Monday, 30 September 2013

Bottling at Eldridge Pope in 1934 - the bottler and pasteuriser

Jumping around these two texts about bottling has started getting me confused. I had to check where I'd got to before sitting down to write this*.

We've arrived at the most thrilling part of the tale - where the beer finally gets put into bottles. And so quickly, too. It seems like only a month or two since we started savouring this text.

"Bottling the Beer
There are two units at present installed, but, as Mr. Pope said, if their bottled beer trade increases at the present rate considerable additions will have to be made. The bottling units each consist of a "Dawson" washer with a capacity of 400 dozen pints per hour, a 24-head "Pontifex" filler, an "Adriance" crowner, and an "Ermold" labeller. the "H.A." pasteuriser being fed from either.

At each point of vantage there is a "Benjamin  reflector lamp focussing exactly on the spot most suitable for the operator. The absence of noise while both the units were in full swing was a very noticeable point. It was learnt that all the exhaust ports on the filler had been fitted with silencers and the crowner had also been softened down. The theory here was, less noise more output, and in practice it has completely proved itself.

If the beer is not to be pasteurised, four butterfly shaped sprayers are fitted over the bottle conveyor leading from the filler to the labeller, just washing off the external film of beer which might have been picked up in transit."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 9 - 10.

I wonder why they gavce the capacity of the bottle washer but not the filler? Bit frustrating, that. One thing I have learned: Eldridge Pope used both crown corks and screw-tops to seal their bottles. Exciting or what? I've also learned that not all of their beer was pasteurised. I think I know which beer skipped pasteurisation, but we'll come to that in a later post. Best not get ahead of ourselves.

I'd never realised what a dangerous job being the stopper-tightener was:

"The operator simply pushes the top handle downwards, which tightens the screw stopper after it has been inserted by hand. One device has been incorporated by the company, and this is the leather guard just below the operator's right and left wrists. The stopper tightener was found to be a most dangerous "toy" without it, because if a bottle should split it entered the operator's wrist."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, page 12.

No-one - the morbidly suicidal excepted - wants their wrists slitting. You can see the leather guard in the illistration.

Now let's take a look at the pasteuriser:

"The Pasteuriser
This machine is on the upper floor, and one was glad to ascend from the arctic atmosphere in the cold room to the more genial temperature generated in this room. This pasteuriser is the product of a practical engineer, Mr. Austin, combined with the practical brewing and bottling experience of Mr. Hipwell, the head brewer of a Midland brewery. It is scientific in principle and simple in design. It uses practically no liquor and very little steam, and is driven by a 0.5 h.p. motor. The breakage claimed is under 0.2 per cent., and this figure was vouched for by Mr. Pope.

The system is simple; the beers are loaded and off-loaded from the slung baskets and these travel through warm water of about 75° F., passing along the bottom at a gradually ascending slope at 105º F. This slope is heated by lower steam coils, so that the bottles pass through a succession of rising temperatures until the culminating temperature is reached of about 140º F. These temperatures never vary, being thermostatically controlled. The bottles travel about 8 in. per minute.

A noteworthy feature of this machine is the silent way in which it works; nothing could be heard except the whirr of the motor. The top of the tank was lagged with bolsters, tightly packed with wood shavings, and the remarkable efficiency of this lagging was clearly demonstrated by the heat felt on one side of the bolster and the ordinary air temperature on the other."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, page 12.

140º F. seems a bit of a low temperature. There are bacteria - and even yeast - that can survive that level of heat. Look at those kids unloading the pasteuriser - how old are they? Some don't look more than 10.

This next bit had me scratching my head. I know breweries often had more than one bottling store, for the pretty obvious reason that beer was much cheaper to move around in bulk than in bottles. But I thought that, despite being one of the larger breweries in the West Country, Eldridge Pope were very regional. (Their regionality was one reason the artist thought he could get awaty with selling the same hunstman logo to them and Tetley.) Obviously not quite as regional as I thought.

"The Bulk Delivery Tank
The last illustration shows one of the aluminium bulk delivery tanks. This has a capacity of 25 barrels and weighs 6 tons when full. The tank has two compartments — one of 10 barrels and the other 15 barrels. This tank is filled from a main in the wall of the store and is used for delivery of the beer to another bottling store in Southampton. It is lifted on to the lorry by the crane which can be seen overhead, and although it carries 9 in. of cork lagging on the sides and 6 in. on the base, great care is taken that the beer shall arrive in perfect condition, for it travels in the cool of the day, leaving at 6.30 a.m. on its journey of only 50 miles."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 10 and 12.

I guess Eldridge Pope must have done some business in the Southampton area.

We're very nearly done. Just one more post and then we can all brethe freely again.

* I do genuinely always write sitting down. I experimented doing it standing up once. Not for me, I quickly realised. I like my arse comfortably parked before getting all literary.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Pot of Beer

Funny the things you find by mistake. I was looking for the books I own about bottling beer. What I found was this rather odd little piece about a French artist and his love of British bottled beer.

