Sunday, 7 September 2014

Huggins Stout quality 1922 - 1923

We're still in the sewer of 1920's draught Stout. Hopefully you've got your waders on.

Being one of the smaller breweries in this set and having closed in the 1920's, I haven't a huge amount of information about Huggins Most of what I've been able to find relates to their takeover by Watney, Combe, Reid in 1928.

Rumours of a takeover had already been knocking around in 1924, though nothing came of them:

"Huggins Brewery Rumours.
During the past few months Huggins and Co., the well-known London brewery concern, has been frequently mentioned as a probable party to an amalgamation scheme. So far all such rumours have proved to without foundation, but just recently the £1 shares have again been on the up grade amid renewed fusion gossip, and they are now quoted at 2 9-16. It is stated in the market that holders will shortly offered to £3 to £3 5s. for their shares, but we can obtain no confirmation of any such scheme."
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 19 July 1924, page 16.

I wonder if Watney was already sniffing around? The rumours resurfaced late in 1928. This time they did have real substance:

"Offer for Huggins' Shares.
During the past week the £1 Ordinary shares of Hugging and Co., the London brewers, have risen from 3.75 to about 4.5, on rumours of a favourable offer for the shares from another company. The directors now announce that a well-known brewery concern has offered to purchase all the Ordinary shares at £5 8s. 6d. each, exclusive a dividend of 1s 6d. per share and a bonus of 1s. per share now declared in respect of the past financial year. The directors who, with their relatives, are largely interested in the Ordinary capital, nave agreed to accept the offer and strongly recommend other shareholders also to accent. If the deal goes through, the Huggins Board will resign and receive from the purchasers £35,500 as compensation. The offer is conditional acceptance by holders of 76 per cent. of the Ordinary capital not later than the 27th inst."
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 15 October 1928, page 15.

That was a very good price, far more than the shares were trading for on the open market. Though news of the offer didn't do much good for Watney shares:

"Watney Deferred Weak.
. . .
Very active interest was again shown Brewery securities. Watney Combe Deferred flattened to 71s. 6d. on the announcement that the company has made the offer for Huggins shares, the purchase of which involves a large sum of money, and may necessitate an increase in the capital of Watneys."
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 26 October 1928, page 15.

Watney's takeover spree didn't end with Huggins. A few months later they bought another London brewery:

"A further step in the board's programme of expansion in the Metropolitan area is announced by Watney, Combe, Reid, and Co., which recently acquired control of the important Huggins undertaking. The company's latest purchase is the London and Burton Brewery, an East London enterprise. This deal will be financed out of the liquid funds of Watney, Combe, Reid, and Co., no new issue of capital being necessary.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 10 April 1929, page 15

That's impressive. That Watney could finance two significant purchases from their own cash. Maybe no new capital issue, but there were new debentures:

Lloyds Bank (Ltd.) and Messrs. Coutts and Co. have been authorised by Watney Combe Reid and Co. to receive applications for £2,500,000 Redeemable 5.5 per Cent. Debentures (1959) (in registered Debentures £1,000, £500, and £100) at 99 per cent., and the lists will close before Friday, March 8. The Debentures now being offered will contain a floating charge over the whole of the undertaking and assets of the Company, subject only to a sum of £4,358,702 now outstanding in respect of the 3.5 per Cent. Perpetual First Debenture Stock. The company will apply the sum £83,000 in each year ending March 15 in redeeming and cancelling Debentures by purchase in the open market or by drawings at par. The first drawing will take place in February 1930, unless Debentures to the prescribed amount have already been purchased, and the Debentures so drawn will be repayable March 15, 1930. Any Debentures not previously paid off will be redeemed on March 15. 1959. The company reserves the right, on giving six months’ notice, to redeem, after March 15, 1940, the whole or any part of the Debentures then outstanding at £101 per cent. The present issue will be applied to paying off loans contracted through the recent purchase the share capital of Huggins and Co., and for the purpose of financing the acquisition of a further brewery business London."
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 05 March 1929, page 19.

That was fun, wasn't it? I know, not really. But I have to fill up the space with something.

Right. Time to look at Huggins' Stout. First off, this is the strongest Stout from any of the breweries, the only one over 1060. The gravity is almost 10 points above the average for all the Stouts. It's the biggest outlier of any of the beers. I'm not sure why, as brewers normally kept their gravities pretty much in line with each other.

But I know what you're waiting for. You want to see how Huggins Stout performed.

Huggins Stout quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Flavour score Price
1922 Stout 1018.6 1060.6 5.45 69.31% good 2 9
1922 Stout 1017.2 1060.7 5.65 71.66% v fair 2 9
1922 Stout 1019 1062 5.58 69.35% v good 3 9
1922 Stout 1019 1062.5 5.65 69.60% v poor -2 9
1923 Stout 1017.7 1062.2 5.78 71.54% fair 1 8
1923 Stout 1018.4 1063.4 5.85 70.98% good 2 9
1923 Stout 1018.4 1061.9 5.65 70.27% good 2 9
1923 Stout 1016.4 1061.9 5.92 73.51% harsh flavour -2 8
1923 Stout 1020 1061.5 5.38 67.48% sound and fairly full 1 8
1923 Stout 1019.8 1064.3 5.78 69.21% sound but rather bitter 1 9
1923 Stout 1018.6 1062.1 5.65 70.05% v fair 2 8
Average  1018.5 1062.1 5.67 70.27%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Pretty well, is the answer. Only two of eleven samples received negative scores. Though they were both -2. That was offset by five scores of 2 and one of three. Which left it with an average score of 1.09. Not bad at all.

I'll definitely take my 1920's fortnight at the start of the decade to make sure I get chance to drink Huggins powerful Stout. It's got that extra alcohol thing I so admire in a beer.

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