Charles Bukowski’s “Beer”

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Today is the birthday of American poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920-March 9, 1994). Bukowski was a hard-living individual, as well as a hard drinker. Wikipedia gives a summary of his life, albeit a very brief one.

His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over 60 books. The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.

In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife.” Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

If you haven’t read his work, you’re definitely missing out. I think my favorite quote by him is from an interview he did in Life magazine, in December of 1988. “We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.” A collection of his poems, entitled “Love Is a Dog From Hell,” was published in 1977, and includes the poem “Beer.” A few months ago, an Italian animation studio, NERDO, created a short animated film of that poem, and it’s pretty awesome.

Historic Beer Birthday: Johan Kjeldahl

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Today is the birthday of Johan Gustav Christoffer Thorsager Kjeldahl (August 16, 1849-July 18, 1900) He was a Danish chemist who developed a method for determining the amount of nitrogen in certain organic compounds using a laboratory technique which was named the Kjeldahl method after him.

Johan-Kjeldahl

Kjeldahl worked in Copenhagen at the Carlsberg Laboratory, associated with Carlsberg Brewery, where he was head of the Chemistry department from 1876 to 1900.

He was given the job to determine the amount of protein in the grain used in the malt industry. Less protein meant more beer. Kjeldahl found the answer was in developing a technique to determine nitrogen with accuracy but existing methods in analytical chemistry related to proteins and biochemistry at the time were far from accurate.

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A painting by Otto Haslund of Johan Kjeldahl.

His discovery became known as the Kjeldahl Method

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The method consists of heating a substance with sulphuric acid, which decomposes the organic substance by oxidation to liberate the reduced nitrogen as ammonium sulphate. In this step potassium sulphate is added to increase the boiling point of the medium (from 337 °C to 373 °C) . Chemical decomposition of the sample is complete when the initially very dark-coloured medium has become clear and colourless.

The solution is then distilled with a small quantity of sodium hydroxide, which converts the ammonium salt to ammonia. The amount of ammonia present, and thus the amount of nitrogen present in the sample, is determined by back titration. The end of the condenser is dipped into a solution of boric acid. The ammonia reacts with the acid and the remainder of the acid is then titrated with a sodium carbonate solution by way of a methyl orange pH indicator.

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In practice, this analysis is largely automated; specific catalysts accelerate the decomposition. Originally, the catalyst of choice was mercuric oxide. However, while it was very effective, health concerns resulted in it being replaced by cupric sulfate. Cupric sulfate was not as efficient as mercuric oxide, and yielded lower protein results. It was soon supplemented with titanium dioxide, which is currently the approved catalyst in all of the methods of analysis for protein in the Official Methods and Recommended Practices of AOAC International.

And Velp Scientifica also has an explanation of his method, which is still in use today.

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Kjeldahl (center) in his laboratory.

Liechtenstein’s Annual National Beer Festival

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Since 1940, the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein has been holding a celebration which they call Staatsfeiertag Liechtenstein, or their “National Day,” though it’s sometimes referred to as “State Day Liechtenstein.” At around 62 square miles, Liechtenstein is the fourth-smallest in Europe, and has an estimated population of only 37,000. That’s a little been less than nearby Martinez, California.

Here’s the official description, from Liechtenstein’s website:

On 15 August Vaduz plays host to a huge celebration attended by thousands of Liechtenstein citizens and guests from many countries. The National Day begins with the State Act held on the lawn in front of Vaduz Castle, including speeches by the Prince and the president of the parliament. The people are then invited to a reception with drinks in the gardens of the castle. National Day is the only day of the year when the gardens are open to the general public. The Princely Family is also present at this reception and enjoys chatting with those present.

In the afternoon there is a large fair in the centre of Vaduz that continues until the early hours of the morning. The festivities come to a close in the evening with a large firework display above Vaduz Castle that is famous throughout the region and draws many guests to Vaduz.

There were two main reasons for establishing the National Day on 15 August. The first reason was that it was already a bank holiday (Feast of the Assumption). The second reason was that the Reigning Prince at the time, Prince Franz Josef II, celebrated his birthday on 16 August. Therefore, it was decided to celebrate the National Day on 15 August as a combination of the Feast of the Assumption and the Reigning Prince’s birthday. Following the death of Prince Franz Josef II in 1989, National Day continued to be celebrated on 15 August. It was established as the official national day by a law passed in 1990.

Over the course of the years there have been different variations of the official celebration held on National Day. Since 1990 the State Act has taken place on the lawn in front of Vaduz Castle, the location where in 1939 the people paid homage to Prince Franz Josef II under the threat of National Socialism. It was here that Prince Hans-Adam II also received an homage from the people in 1990.

