Thursday 4 May 2023

Watering beer in 1959 (part four)

More watery tales from Manchester. 

One thing that surprises me about these cases is how long they took to get to court. The samples were acquired in November 1958, but were only tried in October 1959. Very nearly a year's delay. I wonder why that was?

A couple of publicans came up with this excuse.

HILDA BOWMAN, of the Stag’s Head Hotel, Oldham, gave evidence in her case.

Mr. Hill said a sample of beer taken at Mrs. Bowman’s premises showed a dilution of 9.2 per cent.

She went into the witness-box and said that in her opinion, the dilution had come about during the pump-cleaning process, water having accidentally returned to the barrel. She was fined £15.

A similar explanation for the dilution was given in a letter from Jackson. The prosecution alleged the dilution 15.6 per cent. He was fined £15.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 21.

More than three gallons of water had made its way into the cask. How on earth could that much water get back into the barrel "accidentally"? In fact, I don't understand how water could make its way from the beer engine down through the pipe and into a cask. I could imagine water could be left ion the line after cleaning, but not get into a barrel in the cellar.

In the second case there an even larger amount of water: something 5.5 gallons. Totally preposterous that so much water could have slipped in during cleaning.

The next case was even more egregious.

There were two summonses against Weaver. The first alleged that the dilution of one sample was 17.5 per cent, the second a dilution of 26.9 per cent.

Fining Weaver £15 in each case — a total of £30 — the magistrate said he had written to say he had not interfered with the beer and had no knowledge of anyone doing so.

Weaver added that he had left the trade.

Mr. Turner said: "Having regard to the enormous quantity of added water in this particular case he could not help feeling there had been some lack of supervision on the part of the licensee, although he may not have been responsible for me adulteration.”
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 21.

I make that 6.3 and 10 gallons of water added. So much, that surely it must have been noticeable? If only because no-one would be getting pissed. Some of these landlords really were taking the piss.


The Beer Nut said...

In matters of such importance it is essential that one be thorough, allowing enough time for the process to be conducted and concluded in the proper fashion. The courts cannot be rushed.

Whereas it took 86 days between charging Derek Bentley and hanging him, and that included the appeal hearing.

Anonymous said...

Would that be 10 gallons added to a single cask? Surely there wouldn't be that much airspace in a cask when supplied - I'd assume they were almost full? In which case they couldn't add that much water to a fresh cask, so either they had to draw off 10 gallons of beer into an empty cask, or sell 10 gallons of full strength beer before watering the rest of the cask? My earlier point was that maybe they kept an empty cask for the purposes of drawing off a percentage of the beer from each cask and when that was semi full, that got watered and sold off?

Ron Pattinson said...


not sure how the mechanic. Worked. Maybe they just drew the beer off into buckets.

Anonymous said...

Probably hastened the appeal of keg beer over cask

Anonymous said...

This might shed some light - bucket seems right. This practice with the drip trays - fags and all filtered out - was still happening in a pub I drank in in Liverpool in the 90's.

Anonymous said...