV App. Attenu-
ation
lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl pale malt brown malt black malt amber malt
1096.3 1028.0 9.04 70.93% 15.34 7.14 66.35% 22.57% 2.61% 8.47%
Source:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives

I can now rest easy. There's this week's Barclay Perkins reference.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Australian IPA

This is a strange one. For a couple of reasons.

See what you think:


PALE ALE.

"I knew a brewer in New South Wales, who prepared 700 hogsheads of Australian ale for the London market. He was an honest old man, but he confided the management of his business to a money-making relation, who was as needy as he was greedy, and who paid little attention, at least to this particular brewing. The consequence was, that the ale was returned as unfit for use. 'Throw it away," said the old man himself; "if it won't drink in London, it can't drink here. Empty the hogsheads directly!" factotum however, thought differently, and thought very correctly, — for he was a superior judge of tastes, — that what would not drink in London, or in his own neighbourhood, would drink very well in India: accordingly, his master being quite ignorant of his intention, this damaged beer was, by a certain chemical operation, transformed into pale ale,—fine pale ale for the Indian market,—and through the aid of a puff or two in the Indian journals, went off well. I know this for fact, as I directed the despatch of the hogsheads myself."—Corr. Englishman, Aug. 25.
"The Asiatic journal and monthly miscellany, Volume 25" 1838, page 88.

I'm aware that there was a great deal of intercontinental trade in the 19th century, but I'm amazed that beer was being shipped from Australia to Britain. I thought the beer trade was all the other way around. Especially so early in the century.

What was Australian Ale? What made it particularly Australian? And what on earth could the chemical process be that transformed it into IPA? Did they really ship beer from Australia to India? I suppose it's nothing compared to journey all the way to London.

I suspect this story may be just that: a story.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Number of breweries question

This might sound like a weird question. Especially coming from me. Well, it's not so much one question as a couple.

Does anyone know:

the number of breweries in the USA in 1996
the number of breweries in Canada in 1976
the number of breweries in Australia in 1996
the number of breweries in Switzerland in 1976 and 1986

I would be most grateful if anyone could help out. An accurate count of the current number of breweries in Canada and Australia would be nice, too.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Mild Memories

May is Mild month, at least according to CAMRA. As a loyal member, I feel it's time for me to write something about Mild.

Newark
The very first Mild I drank was Hole's, well Courage (Newark) as it was then romantically called. 1973, it must have been. It was in the Castle and Falcon, a pub virtually in the yard of the Castle Brewery where the beer was brewed. It wasn't cask. Hole's was all bright. The beer was filtered (but not pasteurised, I think) and served through electric pumps. The glass cylinder type with a diaphragm that moved from side to side. Most beer, including cask, was served this way in the East Midlands at the time.

For the life of me, I can't remember what Hole's Mild was called. Definitely not Hole's Mild. (If anyone can remember, please let me know.) Even though not real, it wasn't so bad. Bright beer was a reasonable second-best to cask. It wasn't fizzy like top-pressure keg, though it was never as good as well-handled cask. At least you always got a full pint through electric pumps, as the cylinder was a measured half pint.

My first pint of cask Mild was a little later. Home Mild. In the early 1970's, of the 35 to 40 pubs in Newark, all but 6 were owned by Courage. This was the result of both Newark's breweries - Hole's and Warwick & Richardson - ending up in Courage's hands. Only one of their Newark pubs sold cask beer when I started drinking: Barnsley Bitter in the Wing Tavern. The town's only other source of real ale was the four Home Ale's pubs.

Home only brewed two draught beers: the prosaically-named Home Bitter and Home Mild. Both were slightly stronger than usual. Home Mild had an OG of 1036º, which made it one of the strongest in the country.

I won't claim Home Mild was the greatest beer on earth. But it did have two things going for it: it was cheap and reliable. Nottingham still had three decent-sized independents - Home, Shipstone and Hardy & Hanson (all now sadly closed) - that owned the majority of pubs in the city. Any coincidence that it also had some of the lowest beer prices in the country? I thinkl not. The Nottingham brewers helped drag down prices in the whole of the East Midlands. Home beers were always in good condition. I never had a duff pint until they built the new brewhouse (the cause of their demise).

I'm pretty sure I first tried Home Mild in the Newcastle Arms, close to Newark North Gate train station. It was a typical Home Ales pub. It had a public bar and a lounge, was fairly modern in style, but pretty down-to-earth. God knows what it's like or what it sells now. I lost interest when S & N took them over.