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The day starts at the prince’s residence, Vaduz Castle.

But by all accounts, there’s a lot of beer throughout the day, all the way through the fireworks displays that caps off the day’s events. The fair that begins in the afternoon is equal parts street fair and beer festival.

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It sounds like a lot of fun, I’d certainly love to go someday. Here’s an account of the day from the perspective of an expat Englishman living there in 2009:

Missed out on an invitation to a Buckingham Palace garden party this year? Never mind. In Liechtenstein you can invite yourself to the annual garden party at the princely Castle in Vaduz and mix with royalty, diplomats and hoi polloi as well as one or two curious foreigners.

You might not get daintily cut sandwiches or tea but there is plenty of beer on tap, fruit juice in packs and filled bread rolls. There’s probably more pushing and shoving, too, as the garden is only small yet the whole population of 35,356 is invited.

This year’s Liechtenstein’s National Day celebrations started as usual by the castle gates at 9.30 on the dot on the 15 August, the date chosen in 1940, coinciding with the Feast of the Assumption, already a public holiday in this Catholic state of only 160 sq kms, and close enough to the birthday (the following day) of the then Ruling Prince, Franz Josef II.

A local band in blue uniform (there are no armed forces in Liechtenstein) struck up and proceeded to the Castle Meadow a few metres away. Various members of the ruling family followed: reigning Prince Hans Adam ll, who is 64, and his wife, Princess Marie von und zu Liechtenstein, along with their eldest son, Hereditary Prince Alois, 41, the prince regent since 2004, and his wife Princess Sophie.

A delegation of diplomats and honorary guests also joined the procession, having been whisked up the steep mountainside in coaches, unlike the puffing locals. And finally, at the rear, the rotund, fully robed Bishop of Vaduz with ornamental crozier and the representative of the Apostolic Nuncio.

The ceremony began with a Catholic Mass and Holy Communion. While the brass band and the Catholic hierarchy enjoyed the shelter of marquees, the poor princely family had to sit on hard benches with no protection from the fierce sun on one of the hottest days of the year. It was too hot for some.

First, one of the young princes felt ill and had to be escorted, in his smart new blue blazer and beige trousers, back to the castle by a lady in elaborate local costume. Then his sister felt faint and was taken by her mother to a waiting ambulance. Liechtenstein’s boy scouts sheltered the bishop and his attendants with white umbrellas as they ventured into the sun to give communion. Once this was over, the reigning princess summoned the scouts to shelter her and the ladies in her entourage. She even sipped from a plastic bottle of mineral water – now the Queen would never do that!

The hereditary prince spoke, inevitably, of the world economic crisis but added that, compared with many countries, Liechtenstein was in an enviable position. His uncle, Prince Nikolaus, the brother of the reigning prince and ambassador to the European Union, looked on in the heat. It was he who had led the difficult negotiations with the United Kingdom only days before, culminating in an agreement to ensure greater exchange of information on tax matters. It was with great relief for its bankers that Liechtenstein was removed from the OECD’s “grey list” of uncooperative states earlier this year.

The head of the 25-seat parliament, Arthur Brunhart, also spoke, reminding everyone that crises were also times of opportunity. By this time, two hours into the ceremony, some were already cheekily making their way to the garden for the party. The band struck up the Liechtenstein national anthem to the same tune as God Save the Queen as loyal citizens raised their right hands, pledging loyalty to the principality. For another year the ceremonial part of the celebrations was over but festivities continued in a beer festival atmosphere in the main street, rounded off by a spectacular fireworks display with free buses to take everyone home afterwards.

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And this is from last year’s celebration, entitled Attending National Day in Liechtenstein: Quite An Experience!

Historic Beer Birthday: Christian Benjamin Feigenspan

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Today is the birthday of Christian Benjamin Feigenspan (August 15, 1844-April 10, 1899). He was born in Thuringia, Germany but moved his family to New Jersey and founded the C. Feigenspan Brewing Company of Newark in 1875, though at least one source says 1868. When he died in 1899, his son Christian William Feigenspan took over management of the brewery, which remained in business through prohibition, but was bought by Ballantine in 1943.

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There’s surprisingly little biographical information about Christian Benjamin Feigenspan, but here’s some history of his brewery:

In 1875 the Christian Feigenspan Brewing Company was founded at 49 Charlton St., at the former Laible brewery where he had previously been a superintendent. He would also marry Rachel Laible.

In 1878, he reportedly built a brewery on Belmont Street, and as late as 1886 a facility at 54 Belmont would be listed as the “Feigenspan Bottling Establishment”.

