Tuesday 31 January 2012

Just a few hours of discount to go!

The super-duper Lulu 25% off in January offer has almost expired. Just a few hours to get one of my groovy papery things for a quarter less duku!

Just remember to use this code when oerdering:


I won't be repeating all the covers again. Arsing issues. You can see them all in the column to the left, anyway. just click on the garish daub that attracts you most and you could soon be in possession of a precious heirloom. Or something to prop up a table. The choice is yours.

A few minutes left before Pointless. May as well continue until then. What do I want to tell you? I know. Crimea Porter. Did I mention that? I found a Government of Crimea Porter. Cool, eh? I'd already found all those references to Porter being supplied to the troops and to hospitals. Now I know exactly what that beer was.

Oh, and there was a Easy India Company contract beer as well. I'm pretty sure it's an IPA.

I came across both in my last visit to the London Metropolitan Archives in December. I didn't get to archives much last year. Just twice to the LMA, one in Wolverhampton and Fuller's private records a couple of times. Must do better  this year.

I really should have bothered to check for nearby archives before my trip to Newark last summer. It's since been pointed out to me (thanks Marquis) that Shipstone's records are in an archive in Nottingham. Not that far from the station. Aaagh! Looks like there are brewing records amongst them. Best keep being nice to my brother.

Pretty Things. They've a dead good Once Upon a Time coming up. Something I'd dreamt of. Can't say too much about it yet. Confound, confuse and drive to despair. That's what it will do.

I would say more, but I need time to rinse my Chimay glass with cold water, pop the cap and then slowly pour an Abt into it. Sorry. (And explain exactly what I was about to do. Had to allow for that. And this. Best stop before madness.)

William Younger adverts from the 1920's (part five)

I wasn't kidding when I said I was going to run this theme into the ground. And keep on going until I hit the earth's molten iron core.

This set is an odd let. See what you think.

"WE understand you have discovered the secret of eternal youth."
Father William: "Rather ! I get YOUNGER every day."

WILLIAM YOUNGER'S SCOTCH ALE has been a favourite beverage for nearly 200 years. Robbie Burns, the great Scots poet, drank it for the same reason that good judges drink it now— because there is no other malt liquor to equal it.

A foaming tankard of this rich brown Ale gives the crowning touch to a hearty meal.

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Branches at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesbrough.
Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 4 December 1924, page 2.

Are these three respectable old gentlemen real people or just from the cartoonist's fantasy? I suspect they're real. And connected with eternal youth. I'm sure one of you clever lot can help me out.

An unexpected use of the term malt liquor in there. It gradually fell out of use, except in legal formulations, in the 19th century as the distinction between Ale and Beer blurred. It's particularly odd in this context, which is informal. I really can't see why it's been used here, other than to sound posh.

"Rich brown Ale" sounds more like the No. 3 I know. Had it changed colour or are all of these descriptions just advertising copy, not necessarily closely linked with reality?

On bleak cold nights, to keep you snug,
Scotch Ale's as good as an extra rug.

"I'm going to get YOUNGER every day this year."

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Branches at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesbrough.
Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 9 January 1925, page 4.

This is a different variation on the Father William getting YOUNGER riff. This time he's alone. There aren't even any fallacious health claims. Nice little rhyme. Must try to remember that. Not sure in which context I'd be able to use, but you never know.

The "YOUNGER" Generation

"Hale, Hearty and Happy we be,
Younger's SCOTCH ALE is the ale for we."

IT is more than the flavour that makes Wm. Younger's SCOTCH ALE so popular. There are hidden qualities. Its power to invigorate; to cheer; to give zest to life, make SCOTCH ALE a first favourite. It is a malt liquor; in general opinion, unsurpassed on any point. Order supplies and you will agree that this is true.

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Wm. Younger & Co. Ltd., London Stores, 49 Belvedere Road, London, SE 1. London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesbrough.
Nottingham Evening Post - Wednesday 20 February 1924, page 6.

Who are those four grinning oldies? The one second on the left reminds me of Sydney Nevile. That's him to the right. A legendary figure that spent over 70 years in the brewing industry, the latter two-thirds at Whitbread. I doubt it is really him He was only in his 50's at the time of the advert.

Any guesses as to who any of the chaps are? Or are they just fantasy old bloke figures?

Good to see all those invigorating claims back again. However bogus. And there's malt liquor again, too.

This must be one of the lamest piece of advertising copy ever: "It is a malt liquor; in general opinion, unsurpassed on any point. Order supplies and you will agree that this is true." It sounds like we're in about 1850.

This is so much more fun than fiddling with numbers and doing real research. A good enough reason to continue.

Almost forgot. I think I might have an image of the label that's on those bottles:

What do you reckon?

