Thursday, 21 February 2013

The "Original" Brewery

There's nothing new under the sun. Things like advertorials have been around longer than you might suspect, as the article below proves.

Why publish a piece of shamelss self-promotion? I'll tell you after the article.

[Extract from the" Pictorial Record," Feb. 1899.]
An original title it must be confessed but one that can be substantiated, inasmuch as the brewery to which it applies is the oldest in Tamworth.

It would seem on that account to need but little introduction to local readers, but the proprietors, Messrs. White & Combe, have inaugurated a policy that should be always under the notice of consumers in whose interest it has been devised. There is no doubt that the wholesale buying of licensed properties and converting them into "tied houses" that has been in operation some time, has had in many cases a bad effect upon the quality of the beer supplied. It could not be otherwise, seeing the fabulous prices that have been given for houses, and consequently the consumer has to suffer.

We do not say that this is so in all cases, but one point is quite obvious, namely, that it must pay the brewer quite as well to sell his productions at wholesale rates to private families as it does for him to dispose of to the publican for retailing. At any rate, Messrs. White and Combe are of this opinion, and they have for some time past devoted themselves exclusively to a family trade, selling ale and stout in small or large casks or in bottle at about half the price that it can be obtained from licensed victuallers, while they guarantee that the quality is of the highest.

On this latter point weareable to satisfy ourselves by a personal visit, and if the use of English hops and malt combined with pure water, scrupulous cleanliness, and the utmost care in connection with all brewing operations can produce a perfect malt beverage, such may certainly be had at the Original Brewery.

The place itself is fitted with a four-quarter plant, with copper, mash-tun, coolers, fermenting tuns, vats, cellarage, &c., complete, and adjoining are the maltings for the firm's brewings only. Strong ale, mild ale, nourishing stout, and a nourishing light bitter ale, such as "The Medical Times" has declared to be an ideal drink, are produced here (under the personal supervision of Mr. G. Adams, formerly of London), and a very extensive trade is done throughout a radius of ten miles around Tamworth. A dozen hands and four horses are employed, and the brewery, which is in the Albert Road, bears every sign of prosperity and success. Mr. Combe is now sole proprietor, Mr. White, who, had had the business since 1857, and with whom he was in partnership for two years, being recently deceased. - [Advt.]"
Tamworth Herald - Saturday 27 January 1900, page 8.

It's the stuff about the pub trade. That's why I've reproduced this article.

The 1890's was a fraught and chaotic period for brewers. There were still profits to be made but restictions on the number of pub licences meant outlets were getting harder to find. Not only were many authrities no longer issuing new licences, many were actively reducing the number of licensed premises by removing licences. The result was a scramble to but pubs to secure outlets.

Panic buying by brewers, such as Allsopp, who entered the game late, meant pubs changed hands for ridiculous sums. Speculators also helped drive up pub prices. One of their tricks was to buy a pub, order large quatiuties of beer from a brewery and just pour most of it down the drain. The brewery would think the pub was doing a good trade and buy it for an inflated price based on nonexistent custom.

We're told it was a four quarter brewery. Which equates to just 16 barrels of standard-strength beer per brew. Or around 5,000 barrels a year. So quite a small operation. According to Norman Barber, the brewery closed in the early 1920's.

While concentrating on selling directly to domestic customers might have lookd a good business plan in 1900, it wouldn't turn out to be long term. The home trade in cask beer fizzled out after WW I and customers either switched to bottled beer or brought back draught beer in jugs from pubs.

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