In 1880, Christian Feiganspan took over the Charles Kolb lager beer brewery (founded 1866) on Freeman Street. (Altho’, an 1873 map of Newark shows the property owned by a “Lenz Geyer Company”. There was a “Geyer” who was another Newark brewer who owned an “Enterprise Brewery” on Orange St.)

An 1884 fire would, reportedly, burn the brewery to the ground for a loss of $300,000.

By 1909, the firm would be advertising that “…Feigenspan Breweries are the largest producers of Ale in the United States!” (click on barrel above for text of ad) in an apparent dig at their much larger next door neighbor, P. Ballantine & Sons. Ballantine’s Lager Beer sales having by then accounted for 3/4 of their total production.

Possibly because of WWI era restrictions on the allowable alcohol level of beer (set at a mere 2.75%), Feigenspan entered into Prohibition with 4,000 barrels of aging ale in its cellar. In 1927, the ale would make the news as they tried to sell it. One story in July had it going to Heinz in Pittsburgh to be made into malt vinegar, but follow up articles say that in early November the ale was simply dumped into the sewer “…and thence into the Passaic River”.

Sadly, it would not be the first beer dumped by Feigenspan, which had one of the first four licenses to brew “medicinal beer” at the start of Prohibition. “Medicinal beer” was soon outlawed by the “Anti-Beer” law, and the brewery had to dump 600 cases of “real beer” (4.5% alcohol) in March of 1922.

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Historic Beer Birthday: William J. Lemp, Jr.

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Today is the birthday of William Jacob Lemp, Jr. (August 13, 1867-December 29, 1922). He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and was the son of William J. Lemp and the grandson of Adam Lemp, who founded the Lemp Brewery in 1840. When his grandfather died in 1862, his father inherited the brewery, and it was renamed the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. When he committed suicide, most likely from depression after his favorite son Frederick died at age 28. His other son, William J. Lemp Jr., ran the brewery thereafter, until it was closed by prohibition in 1920.

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This account of Lemp Jr.’s time running the brewery is from the Wikipedia page about the Lemp Mansion:

On November 7, 1904, William J. “Billy” Lemp, Jr., took over the brewing company as president. Billy had married Lillian Handlan five years earlier, and they moved to a new home at 3343 South 13th Street.

Lillian Handlan Lemp was, allegedly, nicknamed the “Lavender Lady” for her lavender-colored wardrobe and carriages. She filed for divorce in 1908, charging Billy with desertion, cruel treatment and other indignities. Their divorce proceedings lasted 11 days and ended in Lillian being granted her divorce and custody of William III – their only child – with Billy given only visitation rights.

After the trial, Billy built “Alswel” – his country home overlooking the Meramec River. The home was located in what is now the western edge of Kirkwood. By 1914, he lived at Alswel full-time.

The Lemp Brewery suffered in the 1910s when Prohibition began. The brewery was shut down and the Falstaff trademark was sold to Lemp’s friend, “Papa Joe” Griesedieck. The brewery itself was eventually sold at auction to International Shoe Company for $588,500. On December 29, 1922, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office — a room that today is the front left dining room.

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This history of the Lemp Family is from Monstrosity, a paranormal convention offering stays in the supposedly haunted Lemp Mansion:

America’s First Lager Beer Brewers

When John Adam Lemp arrived in St. Louis from Eschwege, Germany in 1838, he seemed no different from the thousands of other immigrants who poured into the Gateway to the West during the first half of the 19th century. Lemp originally sought his fortune as a grocer. But his store was unique for its ability to supply an item sold by none of his competitors – lager beer. Lemp had learned the art of brewing the effervescent beverage under the tutelage of his father in Eschwege, and the natural cave system under St. Louis provided the perfect temperature for aging beer. Lemp soon realized that the future of lager beer in America was as golden as the brew itself, and in 1840 he abandoned the grocery business to build a modest brewery at 112 S. Second Street. A St. Louis industry was born. The brewery enjoyed marvelous success and John Adam Lemp died a millionaire.

William J. Lemp succeeded his father as the head of the brewery and he soon built it into an industrial giant. In 1864 a new plant was erected at Cherokee Street and Carondolet Avenue. The size of the brewery grew with the demand for its product and it soon covered five city blocks.

In 1870 Lemp was by far the largest brewery in St. Louis and the Lemp family symbolized the city’s wealth and power. Lemp beer controlled the lion’s share of the St. Louis market, a position it held until Prohibition. In 1892 the brewery was incorporated as the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. In 1897 two of the brewing industry’s titans toasted each other when William Lemp’s daughter, Hilda, married Gustav Pabst of the noted Milwaukee brewing family.

