Thursday, 3 March 2011

Low-gravity beer for India

I was delighted to stumble across this little gem. It's taken from an article in "The Brewers' Journal" entitled "Forty years of Brewing".

"The writer is not nowadays in touch with the export market, but well remembers the beers he brewed for India thirty years ago, quite light in gravity, but all-malt, hops 13 lb. per quarter, and simply loaded with dry hops. Casks were not returnable, being bought outright by the contractors. So the cooperage proprietor was in clover. Beer matured for some months, good stuff then, but not sooner, for, being mashed at 153 deg. Fahr. initial, it was mawkish for long. One brewing peer, with a household name politically, had a large export business, probably not so large now. There was more money in it then, one fancies.
"The Brewers' Journal 1940" page 56.

"Thirty  years ago" is in this case about 1910. Which is quite late for the India trade. In 1910 average gravity in the UK was 1052º. Just to put "quite light in gravity" into context. It seems fair to assume that this beer wouldn't have been much, if at all, above that level.

13 lbs per quarter is a fair amount of hops. About the same as in Whitbread's Export Pale Ale from 1912. That had about 14 lbs per quarter, as opposed to 9 lbs per quarter for the domestic version. "simply loaded with dry hops" sounds about right for a beer making such a long voyage.

I wonder who he means by "brewing peer"? Was a Bass or Allsopp ever made a peer?


Korev said...

peer as in equal rather than lord perhaps

mentaldental said...

Wikipedia thinks so (must be true then).,_1st_Baron_Burton

StuartP said...

That'll Henry Allsopp.
Aka Baron Hindlip.
According to Wikipedia, anyway.

Jeff Renner said...

Weren't they called the "beerage?"

mentaldental said...

So Bass was made a baron in 1882, and Allsopp four years later. I wonder if any other brewing barons were created around this date? Anyone?

mentaldental said...


This link:

suggests that the term doesn't actually refer to peers who were made up from the brewing industry but rather to the members of the peerage who moved into brewing as a way to make a few bob. As it says:

"Evidence given before the present Royal Licensing Commission showed that in four London brewing companies there were among the shareholders forty-six peers, twenty peeresses, 161 lords and ladies and honorables, forty-seven baronets, 106 knights and seventeen members of Parliament."
Lady Astor: "You might as well call it the beerage as the peerage", to which the Speaker interjected severely:
"I would remind the noble lady that it is a rule of this House not to say anything disrespectful of the Other Place (the House of Lords")

The Beer Wrangler said...

Hi there
First off I love your blog and find it fascinating! I have a question about IPA...
When you say IPA was not a strong beer, having read various histories of IPA (Pete brown's book as well as Martyn Cornell's 2 books) Is it not that IPA was not necessarily strong or weak and as it differed from time to time and whether it was actually being sold in india or the Domestic market? What i would love to see is an average abv for India ales for export vs domestic consumption over the time that Pale ales were being exported to India.

Do you have that information in a collated format? (he asks hopefully!)

Many thanks as I am a Brit living in Canada some here have the very American method (see BJCP) of defining beers- which annoys the hell out of me!

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Wrangler, I'm afraid I don't have one neat table for the whole of the 19th century. I wish I did.

Martyn Cornell said...

It looks as if the term "the beerage" was coined, probably, by the temperance movement, to refer originally to two brewer-MPs raised to the House of Lords in 1880, Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, made Lord Tweedmouth, a partner in (and later chairman of) Meux's brewery in London, and Arthur Guinness, made Lord Ardilaun. The teetotal campaigner (and MP) Sir Wilfrid Lawson used the phrase in 1882, talking about "two of them [brewers] have been made peers; they have been raised from 'the beerage' to 'the peerage'."

Michael Bass, btw, didn't become a member of the House of Lords until 1886 (it was a baronetcy that he received in 1882).

Arthur Guinness's brother Edward became a baron in 1891, a viscount in 1895 and an earl in 1919. Other members of the "beerage", besides Henry Allsopp (Kirstie's ancestor, of course) - Lord Daresbury (Greenall's brewery); Lord Brocket (Cain's/Walker Cain); Lord Younger of Leckie (Youngers of Alloa).