Leeds
One cask Mild. That was the choice I had. Until I started university at Leeds in 1975. My very first evening there I made two lasting friendships. The first was with Matt. The other with Tetley's Mild. Me and Matt were off down the pub shortly after meeting in our shared student flat. If I remember correctly, we hit the Pack Horse, Eldon and Fenton. All Tetley's pubs. Weren't all the pubs in Leeds? All three had pretty decent electric-pumped Tetley's Mild and Bitter. Already committed to Mild, my choice was easy.

Matt was along, too, the first time I tasted handpumped Teley's Mild. We went on a drinking expedition to Sheepscar. There wasn't a great deal in Sheepscar at the time. The back to backs had all been demolished and just the occasional lonely pub remained. The Sheepscar was one, surrounded by nothing but roads and waste ground. But it did have handpulled Tetley's. So did the magnificent Roscoe and Victoria. This was where Tetley's grand plan to replace beer engines with electric pumps ground to a halt. I can't remember the exact story, but I know they backed down in the face of opposition from one corner or another.

When I took my first sip, I understood why customers had wanted the handpulls retained. It tasted like a completely different beer - and a much better one - than the electric-pumped version. Not surprising really, as this was how Tetley's was made to be served - through a handpump with an economiser. The texture, head and flavour were all so much better. I was sold.

From that point on, I hunted down the remaining Tetley's pumps with beer engines. Most were in districts in the throes of demolition or that had just been rebuilt: Hunslet, Sheepscar, Cross Green. Early in 1977 I moved into a back to back in Cross Green. There were some great pubs and lots of great Tetley's Mild. The Cross Green Tavern, the Black Dog. It was like heaven.

But I was still doing a fair bit of my drinking on the other side of the city. With Simon, a friend from school in Newark also at Leeds University, I used to spend evenings in the Rising Sun and Cardigan Arms on Kirkstall Road. Both had electric pumps, but the beer was still pretty good. Then one day we entered the taproom of the Cardigan and saw a row of handpumps on the bar. The beer wasn't a disappointment. It's still the best Tetley's I've ever had. The Cardigan was one of the first pubs to go back to handpumps. A couple of years later, there were almost no electric pumps left.


London
After returning from Bordeaux in May 1979, me and Matt lived in London for a while. A whole bunch of us did. Simon, Tym, Piers. In the same house. It was incredibly cheap for London. Free, in fact, because we were squatting. An old terraced house on Swaton Road in Bromley-by-Bow. (That's the East End, if you're not acquainted with London.) In a row of houses overshadowed by tower blocks. A lovely area.

The only pub locally that sold Mild was a Whitbread pub in Chrisp street market. It was keg but I occasionally drank it, just because it was there. I never saw anyone else under 70 buy it. There wasn't a great deal of cask beer about. The Tenterden had the cask Bitter that Truman's had just introduced. It wasn't great, so I usually mixed it with bottled Guinness. Perhaps I was subconsciously trying to construct something like Mild.

Me and Matt had a job in a factory close to Old Street tube. It was a funny place. They made the boxes for anti-aircraft missiles and doors for warships. I spent most of my time sanding down missile boxes. Thirsty work. Not far away was a pretty decent real ale pub, The Bricklayers Arms. Me and Matt often used to spend our half hour dinner break there. I can remember my excitement the day we found that they had Fuller's Hock on. It was in beautiful condition. Absolutely perfect. I had 5 pints. I liked it that much. I soon wore the booze off once I got back to sanding.


Leeds Again
I didn't stay in London long. When the rains started at the end of summer, we realised why the house in Swaton Road had been boarded up. The roof was riddled with holes. I moved back up to Leeds, to 97 Brudenell Road. At one time, almost everyone I knew had lived in that house. I got a job at Systime Computers, a DEC OEM. (Apologies for the computer jargon.) Assistant scheduler, that was my title. The job was even less important than it sounds.

Friday was our big night out. I'd meet up with Harry and Dave Turton straight after work. The North Street crawl was our favourite, ending up at The Roscoe and Victoria. The Roscoe was a brilliant pub. A proper Irish pub. Not somewhere with a stupid faux Irish name and Shamrocks all over the place. A real Irish pub with an Irish landlord and mostly Irish customers. They sold a cracking pint of Tetley's Mild. It was one of the last Beerhouses in Leeds. That meant it only had a licence for beer and cider, not spirits. Beerhouse licenses were created by the 1830 Beer Act. Licensing authorities started a vendetta against them in the 1880's and had whittled away their numbers either by forced closure or allowing them to upgrade to a full licence.