The Lemp Family

The demise of the Lemp empire is one of the great mercantile mysteries of St. Louis. The first major fissure in the Lemp dynasty occurred when Frederick Lemp, William’s favorite son and the heir apparent to the brewery presidency, died under mysterious circumstances in 1901. Three years later, William J. Lemp shot himself in the head in a bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving the loss of his beloved Frederick. William J. Lemp, Jr. succeeded his father as president.

Tragedy continued to stalk the Lemps with startling ardor. The brewery’s fortunes continued to decline until Prohibition (1919) closed the plant permanently. William Jr.’s sister Elsa, who was considered the wealthiest heiress in St. Louis, committed suicide in 1920. On June 28, 1922, the magnificent Lemp brewery, which had once been valued at $7 million and covered ten city blocks, was sold at auction to International Shoe Co. for $588,500. Although most of the company’s assets were liquidated, the Lemps continued to have an almost morbid attachment for the family mansion. After presiding over the sale of the brewery, William J. Lemp, Jr. shot himself in the same building where his father died eighteen years earlier. His son, William Lemp III, was forty-two when he died of a heart attack in 1943. William Jr.’s brother, Charles, continued to reside at the house after his brother’s suicide. An extremely bitter man, Charles led a reclusive existence until he too died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The body was discovered by his brother, Edwin.

In 1970, Edwin Lemp died of natural causes at the age of ninety.

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Not everyone is convinced that Junior’s death was a suicide, but may have been murder, as explained in All Things Lemp:

On December 28th, 1922 William Lemp Jr. was found shot to death in his office on the first floor of the Lemp Mansion. William Lemp Jr. was not a very well liked person. Junior’s personality was rather crass and abrupt. Most people who knew him would avoid him if all possible. Junior was not the first pick by his father to inherit the Lemp Brewery Presidency. This had to be embarrassing considering Junior was the oldest and by tradition the heir apparent. This honor was to be reserved for his youngest brother Fredrick. The reason why Junior was to be passed over to run the family’s brewing empire was the standing animosity between Junior and his father. Many think Senior despised his oldest son because he thought William Lemp Junior didn’t deserve to bear his name. Very few people at the time knew that William Lemp Jr. had an older brother that died shortly after birth. It pained his father deeply that the child died before it could be named. His father thought his first deceased son should have been given his name, not his second surviving son. This is believed to be the initial cause of their life long feud. Fredrick died in 1901 due to heart failure. If Fredrick would have survived, many think that we would have a Lemp Brewery today.

According to police reports, William Lemp Jr. was shot twice directly into the heart with a .38 caliber single action revolver. In order for someone to pull off a feat such as this, one would have to be able to pull the trigger twice. With a single action revolver, that would mean that he would have to cock the pistol, place it to his chest, and pull the trigger. Then he would have to repeat the process of cocking the revolver again, placing it to his chest, and pulling the trigger. I doubt seriously that anyone would have the ability to be able to shot themselves twice in the chest with this style of weapon. Especially after the initial shot would leave a rather large wound in your back and in shock. The police also found two rounds missing from the revolver’s cylinder. If he was shot twice, it there is a very good chance William Lemp Jr. was murdered.

The Coroner’s report states he was shot only once. If the Coroner is right it could have very well been a suicide. Since the findings of a Coroner’s inquiry outweighs the evidence presented by the police, the death of William Lemp Jr. was ruled a suicide, and the case was closed.

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This is a slideshow of Lemp breweriana and photos.

Historic Beer Birthday: Lilly Anheuser

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Today is the birthday of Lilly Anheuser (August 13, 1844-February 25, 1928). She was born in Mainz-Bingener Landkreis, in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, one of three daughters of Eberhard Anheuser. Eberhard was originally a soap and candle maker, but had had also invested in the Bavarian Brewery Company, in St. Louis, Missouri. When it went through financial troubles in 1860, he took over control of it, buying out the other creditors, and renaming it Eberhard Anheuser and Company. “Lilly married Adolphus Busch, a brewery supply salesman, in a double wedding with Anna Anheuser (Lilly’s older sister) and Ulrich Busch (Adolphus’ brother) in 1861.” Her husband was running the brewery even before her father died in 1880, and the year before, 1879, the corporation was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to reflect the reality of Busch’s leadership role.

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Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Lilly was one of six children of Eberhard and Dorothea Anheuser. She and her family lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for a time before moving to St Louis, Missouri.

Lilly, who was blonde and called “curly Head” was courted by and married to Adolphus Busch, who sold brewery supplies at the time, to her father at the E. Anheuser Brewing Company. She was married to Adolphus in a double wedding; her sister Anna married Ulrich Busch on March 11, 1861. Anna was dark and known for her sophistication.
Lilly was the mother of thirteen children. Nine lived to adulthood. Along with her social life, Lilly cooked for her husband and to an extent remained a “house wife.”