Paul Gavarni is described by Wikipedia as a caricaturist, which sounds distinctly less posh than "artist". On the other hand, he was the illustrator of Balzac's novels, which must have been a reasonably prestigious job. He visited Britain in 1849 and died in 1866.

"A late number of the Pall Mall Gazette contains an interesting notice of the French artist Gavarni, the biography of the brother De Goncourt "suggesting," but not "furnishing, the materials" for the article. It is curious enough that he was first privately known as an admirable designer of fashion plates. An engineer by profession, he "seems to have forsaken his original calling at the earliest opportunity, merely for the sake of drawing gentlemen and ladies in irreproachable attire." He always kept up his mathematical studies, and ended by putting aside art "to occupy himself with a sort of transcendental engineering." "For some years before his death, almost the only designs he made were in connection with flying machines and aerial navigation generally." In politics, he was of the school of Mr. Fitzjames Stephen. You could judge of the men, he said, by the mere phraseology of their political cries. What, for instance, was the meaning of "Droit an travail" (what Judge Bradley in the New Orleans butchers' case calls the "sacred right to labor")? Would it, be said, be a particle more ridiculous to talk of the right to breed rabbits, which no one had ever contested? His personal sympathies were with the Orleans family. Gavarni's object in going to England was to make a number of drawings illustrative of English society and of English life. This work proving a failure, he returned, alter a trip to Scotland, to London, where he took rooms, resolved to study the national character thoroughly. His life there seems to have been as original as from his sketches one would suppose everything about Gavarni to have been. It was his practice to sally out of his rooms in Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, in the evening, or, whenever he felt inclined to be idle, walk across the Square in dressing-gown and slippers, enter a tavern called the Barley Mow, and sit there smoking cigarettes, drinking bottled ales, "coupé avec de l'eau" — in other words, diluted with water— ruminating or conversing, as the case might be. "British bottled ale was at that time almost as strange to Frenchmen as cigarettes were to Englishmen, Gavarni entertained a high opinion of it, especially of the Scotch variety; and, perhaps from having met with it in Paris only at such places as Tortoni's and the Café Anglais, fancied that it was a particularly fashionable beverage."

— He grew so foud of bottled ale that an idea occurred to him. which the writer of the notice cites as an illustration of the difliculties in the way of his getting completely to the bottom of England and Englishmen. It was that of producing a work illustrative of English life in every class, and in every place, town as well as country, to be called 'A Pot of Beer.' Hop-picking, the interior of a large brewery, a village public-house, with laborers and artisans drinking porter, and finally a banquet, with gentlemen and ladies drinking ale, were among the scenes he proposed to represent. It was pointed out to him that ale was not the characteristic drink of people of fashion, nor porter the drink of our working-classes alone; and, moreover, that the title 'A Pot of Beer' would be thought vulgar. On this he abandoned his hastily considered project. One curious thing is mentioned about Balzac, which we have never seen noticed before. Gavarni had a great admiration for Balzac, but he declared that in private conversation he was "stupid," repeating, in answer to a request for an explanation of so surprising a statement, that he was "simplement bête." He added that Balzac found it very difficult to set to work, and that he would cover his paper with numbers of little words and phrases, which he scribbled in all sorts of ways, before he began; though, once having got his faculties into play, it is known that he would continue writing lor prodigious and almost alarming periods."
"The Nation, volume XV, July to December 1872", 1872, page 162.

What a weird and strangelesss pointless fact to learn, that Gavarni was fond of Scotch Ale. I can't imagine any occasion where that knowledge might be useful. Unless I start reading in French again. I have been wondering for the last 40 years what happened to De Rastignac, so that isn't as unlikely as it sounds.

Was Scotch Ale fashionable? I believe it was a posh, expensive drink in some parts of the world. But was that true in Britain? Judging from the way I've seen it advertised, Scotch Ale was seen as classy south of the border. At least the strong varieties.

Gentlemen and ladies drinking Ale in the 1840's doesn't sound right to me. A gentleman, had he spent time in India, might have indulged in a glass or two of Pale Ale, but a lady? I think not.

I can't find any of the drawings he made in Britain, unfortunately. One of artisans drinking Porter would have illustrated this post a treat.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

It started with a beer

Like so many of my best tales. But with a book, too. I'm not a total pisshead philistine. Love of beer and literature. That's how it all started. A book and a beer changed my life.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We need to start at the beginning, when a putative programmer arrives in London. It's January 1983.

I hated London. Hated it the way only someone aspiring to be a Northener can. With a blissful bias and a will to lose. And because there was no Mild. (Something very important to me, at the time. I can remember travelling halfway across London to a Thwaites pub that had Best Mild.)

I wasn't even a real Northener. Not accent-wise. My voice was rooted in the unrecognised tones of the East Midlands. Britain's least known region. Can you spot an East Midlands accent*?  Thought not. No-one I ever met could. Perhaps mine was too slight.

I was having so much fun in London, learning Czech seemed the perfect entertainment. If you have any idea of the complexity of Czech grammar, you'll understand the depth of my desperation. A proper mental challenge, to keep the gears of thought oiled after hours of idling at work.