Monday 30 January 2012

Just one day of discount left!

Just one day left to buy any of these wonderful titles at a 25% discount. Just remember to use this code:


I've been very pleased with Lulu so far. They seem more reasonable than traditional publishers. I appreciate this January discount. Very sporting of them.

The kids have been trying to rip off each other's ears again. Typically, in an argument what to watch on the telly. No hospital treatment required this time. You can run off concussion, can't you? Thought so. He'll be fine after cycling to school. It's nearly light when he leaves.

I'm plotting a visit to Glasgow later this year. For one pretty obvious reason. And Glasgow Beer Week. That, too. And a few Rab C. Nesbitt sites. Anyone know the real identity of Restitution Street? Is the Giblet safe to enter? I've been told I have a slight English accent. That shouldn't matter, should it?

Have to sign off now. Tea and a second Abt beckon from across the room. Foxy little devils. You understand, surely, why I need to go?

Just time for the commercial bit.

Click on the book cover to buy!

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Bottling at Aitken in the 1940's

I feel like I'm getting to know Aitken quite well. And not just the Aitken family, but also the people who worked for them. Back in 2002 there was an issue of the Scottish Brewing Archive Journal dedicated to Aitken. With reminiscences of former employees. Great stuff.

This is Jimmy Manson's description of his time working at Aitken during WW II. It's full of details about the operation of the bottling department.

"IT WAS mainly women who worked the machines in the bottling hall. In 1940 the women were needed to do more essential work for the war effort. Young boys were taken on to do their jobs in the brewery, and so I found myself employed in the bottling hall in 1940. at the age of 14. I remained inside the hall for two years, and then outside, still working with bottles, until 1948.

The work was hard, but it was enjoyable. The hall was below ground level, and there was quite an echo inside. Occasionally someone might start singing, and the sound would be all over the place. It was wet in places, and both the women and men wore clogs, which the brewery supplied for nothing. Some old women still worked there during the war. There was Mary Young, who was the sister of the bottling hall gaffer, and Jean Hendry, who was in her 60s. Jean used to give me a list and I would go down to the Co-op at lunchtime to get her messages."
Scottish Brewing Archive Journal volume 4, 2002, page 5.

Clogs were provided because of the wet floor, which played hell with leather-soled shoes. It was just the same when I worked on the keg filler at Hole's. We were provided with wellies. Not just any wellies, steel toe-capped ones. You needed to protect yourself not just from the wet but also those heavy bloody kegs. You wouldn't want a full one landing on your unprotected toes.

Interesting use of the word “messages” to mean shopping. The Dutch word for shopping is “boodschappen”, which literally means “messages”. Not sure what significance that might have, but I thought I’d mention it.

"The bottles used were either new or returned empties. If empties, you had to take a note of the number of bottles so that customers could be credited. We were so busy that Willie Hunter was taken on to work with me. He noted the number of empties and I unloaded the lorries bringing them in. Sometimes we had to wait after five o'clock for lorries coming in, and sometimes we worked on Sundays, for double time. We always worked until 12pm on Saturdays. When Falkirk were playing football at home, three boxes of Export were sent down to the ground, probably for entertainment after the game. I always went down to the ground with the beer and received a complimentary ticket for the game that day."
Scottish Brewing Archive Journal volume 4, 2002, page 5.

It's pretty much forgotten now, but working on a Saturday morning used to be the norm. During the war, hours were even longer. My mum told me that at some points in the war she worked 12-hour shifts 7 days a week. War is, indeed, hell. It sounds very innocent, turning up at the football ground with three crates of beer. But hang on, could that have been during the war? The Scottish League was suspended. Though there were other games played.

Finally onto the meat of the bottling process:

"We got new glass bottles from both the Alloa Glassworks and a place in Guildford. Slim half-pint green glass bottles came from Alloa, and heavier, dumpier brown glass bottles came from Guildford. All our pint bottles were made from brown glass, and these came from Guildford.

When bottles came in they were unloaded from the lorries and placed on a roller to be sent down to two lassies who look them out of the boxes and put them, eight at a time, in the washing machine They were then sent round on a roller to the holding machine, where they were filled with beer. The machines could be adjusted to take into account the different size of bottles. From there they were sent on to the topping machine, where they were either lined with an internal screw-top or a metal crimp-top. The bottles were then stacked on trays and sent through the pasteuriser, before being sent on to the labelling machine. There was very little manual work involved other than the moving of bottles on or off rollers, as the machines did everything themselves, whether washing, filling or labelling.

