Saturday, 2 November 2013

A novel way of stealing Bass

It's amazing how often Bass comes up when you just search for "bottled beer". Considerably more often than Guinness, that other famous bottled beer.

I also like that it shows that people were just as criminally-minded in the past.

William Petrie, bottler, Union Grove, Aberdeen, and Margaret Webster Place, Aberdeen, appeared before Baillie Middleton in Aberdeen Police Court yesterday, Petrie being charged with having, between 6th January and 29th March, from the premises on Holburn Street, Aberdeen, occupied by Forbes, Maxwell and Co., Limited, wine merchants, and where he was employed, stolen 14 dozen pints of Bass's beer; and that Petrie and Margaret Webster did, between 30th January and 29th March, steal 11 dozen pints of Bass's beer. Both the accused adhered a former plea of not guilty.

William Blacklaws, manager for Forbes, Maxwell, and Company, Ltd., wine merchants, said that Petrie was in charge of the beer bottling department. The profits had been considerable for some time, but lately there had been a marked decrease in the drawings, and this had him (Mr Blacklaw) make investigation. During the period from 6th January to 29th March, 14 dozen bottles had been sent to Petrie's house. Eleven dozen bottles were sent to Mrs Webster.

In reply to Mr G. M. Aitken, solicitor, witness said that he did not know that it was the regular custom for his men to take a certain beer and fix a different label on the bottles before sending out.

Witness said that when Mre Webster's beer was away, Lochside table beer labels were upon the bottles. When the bottles were brought back later in the day the labels were all off except one.

Wiliiam B Forrest, warehouseman, stated that the beer was brought to the front shop, and left lying there until the carter came to remove it. The beer was not addressed to anyone; was only entered in the delivery book.

Robert Pithie, labourer, said that he took the two dozen bottles beer on the date in question off the rack where the beer was kept, and put Lochside labels on them. He was not told whom they were for. Later in the day, he was told by Petrie to make up a dozen bottles of Bass for himself (Petrie) and put Lochside labels label on them. He had been in the habit of doing this for a number of Saturdays.

Cross-examined by Mr Aitken, witness said that his employers had stopped kesping Lochside beer for some time, but when Lochside beer was ordered, they put the Lochside label on another beer.

Alfred Burnett, bottler, said that his employers kept Lochside beer only in quarts. He assisted Petrie in the bottling department.

Cross-examined by Aitken, witness said that when they got an order for Lochside beer, they sold the customer Gienlivet, and put a Lochside beer label on the bottle.

Mr Aitken — Then you put upon the bottle a label which a falsehood?


James Sutherland, carter, said that on the 29th March he delivered two dozen bottles labelled "Lochside Beer" to Mrs Webster's house.

Alexander Thomson warehouseman, in the employment of the firm, said he was sent to Webster's house later on the day on question, and got from her two dozen bottles, only one bottle having a label. Mis Webster did not say why the other bottles no label.

James Dunn, sectary the firm of Forbes, Maxwell, and Co.. said he saw the bottles which were intended to sent to Petrie. He went, to the spirit room and sampled the bottles. They gave proof that they were not table beer, and as far as he could ascertain they contained Bass's beer. The bottles were labelled "Table Beer."

Charles Davidson said he tested the bottles, and found that they contained a beer equal to Bass's beer.

Detective Gibb said he was present when the bottles which had been found at Mrs Webster's house were tested. They turned out to be 23 Bass and one table beer. He asked Mrs Webster if she had been in the habit of getting Bass instead of table beer, and she replied that she just got what she ordered. He then apprehended Mrs Webster.

Mr Aitken — Are you a judge of beer?

Witness — I know the difference between table beer and Bass.

Three witneeses, who lodged with Mrs Webster, stated they got beer from her on Sundays. They did not ask for it, and she did not charge for it. It was Bass, and not table beer.

William Petrie, in the witness box, said, in reply to the fiscal, that he ordered Pithie to send him table beer. He had no idea why Bass beer was sent.

Baillie Middleton said he could not dismiss from his mind the evidence of the witness who was quite clear on the point that Petrie had given him the order, and that this order for Lochside was to be taken off the Bass stand. Whether Mrs Webster was accessory to the pact was not quite clear, and he was willing to admit that there was a doubt on the point. He would give Mrs Webster the benefit of that doubt. It was most reprehensible thing for men to substitute one thing for another. He would convict Petrie, and fine him 30s, with the alternative, of 14 days, but dismiss the case against Mrs Webster."
Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 10 April 1902, page 3.

What I particularly likes about this article was that the winesses could all tell the difference between Bass and Table Beer. Not that they shouldn't have been. They would have been pretty different in character. Bass was a good big stronger and an awful lot hoppier than Table Beer.

Right, I can understand that they might pass off another beer as Lochside Table Beer, but Bass? That would subsituting one of the most expensive beers for one of the cheapest. Hardly a clever business decision. Surely they would, when it wasn't Potrie carrying out a fraud, have used a beer of a similar price?

Mrs. Webster was obviously guilty as buggery. She said herself that she could tell the difference between Bass and Table Beer. How could she not have noticed that 23 out of 24 bottles contained the wrong type of beer? Her taking the labels off all but one bottle is dead suspicious, too. Though I'm not sure what she'd do that. Had she relabelled the ones containing Bass and sold them on?


bernd said...

Seems like even small breweries in the german province (Oettler in Zeitz) liked the Bass triangle:

bernd said...

Seems like even small breweries in the german province (Oettler in Zeitz) "liked" the Bass triangle:

Ron Pattinson said...


intersting. I wonder id Bass ever noticed?

bernd said...

I don't know. The triangle was used pre ww2. but most of the labels date from the GDR time.

I also wonder what "Sahnen Bier" was?