There was a reason other than mental stimulation. One tied to my lifelong passion: beer.

Michael Jakson started it off. In his World Guide to Beer. With its romantic pictures of Prague pubs and loving descriptions of Czechoslovakia's classic beers. Budvar, Urquell, Krusovice. I wanted to be there, taste those beers, inhabit the world the text and images had animated in my mind. Then Henry went.

Henry was in my class at Magnus Grammar School. "The only thing they taught me was French grammar." is what I usually say. I'm doing the school an injustice. They impressed ancient Greek and Latin grammar on me, too. All knowledge that would be invaluable in later life. Not really. I didn't even believe that at the time. I just enjoyed learning difficult languages, for whatever stupid reason. (Who can satisfactorily describe the reasoning behind their pleasure? I can't).

Henry and his girlfriend Sandra worked at an American airbase close to Nuremberg. Prague was just a train ride away. So they went, obviously. Well, obvious if you know that Henry is almost as fond of his beer as me. And almost as nerdily enthusiastic.

"No-one speaks English. You can get by with German most of the time. But a bit of Czech for ordering shit is handy."

Said the man who'd chosen German rather than Latin at school.

Right after I queued up for my Czech visa, I bought a copy of Teach Yourself Czech. Jedno pivo. Was that in there? The most important phrase in the whole language? Though if you're a polite bastard like what I am, you'd probably thow in a "prosim" at the end.

I already knew the Czech word for beer, even before investing in the book. It had stuck because it so resembled the Newark word for booze: peev. (Not sure that's how you spell it. As a dialect word it has no official written form.)

After a few weeks' preparation, I boarded the train which, along with a ferry and a couple of other trains, would take me to Prague.

It's odd how some things stick in your memory, like jellyfish coated in superglue. That stay with you across the years. Mundane, stupid images of absolutely no significance.

I can visualise the final approach to Praha Hlavni Nadrazi that day. The train rolls past a block of flats and a woman hangs something red on a clothes line. "Welcome to socialism," I think. Why has that moment stayed with me?

More surprising given how tired I was. The train from Nuremberg was overnight and crossed the border at some crazy time. Then remained in a fenced-off no-man's land while Czech border guards spent an hour or three rumbling through the carriages checking everyone's documents. No way to sleep happily through that.

Michael Jackson had armed me with one very useful fact. The opening time of U Fleku. (That's what my faulty memory told me. Until I just checked the book. It doesn't mention the opening time. I must have got it from Henry. Not quite so good for the flow of the story and it themes, so feel free to ignore the truth and live a happy fantasy.) A very socialist 8:30 AM. The stupidly early hour of the trains arrival, meant I could check into my hotel and still be there almost to see the doors open.

I'll leave you this time with that first beer. Those first greedy gulps of U Fleku's wonderful beer. Being so early, it was almost deserted. Just me and that ruddily dark liquid. A moment to treasure. And one that, this time perfectly expicably, has stayed with me.

But I still haven't got to the beer that started it all. Maybe next time . . . .

* Gary Lineker is the only famous person I can think of with a recognisably East Midlands accent.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Bottling in 1914 - refrigeration and bottling machines

We stumble ever onwards towards the discussion at the end of Arthur Hadley's paper on bottling. I hope you've been finding it as informative as I have. As soon as I get my brewery up and running I'll be installing a state-of-the-art Edwardian bottling line. Complete with bottles closed by internal screw-thread stoppers. Though, as you'll soon learn, those bottles could be killers.

Now I think about it, I'm sure that I own two books about bottling. I really should dig them out. One's from about the same period as this one, I believe, and the other from the 1950's. They should allow me to extend this series for another half year or so.

Unsurprisingly, a refrigeration plant was needed to produce chilled and carboanted bottled beer.

"Refrigerating Plant.
Ice making and refrigerating machines installed for this purpose generally consist of a pump wherein ammonia or carbonic acid gas is compressed—passing through a coil of steel tubing which is either immersed in water or has water sprinkled over it to cool the gas. After this the gas is expanded in a further coil or battery of tubes, the chilling process is efleeted by the expansion of the gas, the expanded gas again passing to the suction side of the pump. The process of compressing, cooling, and expanding of the gas is continuous. The majority of the larger plants fitted in this country and on the Continent are on the ammonia system, in which the gas is compressed at a much lower pressure than with the carbonic acid gas system. Rather less power is required to drive the plant and less water for condensing or cooling purposes will suffice.

For smaller plants, carbonic acid is frequently used instead of ammonia, the principal advantage being that the machine is slightly smaller and more compact than an ammonia compressor of equal capacity; in addition to which, should an escape or leakage occur,
carbonic acid is not so troublesome or offensive as ammonia."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, pages 509 - 510.

Ammonia is slightly more than "troublesome". It's a nasty, poisonous gas than could kill you, should you breathe in too much. Which is the main reason they stopped using it in domestic refrigerators.

