Sunday, 23 February 2014

Courage Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1924

We're still only at the letter "C" in our slow barrel roll through 1920's Burton Ale.

Courage was one of the breweries doing well in the 1920's. Decent profits gave them money for acquisitions. This was when the main object of takeovers wasn't to get hold of the brewing plant, but the pubs it served. The number of pubs a brewery owned was the main limiting factor on their sales. A huge proportion of beers sales - both for on and off consumption - was sold by pubs. With most licensed premises owned by breweries, they rarely came up far sale. At least not with a licence.

We've already seen how they had grabbed Camden Brewery, closing it and keeping their pubs. Once they'd digested that tasty morsel, they moved on to Farnham United Breweries, located in Surrey about 40 miles southwest of London.


CITY OFFICE of "The Yorkshire Post,"
1 and 2. Great Winchester Street,
London, E.C.2.
Monday Evening,
We understand that Courage and Co., the well-known London brewery undertaking, has made offer to purchase the shares of the Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.). the prices offered being 25s. for each £1 Six Per Cent. Preference Share and 45s. for each £1 Ordinary Share. Farnham United Breweries Shares have recently been advancing, especially the Ordinary, which at the end of last week were quoted about 38s., while the preference stood about 19s., so that the prices offered by Courage and Co. seem favourable to the Farnham Company's proprietors. Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.) have a share capital of £225,000, of which £100,00 is in Ordinary shares, and the balance in Six per Cent. Preference shares. The distribution to Ordinary holders has in recent years been rising, that for the twelve months ended September last being 10 per cent., or 2 per cent. more than for 1924-25. Courage and Co. are, of course, a much larger concern, with a share capital of £1,500,000, of which £1,100,000 is in Ordinary Shares. There has been a very substantial advance in profits year by year, the net figure for 1926 being £383,914, increase of £62,458 on that for the preceding twelve months. The Ordinary dividend for 1921 was 15 per cent., that for 1925 20 per cent. ; that for 1926 23 per cent. Courage Ordinary Shares stand in the market at just over £3 per share.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 12 April 1927, page 15.

Courage doesn't seem to have been quite as big as I thought. How do I know that? By looking at the profit figures of other breweries. Watney, for example, were making profits in excess of £1 million a year in the late 1920's, three or four times what Courage were making.  Judging by the dividends given, Courage were earning very well, so I think it's safe to say that their profits were quite large for their size. My inference is that Watney must have been selling at least 3 times as much beer as Courage.

Courage's Mild was pretty middling, finishing in eighth place. Let's see if their Burton can do any better.

Courage Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1924
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1012 1052.7 5.34 77.80% fairly bright fair 1
1922 KK 1013 1052.4 5.07 74.43% not bright fair old ale flavour 2
1922 KK 1012 1050.8 5.07 76.77% bright good 2
1922 KK 1013 1053.7 5.27 75.42% bright v good 3
1923 KK 1013 1052.1 5.14 75.82% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1052.8 5.20 75.76% bright good 2
1923 KK 1014 1052.8 5.07 73.86% hazy fair 1
1923 KK 1014 1052.6 5.07 74.14% grey going off -2
1923 KK 1011 1051 5.21 78.43% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1052.6 5.20 76.05% not quite bright thin -1
1924 KK 1011 1053.2 5.47 78.95% v hazy fair 1
1924 KK 1007 1052.7 5.92 85.96% bright good 2
Average  1012 1052.45 5.25 76.95% 1.25
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Spec-wise, this is very much middle of the road: low 1050's, around 75% attenuation, just over 5% ABV. You can see that there's very little to choose between London Burton Ales. It doesn't surprise me. If Whitbread and Truman were keeping a close eye on what their competitors were up to, I'm sure other large London brewers were doing the same.

Clarity is disappointing, with just half of the samples clear. But flavour - that's a different story. Ten positive scores is very good.  There's only one real bad example, the grey going off one. Funnily enough, that's the only one I know where it came from: the Princess of Wales in Deptford. The same source as one of the X Ale samples, though that scored a 1. Overall the standard is very high, with seven samples scoring a 2 or 3. Giving an average score of 1.25.

I reckon that's the score to beat. I'll definitely be giving Courage pubs a visit.


Oblivious said...

Maybe London murk is not such a new phenomena?

Gary Gillman said...

The London Murky that tastes of grapefruit, or of coconut and vanillin where barrel-aged, is.