There was a lively debate on the relative merits of slow and quick chilling. Some maintained it was important to let beer mature for a while before bottling:
"Mr. Robert D. Clarke said that he was rather astonished to hear the author advocate, for the sake of economy, the running of the beer into the chillers direct from the skimming vessels. That was how he (the speaker) began nine years ago, with almost disastrous results, because the resulting beer in the bottle was absolutely without palate fulness, and had no character whatever. He never got over that difficulty until he started storing the beer in the cask for from six weeks to two months. The advantage of that was most marked, and the result was that the bottled beer was full of character, and as nearly as possible equal to the ordinary beer, bottled in the old-fashion style, with the gas generated in the bottle. He would like to hear the author's remarks on that point, because that was a very important point.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 526.
It's clear that many brewers thought the old method of bottle-conditioning superior when it came to flavour. Just that it was too expensive to use for everyday beers.
It wasn't just the flavour that improved by storage before chilling - it didn't throw a sediment as quickly. Something very important for brewers, as it would have effectively determined the shelflife of the beer. No-one would be a bottle with sediment in it.
"The CHAIRMAN said that he would like to know especially how long the beer should be stored before chilling. He understood that it was run down from the fermenting vessel to the tank. With regard to the difference between slow chilling and quick chilling, he believed that it was generally admitted that the slow chilling gave less reduction in the fulness of the beer, and also a longer freedom from deposit in the bottle. He would like to know whether the author's experience agreed with that. He thought that, for the annual summer trip, they might perhaps visit Bristol and see the author's plant. Mr. Clarke had suggested storing beer a certain time before chilling it, but the question arose whether the present price at which these non-deposit beers were put on the market would permit of that long storage. He had heard of a firm which sent out on the Thursday the beer brewed on the Monday, i.e., in four days, including the brewing day, fermented, chilled, filtered, and bottled. But he was not suggesting that the author's products were similarly treated."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, pages 528 - 529.
Money. That's what it was ultimately all down to. The margins were too small for maturing the beer for any length of time to be practical. Four days from mashing to bottling is incredibly short. Most beers spent at least 6 or 7 days fementing and cleansing.
Here the author, Arthur Hadley, has his say:
"With regard to the chilling of beers, it appeared to be agreed in the meeting that the slow process was slightly better. Until about 12 months ago, he would probably have agreed with that opinion, and especially on the ground that the deposit came much later than with a quick system, but at the present time they were operating a quick system, and they had found the best method to be the use of a double filter, and they had never had the slightest trouble with a deposit under the system which they adopted in allowing about six weeks.
Mr. Wilson, interposing, said that he was referring more to the flavour than to the deposit.
The Author said that the flavour would be slightly better. A very serious objection to the slow system was the higher cost, which was a very material matter."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 530.
So a sort of endorsement for the slow system, except for its cost. It was just too expensive, point he reiterates:
"With regard to the running from the skimming vessels he had experienced no difficulty whatever. They kept beer in the skimming vessels a day or two longer than would be done for ordinary racking, and it was pumped from the skimming vessels after about nine days for bottling purposes. With regard to storage in cask before going to chilling tanks, the cost of such a system would in the case of their own firm be absolutely prohibitive. The margin was already so small that if they had to put it into casks and keep it there several weeks before putting it into the vessels they would certainly not be able to build the new store on which they were now engaged."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 531.
I'm beginning to understand why non-dposit beer became the norm. It was because of demand by the public. They wanted crystal clear beer and they wanted it at a low price. They clearly weren't as worried about the beer's flavour. Had they been, they would have insisted of bottle-conditioning.