Thursday, 5 May 2016

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part fifteen)

This is so exciting. We’ve finally got as far as bottling machinery.

Bottling machinery is some of the most expensive kit in a brewery. And because by its very nature, it’s full of moving parts, it’s also the equipment that breaks down the most often. An unreliable bottling machine can be a real nightmare for a brewery.

Jeffery warns of the danger of over-mechanisation of the bottling process.

Bottling Machinery
Before entering into the question of systems, we want to draw attention to bottling machinery, and weigh up its merits and demerits. In every trade there is a tendency to replace manual labour by machinery on the score of economy. Whether this is always wise or not, mechanization has come to stay and so long as a machine can be relied upon to do the work regularly and without stoppage on account of breakdown the idea is good. In our opinion, there is a danger in making machinery too complicated and comprehensive. We have even seen machinery where dirty bottles are put in at one end, washed, filled with beer, stoppered, labelled, and discharged ready for sale at the other end. The machine was extremely ingenious, and excellent so long as it worked satisfactorily. But what chaos it would cause and what loss in the event of a serious breakdown. No brewery owning such a machine would have enough trained hands available to be able to revert to manual labour while repairs were taking place.

With mechanization in separate units, however, it is an easy matter for one unit temporarily to be replaced by manual labour.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 346.

I doubt any decent-sized brewery would contemplate going  back to manual bottling if a machine were broken. They bottle on such a large scale that any attempt to partially bottle by hand would be laughable. Unless you have more than one machine, I can’t see what you could do in the event of a breakdown, other than wait for it to be repaired.

Jeffery recommended having different machines for different operations:

“Frankly, we are not in favour of very large and intricate machines. We consider it far preferable to have separate units for bottle washing, filling and labelling. The governing ideas of each unit should be restriction in size so far as is compatible with efficiency, accessibility (especially internally), solidity in construction, and absence of small working parts which are liable to wear and break with undue frequency. Each unit must be economical to run, especially with regard to motive power. With a system so controlled and designed, it is far easier to carry on if one unit is out of action for a time.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 346 - 347.

I’m pretty sure that modern machines all combine filling and labelling. Just checked Briggs, and I’m talking out of my arse. A modern bottling line has several machines.

“The bottling line consists of a series of machines and processes:
· depalletizer
· decrater
· washer
· empty bottle inspection
· flash pasteurization or sterile filtration
· filler
· crowner
· tunnel pasteurization
· full bottle inspection
· labeller
· crater
· palletizer
· cleaning”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, pages 761 - 762.

This seems rather obvious:

“In choosing and deciding upon any piece of bottling machinery, the factor which has always to be borne in mind is the probable future cost of repairs and renewals which will be occasioned by wear and tear. Some machines may be cheaper than others in first cost, and do identical work, but it will invariably be found that the working parts therein are on a much smaller scale. In adopting such machines, a risk is run of inconvenience and loss occasioned by breakages and stoppages. Cheap machines are never cheap in the long run. ”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 347.

At the start of the 1950’s brewers were often happy to get hold of any equipment. With exports having priority, they might have to wait years to get their hands on a new bottling machine. As did Offiler.

Bottles next.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

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Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Boddington CC

There’s a story behind this recipe. One with a happy ending.

When I was in Manchester a few years back I went to photograph some Boddingtons records. I was really disappointed that all they had were a couple of books from the 1980’s. Then Boak and Bailey posted something about the difference between Boddie’s Bitter in the 1960’s and the 1980’s. I immediately emailed them asking where they’d found the 1960’s brewing log.

It turns out there are a lot more Boddington’s brewing books. A full set from 1900, in fact. Which is brilliant news. It turns out they were in the process of moving when I visited the archive and not everything was available. I’m already penciling in a trip to Manchester.

Boddington had weird beer names before WW I. A was Pale Ale, BB was Mild Ale and CC was their Strong Ale. I can’t really detect any logic there. It’s been suggested that their CC might be the origin of “C” Ale, a strong beer exclusively brewed in the Manchester area. Could be true. I haven’t got a better explanation.

This is probably the quickest I’ve gone from getting hold of a record to publishing a recipe. I haven’t had my hands on it a week yet. I was so excited I had to rush it out.

The only unusual feature of the grist is the presence of wheat malt. In this period they put it every one of their beers. Could be a head retention thing. In their Stout it made up 12% of the grist. Which is quite a lot. Don’t think I’ve ever seen that much in a British beer.

