Friday, 4 November 2011

The Shore Brewery, Alloa (part three)

Yet more on Calder. When we finally get a glimpse of the shiny things.

I've no time for a long introduction. I'll let Barnard do the talking.

"Our steps were first directed to the ground floor of the malting which adjoins the brewhouse, where is situated the mill for crushing the malt, and from whence it is conveyed to the grist-house. Next, we ascended some stone steps, which lead into the brewhouse, a square structure built with stone, and having an open louvred roof. Making our way to the top gallery, we were shown a domed heating copper, holding fifty barrels, constructed of copper, and fitted with a manhole. It is commanded by the cold-liquor tank, and is for heating the brewing water, which runs thence through a copper main direct into one of Steel's mashing machines.

Returning to the floor, we took a peep at the mash-tun standing in the centre of the house, which is constructed of oak and fitted with gun-metal draining plates. It is a seventeen-quarter tun, and is generally used twice a day, to meet the increased demand for Calder's ale. Beneath the tun there is an underback, from whence the wort is pumped up to the copper, whither we followed it. Ascending another stair, to a gallery placed at a great elevation, we found ourselves on a level with the copper, a fine vessel 10 feet in diameter, which is constructed of copper, is heated by fire, and holds eighty barrels. In a recess on this stage, or gallery, is the brewer's sampling sink, and close to it, the grist hopper, etc. ."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 4", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 390.

Scottish breweries were sturdily built. Often, like the Shore Brewery, of stone. It may not have been as grand as Willaim Younger's breweries in Edinburgh (they looked like castles), but it was still built like a brick shithouse.

Steel's masher. If it seems like everyone had one, that's because they did. It's an incredibly useful piece of equipment, allowing a brewer to fine-tune the consistency of his mash. It's no wonder that they're still common.

Now it's time for my favourite bit: mashtun mathematics. Calder had a single 17-quarter mashtun, used twice a day. Reckoning about 4 barrels to the quarter, that's a daily capacity of around 136 barrels. Or around 40,000 barrels a year. Which is very similar to the 50,000 barrel capacity quoted in their 1905 prospectus. Not a huge brewery by any means.

Let's move on to the cooling and fermenting and cooling departments.

"Passing into the next building, we ascended a flight of steps, leading up from the cleansing room to the cooling department. It occupies the topmost storey of the fermenting-house, which measures 60 feet square, and looks out on to the quay and river. The walls are louvred on all sides from floor to roof, hence the breezes from the Forth play pretty freely throughout the building, and the wort is rapidly cooled. On the west side of this chamber stands the hop-back, constructed of pine, and fitted with gun-metal draining plates. It is divided off at one end, where there is a surface aerator, through which the wort is conducted to two large coolers ; these occupy a considerable portion of the floor; and they are connected with two of Morton's horizontal refrigerators, which have a capacity of forty barrels per hour, and are cooled by well water. From these machines, the worts descend to the tun-rooms below, the larger of which contains four square fermenting vats, with a capacity of 300 barrels, where also are the tanks for holding the store yeast. In the smaller room, are five fermenting rounds, with a capacity of 180 barrels, and both rooms are fitted throughout with hot and cold water pipes.

Following our guide down a narrow stair, we reached the settling-square room, a chamber measuring 50 feet in length, and having numerous small windows looking out on the yard and road. It contains, besides other vessels, six settling-squares, constructed of pinewood, and fitted with attemperators. Descending still lower, we came to the basement of the building, where the cleansing operations are completed, and the beer finished for delivery to customers. Through a wide doorway, we passed into the cellars, where certain classes of ale are matured and stored for the local trade. The most important, however, is the cellar, situated in the building on the quay. This fine structure, which was erected some years ago by Mr. Calder, the senior partner, is of great height and capacity. The walls are 2.5 feet thick, and space has been left within the building for putting up another storey. This immense cellar is used principally for pale ales, and 6,000 barrels can be stored therein. Adjoining this cellar, is an export bottling store of similar dimensions, containing two storeys. At the back of the ground floor, the bottle-washing is conducted, the front portion being used for the filling operations. The upper floor is used for labelling, capsuling, and packing the bottled beers, for shipping to Australia and the West Indies. Included within this block, is the brewer's private house, several other stores, some houses for the workmen, a stable yard and a dray shed."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 4", Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 390 - 391.

You can imagine how drafty that cooling loft must have been. The brewery had an pretty exposed position, virtually on the shore of the Forth. The same comment as I made about Steel's mashers applies to Morton's refrigerators. Everyone used them. Though unlike the mashers, refrigerators of this type have been superseded by my modern devices. There's another reason why wells were important: as a supply of cold water. Deep wells are totally immune to the vagaries of the surface temperature.

Time for another bit of brewhouse calculus. Four squares of 300 barrels. Is that each or combined? I suspect combined. The brew-length was only 70-odd barrels. It would take two days of brews (brewing twice a day) to fill a 300-barrel square. Whereas 75-barrel fermenters would contain a single brew each. 480 barrels fermentation capacity doesn't seem like much. Or enough to keep pace with the mash tun. Depending on how long fermentation took. But look, they're using settling squares. The wort probably didn't stay in the fermenters more than two or three days before being dropped into the settling square. Using each of the fermenters twice a week would give enough capacity to match the mash tun virtually exactly. 960 divided by 12 (two brews each day, six days a week) is 80. Or a little more than the brew-length of seventy-something barrels.

This is where I get confused. The cleansing department ins below the settling squares. Surely the settling squares were for cleansing? Or did they, as described in an earlier post, run the beer into butts for cleansing? Is that what was in the basement?

In the 1890's not everything was running beer yet. Explaining wht some types of beer still needed to be matured in the brewery cellar. Almost certainly this would have included some of their Pale Ales. This was still brewed sometimes as a Stock beer.

That cellar on the quayside sounds totally out of proportion. 6,000 barrels is about two months worth of production. To have that capacity just for Pale Ale says much about Calder's trade. And how long Pale Ale was being stored before sale. As the 19th century progressed, beers was increasingly exported in bottles. Which meant brewers needed a whole set of new equipment to wash and fill the bottles. Funny the two destinations that are mentioned: Australia and the West Indies. We saw just a couple of days ago that many Scottish brewers were exporting to Australia in 1910.

The most exciting bit is still to come. When we sample Calder's beers.

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