You'll probably guess why I picked it, despite it not being a masterpiece of the advertiser's art. Advertising was much less dynamic back in the day. Dawber & Co. of Lincoln used the same advert for at least 20 years:
A good example there of the rock-solid price stability of the late Victorian period. There's no change in price over a period of 20 years. How much did I pay for beer 20 years ago? Can't remember exactly, but it was much less than I pay now.
Best get this back in focus and back to George Younger and his advert. Here it is:
No, it's not the Pale Ale that drew me to this advert like a pervert to a playground. Oh, no. It's the other product being advertised. I hesitate to call it beer because it was alcohol-free: Black Beer.
There's a funny story behind the Black Beer and other non-alcoholic products of George Younger. One that includes Bass and the local-veto legislation. Robert Meiklejohn had first brewed in the Candleriggs Brewer, but moved to the larger Grange Brewery on the edge of town around 1852.It was a former distillery that had been converted into a brewery. The Candleriggs Brewery was purchased by George Younger, who greatly expanded it.*
Trouble started after Charles Maitland became senior partner at Meiklejohn in the late 1850's. His family crest being the Bass Rock, he changed the brewery's name to Bass Crest. You can guess what happened next. Bass were notoriously litigious in protection of their trademark. In the 50 years following 1862, Bass instigated a number of actions against Meiklejohn with regard to their trademarks. The matter was only finally brought to a close when Bass bought Meiklejohn in 1918.**
Obviously Bass had no real interest in the brewery and soon sold it on. To George Younger, in 1919. Why did Younger want another brewery in Alloa? To operate delicensed brewery of non-alcoholic beers.This is all connected with the Local Veto Act, which allowed votes on the partial or total removal of licenses from a district.*** Canny Younger's were making sure they could still sell products in areas that had become delicensed. See how the advert stresses "no licence required".
As well as Black Beer, there were also Pony Brand Temperance Stouts. The beers did contain small amounts of alcohol, being brewed from very low gravities. The Black Beer had an OG of about 1014º. The Grange brewery continued to brew non-alcoholic beers until 1941, when it closed and became a store.****
Funny thing is, their Sweetheart Stout was barely any stronger in the 1950's. I've plenty of examples that were only about 1.5% ABV. Maybe they got their idea for from their Temperance Stout. I've just realised that I've no need to say "about" with regard to the OG of Black Beer. Because I've an analysis of it from 1922. Plus a couple of other things. Take a look:
|George Younger watery beers|
|1922||Black Beer||Black Beer||1004||1011||0.90||63.64%|
|1933||Sparkling Table Beer||Pale Ale||1007.5||1021||1.74||64.29%|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive|
Not sure if all of those came from the Grange Brewery. I am sure that none of them would get you pissed.
* "Alloa Ale", by Charles McMaster, 1985, page 51.
** "Alloa Ale", by Charles McMaster, 1985, page 52 - 55.
*** "Alloa Ale", by Charles McMaster, 1985, page 55.
**** "Alloa Ale", by Charles McMaster, 1985, page 55.