Friday, 11 October 2019

Prominent Firms - Courage & Co.

Time for another word from the Brewers' Society sponsors. At least that's how it reads. It's not exactly a critical review of Courage.

Though they had never been in the first division of Porter brewers in the 18th century, Courage had been a specialist in Black Beer production. They were unusual in the early part of the 20th century in only brewing Mild, Porter and Stout in their London headquarters. Even Truman, which owned a brewery in Burton, produced some Pale Ale in London.

When Courage wanted to get into Pale Ale brewing rather than look to Burton, they bought a brewery in the small town of Alton, Hampshire. Why? Because the  water there was similar in composition to that of Burton.

Another house which was once a “black beer” brewery, producing the dark coloured liquor for which London has a long standing reputation, but which now is as well known for its ales as for porter and stout, is that of Messrs. Courage and Co. Their London brewery, near the southern end of the Tower Bridge, occupies a situation to which several advantages are attached. It stands right on the banks of the Thames, and enjoys, in consequence, the fresh air which blows in from the river, as well as the convenience and economy of getting its supplies of malt, coal, etc., brought by water, the barges being able to come alongside Messrs. Courage's brewery, and to judge from an old print, in which this bouse and its gardens are shown as the resort of a large and fashionable company, the liquor of the locality must have enjoyed high repute.

Thorough Methods.
Be that as it may, the productions of the present brewery are admittedly of the finest quality. As illustrating the thorough study which Messrs. Courage make their business, it may be mentioned that a few years ago they took over a country brewery expressly to make pale ale, the water of the vicinity having been found specially suitable for the purpose. This Alton ale is considered equal to the famous Burton brews. Particular attention, too, is paid to the treatment of all the beer in stock; a set of instructions printed on enamelled tin is nailed up in each cellar for the guidance of the cellarmen in regard the temperature end other matters. By such means the proper condition of the various beers, the bulk of which reaches the public through the licensed houses, though a certain quantity is bottled, is ensured, a highly important point. Among the black been, the Imperial stout may be mentioned for its excellence. The sign "Courage and Co.” is, indeed, one of those which stand for wholesome, well-brewed liquor of whatever kind or grade.

An interesting feature the brewery is the well, which is sunk to a great depth, the water being blown up, so to speak, by tne use compressed air pumps. Some structural alterations have been recently carried out; the firm has its own architect, part of whose function is to carry out improvements in the buildings from time to time. But it is not surprising to learn that for the nonce a check has been put on enterprise of this kind. It has been urged that the Licensing Bill, if it becomes law, is bound create a serious amount of unemployment; here is an instance — and it is not solitary one — where it has already had that effect."
London Evening Standard - Tuesday 20 October 1908, page 9.
Interesting that Courage was still principally selling its beer in draught form, while rivals Barclay Perkins and Whitbread were already heavily involved in the bottled beer trade. I wonder why that was? It might have been on account of the type of beers they brewed in London. Other than Imperial Stout, they weren't really the types of beer that were common in bottled form.

Most of what was brewed at Horsleydown was either Mild, standard-strength Porter or Burton Ale. All three of which were mostly draught-only. The range was pretty small, consisting of just five beers:

Courage Horsleydown beers in 1914
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
X Mild 1054.6 1019.4 4.65 64.47% 4.96 1.05
XX Strong Ale 1079.2 1033.2 6.08 58.04% 9.90 3.07
Porter Porter 1051.2 1018.3 4.36 64.32% 7.20 1.51
Double Stout Stout 1078.9 1033.2 6.05 57.89% 7.20 2.33
Imperial Stout 1094.2 1038.8 7.33 58.82% 7.20 2.78
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/247.

The Porter and Stouts were parti-gyled with each other while X and XX were brewed single-gyle.


Thom Farrell said...

With draught beer in the past being generally stronger, did people still typically consume it in pints?

Ron Pattinson said...


I think so. Then again, I was surprised to find out, via The Pub and the People - that in late 1930s Bolton almost everyone drank halves.

Thom Farrell said...

If I recall correctly, in 1930s Hartlepool they apparently typically drank from schooners, which were a two thirds of a pint measure.