You may be surprised to hear that larger British breweries installed refrigerating machinery in the late 19th century. Barnard mentions them in several of his brewery descriptions. It's easy to see why continental Lager breweries would want artificial cooling, but British top-fermenting breweries?  Yes, there were a couple of places cooling was handy there. For example, to help quickly cool the wort after boiling. Or to cool the water run through attemperators. Brine, I should say rather than water. Brine was used because it could be cooled to a lower temperature without freezing. And, of course, you needed somewhere really cold to store your hops. Which meant some breweries already had cooling machinery before they started making bottled beers.

Now we come to the bottling machines themselves:

"Bottling Machines.
In the matter of bottle fillers the brewer will find English makes both cheaper and in many instances more efficient—at all events for
his particular requirements.

The newest designs of rotary filler admit of very little improvement. The beer pan is made of special gunmetal, carefully and smoothly tinned to ensure cleanliness. The cast-iron plate wheel is sheathed with thick copper and all nuts and bolts are made of gunmetal turned out of the solid bar. Between each bottle is placed a copper guard, and, in addition, copper detachable guards are placed around the machine.

Any spilt beer which comes in contact with copper or gunmetal therefore, is not wasted. The machine is perfectly automatic in its action, and this is probably its most valuable and attractive feature. The automatic valve will not fill any too defective bottle, and shuts off in case a bottle bursts. The valve is actuated by a diaphragm, and as soon as a perfect counter-pressure has been formed in the bottle, the valve opens to allow the beer to flow."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 510.

I think you'll find that there was plenty of room for improvement in bottling machines. Technology never stands still. You can see that recurring obsession of British brewers: not wasting a drop of beer. Blame the 1880 Free Mash Tun Act. Not only did it force the payment of tax on beer before it had even fermented, it also assumed 6% wastage between the amount put into the fermenters and that sold. This meant if you lost less that 6% during production, you'd got some beer tax-free. That's why British brewers so obsessed over lost beer.

This is a surprise: recommending that some stick with hand bottling:

"We may now deal with the question of power. It is not considered advisable to adopt power-driven fillers for small plants bottling, say, less than 20 barrels a day. A well-made hand machine of the straight pattern and fitted with six filling heads will suffice for small stores. In bottleries where a larger output is demanded, rotary power-driven fillers are necessary, since it is only by this means that the requisite speed can be maintained and the cost of labour and production reduced to its minimum.
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 510.

Advertising - you just can't trust it, can you?

"Various speeds and outputs — flowery, and usually very much exaggerated — are to be found in advertisements and circulars recommending the many machines on the market, and during the last five. years I have seen no less than four varieties of filler scrapped in the brewery in which I am interested, and this for various reasons, the main one being inefficient output and cost of upkeep, for there is the great item of repairs and renewals of wearing parts to be considered in all filling machines, and also the time such machine is to be out of action whilst some trifling repair is being conducted.

I think any machine, or rather filling machine, costing more than 2 per cent, per annum for renewals is a menace to the brewer. Speeds of these up-to-date fillers are always three — one for half-pints, one for pints, and one for flagons — but the speed of a machine is the speed of the boys or girls working it, taken, not on five minutes' working, but the amount turned out daily or weekly, and a speed of 120 dozen per hour half-pints, 100 dozen pints, or 80 dozen flagons, is, I find, as much as can be expected from any ordinary human being. To accomplish this one boy (or girl) must put on and take off — either putting the stopper loosely in the bottle or handing to the corking or crowning machine — another boy (or girl) screwing tight, dipping the bottle into a tank of water, and placing in the case, and a third boy (or girl) removing the case either to the labelling machine or into position for hand labelling, i.e., three hands to each machine, or, where the labelling machine is part of the unit, the bottle will be labelled and then placed in the case, the case proceeding by means of gravity conveyers either to store or straight out to the drays, as found desirable."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, pages 510 - 511.

That's an important point about the cost and trouble of maintenance being as vital as the supposed speed of a machine. Buying expensive bits of kit like a bottling machine more often than absolutely necessary is just a waste of money.

You can see that bottling was by no means a fully automatic process. Three girls or boys were needed for each machine. The speeds quoted aren't all that fast. They equate to 90 gallons an hour for half pints, 150 gallons for pints and 240 gallons for flagons. Or, in terms of barrels per 8-hour day, 20, 33.33 and 53.33 respectively. Maybe that's why Hartley recommended a manual machine for those bottling fewer than 20 barrels a day - 20 barrels was about the minimum daily capacity of one automatic bottling machine.

And here they are trying to claim back every last drop of beer again:

"I have found it an economical method to have a copper-lined table alongside each filling machine (one end of which holds the stoppers), and, at the end on which the full bottles pitch, a small piece of thick felt to take off the shock and save the wear on the copper—such table being fitted with a draining pipe, and under each table an enamelled housemaid's bucket. Any bottles becoming cracked, or the necks of which are split, etc., are emptied on the table, and it is surprising the number of buckets of beer taken from each unit to the pumping tank to be re-filtered, etc., daily, which would otherwise have been lost. The felt pad on the table is easily scalded every night, whilst the copper-lined table is scoured once a week, and the whole thing, besides taking up very little room, is a great convenience to the manipulators."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 511.