Beer was supplied to the bottling hall from two cellars. In each there were rows of hoggets [hogsheads] on gantries. One cellar was for 90/- and Export, and the other was for a light ale that was bottled in pint screw-tops and dumpy crimp-tops. The latter was called 'Fourpenny' by the workers, and was generally known as Yellow Label. The beer was piped from all the hoggets into cylinders, then it was passed through a filter before arriving at the bottling machine. Jock Brown was in charge of four cylinders. During the war all Aitken's draught beer was light. The 90/- and Export was bottled."
Scottish Brewing Archive Journal volume 4, 2002, pages 6 - 7.

You can see the synergy that existed within Scottish industry. The glassworks complemented the breweries in Alloa. Mostly car parks now, Alloa's factories. It's hard to imagine now just how prevalent manufacturing industry once was in Britain's towns.

Green glass bottles? That's not very good, is it? I'm surprised. I'd have expected all their bottles to be brown. Bottles with internal screw tops were the first improvement on natural cork stoppers. They remained in use up until at least the 1970's (I can remember buying quart screw-top bottles of Whitbread from Mr. Fisher's offie opposite when I lived in Leeds. Must have been 1978 or 1979.) Long after the introduction of crown corks (here called crimp-tops).

I'm surprised that the beer was still being put into hogsheads before bottling. I'd have expected it just to go into a tank after primary fermentation. Surely filling into hogsheads was only necessary if the beer were to be bottled elsewhere (like Bass or Guinness).

Let's summarize the process: the beer is delivered to the bottling cellar in hogsheads, it's transferred from there into a cylinder, en route between there and the bottling machine it was filtered, once the bottles had been filled tops were put on and they were pasteurised.

Now onto the beers themselves. Luckily I have details of some of them. In 1938, 90/-had a gravity of 1039º. That's similar to Whitbread's IPA or Barclay Perkins bottled XLK. For the period, that's more like a Light Ale than a Pale Ale. In London, standard draught Bitter was about 1045º, Best Bitter 1050º. By 1949, Aitken 90/- was just 1030º.

The details I have for Export are from a little before and are a little after this period. In 1934, it had an OG of 1055º. I'd expect it was of a similar gravity when the war started. That's the strength of a good Best Bitter. In 1954, it was 1043º, still a respectable strength for the time. Based on other beers, it probably bottomed out at about 1038º just after the war's end.

Though I've details of other Aitken Pales Ales, I can't identify any of them as that light ale or Fourpenny. I could make a totally random guess, but there's no point. I'd rather stick with facts.

Sunday 29 January 2012

New Market Bar Falkirk

A photo-inspired piece this time. Just some thoughts that struck me after rolling my eyes over a picture of a Falkirk pub.

The pub in question was an Aitken's house. I don't know if they actually owned it or not. As it was directly opposite the brewery, it's not impossible.

Here's the photo:

My guess would be that it dates from the 1920s or 1930s. That's based on two things: the way the draymen are dressed and the amount of bottled beer.

But what does this photo tell us? Several things. For a start that Aitken still had horse-drawn drays between the wars. Not particularly unusual for the period. Especially for local deliveries. As I said, this pub was directly opposite the brewery. Hang on. I'll show you.

1. marks the New Market Bar and 2. the new Aitken brewery. I'm not sure why they bothered with the dray. They could have just rolled the barrels over the street.

Lint Riggs, the street running down the pub's side looks like it was completely remodelled around 1900, with new buildings down both sides of its entire length. I assume the New Market Bar replaced the Market Inn which had stood at the other end of the street. You can see it on the map above.

Returning to my subject, what's odd about that dray? How few barrels there are on it. Most of the space is taken up with crates. It looks as if just a single barrel (and it is a 36-gallon barrel) is being delivered. That's the one next to the sack at the back of the dray. The other barrel looks like an empty, but I could be wrong. That implies that the pub didn't have a great range of draught beer. I can only see four barrels in total. At this time a London pub would have sold four or five different draught beers. My guess is the the New Market probably sold one or two.

That would make Falkirk more similar to Bolton than London in the beer range typically supplied. Many Bolton pubs sold either just Mild and Best Mild or Mild and Bitter. Which I suppose isn't surprising. Both were provincial industrial towns.

The building is still there (albeit with plants growing out of the masonry), but the Market Bar is no more. It's now called the Goose and looks rather like a Wetherspoons from the outside..

Loads more Aitken fun to come.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Aitken's Old Brewery (part two)

We're back in the old-ish Aitken's brewery. Though as you read the passage below you'll realise that it had already been greatly altered and enlarged.

The original brewery was all on the south side of Newmarket street. But during the 19th century a new, much larger set of buildings had been added on the north side. These wren't concerned with brewing, boiling or fermenting, but were ancillary buildings such as stores.