The Roscoe had a brilliant atmosphere. Even though it was tiny, they still had live music, the musicians sitting amongst the drinkers. It was one of the best pubs in Leeds and much loved by the Irish community. I could see why. Which is why the road scheme which necessitated knocking down both it and the Sheepscar - two of only a handful of buildings left standing in a demolition wasteland - is so baffling. It seemed as if the council went out of its way to get rid of as many pubs as it could. Thankfully, that wasn't the final end for the Roscoe. The landlord took on a nearby club and turned it into the New Roscoe. It didn't have the charm of the original, but at least a very special institution wasn't allowed to die.

In a full Friday session we usually managed to knock back 10 to 12 pints of Tetley's Mild. We stopped not so much because we were drunk, but because we were full. Though I seem to remember we often stumbled on to the Corner Cafe, an excellent ethnic Indian restaurant (despite the name) just over the border in Chapeltown.


London again
When I realised being and assistant scheduler wasn't much of a career, I took a 3-month government course to retrain as a computer programmer in 1982. There wasn't much programming work in the North so I was more or less compelled to return to London.

This time I lived in Thornton Heath, 10 miles due south of Victoria station. It's part of a swathe of very similar suburbs stretching from Streatham to Croydon, that were built as London's local train network developed around 1900. I rented a room from Tony. He'd grown up in Wimbledon and was a big Young's fan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the location of their tied houses. He took me around dozens of different ones. Sadly, Young's had discontinued their Mild by that time, so I had to drink Bitter.

By the early 1980's Mild was pretty much extinct in London. You occasionally saw keg Mild is some dismal dump of a pub. Or cask as a special treat in a real ale pub. But I sometimes went months without drinking any. Then something really strange happened. Truman's, already in the same ownership as Watney's, suddenly became really enthusiastic about cask. They introduced a whole range of cask beers - Mild, Bitter and Best Bitter. Many of their pubs sold all three.

My favourite place for a pub crawl in central London was Fleet Street, then still home to most national daily newspapers. The Wig and Pen, The Old Bell, The Punch Tavern and, just a bit further on, the magnificent art-deco Black Friar. The Wig and Pen was a Truman's pub. When Truman's went cask-crazy, they stocked all three. I'd go there after work on a Friday, amazed but delighted to have found a regular source of Mild in the centre of town.

I should take a look art the recipe for Truman's Mild. The brewing records should be there in the London Metropolitan Archives. I hadn't thought of this before. The Truman's cask beers are the only ones where I could find the records for beer I personally drank. What a strange idea. By checking the dates, I'm pretty sure I could track down specific batches. How weird is that? Definitely top of my list next time I drop bt the archives.

Planning a trip to Prague, I started teaching myself Czech. Once there I realised how inadequate my efforts had been and enrolled in a night school class. It took place just north of where I worked on Gloucester Place. It ws close to Lord's cricket ground. Our teacher was Czech dissident Jan Kavan, who later became an MP in the Czech parliament. After the lesson me and my fellow students often went for a drink in a nearby pub. A Greene King house that surprisingly sold their XX Dark Mild. Another unremarkable beer, but you couldn't afford to be choosy as a Mild-drinker in London. You had to grab any scraps thrown in your direction.


Swindon

After 1985, when I left London for New York, my life was Mild-free again for a long time. The USA wasn't the Mild-drinker's paradise it is today. What? It still isn't a Mild paradise? Believe me, it was much worse then. I was happy to get hold of anything that wasn't pale yellow and chemically-tasting.

Returning to Europe in 1987, I decided to give Holland a try rather than just return to Britain. I found a job then guess what my new employer did? Sent me to Britain for two years. Not just anywhere in Britain. Swindon. Once home the Great Western Railway's engine works (the last British steam locomotive was built there), now a sprawling town of Barrett-box estates. In a word, a shithole.

It did score well in one respect. It had two small breweries, the established Arkell's and the new Archer's. Only one snag: neither brewed a Mild. But all was not lost. Oxford isn't far away and Morrell's had one tied house in the older part of Swindon, the Beehive. Surprisingly, they stocked Morrell's Dark Mild, a pretty rare beer, only available in a couple of pubs. It became one of my regular haunts. As did the Bakers Arms and the Gluepot in the railway village. Neither sold Mild. The former was an Arkell's house, with a charming 1950's feel. I wonder what's happened to that? It's about as unfashionable a look as you could imagine.