I'd have worried about the bottlers helping themsleves to the contents of the buckets. Not that it sounds very hygienic having a bucket filled with beer lying around. I bet the flies loved it. And what about slivers of broken glass - did they strain the beer before re-using it? I wouldn't want to find bits of glass in my bottle of beer.

Next time we'll be looking at the ever fascinating topic of bottle washing. I used to hate washing bottles when I home brewed. That could well be the reason me and my brother bought those wooden firkins from John Smiths.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Bottling at Eldridge Pope in 1934 - the equipment

I hope this jumping around the decaedes isn't confusing you. 1914 then 1934, then back to 1914 again. I know where I am, then again, I don't write these posts in the order you read them. I'm not jumping about the way you are.

Equipment, that's what we're looking at today. Starting with the conditioning tanks. If you remember, these are where the beer went between the end of primaary fermentation and being filled into bottles.

"The Conditioning Tanks
There are twenty-eight of these, all in one room. Here, again, common sense has prevailed, for you find all the pressure gauges and indicators at the most convenient height from the ground for reading. Mr. Pope has insisted on an average height for these indicators of some 4 ft. 6 in. from the floor-level, so that the foreman can take his correct readings without craning his neck or folding himself up in an uncomfortable attitude.

Three of these vessels have a capacity of 100 barrels each and are only 10 ft. high, as the room is on the low side. In consequence, the diameter of each is 9 ft. 6 in. These must be the largest of this shape in the country.

One other interesting point — all the pulley wheels, shafting, guards, and anything mechanically operated is coloured vivid red, and it is curious how one quickly, especially the visitor, reacts automatically to this instinctive warning. The pipes conducting the town water are coloured green — employees being specially warned against any waste from these pipes. Other cold water pipes are painted blue.
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 6 - 7.

That's quite a lot of conditioning capacity: 2,800 barrels. True, Eldridge Pope was one of the largest breweries in the Southwest, but it was nothing like the size of a large London or Burton brewery. I've not seen any of their brewing records from the 1930's, but have seen ones from 1911 and 1964. On both the brew length was between 200 and 300 barrels. Meaning the tanks had the capacity of between 10 and 15 brews, so probably around two weeks' production. If the tanks weren't used for draught beer, that implies that a good percentage of their trade was in bottled beer.

You know what those tanks remind me of? The ones in Allsopp's Lager brewery, installed 30 years or so earlier. They, too, were glass-lined.

The next bit has me confused - why does the author start discussing cask racking machinery in a piece about bottled beer?

"The Cold Room
As can be seen by the illustration, this room is quite in keeping with the remainder of the installation.

It cannot be seen in the photograph, but an ingenious racker, designed by the brewery, is installed for filling casks under pressure. The whole secret of filling any vessel with beer under pressure is to keep an accurate and constant counter-pressure.

In the present racker the cask is filled with compressed air at a pressure lower than the top pressure on the beer by about 5 lb., or an amount to be determined by experiment, which may vary from tank to tank according to the condition of the beer. The beer entering the cask of course displaces an equal volume of air, which escapes through the snift valve, maintaining the difference in the counter-pressure. A 1-gal. sight glass is fitted, so that the beer shall not fountain out through the snift valve, which it is very inclined to do if it is at all frothy—i.e., if the counter-pressure is too small.

Any number of casks can be racked in parallel. "Golden Gate" valves are used in this instance.

It is not noticeable in the photograph, but all the brine coils on the side of this room are not rigidly fastened to the wall; they just lean against it. It was found that there was considerable loss of cooling when these coils were fixed by metal brackets, as they conducted, or, rather, attracted, heat from the wall. This may be considered only a small point, but it just goes to show how everything possible has been considered and put into effect to make this store as efficient as humanly possible."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 7 and 9.

Golden Gate valves. I've heard of those. I remember them coming up in an article from the Journal of the Institute of Brewing about the USA. I've been meaning to loot the article for anythinmg usable, but have been too busy messing around with bottling to make time. I don't want to get ahead of myself by raiding that article now, but its a sort of valve used to prevent fobbing when filling barrels with highly-carbonated beer.

More equipment still to come.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Bottling in 1914 - chilling, carbonating and filtering

I won't tell you what was passed onto me today for fear that you get too excited. Let's just say I'll be returning to the topic of stoppers again soon.

But in the meantime, I'll continue my delightful stroll through the modern bottling plant of 1914. Something worth mentioning about the historic context of this article. The paper was presented to the Midlands Section of the Institute on April 23rd, 1914 and published in the November-December 1914 issue of the journal. That is, between presentation and publication, WW I had broken out.

