Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Graham’s Golden Lager

Graham’s Golden Lager, which appeared in 1927 , was one of the first big British Lager brands. The tale of how it came to be brewed in Scotland is an odd one, with John Calder, one of the greats of Scottish brewing, playing a central role.

The story begins at the end of the 19th century in Burton, of all places, with Allsopp’s Lager brewery. It opened in 1899, just as Allsopp was starting to get into serious financial difficulties. They did have a degree of success with their Lager, especially in export markets, but their Pale Ale trade collapsed. Between 1900 and 1910 Allsopp's sales fell by 40% . By 1911 a receiver had been appointed to run the business .

In 1912, John Calder of Calder's Brewery in Alloa was brought in to run Allsopp. This forged a link between Allsopp and Alloa that was to play a key role in the later formation of Allied Breweries. It also brought Lager brewing to Alloa, for in 1921 Allsopp's Lager plant, which had lain idle in Burton, was moved to Arrol's Brewery, where John Calder was also a director . In 1927 a new beer was brewed in Arrol's Lager brewery - Graham's Golden Lager .

It was a big success. As Arrol's were brewing all their Lagers, it's no surprise that Allsopp's took a controlling interest in the company in 1930, even before their 1934 merger with Ind Coope . Arrol's was completely bought out in 1951  and the brewery converted to a Lager-only plant.

In common with other Lagers in the interwar period, Graham’s was above average strength. Npt by a huge amount, but a little.

In 1959, Graham's Golden Lager was rebranded as Skol, though for a while it had the ungainly name of Graham's Skol Lager . It became the main Lager of Ind Coope and later the whole Allied Breweries group.

Graham's Golden Lager 1933 - 1952
Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1933 1044.5 1010.5 4.42 76.40%
1939 1045.2 1008.6 4.77 80.97% 8.5
1950 1040.6 1010.6 3.89 73.89% 9
1952 1039.2 1014.3 3.22 63.52% 15
.Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Like this? Then you'll love the book it comes from, Lager! (UK):


Andreas Krennmair said...

Do you happen to know more about the Skol brand? I remember it being a brand Schwechater used to have in Austria (and I think Michael Jackson has ranted somewhere about an Austrian brewery using a British brand that alludes to Scandinavia), but I also remember it as one of the big brands (besides Brahma) in the few days I spent in Brazil.

qq said...

AIUI it was conceived as a truly global lager brand being brewed in different countries, a bit like Whitbread brands on a global scale. It had a bit of a moment in the UK, but then disappeared down the cost-cutting death spiral, but as you say it really took off in Brazil and was a big part of the Brazilian bit of what became ABInBev.

Hmm - according to Wikipedia, Skol originally started in 1958 as Graham's Continental, a derivative of Golden but different, which then became Graham's Skol. Then in 1964 Allied (UK), Labatt (Canada), Pripps-Bryggerierna (Sweden), and Unibra (Belgium) created Skol International, which is what I was thinking of. Usual Wiki disclaimer applies...

Barm said...

Skol was conceived as an international brand before today’s global brands came into existence, hence the globe that appeared on the cans in certain times. The idea was that it would be brewed locally by each partner brewery. Martyn Cornell has a brief history of it: http://zythophile.co.uk/2012/05/11/how-brazils-favourite-beer-arrived-from-scotland/

Ron Pattinson said...

Hi Andreas,

not much. Just it was brewed in several different countries. Like Harp, it seems to have brewed by a conglomeration of breweries.