Inside Guinness August 22, 1953

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In England, the Picture Post was the equivalent of Life magazine here in the U.S. It “was a photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,700,000 copies a week after only two months.”

On August 22, 1953, one of the photographers for the Picture Post — Bert Hardy — visited Dublin, Ireland, and was permitted inside the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate. I’m not sure how many photos he took, but recently Mashable featured twenty-two of them. Here are a few of them below, it’s a great glimpse into the past, and to see all of them, follow the instructions below.

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Workers drain beer from a mash tun.

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Workers watch as yeast is skimmed off the top of the beer before it is passed to vats for maturing.

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A worker fills casks in the racking shed.

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Workers at the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.

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Workers hose down casks.

You can see all 22 of them below, or visit Mashable.

Guinness 1953

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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Historic Beer Birthday: John Allen Young

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Today is the birthday of John Allen Young (August 7, 1921-September 17, 2006). Young was the great-great-grandson of Charles Young, who co-founded Young’s brewery in 1831. “He joined the family firm in 1954 after serving as a fighter pilot and a merchant seaman. He became chairman and chief executive in 1962 when his father retired and reverted to executive chairman in 1999.”

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Here’s his obituary, written by Roger Protz, from the Guardian in 2006.

John Young, who has died aged 85, will have a prominent place in the Brewers’ Hall of Fame, revered as the father of the “real ale revolution”, an iconoclast who believed in good traditional beer drunk in good traditional pubs. Young, chairman of Young’s of Wandsworth in south London for 44 years, steered the family brewery on a different course from the rest of the industry in the 1970s. It was a course that was derided at the time: however, it proved not only successful for Young’s but also encouraged other regional brewers to follow suit.

A spate of mergers in the 1960s had created six national brewers who attempted to transform the way beer was made by switching from cask ale to keg beer – filtered, pasteurised and artificially carbonated. Panic ensued as such brands as Watney’s Red Barrel, Worthington E and Whitbread Tankard rapidly dominated the market. Smaller regional brewers rushed to emulate the “Big Six”, as they were known.

In Wandsworth, John Young raised his standard above the Ram Brewery, on the oldest brewing site in Britain, and declared he would remain faithful to beer that matured naturally in its cask. He was laughed to scorn by directors of other breweries. Among the legion of stories about him, one is told of a meeting of the Brewers’ Society in London where, during a break for coffee, one member saw a funeral hearse passing by outside. “There goes another of your customers, John,” he told Young, to roars of laughter from his colleagues. John Young had the last laugh.

He was born in Winchester, the eldest of four sons of William Allen Young. The family was steeped in brewing. John was the great-great-grandson of Charles Allen Young, one of two businessmen who took over the 16th-century Ram Brewery in 1831. John’s mother was Joan Barrow Simonds, a member of the family that owned Simonds Brewery in Reading.

But John’s first love was sailing: he was educated at the Nautical College in Pangbourne. Sailing holidays in the late 1930s on the river Orwell in Suffolk brought John and his brothers into contact with Arthur Ransome at Pin Mill, the setting for We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. Ransome claimed that he, rather than the brothers’ father, introduced the boys to the pleasures of beer and darts.

Either side of the second world war, John went to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he graduated with an honours degree in economics. During the war he served with distinction as a fighter pilot on aircraft carriers. He left the Fleet Air Arm as a lieutenant commander in 1947 and launched a career in shipping. For a while he was based in Antwerp, where he met his Belgian wife Yvonne. They married in 1951 and settled in West Sussex, from where John, with his brothers, was summoned to work at the Ram Brewery in 1954.

He succeeded his father as chairman in 1962 and set about refashioning the company to meet the challenges of the time. Improving the pub estate and offering children’s rooms – a daring move at the time – did not mean a move away from traditional values. The brewery retained a fierce commitment to cask beer and delivered it to local pubs by horse-drawn drays, while a live ram mascot, along with ducks and geese, were familiar if bizarre sights at Wandsworth.

