Showing posts with label domestic brewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label domestic brewing. Show all posts

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Home brewing in WW I

Though I don't mean the type of home brewing in the modern sense. Domestic brewing is probably a better description of it. Where farmers or other large households brewed for their own consumption and those of their workers.

It had been very widespread in the 18th century, but gradually declined in the 19th century, due to a number of factors. The greatest probably that between 1830 and 1880 private brewers had to pay the full tax, as duty was levied on the raw materials. The only real economic advantage the domestic brewer had was being able to use ingredients banned in commercial brewing, such as raw grain.

The increasing gap between the quality of home-brewed and commercial beer was another important factor. There had been little difference in the equipment and techniques employed in a domestic brewery and a commercial one in the early 18th century. Technological advances, which had mostly passed the private brewer by, had given commercial brewers much greater control of the brewing process. Put simply, home-brewed beer could seldom match commercially-brewed beer in quality.

Commercially-brewed beer had also been relatively cheap before the outbreak of war. The increased excise duty changed that.

The "haapenny the haupint bexter" has filled the Essex and other East Coast peasantry with economic ideas, as how to circumvent such an outlay, to wash the hayseeds and the wheat and barley "hiles" from their throats. And this has taken the form of reverting to the old practice of brewing their ales, an excellent practice that the farmers will not condemn. The average home-brewed is made from malt and hops only, but that malt and hops are not so easily obtainable as they were a few years ago. I wonder how many calls would have to be made to Bristol a sack of malt and seven pounds of hops could be obtained. And then the smell and taste of sweet wort, the aromatic perfume of the hops in the old farmhouse copper, or as the liquor is set out to cool. The nine gallons of "stingo" that would prevent frostbite on a winter's morning, and the big barrel of small ale that got harder and harder as the summer drew on, until it veritably made one's eyes strike fire to drink it. A quart of West Countree "crab vergis" was mild as compared with it. Of late years this home-brewing has been a very declining industry. The popular taste has tended towards the lighter, more palatable non-deposit beers being produced by our modern brewers; but to have to pay eightpence duty on what has hitherto been sixpence per gallon harvest ale will certainly turn many a farmer's thought in the direction of his own mash-tub in non-cider-making counties. Happily, the practice of giving drinks at harvestide to agricultural workers is being replaced by extra money, a gain alike to the farmer and the labourer. And bearing this in mind, we shall not see the Excise increased to deal with the issue of licenses for brewing on the premises for home consumption only."
Western Daily Press - Thursday 31 December 1914, page 3.

The author points out the one big problem of starting to home brew again: getting hold of the materials. Difficult as it might have been in 1914, it would be completely impossible later in the war as brewing materials were rationed and allocated to brewers.

Note that this only applies to "non-cider-making counties". For the obvious reason that in cider-making counties cider still played the same role that beer once had in other parts of the country. And apples, unlike malt and hops, would always be obtainable.

Monday, 14 November 2011

How to Manage the Brewing of One Boll (part three)

Time for the final instalment of a thrilling description of Scottish domestic brewing. Today it's the turn of fermentation.

It's fascinating stuff, if only because it's so different to the supposed Scottish way of fermenting. See what you think:


Procure a gallon of brewers' best strong-ale yeast; and for this brewing you will need three fermenting tuns. It will be best to have two of them capable of containing about 42 gallons each, which will serve the purpose of fermenting a barrel (36 gallons) should it ever be found necessary. A tun capable of containing a half-hogshead will serve for the table-beer, and will afterwards ferment a kilderkin (18 gallons) if needful. As soon as your strong-ale wort is cooled to 85°, take out about a gallon of it, and pour into it three English pints, or 34 pounds 3.5 pounds of the yeast. When it begins to ferment, add a little more wort, and a vigorous fermentation will soon take place. If the weather is cool, or the atmosphere from 40° to 45°, commence fermentation as soon as the wort is cooled to 75°. Pour the yeast-mixture all over the inside of the fermenting tun, as far up as the wort will rise. Turn in the strong-ale wort now, and incorporate it well with the yeast; after which cover up the tun. Follow exactly the same plan with the middle-ale wort, fermenting as before with 3 English pints of the yeast. Ferment the 16 gallons of table-beer wort at the temperature of 80° with one English pint of the yeast. You have one English pint of the yeast remaining, in case the fermentation in any of the tuns becomes languid.

