Monday, 23 March 2009

Carbonated Ale in the 1920's

To get a full picture of beer you have to look further than just brewing manuals and logs. That's why I picked up a copy of "The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander F. Part, published in 1922. It continues the story past the brewery gates.

I'm much intrigued by the passage on "carbonated ale", an early from of tank beer.
"In London and some of the other large towns beer is supplied through a tube, or a hose, from a tank cart or motor into a receiver. This beer is suitable only for a quick sale, say forty-eight hours, and is ready to sell at once, is always bright and clear to the last drop, and has no deposit.

Thus the paraphernalia connected with barrels, and the care requisite in the treatment of beer in barrels, are avoided.

This beer is known as carbonated ale, and no waste ought to occur.

Beer so brewed is as good the day it is received as it will ever be, and, no doubt, saves a great deal of labour, anxiety and care, but these chilled and filtered beers, both in cask and bottle, have not the keeping qualities of beer naturally conditioned.

They are, however, so much limited to a few areas, that we must learn also all about the treatment of beers in cask."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander F. Part, 1922, pages 198-199.

This is one of the earliest mentions I've found of non-cask-conditioned beer in Britain. Though Worthington did experiment unsuccessfully with beer brewed to the "American system" (i.e. carbonated) before WW I.


Matt said...

What this sounds like is beer racked bright that some breweries still sell for outside events where you can't let it drop bright. This raises the interesting question of when a beer stops being 'real'. OK there's no live yeast in the container but then neither is there in your glass in the pub or in the jug some people take home with them. I would say if it's not been artificially carbonated or pasteurised and you drink it straight away there should be no 'real' difference between it and cask conditioned beer.

Unknown said...

Much "Real Ale" is made using extraneous carbon dioxide in the brewery anyway. The boundary between real and keg is much more fuzzed than people would like to think and has possibly been going on for longer as well, although Ron would know better on that one.

Ed said...

The problem with bright beer thought is more that it's uncarbonated ale, as it's usally very flat.

Matt said...

Yes, without yeast in the cask or artificial carbonation there is a lack of fizz: the answer I suppose for things like weddings where it's impractical to set up a cask is bottle conditioned beer.

Anonymous said...

I would think this beer was well-carbonated upon dispense, the description states it is carbonated (thus in distinction to the flat quality so-called of real ale), plus the "receiver" is not described and it might have had a system of some kind to force the beer out in a lively state.

An important factor is if it was pasteurised. I would think it was not, which would enhance its quality. Still, in my view, even non-pasteurized filtered beer is quite different from real ale. Real ale always has some yeast that hasn't been fined out. Beer tastes most natural in classic, naturally-conditioned form.

This quotation shows that tank beer did precede that well-known experiment of Watney's in the 1930's when it sent keg beer to a tennis club I believe it was outside London-centre, it might have been Putney. Jackson describes it in his first book.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, Sydney Nevile in "Seventy Rolling Years" talks about chilled, filtered Ale. And How Worthington tried to introduce it in Britain before WW I.

And he talks about tank beer in the same period.

Gavin said...

The first soda fountain patent was granted to Samuel Fahnestock in 1819, so the technology was there for the potential to artificially carbonate beer. In Michael Jackson's World Beer Guide he mentions an Australian brewer who were carbonating beers very early in the 20th Century and there is an 80's edition of the Good Beer Guide that shows a sketch of a wooden cask of lager attached to a Co2 canister. "Much "Real Ale" is made using extraneous carbon dioxide". This is interesting Woolpack Dave, can you tell more. I am actually very interested in the history of beer dispense but haven't got very far, so any leads would be appreciated. Particularly interested in the origin of the sparkler.