The energetic new chairman visited every pub in his estate. He was on first name terms with his landlords and became friendly with regular customers. Company annual general meetings became lavish affairs where a white-suited John Young would proclaim his belief in traditional brewing values. He was so horrified by the way some London pubs were being remodeled in the 1970s – as wild west saloons or sputniks – that he once threatened to enter one pub armed with a packet of soap flakes to throw into a large fountain that had been installed there.

The commitment to cask beer paid off. Sales of Young’s ales rocketed and their success was instrumental in helping the Campaign for Real Ale to make its mark in the early 1970s. In 1975 John Young was made a CBE to mark his work in brewing and for charity: he was chairman of the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases in Bloomsbury and raised millions of pounds to build new wards and install modern equipment.

His passion for brewing remained unabated, and John continued to work and chair company AGMs up to this year, though he was visibly ill with cancer. His last few months in office were dogged by controversy: a redevelopment scheme in Wandsworth meant the brewery had to close. When a suitable alternative site could not be found in London, Young’s agreed to merge its brewing operations with Charles Wells of Bedford, a move that has not pleased all lovers of Young’s distinctive beers.

But 200 Young’s pubs will remain in London and the south-east, bricks and mortar reminders of the man who guided their fortunes with undiminished fervour for more than 40 years.

He is survived by a son, James, who is deputy chairman of Young’s, and a daughter, Ilse.

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A portrait of John Young that used to be in the brewery tasting room.

And here’s another obit, this one from the Telegraph:

The brewing industry is mourning the loss of one of its most passionate and colourful characters, Young & Co’s chairman, John Young. He died at the age of 85 after a long battle against cancer. The timing is particularly poignant as Young’s will this week cease production at the historic Ram Brewery in Wandsworth, south London, where ales were first brewed in 1581.

Mr Young – known affectionately as Mr John by staff – was a staunch opponent of red tape. Last year, he complained in the annual report: “At the brewery, we can no longer walk down the yard to the offices because of health and safety regulations. Our horses need passports. Since they cannot fit into a photo-booth, a vet must be employed to sketch the animal.”

Mr Young will also be remembered for his eccentric annual shareholder meetings. In what became a tradition as he fended off attempts at reform by activist shareholder Guinness Peat Group, he started bringing props to the event.

One year, he wore a bee-keeper’s hat to show his resolve to keep the group’s preferential B shares for family members. On other occasions, he brandished a megaphone to make sure “certain people, who seemed to be ignoring what I have to say” could hear him, and sported oversized boxing gloves.

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Beer Birthday: Ben McFarland

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Today is UK beer writer Ben McFarland’s birthday. I first met Ben when he was over here working on the CAMRA beer guide to the west coast with Tom Sandham and Glenn Payne. We invited Ben to join us judging Double IPA’s at the Bistro’s Double IPA Festival, which I believe was something of a shock to the system for both Ben and Tom. These days he and Tom are The Thinking Drinkers, performing their “‘The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol,’ a unique comedic drinking show that debuted at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe.'” Join me in wishing Ben a very happy birthday.

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Ben judging at the Double IPA Festival at the Bistro in Hayward while he was working on the CAMRA guide to the west coast of the U.S. in 2007.

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Taken at the CLASS Awards, by CLASS Magazine.

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Taken somewhere in the U.S. of A.

Note: The last two photos were purloined from Facebook.

Historic Beer Birthday: Hamar Alfred Bass

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Today is the birthday of Hamar Alfred Bass (July 30, 1842-April 8, 1898). He was the great-grandson of William Bass, the founder of the Bass brewery, and the second son of brewer Michael Thomas Bass.

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Here’s his biography from Wikipedia:

Bass was born in Burton upon Trent, the second son of brewer Michael Thomas Bass and his wife Eliza Jane Arden, daughter of Major Samuel Arden of Longcrofts Hall, Stafford. Bass was the great-grandson of William Bass, the founder of the brewery firm of Bass & Co, and his elder brother became Lord Burton. Bass was educated at Harrow School and became a Director of the family firm of Bass, Ratcliff, Gretton and Co. He was Honorary Major of the 4th Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire) Regiment and was a J.P. for Staffordshire. Bass played cricket for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), making a single first-class appearance for the MCC against Sussex in 1865. He was dismissed in the MCC’s first-innings by James Lillywhite, while in their second-innings he was dismissed for 3 runs by George Wells. The match ended in a draw.