We'll start with a description of one method of chilling and another of carbonation:

"Semi-rapid Process.
Many brewers who had installed the slow processes of beer chilling — and some of those who had the rapid chilling processes — but found them not rapid enough, have recently modified their plant to hasten the process and increase the output by fitting a quick chiller (of the tubular counter-current or similar type) between the conditioning vessels and the chilling vessels. By this process the time occupied in chilling is considerably curtailed, as the beer is forced through the tubular chiller, rapidly reducing the beer to any desired temperature (usually about 35° F.) prior to the time it actually enters the chilling and carbonating vessels, in which the beer is still further reduced to 28° F. and the chilling completed.

Continuous Carbonating.
This has been installed in some breweries and seems to be giving satisfaction. The chilling is kept entirely separate from the carbonating, and the beer, after chilling, is pumped through the carbonator, which is placed at option either between the chilling plant and the filter or between the chiller and filling machines. It is said to give more even results, keeping the beer in quieter condition for bottling, whilst it does away with the occasional wild beer we sometimes have to deal with."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, pages 506 - 507.

I'm not sure what I can say about that. Obviously chilling beer more quickly will save time and hence reduce the amount of beer hanging around in the brewery. Which, especially with the British system of paying the tax upfront before fermentation, is money tied up.

The next section is scary. Really scary. It's the second parargraph. About the pulp used in filters:

"To be successful in chilled beer bottling the filters and the pulp are of the first importance. Cheap pulp is dear at any price, and the efficiency of the filter depends on the proper charging with the filtering media. One great error which creeps in as trade increases is the washing of too great a quantity of pulp at one time, the result invariably being knots and small balls, whereas a more dilute mass allows the fibres to disintegrate more readily and open out rather than ball in the washing process. After a liberal amount of water has been passed through the pulp until it is quite clean, steam or hot water should be injected until the temperature is raised to 165° F., above which it is unsafe to go, or perishing of pulp and resulting inefficient filtration must ensue.

In addition to the adding weekly of new pulp to replace that which gets carried away, best beer asbestos should be added once a week at the rate of 8 oz. per cwt. of pulp being washed, after the pulp has been thoroughly washed, as the fine fibres which hold back the smallest turbidity, adding to the brilliancy of the beer, are readily washed out again during the process of washing. Care must be taken not to add too much asbestos, otherwise clogging of the filter plates ensues. The asbestos should always be whisked up to a cream with water and added slowly to the circulating pulp."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 20, Issue 6, November-December 1914, page 507.

Beer asbestos. Who knew such a thing existed? Obviously you'd only want to use the best beer asbestos. None of that shitty low grade stuff. That can't have been safe, can it? It sounds like they had loose asbestos just hanging around in the brewery. Lovely.

Next time we turn our torch on the refrigeration plant. A personal favourite of mine.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Book offer absolute last chance

The weather is definitely telling me that the season has changed from summer to autumn. But, being the generous type that I am, I'll be giving you until the weekend to dip your hands into your pockets.

If you can remember, the offere has a vague lagery theme. No surprise, then, that my tome on the history of British Lager is included. A slim volume, but one that packs a punch.

Buy Lager! at a discount of 20%!

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Eldridge Pope's bottlery in 1934

It's an odd but true fact that brewers are inordinately proud of their bottling machines. Not sure why. Maybe it's that most brewers are men and men like big, fancy machines. Then again. I could just be talking out of my arse.

Eldridge Pope were certainly proud of their bottling line. So proud that they printed a neat little booklet about it. It's richly illustrated with photographs, so couldn't have come cheap.  But it needs to be put into context. With bottled beer taking a large percentage of sales, it was financially important for a brewery to get it right.

"It was recently my privilege to visit this brewery and its bottling store, and the bottlery in particular would excite the envy of many of my London friends. Everything possible has been included to obtain a maximum output with the minimum expenditure of energy on the part of the operators. Their comfort has been studied to the minutest degree. The operators are all men and boys, and no girls are employed in the bottlery at all. Mr. A. C. R. Pope, who is a busy director of the firm, has found time to take this department under his personal control, and it speaks volumes for his efforts when one sees the smooth and efficient manner with which the whole installation operates.
When the store was rebuilt after an extensive fire, Mr. Pope collaborated with the National Institute of Industrial Psychology in reference to the most suitable lighting conditions and the proper height at which the operators should work. Mr. Pope believes they were the first brewery to collaborate with this Institute, and although all the recommendations were not carried out their report formed the basis of the present working arrangements."
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 3 and 5.

That Mr. Pope himself personally supervised the bottlery is a good indication of the operations importance. And there was a lot to supervise. A large number of different pieces of equipment were needed for bottling. Most of them with loads of moving parts which would need to be maintained. In comparison, the brewing side of the operation was relatively simple, with little in the way of complex machinery.

The author seems oddly proud that no women were employed, just boys. I've another source that greatly praised women over boys, as being stronger and cheaper. Can you believe that an 18 year old woman earned less than a 14 year old boy?

Before the advent of bottling, breweries were almost 100% a male domain. Bottling departments were the first to employ women on any scale. Maybe it was somehow seen as a domestic activity. Or that a large amount of labour was required and employing men would be too expensive.

