Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Good Scots Porter

Here's a very early sighting of Scottish-brewed Porter.: 1758. Along with a whole load of other alcoholic drinks from all over Europe.

"JAMES STIRLING, at the Black Bull, below the Tron Church, EDINBURGH, sells for ready Money,

Bohea and Green Teas, best Chocolate and Levant Coffee, Jamaica raw Sugars, and Variety of Edinburgh refined Sugars, at the lowest Prices.

French Brandy at 2s. 8d. and 3s. 6d. per Pint, single West-India Rum, at 2s. 10 d. and double Ditto at 5 s. per Pint.

Red Port, Malaga, Zerry, and Lisbon Wines, at 1 s. 6d. er Bottle, or 2s. 10 d. per Pint, good Claret Wine at 1 s. 8 d. and strong Ditto at 1 s. 10 d. per Bottle, Madeira Wine at 2s. 6d. and old Canary at 2s. 6d. per Bottle.

Good Scots Porter at 4s. 3d. per Dozen, with Bottles, at 2.5d. per single Bottle, or 2s. 5 d. per Dozen, when whole clean Bottles are returned, and in small Casks at 4.5 d. per Pint, Wine Measure.

Best London Porter ar 3d. per Bottle, or 2s. 10 d. per Dozen.

Good Strong Ale ar 2.5d. per Bottle, or 2s. 6d. per Dozen.

London brown Stout at 4d. and Old Hock at 4.5 d. per Bottle.

Mr. Rochead's Ale at 1.5 d. per Bottle, or three Bottles for 4d. All above, when clean whole Bottles are returned.

And fells at his Cellars in Alison's Court, Potter-row, All Kinds of white and red Wines, Spirits, London Porter, and Ales, with the Discount of the Town's Impost.

N. B. The Wines are all good, and neat as imported, and the Bottles good sizeable Bottles.

Orders in Town, or Commissions from the Country, shall be carefully observed."
Caledonian Mercury - Saturday 25 March 1758, page 3.

Zerry. I think I prefer that to sherry. But amusing old names for drinks aren't all this article teaches us.

The first is pretty obvious: bottled beer. In England bottled beer was pretty rare until the late 19th century. Yet here virtually all the beer is bottled. For reasons I've yet to discover, bottled beer became common much earlier in Scotland. There are several different types of bottled beer: Scots Porter, London Porter, Strong Ale, London brown Stout, Old Hock and Mr. Rochead's Ale. Only the Scots Porter was also available in casks.

Unsurprisingly, London Porter was dearer than locally-brewed stuff. A halfpenny per bottle, or 20%, more. there's mno mention of the size of the bottles, but, if a pint of draught Porter cost 4.5d, they couldn't have been larger than a half pint.

What was Old Hock, I wonder? Hock was the name of Fuller's Mild, so it's possible that it was some sort of Stock Ale. The price certainly implies that it's strong.

I assume that the Strong Ale was brewed in Scotland. Interesting that it's the same price as Porter, but was presumably stronger. This is in the heady early days of Porter's popularity, when it still commanded a premium price.

Note how expensive the bottles themselves were. 1s 10d for a dozen. That's only 7d less than the price of the Scots Porter inside them.


Ike said...

I did a Google search for 'Old Hock Beer' which came up with a quote from 'A History of Beer and Brewing'.
"Accum (1820) reports on a White Porter or Old Hock which is the name given to porter brewed from pale malt".
Maybe that is what they are referring to.

Ike said...

Also 'A Concise Dictionary of Slang' gives Old Hock as Stale Beer. late C.18-19.