On the morning after the worts have been put into the tuns, if the fermentation has gone on smoothly, the ale-worts should show a slight white cream. Break this down into the mass, stir well up the contents of the tuns, and take out a little for examination. The saccharometer should show a decrease of gravity, and the thermometer a small increase of heat. Examine the tuns again in the evening, and should the fermentation appear rather languid, add a small portion of yeast, and mix it up well with the mass. On the second morning, if fermentation is going on well, a white frothy head, something like a cauliflower, should appear on the contents of the tuns, with perhaps patches of dark-brown yeast on its surface. Be careful to remove these patches, or they will impart a harsh disagreeable flavour to the ale. Take out some of the liquor and examine it. If the saccharometer does not indicate a considerable decrease of gravity, and the thermometer an increase of heat, break down the head once more into the mass, and stir the whole well up. After this the head must remain unbroken till it is skimmed off, but samples may be occasionally taken out to ascertain to what extent attenuation has taken place. When the head assumes a dark-brown appearance, and begins to be depressed in the centre, it must be removed, or it will fall to the bottom and destroy the flavour of the ale. Be especially careful to prevent this. After skimming apply the saccharometer. Should the gravity not be reduced two-fifths,—that is, that which originally stood at 100 be reduced to 60,—and that which was 65 be reduced to 39,—rouse it well up, and skim every two hours, till this degree of attenuation is, if possible, attained. The table-beer should be put into the cask 24 hours after fermentation has commenced in the fermenting tun.

See that the casks are perfectly clean and dry. Place them on a gawntree with the bunghole a little inclined to one side, that the yeast may discharge itself freely from the ale. Fill the casks, and as for some time a considerable discharge will take place from the bunghole, be careful to supply the deficiency every two hours from the pitchers containing the over-contents of the casks. If this be not attended to the yeast will fall to the bottom, and make the ale harsh, besides rendering it liable to new fermentation on every change of weather.

When the fermentation has subsided the casks should be firmly bunged down with wooden bungs, called by the brewers shives, and a spile-hole made in them, into which a vent-peg is put loosely for a day or two, and then firmly fixed. When ale is made in March and intended to be kept over the summer, it may be advisable to put 4 or 6 ounces of the finest hops into every half-hogshead ; or the half of this quantity if the ale is racked off into quarter-hogsheads or kilderkins, which are perhaps more convenient for domestic use.

If notwithstanding all your care the ale should be cloudy, it will be necessary to fine it by artificial means. To do this yon must dissolve an ounce of isinglass in a quart of cider or stale beer, allowing it to stand for several days, when another quart of cider or beer may be added. Strain this through a sieve, and put nearly the half of an English pint of it to each quarter-hogshead or kilderkin, mixing it thoroughly with the ale. Ale should not be fined in this manner unless absolutely necessary ; for is has a strong tendency to flatten it and promote acidity.

In this brewing the strong-ale wort may have a gravity of from 112 to 115; the middle-ale wort, a gravity of 74; and the table beer wort, a gravity of from 48 to 50."
"The cook and housewife's manual" by Margaret Dods, 1847, pages 648 - 650.

It begins normally enough, with making a yeast starter. Nothing odd about that. But look at that pitching temperature: 75º F. Admittedly, it does say this is when the ambient temperature is cool. Even so, it seems very high.  Though not as bad as for the Table Beer, which is pitched at 80º F. Oddly enough, there's no mention of the pitching heat in warm weather. Presumably that was lower.