"The bottlery is immediately opposite the brewery—in fact, just across the yard—and the beer is conducted by gravitation to the stores through an overhead pipe-line.

Situated below the ground-level are the brine tanks, compressors, and pulp washers. The brine tanks are interesting from the lagging point of view. After numerous experiments it was found that wood shavings tightly packed were just as efficient as any other form of lagging, and the saving in cost must have been quite appreciable. The compressors are by Pontifex, and the motors were by The Lancashire Dynamo and Crypto Co. Ltd. All the units in the bottlery, including the pulp washers, are driven individually, so there is no danger of a complete stoppage in any department by a failure in overhead shafting.
"A Modern West Country Brewery" by H.C. Vickery, 1934, pages 5 - 6.

Bottling stores seem to have almost always been ain a building separate from the brewhouse. I can think of a good explanation for this: it was usually a later addition, built long after the brewhouse.

Next time we'll be taking a look in more detail at some of the many exciting machines Eldridge Pope had in their bottling department.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bottled beers in the 1890's

There's a wonderful air of inevitability about this little series of posts. One small consistency in an uncertain world. It's certainly giving me something to hang onto. What will I do once I've run out of decades?

I've done a little analysis of the number of examples of each style to try to highlight the trends in bottled products. This is what I came up with:

style number of examples % of total
Stout 21 34.43%
Porter 1 1.64%
Pale Ale 11 18.03%
IPA 10 16.39%
Dinner Ale 3 4.92%
all Pale Ales 24 39.34%
Strong Ale 4 6.56%
Lager 2 3.28%
Cooper 3 4.92%
Ale 5 8.20%
alcohol free 1 1.64%
total 61

More than 70% of the beers are either some sort of Pale Ale or Stout. I think that's pretty conclusive. There was just a single Porter, though that could probably be combined with the three Coopers. While there was no beer called Mild Ale, it's possible some of those I've classified as just Ale were in reality Mild. It's just not possible to tell.

Notice how Lager is starting to pop up regularly as we reach the end of the 19th century. At this point it was one of the few styles that was mostly sold in bottled form. On the other hand, there are surprisingly few Strong Ales, just four.

After WW II, the range of beers probably wouldn't look much different, save for the addition of Brown Ale, a style that shot to popularity in the inter-war period.

Before we get to the main table, I'm happy to report that I've brewing records to match some of the beers, namely those from Fullers. Here's the advert from which their beers in the table were taken:

And here's a table of their beers:

Fuller's beers in 1897-1898
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
A Mild 1044.3 1007.8 4.84 82.50% 6.13 1.14
AK Pale Ale 1049.9 1014.4 4.69 71.11% 9.43 2.03
AKK Pale Ale 1050.4 1012.5 5.02 75.27% 13.43 2.80
BS Stout 1074.8 1026.0 6.45 65.19% 6.31 2.23
IPA IPA 1057.6 1016.1 5.50 72.12% 12.43 3.07
IPA Stock IPA 1057.9 1017.7 5.31 69.38% 13.39 3.48
KA Pale Ale 1044.0 1009.7 4.54 77.99% 6.65 1.30
Porter Porter 1057.1 1018.6 5.09 67.48% 6.10 1.68
X Mild 1055.4 1015.0 5.35 73.00% 7.06 1.72
XK Pale Ale 1055.4 1013.9 5.50 75.00% 13.43 3.07
XXK Strong Ale 1076.5 1020.2 7.44 73.55% 12.33 4.33
XXK for vatting Strong Ale 1082.0 1023.8 7.70 70.95% 12.33 4.59
Fuller's brewing records held at the brewery.

The two Stouts shown in both draught and bottled form are a bit of a mystery. Why? Because Fullers only brewed one Stout, BS. My guess is that the Single Stout was a blend of Porter and BS, giving it a gravity of around 1065º. Based on the price (assuming bottled Pale Ale is XK), the bottled Stout looks like it's really their Porter.

Here's the full table of beers:

