Friday 28 February 2014

Hoare and City of London Brewery to merge?

The years just prior to WW I were difficult ones for brewers. many struggled to make a profit or pay a dividend.

The 1909 People's Budget had proposed a big increase in taxation on beer and pubs. The budget was defeated in the House of Lords(which prompted a political crisis) but the clauses relating to beer were included in the 1910 Finance Act.

The difficult financial times forced breweries to consider their options. One of these was merger. Which is what was proposed between Hoare and the City of London Brewery in 1912. The plan was to merge their tied estates and supply them with beer from Hoare's Red Lion Brewery.

Sir G. Wyatt Truscott, presiding at the annual meeting the City of London Brewery Company, said that the report before them was a little more cheery than that for last year. He said taxation should not be based upon the value of the houses where beer was sold, but should be drawn from the manufactured product — the beer itself. Their profit rental was £2,100 less in 1911 than in the previous year, because publicans still found themselves quite unable to carry the new taxation, and week by week the directors had before them applications for reductions in rent. Interest receivable was less by £1,000. In the general result the profit earned last year showed an increase of £16,000. They brought forward £7,473, which, added last to year's profit, made £38,000. This was reduced by £18,900 written off leaseholds, so that £19,200 remained to be dealt with. Of this £5,000 would absorbed by 1 per cent dividend on the Preference Shares, and the balance would be carried forward.

The resolution was adopted, and a resolution approving a scheme of arrangement with Messrs. Hoare and Co. was considered. A feature of the scheme was the making of a call of £1 per share on the Ordinary Shares. The resolution was very warmly debated."
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 21 March 1912, page 10.

That profit is pretty pathetic, as is the 1% dividend. But it's better than many London brewers managed. Their eagerness to snap up public houses in the 1890's had left many overstretched.

The City London Brewery Company (Limited) is calling meetings of its Debenture Stockholders and of its stock and share holders to consider a scheme for joint brewing with Hoare and Co. (Limited). The scheme proposes that the two companies shall carry the manufacture of beer jointly at Messrs. Hoare and Co's Brewery Lower East. Smithfield, through the medium of a new company, in which the two companies are to have equal holdings, and which they will jointly control.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 02 March 1912, page 10.

Unusually, this sounds like a real merger rather than a takeover. However it's pitched, in the majority of cases one of the companies comes ut on top.

Eventually the scheme was defeated by the narrowest of margins:

In a circular the shareholders of the City of London Brewery Company (Limited), the directors state that the proposed scheme for working with Hoare and Co. (Ltd.) was brought before the meetings of the two classes of debenture-holders, and of the shareholders in March last. At the meeting of the 4 per Cent. Debenture Stockholders, the majority in favour of the scheme fell short of the three-fourths necessary by only £591 on a vote at which £338,463 stock was represented, and at the other meetings the scheme was approved by very large majorities. Under these circumstances the directors made further endeavours to carry the scheme, and accordingly applied to the Court and obtained an order authorising a fresh meeting of the 4 per Cent. Debenture Stockholders. Meanwhile both trustees for the 4 per Cent Debenture Stockholders and an independent committee of some large Debenture Stockholders have made investigations into the scheme, the results of which, in the view the investigators, are adverse to the scheme."
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 19 November 1912, page 9.

Everyone but the debenture holders voted in favour. Well, they voted in favour, too, just not by quite enough. £591 from £338,463 is just 0.18%. It must have driven the directors nuts.

The story didn't end there. As we will find out later.

Thursday 27 February 2014

Me talking again

Amazed that anyone was interested in listening to me drone away about historical brewing, I've dug out another clip from a few years ago.

It was filmed outsdie the Buzzards Bay brewery where Pretty Things work their magic

Grand Rapids here I come (part two)

I've not even started my first US trip and I'm already working out a schedule for the next one.

In case you'd forgotten, I'm speaking at the AHA national conference in June. As it seems a waste to fly across the Atlantic just for that, I'm planning events in Toronto and Chicago as well. This is my first draught:

Sat 7th Toronto
Sun 8th Toronto
Mon 9th Chicago
Tue 10th Chicago
Wed 11th Grand Rapids
Thur 12th Grand Rapids
Fri 13th Grand Rapids
Sat 14th Grand Rapids
Sun 15th Toronto
Mon 16th fly home

It will give those of you living in the middle of North America a chance to hear me drone on about historic beers and watch me drink some of them. That's certainly my idea of fun. Not sure it's anyone else's.

Huggins Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

Huggins, you may remember, was the brewery with a hugely impractical Soho location.

We'll begin with their chairman moaning about the tax they had to pay:
"Huggins and Co.
The annual general meeting was held on the 3rd inst., in London, Mr. Malcolm H. Huggins presiding.