With the success of the Brewery, She and her husband and children traveled extensively. They owned Villas in Germany. Both were confiscated by Hitler. They traveled by private train car. A favorite group of homes for them was Ivy Wall, and The Blossoms, Busch Gardens in Pasadena,CA. They had an estate in Cooperstown, NY, and Germany.

Upon reaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Lilly and Adolphus presented a home to each of their children.
One was given a French chateau manner on a farm near St. Louis once owned by General U.S. Grant. It is now known as Grant’s Farm and is open to the public. Other Children were given homes in St Louis, New York, Berlin, Germany, Chicago,IL,and Stuttgart, Germany.

It was reported Lilly was given a gold Crown by her husband to commemorate their golden Anniversary. Amidst the celebration was sadness because the health of her husband was failing. He passed away at Villa Lilly, in Germany with Lilly at his side.

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The Anheuser-Busch website gives this account:

Eberhard Anheuser, who left Germany in 1843, settling first in Cincinnati and before moving to St. Louis. Trained as a soap manufacturer, he eventually went on to own the largest soap and candle company in St. Louis. Although he had no brewing experience, he became part owner of the Bavarian Brewery, which had first opened its doors in 1852. By 1860, Anheuser had bought out the other investors and the brewery’s name was changed to E. Anheuser & Co.

Adolphus Busch was born in 1839, the second youngest of 22 children. At age 18, he made his way to St. Louis via New Orleans and the Mississippi River. Adolphus began working as a clerk on the riverfront and by the time he was 21, he had a partnership in a brewing supply business.

It was through this enterprise that Adolphus Busch met Eberhard Anheuser, and soon Adolphus was introduced to Eberhard’s daughter, Lilly. In 1861, Adolphus Busch and Lilly Anheuser were married, and shortly after that, Adolphus went to work for his father-in-law. He later purchased half ownership in the brewery, becoming a partner.

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Lilly Anheuser later in life.

In 1897, famed Swedish artist Anders Zorn painted portraits of Lilly Anheuser and her husband Adolphus Busch. They were recently sold through the auction house Christie’s. The winning bid for Busch’s portrait was $207,750 and Lilly’s went for $123,750.

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A portrait of Lily Anheuser, painted by Anders Zorn in 1897.

Historic Beer Birthday: William Blackall Simonds

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Today is the birthday of William Blackall Simonds (August 13, 1761-January 13, 1834). Simonds “was a brewer and banker in the English town of Reading. He founded both Simonds’ Brewery, a component of today’s Wells & Young’s Brewery business, and J & C Simonds Bank, one of the precursors to Barclays bank.”

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Here’s his entry from Wikipedia:

Simonds came from a family with estates at Arborfield to the south-east of Reading, but his father, William Simonds senior, had moved to Reading to set up a malting business that later grew to include brewing. William senior married Mary Blackall, and William Blackall Simonds was their only son. He was probably born in Reading, with records showing that he was baptised at the Broad Street Independent Chapel in Reading on 13 August 1761.

When William senior died in 1782, William Blackall Simonds inherited his business. He married Elizabeth May, who was the heiress of Daniel May, the miller of Pangbourne, and the ward of Thomas May, the miller of Brimpton and founder of a brewery in Basingstoke. In 1789 Simonds acquired a site on the banks of the River Kennet, and commissioned the architect Sir John Soane to build a brewery and house on the site. The riverside site permitted transport of raw materials and finished product by barge, and was to continue to serve as a brewery until 1980.

In 1791, Simonds was co-founder of a bank in Reading’s Market Place, in partnership with local businessmen Robert Micklem, John Stephens, and Robert Harris. His motivation in doing this was to help the brewery grow and to offer its output to a wider customer base. However this proved difficult, largely because local magistrates refused to issue licences for new public houses to sell his beer. As a consequence, Simonds decided to concentrate on his banking activities, and in 1814 he dissolved the original partnership and established a new family-run bank in partnership with his younger son Henry Simonds, and his cousins John Simonds and Charles Simonds. This bank was located in Reading’s King Street and later became known as John Simonds, Charles Simonds & Co., Reading Bank.

Simonds served as mayor of Reading in 1816. He retired to London and then to Pangbourne, where he died on 13 January 1834 and was buried in the family plot in Hurst churchyard.

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The Simonds family maintains a website chronicling their brewery and members of the family through history, which includes a biography of William Blackall Simonds.