"Retracing our steps, we came to the mashing-stage, 40 feet square, situated in the centre of the brewhouse. Here we were shown two mashtuns, constructed entirely of copper, and commanded by a Steel's mashing machine. They both contain gun-metal draining-plates, and each is capable of mashing twenty quarters of malt. The underbacks are below the tuns, from which the wort is pumped up direct to the coppers. We have previously written so much on the nature and object of the mashing vessels used in the breweries, that, on the present occasion, our attention will be more particularly directed to the next and following processes."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 194.

That's what I've been waiting for: the capacity of the mash tuns. At 4 barrels a quarter, that's 80 barrels a brew per mashtun. Assuming one brew in each per day and 300 brew days a year, that comes to 48,000 barrels annually. Not enormous by English standards, but a reasonably-sized regional brewer in Scotland. Thanks for not bothering to describe them in any more detail, Alfred. At least there's an illustration.

Looking at the way that bloke is standing in the mash tun, it doesn’t look like it has internal rakes. Which tells me something. What? That they almost certainly didn’t perform underlet mashing like London brewers. About an hour into the mash more hot water is added to the mash from below (via the underlet, hence the name) to increase the temperature of the bed. It’s a simple form of step mashing. Whitbread were still mashing this way at Chiswell Street in the 1970’s.

Underlet mashing is one of the reasons many London brewers retained internal rakes even after installing a Steel’s masher. Because the practice was to have the rakes revolve once or twice after the underlet to mix the hot water added thoroughly with the grain.
"After this we made our way to the cooling department, covering the top storeys of the adjoining building, and overlooking the main thoroughfare. One of the most striking objects it contains is the hop-back, a large vessel with a graduated bottom, constructed entirely of copper, and containing across its breadth, at the far end, two rows of copper draining-plates. This vessel is used as a combined hop-back and open cooler, and is unlike any we have seen before.

In the same apartment there are two Morton's refrigerators, cooling at the rate of thirty barrels per hour each, where the ale wort is further cooled over the mazy lines of innumerable cold-water pipes before passing into the  great copper mains, which convey it to the fermenting rooms."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 194.

I wouldn't have minded an illustration of that cooler/hop back device. I can't quite get an image of it in my head. We all know what a Morton's refrigerator is, don't we? No? OK then. It's a bed of horizontal copper pipes through which chilled water flows. Wort flows over the pipes and is cooled.

"Our progress was now downwards, and after inspecting the furnace fires, or copper hearths, as they are called, we made our way back to the courtyard.

Passing beneath the archway, immediately within, on the left-hand side, appears the magnificent tun-room, re-built in the year 1866 and again considerably altered and enlarged in 1878. The building is of solid construction, and is lighted by nine windows in the roof, which contains improved patent ventilators, is ceiled with pitch-pine, and is supported by immense iron columns All the vessels are elevated on brick piers, and fronted by a gallery, which adds much to the impressive effect. The illustration, which heads this chapter, is taken from a photograph, and shows a section of the interior of this tun-room. There are fifteen vessels in this department, all constructed of polished pine, nine of them are fermenting squares, and the other six settling backs, and each is fitted with an attemperator. The copper mains, by which they are filled, are in short lengths and detachable, so as to be easily cleaned. At one corner of the room there is a small Otto gas engine, used for pumping the beer from the tuns into the backs. From this side of the brewery the beer is conveyed through great copper mains, laid under the street, to the racking-rooms on the north side of the brewery. Before leaving this place, we paid a visit to the engine-room, situated under the mashing-stage, and containing an engine of fifteen horse-power, and a large steam boiler. Here also are two sets of pumps for the coolers and refrigerators, reversible, in case of breakdown, and the two great metal underbacks, each fitted with duplicate stopcocks. Walking through this apartment we came to a paved chamber where the spent hops are pressed. The machine is worked by hydraulic pressure, and the wort expressed from the hops is pumped up again to the refrigerators, from which it passes to the fermenting vessels.
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 194-195.
It's clear that Aitken's brewery had been increasing its size and updating its equipment frequently in the second half of the 19th century. Boom days for Scottish brewing.

I'm not 100% sure what is meant by "nine of them are fermenting squares, and the other six settling backs". Fermenting squares I understand. You can see them in the illustration. Settling backs sound to me like part of a dropping system. It's a shame there's not more description of how these two types of vessel were used.

Fullers had fermenting rounds from which fermenting wort was dropped into settling squares. The way Fullers system of fermentation worked, the beer was only in the rounds 24 hours and several days in the squares. I can't see that working with the setup at Aitken, where there were fewer settling backs than fermenting squares. My guess would (and this is only a guess) that the beer was transferred to the settling backs when fermentation was pretty well complete. That would tally with the description of beer sometimes being put into squares in Edinburgh breweries, mostly to cool it down.