The Chairman said that the profits had been well maintained, and it was a great pleasure to him to be able to congratulate the shareholders on a successful year's trading. Dealing with the accounts, he stated that the last of the mortgages which were outstanding a year ago had been paid off, and he thought the improved financial position of the company was also a matter for congratulation. The result of the year's trading was a net profit of £34,972. Before arriving at that profit the company had had to pay or provide for payment to the Government for beer duty, income-tax, etc, a sum considerably in excess of £250,000, which  appeared to him to be entirely out of proportion to the amount available for the shareholders who had invested their money in the business. The directors now recommended the payment of a final dividend of 1s. 6d. per share, less tax, making, with the interim dividend already paid, 10 per cent, for the year ; the placing of £10,000 to reserve, making that fund £76,515, and leaving a balance to be carried forward of £32,273. During the year under review they had suffered from the continued and increased unemployment and large reductions in wages, which had reduced the spending power of the working classes, on whom they chiefly relied for the sale of their beers. Whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able in his next Budget to reduce the duty on beer, he was not able to say, but one could not help feeling very strongly that the beer drinker had the first claim to any remission of taxation. The heavy duty might have been a means of collecting revenue from one section of the working classes during the period of high wages, but they certainly had not the ability to pay these prices to-day, and were justly entitled to relief. The consumer was getting the benefit of the reduction in cost of materials in a better article. With regard to the inconsistency of the hours during which licensed premises were now open in London, one could only hope that the Justices, when they had to reconsider this question in February, would study the public convenience and not be influenced by a noisy minority of kill-joys.

The report was unanimously adopted."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", page 18.

He has a point - a quarter of a million in tax and just 30,000 quid profit. The high wages he refers to were a by-product of labour shortages during WW I. Employers had tp pay, if they wanted to find workers. As a result, even though beer prices shot up during the war, demand remained high.

That's handy. The £250,000 paid in tax tells me something. Beer duty was £5 per standard barrel, which worked out to about £4 per barrel for an average strength beer. Which means Huggins had to be producing less than 60,000 barrels a year.

I think you can guess who he means by kill-joys.

Let's look at Huggins Burton. The gravity is at the high end, attenuation about average, leaving a slightly above average ABV of nearly 5.5%.

Huggins Mild took tenth place with a just positive score of 0.20. Room for improvement - will their Burton Ale show it?

Huggins Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1011 1053.8 5.60 79.93% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1009 1053.2 5.74 82.71% not bright unpleasantly bitter -2
1922 KK 1013 1055.4 5.46 75.81% dark good 2
1922 KK 1013 1056.1 5.67 77.54% bright good 2
1923 KK 1013 1054.5 5.40 76.15% bright good 2
1923 KK 1012 1053.8 5.40 77.14% bright fair 1
1923 KK 1014 1054.2 5.20 73.80% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1054.8 5.40 75.73% fairly bright fairly good 1
1923 KK 1014 1052 4.93 73.08% almost bright nasty flavour -3
Average  1013 1054.2 5.42 76.88% 0.67
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Finding a properly clear pint must have been a chore in the 1920's. Once again fewer than half the examples - four out of nine - were bright. Flavour again scores considerably better with seven positive scores, including four twos. This is offset a little by two quite bad examples, but the average score is 0.67. Which isn't too bad.

Looks to me like the odds were in your favour of getting a pretty decent pint of Huggins Burton. It does seem that the Burtons are scoring better than the milds.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

March US book tour (again)

I  just realised that I hadn't published the times for any of my events in the US. A fairly essential piece of information, if you intend turning up.

This is the updated schedule:

Saturday 8th March Boston Pretty Things event
The Independent
75 Union Square,

Sunday 9th March
Jimmy's No. 43   
43 E. 7th St.,
New York, NY 10003.
16:00 - 21:00

Monday 10th March NYC Event
Brouwerij Lane   
78 Greenpoint Ave,
NY 11222,
The special Pretty Things beer and hopefully some others from the book should be available.

Wednesday 12th March Philadelphia Event   
Yards Brewing Company
901 N Delaware Ave,
PA 19123‎
Yards should be brewing one of the recipes from the book.
17:00 - 20:00

Friday 14th March Colonial Williamsburg Event
talk on 18th-century English brewing
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Location: Hennage Aud., Art Museums
17:30 - 18:30

Saturday 15th March Washington Event with BURP
3 Stars
6400 Chillum Pl NW,
DC 20011
18:00 - 21:00

Sunday 16th March Baltimore Event with Free State Homebrew Club Guild
Maryland Homebrew,
6770 Oak Hall Lane,
Suite 108,
Columbia, MD 21045
14:00 - 17:30

St. Anne's Well Brewery again

Pure randomness today. Partly due to pressure, partly because I spotted it on a page I'd copied for another reason.

I'm currently hard at work getting a couple of weeks ahead in my posts. When I go to the US next month, I'll have enough posts lined up that I won't need to write while I'm away. The way the schedule is packed, I'll have no time. I've just seen another of my rest days disappear

I'm developing an unhealthy interest in the St. Anne's Well Brewery. All because they dabbled in Lager in the 19th century.

