Monday, 20 February 2017

Porter fraud

Search the newspaper archive for Bass and what you'll mostly find are reports of court cases. Trademark cases against brewers and third parties passing off another beer as Bass Pale Ale.

Given the number of cases, people using their brand fraudulently must have been a big headache for Bass. But it seems they weren't the only ones to suffer brand fraud. Barclay Perkins, the fame of whose Porter spanned the world, were victims, too.

The name of Barclay, Perkins, & Co. having been affixed without their permission to Bottles containing ALE AND PORTER brewed by other parties:—

will be paid to any person giving such information as will lead to the conviction of the offender or offenders. By order,
JOHN TYRER, Sole Agent,
46, Hanover-street, Liverpool.
Dec. 3lst. 1853."
Liverpool Mail - Saturday 13 May 1854, page 1.
The very next advert explains exactly what John Tyrer did: he was an export bottler.

JOHN TYRER, SOLE AGENT for BARCLAY, PERKINS, and Co, begs to call the attention of Merchants and Shippers of Export Ale and Porter, to his Export Bottling Depot, Hanover-street. and Heywood’s Yard, where orders to any amount for BARCLAY, PERKINS & CO.’S LONDON PORTER; EAST INDIA PALE ALE, properly matured for long voyages, also BASS & CO.’S, and other EAST INDIA BURTON ALES, of the First Brands, can now be executed on the shortest possible notice.

Devoting himself to this branch of the trade, the most particular care will be exercised in putting up Ale and Porter. And it is well known that BARCLAY PERKINS & CO.’S name has been extensively attached to bottles containing spurious Porter, John Tyrer has determined, in order to prevent such frauds for the future, and for the purpose of affording to Shippers the best guarantee that they are supplied with the genuine article, to adopt Betts's Patent Capsule Covering on the Cork, and discontinue the use of tin foil altogether. Capsules, with his Name and Address stamped thereon, will be fixed over each bottle, and by this means Consignees abroad will have full for detecting the frauds practised, there, by filling the English labelled bottles with foreign beer, and passing them off for English brands.

Sole Agent for
Barclay, Perkins & Co.

The want of such an establishment has been long felt, and the arrangements now entered into will enable John Tyrer to compete with any of the London Houses, either in quality, packing, or PRICE.
46, Hanover-street, Liverpool, April 13, 1854."
Liverpool Mail - Saturday 13 May 1854, page 1.
I was asked a couple of weeks ago when beer was first exported already bottled. A quick investigation unearthed evidence from the 1840's. I suspect the real date is a good bit earlier that that. The usual way of packing bottles for shipping was in barrels padded with straw. It's often forgotten that there were two types of barrel. "Wet" barrels which contained liquids and "dry" barrels that contained solid goods.

I'd best explain what "by filling the English labelled bottles with foreign beer" means. Returned bottles which had contained genuine Bass were refilled with another beer. For this reason Bass recommended customers deface the label before returning the bottle to make refilling impossible.

More than 50 years later, Barclay Perkins were still struggling with fraud:

When buying LONDON STOUT, ask for BARCLAY, PERKINS’, and INSIST upon seeing their Name on the Label, as other Stouts are being sold with Labels similar in Colour and Appearance, which deceive the eye. BARCLAY PERKINS’ LONDON STOUTS are the BEST, and have stood the Test for more than 200 Years."
Fifeshire Advertiser - Saturday 05 February 1910, page 4.
The bastards, deliberately designing their labels to look like those of Barclay Perkins

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