Bottled beers in the 1890's
Brewery Place year beer style price per dozen size source
Rogers' Ales Bristol 1896 Non-intoxicating Hop Ale alcohol free Bottled
Albion Brewery (Heppenstalls) Newark 1892 Ale Ale 1s 4d half pint
Albion Brewery (Heppenstalls) Newark 1892 Ale Ale 1s 6d half pint
Rogers' Ales Bristol 1896 Monarch Ale Ale Bottled
Ash & Co London 1897 "Canterbury" Ale Ale 2s 6d pint
Ash & Co London 1897 "Gold Medal" Ale Ale 3s pint
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 Cooper Cooper 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
Ind Coope & Co Romford 1893 Cooper Special Cooper 2s 6d pint
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1899 Cooper Cooper 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1899
Eldridge Pope Dorchester 1891 Crystal Light Dinner Ale Dinner Ale 2s 6d Imperial pint Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 04 February 1891, page 4.
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 2 Family Ale Dinner Ale 3s Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896
Ash & Co London 1897 Light Tonic Dinner Ale Dinner Ale 2s 3d pint
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 India Pale Ale IPA 3s Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
Fuller, Smith & Turner Chiswick 1893 India Pale Ale IPA 3s 6d Kelly's Directory for Ealing, Acton, 1893-94
W & S Lucas Hitchin, Herts 1894 India Pale Ale IPA 3s 6d Kelly's Directory of Essex, Herts & Middx, 1894
C. Hammerton & Co. London S.W. 1895 India Pale Ale IPA
Bass  Burton 1895 Pale Ale IPA 2s small Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 05 July 1895, page 4.
Bass  Burton 1895 Pale Ale IPA 3s 10d large Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 05 July 1895, page 4.
Rogers' Ales Bristol 1896 East India Pale Ale IPA
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 3 East India Pale Ale IPA 3s 6d Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896
Ash & Co London 1897 India Pale Ale IPA 3s 6d pint
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1899 India Pale Ale IPA 3s Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1899
St. Anne's Well Brewery Exeter 1891 ST. ANNE'S LAGER BEER Lager 3s 6d screw Imperial pint Exeter Flying Post - Saturday 26 December 1891, page 8. 
Wrexham Lager Beer Co. Wrexham 1893 Lager Beer Lager 3s Imperial pint Burnley Express - Saturday 19 August 1893, page 3. 
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 Bitter Beer Pale Ale 2s 3d Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 Pale Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
St. Anne's Well Brewery Exeter 1891 ST. ANNE'S PALE ALE Pale Ale 3s Imperial pint Exeter Flying Post - Saturday 26 December 1891, page 8. 
Eldridge Pope Dorchester 1891 KK Light Pale Ale Pale Ale 3s Imperial pint Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Wednesday 04 February 1891, page 4.
Fuller, Smith & Turner Chiswick 1893 Pale Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d Kelly's Directory for Ealing, Acton, 1893-94
C. Hammerton & Co. London S.W. 1895 Pale Ale Pale Ale
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 1 Light Bitter Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896
Ind Coope Romford 1897 AKK Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d imperial pint Reading Mercury - Saturday 27 March 1897, page 1.
Waltham Bros. London 1898 The Half Guinea Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d pint
Morgans Brewery Norwich 1898 Light Bitter Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d Imperial pint Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 11 June 1898, page 1.
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1899 Pale Ale Pale Ale 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1899
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 5 Porter Porter 2s 6d Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 Single Stout Stout 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1891 Double Stout Stout 3s Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
St. Anne's Well Brewery Exeter 1891 ST. ANNE'S STOUT Stout 3s Imperial pint Exeter Flying Post - Saturday 26 December 1891, page 8. 
Albion Brewery (Heppenstalls) Newark 1892 Stout Stout 1s 6d half pint
Fuller, Smith & Turner Chiswick 1893 Stout Stout 2s 6d Kelly's Directory for Ealing, Acton, 1893-94
Fuller, Smith & Turner Chiswick 1893 Extra Stout Stout 3s 6d Kelly's Directory for Ealing, Acton, 1893-94
W & S Lucas Hitchin, Herts 1894 Double Stout Stout 3s Kelly's Directory of Essex, Herts & Middx, 1894
C. Hammerton & Co. London S.W. 1895 Stout Stout
C. Hammerton & Co. London S.W. 1895 Double Stout Stout
C. Hammerton & Co. London S.W. 1895 Brown Stout Stout
Guinness Dublin 1895 Dublin Stout Stout 1s 9d small Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 05 July 1895, page 4.
Guinness Dublin 1895 Dublin Stout Stout 3s 4d large Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 05 July 1895, page 4.
Rogers' Ales Bristol 1896 Monarch Stout Stout
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 6 Stout Stout 3s 6d Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896
Ash & Co London 1897 Luncheon Stout Stout 2s 6d pint
Ash & Co London 1897 Nourishing Stout for Invalids Stout 3s pint
Waltham Bros. London 1898 SN Stout Stout 3s pint
Waltham Bros. London 1898 London Brown Stout Stout 2s 6d pint
Morgans Brewery Norwich 1898 Stout Stout 2s 6d Imperial pint Norfolk Chronicle - Saturday 11 June 1898, page 1.
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1899 Single Stout Stout 2s 6d Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1899
Breeds & Co, the Hastings Brewery Hastings 1899 Double Stout Stout 3s Kelly's Directory of Sussex, 1899
St. Anne's Well Brewery Exeter 1891 ST. ANNE'S DINNER ALE Strong Ale 2s 6d Imperial pint Exeter Flying Post - Saturday 26 December 1891, page 8. 
W & S Lucas Hitchin, Herts 1894 Strong Ale Strong Ale 3s Kelly's Directory of Essex, Herts & Middx, 1894
Rogers' Ales Bristol 1896 XXXXX Strong Ale Strong Ale
E & H Kelsey, Culverden Brewery Tunbridge Wells 1896 No. 4 Strong Ale Strong Ale 4s 6d Pelton's illustrated guide to Tunbridge Wells, 1896