I'm starting to see a pattern in chairmen's speeches at annual meetings. They often took the opportunity to make what are more political than commercial points. This was especially true of the years immediately after WW I, when it wasn't clear at what level taxation and opening hours would be fixed.

At the time, it was by no means certain that the type of retricted opening times enforced during the war would become permanent. On the other hand temperance twats were pushing for the "local option" - having local polls on whether or not to go dry. It was a difficult time for brewers and decisions which had a huge impact on there finances were completely out of their hands.

"St. Anne's Well Brewery Co., Ltd.
The annual meeting was held at Exeter, Mr. W. C. Richards presiding.

The directors recommended payment of a dividend of 10 per cent. on the ordinary shares. The trading profit for the year was £11,540, making, with £6,715, the balance from last year's account, £18,255.

The chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said the year had been quite satisfactory. Times pressed rather hardly on the Trade, but, as he had intimated, the company had not done at all badly during the year. The shortening of licensed hours, particularly in country districts, had been a great blow to licensed victuallers, who were the principal customers of the company, he hoped that in the future, no matter what Government was in power, the hardships to the Trade would be considered. In the country districts people got up quite early, and, although people in towns did not require a drink until certain times. there were people who desired to have refreshment much earlier in the country by reason of their commencing work the first thing in the morning. And, that being so, he failed to see why they should not have it. He hoped those responsible would not listen entirely to the voices of the enemies of the Trade, but show them consideration, which would be much appreciated.

Mr. L. D. Thomas seconded the motion, which was carried."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", page 18.

I'm sure lots of agricultural workers did get up at daylight. But the same was true of many workers in towns, too. I don't see that as a totally rural problem. Whilesale markets, for example, often had pubs with exemptions from the normal hours and would open early in the morning.

Sadly, I've no details of any St. Anne's Well beers. But I do have some from one of there Exeter rivals, Norman & Pring of the City Brewery.

Norman & Pring beers 1928 - 1961
Date Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1928 City Special Pale Ale 6d pint bottled 0.05 1008.7 1036.1 3.55 75.90%
1949 Mild Ale Mild 1/1d pint draught 0.06 1006.8 1032.6 21 brown 3.35 79.14%
1953 Imperial Strong Ale Strong Ale 1/6d nip bottled 0.05 1051.8 1081.2 16 + 40 3.74 36.21%
1953 Light Ale Light Ale 6d nip bottled 0.05 1011 1031 17 2.58 64.52%
1955 Nap Ale Strong Ale 1/- half bottled 0.05 1011.8 1037.7 33 3.35 68.70%
1955 Pale Ale Pale Ale 11d half bottled 0.05 1009 1031.1 20 2.86 71.06%
1960 Pale Ale Pale Ale 10d half bottled 0.02 1003.8 1031 15 3.40 87.74%
1961 Tan Bitter Pale Ale 24d pint draught 0.04 1005.2 1038.4 18 4.15 86.46%
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

I just checked the FG of that Imperial Strong Ale. I assumed that it was a typing fault. It wasn't. It really says that in the Gravity Book, though I'm inclined to doubt that it's true.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Hoare Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

We've come to one of the big Porter brewers now in our leisurely ramble through the Burton Ales of the 1920's.

Hoare made healthy profits in the 1920's, but the run-up to WW I had been an unhappy time for the brewery. In 1909 the company made a whacking £914,500 loss. The tied estate was the principal cause. With beer consumption falling and taxation rising, many tenants struggled to pay the interest on their loans or their rent. £465,000 of the loss was in the form of loans to publicans. The brewery had paid over the odds in a scramble to acquire tied houses in the 1890's. When the pubs were revalued, they were worth far less than had been paid for them*.

The solution was to drastically reduce the company's capital - to £731,250 - by cancelling some of the preference shares and all of the ordinary shares**.

"Hoare and Co., Ltd., recommend a final dividend of 2.5 per cent, (making 5 per cent, for year ended April 18th, 1923), and they have resolved, subject to audit, that the surplus available profits for the participation certificate-holders for the year ended April 18th, 1923. are £128,595. This amount will redeem at par the whole of the outstanding participation certificates. After providing for a distribution of 5 per cent, (as for the two previous years) on the shares, the surplus available profits for the participating certificate-holders for the year ended April 18th last will amount, as shown above, to £128,595, which, the directors announce, will redeem at par the whole of the outstanding participating certificates. The latter, it may be recalled, were issued to holders of preference shares in 1910. when the capital of the company was reduced in order to extinguish losses. The original amount of the certificates was £310,000. Under the arrangement, after payment of 5 per cent. dividends on the share capital; and the remaining surplus profits belonged to the certificates, one-third of which was applied as to dividend, and two-thirds for redemption purposes. In June, 1921, however, the certificate-holders agreed to the whole of the surplus available profits being applied to redemption, and in lieu thereof the denomination of each certificate was raised from £2 to £2 15s. There is now only one class of share, the former preference shares, of which there were two classes, being written down in 1910 and consolidated and converted into the present shares of €10 each, the then existing ordinary shares being cancelled at the same time."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", page 368.
After the war, their finances were looking much healthier and as you can see the legacy of the restructuring, participation certificates, were paid off in 1923.

