Tuesday, 3 May 2011

More India Porter

Time for the third instalment of India Porter. This time in the form of a pair of fairly random quotes.

I've timed this to coincide with an event I've awaiting with eager anticipation: the launch in New York City of Pretty Things East India Porter. I'm probably sitting on a train somewhere between Washington and New York as you read this. Getting my thirst all worked up for an evening of fun.

You might notice a recurring theme about the army and Porter. It was pushed as the healthy alternative to rum.

Whilst referring recently to the various systems adopted in the 2nd European Light Infantry to prevent intemperance amongst the men, or rather to keep them from running about outside of the barracks looking for liquor, we omitted to mention a practice that was introduced by Major W. Hands, while he commanded the regiment, and which was attended with the very best effects, which was this :—there were no spirits whatever sold, or allowed to be taken within the barrack square, but at the coffee-room (no canteen) there was always plenty of ale and porter, and at a moderate price; these the men used to go there and drink, but latterly Major Hands issued an order allow ing men to purchase ale or porter, and carry it to their barrack rooms, and drink it there. This was considered a great indulgence, and many who used before to go outside and spend their money on spirits, now laid it out on those more wholesome beverages, and drank them sitting comfortably in their barracks; then, at the dinner hour, half a score of tin tankards might be seen on the table of each mess foaming over with beer or porter, and the men enjoying themselves in a most homely style. Such little indulgences us these are much more beneficial to our European soldiery, than sheets of written rules and vexatious enactments, which only annoy the men, and do them no good whatever.
"Allen's Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign India", 1845, page 186.

This gives an indication of the value of Porter in India:

The Bombay Steamer.— The Bombay Steam Navigation Company's steamer Bombay, which left Bombay, on the morning of the 28th for Kurrachee, with a large number of passengers and a full cargo, experienced such heavy weather on the night of the 28th, the sea making a clean breach over her, that Capt. Haselwood felt it necessary to put back into this port, the pumps, from their having been choked with coals, being found insufficient to keep her clear of water, which made its way into the vessel in all directions. With the exception of the serious loss which the steamer's failure to perform the voyage will entail on the Steam Navigation Company and the passengers, little harm has been done. It was found necessary to ease the vessel by throwing overboard some of the heavy baggage and cargo, but the loss will not be great, as the goods consisted principally of some heavy lumbersome casks of Government porter. — Telegraph, May 31.
"Allen's Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign India, vol. 9", 1851, page 421.

"Government porter" surely refers to Porter bought by the East India Company under contract. The way it's described, it appears to be a bothersome, bulky but not particularly prized commodity. Probably some class considerations coming in again there. It's for the ordinary troops, so it can't be worth much.


Barm said...

It sounds more like temperance than snobbery in this particular article about the Government Porter having to be dumped.

I noticed that Horst Dornbusch was not embarrassed to turn up at the Boston Pretty Things launch. Wonder if he will go home and revise any of the nonsense he's written about Porter in the past.

Craig said...

Once I get done brweing my War Series, I'm planning on doing a EIP. I'm intrigued by them.

Joe Stange said...

Any chance at a Kristen-ized homebrew recipe for an India Porter? It would be simple enough to make a well-hopped porter, but I do enjoy that Pattinson-England stamp of authenticity.

First Stater said...

If you get off the train in Wilmington and give me a call I'll buy you a pint or 3.