Those fermenting squares look pretty large to me. Look at the height of the things. I reckon they must be 12 feet square and the wort at least six feet deep. A quick calculation (an imperial gallon is 277.42 cubic inches) gives me a figure of about 150 barrels. That's much bigger than the piddling 40 or 50 barrel ones they had at William Younger. Which might explain why they need the settling backs. A larger volume of fermenting wort generates more heat.

Pressing spent hops to squeeze out the last drops of wort was becoming commonplace in large industrial breweries. I'm sure it still goes on today. But what about the quality of the wort extracted? Wouldn't it tend to be full of crap from the hops?

There will be at least more more instalment on the old Aitken brewery. Then we can move on to the recollections of former Aitken employees.

Friday 27 January 2012

Only a few days left!

In the amazing get my books at a 25% discount. Wow. I'm tempted to buy some myself*.

Funny one this. Properly released or hung on razor wire with hounds barking? I've stopped caring. Ever since I took that class. "Learn not to give a shit." It changed my life.

As it's made it into the outside world, albeit with a broken ankle from the fall, I suppose it's OK to tell you. But remember, should you spot it, don't approach, call the police.

Buy "Mild! plus" now!

Do you think the imperative, larger typeface and exclamation mark have any effect? I'm doubtful. But, just in case it does:

Buy "Mild! plus" now! 

This code will knock 25% off the usual price (until 31st January 2012):


* I cannot take advantage of the discount.

William Younger adverts from the 1920's (part four)

I'm not one to ignore my readers*. The encouraging voices have led me to continue my William Younger's advert series. I thought I was the only one that loved this stuff.

The general tone is similar to the last set, but with one difference: the characters depicted don't appear to be specific individuals.

Father William: "No good to me. I get YOUNGER every day!"

William Younger's Scotch Ale is brewed from the water that made Edinburgh Ales famous as far back as the sixteenth century! William Younger's brewery is on the site of a brewery notable for its Ale in days of Mary, Queen of Scots. The rich golden glow, the fine "nutty" flavour and the stimulating, refreshing and tonic qualities make William Younger's SCOTCH ALE appeal irresistibly to the man who loves good ale.

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Branches at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesborough.
Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 23 October 1924

Dodgy historical claims. There's nothing new in them. Trying to connect William Younger with the 16th century (as the first set of illustrations also seemed to do) is really taking the piss. Late 18th century is when they started brewing. And surely the Abbey brewery was on the site of an, er, abbey. Maybe they've just assumed that had a brewery. Not that I believe Scotch Ale was well known in the 16th century. It's only in the 18th century that Scottish beer was exported in any appreciable quantity to England.

As much as I appreciate the description of the beer, it's left me scratching my head again. Golden glow? Surely No. 3 was dark in the 1920's? Or were they still making a pale and a dark version? In some of the logs it sometimes says just "3" and others "3 Pale". Annoyingly, I have no colour values for No. 3 for this period. Only No. 1. That was definitely dark brown.

The Elders and the Youngers

TO cure a prohibitionist of his folly, get him to taste William Younger's SCOTCH ALE; it will make him an ardent advocate of moderate drinking.
SCOTCH ALE refreshes, stimulates nourishes; it diffuses through the body a genial glow which offsets the discomforts of a bleak winter's day.

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Branches at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesborough.
Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 6 November 1924, page 8.
I take it the elders are some sort of religious elders. From one of Scotland's bible-bashing churches. Turn them into advocates of moderate drinking. So make them beer advocates. Maybe they could build their own website.

Again we have some dubious health claims. Though I do find Abt gives me a pretty good inner glow on a cold winter day. And on a warm summer day.

Old Soldiers never die
They get YOUNGER every day

When George II sat upon the throne William Younger's SCOTCH ALE was even then a famous brew - and every year that has passed has added to the popularity of this magnificent Ale.

Malt and hops - and malt and hops only, brewed in the crystal pure water of Edinburgh. That is the secret.

William Younger's
Scotch Ale
Brewed in Edinburgh
The beer with a bite in it.

Branches at London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesborough.

Nottingham Evening Post - Thursday 20 November 1924, page 7.
George the II died in 1760. And though the brewery claimed to have been founded in 1749, Zythophile has provided strong evidence that a more realistic date was 1778. So no, Younger's Scotch Ale wasn't famous when George II was alive.

And there's that malt and hops stuff again. But know they've taken it further and said malt and hops only. The lying bastards. I think even back then that wasn't allowed. Lying about the ingredients like that.

I've still got a stack of these ads. Just tell when you start getting bored.

* Unless it suits me.

Thursday 26 January 2012

Cover book new another

Rearrange the words in the title and win a prize.

You can probably recognate where the covers are going in this series. Jeff is looking particularly manly this time around.