Now we've finished with all that dull money stuff, on with the beer.

This is interesting. Hoare's Burton has a higher than average gravity. But also a lower than average degree of attenuation, at under 70%. Most are a bit over 75%. No surprise then that the ABV is a little on the low side, averaging just under 5%.

Hoare's Mild placed 9th out of 17, so about exactly in the middle, with a score of 0.30. How did their Burton Do?

Hoare Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1016 1056.5 5.33 72.57% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1019 1056.3 4.88 66.96% almost bright only fair 0
1922 KK 1020 1054 4.46 63.89% v bright good 2
1922 KK 1014 1051.9 4.87 72.25% cloudy bitter yeast -1
1923 KK 1019 1054.9 4.59 64.66% hazy good 2
1923 KK 1018 1055.4 4.79 66.79% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1015 1055.5 5.26 72.97% hazy only fair 0
1923 KK 1017 1055 4.93 69.09% fairly bright fairly good 1
1923 KK 1017 1055 4.93 69.09% almost bright rather sweet -1
Average  1017 1054.94 4.89 68.70% 0.67
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

I'm starting to think that draught beer was often not clear in the 1920's. Only three of the nine examples here were clear. Not very good. The flavour is once again rather better. Only two negative scores and neither that bad. Five positive scores, including three twos. Giving an average score of 0.67, or fairly good.

I've added Hoare to my list of brewery's whose pubs I'll give a try. Now just to get that time machine. They must be available somewhere on the internet.

* "The Red Lion" by Victoria Hutchings, 2013, pages 91 - 92.
** "The Red Lion" by Victoria Hutchings, 2013, page 91.

Monday 24 February 2014

St. Anne's Well Brewery in the 1920's

Funny the stuff you comae across when you're not looking for it. In this case, it's random stuff about the St. AAnne's Well brewery in Exeter.

You may remember that this brewery has come up before. Principally because, bizarrely, it was one of the earliest breweries to make Lager in Britain. Still not sure why a small westcountry brewery should have been so quick to get into Lager.

This account of a rate assessment appeal tells us something about the changes in the brewing industry brought about by WW I.


The appeal of the St. Anne's Well Brewery Co., Limited, against the assessment of their premises in Lower North-street, Exeter, was allowed at the Exeter City Quarter Sessions yesterday, before the Recorder, Mr. Percival Clarke.

Yesterday was the second day of the hearing, and the Recorder decided that the amount offered, £850, should have been accepted, and must be the figure to be placed the rate-book. But he pointed out that, although the Assessment Committee, representing the ratepayers, were technically the losers, they in fact had won, and he would only allow appellants' costs up to June 3 (the date of the offer of £850), the respondents to be allowed the costs after that date.

Mr. E. W. Wingate Saul. K.C., Mr. G. Dodson, and Mr. H. Lhind Pratt (instructed Messrs. Sparkes, Pope, and Thomas) were for appellants, and Mr. J. A. Hawke K.C., and Mr. G. D. Roberts (instructed Mr. F. Thomas) for the Exeter Assessment Committee, the respondents.

Continuing the case for the respondents, Mr. C. G. Eve, valuer, of London, said in valuing the site he consulted with Mr. Body (whom respondents called the previous day) and arrived the conclusion as he did — 2s. per foot. Apart from the site, his valuation was quite independent, his basis being the structural efficiency value. He reckoned the prewar values, and added a percentage for the present-day increase. The pre-war figure came to £13,000 for the whole of the buildings, including £300 for the well. Then he added one-fifth for the increase since the war, as rents had gone up about 20 per cent., and arrived at a total figure of £16,333 capital efficiency value, of the buildings.

He had jettisoned part of the buildings, as the old custom of storing beer was obsolete and the storing places had no rateable value. The present efficiency capital value of the plant and machinery placed at £7,439. He took off £128 for the site.

Cross-examined Mr. Saul, witness said the St. Anne's Well Brewery could turn out a little more than the Heavitree Brewery because it had more hot liquor capacity.

Do you know the number of men employed at Heavitree Brewery compared with the men at St. Anne's Well Brewery? —No.

Would not the number of hands had to employ be material factor in the minds of the hypothetical tenant?— Witness replied that it would be difficult to make a comparison between the number of employes at various breweries, because there were many different departments.

I suggest to you that if you thought it material it would be quite easy to obtain information solely in regard to the brewery and the bottling stores?— The task would be greater or less according to the three breweries in Exeter. Some breweries employ too many hands. They have employes who have worked for them for 50 yeans, and they don't like to get rid of them. Thty would keep an old man of 70 when young matn had nothing to do. I place the rateable value of the brewery at £1,160.