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“The Simonds brewery was founded in Broad Street in Reading by William Blackall Simonds in 1785 (although his father had a brewing arm of his malting business as early as 1760). The company moved to Bridge Street, where it remained until 1978. The site is now occupied by The Oracle shopping centre. Simonds became a very early limited company in 1885, taking the name of H & G Simonds from William’s two sons, Henry and George. The latter was the father of a later director, George Blackall Simonds, a sculptor.”

“The company amalgamated with Courage & Barclay in 1960 and dropped the Simonds name after ten years. Eventually the firm became part of Scottish & Newcastle who sold the brands to Wells & Young’s Brewery in 2007 and closed the Reading brewery three years later.”

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David Nash Ford’s Royal Berkshire History has an even fuller account of Simonds’ life, “based largely on the research of TAB Corley,” in 1976:

William Blackall Simonds was the son of William Simonds Senior and his wife, Mary Blackall. The Simonds family owned extensive estates in the Hurst-Arborfield-Wokingham area of Berkshire, but William Senior, being a second son, left the land and set up a small malting, and later a brewing, business in Reading. Upon his death in 1782, this business passed to his only son.

The following year, young William Blackall Simonds married Elizabeth May, co-heiress of the late Daniel May, the miller of Pangbourne whose sister had married William’s uncle, Thomas Simonds. She was the ward of a third sibling, Thomas May, the miller of Brimpton, who had founded the May Brewery in Basingstoke some thirty years before. As well as such excellent business contacts, this match brought William a dowry of £2,000. This, added to the £1,000 he had inherited from his maternal grandfather in 1781, meant that he had a tidy sum of money available to him. Fortunately, he also had the youth, vigour and entrepreneurial skill to put it to good use in increasing his brewing capacity

Tradition has it that William opened his first permanent brewery in Broad Street in Reading in 1785. Unfortunately, the site allowed no room for expansion though and, business being swift, four years later, he purchased a larger and more flexible plot of land in Seven Bridges Street. It has been taken as a measure of his self-assurance that, at the age of only twenty-eight, William commissioned Sir John Soane, the foremost architect of the day, to design him both a new brewery and a grand Georgian family home on the site. Although, as Soane was educated in Reading, one wonders if they knew each other from their youth.

William had to borrow heavily to cover the £6,400 which his new brewing complex had cost him. But he was well aware of the need to turn a tidy profit and had a counting house erected next to his study. By 1790, the malthouses and 25-quarter plant were fully operational and an annual output of 6,000 barrels can be assumed. The house – complete with a tablet above the entrance and wall-paper in the drawing room showing the hop-leaf design which was to make the brewery famous – was not finished for a further four years, but, in 1794, Elizabeth and their seven children (one had died in infancy but one more was to follow) were able to move in.

An added advantage of the new brewery site was that it immediately adjoined the River Kennet, so it had its own wharves for the import of barley for malting and for secondary trades, often associated with brewing, like timber and vinegar production. In 1799, demand for Simonds beer had increased so much that William had a two horse-power Boulton and Watt steam engine replace his old horse-driven power system; and the offices were extended a few years later. He was also able to purchase for himself the lease on a fine country estate, across the River Thames, at Caversham Court, where he exploited the chalk pits on his land in order to sell chalk and flint to the glass works of Bristol.

William was by now recognised as a stylish man of substance in Reading. In 1791, he had been appointed Receiver-General of Taxes for West Berkshire and he subsequently contributed £1,000 to enter into a partnership which formed Messrs Micklem, Stephens, Simonds and Harris’s Bank in Reading’s Market Place. This was a natural expansion of his business interests. As Receiver-General, William could use his tax receipts for up to six months before remitting them to London, while, as a brewer and maltster, he held very large cash balances for certain periods of the year. He was also Reading’s Town Treasurer in 1793 and various years thereafter. Even in the financial crisis year of 1797, William’s share of the bank’s profits was £150 and he soon came to regard the bank as a better long-term prospect than the brewery.

Although the War with France had produced a financial boom in the brewing trade, the Simonds’ Brewery saw little of the benefits, for it was a relative latecomer to the industry. Older breweries kept a tight hold on existing retail outlets for beer and strict licensing laws meant few new ones were created. By 1805, William had managed to acquire ten public houses in Reading and seven in the traditional Simonds areas of Hurst, Wokingham, Arborfield and Pangbourne. But, by 1834, this had only expanded by three further inns and output at the brewery had increased by no more than 70%. William insisted on high quality beer to counteract the poor quality price-fixed products of his rivals and, in 1813, managed to secure the contract to supply the newly opened Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Despite this triumph, however, the following year, he was so pessimistic about his brewery’s future that he decided he would sell up in order to concentrate more fully on banking.

