Friday, 19 November 2010

Primings and adulteration

I know. You're getting fed up with the Departmental committee on beer materials. Don't worry. Only a week more weeks of posts from it.

"6258. Speaking professionally, do you see any strong objection, or anything to alarm the country, in that extended use of sugar? —I do not; I think the public demand a certain description of beer and the brewer supplies it.

6259. Do you consider that the existing law and the powers given under that law to the revenue officers are sufficient to protect the consumer of beer from his beer being made of noxious or deleterious materials? —I think so; but it is only right to say from my experience of a great number of years we have never seen any indication of the use of deleterious substances in the manufacture of beer. You will see that from the subsequent return.

6260. I observe from that return that since 1885 no deleterious substances have been found in beer; is that the case ?—That is so.

6261. And the proportion of adulterated samples appears to have been steadily declining on the whole? —Yes, from 1885; but if you are taking that table now it is right for me to make one explanation in connexion with it; if you will look from 1844 and downwards, you wiil find in some cases the percentage of samples adulterated was very large, but that does not fairly represent the facts of the case, because the men who have taken these samples are trained men, and so they have not taken the samples indiscriminately at all; they have taken a sample, knowing it to be adulterated, and it has been necessary to send the sample up to the laboratory so that we shotdd be uble to give chemical evidence when the case came on for hearing. In the case of the publicans we cannot tell when they are watering, or not, so that the samples are taken fairly indiscriminately. You will see from 1887 to 1897 the percentages of adulteration go down from 31 to 15.

6262. In the earlier cases, the revenue officers being experts only made a point of prosecuting when they were pretty certain of a conviction —They only made a point of taking a sample—it might be hops or something of that kind—when they saw some substance there that was illegal, because there was a very strong Act of Parliament in existence at that time (56 of George III. c. 58), and they were well up in that, and were very careful when they saw anything contrary to the Act to take a sample, and that is why the percentage of adulteration seems so large.

6263. It appears that in the number of samples analysed in 1897—although that number was unprecedentedly great—no adulteration, other than the addition of water and sugar, was detected?—That is so.

6264. Was that sugar put in for priming purposes ?— For priming purposes.

6265. That means that they put more sugar in for priming than was allowed by law ?— No ; the publican has no right to put any sugar in at all, and no doubt he diluted with water, and then the beer being flat and not fit for consumption, he put in a smaller or larger quantity of sugar for the purpose of getting it in contact with the yeast, so that fermentation should be set up, and the beer got into condition very quickly. That is the reason the sugar is added.

6266. The majority of these samples which are sent up for analysis were taken from public-houses and not from breweries ? —From public-houses.

6267. Do these figures include samples taken from breweries also ? —There would be no sample of that kind taken from a brewery, because a brewer can use priming on his premises, if he enters the priming material; so, of course, a sample would not be taken by the officer under like circumstances.

6268. Is it not very often the case that when a publican is accused he will say, " I am not responsible for this beer; if it is adulterated, or anything has gone wrong, the " brewer is responsible" ? —The brewer has to protect himself, and he is very careful indeed to have all his brewings marked and numbered, and on the casks you will find the gyle and number, and it is a very easy matter to find out from a cask what the original gravity of that particular brewing was, and so to see whether dilution had taken place or not."
"Minutes of evidence taken before the Departmental committee on beer materials", 1899, page 236.
Evidence given by Mr. R. Bannister.

What was that he said? The brewers weren't crooks then?

"from my experience of a great number of years we have never seen any indication of the use of deleterious substances in the manufacture of beer."

So the only adulteration going on by the late 19th century was adding sugar and water to stretch it out a bit. And it was those rascally landlords what done it.

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