This concluded the case for the Assessment Committee.

Ivanhoe Alan Peiser, London, who had had extensive experience in the valuation of breweries for rating purposes, called by appellants, said in 1901 special buildings were erected at St. Anne's Well Brewery in order to deal with the heavy gravity beer trade. In 1902 the brewery, including these new buildings, was assessed at £650, but after 1902 the heavy gravity trade fell off completely, and the development of the new buildings never came about. Therefore the valuation of £650 was on the high side, they had property which they cou'd not use beneficially. Last year the output of the Heavitree Brewery was larger than that of St. Anne's Well by nearly 3,000 barrels.

The Recorder: Is that because it is capable of gieater output, or because they got more orders?

Witness: More orders would account for it, but Heavitree Brewery is capable of a larger output.

Witness continued that, Heavitree Brewery employed 13 men in the brewing of beer and placing in the carts. St. Anne's Well employed 16 men on the same work.

Mr. Dodson remarked that it was suggested that St. Anne's could run more cheaply than Heavitree because of its greater facilities. But those were the facts. St. Anne's also used more city water than Heavitree.

Witness further rated that the output required to satisfy the trade in the various breweries, and what, in fact, they were actually producing, was: —St. Anne's Well, 20,000 barrels per annum; Heavitree, 22,500; and City, 27,750. The rateable value per barrel on these bases was:- St. Anne's Well, 1s.; Heavitree, 7.5d.; and City, 6d. He valued the site at the same figure which Mr. Body placed upon the Heavitree site — 1s per foot. Hos estimate of the rateable value was £651.

Mr. Saul said his clients were not seeking in any way to avoid the fair their share of the poor rate of the city. But they did feel, as did the City and Heavitree Breweries, that the figures that had been imposed upon them Mr. Body when he made the 1923 valuation, was not a fair burden. In the two cases of the City and Heavitree Brewery, Mr. Body's valuation was proved to be far in excess of what was a right and proper figure at which to value the premises.

In 1902 the City Brewery was rated £329. Mr. Body thought it right increase that in 1923 to £1,070. On threat of an appeal to the Sessions, the Assessment Committee reduced that amount to £650. In the same way Mr. Body raised the Heavitree valuation from £400 to £780, ans eventually the Court decided that the figure to be inserted in the rate-book was £595. That was, therefore, the correct valuation of the Heavitree Brewery, and £650 was the correct valuation of the City Brewery.

The Assessment Committee were compelled bu law to see that people were rated fairly and equitably, and it was a ground of appeal by any ratepayer to show that somebody else was not rated fairly and equitably. It did not lie the mouth of Mr. Body to come there and say that in those cases the Assessment Committee lacked courage, and that they should disregard the settlements made by the body of which he was the principal representative because he found a difficulty in his way when it was pointed out to that his enormous figures had been substantially reduced by the Assessment Committee.

They could not decide the case comparison. They could not do what the Assessment Committee had done in that case, and say that there was a certain percentage increase in the City and Heavitree Breweries, and therefore they must have the same percentage of increase in the St. Anne's Well Brewery. The City assessment, it now stood, was practically double what it was in 1902. But they could not take the 1902 assessment and say that bceause the Heavitree and City Breweries had a substantial increase on their assessments since then they must also make a substantial increase in the St. Anne's Well, because they were not comparing like with like, in view of the additional buildings put up in 1901 and rendered practically useless after 1902.

It did not help the Court to talk about the dividends of the brewery companies being doubled or trebled. The dividends did not represent the profits made from the brewery, but from the sale of the beer after it had been sold in the tied houses. Furthermore, in the St. Anne's Well Brewery there was a wine and spirit business, which also affected the dividends.

Mr. Hawke said Mr. Peiser had omitted in his valuation buildings which, according to Mr. Body's valuation, had a total value of £1,427. This meant addition £71 on Mr. Peiser's estimated rateable value £651. He had also omitted machinery to the value £1,079.

Delivering judgment, the Recorder said that after going over the brewery it seemed to him to be as nearly a model brewery as it was possible to get. He could not draw real comparison between the opposing valuations put forward, because Mr. Peiser's was incomplete. It was within his power to find an assessment which was higher than £850 (the amount finaliy offered appellants by the Assessment Committee), but he was very reluctant to do it. He could not help feeling that the £850 offered should have been accepted, and he decided that that must be the figure to placed in the rate-book.

The question of which party had won the case arose on the question of costs, for when Mr. Hawke claimed the costs, Mr. Saul submitted that appellants, and not respondents, had won the case. The appeal had been launched because the most the Assessment Committee would reduce the rating to was £1,000. The case had not been fought on the fact that £850 was the proper amount. The figure they had fought about was £1,300 or a little under the valuations of Mr. Body and Mr. Eve. He had never heard of the successful appellant having to pay the costs of his opponents.