The temperatures quoted are totally at odds with what Roberts suggests in "Scottish Ale Brewer": around 50º F. And not much like what William Younger did, either. They pitched their 120/- Ale at 55º F and their Table Beer at 58º C.

It seems that the practice of mixing yeast with a small amount of incompletely-cooled wort used to be employed by commercial brewers:

"The mode which the Scottish brewers adopt in pitching their tuns is very similar to that in England; though, generally speaking, they do not now, as formerly, let down a small portion of the worts into the gyle-tun at a higher temperature, along with some of the store. That former practice, which appears to me very judicious, as it gives the brewer some idea of the strength of the store before he mingles it with the whole of his worts, is still employed by a few."
"The Scottish ale-brewer and practical maltster" by William Henry Roberts, 1847, pages 114 - 115.

Note the beating down of the yeast at the start of fermentation. Commercial brewers did that, too. Except they continued doing so most of the way through the fermentation.

It's a bit confusing about when cleansing should start. Except in the case of the Table Beer, which is after just 24 hours. What I think it says is that cleansing should begin when the attenuation hits 40%. The system described - where the casks are placed on their sides and excess yeast allowed to exit via the shive hole - is cleansing at its simplest. And messiest, as the yeast/wort mixture runs down the side of the cask. I wouldn't want to be the cleaner. Or the poor bastard topping up the casks by hand.

A demonstration of how commercial and domestic brewing was diverging as the professionals changed their equipment and techniques to reduce the amount of labour required.

That's a fair amount of dry hops being added. Remember that they're using a half-hogshead and not a barrel. The rate is 5.33 to 8 oz. per 36-gallon barrel. Rather later - 1868 - William Younger added about 4 oz of dry hops per barrel to their 120/- Ale.

Old brewing instructions often mention that beer should clear itself spontaneously, if stored and matured correctly. The alternative, then as now, was to fine with isinglass. I'm not surprised finings tended to make beer go sour if they used stale beer or cider to dissolve the isinglass with. Sounds like asking for an infection.

And there we have it. Full instructions on how to brew at home in mid-19th-century Scotland. Very handy.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

How to Manage the Brewing of One Boll (part two)

Hey, hey, hey as Crusty would say. Today's when we get the details of the parti-gyling combined grist brewing. Bet you've been waiting for that all week.

After the Strong Ale come two more: the inspiringly-named Middle Ale and Table Beer. I wonder if reading descriptions like the one below is what has confused everyone about parti-gyling? It's a huge mistake to extrapolate domestic practice into commercial brewing. If only because the laws governing the two were quite different. When this passage was written, for example, the use of sugar was prohibited in commercial enterprises. That's one of the reasons domestic brewing hung on for so long: it was as fettered by government regulation. Being able to use ingredients forbidden  to professionals could give the domestic brewer a price advantage.

That's enough of me rambly preambling On with the main course:
"While the boiling of the first wort has been going on, the second wort for the middle ale has run from the mash-tun, and is now in the underback; its strength has been tried with the saccharometer and noted down, and two pailfuls of it are ready to be poured into the boiler the moment it is empty, to prevent the copper from being injured by the fire.

After the first wort has boiled from an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half, and been treated according to the above directions, the fire must be completely damped and the furnace door thrown open. The piece of canvass must be fixed on the straight tap of the boiler as directed in page 639, and must be allowed to hang down into a large hair-sieve, placed above the tub which is to receive the wort, in order to keep out the hops. Open the tap, and let a person keep stirring the wort while it runs off, to prevent the hops from subsiding to the bottom of the boiler.


The moment the copper is empty, let the two pailfuls of the second wort be poured into it. Put in the rest as quickly as possible, and put into the copper other two pounds of fresh hops, reserving the hops which came off with the boiled wort for the table-beer. The strong-ale wort must now go into the coolers, and should not exceed in depth four or five inches.