Mini book, mega book. Where's the dividing line? Don't ask me. Really don't ask me. I get angry when pestered.

"You think I'm a boring old twat."

"No. I know you like boring architecture programs."

"How can you call Pugin boring? Ugly, retrogressive, yes."

"They're just crude lumpy things."

"You can't call them that."

Buy "Bitter!" now. I need to watch the Pugin programmme..

This code will knock 25% off the usual price (until 31st January 2012):


Aitken's Old Brewery

Alfred Barnard - where would I be without him? Having to make do with poorly-written newspaper reports draughted by journalists with no understanding of brewing. Barnard's writing is joyful and his eye for detail uncanny. It's not just the quality of his brewery reports but their quantity that make him such a crucial figure. He really did visit just about every significant brewery in the UK. With one inexplicable exception: William McEwan. Strange that he didn't merit an entry in the Oxford Companion to Beer.

A bit annoying, that. Because, while I have decent enough descriptions of William Younger from other sources, I've none of McEwans. Judging by the profits it generated, it must have been in at least the top 20 UK breweries and probably the top ten.

But I'm wandering away from my theme like a concussed man with 10 pints in his belly. Which, funnily enough, is precisely how I feel. Aitken. That's the theme. His old brewery.

The timing of Barnard's visit was unfortuitous in some instances. Several of the breweries that interest me he visited just before major rebuilding works. Like Hole's. Aitken, too. Within 10 years the brewery Bernard visited was abandonned and searching vainly for a new owner. While progress progressed in the new brewery on the opposite side of Newmarket Street.

Let's get started. Oh, the new brewhouse he talks of is the old new brewhouse, if you see what I mean. Barnard says that he was shown around by the senior partner. That was presumably John Aitken, who died in 1898.

"Entering the brewhouse yard, we passed up a long arched passage, when we found ourselves in a paved courtyard, in the centre of which a tall chimney shaft rears its head. Facing  us, as we entered the enclosure, is the old family residence, in which the grandfather and father of the present partner were born, a part of which is now appropriated to the business, and the remainder used as a dwelling house for the foreman of the works. The original brewhouse, built by the founder, is on the right of the yard, the ground floor of which is now used as a yeast store, and the floor above as the hop loft. This building is fronted by the more modern brewery, which faces Newmarket Street, and extends back a distance of 150 feet. Entering the new brewhouse, we passed up a staircase to the grist room, to which place the malt is hoisted by a block tackle, and delivered into the receiving hopper. The mill room is below, and occupies a recess of the mashing stage. It contains a pair of steel malt-rolls, capable of grinding twenty quarters per hour. Over the mill there is a screening machine, by which the malt is finally cleaned before being crushed. To the mill room succeeds the grist loft The grist travels upwards by a set of elevators, which deliver it to the malt hoppers over the tuns.
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 192-193.

It was typical for some staff to live, or at least stay overnight, on-site. Most breweries had a head brewers house, which had often started life as the owners residence. Of course, at one time it was common for the one of the owners to be head brewer. This became less the case towards the end of the 19th century when the partners tended to become full-time managers and employ a head brewer.

"Ascending the staircase, we passed through a doorway into the copper room, the highest place in the brewery, where is to be seen a domed copper of 140 barrels content, which is heated by steam coils, accelerated by fire. From the windows we saw, on the other side of the valley, the Forth gleaming in the distance and glimmering through the trees, having for its background our old friends, the Ochil hills. Amid a dense mass of steam we could discern from this stage, the mashing proceedings below, and inhale the delightful odour of malt and hops.

On the same level we were shown two open coppers, each of eighty barrels content, with parachute fountains therein, to control the boiling. We peeped into one of the coppers not in use, it was as clean, bright and shining as a new pin. The roof of this brewhouse is open to the rafters, and, in addition to the windows in the wall, is lighted on one side by a skylight On the other side there is a capacious cold liquor tank for supplying the coppers. Descending a few steps, we reached the brewer's room and laboratory, the walls and ceilings of which are lined with pitch pine. The sides of this pretty room are fitted with shelves for specimens and samples, they also contain all necessary scientific apparatus used by brewers. Below this and the adjoining rooms is the hop-loft, occupying what was once the chief suite of rooms in the old house. The windows are darkened with blue glass, and the room is capable of storing 250 Pockets of hops.
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 193.

Now that's confusing. They've three coppers, one domed and two open. The larger one sounds like the coppers that were common in England, enclosed and heated by steam. Though "accelerated by fire" implies that it was also directly heated. Unfortunately we're not told how the smaller coppers are heated. Damn. I'd been hoping to put another nail in copper carmelisation's coffin.

