Monday, 1 May 2023

A pint of Best Scotch

There were some odd regional kinks when it came to beer styles. Best Scotch is a good illustration.

Scotch and Best Scotch were used in the Northeast of England to refer to certain classes of Pale Ales. Essentially, draught Bitter. These names weren't used either in Scotland, or in the rest of the UK, for such beers.

They were sometimes brewed in Scotland, but also in the Northeast of England. For example Vaux in Sunderland and Newcastle Breweries in, well, Newcastle.

It seems customers weren't always getting exactly what they expected.

WHEN a customer asks for a pint of Best Scotch at his local does he know what he is getting? 

Analysis a number of brands beer sold in Northumberland has disclosed that although Best Scotch’ marketed by various companies is the same price there is variation in strength. In fact, some firms’ ‘Best Scotch’ is WEAKER than other brewers’ ordinary beer. 

A Northumberland County Council General Purposes Committee REPORT says that a representative of one firm whose Best Scotch was particularly low in original gravity, explained that his company could not produce beer as cheaply as the larger concerns. His firm marketed lower gravity beer at the same price as the higher gravity beer sold by other companies. Money was saved on materials and less duty was payable. 

The report explains that there no legal standard of compositional quality for beer.
Shields Daily News - Saturday 01 November 1952, page 1.

If you look in the table, you'll see that Scotch was around the same strength as draught Mild or Boys Bitter. While Best Scotch, averaging out at about 1037º, looks very much like Ordinary Bitter. In Scottish terms, Scotch was 60/- and Best Scotch 70/-.

I'm guessing that the small brewery was selling something around the strength of Scotch as Best Scotch. Naughty, but, in the days before the stre4ngth of beer was made public, who was to know? There was no legal definition of either term and brewers could sell anything they liked under those names.

Scotch and Best Scotch 1964 - 1967
Year Brewer Beer Price OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1964 Newcastle Breweries Sotch Ale 15 1032.3 1005.4 3.36 83.28% 30
1967 McEwans Scotch 19 1031.8 1009.5 2.79 70.13% 35
  Average   17 1032.1 1007.5 3.08 76.70% 32.5
1964 McEwans Best Scotch 17 1038.1 1007.1 3.87 81.36% 30
1965 McEwans Best Scotch 18 1037.9 1008.2 3.71 78.36% 25
1967 McEwans Best Scotch 21 1037.4 1005.9 3.94 84.22% 31
1964 Vaux Best Scotch 17 1036.3 1006.6 3.71 81.82% 30
1965 Vaux Lorimer Best Scotch 18 1036.4 1006.3 3.76 82.69% 26
1967 Younger, Wm. Best Scotch 21 1036.7 1007.6 3.78 79.29% 31
  Average   18.7 1037.1 1007.0 3.80 81.29% 28.8
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

1 comment:

Chris Pickles said...

McEwan's Best Scotch was 'the one you've got to come back for'. The ad showed a soldier jumping off the back of a lorry and repairing to a pub, where he was blissfully enjoying a pint of the aforesaid Best Scotch. Whereuopon a military policeman came in and tapped him on the shoulder - he'd gone awol just to enjoy his favourite pint. Completely understandable of course.

Whitbread also produced a Best Scotch for the Durham area. The ad showed a coach load of tourists in a pub drinking the eponymous brew. They were not happy, the head was too big, the beer was too cold.... "how far norf are we?". The coach was seen heading down the motorway past a big sign pointing to "The South" and a voiceover saying "There are those who know, those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know. For those who know".