The Recorder said thai the Assessment Committee was representing the ratepayers, and the ratepayers should not be saddled with the costs, even their own costs, on a serious issue like that. Although technically they were losers, in fact they had won and he would allow appellants' costs to June (the date the offer of £850), and the respondents would allowed the costs after that date. The costs of the 11 cases withdrawn would be the respondents."
Western Morning News - Saturday 04 October 1924, page 3.
See - the buildings for ageing beer were obsolete because beer was no longer aged. The same was true of the parts of the premises dedicated to making high-gravity beers. Aged and higher-gravity beers had been losing popularity for decades before WW I, but the war was the final nil in their coffin.

Heavitree and the City Brewery were also in Exeter. Interesting that there were three breweries of such a similar size in the city. That must have led to intense competition. In the 1970's Nottingham, where most of the trade was in the hands of the three local breweries, had some of the lowest beer prices in the country.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Courage Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1924

We're still only at the letter "C" in our slow barrel roll through 1920's Burton Ale.

Courage was one of the breweries doing well in the 1920's. Decent profits gave them money for acquisitions. This was when the main object of takeovers wasn't to get hold of the brewing plant, but the pubs it served. The number of pubs a brewery owned was the main limiting factor on their sales. A huge proportion of beers sales - both for on and off consumption - was sold by pubs. With most licensed premises owned by breweries, they rarely came up far sale. At least not with a licence.

We've already seen how they had grabbed Camden Brewery, closing it and keeping their pubs. Once they'd digested that tasty morsel, they moved on to Farnham United Breweries, located in Surrey about 40 miles southwest of London.


CITY OFFICE of "The Yorkshire Post,"
1 and 2. Great Winchester Street,
London, E.C.2.
Monday Evening,
We understand that Courage and Co., the well-known London brewery undertaking, has made offer to purchase the shares of the Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.). the prices offered being 25s. for each £1 Six Per Cent. Preference Share and 45s. for each £1 Ordinary Share. Farnham United Breweries Shares have recently been advancing, especially the Ordinary, which at the end of last week were quoted about 38s., while the preference stood about 19s., so that the prices offered by Courage and Co. seem favourable to the Farnham Company's proprietors. Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.) have a share capital of £225,000, of which £100,00 is in Ordinary shares, and the balance in Six per Cent. Preference shares. The distribution to Ordinary holders has in recent years been rising, that for the twelve months ended September last being 10 per cent., or 2 per cent. more than for 1924-25. Courage and Co. are, of course, a much larger concern, with a share capital of £1,500,000, of which £1,100,000 is in Ordinary Shares. There has been a very substantial advance in profits year by year, the net figure for 1926 being £383,914, increase of £62,458 on that for the preceding twelve months. The Ordinary dividend for 1921 was 15 per cent., that for 1925 20 per cent. ; that for 1926 23 per cent. Courage Ordinary Shares stand in the market at just over £3 per share.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 12 April 1927, page 15.

Courage doesn't seem to have been quite as big as I thought. How do I know that? By looking at the profit figures of other breweries. Watney, for example, were making profits in excess of £1 million a year in the late 1920's, three or four times what Courage were making.  Judging by the dividends given, Courage were earning very well, so I think it's safe to say that their profits were quite large for their size. My inference is that Watney must have been selling at least 3 times as much beer as Courage.

Courage's Mild was pretty middling, finishing in eighth place. Let's see if their Burton can do any better.

Courage Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1924
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1012 1052.7 5.34 77.80% fairly bright fair 1
1922 KK 1013 1052.4 5.07 74.43% not bright fair old ale flavour 2
1922 KK 1012 1050.8 5.07 76.77% bright good 2
1922 KK 1013 1053.7 5.27 75.42% bright v good 3
1923 KK 1013 1052.1 5.14 75.82% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1052.8 5.20 75.76% bright good 2
1923 KK 1014 1052.8 5.07 73.86% hazy fair 1
1923 KK 1014 1052.6 5.07 74.14% grey going off -2
1923 KK 1011 1051 5.21 78.43% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1052.6 5.20 76.05% not quite bright thin -1
1924 KK 1011 1053.2 5.47 78.95% v hazy fair 1
1924 KK 1007 1052.7 5.92 85.96% bright good 2
Average  1012 1052.45 5.25 76.95% 1.25
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Spec-wise, this is very much middle of the road: low 1050's, around 75% attenuation, just over 5% ABV. You can see that there's very little to choose between London Burton Ales. It doesn't surprise me. If Whitbread and Truman were keeping a close eye on what their competitors were up to, I'm sure other large London brewers were doing the same.

Clarity is disappointing, with just half of the samples clear. But flavour - that's a different story. Ten positive scores is very good.  There's only one real bad example, the grey going off one. Funnily enough, that's the only one I know where it came from: the Princess of Wales in Deptford. The same source as one of the X Ale samples, though that scored a 1. Overall the standard is very high, with seven samples scoring a 2 or 3. Giving an average score of 1.25.

