Thursday, 6 February 2014

Lion Brewery Mild Ale quality 1922 - 1923

I’m glad I started this series. It’s teaching me loads about some of the smaller, more obscure and long-vanished breweries. Particularly ones that disappeared in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The hard times after WW I seem to have precipitated a whole raft of brewery takeovers and closures.

Goding's Lion Brewery, built in 1836-37, was an imposing classical structure topped by a giant lion. Designed by Francis Edwards, with its prominent position on the Thames in Lambeth, it must have been quite a landmark*. The company was purchased by Hoare in 1923 and closed**. A fire caused serious damage to the building in 1931, but it wasn't until 1949 that it was demolished and replaced by the Royal Festival Hall***. The lion was removed before the building was knocked down and now stands at the Lambeth end of Westminster Bridge.

The Lion Brewery just before demolition in 1949.

I wonder if they would demolish such a remarkable building today? Probably, because of its prime riverside location. There's still plenty of architectural vandalism going on in London. That ridiculous Shard monstrosity, for example.

You can see that this is one of the stronger types of Mild which retailed for 7d per pint in 1922 and 6d thereafter. It's pretty highly attenuated and had quite a high ABV - between 4 and 4.5%.

Lion Brewery Mild Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour Score
1922 X 1005 1040.4 4.56 86.63% grey sound 1
1922 X 1006 1041.2 4.55 84.71% hazy fair 1
1922 X 1008 1041 4.29 80.49% bright v fair 2
1922 X 1008 1041.1 4.29 80.29% bright thin -1
1923 X 1008 1042.1 4.49 81.95% bright fair 1
1923 X 1008 1041.3 4.36 81.11% bright thin -1
1923 X 1008 1038.9 3.96 78.41% bright poor -1
1923 X 1008 1040.1 4.23 81.05% hazy v fair 2
1923 X 1008 1041.4 4.29 79.71% not quite bright fair 1
1923 X 1009 1041.6 4.29 79.33% not bright poor -1
Average 0.40
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

None of the examples is very bad, though there are four with negative scores. The two pretty good ones more than make up for that an the average score is again modestly positive.

I'm sure you'll be sad to learn that there are just five breweries to go. Then you'll have an excellent idea of Mild Ale quality in 1920's London. Not sure that's of much practical use. But shouldn't learning be about knowledge for knowledge's sake?

* "British Breweries: An Architectural History" by Lynn Pearson, 1999, page 35.
**  "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 84.
*** British History Online.


Craig said...

The Lion is from where Albany's John Taylor took many ideas from—most notably its pontos—for his last, and largest brewery. Taylor traveled to London in 1850, specifically to pilfer ideas from the large London ale breweries. A year later his new brewery on Arch Street and Broadway was built, employing much of the technology he saw at the Lion.

Lady Luck Brewing said...

I never knew that Lion was from a brewery.

Jeremy Drew said...

I've walked past that lion many times without knowing the story.

This link has some interesting details, including what it is made from, Emile Zola's fondness for it, and George VI's role in its preservation.

Martyn Cornell said...

That lion's younger brother, which stood on the roof at the back of the brewery, it now at Twickenham Stadium, painted gold.