Stir up the fire, and let the second wort boil briskly for one hour and a half. After the wort has boiled one hour, put in a half pound of fresh hops, and, in twenty minutes after this, cool some of the wort to 60°, and try its strength with the saccharometer. Should it stand 57 on the instrument,-—that is, one pound and two-thirds of saccharine matter to the gallon, or 50 pounds more of the extract,—put into the boiler sugar to bring it up to 74. If there are 30 gallons of wort, 15 pounds of sugar will do this. After the sugar has been boiled a few minutes with the wort, draw off the contents of the copper as before, and distribute it in the coolers. This should make ale equal in strength to that which is sold by the Edinburgh brewers at £3 per hogshead, but, from the addition of the sugar, lighter and more delicate in flavour.


As soon as yon have drawn off the second running from the boiler, pour into it the table-beer wort, having previously tried its strength with the saccharometer; and put in with it the four pounds of hops boiled in the first copper. It must boil two hours. If, as we supposed, 84 pounds of the saccharine matter were extracted from the malt in the first wort, and 50 pounds in the second, (134 pounds,) the remaining saccharum in the mash will amount to about 16 pounds,—and it may not be possible to extract all this in the process. When the wort begins to boil, make five or six gallons of it to percolate through the 2.5 pounds of boiled hops from the second copper, to extract the ale-wort from them. Then drain these hops well, and, throwing them away, return the strained wort to the copper. After the wort has boiled in all an hour and three quarters, I cool some of it to 60°,—try its strength with the saccharometer, and add sugar to raise it as high as you wish. The strength of the wort will perhaps not be more than from 30 to 34, and a. half-pound of sugar per gallon will give an additional gravity of 17, which will raise it to 48 or 50. If then there are 16 gallons in the copper, add eight pounds of sugar. This will form a light refreshing drink during dinner, and when you are not inclined for the middle or strong ale.

See that of each kind of ale you have two gallons more than your casks will contain when the ale is put into them; for it will continue fermenting two or three days,or longer, in the casks; and a good deal will be thrown off in this process, which must be supplied regularly from this extra quantity. In case of shortcoming after all, it is well to have a few extra gallons of the table beer. You can then fill up the strong-ale cask with the middle ale, and the middle-ale cask with the extra table-beer."
"The cook and housewife's manual" by Margaret Dods, 1847, pages 647 - 648.

One point worth noting from the first paragraph: they're using a direct-fired copper. But doing their best to avoid caramelisation. I just thought I'd throw that one in.

The Middle Ale also gets two hop additions: two pounds at the start of the boil and another half pound 30 minutes before the end of the boil. The second wort is boiled longer than the first, but not by much, just 15 minutes or so. No evidence here of long, caramelising boils. Probably because it would have been a waste of fuel (and money).

Middle Ale similar to £3 Edinburgh Ale? Let's see what William Younger's 60/- was like in 1847.

Two and a half pounds of hops for half a hogshead is the equivalent of 3.33 lbs per barrel. That's quite a lot for an Ale of this strength. Younger's 60 bob only got 1.13 lbs. Though that was lower gravity than 1074º. It was closer to the gravity here before the addition of sugar, namely 1061º.

The process of hopping the Table Beer is intriguing. The spent hops from the Middle Ale are sparged with the Table Beer wort to extract the absorbed goodness, but are then thrown away. Only the 4 pounds of spent hops from the Strong Ale are used. Why not boil all the spent hops? There must have been a reason why they didn't.

As with the first two beers, the gravity of Younger's Table Beer is about the same as the one in the text before the addition of sugar: namely 1033º. 1048º to 1050º seems rather strong for Table Beer. Funnily enough, Younger's Table Beer was more heavily hopped than their 60/-: it had 1.33 lbs of hops per barrel. And not second-hand ones, either. I'll let you decide if a beer of 4.5% ABV is a  "light refreshing drink during dinner".