Otherwise it’s a typical 20th-century Strong Ale or Mild: pale malt base, a touch of crystal malt, flaked maize and sugar. If you’d shown me just the recipe I would have said it was a London-brewed Burton.

I’m not sure if there was a draught version at this date. It’s possible that it was only available in bottled format.

That’s me done, time for the recipe.

1939 Boddington CC
pale malt 7.75 62.63%
crystal malt 1.50 lb 12.12%
flaked maize 1.50 lb 12.12%
wheat malt 0.75 lb 6.06%
caramel 0.125 lb 1.01%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.06%
Cluster 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1056
FG 1015.5
ABV 5.36
Apparent attenuation 72.32%
IBU 46
SRM 37
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

More Offiler’s fun

I find defunct regional breweries weirdly fascinating. Even ones like Offiler’s who have left few ripples on the pool of history.

I suppose they disappeared a bit too early and were located a bit too far away from where I grew up for them to have made any impression when I was younger. It now has me wondering: were the occasional Bass pubs in Nottingham originally Offiler’s houses?

This is surprisingly revealing for a single sentence:

A limited number of vacancies for Women and Girls in the bottling department at Offilers' Brewery Ltd., Ambrose-st., Derby. Good wages and working cons.”
Derby Daily Telegraph - Wednesday 05 July 1950, page 10.

Why revealing? It demonstrates two things. First, that bottling was on the up. Despite beer sales falling overall, bottled sales were surging. Brewers needed both new personnel and equipment to keep up. Second, that although women weren’t usually employed in breweries, they did work in bottling departments. For some reason that was seen as suitable work for women, while other jobs in the brewery weren’t. Maybe it’s because it involved cleaning.

Actually, there’s a third point: that wages and conditions were relatively good in breweries. There was a reason for that. Breweries employed relatively few people compared to the capital and turnover involved.

More confirmation that bottling was booming:

Brewery Bottle-Washer Blocks The Road
WHEN workmen to-day started installing this new mechanical bottle-washer at Offilers' Brewery, Ltd., Ambrose-street, Derby, the street had to be closed to traffic as it was completely blocked the 29-foot-long washer.

The washer, made to order Meyer-Dumore Bottlers' Equipment, Ltd., had had a two-day journey road from London, but Offilers had been waiting for it about three years.

The first one made for them had to diverted to export, Mr. F. R. Offiler told a "Telegraph" reporter.

It was hoped to complete the installation of the 20-ton washer by this evening.
Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 18 August 1950, page 6.

The article demonstrates some of the frustrations of brewers in the immediate post-war period. New machinery was difficult to obtain. Partly because of shortages. But there was another reason. With the UK desperately short of hard currency, exports took priority.

Not quite done with Offiler’s yet.

Monday, 2 May 2016

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More barrrel-sized fun

I just remembered something. William Younger always recorded what they racked into in their brewing records.

Which means I can see exactly what sized of barrels they used. The last William Younger logs I have are from 1949-1950. What sorts of barrels were they using? You can probably guess. But here they are:

It says something that the pre-printed form includes butts, but nothing smaller than a quarter hogshead (18 barrels) of half barrel (also 18 barrels). You can see that XXP, a Bitter of 1032º, was only filled into hogsgeads and barrels.

The second beer in the image is No. 3 Bottling. That is, the bottling version of their No.3 Strong Ale (or Scotch Ale, depending on which side of the border you were). It's no conicidence that it was mostly racked into hogsheads. Most wouldn't have been bottled by Younger themselves, but by third party bottlers. Beer was usually delivered to these in hogsheads.

XXPS, a stronger Bitter of 1037º, wasn't filled into hogshead, but barrels, kilderkins and half hogsheads (27 barrels). Logical enough. As a draught beer you'd expect less to have been filled into hogsheads.

The last beer in DBS, Younger's Stout, was racked into a wide variation of cask sizes. They didn't brew a huge amount of DBS, so it might seem strange that some went into hogsheads. But this was another bottled beer. I'm more surprised at the small size of some casks. Presumably relatively low demand meant bottlers took smaller casks than with more popular styles.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Historic Williamsburg day three

It’s me Paul, Jamie and Martyn Cornell for breakfast again.

