I can identify two types of branding. The first is generic. Toby is a good example. A brand applied not to a specific beer, but to a whole range. This seems to have been the most common type early doors. It’s still around today, for example Hyde’s Anvil Ales.
Branding individual beers, by giving them their own name, is the second type. Beers used to have generic names. Though these weren’t always the same inside and outside the brewery gates. X Ale/Mild is a good example. As is PA/Bitter or KK/Burton. Or be named by place of origin: London Porter, Edinburgh Ale, Dublin Porter.
Did I mention that I collect the details from 19th-century price lists? My spreadsheet has about 4,500 beers extracted from them. The first named beer in the set is “Velvet” brewed in 1856 by Bircham & Sons of Reepham, Norfolk. But between then and 1890, I’ve very few examples. This is the full set:
|Early branded beers|
|1856||Bircham & Sons||Reepham, Norfolk||Velvet|
|1875||Mew Langton||Newport, IOW||No. 1 Royal Osborne Ale (as supplied to her majesty)|
|1875||Mew Langton||Newport, IOW||Guinea Pale Ale|
|1881||Lewis & Ridley||Leamington||Gem Sparkling Dinner Ale|
|1888||Watkins & Son's||Hereford||Golden Sunlight Ale|
|1888||Watkins & Son's||Hereford||Sunflower India Pale Ale|
|1890||Nottigham Brewery||Nottingham||Golden Ray Ale|
|1890||Cook Brothers||Colchester||Jubilee Pale Ale|
|1892||Wm. Whitmarsh & Co.||Sheffield||Hallamshire Export quality|
|1892||Lucas, Blackwell & Arkwright||Leamington||Gem Light Sparkling Dinner Ale|
|1892||Daniell & Sons||Colchester||John Bull Bitter Ale|
|1893||Hull Brewery||Hull||Champagne Bitter|
|1893||Major Lucas & Co||Northampton||VA Victoria Ale|
|1897||William Stones||Sheffield||Samson Extra Strong|
|1897||William Stones||Sheffield||Sparkling Light Bitter Beer|
|1897||Ash & Co||London||Light Tonic Dinner Ale|
|1897||Ash & Co||London||Canterbury Ale|
|1897||Ash & Co||London||Gold Medal Ale|
|1898||Waltham Bros.||London||The Half Guinea Ale|
|1898||Mew Langton||Newport, IOW||O.P.A. Osborne Pale Ale (as supplied to Her Majesty's Household)|
|1902||Brook's Cubley Brook Brwry||Sheffield||Wearncliffe Extra Strong Mild|
|1908||Walker & Homfray||Salford||Comet Ale|
|1925||Barclay Perkins||London||Red Label Stout|
|1930||Richard Clarke||Stockport||BB Crystal PAle Ale|
|1930||Hull Brewery||Hull||Anchor Ale|
|1930||Benskins||Watford||Colne Spring Ale|
|Various brewery price lists|
What’s interesting - or perhaps rather, totally predictable – is that naming beers seems to start taking off around the same time as bottled beer, in the 1890’s. And indeed the majority of the beers in the table above were bottled. At a time when pump-clips didn’t exist, branding a draught beer wasn’t easy. Whereas with bottles, you had a colourful label to tempt drinkers.
Flipping forward to the fifties, let’s see who was a branding fan.
Leading the pack by quite a distance is Flowers, with 16 branded beers. Not much of a shock, as I know Bernard Dixon, the man in charge at Flowers, was a big fan of naming beers. Here’s the set:
|Flowers branded beers in 1954|
|Flower & Sons||Green Label||Bottled|
|Flower & Sons||Original Bitter||Draught|
|Flower & Sons||Shakespeare Ale||Bottled Beer|
|Flowers Breweries||Anchor||Brown Ale|
|Flowers Breweries||Little Imp||Bottled|
|Flowers Breweries||Green Ribbon||Bottled|
|Flowers Breweries||Kelly's Eye||Bottled|
|Flowers Breweries||Luton||Light Ale|
|Flowers Breweries||Old Gold||Bottled|
|Flowers Breweries||Dragon's Blood||Old English Ale|
|Brewery Manual 1953-1954, pages 382 - 394.|
Not sure why they haven’t identified Poacher as the Brown Ale it was. Nor Sable as a Stout. Stingo, obviously, was a Strong Ale. And I’m pretty sure Lutorian should be Lutonian.
Fascinating that some are branded Flower & Sons and others Flowers Breweries. The former are beers from the original Flowers brewery in Stratford-upon-Avon, the latter from J.W. Green in Luton. Flower & Sons, despite being relatively modest in size, had built up a good reputation for some of their beers well outside their core area. Original Bitter, in particular, made inroads outside their tied estate. Doubtless the strong branding of Flowers was why the J.W. Green name was ditched, despite being the senior partner in the new firm.
More branding to come.