See how a few gallons extra of each wort were collected? For topping up during the cleansing process. How did they store this wort? Wouldn't it start going sour if left unfermented? Unlike at a commercial brewery, this topping up is the only time different-strength worts are mixed.

Still fermentation to go. On the off chance any of you are still awake after the first two instalments. I know I'm struggling to keep my eyes open and I'm writing this stuff.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

How to Manage the Brewing of One Boll

Remember how I keep telling you that domestic brewing was rare in Scotland? I've found a detailed description of how it was performed. Cool, eh?

It's taken form a household manual. One of those books that tells you everything from how to roast beef and make Yorkshire puddings to making cheese and raising poultry. And how to brew. In fact, there's a whole section on brewing. Starting with a description of all the equipment you'll need.

How do I know it's Scottish? Apart from the fact it was printed in Edinburgh? The title gives it away. By using the word "boll". That's a peculiarly Scottish unit of volume, about the same as 6 English bushels. And the Strong Ale produces is likened to a £6 Edinburgh Ale.

Here's the text. My commentary will follow it.


I. To brew from six Bushels of Malt a Half-hogshead of Strong Ale, a Half-hogshead of Middle Ale, and a Quarter-Hogshead of Table-beer; using Sugar along with the Malt.

Be sure that the malt is of the best pale kind, and that it has not been dried at a high temperature, nor ground above three days. Have the mash-tub perfectly clean, the hoop nailed slightly at the bottom of it, and the false bottom laid upon the hoop. Fix the straight cock or tap in the bottom of the mashtub, and be careful that it does not rise in the smallest degree above the inner surface of the real bottom, or the wort will not all run of. Have your copper full of boiling water, and put 44 gallons into the mash-tub, with 5 or 6 gallons of cold water, to bring the temperature down to 182° on the thermometer. The six bushels of malt must then be strewed into the mashtub by one person, while another mixes it carefully with the mashing-stick or oar, that it may be properly separated and thoroughly blended with the water. This operation will take from thirty to forty minutes. After the mashing is completed, strew from a quarter to a half-peck of the grist, or malt, on the mash. This will form a kind of coating or paste over it, and help to keep in the heat. Put the cover then on the mashtub, a blanket over the cover, and the sacks from which the malt was taken over all. Every means must be used to keep the mash as hot as possible, and to prevent the steam from escaping. There are now in the mash-tun 6 bushels of malt and about 50 gallons of water, being rather more than 8 gallons of water to each bushel of malt.

The boiler is again filled with water, which this time must be heated to 190°. Let the mash remain covered from two to three hours, after which turn the tap in the bottom of the mashtun, partially only at first, and let some of the wort run into a pail, which must be returned into the mash-tun till the running is perfectly clear. The wort may then be allowed to run into the underback, the tap being gradually turned fully round. From the 50 gallons of water put into the mash-tun, not more than 30 will run into the underback, the malt absorbing nearly three gallons and a half per bushel. The heat of the wort when it runs from the tap should be from 145° to 152°.

When the tap has been kept running fur some time, and the surface of the bed of the mash begins to appear, you must begin to sparge* in water at the temperature of 190°, and continue always to sparge in as the surface appears, the tap in the meantime being kept running, till the number of gallons you require for the ale has been percolated through the mash. The first 44 gallons of worts must be set aside for the half-hogshead of strong ale; the next 40 gallons is for the half-hogshead of middle ale; after which the tap may be stopped, and the table-beer wort allowed to remain in the mash. The 24 gallons of water sparged in for the table-beer may be at the temperature of 195°. The quantity of water which it will be necessary to sparge on the mash for the first and second ales will be 54 gallons; besides the 24 gallons for table-beer.