Bass was elected MP for Tamworth at a in by-election in 1878 and held the seat until 1885 when the representation was reduced to one seat under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He was elected MP for West Staffordshire in the 1885 general election and held the seat until his death aged 55 in 1898 from a complex form of rheumatism.

Bass was a breeder at the Byrkley Stud and his horse “Love Wisely” won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1896. He was also for 12 years master of the Meynell Hunt.

Bass married Louisa Bagot (1853–1942), daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, in 1879. They lived at Byrkley Lodge and Needwood House, Burton, and also at 145 Piccadilly, London. After his death, Louisa married Rev Bernard Shaw.

Bass’s sister Emily Bass married Sir William Plowden, MP for Wolverhampton West, and his sister Alice Bass married Sir George Chetwode being the mother of Field Marshal Philip Chetwode.

Bass’s son William succeeded in his uncle’s baronetcy according to special remainder. Hamar Bass’s daughter Sibell Lucia married Major Berkeley John Talbot Levett of the Scots Guards, son of Theophilus Levett of Wychnor Park, Staffordshire. Berkeley Levett served as one of the Gentlemen Ushers to the Royal Family from 1919 to 1937.

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Rear: Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, Lady Alice Stanley.
Back Row: Hon. Col. Legge, Marquis of Soveral, Duchess of Devonshire, Mr Hamar Alfred Bass, Lord Elcho, Miss Jane Thornewill, H.M. Queen Alexandra, Lord Burton (Michael Arthur Bass), Lady Mar & Kellie, Prince Henry of Pless
Front Row: Lady Noreen Bass, Miss Muriel Wilson, Lady Desborough, Lady de Grey, H.M. King Edward VII, Lady Burton (Harriett Bass), Princess Henry of Pless, Mrs Alice Fredrica Keppel, Miss Bunny Thornewill

And this summary is from the Local History of Burton upon Trent:

Hamar Bass was the second son of Michael Thomas Bass and his wife Eliza Jane Arden. He was brother of Lord Burton and also a Director of the family firm of Bass, Ratcliff, Gretton and Co. One sister Emily married Sir William Plowden, MP for Wolverhampton West, and the other married Sir George Chetwode being the mother of Field Marshall Philip Chetwode.

Hamar Bass was MP for Tamworth from 1878 to 1885. He was then MP for West Staffordshire from 1885 until his death aged 56 in 1898 from a complex form of rheumatism.

Hamar Bass married Louisa Bagot (1853-1942), daughter of William Bagot, 3rd Baron Bagot, in 1879. They lived at Byrkley Lodge and Needwood House, Burton, and also at 145 Piccadilly, London. Louisa subsequently married Rev Bernard Shaw. He was a breeder at the Byrkley Stud and his horse “Love Wisely” won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1896. He was also for 12 years master of the Meynell Hunt.

His son William succeeded in his uncle’s baronetcy of Stafford according to special remainder. Hamar Bass’s daughter Sibell Lucia married Major Berkeley John Talbot Levett, Scots Guard, son of Theophilus Levett of Wychnor Park, Staffordshire. Berkeley Levett served as one of the Gentlemen Ushers to the Royal Family from 1919 to 1937.

The late Mr Hamar Alfred Bass, MP

Historic Beer Birthday: Michael Thomas Bass

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Today is the birthday of Michael Thomas Bass (July 23, 1760-March 9, 1827). He was the son of Bass brewery founder William Bass who ran the brewery from 1787, greatly increasing the brewery’s business and expanding into new markets, such as the Baltic States and Germany.

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Here’s the info on Bass Sr. from Wikipedia:

Bass was the son of William Bass, a carrier from Leicestershire, who founded the brewery in 1777. After his father’s death in 1787, Michael ran the brewery with his brother William until he took sole control in 1795. He continued to develop the Baltic trade with Russia and North Germany, exporting via the River Trent and Hull.