I won’t bother telling you what I’m having. You know by now. Here’s a hint: it may contain bacon. It takes a while again. Meaning for the second day in a row we’re a bit late hitting the auditorium. Except for I’m-just-having-a-muffin Cornell.

I’m on today. But luckily there are several speakers before me. Starting with Frank Clark, who works at Colonial Williamsburg and set up the conference. Working here, Frank gets to wear 18th-century gear. Always good to have at least one speaker in costume.

After Frank it’s Martyn’s turn with a look at the industrialisation of London’s brewing industry in the 18th and early 19th centuries. It’s a topic very dear to my heart. Though, as usual, Martyn comes up with some stuff I’ve not heard before.

After a quick coffee break, Martyn is followed by Mitch Steele, who discusses the history of IPA. Another one of my pet subjects. And very entertaining the talk is. He mentions that he suspects 19th-century IPAs shipped to India contained Brettanomyces, though he has no evidence other than suspiciously low FG’s. Ah. I think I can help there.

Now it’s my go. In a departure from my usual talks, this one isn’t full of tables and numbers. It’s mostly about people. But I break from my scheduled gumph to tell Mitch that Brettanomyces was found in Bass IPA in the 1930’s. Thought he’d like to know that.

When I say my talk - International Cooperation in the 19th-Century Brewing Industry – is mostly about people, it’s about a few specific characters. Gabriel Sedlmayr, Anton Dreher, Michael Thomas Bass. It’s difficult to overestimate the influence of Sedlmayr on world brewing. He was key to the spread of modern brewing and specifically modern Lager brewing throughout the globe. Intrigued? Get me to come and give the talk.

I always enjoy presenting especially when I get a few laughs. I’ve timed it well and finish just about spot on time. Not that it matters so much as lunch is next.

Though me and Mitch can’t directly go and eat. We’ve a book signing to do in the museum bookshop. A few people drift up and we scrawl in their books. I doubt anyone can ever read what I write. I probably couldn’t.

Once the punters have dried up, we head over to DoG Street Pub for some food. It’s nice to have a chance to chat with Mitch. I’m particularly fascinated with life within a macro brewery.  Mitch has some good tales of labour relations in different AB plants, prompted by me recounting the disaster of Bass’s Runcorn brewery.

Mitch has to pick up his family at the airport and unfortunately misses the remaining presentations: Brewing Historic Beers for a Modern Market by Tom Kehoe of Yards Brewing Company in Philadelphia; Brewing History by the Pint by Tanya Brock of Carillon Brewing Company, Dayton Historical Park; and, to end the event, The Past and Future Beer by Randy Mosher. And we’re done.

Even though my hotel is booked until tomorrow, Paul, Jamie and I are driving back to Washington this evening. It’s handy having the room still, as I can tinker on my computer and pootle around in privacy for a little longer.

We meet up with some of the other in the hotel bar for refreshment before leaving. While my laptop tries to download several hundred Windows updates in my room. It turns into a frustrating experience. Having joined a table of people who had just settled up, the waiting staff don’t seem to think I need serving. Moving to another table where they’re still actively ordering doesn’t improve affairs much, I end up having my tongue hanging out for upwards of 40 minutes. I think my second longest ever wait for a drink*.

I eat a hamburger, drink Devil’s Backbone from jam jar, and say many farewells. Then we load up our stuff in Paul and Jamie’s car and hit the road.

It’s late when we get back to Pail and Jamie’s. I’m totally knacked and go straight to bed. Tomorrow I fly back to Amsterdam.

* Hofbräuhaus in Munich, at well over an hour, is easily top.

DoG Street Pub
401 W Duke of Gloucester St,
Williamsburg, VA 23185.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Where are all the effing firkins?

I was glancing through my Boddingtons records yesterday and spotted something. One of the handy totals you sometimes find at year or month end.

It's of their stock of bee in casks at the end of 1984:

H = 54 gallon hogshead
B -= 36 gallon barrel
K = 18 gallon kilderkin
F = 9 gallon firkin

The fact that they only had a single firkin in stock says everything about the change in barrel size over the last 30 years.

Almost half of the stock of Bitter was in hogsheads. I have heard rumours that Holts still use them, though I haven't had that confirmed. I doubt very much if anyone else still bothers with them. I'm sure there are still regional breweries using barrels. I'd put money on Sam Smiths. But the vast majority of casl beer now comes in kilderkins and firkins.

