Benskins, of course, were best known for their legendary Colne Spring Ale, an extremely strong beer that underwent extended ageing. Sadly, after Benskins was bought by Ind Coope in 1957 the production method was changed and the strength reduced.
Benskins, located in Watford just to the North of London, became a limited company in 1898, though they seemed to have struggled in the early years:
"Benskin's Brewery.Usually the ordinary shares were mostly held by the directors and their families. It sounds like they hadn't been earning a great deal from the business.
A final dividend 12.5 per cent., and making with the interim 15 per cent, for the year ended September 30 last, has already been announced by Benskin's Watford Brewery, Ltd., on the Ordinary share capital. The dividend goes 12.5 per cent. for the previous twelve months. The report is now available, and shows that the net profit increased from £104,572 to £110,392. The company has made particular headway during recent years, for between 1905 and 1921 no dividend was paid on the Ordinary share capital of £304,000. A proposal will be placed before the shareholders at the annual meeting that the directors' remuneration shall be increased from £200 per annum each to £400 per annum each, free of tax. It is pointed out that the company was formed in 1898, and the director's fee has remained at the original £200 per year ever since."
Western Morning News - Wednesday 09 December 1925, page 7.
It's amazing what you can piece together from the newspaper archives. Things like this:
|Benskin profits 1921 - 1929|
|net profit||carry forward||to reserve||divdend ordinary shares||divdend preference shares|
|Dundee Courier - Friday 09 December 1921, page 2.|
|Dundee Courier - Wednesday 06 December 1922, page 2.|
|Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 06 December 1923, page 11.|
|Dundee Courier - Thursday 06 December 1923, page 2.|
|Dundee Courier - Saturday 15 November 1924, page 2.|
|Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 04 December 1924, page 11.|
|Western Morning News - Wednesday 09 December 1925, page 7.|
|Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 07 December 1926, page 11.|
|Dundee Courier - Tuesday 06 December 1927, page 2.|
|Dundee Courier - Saturday 24 November 1928, page 2.|
|Dundee Courier - Wednesday 11 December 1929, page 2.|
|1926 net profit figure apporximate, calculated from other figures.|
Things certainly picked up in the 1920's for Benskins. Profits and the dividend on the ordinary shares increased every year from 1922 to 1929. They seem to have really prospered.
You can see that this is one of the 9d Best Bitter types. In terms of specs, it looks very similar to the Burtons. Not surprising PA should have a similar gravity, as it sold for the same price.
Was beer quality the reasons Benskins did so well? Not on this evidence:
|Benskin Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1925|
|1922||PA||1012.2||1053.7||5.40||77.28%||rather grey||v good||3||9d|
|1923||PA||1012.4||1053.9||5.40||76.99%||brilliant||bitter after flavour||-1||9d|
|1925||PA||1010.8||1053.3||5.54||79.74%||fairly bright||v good||3||9d|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001|
A pathetic three of nine were bright. A couple - "rather grey" and "piecey" - sound pretty bad. Not much better with the flavour, where there are just four positive scores. And two that sound pretty horrible. On the other hand, there are two excellent ones. Overall the good and bad cancel each other out and leave an average score of zero.
Bitter in Benskins pub sound like Russian roulette, you might be lucky and play on or you might paint the walls with your brains. I think I'll be looking elsewhere for refreshment.