He extended the brewery’s operations, laying the foundations for its future success. He entered into partnership with John Ratcliff and in 1799 he built a second brewery at Burton. Following the Napoleonic blockade, Burton brewers needed another market, and Bass was one of the breweries to start brewing and exporting India Pale Ale (IPA).

Bass married Sarah Hoskins, the daughter of Abraham Hoskins of Burton and Newton Solney. Sarah’s brother, Abraham, built Bladon Castle, a folly which aroused bad feeling locally. Sarah’s great grandfather George Hayne was responsible for establishing the Trent Navigation as an active concern.

Bass died at the age of 66. His eldest son, Michael Thomas Bass continued to manage the brewery company and was MP for Derby for over 35 years. His third son Abraham Bass was an influential cricketer, known as the ‘father of midlands cricket’

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And here’s a short biography from the Bass Family section on the Local History of Burton upon Trent website:

After his father’s death in 1787, Michael ran the brewery with his brother William until he took sole control in 1795. He continued to develop the Baltic trade with Russia and North Germany, exporting via the River Trent and Hull.

He extended the brewery’s operations, laying the foundations for its future success. He entered into partnership with John Ratcliff and in 1799 he built a second brewery at Burton. Following the Napoleonic blockade, Burton brewers needed another market, and Bass was one of the breweries to start brewing and exporting India Pale Ale.

Bass married Sarah Hoskins, the daughter of Abraham Hoskins of Burton and Newton Solney. Sarah’s brother, Abraham, built Bladon Castle, a folly which aroused bad feeling locally. Sarah’s great grandfather George Hayne was responsible for establishing the Trent Navigation as an active concern.

On Bass’s death in 1827, his eldest son, Michael Thomas Bass, Jr., born in 1799, succeeded to the brewery.

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Today is the birthday of English beer writer Adrian Tierney-Jones. Adrian’s written several beer books, and writes online at Called to the Bar. I first got to him when he was the editor for 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die, to which I contributed around two-dozen entries. I’ve also seen Adrian at events in London and Belgium since then, and he’s a great person to share a pint with. Join me in wishing Adrian a very happy birthday.

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Having another pint.

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In Leuven for the Brussels Beer Challenge last year: Adrian, with fellow Brits Tim Hampson, Tim Webb and Pete Brown.

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Me and Adrian having a beer and a chat in Belgium in 2014.

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Brussels 2015, from left: Me, Stephen Beaumont, Pete Brown, Yuri Katunin and Adrian.

[Note: first and third photos purloined from Facebook.]

Historic Beer Birthday: William Everard

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Today is the birthday of William Everard (July 13, 1821-December 28, 1892). Everard co-founded what would become known as the Everards Brewery, which is still a going concern today, and is still run by an Everard, who is fifth generation from William.
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Here is William Everard’s short biography from the brewery website:

William Everard was born on 13th July 1821 in a country where the Industrial Revolution was still in its infancy, and farming remained the largest single occupation. William married Mary Ann Bilson on27th March 1847, they had three children- one of which was Thomas William who would eventually continue his fathers work at the brewery.

On the fifth October 1849, William entered into partnership with Thomas Hull, a local maltster. They leased the existing brewery of Messrs Wilmot and Co. on Southgate Street, Leicester. The brewery became well established during William’s forty two years in charge.

As a successful and responsible Victorian citizen, William took public service seriously and devoted a larage amount of time to several public bodies. He joined the Leicester Highways Board on its constituition, and served for twenty years as its chairman. He was an energetic supporter of the Conservative Party, arranging meetings and political gatherings at his house, eventually becoming chairman of the Harborough Division.

Continuing to operate his farm as well as run his business, William also became prominent in local agricultural affairs as a member of the Chamber of Agriculture and Leicestershire Agricultural Society, founded in 1833.

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The brewery, around 1875.