By the time you have sparged on the mash about 30 gallons your strong-ale wort will be ready for boiling; and if you have only one copper you must bring the water in it to boil, then damp the fire with wet ashes, throw open the door of the furnace, and run into one of the fermenting tuns about fifty gallons of boiling water to continue the sparging. To prevent the copper from being injured, the moment the water is run out of it pour in the strong-ale wort, the strength of which you have previously ascertained by the saccharometer. It will require about 44 gallons of this wort to yield 30 gallons after being boiled and cooled; for about two gallons will be absorbed by the hops, and one-fourth of the remainder will go off by evaporation. When the wort in the copper attains the temperature of 200°, just before it begins to boil, put into it two pounds of the best East Kent hops, well rubbed and separated with the hand. Clear up the fire, and make the wort boil briskly for45 minutes, stirring it well during the operation. The more quickly the wort boils, the sooner it will break into flakes and fine itself. At the end of 45 minutes put in other two pounds of the hops, separating them with the hand as before. These are only to boil from 25 to 30 minutes. By this method the strength of the first parcel of hops is extracted; while, by only the partial boiling of the second, their aroma is retained, which imparts a delicate flavour to the ale.

If 84 of the 150 pounds of saccharine matter contained in the boll of malt are extracted in this first running of 44 gallons, now reduced to about 30 gallons by evaporation and absorption with the hops, each gallon will contain about 2.8 pounds; and as one pound of extract to the gallon gives a gravity of 34, the 2.8 pounds will yield a gravity of from 95 to 100. To ascertain its exact strength, however, before drawing off, put some of the wort into the sample-tube of the saccharometer, immerse it in cold water till it cool to 60° on the thermometer, and try its gravity by the saccharometer. If a greater strength is wished than the saccharometer indicates, add a half-pound of raw sugar per gallon, or fifteen pounds to the contents of the copper, and the wort will gain an additional gravity of 17. Wort of a gravity from 112 to 118 is of sufficient strength to make the best family-ale,—equal indeed to what is sold by the brewers of the far-famed Edinburgh ale at £6 per hogshead.

* Sparging. — To sparge is to sprinkle the hot water or run it in a shower over the mash, so as to spread it at once over the whole surface. This, in home-brewing,may be easily accomplished with a wooden vessel, the bottom of which is perforated with innumerable small holes. While one pours the hot water into this vessel, the other moves it round the mash-tun, so as to sprinkle the water equally over the whole surface of the mash. A large watering-pan with a wooden handle (not to heat) will serve the same purpose if the rose is turned downwards by a bend in the spout, so as to sprinkle the water more easily upon the mash."
"The cook and housewife's manual" by Margaret Dods, 1847, pages 645 - 647.

As you'll have noticed, these aren't the full instruction. They'll be coming along soon. It'll give me the first opportunity to use a new phrase: combined grist brewing. But I shouldn't get too ahead of myself.

Back to the words above. The grist is 100% pale malt, which is what you would expect at this date. The strike heat 1s 182º F. Which seems  a little high. I just happen to have William Younger's records from the same year, 1847. Their strike heat was 178 or 179º F. Not that much different. And it should be remembered that a professional mash tun was almost certainly better insulated than one with a few malt sacks thrown over it.

What's described next is what all brewers had to do before the invention of mashing machines: mix the malt and water together manually. It sound like hard work. And, involving two people, it's pretty labour-intensive. I can see that, if you're only mashing a few bushels, it is do-able. But imagine a large Porter brewery where 100 quarters of more were being mashed. Mixing that by hand would have been a nightmare. 30 to 40 minutes, the author reckons the mixing should take, followed by 2 to 3 hours standing. At Younger it only took 20 minutes to mix. Then again, their mash tun almost certainly had internal rakes. Though they let the mash stand a similar length of time, 2 hours.

The mash is runnier than Younger's. There's about 8.33 gallons of water per bushel of malt. At Younger, it was between 6 and 6.5 gallons.

