Thursday, 29 June 2017

Racking and bottling at Carlsberg in the 1880's

This is so exciting. We're going to learn what happened to Carlsberg's beer after lagering.

First, it was racked from the lagering vessels to trade casks. Even if it was going to be bottled.

"In racking the large casks they fill their largest trade casks 100 litres (about 22 imperial gallons) first then the 50 litres then the 25 litre casks last. In filling in this order they are able to rack off all the beer without moving the large Lager cask because the smallest cask is lower than the tap hole of the stock cask. They rack through a two way racking pipe in the front of which is a very small sample crane, from which the workman at short intervals takes a sampleto examine its brightness. Whenever the casks are full, they are immediately bunged tight. Neither dry hops nor any other body is put in the beer, in racking the Export for bottling this is put into 100 litre casks and removed during the night to the bottling cellar. They have no ice in the bottling cellar, and they make it a rule to bottle the beer as soon as possible in the morning. the bottles having been prepared the previous day and allowed to drain during the night."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
22 imperial gallons wasn't a very large cask by British standards. Beer was usually filled into 36-gallon barrels of 54-gallon hogsheads for the pub trade. Beer for bottling usually went into hogsheads, for the simple reason taht in the 19th century, bottling was mostly done my independent companies at locations away from the brewery. A hogshead was about the largest cask that was easily transportable.

I assume the smaller casks were for the draught trade. About the only beer that would ever be delievered to a pub in a cask as small as 5.5 gallons would have been an extremely strong beer.

In Denmark, too, bottling was performed by a third party:

"The bottling cellar does not belong to Mr. Jacobsen Sen. directly, although it seems to be on his premises. The business is carried on by the Alliance Coy. Here they carry on the business of bottles of beer for home and foreign consumption bottling only Mr. Jacobsen Senr. and the Pilsen brewed by the Svanholm brewing Coy. They also manufacture to a large extent, Soda, Seltzer and other mineral waters which they bottle in the ordinary aerated water bottles. I likewise noticed a big business being done in filling Syphon bottles. Regarding the arrangement and management of the work it seemed perfect, evrything in order and scrupulously clean. The cleanliness of the workmen and boys was striking and contrasted strongly with the appearance of the same labour employees of W. Younger. They employ a number of young women and girls to label and pack but owing to a breakdown on the previous day of the main steam pipes I had not the opportunity of seeing them at work."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
An interesting dig at William Younger's workmen there. Were they really a filthy bunch?

As in the UK, the only place women were employed was on the lighter work in the bottling department. In Britian that was the case until well past WW II. Breweries were very much a man's world.

Now the exciting topic of bottle washing:

"As already mentioned the bottles are prepared on the day previous to bottling. Their mode of working is as follows, each washer has a wash tub to himself 32 by 18 inches on the side of which (close to his right hand) is fixed a machine composed of a common bottle brush driven by a small spur wheel connecting to a larger one moved by an ordinary crank handle. This tub is placed close to the wall and immediately in front of a window. Situtated above the tub is a copper water pipe with a [inverted T shape] branch. On the short links of the [inverted T shape] pipe are two small upright pipes terminating in a small but easily moved valve. Actuating around a small upright and perforated jet pierced with 6 holes. This nozzle projects half way into a bottle when one is inverted over the nozzle. There is an arrangement attached to the nozzle to hold the bottle upright. When the bottle is inverted over the nozzle its weight opens the valve and admits the water. This may be either ht or cold as the washer thinks necessary. Every bottle is caarefully examined by holding it up to the light after being washed. Any speck of dirt remaining is removed by inserting the bottle brush and turning it vigourously. After brushing it is again washed and so until the bottle is perfectly clean. As already mentioned the bottles are filled in an underground cellar using the ordinary bottling machine and corking with the moveable compressing corking machine."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.
I suppose they had at least partially mechanised the process. By "ordinary" I presume the author means the same type of bottling machine as used in the UK.

There was a surprise waiting for me at the end of this next section:

"The corks are washed in a box through which runs a current of cold clean water. They are drained and steamed, and kept as hot as possible until they are corked. The wire employed is about three times the thickness W. Younger use but the system of wiring does not seem to differ from your own, only they are very particular in making the wire grasp the bottle neck very firm and also in having the wire very tightly drawn over the cork. In short making it as close a fit as possible and perfectly rigid and firm. The reason is that by doing so the cork is held in its final position, whenever the pressure rises sufficient to start the cork if not wired. Also the cork retains its position the escape of dissolved carbonic acid is very little and lastly the cork never presents the unseemly look of W. Younger's pasteurised bottles. As to the labels and packing I could see nothing worth noticing."
"Notes of a visit to the breweries of Messrs. Jacobsen Senr. & Junr. Copenhagen Sept 1881." held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/1/11.  
I suspect one reason for heavier duty wire was that Carlsberg's Lager was probably more highly carbonated than Younger's beers.

What surpised me was that William Younger was pasteurising its bottled beeer at so early a date. II didn't realise that anyone in the UK pasteurised in the 19th century. I'm pretty sure that this is the first mention of it that I've come across.

Appropriatel enough, we're loooking at pasteurisation next.

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