Though his eldest son, Blackall, persuaded William to retain the brewery under his own management, the father withdrew from his original banking business and founded a family-based partnership of his own in King Street in Reading. His partners were his second son, Henry, his cousins, John and Charles, and his friend, Ralph Nicholson, and they had a working capital of some £25,000. This bank traded as J & C Simonds for about a century until it was absorbed by Barclays in 1912.

In 1816, as soon as William considered both the brewery and the bank to be in secure hands, he stepped down from involvement in business matters; though not totally from public life as he served as Mayor of Reading that year He arranged that he should be paid an annuity and divested himself of all other wealth, retiring first to 40 York Place in London and then to Pangbourne. He lived the quiet life for twenty years until his death on 13th January 1834, at which time his estate was worth less than £1,000. He was buried in the family plot in Hurst churchyard. His wife, Elizabeth, survived him by eight years.

The brewery survived in the name of William’s two sons, H & G Simonds, until 1960 when it merged with Courage & Barclay. Courage moved the brewery to the edge of Pingewood in 1985 and it is now the largest in Europe.

The Royal Berkshire History also has a short history of H & G Simonds’ Seven Bridges Brewery and also another page with A Description from 1891.

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Beer Birthday: Dave Keene

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Today is the 62nd birthday of Dave Keene. Dave, of course, owns the best beer bar in San Francisco, the Toronado, which this year has been around for 30 years. Dave is one of the great figures in the San Francisco beer scene and also one of my favorite Washoe partners, and we’ve had some monumental games and vanquished many fine players — you know who you are! Join me in wishing Dave a very happy birthday.

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Peter Bouchaert, brewmaster at New Belgium Brewing, with Dave at one of Beer Chef Bruce Paton’s beer dinners.

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Outside the Toronado for their 20th anniversary, Dave bookended by fellow publicans Don Younger (from the Horse Brass in Portland) and Chris Black (from the Falling Rock in Denver).

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At a beer release party for Brother Dave’s Triple. From left: Fal Allen, Mark Cabrera, Dave Gatlin (head brewer at AVBC) , Me and Dave.

Dave Keene & Tomme Arthur after a night of Washoes
Dave and Tomme Arthur, from the Lost Abbey, after a night of Washoes during SF Beer Week a few years ago.

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Dave Keene and me at the Summit Hop Festival held at Drake’s Brewing several years ago.

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Dave with Vinnie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, last year at the “Toronado 25th Anniversary Dinner and Blending Session.”

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In the back room at the Toronado, Dave, Alec Moss and me, at Alec’s 70th birthday party a couple of years ago.

Historic Beer Birthday: St. Arnulf of Metz

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While records going back this far in time are notoriously unreliable, some sources put the birthday of St. Arnulf of Metz at August 13, 583 C.E., such as Find-a-Grave, among others. He’s also known as Anou, Arnould, Arnold of Metz, and his feast day is July 18. Although even the year is not settled, and some sources give it as 580 or 582 C.E., so the actual likelihood that any of this is correct is pretty low.

“Saint Arnulf of Metz (c. 582 – 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont. In French he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. In English he is also known as Arnold.” Metz is located in northeastern France.

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Also, Arnulf is one of at least three patron saints of brewers with similar names, although he is the oldest, and essentially first one. That’s one of the reasons I chose his feast day, July 18, for the holiday I created in 2008, International Brewers Day.

The Saint Arnold most people are familiar with is Arnold of Soissons, and he’s from much later, almost 500 years, and is thought to have been born around 1040 C.E. Less is known about the third, St. Arnou of Oudenaarde (or Arnouldus), and he’s also a patron saint of beer and specifically Belgian brewers, because Oudenaarde is in Flanders. His story takes place in the 11th century.

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Here’s his bio from Find-a-Grave:

Saint Arnulf of Metz (c 582 — 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont.

Saint Arnulf of Metz was born of an important Frankish family at an uncertain date around 582. In his younger years he was called to the Merovingian court to serve king Theudebert II (595-612) of Austrasia and as dux at the Schelde. Later he became bishop of Metz. During his life he was attracted to religious life and he retired as a monk. After his death he was canonized as a saint. In the French language he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. Arnulf was married ca 596 to a woman who later sources give the name of Dode or Doda, (whose great grandmother was Saint Dode of Reims), and had children. Chlodulf of Metz was his oldest son, but more important is his second son Ansegisen, who married Saint Begga daughter of Pepin I of Landen.

Arnulf was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In iconography, he is portrayed with a rake in his hand.

He was the third great grandfather of Charlemagne.

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St. Arnulf in the Metz Cathedral.

The Legend of the Beer Mug

It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims’ thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.

