"Aitkens were one of the very few firms that brewed stout in fact there was four different qualities, most pubs had it on draught we had a large turnover in Firkins
Most other breweries converted beer into stout, by adding colour , priming, and stout caramel.but most of all they used up ullages and returned beer. Most of the cellarmen had moustaches and you allways knew when they had a go at the stout.
Their tongue was always out licking their moustaches All stout was in butts, Hogheads, barrels, kils, firkins,and sometimes pins. Beer casks had white paint on the chimes stout casks had red. The butts were on high gauntry's all the casks were racked off them. The cellars were the original cellars we did the racking by the open flame of naptha lamps the Bond cellar had gas jets on the walls"
Apologies for the lack of full stops. The original letter only occasionally bothers with them. There's much of interest in that small description. We've already learned that Stout was never as big in Scotland as in London.
I've heard of small provincial breweries in England converting their Mild into Stout in a similar way. Though not with ullage and returns, just the caramel. Though John Keeling told me that the Watney's Cream Stout brewed at Wilson's in Manchester was mostly ullage with loads of caramel and sugar. I wonder what it tasted like? One of the blokes on my course at university used to drink Watney's Cream Stout. And he came from the Northwest, so it probably was brewed at Wilson's. I doubt he ever realised what went into it.
I'm surprised that Scottish pubs had draught Stout at all it the period Alex Young was in the industry. Remember that he started in 1924 and it sounds like he worked at the brewery until pretty much its closure in 1966. Stout going into butts and hogsheads is equally surprising. From the description of casks being racked from the butts, it sounds as if they may have been vatting their Stout still. Fascinating.
Unfortunately, I only seem to have the details of a single type of Aitken Stout. A typical sweet, low-strength Scottish Stout:
|James Aitken Stouts 1949 – 1961|
|1954||A Stout||Stout||1/2d||half pint||bottled||0.04||1021.2||1041.4||1 + 20||2.59||48.79%|
|1961||Stout (no lactose)||Stout||15d||half pint||bottled||0.04||1022||1038.9||275||2.11||43.44%|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002|
Finally, can you recall me wondering if Aitken generated their own electricity? I know the answer now. They did:
"The new brew house opened in 1900 by modern standards was antiquated, the beam engine drove everything inside and outside the building, all of the shafts with loose pulleys and driving pulleys. There was also a gas engine that generated their own electricity 100 volts Eventually it was led to the cellars Two bare copper wires ran the length of each passage the globe holder and flex was attached to a tee piece of metal that bridged the two wires to give you a light any where the length of the wires. clean the wires with your knife and bring both wires together with your fingers and it would ring a bell, you felt a little tingle in your fingers even if they were wet, but nothing like a shock The power house occupied quite a large space, rows upon rows of two feet sqare glass vessels filled with acid and zinc plates."
It all sounds a bit primitive with the bare copper wires. It's odd how Alex Young calls the new brewery "antiquated". Compare that with the newspaper description of the brewery when it opened. That said it was as modern as next week.
Still not quite done with Alex Young's letters.