Monday, 4 January 2010

Visiting Whitbread

Let's see if you can guess what the topic of my next project is. I think it's getting to be pretty obvious.

This is a demonstration of the Whitbread family's position in London society: the king and his family came visiting:

"On the 26th of May this year [1787], the King and Queen, accompanied by the Princess Royal, the Princess Augusta and Princess Elizabeth, preceded by the Dukes of Montague and Ancaster, went to see Mr. Whitbread's porter brewery in Chiswell-street. They were received at the door by Mr. Whitbread and Miss Whitbread, when, after politely declining the breakfast that was provided, their Majesties and the Royal Family went over the works. The steam-engine then lately erected, and first applied by Mr. Whitbread to the purposes of the brewery, took up their attention above half an hour, during which time his Majesty explained to the Queen and the Princesses the leading movements to the machinery, in a manner that fully proved his knowledge of mechanical arts. In the great store were three thousand and seven barrels of beer. The stone cistern raised such wonder, that the Queen and Princesses would go into it, though through a small hole, with some difficulty, and the sight rewarded them for the trouble, on account of its vast magnitude, capable of holding four thousand barrels of beer. Though the machinery now used had saved much animal labour, still there was work for eighty horses. This particularly impressed his Majesty, who also saw two hundred men at their various occupations. The horse-keeper, yielding to the harmless vanity of office, said he would show his Majesty " the highest horse among his subjects." The King graciously gave him something more than audience, and accurately guessed the height of the horse, which was really remarkable, being seventeen hands three inches. The King however observed, that his muscle was not proportioned to his bones. Such parts of the brewery as were unavoidably dirty were covered with matting, and lamps lighted in those which were dark. After having inspected every part of the premises in a minute manner, the Royal Visitants retired into the dwelling-house, and partook of a cold collation, as magnificent as affluence and arrangement could render it. The whole service was plate, and there was an assortment of every wine; and that the board might not be incomplete, some of Whitbread's intire was poured from a large bottle, that had more excellent singularities than mere size to recommend it. After partaking of this plentiful regale, it was two o'clock; and their Majesties and Royal Family took leave of Mr. Whitbread and his daughter, highly satisfied with the various species of their entertainment."
"The public and domestic life of His late Most Gracious Majesty, George the Third, Volume 1" by Edward Holt, pages 299-300.

That's exactly what I'd do if I were a prince. Get dad to take me around a brewery. Those lucky royals.


Matt said...

I love "after politely declining the breakfast that was provided, their Majesties and the Royal Family went over the works": presumably several servants had been slaving over that since dawn, only for their efforts to be summarily rejected by the pampered princesses.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, maybe it meant that the servants got to eat the breakfast themselves.

Gary Gillman said...

I wonder what "singularities" meant. It may have been a reference to an entire grist beer, a nod to an unmixed beer in other words. Or it might have been a reference to the particular qualities of that bottle. I wonder what that porter tasted like: perhaps like Sinebrychoff's today, or Carnegie Porter.


Seanywonton said...

I took "singularities" to reference unique qualities. I've been reading some Poe and other fiction from around that time and the word "singular" comes up quite often where we would nowadays say "unique" or "peculiar".

Oblivious said...

Hi Gary

I have brewer the Whithbread 1850 porter from Durden Park Beer Circle, very nice and quite similar to Ron’s 1914 porter brewed by De Molen, but not as hoppy when young. If that of any help with the flavour profile

Gary Gillman said...

Thanks very much, I have tasted a bottle of Ron's excellent 1914, so that gives me a good idea. (I am not sure the 1914 was in the best condition due to the overseas journey, it was fairly dry and blew the cork to the ceiling when opened but I still enjoyed it).

I think probably porter, since the introduction of roasted malt, may have retained its essential characteristics. In the late 1700's though, roasted malt was not used, it would have been brown malt or some combination of amber and brown with some pale perhaps.

You know one time in the 1980's I tasted a bottled Murphy that had more than just a roasted malt taste (not to mention roasted barley, whose taste I find off-putting in too-large amounts). It had a burned wood flavour such as I never had since. I'd like to think the odd brown malt batch was made up, I guess not by French & Jupp, but by other suppliers, as a nod to history. Some draught Murphy in England had the taste too in the same period. But after, the Murph reverted to the more typical Irish stout palate.