Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Davenport beers 1931 - 1989

Yes, it's finally come. The last post in my series on Birmingham breweries. About Davenports.

"Beer at home means Davenports,
That's beer, lots of cheer,
Straight from brewery to your home,
Why collect, we'll deliver.
Soon you'll know why folks all say,
Beer at home means Davenports."

What does it say about the power of advertising, that I can remember the Davenports song more than two decades after the brewery closed?

The advertising must have worked on my Dad, too, because he had Davenports delivered. Now I think about it, the first beer I ever tasted was almost certainly Davenports of my Dad. Top Crown Deluxe, perhaps? I think that was the name of the posh Pale Ale they sold. I do know that it was a Bitter of some sort. Too Bitter for my 12-year old self.

It was a bold move of Davenport to sell off some of their pubs and get into the home delivery business. Did it pay off? Difficult to say. As they no longer exist, probably not. But that move was one reason their beers were frustratingly difficult to find in their home city of Birmingham. I can only remember ever going to one of their pubs, somewhere just off Hurst Street in the city centre.

They suffered the brewery equivalent of a fate worse than death: they were bought by Greenall Whitley in 1986 and closed three years later. Drinkers were lucky they closed so quickly. Greenall's quickly turned the beers of their victims over into parodies of themselves. Such poor imitations, that most fans were glad when they were finally put out of their misery and discontinued.

I suppose I should say something about their beers. Specifically the ones in the table. The Best Mild and Traditional Bitter from 1989 were brewed at Shipstone.

The 1949 Brown Ale definitely looks like a bottled Mild. Not sure about the one from 1931. That's a touch strong for a Mild of the day. That's possibly a standalone Brown Ale. If you know what I mean.

It's a shame that there's no pre-war Mild for comparison purposes. The post-war beers have very typical Mild gravities for most of the country, but are a couple of points weaker than other Birmingham Milds.

These a bit more to work with in the Pale Ales. You can see that before the war they made two Bitters, the stronger Best Bitter with a hefty gravity of over 1050º. That's comparable to the Best Bitters of London. The weaker Bitter Beer is a couple of degrees lower in gravity that London ordinary Bitters, which were mostly 1042-1045º. WW II knocked a massive 30 gravity points off Best Bitter. That's a pretty low gravity for a Bitter 1033, even in 1949. From the 1970's on there was very little change in the gravity, which is pretty typical. In general, gravities of many beer remained around their mid-1950's level.

The Stouts present a confusing picture. The Extra Stouts bracketing WW II, with close to 80% attenuation, clearly weren't Sweet Stouts. Again, they nicely demonstrate the effect of WW II on gravities.

Celebration Stout looks like a sweeter replacement for Extra Stout. Not the much lower level of attenuation. Until 1965, when there was a huge change: its gravity doubled and the attenuation went back up. Maybe. Because the two examples from the same year have very different degrees of attenuation.

Not much to say about the Strong Ale, except to point out the high degree of attenuation of the 1931 example.

There. That's Brum done. Any other town take your fancy?

Davenport beers 1927 - 1989
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1931 Brown Ale Brown Ale 6.5d pint bottled 0.07 1014.2 1044.8 3.96 68.30%
1949 Brown Ale Brown Ale 1/1.5d pint bottled 0.06 1004 1031 5 + 40 3.51 87.10%
1943 Dark Ale Dark Ale bottled 0.08 1009 1036.8 7 + 40 3.61 75.54%
1943 Light Ale Light Ale bottled 0.07 1007.3 1038 18 3.99 80.79%
1961 Continental Light Ale Light Ale 15d half bottled 0.04 1005.3 1034 8 3.59 84.41%
1949 Mild Ale Mild 1/1d pint draught 0.07 1007.9 1032 4.5 + 40 3.12 75.31%
1977 Mild Mild pint draught 1033
1979 Mild Mild pint draught 1033
1981 Mild Mild pint draught 1034.5
1982 Mild Mild pint draught 1034.5
1983 Mild Mild pint draught 1034.5
1986 Mild Mild pint draught 1034.8
1989 Best Mild Mild pint draught 1010.3 1035 3.20 70.71%
1927 Best Bitter Pale Ale 7d pint bottled 1054.4
1927 Bitter Pale Ale 5.5d pint bottled 1040.5
1929 Best Bitter Pale Ale 8.5d pint bottled 0.07 1014.5 1053.1 5.01 72.69%
1929 Bitter Beer Pale Ale 5d pint bottled 0.05 1008.5 1040.5 4.16 79.01%
1931 Bitter Beer Pale Ale 6d half bottled 0.08 1007.3 1036.7 3.82 80.11%
1931 Best Bitter Pale Ale 8d pint bottled 0.08 1017.9 1053.9 4.66 66.79%
1931 Pale Ale Pale Ale 5.5d half bottled 0.11 1013.2 1055.8 5.54 76.34%
1949 Pale Ale Pale Ale 9.5d half bottled 0.07 1006.6 1039.5 21 brown 4.28 83.29%
1949 Best Bitter Pale Ale 1/2d pint bottled 0.06 1006.5 1032.8 19 brown 3.42 80.18%
1977 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038
1979 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038
1981 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038.9
1982 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038.9
1983 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038.9
1986 Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1038.9
1989 Traditional Bitter Pale Ale pint draught 1008 1038 3.90 78.95%
1931 Extra Stout Stout 7d reputed pint bottled 0.14 1012.3 1057.9 5.94 78.76%
1949 Extra Stout Stout 9.5d half bottled 0.08 1008.1 1040.2 1 + 15 4.17 79.85%
1953 Celebration Stout Stout 11d half bottled 0.06 1014.7 1041.9 1 + 17 3.52 64.92%
1965 Celebration Stout Stout 12.5d half bottled 0.04 1017.3 1042.1 275 3.10 58.91%
1965 Celebration Stout Stout 12.5d half bottled 0.04 1021 1085 275 8.00 75.29%
1965 Celebration Stout Stout 12.5d half bottled 0.04 1033 1085 275 6.50 61.18%
1927 Strong Ale Strong Ale 6d half bottled 1073.9
1931 Strong Ale Strong Ale 6.5d half bottled 0.08 1012.4 1064.1 6.76 80.66%
Good Beer Guide 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002


Gary Gillman said...

Bradford please.


John Clarke said...

Hi Ron

I think the strong beer was Top Brew Deluxe.

Bryan the BeerViking said...

Off Hurst Street - I wonder if that was the White Lion? My regular for at least one summer in the early '80s.

Birdman said...

Liverpool! and include Walkers of Warrington