A single mash followed by sparging is dead typically Scots. I doubt any English domestic brewer would have worked that way. Not until at least a couple of decades later. The suggested temperatures of the sparge water - 190º F and 195º F- are slightly warmer than Younger's, which were 184º F and 180º F. The tap heats are very similar: 145º to 152º in the text, 149º to 152º at Younger.

Hopping. I love looking at Scottish hopping. Four pounds for a half-hogshead (27 gallons) is 5.33 lbs per 36-gallon barrel. Let's check what Younger's 120/- Ale (remember this is likened to a £6 Edinburgh Ale) got: 4.75 lbs per barrel. A reasonably similar amount. It's great that the hop additions are detailed: one at the start of the boil, the second with around 30 minutes to go. Once again the point is made about retaining the aroma of the hops. This definitely seems to have been an important aspect of Scottish Ale. The total length of the boil is only  75 minutes. Not long enough for the caramelisation some claim is essential in a strong Scottish Ale. The boiling time at Younger was even shorter: 70 minutes for the first copper and 65 for the second. The hop choice is very similar: East Kent in the text, East Kent and Farnhams at Younger.

And finally the gravity: 1095 to 1100, before the addition of sugar. The gravity of Younger's 120/-? 1099. They, of course, didn't use sugar. Though 1847 is the year that its use was allowed in commercial brewing. Younger were never very keen on sugar. When they moved away from all malt, it was maize grits, not sugar, that they turned to.

I love the way they call a beer with an OG of over 1100 a "family ale".

There's one huge difference in the the brewing method described above and Younger's: Younger's 120/- was brewed entire gyle. Whereas the text describes the combined grist brewing method. But more of that in the next installment.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

What is the usual beverage of the common people?

Not much today. Just a short piece about Scottish drinking habits.

This is an excerpt from an article about the Poor Laws in England and how the Scottish approach differed. The author praises the Scots for not being soft and encouraging idleness like the English did with their workhouses. Change a few details and it could easily sound like a modern Tory's speech. (Take a look if you doubt me.)
"6. What is the usual beverage of the common people? do they generally drink beer? and how do they procure it?

A. The usual beverage of the common people is milk, failing that useful article, water, or small beer not much better than water, is their beverage. The small beer is usually procured from public houses.

7. What may be the number of ale-houses, in reference to the population of districts?

A. There are ten public-houses in this parish, few of them of extensive business, and the population thereof is 1700 souls or thereby.

8. Is it customary for labourers to resort to such houses?

A. It is not common for country labourers to resort to public-houses, except when they have received some money from their master for extra services, or when they are delivering grain or other articles, on which occasions an allowance in money is always given them. The inhabitants of towns and villages are better customers to the publican than the country labourers.

9. Is it usual for common brewers to become owners of such houses, and serve them exclusively with their own manufacture? or do the tenants brew their own beer?

A. The brewers in Scotland are very seldom owners of public-houses, the sale of ale and small beer being too inconsiderable to make it any object for them to rent houses with a view of procuring the exclusive consumption of customers. The tenants of public-houses rarely brew their own beer; indeed that is quite unnecessary, for one common brewer can with ease supply all the beer that is wanted in four or five parishes. Private brewing is not customary in Scotland, except in the harvest months, when many of the large farmers brew beer for the use of their reapers—bread and beer being almost in every case the only articles for dinner."
"Blackwood's Edinburgh magazine, Volume 3, April - September 1818", 18 , pages 13 - 14.

It's another one of those brief but fact-filled texts that I love so much.

Under discussion is a country parish. With 10 pubs for a mere 1,700 people, I'm not surprised none of them did that much trade. Agricultural labourers, we are told,  rarely drank anything stronger than Small Beer. We've already seen that in the 18th century and early 19th century, only a small proportion of the beer brewed in Scotland was Strong Beer. In England, it was the other way around, a majority being Strong Beer.