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And here’s another account from Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites:

During an outbreak of the plague a monk named Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, persuaded people to drink beer in place of water and when they did, the plague disappeared.

Arnold spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say.

The small country of Belgium calls itself the ‘Beer Paradise’ with over 300 different styles of beer to choose from. Belgium boasts of centuries old tradition in the art of brewing. In the early Middle Ages monasteries were numerous in that part of Europe, being the centers of culture, pilgrimage and brewing. Belgium still has a lot of monasteries and five of these are Trappist, a strict offshoot of the Cis­tercian order, which still brews beer inside the monastery.

During one outbreak of the plague St. Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, convinced people to drink beer instead of the water and the plague disappeared as a result. Saint Arnold (also known as St. Arnoldus), is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Brewers.

St. Arnold was born to a prominent Austrian family in 580 in the Chateau of Lay-Saint-Christophe in the old French diocese of Toul, north of Nancy. He married Doda with whom he had many sons, two of whom were to become famous: Clodulphe, later called Saint Cloud, and Ansegis who married Begga, daughter of Pépin de Landen. Ansegis and Begga are the great-great-grandparents of Charlemagne, and as such, St. Arnold is the oldest known ancestor of the Carolin­gian dynasty.

St. Arnold was acclaimed bishop of Metz, France, in 612 and spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say. The people revered St. Arnold. In 627, St. Arnold retired to a monastery near Remiremont, France, where he died on August 16, 640.

In 641, the citizens of Metz requested that Saint Arnold’s body be exhumed and ceremoniously carried to Metz for reburial in their Church of the Holy Apostles. During this voyage a miracle happened in the town of Champignuelles. The tired porters and followers stopped for a rest and walked into a tavern for a drink of their favorite beverage. Regretfully, there was only one mug of beer to be shared, but that mug never ran dry and all of the thirsty pilgrims were satisfied.

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A modern portrait of St. Arnulf by American artist Donna Haupt.

Historic Beer Birthday: Samuel Allsopp

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Today is the birthday of Samuel Allsopp (August 12, 1780-February 26, 1838). He purchased the brewery started in the 1740s by his uncle, Benjamin Wilson, in 1807. Bringing his family into the business, he renamed it Samuel Allsopp & Sons. When he died in 1838, the Burton-on-Trent brewery passed to his son Henry Allsopp.

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While I couldn’t find any pictures of Samuel Allsop, the logo of the Samuel Allsop Brewery Co., from 1994-98, used his likeness.

“Ind Coope & Samuel Allsopp Breweries: The History of the Hand,” by Ian Webster, includes this memoriuam from shortly after Allsopp’s death:

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Here’s a history of Allsopp’s brewery from Wikipedia:

Allsopp’s origins go back to the 1740s, when Benjamin Wilson, an innkeeper-brewer of Burton, brewed beer for his own premises and sold some to other innkeepers. Over the next 60 years, Wilson and his son and successor, also called Benjamin, cautiously built up the business and became the town’s leading brewer. In about 1800, Benjamin Junior took his nephew Samuel Allsopp into the business and then in 1807, following a downturn in trade because of the Napoleonic blockade, he sold his brewery to Allsopp for £7,000.

Allsopp struggled at first as he tried to replace the lost Baltic trade with home trade, but in 1822 he successfully copied the India Pale Ale of Hodgson, a London brewer, and business started to improve.

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After Samuel’s death in 1838, his sons Charles and Henry continued the brewery as Allsopp and Sons. In 1859 they built a new brewery near the railway station, and added a prestigious office block in 1864. By 1861 Allsopps was the second largest brewery after Bass. Henry Allsopp retired in 1882 and his son Samuel Charles Allsopp took over. Allsopps was incorporated as a public limited company in 1887 under the style Samuel Allsopp & Sons Limited . There were scuffles at the doors of the bank in the City as potential investors fought for copies of the prospectus, but within three years, these investors were demanding their money back as the returns were so much lower than predicted. Under Samuel Allsopp, ennobled as the 2nd Lord Hindlip on the death of his father, Allsopps lurched from crisis to crisis. With the difficult trading conditions for beer at the beginning of the 20th century, many Burton breweries were forced to close down or amalgamate. After a failed attempt at a merger with Thomas Salt and Co and the Burton Brewery Company in 1907, Allsopps fell into the hands of the receivers in 1911. The company’s capital was restructured and it continued trading. In 1935 Samuel Allsopp & Sons merged with Ind Coope Ltd to form Ind Coope and Allsopp Ltd. The Allsopp name was dropped in 1959 and in 1971 Ind Coope was incorporated into Allied Breweries.

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And here’s another history from “The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records,” edited by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, published in 1990:

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