Boddie's pubs must have still been shifting Mild quite quickly, given the majority of it was in full barrels. I doubt anyone fills anything larger than kilderkins with Mild any more.

One last point pops into my mind. How long would that stock have been intended to last?  If it were a week's stock, that would mean Boddingtons were only brewing around 35,000 barrels a year. But I'm pretty sure that they brewed at least 200,000. Divide 200,000 by 700 and you get 285. It looks like they didn't have much more than a day's supply of draught beer in stock.

Friday, 29 April 2016

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All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


Time to complete the whole Mega Book Series  -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! Be the first in your town with the full set.

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Drinking alone

Used to be a bore, now a chance for gluuring. In a good way.

Hanging around in a pub by myself seemed weird when I was a lanky, skinny, underaged drinker. And when I first became age compliant. Drinking in the pub was something you did with your mates. Failing that, with equally desperate colleagues. Or your anyone sharing your house that wasn't likely to leave a still throbbing body on Woodhouse moor.

I had a couple of uncomfortable solo sessions in Leeds. Not that I told my friends. Or what I now realise were just the people too polite to tell me to fuck off. It never felt right.

When I extended my isolation to foreign off-fucking, I discovered the joy of solo drinking. No need to pretend to pay attention to your tedious companion. Just you, the bar, booze and, er, more booze.

The moments I treasure when travelling? When my belly and a bar battle guts. Scribbling notes on the back of my travel maps. Writing whatever bollocks comes into my head. The Laphroaig nightcaps. Yes the Laphroaig nightcaps.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

American Lagers in Canada in 1909

Life is full of surprises. Occasionally pleasant ones. The little booklet of Canadian beers analyses from just before WW I contained one of the nicer type.

Because it contained a surprising number of analyses for beer brewed in the USA. 18 of the 77 analyses, to be precise. The booklet lists beer by the district in which they were sold, so I can see incursions of US beer weren’t just limited to border regions: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and British Colombia. Clearly US beer was a big thing in Canada.

A couple of interesting points. First, there were only two US brewed beers amongst the Ales, both brewed in  Washington State. While there were 7 beers from the UK. All IPAs, which is intriguing. The US Lagers mostly come from the Midwest. Specifically, from St. Louis and Milwaukee. Not so much of a shock that, I suppose. That was where the large Lager breweries evolved. There are also a couple of beers from the Pacific Northwest and two from New York, which remained an important brewing centre, for Lager as well as for Ale.

There’s not a huge amount of variation in these beers. The lowest OG is 1044.6º, the highest 1050.6º. There’s rather more difference in attenuation – 57.4% to 81.33%. Though most are around 70%. That might seem low today, but was pretty typical of Lagers back then.

It’s clear that even by this early date Anheuser Busch was a major player. Especially in the form of Budweiser. It appears more often in the booklet than any other beer, including those brewed in Canada. Though, to be fair, Canadian still seems to have been quite regional at this point.

I’m not going to pester with too many words today. Just leave you with some lovely numbers.

American Lagers in Canada in 1909
Brewer Town Beer Style Price size OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 13.3c bottle 1048.1 1016.1 4.56 66.53%
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 16.67c pint 1048.6 1015.6 4.63 67.90%
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 25c quart 1048.8 1015.1 4.71 69.06%
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 12.5c pint 1050 1015.5 4.85 69.00%
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 15c pint 1050.3 1015.3 4.93 69.58%
Anheuser Busch St. Louis Budweiser Pilsner 25c quart 1050.6 1015.3 5.00 69.76%
America Brewing Co. St. Louis ABC Bohemia Pilsner 25c quart 1049 1013 5.08 73.47%
Dorfes Brewery Washington Lager Beer Lager 16.67c quart 1049.2 1011.8 5.16 76.02%
Ebling Brewing Co. New York Sunlight Lager 10c bottle 1046.5 1015.8 4.42 66.02%
Everard Brewing Co. New York Red Star Lager 11.67c pint 1047.1 1016.6 4.34 64.76%
Schlitz Milwaukee Lager Beer Lager 15c bottle 1045.4 1013.8 4.42 69.60%
Schlitz Milwaukee Schlitz Lager 11.67c bottle 1045.9 1014 4.49 69.50%
Schlitz Milwaukee Lager Beer Lager 12.5c pint 1046.4 1011.4 4.93 75.43%
Schlitz Milwaukee Lager Beer Lager 13.3c bottle 1046.9 1011.3 5.00 75.91%
Schlitz Milwaukee Lager Beer Lager 12.67c bottle 1046.9 1009.6 5.24 79.53%
Lemps St. Louis Lager Beer Lager 25c quart 1048.2 1009 5.47 81.33%
Pabst Milwaukee Blue Ribbon Lager 12.5c pint 1044.6 1019 3.62 57.40%
Seattle Brewing & Malting Seattle Lager Beer Lager 20c pint 1047.1 1012.5 5.47 73.46%
Average 1047.8 1013.9 4.79 70.79%
"Ale and lager beer" by McGill, A. (Anthony), 1910, pages 4 - 19.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1952 Lees Stout

