Friday 2 May 2014

Huggins Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1923

I'm finding it difficult to uncover much about Huggins. Which is why I'm forced to use this newspaper article, which is mostly about Whitbread. Or at least a court case involving Whitbread.

I've noticed that back in the 19th century you were likely to only be fined for kicking the shit out of someone, but could get serious time for anything involving money. See what you think of this:

"William King, 26, was indicted for uttering a forged order for £20, with intent to defraud William Henry Whitbread and others.

Mr. Clarkson prosecuted; Mr. Parry defended the prisoner.

It appeared that on the 5th of October an intelligent lad, named Henry Ridley, was going along Chiswell-street, on an errand for his mother, when he was accosted by a man, whom he swore positively to be the prisoner, who asked him to take a letter to Messrs. Whitbread's brewery, and bring him back an answer; and, upon his consenting to do so, the man told him that if he was asked any questions he was to say that he brought the letter from Mr. Hugh Hughes The boy accordingly took the letter to the brewery, and on its being opened by one of the gentlemen belonging to the firm, it turned out to be an apparent request, by Mr. Hugh Hughes, the landlord of the Elephant and Castle Tavern, St. Pancras-road, that the firm would oblige him by cashing a cheque for £20, which was enclosed, to save the lad from going into the City, and the letter also contained a request that three kilderkins of the "very best stout" should be got ready by the afternoon, when they would be called for by one of Pickford's vans. It appeared that Messrs. Whitbread had a customer named Hugh Hughes, but he was not the landlord of the Elephant and Castle, and some suspicion being created, the boy was questioned, and eventually given into custody, and he was detained until the 7th of October, when he was discharged upon bail. The prisoner, it appeared, was subsequently taken into custody upon some other charge, and the boy Ridley immediately identified him as the person who had sent him with the letter under the circumstances above narrated.

Mr. Parry, on behalf of the prisoner, endeavoured to show to the jury that they would not be justified in convicting the prisoner of so serious an offence upon the unsupported testimony of a lad like the witness Ridley.

Several witnesses were called, who gave the prisoner a very good character.

Mr. Baron Alderson summed up, and the jury returned a verdict of Guilty. They were about to recommend him to mercy on account of his good character, but the learned judge said they had better hear the result of some inquiries he was about to make before they did so.

Two other lads were then questioned by the Court, and it appeared they were in attendance to support other indictments of a similar kind against the prisoner. They both positively identified him as the man who had sent them with forged cheques contained in letters, one of which was directed to Messrs. Huggins and Co., the brewers, and the other to another firm.

The Jury said that after this evidence they should not consider themselves justified in recommending the prisoner to mercy.

Baron Alderson then sentenced the prisoner to be transported for 15 years."
London Standard - Saturday 30 November 1850, page 4.

Transported means being carted off to Australia to work for free in some prison colony. Lovely. And all for a fraud of twenty quid. Still, he could count himself lucky. A century earlier he might well have got the death penalty.

First a recap on Huggins' standing for other styles. For Mild they came tenth out seventeen with an average score of 0.20. For Burton eleventh out of thirteen, with an average score of 0.67. Not particularly good.

Their Pale Ale is a typical Ordinary Bitter of the period: gravity in the mid-1040's, bit less than 5% ABV and around 80% apparent attenuation.

Here are the samples of their Pale Ale:

Huggins Pale Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1007.8 1046.3 5.02 83.15% bright good 2 8d
1922 PA 1006.9 1044.7 4.93 84.56% v hazy poor -1 8d
1922 PA 1008.1 1047.1 5.08 82.80% bright good 2 8d
1922 PA 1009 1045.5 4.75 80.22% bright rather bitter flavour -1 8d
1923 PA 1009.2 1045.7 4.75 79.87% brilliant good 2 8d
1923 PA 1008.4 1046.4 4.95 81.90% thick sour -3 8d
1923 PA 1009.4 1046.9 4.88 79.96% not bright moderate 1 8d
1923 PA 1010 1045 4.55 77.78% bright fair 1 7d
1923 PA 1009.6 1046.1 4.75 79.18% bright sour -3 7d
1923 PA 1009 1045.5 4.75 80.22% fairly bright v fair 2 7d
1923 PA 1008.2 1046.7 5.02 82.44% fairly bright good 2 7d
Average  1008.7 1046.0 4.86 81.10% 0.36
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Just six out of eleven properly clear is not particularly impressive. Then again, most other breweries we've looked at didn't do any better. Seven out of eleven had positive score for flavour, which should have given them a decent average score, except that there were a couple of stinkers. The average score of 0.36 is still reasonable.

Note again the lack of correlation between clarity and good flavour: half of the examples with a negative score were clear.

You'd probably be fairly safe ordering a Huggins Bitter, though you might be unlucky and get a foul pint.

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