Monday, 11 November 2013

Bass warns fraudsters

Bass Pale Ale seems to have suffered more from fraudulent copies than any other brand. I can't remember coming across any cases of fake Guinness Stout yet. Or maybe Bass were just more aggressive in defending their brand.

At a time when there was still a large amount of bottling on a very small scale. Publicans, grocers and small bottlers often worked with quantities no greater than a hogshead (54 gallons). The risk of fraud from such small operations was much greater than from the larger bottlers. And, of course, the in-house bottling departments of brewers themselves.

I can't help wondering when the last case of counterfeit Bass was. The latest I've found so far is 1919. I'm sure that's not the last. But were there any after 1945?

I love this notice placed by Bass just before WW I, basically thresatening with prosecution anyone who dared fob off someone else's beer as theirs.


In the Court of Justice. Chancery Division. BASS. RATCLIFF & GRETTON, LTD., Plaintiffs, and ________ Defendant.

On the day June, 1913, a PERPETUAL INJUNCTION was granted by Justice Eve in the Chancery Division, restraining the Defendant, his servants and agents from selling or offering for sale as "BASS" or "BOTTLED BASS" Ale not of the Plaintiffs' manufacture, and the Defendant was ordered to pay costs of the action.

Bass, Ratcliff & Ltd., will be grateful if the Pubiic communicate with them when they have reason to suspect the genuineness of ale supplied either as "BOTTLED BASS" or "DRAUGHT BASS," and NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that LEGAL PROCEEDINGS will taken against any person who is detected selling "BASS" (either in bottle or draught) ale which not of Messrs BASS & Co.'S manufacture."
Aberdeen Journal - Monday 21 July 1913, page 1.

Interesting that all of those court cases and injunctions always apply to Bass Pale Ale. No-one seems to have bothered faking their other beers.

As a special bonus, here are some analyses of Bass beers from before WW I:

Bass beers 1892 - 1901
Year Beer Style package Acidity FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation
1892 Extra Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1009.1 1059.15 6.55 84.62%
1896 Pale Ale Pale Ale 0.234 1006.94 1060.80 6.98 87.97%
1896 Strong Ale Strong Ale 0.288 1034.91 1101.87 8.56 63.64%
1898 Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1015.55 1064.85 6.43 76.02%
1901 Dog's Head Pale Ale bottled 0.171 1003.34 1065.63 8.06 94.59%
1901 White Label Pale Ale bottled 0.171 1007.41 1063.77 7.25 87.73%
1901 draught Pale Ale Pale Ale draught 0.144 1013.40 1063.99 6.48 78.03%
Wisconsin Dairy and Food Commission
Wahl & Henius, pages 823-830
Brockhaus' konversations-lexikon, Band 2 by F.A. Brockhaus, 1898,M1

Note the crazily-high degree of attenuation of some examples. The Strong Ale is Bass No. 1.


Bob Kiley said...

I assume that the FG of the No. 1 was the racking gravity not the gravity after cellaring, right? Surely there was still some Brett activity that would have worked away at the dextrins in there if aged long enough.

Ron Pattinson said...


no these numbers come from analyses of samples which were purchased through normal retail channels, not from brewing records. They're real FG's.