I may as well complete the Lees set with their Stout. In case any of you feels like recreating a 1950’s Manchester pub.

This would have been a purely bottled product. London brewers were still producing draught Stouts, but in most of the country they didn’t make it past WW II. The change in packaging seems to have changed the type of Stouts being brewed. Ones with lower gravities and sometimes, but not always, rather sweet. And it was becoming a pensioners’ drink.

London brewers stuck with relatively complicated Stout grists in the 20th century, going for a combination of pale, brown and black malt, plus sugar. Lees went even further, having five malts, oatmeal and sugar in their Stout. With around 15% roasted malt, this must have been quite a thick and tasty beer, despite the modest gravity.

As usual, the recipe employs some guesswork. There was no FG, which is particularly frustrating in the case of a 1950’s Stout. Because the rates of attenuation were all over the shop, from 45% to 95% with everything inbetween. So when I say the FG is a guess, it’s a big guess.

The hop variety is another guess. All I know for sure is that they were English. As 75% of the hops grown in England at the time were Fuggles, that seems a good enough choice. Plus you wouldn’t waste classy Goldings in a Stout like this. No point with all that roast going on.

On the plus side, the logs do include the mashing heat, not just strike and tap heat. The initial mash temperature was 146º F, raised to 148º F by an underlet.

That’s all I have to say. Time for the recipe.

1952 Lees Stout
pale malt 4.25 lb 54.84%
brown malt 0.25 lb 3.23%
black malt 0.25 lb 3.23%
chocolate malt 0.50 lb 6.45%
crystal malt 0.50 lb 6.45%
oatmeal 0.50 lb 6.45%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 19.35%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1038
FG 1010
ABV 3.70
Apparent attenuation 73.68%
IBU 27
SRM 29
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Boring Drybrough

Not that they’re unique in that. Most Scottish breweries had dull product ranges. Just two recipes, one for Pale Ales and Strong Ale, another for Stout. Drybrough didn’t even brew a Stout.

Back in 1934, they only brewed four beers: three Pale Ales, 54/-, 60/- and 80/-; and Burns Ale, a Strong Ale. Though 85% of what they brewed was 60/-. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a brewery where one beer dominated quite that much.

Though having done a quick newspaper search, I’m wondering whether it was all sold as 60/-. Because I’ve found adverts from the 1950’s for something called Nourishing Stout. But there’s no Stout in the brewing records. So they must have been using some sort of primings to transform one of their Pale Ales into Stout.

Just checked something else. My mega table of beer analyses. And guess what I found? Drybrough Nourishing Stout from the 1930’s. Two examples. One with an OG of 1033, the other 1031. Meaning there’s only one beer they could have been fiddling with: 54/-. All the others had a higher OG.

Their grists are fairly typical of the mid-20th century: pale malt, flaked maize and sugar. With a tiny hint of black malt and enzymic malt. The same recipe for all the Pale Ales, 54/-, 60/- and 80/-. While the sugar is slightly different for Burns. The hops were all English for most beers, though later it was always a mix of Oregon and English.

I wouldn’t like to guess what colour any of these beers were. I know from the monthly ingredients summaries that they used caramel, though it doesn’t appear in any of the logs. Like most Scottish brewers, I suspect they coloured their beers to several different shades.

All the beers listed below were brewed with another Edinburgh brewer, Bernard's, yeast. Using yeast from another brewery was pretty common in Edinburgh. It makes me wonder whether the breweries really had their own proprietary strains, given how often they swapped yeast with each other.