Having their own lab shows they were taking the business of brewing seriously. True, most large breweries had one by this time, but Aitken wasn't really all that big. An 80-barrel copper implies quite a small batch size. When we look at the mashing department in the next instalment we'll see confirmation of this.

Barnard's tour was in an illogical order, in terms of brewing. Surely you should look at the mash tun first, then the copper. Never mind. I would have swapped it around but, you know, I like, can't be arsed. I want to save my brain power for something more important. Like selecting lunch.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

You'll never guess

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.another new cover.

Noticed the two strands? Easy enough to explain. Two people create them. (Three, sort of, as I handle all the text.)

This time it's a particularly abstract and obscure effort from Andrew. "If you like that sort of thing." Dolores said. Indeed.

I'm warming to the idea of a poll of whose covers are best. Divide and rule. I'm British, I should know all about that. It's in the blood.

Yes, an internecine strife-provoker should help continue my dominance. At least for a while. Andrew gave me a very scary bear hug yesterday. I'd best not upset him too much. He may rip my head off. If he's too busy fighting Lexie, he may leave me alone.

A poll on the best new cover. Good as a slap in the face with a duelling glove.

Feel free to rip apart my crummy typography. That orange. I know. And such an unimaginative typeface. The text itself isn't much better. "Pubs in western Germany". What bollocks is that? You should see the grilleaux on the back. Embarrassing.

But to read it you'll need to

Buy "Trips! (West)" now.!

Normal drill, until the end of January this code will knock 25% off the usual price:


England vs Scotland, part 2f: the 1840's

The day has come! We're finally finished with the 1840's. We've laughed, we've cried, we've sat down when the excitement got too much.

If you've been playing close attention you might have noticed something missing: Porter and Stout. There's a good reason for that. I managed to not find a single one in the William Younger's log, despite having well over 100 beers. I know from other years that they weren't brewing huge amounts of either. Maybe I just selected the wrong months. Whatever, it's irritating because I can't do a full comparison. Don't despair. In the next set, the 1850's, I've plenty.

True to tradition, I'll show you the numbers first:

Date Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fer-ment-ation temp length of fer-ment-ation (days)
25th Feb 1841 Truman XXK Ale Stock Ale 1094.2 1034.6 7.88 63.24% 11 4.92

58 77 12
15th Jan 1846 Truman KXX Ale Stock Ale 1098.6 1021.9 10.15 77.81% 14.0 5.93

58.5 77 12
7th Apr 1841 Whitbread KXXX Stock Ale 1100.6 1029.9 9.34 70.25% 9.36 4.06 2 2 3 60 79 12
14th Apr 1841 Whitbread KXXX Stock Ale 1100.8 1029.9 9.38 70.33% 9.42 4.13 2 2 3 60 79 7
19th Mar 1841 Whitbread KXXX Stock Ale 1101.9 1028.5 9.71 72.01% 9.09 3.78 2 2 3 60 79 7
10th Apr 1841 Truman XXXK Ale Stock Ale 1102.5 1024.1 10.37 76.49% 14 7.74

60 78.5 10
22nd Apr 1841 Whitbread KXXX Stock Ale 1102.5 1029.9 9.60 70.81% 5.96 2.55 2 2 3 60 79 8
15th Jul 1840 Truman XXXK Ale Stock Ale 1103.9 1032.4 9.45 68.80% 12 6.22

58.5 77 9
17th Feb 1846 Truman KXXX Ale Stock Ale 1104.7 1023.0 10.81 78.04% 15.0 7.81

58 80.5 11
13th Jan 1846 Truman XXXK Ale Stock Ale 1106.9 1025.2 10.81 76.42% 14.7 7.18

58 80 12
1st Mar 1841 Truman XXXK Ale Stock Ale 1106.9

12 6.44

58.5 78.5 13
17th Mar 1841 Truman XXXMK Ale Stock Ale 1108.3 1034.1 9.82 68.54% 8.0 4.21

58.5 81 11
1st Apr 1846 Truman KXXXX Ale Stock Ale 1114.1 1032.7 10.77 71.36% 16.0 9.70

58 81 15
5th Mar 1841 Truman XXXXK Ale Stock Ale 1117.7 1038.8 10.44 67.06% 14 7.65

28th Jan 1846 Truman XXXXK Ale Stock Ale 1118.0 1034.9 10.99 70.42% 16.0 11.19

58 78.5 15

1105.4 1030.0 9.97 71.54% 12.04 6.23 2.00 2.00 3.00 58.8 78.9 11.1
27th Mar 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1124 1053 9.39 57.26% 11.50 8.53 1 1
52 71 10
9th Mar 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1126 1052 9.79 58.73% 10.00 7.50 1

53 71 12
7th Oct 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1126 1055 9.39 56.35% 6.18 3.94 1.08