I reckon that's the score to beat. I'll definitely be giving Courage pubs a visit.

Saturday 22 February 2014

Charrington divorce verdict

We've come to the result in the messy divorce of the Charringtons. I must say that I'm a little surprised.

Unless some evidence wasn't reported, I can't see what they really had on Mr. Charrington.
Husband Found Guilty Of Cruelty

The hearing of the Charrington cross-petitions was concluded in the Divorce Court, London, yesterday, when the wife was granted a decree nisi, with costs. The hearing had lasted over a week.

Lord Merrivale heard the case which was one in which Ernest Charles Charrington, formerly a director of the Charrington Brewery Company, petitioned for the dissolution of his marriage with his wife, Mildred, because of her alleged misconduct with Lieutenant Richard John Harrison, the 23-year-old naval officer. Mrs Charrington, who is 43 years of age, alleged against her husband cruelty and misconduct, and cross-petitioned.

The President examined the defence at length, pointing out a matter to be noticed by the jury the evidence that from 1908 till the break in the home, all what ordinary English people regarded as married life progressively ceased to exist between Mr and Mrs Charrington. Was this against the wife's will, and, if why was it? His Lordship reminded the jury of the fact that, in spite of the troubled relations between the parties, Mr Charrington, in 1923, made a will in his wife's favour.

In June, 1924, when she went into her husband's room she was told "Yes, it is divorce. It is young Harrison."

Applause in Court.
Dealing with the cruelty charges, he said there were foreshadowings of it from 1903 onwards. It was said that he was generous and was just. The wife said that drank to excess and in such a way as to make life between them burden and a sorrow. Did the husband drink to excess? The jury had definitely to say whether by the reason of the husband's conduct her health was injured; whether he was so enslaved by drink that he ceased to be his own master, and was converted from a just, generous husband to a peril. On the part of the case concerning the adultery charge with young Harrison, he commended to the jury a consideration of the precise footing on which Mr Harrison was in the household, whether he was there as a lover of Eileen and enjoying the mother interest of Mrs Charrington, or whether at any time his footing changed into one of guilty intimacy with Mrs Charrington.

The jury found that Mrs Charnngton had not committed adultery with Lieutenant Harrison, and that Mr Charrington had committed adultery and had been guilty of of cruelty.

His Lordship granted to Mrs Charrington a decree nisi with costs.

When the President spoke Lieutenant Harrison leaving the Court without a stain on his character there was applause, which was sternly suppressed."
Dundee Courier - Friday 04 December 1925, page 5.
All there was agianst Mr. Charrington was the testimony of his housemaid about women coming and going late at night. Plus him turning cartwheels at a ball and having a woman sit on his lap. While on the other hand, Mrs. Charrington frequently openly kissed Harrison, was often locked up in her bedroom with him and even had him in her bed. The verdict makes no sense to me.

Except, the jury had probably taken a dislike to Mr. Charrington. He doesn't sound a very nice man. It's the only explanation I can come up with.

Friday 21 February 2014

Philadelphia Tuesday 11th March

Amazingly I've a whole free day on my tour. Though that's really only because my Philadelphia event at yards is a day later than I expected.

I'll be arriving in Philadelphia around midday and have nothing planned, other than drinking beer, eating food and getting to bed nice and early.

So if you're around Philadelphia and fancy meeting up for a beer or two, get in touch.

City of London Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

City of London Brewery, if you remember, was on the river right next to Cannon Street station.

It was a very central and potentially extremely lucrative site. Two acres of land in the City of London was worth a stack, even back then. That's why they'd moved brewing to the former Stansfeld & Co.'s brewery in Fulham in 1922. You can see that confirmed in the article below.

The former Stansfeld & Co Brewery in 1896

They at least seemed to be making a reasonable profit and were paying out a decent dividend.

"City of London Brewery Co., Ltd.
The annual general meeting was held in London, on the 2nd met., Alderman Sir G. Wyatt Truscott, Bart, (chairman), presiding.

The report stated that the net profits for 1922 were £168,814, and £34,374 was brought forward. A final dividend of 15 per cent. for the 12 months, adding £20,000 to the reserve (making that fund £275,000). and carrying forward £37,754.

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report, said that the directors had been faced with a continuance of many of the difficulties which existed in the previous year. Trade depression had increased and unemployment was still with them. The public were economising generally through lack of means. The handicap of high duties was still maintained and all helped in reducing the sales, but, in spite of that, he thought that the shareholders would consider that the directors had done well and were presenting them with what certainly, in these timed, was a most satisfactory result of the year's trading. The entire removal of the whole of the brewing operations to Fulham had been effected, and the work was now being carried on under the most modern conditions. The expenses of carrying on the business during the final months of transition had Wn considerable, but from now onwards they would have the benefit of conducting their operations under the new conditions, and they know from their own experience that that would effect very great saving.