Hang on, I've numbers to demonstrate that:

Scottish and English beer production 1803 - 1820
Scotland England
year Strong beer (barrels) Table beer (barrels) total all beer (barrels) %age Table Beer Strong beer (barrels) Table beer (barrels) total all beer (barrels) %age Table Beer
1803 106,436 248,936 355,371 70.05% 5,582,516 1,660,828 7,243,344 22.93%
1804 93,035 230,240 323,275 71.22% 5,265,623 1,779,570 7,045,193 25.26%
1805 104,534 221,439 325,973 67.93% 5,412,131 1,776,807 7,188,938 24.72%
1806 118,911 230,198 349,109 65.94% 5,443,502 1,771,754 7,215,256 24.56%
1807 121,395 233,942 355,337 65.84% 5,577,176 1,732,710 7,309,886 23.70%
1808 114,086 234,493 348,579 67.27% 5,571,359 1,710,242 7,281,601 23.49%
1809 117,711 220,828 338,539 65.23% 5,513,111 1,682,899 7,196,010 23.39%
1810 126,806 227,487 354,293 64.21% 5,753,319 1,653,588 7,406,907 22.32%
1811 119,533 230,233 349,766 65.82% 5,902,903 1,649,564 7,552,467 21.84%
1812 121,174 222,153 343,328 64.71% 5,860,869 1,593,395 7,454,264 21.38%
1813 116,060 198,826 314,886 63.14% 5,382,946 1,455,758 6,838,704 21.29%
1814 132,717 206,175 338,892 60.84% 5,642,014 1,432,728 7,074,742 20.25%
1815 135,210 221,698 356,907 62.12% 6,150,543 1,518,301 7,668,844 19.80%
1816 126,582 222,278 348,859 63.72% 5,982,379 1,514,867 7,497,246 20.21%
1817 111,160 205,977 317,137 64.95% 5,236,048 1,453,960 6,690,008 21.73%
1818 108,948 192,434 301,381 63.85% 5,364,009 1,434,642 6,798,651 21.10%
1819 123,664 209,380 333,044 62.87% 5,629,240 1,460,244 7,089,484 20.60%
1820 116,299 207,010 323,309 64.03% 5,296,699 1,444,287 6,740,986 21.43%
"Accounts and Papers: Miscellaneous, session 23 January to 11 July 1821", 1821, pages 353-354.
"Accounts and Papers: Miscellaneous, session 23 January to 11 July 1821", 1821, page 269.

Which is all very ironic, what with Scotland being renowned for its strong beers. They might have made Scottish brewers famous, but the folks back home mostly drank the weak stuff.

Why didn't agricultural labourers go to the pub? Because they didn't have any cash. As soon as they were gievn some, they were straight down the boozer. A bit like Little Dave. As soon as he got his giro he was down the pub and wouldn't leave until it was all gone. Happy days.

The question about tied houses is an odd one. But dead useful for my purposes. I'm still trying to get my head around when the tied house system first appeared and how it developed. London brewers owned some pubs (or their leases) in the 18th century. But it was nowhere near a majority of pubs that were controlled by brewers. That, as far as I can tell, was an indirect result of Licensing Acts, starting with the one of 1869. As new licences became virtually impossible to obtain and magistrates began delicensing pubs, there was a scramble to secure pubs. Or rather their licences.

For reasons I've never been able to explain, though tied houses did exist in Scotland, the majority of the pub trade was, nominally at least, free.And that difference seems to stretch back to at least the beginning of the 19th century. Could the high percentage of beer exported be connected to this? Were Scottish brewers not as dependent on the local market as their English colleagues?

Finally two other differences with England: no pub brewing and only domestic (i.e. farm) brewing at harvest time. The beer supplied at harvest was, in England, usually a type of low-gravity Mild. Maybe about 4% ABV. Domestic brewing was popular in parts of England well into the 19th century. And in others the same was true of pub brewing until after WW I.

Wow. I've managed to stretch that one out. I only meant to write a couple of paragraphs.