The Gluepot was Archer's only tied house. Dolores worked close by at W.H. Smith's (their office, not a shop) and used to go there with her colleagues on a Friday dinnertime.

With very little Mild about, I came to appreciate Southwestern-style Bitter - quite malty, sweet even, with delicate hopping. Arkell's BBB is a great example. Really good stuff. But I digress, these are my Mild, not Bitter, memories.


Australia
Mild in Australia? Surely I'm joking? Not in the slightest. In October 1990 I was sent to work for Ansett Airlines in Melbourne. Their office was in the city centre and I lived a 15-minute walk away in Carlton.

I've never been very comfortable with heat. I'd be happy if it were never warmer than 20º C. Australia in the summer was quite a challenge. Luckily there was a pub selling draught Cooper's about half way home, the Canada. A quick schooner of Cooper's Stout cooled me down a treat and fortified me for the remaining journey. Happy days.

Yes, I've remembered this is supposed to be about Mild. Cooper's made my time in Australia bearable (beer-wise, Australia has plenty of good points in other areas). There were a few pubs with draught Cooper's Sparkling Ale around where I lived. And a few more selling Bottled Cooper's Stout. The Stout is a corking beer, a little rough around the edges, earthy and intense. It even tastes good at 0.5º C, the standard Australian serving temperature.

I liked Cooper's so much, that I arranged a weekend in Adelaide, its hometown. They have one tied house. Just the one. It sells their full range on draught, including Dark Ale. A Mild. Rather a nice one, too. It's how I imagine Mild was in the 1920's, being a good bit stronger than modern British Mild. I can't recall ever seeing it on sale in Melbourne, not even bottled. Maybe you can now. Bierkoning here it Amsterdam has it. I bought a couple of bottles last month.

In some ways the Australian beer market is very regional. The beer glasses are different in each state. What they call a midi in New South Wales is a pot in Victoria and a schooner in South Australia. Beer styles vary, too. Victoria is all pale lager. Really nasty pale lager. I hear the Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne has discontinued Stout. Brilliant. That was my last resort drinkable beer in all the shitty CUB pubs. What the hell would I do now? In Adelaide, there's plenty of Ale about.

New South Wales is different again, with Old and New. The latter is just the same pissy pale lager you find all over the world. Old is a form of Dark Mild. Pasteurised, filtered, gassed-up and kegged, but still Dark Mild. It's not the most inspiring beer, in its current artificial form, but it's still Mild, so I felt obliged to give it a go when visiting Sydney. There was a choice of Tooth's or Toohey's. I can't recall there being any great difference between the two. It's another type of beer I never saw in Melbourne. The only time I came across it in Victoria was in Ballarat. Or was it Bendigo? One of those country towns.

Cairns. I drank Old there, too. That was weird, drinking iced Mild in the tropics. It took me back to my Leeds days. The summer of 1976 was long, hot and dry. My brother had brought me a 5-gallon plastic barrel of Mild he'd brewed. It was so warm, I added ice cubes to each glass to cool it down. We sat on the balcony of our student flat in North Hill Court, Pete, Matt, Tym and me, listening to The Ramones first album, sipping iced Mild. Has Mild ever tasted better?. I should have been studying for my first-year Chinese exams. It's no wonder I failed them.

I had to return during the summer holidays to take resits. I was broke, living just off the dole. I studied all day and relaxed in the evening with War and Peace. And 45 minutes nursing a half of Teley's Mild in the Pack Horse. A half was all I could afford.

The last time
The last time I drank Mild was in February. I was with the family in London for the weekend. We met Stonch at his local, The Jerusalem Tavern, for a couple of beers. And to give him a bottle of my 1914 Porter.

The Jerusalem is a St. Peter's tied house and one of London's few regular Mild outlets. I'd had a few pints there on my previous visit to London in December. My day had gone pear-shaped when I discovered that the London Metropolitan Archive was closed. Suddenly I had an empty day in London in front of me. I couldn't drink too much, because that evening I was attending The British Guild of Beer Writers' annual dinner. How did I fill the hours? With a few pints of Mild at the Jerusalem and a copy of the Guardian. Sitting at the bar, I was pleasantly surprised to see how popular the Mild was.