And here’s the basic brewery history from Wikipedia:

The company began as Hull and Everard in 1849 when William Everard, a farmer from Narborough Wood House and brewer Thomas Hull leased the Southgate Street Brewery of Wilmot and Co from the retiring proprietors. Although Hull continued as a maltster, Everard was the driving force behind the business which he managed until his death in 1892.

The business expanded as the company progressively acquired outlets, with over 100 pubs by the late 1880s. In 1875 the company moved to a new state of the art tower brewery designed by William’s nephew architect John Breedon Everard. The brewery, on the corner of Southgate St and Castle St extracted very pure water from wells 300 feet deep beneath the premises and steam engines played a significant part in the mechanisation.

After the death of William, control passed to his son Thomas. The historic centre of the UK brewing industry remained some 40 miles away at Burton-upon-Trent, which by the 1890s produced one tenth of Britain’s beer. Everard’s leased the Bridge Brewery on Umplett Green island in 1895 but its 10,000 barrels per year capacity proved insufficient. It was replaced with the newer Trent brewery in Dale St which became available after going into liquidation in 1898. The Southgate brewery remained the distribution centre to the Leicestershire pubs with beer arriving by rail from Burton. The Trent brewery was purchased outright in 1901. It was renamed the Tiger Brewery around 1970.

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At some point their Tiger Best Bitter became their flagship beer, and I remember really enjoying during my first CAMRA festival in the early 1990s. It was a regional festival in Peterborough, which happened to be going on in later summer at the end of my wife’s summer semester at the University of Durham. So we took the train up to Peterborough from London to attend the festival, and it was great fun. I had many fine beer that night, but for whatever reason I clearly recall liking this one.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Michael Thomas Bass Jr.

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Today is the birthday of Michael Thomas Bass (July 6, 1799-April 29, 1884). He was the grandson of Bass Brewery founder William Bass. Michael Thomas Bass Jr. took over control of the company in 1827, and “under his leadership, the Bass Brewery became the largest brewery in the world and the best known brand of beer in England.” Bass was also a member of parliament, representing Derby “in the House of Commons as a member of the Liberal Party between 1848 and 1883 where he was an effective advocate for the brewing industry.”

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Here’s a biography, from the Local History of Burton upon Trent:

Bass was born in Burton upon Trent in 1799, the son of Michael Thomas Bass (senior) who had expanded the Bass brewery founded by his father William Bass in 1777 and made it a major exporter to Russia. His mother, Sarah Hoskins, was the daughter of Abraham Hoskins, a prominent lawyer of Burton.

Bass attended the grammar school in Burton upon Trent and finished his schooling in Nottingham. At the age of 18, he joined the family business as an apprentice when business was not going well because the Napoleonic Wars had disrupted trade with Russia. However, the sales of India Pale Ale in India and southeast Asia were taking off by the 1820s.

Bass took over control of the company in 1827 and continued the export focus on Asia. By 1832-33, the company was exporting 5,000 barrels of beer representing 40% of its output in that year

The coming of the railway to Burton upon Trent in 1839 helped the growth of the business by reducing transport costs. The company had four agents in the 1830s in London, Liverpool, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. By the 1880s, this had grown to 21 in the United Kingdom and another in Paris. The export trade was supplied by the agencies in London and Liverpool.

Under Bass’s leadership, company production and sales had grown enormously. Production of ale had grown to 340,000 barrels in 1860 and to almost a million barrels in the late 1870s. By 1881, the company had three breweries and 26 malthouses covering 145 acres (0.59 km2) in Burton upon Trent. The company was Britain’s biggest brewery and was one of its best known companies.

Bass was first elected as the member for Derby in 1848 and served until 1883. His obituary in the Brewers Journal stated that he was known more “in the House of Commons for his regular attendance than for any feats of oratory.” He focussed on being a national advocate for the brewing industry against efforts by nonconformists within the Liberal Party to legislate against alcohol.

Bass was an orthodox Liberal supporting free trade, low taxes and improving living standards for the working class. He promoted legislation to abolish imprisonment for small debtors. His legislation against organ grinders on the grounds that they were street nuisances was less successful.