I’m going to leave you with some tables. First, one showing the predominance of 60/-:

Drybrough output January 1934
OG bulk barrels  bulk gallons %
54/- 1029 123.36 4,441 10.93%
60/- 1035 958.56 34,508 84.96%
80/- 1049 25.39 914 2.25%
Burns 1080 4.53 163 0.40%
primings 1140 16.36 589 1.45%
total 1,128.19
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewin Archive, document number D/6/1/1/4

Using that, I was able to calculate the average OG of all they brewed: 1036.4. Which is well below the average for the UK in 1934, which was 1040.99*.

Now the full details of the beers:

Drybrough beers in 1934
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermen-tation temp length of fermen-tation (days)
54/- Pale Ale 1029.0 1012.0 2.25 58.62% 4.91 0.58 2 60º 65º 5
60/- Pale Ale 1035.0 1013.0 2.91 62.86% 5.26 0.75 2 62.5º 67.5º 6
80/- Pale Ale 1049.0 1015.0 4.50 69.39% 5.26 1.06 2 62.5º 68.5º 7
Burns Strong Ale 1084.0 1033.0 6.75 60.71% 5.99 2.49 3.5 57.5º 67º 7
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewin Archive, document number D/6/1/1/4

Drybrough grists in 1934
Beer Style OG pale malt black malt enzymic malt flaked maize Fison Avona Invert Candy sugar malt extract hops
54/- Pale Ale 1029.0 72.02% 0.80% 1.80% 14.40% 2.06% 5.49% 2.74% 0.69% English
60/- Pale Ale 1035.0 72.18% 0.39% 1.91% 15.31% 2.19% 4.37% 2.92% 0.73% English
80/- Pale Ale 1049.0 72.18% 0.39% 1.91% 15.31% 2.19% 4.37% 2.92% 0.73% English
Burns Strong Ale 1084.0 74.55% 1.45% 12.85% 6.86% 3.43% 0.86% Oregon and English 
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewin Archive, document number D/6/1/1/4

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Mr. Offiler’s special friends

We’re back at Offilers. Looking at F H Offiler's unusual relationship with some of his tenants.

Running Offilers, it seems,  did have some perks:

“I soon realised, by direct observation and received hints and nudges, that the development of the chain of small hotels coincided with F H Offiler's acquisition of lady friends, past and present, who were installed to run them; it occurred to me that it was a neat way of combining business with pleasure. I must say such a situation was not uncommon in the brewery trade, but I had never before found it so extensive and open. It was common knowledge in the trade and was accepted as a means of promotion within the brewery. With some degree of regret, it might be said, we had to bring this novel way of running a brewery estate to a speedy end. On the positive side, the acquisition by H C Ofiller of large houses standing in their own grounds, and their conversion into licensed premises, around the fringes of Derby, was fortuitously good forward planning, as relentless urban expansion made them prosper.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 80.

Who would have thought it? Brewery owners buying hotels for their mistresses. Though it sounds like it worked out well for the brewery as well as Mr. Offiler.

If this sort of thing wasn’t uncommon, it makes me wonder when it died out. Or if it still continues today amongst smaller breweries that retain a tied estate.

I think I’ve found an example of a hotel built for one of Mr. Offiler’s special friends.

New Inn To Be Built at Wirksworth
An application for the removal of the licence of the William IV Inn, The Dale, Wirksworth, to premises to be erected off Derby Road, near the Recreation Ground, was heard by Wirksworth Justices at the Annual Licensing Sessions on Tuesday. The application was made by the licensee, Mrs. Mabel Mary Brewell.

Mr. F. W. Barnett, who appeared for Mrs Brewell and the owners. Messrs Offilers Brewery Co., said that the new premises would be known as King's Field Hotel, and would be erected at the corner of Derby Road and Millers Lane. The house in The Dale was an old-established one, and Mrs. Brewell had been there for twelve years. The local Council intended to use Derby Road as a residential area, and in due course most of The Dale, where there had been serious complaints regarding nuisances from various quarries, would be moved to the Derby Road area. Considerable development had already taken place in the neighbourhood, and around the cricket ground the Town Planning Authority had scheduled a further area for residential purposes to accommodate up to 300 houses in the next ten years.

