So it’s no surprise that William Younger would want to make a big fuss in its 200th year of existence. Except, it’s not quite as simple as that.
According to Martyn Cornell, and he’s someone I tend to believe, William Younger almost certainly never brewed. And the business bearing his name wasn’t started in 1749.
Evidence points to it being his widow Grizel who first got into brewing, through her second husband, Alexander Anderson. Anderson was a brewer in Leith and Grizel ran the brewery after his death in 1781. Archibald Campbell Younger, William Younger’s eldest son, started a brewery close to Holyrood House in 1778. This was the real start of the firm later known as William Younger & Co.
When you start looking closely at foundation dates is striking how often the one claimed is wrong. And it isn’t always too early, as in this case. The date claimed by Shepherd Neame, 1698, is much more recent than the real start of brewing on the site, which was probably a century or more earlier. At least that’s what they told me when I dropped by the brewery last year.
“It all Grew from 'Kitchen' Brewery
A NOTABLE event in the brewing industry in Scotland next month will the bi-centenary celebrations of the Edinburgh firm of Messrs William Younger and Co., Ltd.
In 1749, William Younger — then only a lad in his teens — founded the firm whose ales and stout have become famous all over the world.
What was once a small "kitchen" brewery in Leith now covers many acres of land. Branches in London, Glasgow, Leeds, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Belfast and elsewhere, coupled with Edinburgh, employ a staff of more than 1600. Last year's turnover was well in excess of £7,000.000.
Overseas Markets By the time of Waterloo there was scarcely a tavern in Scotland that did not sell Younger's Scotch Ale. A notable example was Johnnie Dowie's Tavern, regular haunt of Robert Burns, Adam Smith and Henry Raeburn.
In 1820, on the death of the oldest of the founder's three sons, the Younger brewing interests were consolidated under the trade name of William Younger and Co. Within a few years many overseas markets were opened in India, Australia. South America, the United States, and other countries.
A treasured relic of the Company is the last-known bottle of beer from a consignment specially brewed for the troops in the Crimea.
The present chairman, Mr Harry Younger, joined the board, at the age of twenty-one, in 1887 — the year in which Younger's was formed into a limited liability company.”
Aberdeen Press and Journal - Wednesday 30 March 1949, page 3.
I’m sure the numbers for 1948 are correct. 1,600 is quite a large workforce for a brewery. I wonder what that number included?
William Younger wasn’t the only brewery to produce beer especially for British troops in the Crimea. Truman in London produced a Crimea Porter. What type of beer did Younger brew? Their main export lines were IPA and Strong Ale but they might have made a Porter for the Crimea. That’s the type of beer ordinary soldiers drank. IPA would have been to classy and Strong Ale too expensive.
Younger was so proud of its 200 years that it released a beer in celebration, Double Century Ale. I guess you’d like to know more about this beer. Here you go:
|William Younger Double Century Ale in 1949|
|OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||lbs hops/ qtr||hops lb/brl||boil time (hours)||boil time (hours)||Pitch temp|
|William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/88.|
If you need any more information, buy my new Scottish book. It has a detailed recipe of 1949 Double Century Ale.