Saturday, 23 July 2011

James Eadie, Cross Street Brewery (part one)

Now that I've been through all of Burton's Premier League breweries, it's time to move on to the Championship. Or is it League One?

In the second half of the 19th century, Burton was packed with breweries. There were the big names: Bass, Allsopp, Salt, Ind Coope and Truman. Names that are still have resonance. Many of the smaller breweries have slipped beneath the waves of consciousness. Eadie belongs to the latter group.

I'd never heard of Eadie. Too small and too long gone. Gobbled up by Bass in the 1930's, few reminders of its existence remain. Once again, I have to thank Barnard for documenting the brewery. What would we do without him?

James Eadie was a Scot who moved to England in 1842, working first as a tea dealer and then as a maltster. He sold malt to brewers in Burton and saw first-hand the upsurge in Pale Ale brewing. As the existing breweries could barely keep up with demand, he saw a business opportunity. He leased land on Cross Street and built himself a brewery. I'll let Barnard continue the tale:

"After building his brewery, Mr. Eadie set himself in earnest to acquire the necessary skill to direct the brewing operations. This was obtained by the expenditure of a considerable sum of money, and the devotion of many years in overcoming the difficulties that cropped up whilst perfecting himself in the art of brewing. This anxiety, labour, and  study resulted in his ales attaining a very high degree of excellence, and in obtaining for him the establishment of a great business and a handsome competence. When the brewery was started in 1854, besides Mr. Eadie, only two men were employed, and in those days all the work was done by hand, even to the grinding the malt and pumping the water. Twelve barrels were brewed at a time, and the total number turned out the first year was but 250 barrels, which was increased to 680 barrels the second year—about half the quantity now brewed every week."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 220 - 221.

That tells us the size of Eadie's brewery. It brewed around 70,000 barrels a year. Very modest compared to the million barrels that streamed annually from Bass.

Barnard didn't limit himself to looking around breweries and maltings. He was more than willing to schmooze with brewery owners in their country houses. Like Eadie's Barrow Hall. His estate had a rather famous resident:

"Mr. G. Turner, the landscape painter, is a tenant on the estate, and lives in a quaint old-fashioned house situated in a most sequestered spot, near the Trent, which here presents a fine broad sheet of water with a swift current."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 227.

Barrow Hall no longer exists, having been demolished in 1956.

But enough of frivolities like art. Let's get back to our main interest: brewing. Starting with the mash tun.

"Descending two long flights of stairs, we entered the mashing stage, a magnificent floor, measuring 60 feet square, and the very model of a mash room. It is well-lighted, of enormous  height, and the walls are lined throughout with white glazed bricks. The floor is concreted, as is also the sub-floor under the mash tuns ; this latter place has been constructed so as to enable the men to get at the bottom of the tuns and the Archimedean screw, that carries the grains therefrom into the yard. On the mashing stage are to be seen two forty-quarter mash tuns, constructed of English oak, enclosed with level covers, which are divided in the centre, and raised up by counter-balance chain and weights, like two great flaps, enabling the mash-men to see the condition of the goods, as often as required. These tuns are 14.5 feet in diameter, and each contains draining plates and rakes, constructed of gun-metal.

We should here remark, that there are certain peculiar and novel details of machinery in this brewery, which should not be passed unnoticed by the observant brewer or visitor, in going through the place; notably, the mill rollers, grain screws and mashing machines. These last, which command the tuns, are self-acting, and consist simply of a large copper barrel connected with the hoppers, so that, when the slide is withdrawn and the hot water is turned on, both grist and water flow simultaneously into the tuns. The hoppers, by which the mashing machines are fed with the crushed malt, are constructed of galvanised wrought-iron, and hold sufficient for each brewing. The ordinary method of emptying the tuns, after the mashing operations are over, is for the men to get inside the vessels and throw out the grain on to the floor by wooden shovels, but this plan has been abolished here. The tuns are provided with an opening at the bottom, fitted with covers so that they can be readily closed, connected with the screw before referred to, which conducts the grain to a point where they can be loaded up into trucks, for conveyance away. There is no underback in this brewery (that vessel seems to be fast disappearing in the modern breweries), the wort running by gravitation direct into the coppers, which are placed at a lower elevation in the next building."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 227 - 229.

Two forty-quarter mash tuns. At four barrels to a quarter of malt, that's enough to brew 320 barrels. Brewing once a day, 6 days a week, that's a capacity of about 100,000 barrels. Or slightly more than actually brewed.

I'd wondered what that device with a copper barrel was that mixed allowed the grain and water to enter the mash tun at the same time. I think you can see it in the picture. The thing that looks like a hopper. There seems to be a water pipe joining it just above the tun. It sounds like the same idea as a Steel's masher, though more primitive. Surely the screw of a Steel's masher would be much more effective at mixing grain and water, wouldn't it?

Were underbacks really going out of fashion? Most of the breweries I've been around still have them.

The workers must have been pleased when they didn't have to climb into the mash tun and shovel any more. Having done 5 minutes shovelling spent malt at Devil's Backbone recently, I know what hard work it is. Forty quarters is a a lot of grain. It would weigh about 6 tons, when dry.

That's all I can be arsed with today. You'll have to wait for the coppers, cooling and fermentation. Hopefully you won't go crazy with anticipation.

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