William John Farmer, architect, gave details of the plans, and stated that specially built large picture windows were incorporated in the public rooms to allow customers to see the very pleasant views. The nearest licensed premises were the Wheatsheaf Hotel, which was over 800 yards away, and there were 630 houses within half-a-mile radius.

In reply to the Chairman (Mr. K D. Wheatcroft), Mr. Farmer said that if the plans went through automatically, the building would be completed within twelve months. Mr. Walter Haynes opposed the application on behalf of the Wirksworth and District Free Church Federal Council. He handed in a signed statement from the Council to the effect that the Free Churches wished to register a vigorous protest against the proposed transfer of the licence of a redundant public house to a site adjoining the new housing estate. There were nine public houses — apart from the William IV — within 200 or 300 yards of the Town Hall, and the Wheatsheaf Inn was within several hundred yards of the new housing site, so that there were ample facilities to meet all requirements. Such a transfer would tend to impair rather than enhance the dignity of the Derby Road housing estate.

There was no other opposition, and the Bench granted the transfer, the Chairman intimating that they hoped the new house would be built as quickly as possible.”
Belper News - Friday 11 February 1955, page 16.

Trading in an existing licence was often the only way a brewery could get a new licence. Sometimes they had to surrender more than one. It made sense for a brewery, especially if they had a large concentration of small pubs in one location. This case  was slightly different. They were moving the licence from another part of the same town. Presumably because there were a lot of pubs nearby and the population was about to be moved.

Typical that some religious nutters objected. They’re always at the front of the queue when it comes to stopping people having fun.

I’ll leave you with some of Offilers’ beers:

Offilers beers 1950 - 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1950 Mild Ale Mild 1/1d pint draught 1031.2 1004.7 3.45 84.94% 40 + 8
1953 Nourishing Stout Stout 1/3d half bottled 1037.7 1017.3 2.63 54.11% 1 + 14
1955 Nut Brown Brown Ale 9.5d half bottled 1034.6 1010.1 3.17 70.81% 75
1959 Nourishing Stout Stout 14d half bottled 1035.9 1015 2.69 58.22% 275
1961 Derby Strong Strong Ale 17d half bottled 1045.4 1013.6 3.98 70.04% 75
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Random Dutch (beers part twenty-six)

The weekend is going well. Got loads of writing done yesterday and a had a nice long kip.

Back with more Dutch beer sketches. We've been running a bit short of dosh before I get paid next week. Good news for Dolores, as I've been working my way through the beer pile behind me. Which is where I found Honey Blonde.

Two Sisters really is run by two sisters. Fairly young ones, if the photos on their website are to be believed. The beer is brewed at De Fontein in Stein.

The Sisters Honey Blonde 7.9% ABV
Another pale golden job. Smells a bit perfumy. Does actually taste of hyoney, which is dead unusual in a honey beer. I'm not really getting the star anise. A slightly discordant buitterness at the end, like an unexpected car horn when you're halfway across a zebra crossing. It's another drinker.

I'm getting much more dilligent with label collection. No piles of bottles awaiting label removal on the floor. It's turning into a show home here. I keep telling Dolores that, but she just makes a funny snorting noise.

Now another spring seasonal, from one of the largest new Dutch breweries, Jopen.

Jopen Lentebier 7% ABV (€1.60 for 30 cl.)
A cloiudy yellow color. The aroma reminds me of elderflowers for some reason. There some malt sweetness way in the background, but this is mostly about hops. Quite bitter ones. Which makes it very different from the other spring beers, which were far sweeter. It says US hops, but I don'r get any of the usual citrus shit.

Just been thinking. I'm a lucky git. I got:

school milk
nit nurse
grammar school
free University
decent dole
cheap housing in London (squat)
retraining course
a job with a fully-licensed bar
meeting Dolores
moving to the US
freedom of movement in the EU
affordable Amsterdam house prices
decent dole
living close to Ton Overmars
decent dole
not dying . . . yet

Feeling a bit sorry for the kids. None of those apply for them*. On the upside, things were great for me.

They need to harden up. I endured the horrors of just two monochrome TV channels, regular power cuts, potato shortages, inflation, the threat of nuclear apocalypse and Anne Diamond. What's the worst in their lives?

* Except for living close to Ton Overmars.

The Sisters Brewery
Stationsweg 57
3621LK Breukelen
Tel: +31 (6) 81234221