Monday, 9 May 2011

Preparing Porter for export

I'm so pleased. I've stumbled on a description of the preparation of Porter for export. Fits right in with one of my current threads.

Beer.—Under this head are included the different sorts of malt liquor brewed in England, namely, ale, porter, and table beer. Ale is brewed in almost every part of the kingdom; but that made in Staffordshire, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Dorsetshire, and Nottinghamshire, is the most esteemed. The ale made at Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, is smooth, extremely heady, but not clear. Messrs. Ramsbottom and Co. of Windsor, brew that excellent ale which takes its name from the town wherein it is made. The liquor called Dorchester beer is also a kind of ale, but of a lighter quality than those already mentioned. The Nottingham ale possesses an agreeably bitter favour and is exceedingly wholesome, as is that made at Lichfield in Staffordshire, a great deal whereof is consumed by the manufacturers and other inhabitants of the adjacent, populous, town of Birmingham. In and about London are innumerable ale breweries, some of which send out excellent ale, and others the vilest trash, which, so far from being a wholesome beverage, we are sorry to say, has in many instances proved absolute poison to its consumers. All the ales of London are made in imitation of the country ales : but seldom are equal to their originals. Porter may be divided into two classes, namely, brown-stout, and porter properly so called. The London porter has deservedly obtained the reputation of being the best in the world ; it is a wholesome, cooling and at the same time nutritive beverage. The porter Breweries in and about London are so numerous that our limits will not permit us to enter into a detail of their situations, different characters, etc. Vast quantities are annually exported from London for America, the West Indies, India, Africa, and most of the northern nations. When intended for warm climates, porter is exposed for several days previously to its being shipped, to the open air in large vats,in order that it may flatten ; as in the voyage it is fermented, and consequently, by the time it reaches the place of destination, becomes so brisk and in such high order as to be fit for immediate use. Brown-stout is only a fuller bodied kind of porter than that which serves for ordinary drinking. A great deal of this is exported to America and the West Indies. The following is a statement of the quantity of beer denominated porter brewed in London by the twelve principal houses, between 5th July, 1808,and 5th January, 1809:—

Barclay 64,361
Brown and Parry 48,196
Hanbury 41,554
Whitbread 40,719
Meux 39,292
F. Calvert 33,628
Combe 25,489
Taylor 18,095
Goodwyn 15,678
J.Calvert 14,881
Elliott 14,877
Clowes 14,693

Porter of a quality not much inferior to that made at London, is brewed in many of the provincial towns, and that now in considerable quantities. Table-beer breweries are established in almost every town and city in England; the quality of this kind of beer is poor, and rarely affords a pleasant drink: that made at London is, in general, superior to the country brewed table-beer. The quantity of this article brewed in London, by the twelve principal houses, from July 5, 1806, to July 5, 1807, was—

Kirkman 23,354
Charrington 22,184
Edmonds 19,474
Sandford 15,818
Paullaine 15,300
Satchell 11,665
Cowell 11,515
Cape 11,468
Sandall 9,798
Hall 9,098
Stretton 8,161
Eves 8,042

All sorts of beer are made from malt and hops ; of late however, it has been discovered that noxious ingredients have in many instances been put into the beer, and the magistrates of London, with a laudable activity which distinguishes them from those of every other city, have taken steps to suppress so vile a practice.
"A general dictionary of commerce, trade, and manufactures" by Thomas Mortimer, 1840, doesn't have page numbers.

See? Porter was exported all over the world: "Vast quantities are annually exported from London for America, the West Indies, India, Africa, and most of the northern nations." And India is specifically mentioned.

As for the preparation for export, it sounds very similar to the technique employed for IPA. You open up the cask or vat to lose any CO2 before the beer is put onto the ship. I assume they learnt through the bitter experience of burst casks that this was advisable.

Almost forgot. Confirmation of Stout as a type of Porter: "Brown-stout is only a fuller bodied kind of porter". Not that I need it confirming, but it's always good to have more evidence to that effect. It's an argument I often have, whether Stout is a type of Porter or not.

That table of Porter output is handy. I've got details of the total output of the same breweries. By comparing the two sets of figures, you can see what percentage of each brewery's output that was Porter. (Multiplying the Porter figure by two, as it covers just 6 months of the year.) I assume that what's being excluded is Stout and Table Beer. Because in this period most of those breweries were only producing Porter variants. (Even the Table Beer was a sort of low-gravity Porter.)

Output of the largest London Porter breweries (barrels)

total Porter % Porter
Barclay Perkins 205,300 128,722 62.70%
Whitbread 100,200 81,438 81.28%
Truman, Hanbury 130,800 83,108 63.54%
Felix Calvert 39,200 67,256 171.57%
John Calvert 90,400 29,762 32.92%
Meux, Reid 150,100 78,584 52.35%
Combe 75,600 50,978 67.43%
Goodwyn 60,200 31,356 52.09%
“The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830”, Peter Mathias, 1959, p 551-552
A general dictionary of commerce, trade, and manufactures by Thomas Mortimer, 1840, doesn't have page numbers.

Not sure what that's telling us. The percentage of Porter seems awfully low for some breweries. I'd have expected all of them to have been brewing 70% to 80% Porter at least.


Graham Wheeler said...

"The percentage of Porter seems awfully low to me."

You might have missed the fact that the first set of porter figures are only six months worth.

Much stout seems to have been deliberately flattened, whether or not it was intended for export, often by pumping it up to their coolships, which seems to be pretty dangerous act to me.

StuartP said...

At the start of the piece, the author notes that the Ale made at Burton-on-Trent was not clear.
The fact that he feels the need to point that out shows that ales from elsewhere were normally clear.
There are those who will tell you that the 'special' water of Burton-on-Trent brewed especially clear ales, whereas elsewhere they were brewing mud.
Who to believe?
The standard rule in beer writing appears to be 'accept the bits that fit your story, discount the rest'.

Craig said...

It's interesting that the author notes that Burton-on-Trent produced ale, was not clear.

Ron Pattinson said...

Er, jet lag . . . er . . . how did I miss that it was just 6 months? Will change when brain starts working again.

Martyn Cornell said...

Those 12 brewers apparently being called "table beer brewers" and starting with Kirkman and Charrington were surely the 12 leading London ale brewers.