Sunday, 9 August 2020

A. E. Keyes

Robbie (@robsterowski) asked me and Martyn Cornell this question recently: "You both subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive, right? Worth the money?"

We both replied: "Yes."

And here's an example of why. I make regular sweeps through the archive. This week's search term has been "pale mild". As you might have noticed from an earlier post. A lot of what it's thrown up hasn't been "pale mild" as a phrase, but things like this:


Not exactly what I was after. But I took a look at some anyway, hoping that they'll lead me to a price list. Something which I collect. Sure enough, this one did. A rather nice example of one.

 Maidenhead Advertiser - Wednesday 17 December 1890 page 3.

Keyes wasn't a brewery I had heard of, so I did what I always do: I looked it up in "A Century of British Brewers plus plus". A document any serious historian of UK brewing should own. To my amazement, I couldn't find it in the index. Nor under Maidstone in Kent the section. Bum.

Next step was to search on the internet looking for "A.E. Keyes brewery". Which spat out a result in
"Old Maidstone's Public Houses From Old Photographs" by Irene Hales:

"About the year 1820, the Upper Brewery was bought out by the Lower Brewery, the buildings were demolished and the land was sold.

In 1891 the ownership of the brewery was vested in a limited liability company of which the directors were Major Isherwood, Major Foster and Captain Edward Stacey with Mr A. E. Keyes as managing director. The company maintained approximately 100 public houses in Kent, several of which were in Maidstone."

Sure enough, there was an entry under Isherwood, Foster & Stacey Ltd. in "A Century of British Brewers plus plus". The brewery most only have been called A.E. Keyes very briefly. Before selling out to Messrs. Isherwood, Foster and Stacey, while staying on as managing director. When the brewery was sold to local rivals Fremlin in 1929, it owned 151 pubs.

Where am I going with this? No idea, really. I've wandered off track a bit. I remember. The beers in their range.

There are only two Milds, XX and XXX, but five Pale Ales: K, AK, KK, PA and IPA. Which is rather a lot. K is particularly weak for a 19th-century Pale Ale. 36 shillings per barrel was usually the lowest price for a Pale Ale and K is just 30 shillings.

These are my guesses for the OGs of the Pale Ales:

Beer OG
K Light Dinner Ale 1040
AK Family Tonic Ale 1045
KK Superior 1050
PA Strong 1055
IPA India Pale Ale 1065

Note that the IPA was the same price as XXX Old Ale and Imperial Stout. Beers which would have had gravities in the 1090-1100º range. Showing how expensive IPA still was for its strength.

A good example of how multiple sources can help you get a fuller picture of the past. It's the type of thing I do every day. And the Newspaper Archive is a big part of it.

1 comment:

Barm said...

OK, sold.

It’s not so much that I doubt the usefulness of the BNA, more that other sources already generate more material than I have time to do anything with.