Saturday, 7 January 2012

Younger's IPA

Pale Ale brewers. They had a thing about dragging in chemists and medical experts to testify how great - and healthy - their beer was. Mostly it was the Burton brewers - Bass, Allsopp and Salt - but William Younger was in on the act, too.

In the case of the Burton brewers, it was in reaction to the strychnine scare of 1852 (when a French doctor alleged that large quantities of strychnine were being exported to Britain for use as a bittering agent in Pale Ale).

WILLIAM YOUNGER & CO. respectfully call attention to the following CERTIFICATE by the late Professor WILSON, one of the most eminent Chemists of his day, regarding the peculiar and special excellencies of the Water used in brewing their PALE ALES, which secures unrivalled superiority in delicacy of flavour and keeping qualities:-
"Laboratory Edinburgh.
"Having twice visited with the interval of two years, Messrs. YOUNGER & Co.s ABBEY BREWERY EDINBURGH, and having carefully examined the water drawn in my presence from their Well, I can testify to its being of excellent quality for Brewing, as well as for other purposes. It is bright and sparkling - free from sediment - and without colour, taste, or smell.

"I have also examined it in my Laboratory, and subjected it twice to minute Analysis. It proves to be free from Organic Matter and all Noxious Ingredients, and to contain the Salts which long experience has shown to characterise the Waters which are most suitable for the purposes of the Brewer.

"I have likewise examined the Ale made with this Water, and find it, possess the appearance, properties, and chemical composition of Bitter Ale of the test quality.
"Regius Professor of Technology. University, Edinburgh.

The above to be had in hds, Barrels. and Half-Barrels.
Glasgow Herald - Wednesday 9 August 1865, page 2.
What can I say? Yet more frustration about the exact composition of Younger's water. Without colour, taste or smell. That's a pretty basic set of requirements for brewing water. Salts, well I could have guessed that it contained salts. Something slightly more specific would be useful. Like exactly what those salts were. Once again, hints of a Burton-like mineral content, but no actual details.

Hang on. There's something slightly off there. professor Wilson examined the brewing water of the Abbey Brewery. That was the older and larger of Younger's two breweries. But their IPA was usually brewed in the Holyrood Brewery.

"The Holyrood Brewery, five minutes walk from this place, is a more recent acquisition, and is interesting not only from the thousand memories connected with its name, but chiefly by the comparison between the present and the past of the art of brewing, suggested by what we have seen of its machinery and vessels, its immense range of granaries and mattings, its great store cellars and powerful machinery and the simpler methods and vessels until recently in use at the Abbey establishment, where the Edinburgh ale, for which Messrs. Wm. Younger & Co's ancestors were famous, is still brewed, whilst at Holyrood is produced their justly celebrated India pale ale, the triumph of Messrs. Wm. Younger & Co.'s skill and care. They are exceptionally fortunate in the situation of their establishments, which gives them access to water-bearing strata, yielding an abundant supply of water exactly suitable for the production of the highest class of ales."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 18.

I've mostly looked at records from the Abbey Brewery and just a single year from the Holyrood Brewery. While it's true that Holyrood concentrated mostly on Pale Ales, Abbey brewed every beer in their range:shilling Ales, Strong Ales, Edinburgh Ales, Stouts, Table Beer, mild Ales and Pale Ales. It's a sign of the importance of IPA to Younger's business that they had virtually a brewery dedicated to its production.

1 comment:

Pivní Filosof said...

"Pale Ale brewers. They had a thing about dragging in chemists and medical experts to testify how great - and healthy - their beer was."

Aren't brewers, by proxy of some association, institute, etc. doing just the same now?