Supt. Willam Sargant had gone to the Clayton Arms and ordered a pint of beer. He really was that vague in his order, not specifically asking for Bitter, Mild or another type of beer. As he paid 2d for his pint, the chances are it was Ordinary Mild. After being served his pint, Sargant asked for a jug because he wanted to send it to the County Analyst.
The landlord not only gave him a jug, but also three bottles to put the beer into. Very cooperative, in fact. Which does imply that the landlord didn't think tyhat he anything to fear. One of the bottles was sent to the County Analyst, Mr. Wanklyn.
Wanklyn analysed the beer and calculated that the OG was 1044.8º. And concluded that the sample was three parts beer and one part water. He doesn't seem to have been very well acquainted with brewing, because he assumed that to be considered beer, something had to have an OG of at least 1060º. So he assumed that a beer of 1044.8º must have been watered down from 1060º.
How on earth could Wanklyn make such a crap assumption? Because he was basically using the same method as he did for detecting watered milk. As milk has a generally consistent makeup, checking the water content is a perfectly valid method. But with beer, which can be brewed at a variety of gravities, it's less than useless to assume that it must have started out at a minimum of 1060º.
Wanklyn was very confident in his assumption. He refused to call the sample beer and kept referring to it as "beer and water". He rather rashly claimed that beer was never brewed as weak as 1044.8º.
"Isn’t there more water in some kinds of beer than others? — Oh, a great deal. There are very strong beers and weaker beers ; but this is weaker than the weakest beer I ever met with."
Bucks Herald - Saturday 09 December 1882, page 7.
Now even I know, almost 150 years later, that he was talking bollocks. There were plenty of beers being brewed at gravities below 1050º. As this table shows.
|Beers with an OG below 1050º 1878 - 1885|
|Year||Brewer||Beer||Style||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||lbs hops/ qtr||hops lb/brl|
|1879||Younger, Wm.||T||Table Beer||1030||1005||3.31||83.33%||6.67||0.89|
|1879||Younger, Wm.||S 50/-||Ale||1042||1012||3.97||71.43%||2.94||0.55|
|1879||Younger, Wm.||H 60/-||Ale||1039||1010||3.84||74.36%||2.94||0.51|
|1879||Younger, Wm.||H 60/-||Ale||1040||1004||4.76||90.00%||6.25||1.06|
|1879||Younger, Wm.||S3||Stout||1032||1011||2.78||65.63%||all spent hops|
|1885||Thomas Usher||60/- B||Ale||1041.5||1015||3.51||63.86%||5.00||0.92|
|1885||Thomas Usher||40/- B||Ale||1030||1011||2.51||63.33%||5.00||0.66|
|1884||Mew Langton||FA||Pale Ale||1049.9||1005.5||5.86||88.89%||10.00||2.09|
|Adnams brewing record held at the brewery.|
|Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/048.|
|Chapman brewing record held at the Oxfordshire Records Office, document number 833/A10/2.|
|Tetley brewing record held at the West Yorkshire Archives, document number WYL756/25/ACC1903.|
|William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/28.|
|Thomas Usher brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number TU/6/1/1.|
|Brewing record held at the Isle of Wight Record Office, document number ML/44/1.|
I went for below 1050º as there are just way too many beers with gravities below 1060º.
The defence had a very simple way of proving the beer hadn't been watered: they got the George Brakspear, who brewed the beer and the excise man who had checked the gravity to testify. They confirmed that the beer had been brewed at 1046º. Near enough the gravity calculated by Wanklyn.
To finally put the boot in they got a more prestigious analyst, Edmund Southby, to testify. He declared that Wanklyn's "standard" was totally arbitrary and not used by anyone other than Wanklyn himself. At which point the case was dismissed.