57 72 10
16th Nov 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1126 1055 9.39 56.35% 6.13 5.94 1.08

54 72 9
29th Dec 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1127 1055 9.53 56.69% 8.90 5.45 1

56 56 9
9th Jan 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1127 1053 9.79 58.27% 9.14 5.29 1

54 72 10
2nd Apr 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1127 1057 9.26 55.12% 12.00 8.49 1.08 0.92
54 71 10
19th Feb 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1128 1053 9.92 58.59% 7.91 4.84 0.92

54 71 9
15th Mar 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1128 1059 9.13 53.91% 7.65 4.41 0.92

53 69 11
7th Apr 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1128 1058 9.26 54.69% 12.00 8.70 1

53 70 11
17th Apr 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1129 1056 9.66 56.59% 7.00 4.81 1 1
53 72 10
16th Jan 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1129 1056 9.66 56.59% 8.14 6.33 1

54 71 9
27th Sep 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1129 1059 9.26 54.26% 8.00 6.19 1

56 72 9
11th Mar 1848 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1130 1059 9.39 54.62% 7.61 4.71 0.92

53 69 11
27th Jan 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1130 1057 9.66 56.15% 5.81 5.63 1

53 70 12
6th Jun 1849 Younger, Wm. 140/- Ale 1132 1057 9.92 56.82% 11.00 8.32 1.08

54 72 10
4th Apr 1849 Younger, Wm. 160/- Ale 1134 1063 9.39 52.99% 12.96 7.94 1

53 70 11
13th Nov 1849 Younger, Wm. S Stock Ale 1095 1028 8.86 70.53% 10.31 4.85 1

55 67 10
7th Apr 1849 Younger, Wm. S Stock Ale 1097 1031 8.73 68.04% 12.00 4.92 1

54 67 10
12th Nov 1849 Younger, Wm. XS Stock Ale 1108 1036 9.53 66.67% 11.50 6.73 1

55 69 10

1127.9 1055.9 9.45 57.96% 9.29 6.18 1.00 0.97 0.00 54.0 69.7 10.2

22.4 25.9 -0.52 -13.58% -2.75 -0.06 -1.00 -1.03 -3.00 -4.8 -9.2 -0.9
Truman brewing record document numbers B/THB/C/122 and B/THB/C/127 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
William Younger brewing record document number WY/6/1/2/3 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Whitbread brewing record document number LMA/4453/D/01/004 held at the London Metropolitan Archives

A word of caution. The Scottish and London beers in this set aren't a perfect match. The strongest London beer has a gravity of 1118º. Virtually all the Scottish beers have a higher OG. The average OG of the Scottish beers is more than 22º more.

Bearing that in mind, let's look at the hopping rates. This time Younger's beers come second, but by a tiny amount. For once, the greater variation is amongst the London beers, with both the most and the least heavily hopped. Factor in the gravity difference, and the London beers are a clear winner. How do I do that? Look at the hopping rate per quarter. It's 23% higher in the London beers. So: in the 1840's Younger's Stock Ales were on average less heavily hopped than equivalent London beers.

It's unfortunate that I only have the boil times from Whitbread of the London brewers. Though I do know from later years that Whitbread's weren't untypical. 70 minutes was the Longest Younger boil. That's very short, especially for a strong beer. This one is easy: in the 1840's Younger's Stock Ales had much shorter boils than equivalent London beers.

I'm definitely seeing a pattern in fermentation temperatures across all the styles. I'm starting to get quite confident about this. It's the same story here. The pitching temperature of Younger's beers was on average almost 5º F cooler. The maximum fermentation temperature was almost 9º F cooler. Excuse me if you've heard this before: in the 1840's Younger's Stock Ales were fermented cooler than equivalent London beers, on average around 7 - 8º F.

Given the higher gravity and cooler fermentation temperature, it's a surprise to discover that on average Younger's beers took almost a day less to ferment on average. The rather surprising conclusion is: in the 1840's Younger's Stock Ales took less time to ferment than equivalent London beers.

This might explain the difference in fermentation time. Younger's beers had a much lower degree of attenuation. Under 60% on average. But again, it's caveat time. I'm not convinced the 140/- and 160/- are really Stock Ales.If you look at the last three Younger beers, they are definitely Stock Ales. And their degree of attenuation is much closer to the London beers. But still lower. Funnily enough, despite their huge gravities, none of Younger's beers is above 10% ABV, while half the London beers were. In the 1840's Younger's Stock Ales were less attenuated and lower in alcohol than equivalent London beers.

I would give you a summary of all the styles now, highlighting any difference s with England. But I feel shit. I left my breakfast at the side of the road on the way to the bus stop this morning. Not nice. You'll have to wait a day or two for my roundup.