Sunday 25 February 2024

Young’s Saxon lager

I could have already guessed that Young's Saxon was a pseudo-Lager. That type of regional brewery just didn't have the equipment for things like decoction and cold fermentation. But chairman John Young hit back at those who complained it wasn't a real Lager.

Given his commitment to cask beer, it's rather odd to hear him extolling the qualities of their Lager.Because, I'm pretty sure, behind the scenes he wasn't that keen on it. Regarding it as an evil necessity rather than the future of the brewery. Which time has shown it wasn't.

Young’s start major drive for their Saxon lager
In readiness for (he expected summer lager boom. Young & Co.’s Brewery Ltd. of Wandsworth, are starting a major sales push for their Saxon Lager, which was introduced last year.

Previously sold in bottles only, the brew was recently launched in cans and, as equipment is installed, it will also be sold on draught in Young's 136 pubs and through free trade outlets.

Mr. Geoffrey Hicks, sales manager of of Foster-Probyn Ltd., Young’s subsidiary, has gathered together a special sales force to concentrate solely on the lager's sales to the free trade. The sales drive will be backed by point-of-sale and poster advertising and poster advertising.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Hicks said: “Our results last year were most impressive, exceeding our most optimistic forecasts for Saxon, and now we are going all-out to take advantage of the swing to lager drinking with what we feel is a very fine product with a distinctive flavour, stemming from the specially-imported hops and Young’s brewing expertise.

“And for the trade, as with all Young's beers, we have the advantage of being able to offer extremely competitive prices backed by a first-class delivery service.”

Mr. John Young, the company's chairman, had a word to say on the nature of lager itself. He believed that it was not necessarily the bottom fermentation process that made the beer a lager. It was, he claimed. The length of time the drink was stored in cold conditioning tanks after brewing that made a lager what it was. After all, the word lager was derived from the German word for storage. 

Although Saxon is not brewed by the bottom fermentation process it has a long storage time and this prompted Mr. Young to defend the beer against those who had criticised his right to call Saxon a lager: “Saxon is stored for ten weeks before being ready for sale - a much longer period than most of our rivals store their lager beers.”
Brewers' Guardian, Volume 99, June 1970, page 34.

John Young does have a point. There are German beers described as "obergäriges Lagerbier": top-fermenting Lager. It's a term used for beers such as Kölsch and Alt which are top-fermented then lagered at a near-freezing temperature. Which sounds very similar to what was happening with Saxon. I'm sure Mr. Young is correct when he said most rival UK Lagers weren't lagered for ten weeks. Many probably barely had time to rest in the lagering cellar.



Anonymous said...

It's interesting to me there's no attempt to put the claim to a taste test, or ask any drinkers what they thought.It shows where the writer's perspective is, but I get the sense that the viewpoint of drinkers was very often an afterthought.

Rob Sterowski said...

The number of British drinkers in 1970 who had any idea what an authentic lager ought to taste like could have been counted on the fingers of one hand.

I am not sure about the Obergäriges Lagerbier term. Yes, Schönfeld uses it but I have never seen it in the wild or in a modern text.

In older texts it is certainly true that Lagerbier does not necessarily always mean bottom-fermenting.

Anonymous said...

And half a century later it's probably two hands Rob