With regard to general conditions, there had been nothing (lining the year of great moment. They always had the ghost of Prohibition among them, but it did not alarm him in the least. To his mind the very word was too suggestive of shackles on personal liberty to appeal to the English people. If everything liable to be used to excess was to be subject to Prohibition, they would arrive at an absurd situation. It would mean the confession that English people had no ability to exercise self-control. Let tho campaign for true temperance throughout the country be continued, and by temperance ho meant the use and not the abuse of the good things of life.

The public Press had given a great deal of attention to the brewing trade lately, and had supplied the public, he was sorry to say, with a great deal of incorrect information. That was troublesome and unfair. A great deal of nonsense was talked about the standard barrel. The Press had gone so far as to suggest that brewers were not sending out barrels of the proper standard and quality. It seemed to him that one ought to explain to the public what a standard barrel really meant. There was no one who knew more about the subject than Mr. Hill, whose own words on the matter he would give them, and Mr. Hill said :— From the brewers' point of view there is no such thing as a standard barrel of beer; it only exists us an Excise standard for the purpose of charging duty. Prior to 1880, duty was charged on malt and not upon beer, but as the brewing industry developed this was found to be a harassing method of levying duty, and Gladstone's Government then passed an Act, known as the 'Free Mash Tun Act,' under which the charge was transferred from malt to beer. Some equivalent had to be arrived at for Converting duty upon malt into a duty on beer. Inquiries showed that one quarter of malt, which was then the unit upon which duty was charged, produced four barrels of beer of a gravity of 57 degrees, and the duty was fixed at 6s. 9d. per barrel, which gave the Government slightly more revenue than was obtained from the old malt duty, and the increased duty was justified by Mr. Gladstone on the ground that the convenience given to the brewer by this change was worth paying something for. Obviously the standard gravity might have been fixed at 30 or 40 or any other figure, and the duty adjusted accordingly, but as a matter of fact the standards of 57 degrees for gravity and 6s. 9d. for duty were determined upon. Since 1914 the duty, as is common knowledge, has been increased so greatly that to day it is 100s. per standard Excise barrel, and the standard Excise gravity is now 55 degrees. There is no such thing as watering beer by brewers (as suggested in an evening newspaper lately). Beer is brewed and sent out for consumption at different gravities, strong or weak, as demanded by the consumer, and according to the price he wishes to pay. Some is weaker than the standard Excise gravity, and consequently pays less duty, and is sold for less money. Some, again, is very much stronger, pays a great deal more duty than 100s. per barrel, and is correspondingly dearer to the beer drinker."

Continuing, the chairman said he thought the shareholders would say that that was a very concise and clear explanation of the standard barrel, and he hoped that just illustrated the fallacy of believing everything that they read in the Press, for a great deal of what they did read might be pulled to pieces very satisfactorily, properly and correctly, if the facts were only known. Not only should the shareholders not believe all they read, hut they should not let their friends believe it either.

Sir Wm. K. Peake Mason, Bart., J.P. (deputy chairman), seconded the resolution, which was carried unanimously."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", pages 61 - 62.

It's odd, given the up-beat report and the enthusiasm about the new brewing site, that the company abandoned brewing in 1928*. Though the company still owned pubs as late as 1968 and was never wound up. Today it's an investment trust**.

I like the stuff about standard barrels. I can see how a thick journalist could get all confused about it and think brewers were sending out "substandard" beer. Myself, I've become very cynical about what's in newspapers

City of London Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1009 1056.7 6.30 85.01% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1008 1050.3 5.55 84.49% not bright poor -1
1922 KK 1008 1051.7 5.68 84.14% bright going off -2
1922 KK 1011 1050.2 5.07 77.69% bright good 2
1923 KK 1011 1050.9 5.14 77.60% not bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1049.5 5.01 77.78% not bright fair 1
1923 KK 1013 1052.1 5.14 75.82% hazy v fair 2
1923 KK 1011 1050.6 5.21 79.05% bright unpleasant flavour -3
1923 KK 1009 1052.2 5.68 83.33% fairly bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1050.9 5.14 77.60% not bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1011 1049.5 5.01 77.78% not bright fair 1
Average  1010 1051.33 5.36 80.03% 0.09
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

City of London didn't do very well with their Mild. In fact it came bottom of the league table with an average score of -1.25. Let's take a look at their Burton.

The gravity is pretty standard, but the attenuation is on the high side. The relatively low FG's means one is even over 6% ABV. I'll have a pint of that one, please.

The clarity is bollocks. Only three of eleven are bright. The flavour fares a little better, with five positive scores and only three negative ones. Giving an average of 0.09. About as small a positive score as you could get. Mostly not awful, but rarely better than OK. I'd take a punt in it, if I had to.

Next time it's Courage's turn. Will their Burton be able to better the 8th place of their Mild?

* "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 82.
** "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 81.