Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Indian-brewed Porter and Ale

Funny what you stumble across when looking for something else. Searching for "government ale" produced this result: evidence of Indian-brewed Porter and Ale from the 1880's.


Mr. CALNE (Barrow) asked the Under Secretary of State for India (1), if it was true that there is a large brewery established at Poona by Messrs. Meakin and Co., and that under a Government Resolution, No. 34, 5th January, 1886, the malt liquor brewed in this firm is exempted from the payment of any Excise Duty, and that, under Government Resolution, No. 1,652, 2nd March 1886, a wholesale licence was granted to Messrs. Meakin and Co. for the sale of their malt liquors in Bombay for a fee of 50 rupees; (2), if it was true that there are in all 68 other wholesale licences in the town and island of Bombay charged sums varying from 100 to 1,000 rupees ; (S), why was it that Messrs. Meakin and Co. pay no Excise Duty, and obtain a wholesale licence on exceptionally favourable terms; (4), were the malt liquors brewed by Messrs. Meakin and Co. the same as those described as "Government porter, of 11 per cent strength [6.3% ABV], and Government ale, 11.7 per cent strength, of proof spirit [6.97% ABV]," on page 12 of the Report of the Bombay Abkari Commission, 1885; if not, can he state what is the alcoholio strength of Meakin's beer and porter; (5), was any other firm of brewers in India exempted from the payment of Excise Duty; (6), whether his attention had been called to the statement on the same page of the Report, that the tax on toddy was 6 rupees on 40 gallons in 1885, and that its alcoholic strength increases 5 per cent in 24 hours, and is he aware that large quantities of toddy are consumed freshly drawn from the tree, in which state it is entirely free from alcohol ; (7), was he aware that the Duty on imported malt liquors is only one anna per gallon, while that on toddy, whether alcoholic or not, is an average of two annas per gallon; (8), was he aware that there is a widespread feeling of discontent all over the Bombay Presidency with regard to these inequalities of taxation, which found expression in the evidence given before the above-mentioned Commission, and that the Report of the Commission recommends an assimilation of the Duties on malt liquors and toddy ; and (9), was it the intention of the Bombay Government to carry out this recommendation by raising the Duty on imported, and the Excise on malt liquors manufactured within their jurisdiction ?
"Hansard's parliamentary debates, Volume 334", 1889, pages 138-379.

It's not just the date that surprised me, but that they were brewing Porter. Then again, there's still that Stout brewed in Sri Lanka, isn't there?


Oblivious said...

Do you mean Lion stout, i think they do

Martyn Cornell said...

Whitbread was winning contracts for up to 38,000 barrels at a time, mostly porter, to cities such as Calcutta and Karachi in the years 1854-63. Many of the drinkers of porter in India were probably British soldiers, who were certainly served porter in the army canteens in Britain: "I started o' canteen porter, I finished o' canteen beer" (Rudyard Kipling, "Cells", Barrack-Room Ballads, 1892)

Ron Pattinson said...

Martyn, I wondered at first what the beers called Contrt. in the Whitbread logs were. Then I read about Contract beer. And it eventually twigged. I'm very slow.

I've just had a look in the Whitbread 1854 Porter log. The number of brews were:

Contrt. 61 (1058)
Expt. India Beer 6 (1072)

And only 13 brews of Keeping Porter.

I would say more, but I don't want to give away all my best stuff. Not before I've had a chance to look at it properly.

Barm said...

A batch of Lion Stout was brewed in Britain recently for the Wetherspoons beer festival. It was excellent, reminded me rather of the Flag Porter that Pitfield used to do. I'd like to think it is a sort of fossilised 19th century beer in the same way as Coopers Sparkling Ale.