Friday, 21 February 2014

City of London Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

City of London Brewery, if you remember, was on the river right next to Cannon Street station.

It was a very central and potentially extremely lucrative site. Two acres of land in the City of London was worth a stack, even back then. That's why they'd moved brewing to the former Stansfeld & Co.'s brewery in Fulham in 1922. You can see that confirmed in the article below.

The former Stansfeld & Co Brewery in 1896

They at least seemed to be making a reasonable profit and were paying out a decent dividend.

"City of London Brewery Co., Ltd.
The annual general meeting was held in London, on the 2nd met., Alderman Sir G. Wyatt Truscott, Bart, (chairman), presiding.

The report stated that the net profits for 1922 were £168,814, and £34,374 was brought forward. A final dividend of 15 per cent. for the 12 months, adding £20,000 to the reserve (making that fund £275,000). and carrying forward £37,754.

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said that the directors had been faced with a continuance of many of the difficulties which existed in the previous year. Trade depression had increased and unemployment was still with them. The public were economising generally through lack of means. The handicap of high duties was still maintained and all helped in reducing the sales, but, in spite of that, he thought that the shareholders would consider that the directors had done well and were presenting them with what certainly, in these timed, was a most satisfactory result of the year's trading. The entire removal of the whole of the brewing operations to Fulham had been effected, and the work was now being carried on under the most modern conditions. The expenses of carrying on the business during the final months of transition had Wn considerable, but from now onwards they would have the benefit of conducting their operations under the new conditions, and they know from their own experience that that would effect very great saving.

With regard to general conditions, there had been nothing (lining the year of great moment. They always had the ghost of Prohibition among them, but it did not alarm him in the least. To his mind the very word was too suggestive of shackles on personal liberty to appeal to the English people. If everything liable to be used to excess was to be subject to Prohibition, they would arrive at an absurd situation. It would mean the confession that English people had no ability to exercise self-control. Let tho campaign for true temperance throughout the country be continued, and by temperance ho meant the use and not the abuse of the good things of life.

The public Press had given a great deal of attention to the brewing trade lately, and had supplied the public, he was sorry to say, with a great deal of incorrect information. That was troublesome and unfair. A great deal of nonsense was talked about the standard barrel. The Press had gone so far as to suggest that brewers were not sending out barrels of the proper standard and quality. It seemed to him that one ought to explain to the public what a standard barrel really meant. There was no one who knew more about the subject than Mr. Hill, whose own words on the matter he would give them, and Mr. Hill said :— From the brewers' point of view there is no such thing as a standard barrel of beer; it only exists us an Excise standard for the purpose of charging duty. Prior to 1880, duty was charged on malt and not upon beer, but as the brewing industry developed this was found to be a harassing method of levying duty, and Gladstone's Government then passed an Act, known as the 'Free Mash Tun Act,' under which the charge was transferred from malt to beer. Some equivalent had to be arrived at for Converting duty upon malt into a duty on beer. Inquiries showed that one quarter of malt, which was then the unit upon which duty was charged, produced four barrels of beer of a gravity of 57 degrees, and the duty was fixed at 6s. 9d. per barrel, which gave the Government slightly more revenue than was obtained from the old malt duty, and the increased duty was justified by Mr. Gladstone on the ground that the convenience given to the brewer by this change was worth paying something for. Obviously the standard gravity might have been fixed at 30 or 40 or any other figure, and the duty adjusted accordingly, but as a matter of fact the standards of 57 degrees for gravity and 6s. 9d. for duty were determined upon. Since 1914 the duty, as is common knowledge, has been increased so greatly that to day it is 100s. per standard Excise barrel, and the standard Excise gravity is now 55 degrees. There is no such thing as watering beer by brewers (as suggested in an evening newspaper lately). Beer is brewed and sent out for consumption at different gravities, strong or weak, as demanded by the consumer, and according to the price he wishes to pay. Some is weaker than the standard Excise gravity, and consequently pays less duty, and is sold for less money. Some, again, is very much stronger, pays a great deal more duty than 100s. per barrel, and is correspondingly dearer to the beer drinker."

Continuing, the chairman said he thought the shareholders would say that that was a very concise and clear explanation of the standard barrel, and he hoped that just illustrated the fallacy of believing everything that they read in the Press, for a great deal of what they did read might be pulled to pieces very satisfactorily, properly and correctly, if the facts were only known. Not only should the shareholders not believe all they read, hut they should not let their friends believe it either.

Sir Wm. K. Peake Mason, Bart., J.P. (deputy chairman), seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", pages 61 - 62.

It's odd, given the up-beat report and the enthusiasm about the new brewing site, that the company abandoned brewing in 1928*. Though the company still owned pubs as late as 1968 and was never wound up. Today it's an investment trust**.

I like the stuff about standard barrels. I can see how a thick journalist could get all confused about it and think brewers were sending out "substandard" beer. Myself, I've become very cynical about what's in newspapers

City of London Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1009 1056.7 6.30 85.01% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1008 1050.3 5.55 84.49% not bright poor -1
1922 KK 1008 1051.7 5.68 84.14% bright going off -2
1922 KK 1011 1050.2 5.07 77.69% bright good 2
1923 KK 1011 1050.9 5.14 77.60% not bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1049.5 5.01 77.78% not bright fair 1
1923 KK 1013 1052.1 5.14 75.82% hazy v fair 2
1923 KK 1011 1050.6 5.21 79.05% bright unpleasant flavour -3
1923 KK 1009 1052.2 5.68 83.33% fairly bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1050.9 5.14 77.60% not bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1049.5 5.01 77.78% not bright fair 1
Average  1010 1051.33 5.36 80.03% 0.09
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

City of London didn't do very well with their Mild. In fact it came bottom of the league table with an average score of -1.25. Let's take a look at their Burton.

The gravity is pretty standard, but the attenuation is on the high side. The relatively low FG's means one is even over 6% ABV. I'll have a pint of that one, please.

The clarity is bollocks. Only three of eleven are bright. The flavour fares a little better, with five positive scores and only three negative ones. Giving an average of 0.09. About as small a positive score as you could get. Mostly not awful, but rarely better than OK. I'd take a punt in it, if I had to.

Next time it's Courage's turn. Will their Burton be able to better the 8th place of their Mild?

* "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 82.
** "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 81.

1 comment:

keithpip said...

"Myself, I've become very cynical about what's in newspapers." As you should be. My great grandmother used to warn us about believing everything we read in the public newspapers. She used to say "Paper can't refuse ink." BTW, she was born in 1885. A very wise woman.