Wednesday, 7 May 2014

The Red Lion Brewery (part two)

We're back with Barnard's description of Hoare's Red Lion Brewery. This time it their water supply and mash tuns being discussed.

Barnard must have forgotten to take his photographer along because the only illustration of the brewery is a reproduction of a painting. It's really annoying because I'm struggling to find any images of the brewery.

Red Lion Brewery in 1869
But first here's something I missed last time:

"Retracing our steps to the brewery, we made our way to the top of the malt warehouses, to witness the arrival of some malt from the railway waggons. The sacks are lifted therefrom by a powerful steam hoist, by which they are drawn up to the different loophole doors on the various floors, when they are wheeled away to the bins."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 55.

So they did have a hoist for malt. But only for supplies arriving by rail. Why didn't they use it for the malt arriving by boat?

Now on to water. I knew London brewers didn't use Thames water for brewing. Given the state of the river in the 19th century, you wouldn't want its foul water anywhere near your mash tun. But it did have a use:

"There is no district in England in which springs and wells are exhibited in a more instructive manner than the London Basin. Nearly the whole of Middlesex and other districts surrounding the Metropolis are contained in an immense bowl of chalk, many miles in extent, in the interior surface of which there is a thick lining of sand, supporting a deep bed of clay, called the London blue clay. Above this, in most places, is another bed of gravel and vegetable mould, and on this latter the Metropolis is built. The interposition of this bed of clay has a remarkable effect on the mode in which water accumulates beneath the soil of London, for its texture is so dense that very little water can penetrate it; that which accumulates above it must remain there, while that beneath it is unable to force a passage upwards. The quality of the water beneath the clay is said to be very fine, especially for brewing. Many wells of vast depth have been sunk by the London brewers, piercing through the entire mass of clay and sand into the chalk beneath. The noted well at Messrs. Hoare's brewery is one of these. It is sunk 100 feet, and to that depth is 5 feet in diameter, being lined with cast-iron curbs; after that there are two bore-holes, 12 inches and 9 inches respectively, 300 feet down to the chalk. There is an unfailing supply from this well, the water therefrom being alone used for brewing Hoare's celebrated porter and ales. Near to this there is a land spring 8 feet in diameter and 53 feet deep; and beneath the vaults are six tube wells, all used in connection with each other. This water is drawn from above the London clay, and is only used in the summer, when the Thames water is not cold enough, for supplying the refrigerators. From this point of the brewery there is a ladder stair leading to the topmost roof (over which, on a pedestal, is the effigy of the Red Lion, lifesize, the trade mark of the firm), from whence we obtained an extensive view of the shipping in the Thames, the Tower, St. Paul's, and a distant view of the Crystal Palace.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 56 - 57.
"As a matter of fact, in this, the oldest brewery in London, Thames water was never used, the supply from the wells being considered superior for mashing, and in preserving the intrinsic quality of the article."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 58.
All the London breweries seem to have had their own wells. Clearly there was a difference in quality between the water from above and below the clay. 400 feet is pretty deep. Presumably it was worth digging that far to get clean, pure water for brewing. Refrigerators were used for cooling the wort. They were a network of copper pipes through which cold water was passed. The wort flowed over the pipes and was cooled. In this period they were used in conjunction with the older large shallow coolers (the things people insist on calling coolships nowadays). Coolers were useful not just for cooling wort, but also getting a lot of the gunk out of it. Because they were very shallow, solids quickly fell to the bottom.

It would have been safe to use Thames water in the refrigerators because it never came into contact with the wort. I wonder if they also used it in their attemperators?

The Lion Brewery in Lambeth wasn't the only brewery in London with a lion on top of it.

"After this we made our way downstairs, to see the pumping machinery connected with the deep well, and then directed our steps to the brewhouse. Of the great brewhouse itself, to which we had now arrived, it is difficult to give a description. It is a massive and lofty building, constructed principally of iron and brick, with louvred walls, and exits for steam in the open and extensive roof. On ascending the iron staircase, leading to the mash tun stage, the first effect on our minds was a state of bewilderment; the brewing vessels and utensils seemed so large and massive, and the pumps, pipes and rods so numerous, that for a while the whole seemed a mass of confusion. Nor was it until we had followed the brewing processes in their regular order that the whole assemblage assumed its proper shape and order."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 57.

I'm surprised that Barnard was so awe-struck by the scale of Hoare. This is volume three of his book and he'd already been around Guinness, Bass, Allsopp, Truman and Barclay Perkins in volume one. Those were all considerably larger than Hoare.

Now let's look at the mash tuns:

"Running through the enormous buildings are five chimney shafts, connected with the boilers and coppers; and, from the first floor to the lofty roof, the view upwards is uninterrupted by distinct floors or partitions, except where stages or platforms occur at various heights, forming the support of the various vessels. The principal part of the floor, which is laid all over with iron plates, is occupied by three mash tuns, of enormous dimensions, and three coppers, the latter rising from the floor to a height of 20 feet. Two of these mash-tuns are constructed of cast iron, the other of oak, and all of them have domed covers. One of them, mashing 220 quarters, manufactured by Spence, of Dublin, is the most remarkable mash tun that we have seen in our travels. This massive vessel, which is used for porter brewing, weighs twenty and the dome-cover ten tons, together thirty tons of cast iron, and this without taking into consideration the weight of the slotted draining-plates and ponderous mashing apparatus, or the porcupine machinery, which they all contain. One of them is commanded by a Steel's mashing machine, and the mashing capacity of the three is 450 quarters. Before leaving the mashing-stage, our guide pointed out the numerous appliances for extinguishing fire, such as main-pipes, hose, stand-pipes, etc ; also the valves at the bottom of the mash tuns, by which the grains are released therefrom. The valve-traps communicate with shoots connected to a Jacob's ladder, by which they are conveyed direct into the grains contractors' vats. This method is a saving both of time and labour, as the largest tun can be emptied in one hour and twenty minutes.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, pages 57 - 58.

A mash tun with a capacity of 220 quarters was pretty big, even for a London brewer. Whitbread's seem to have taken no more than 100 quarters and they would use two, three or four mash tuns for a single brew. Barclay Perkins also regularly used multiple mash tuns for a single batch. 220 quarters was enough to brew around 900 barrels of standard-strength Porter. The other two mash tuns must have been considerably smaller because combined they only had a capacity of 230 quarters.

By "porcupine machinery" I assume he means internal rakes, the earliest form of mashing machine. It's odd that only one mash tun had an external Steel's masher. These were pretty standard by 1890, having been first developed in 1853. And dead useful devices. They mixed the grain with water as it was going into the tun and was a good way of making sure the two were thoroughly mixed. Having tried to mix malt and grain with a paddle while brewing at Colonial Williamsburg, I can vouch for how tricky it is to remove any clumps of malt manually.

Next time we'll be looking at the black malt backs, amongst other things. There's something I've not come across before.

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