He was known as a philanthropist both in Burton upon Trent and Derby. His obituarists claimed that his contributions totalled £80,000 and that he had given Derby a new library, School of Art, recreation ground, and swimming baths.

Bass represented Derby until the final years of his life. William Ewart Gladstone offered Bass a peerage which he declined preferring to stay in the House of Commons.

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And here’s his entry from Debrett’s House of Commons and the Judicial Bench, published in 1882:

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And here’s another biography, this one from the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900.

BASS, MICHAEL THOMAS (1799–1884), brewer, was born on 6 July 1799. He was the son of M. T. Bass and grandson of William Bass, both of whom carried on extensive brewing establishments at Burton-on-Trent.

Bass was educated first at the grammar school, Burton-on-Trent, and afterwards at Nottingham. On leaving school he joined his father in business and acted as a traveller. The opening up of the Trent and Mersey Canal gave the first great impetus to the trade of the Burton breweries, and the firm of Messrs. Bass did not fail to utilise this and other developments of modern enterprise.

Bass’s first official connection with the county of Derby was as an officer in the old Derbyshire yeomanry cavalry, in which capacity he assisted in quelling the local riots which occurred before the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832. He speedily acquired an important position in the county, partly from the extensive ramifications of his business, and partly from the interest he took in public affairs, and in 1848 he was requested to come forward as a candidate for Derby in the liberal interest. The sitting members had been unseated for bribery, and in the election which followed Bass was returned at the head of the poll. For the borough of Derby he continued to sit uninterruptedly until his retirement in 1883. Bass was a liberal. He was assiduous in the attention he gave to his parliamentary duties, but was not a frequent speaker.

His personal character gained him the esteem of opponents and friends. He exhibited a lively concern in all questions bearing upon the welfare of the working classes, and in 1866 he requested Professor Leone Levi to institute a wide and methodical inquiry into the earnings of the working classes throughout the kingdom. Bass brought in a bill by which householders might require street musicians to quit the neighbourhood of their houses. A letter of thanks was j addressed to him by a number of the most distinguished authors and artists in London, including Carlyle, Tennyson, Charles Dickens, J. E. Millais, Francis Grant (president of the Royal Academy), and others. Bass also took an active part in abolishing imprisonment for debt, but his popularity at Derby suffered a temporary check by reason of his opposition to the Ground Game Act. The constituency, however, never swerved from its allegiance, although between the time when he was first elected and the last occasion when he was returned to parliament the number of electors had increased tenfold.

An interesting statement, compiled under authority, shows that the foundation of the business of the Burton breweries was laid in 1777 by one William Bass. Fifty years later Bass & Co. still confined their trade in bitter beer to India. In 1827 they began to open up a trade in this country, but no great strides were made until the year (1851) of the Great Exhibition. From this date their reputation began to spread over the metropolis and throughout England. In 1880 the firm did as much business in three days as it was accustomed to do in twelve months fifty years before. It appears that in the year 1878 they paid for carriage alone to the railway and canal companies and other carriers the sum of 180,102l. Messrs. Bass’s ale stores near St. Pancras Station cover three floors, each two acres in extent, and each containing 30,000 barrels of 36 gallons of ale. The firm possess other extensive stores, as well as the breweries at Burton, which are of enormous extent and employ a staff of three thousand persons. In 1882 the average annual amount of the business was assessed at 2,400,000l., and the yearly amount paid in malt-tax and license duty was 286,000l. A calculation made in 1871 demonstrated that the yearly revenue derived from beer and British and foreign wines and spirits amounted to about twenty-eight millions sterling, being more than a third of the whole revenue, and towards this amount Messrs. Bass contributed upwards of 780l. per day.’ A further compilation showed that ‘the stock of casks necessary to carry on the business consisted of 46,901 butts, 159,608 hogsheads, 139,753 barrels, and 197,597 kilderkins, or in all 543,859 casks. The yearly issue of Bass’s labels amounts to more than one hundred millions.’

When the agitation arose amongst railway servants in 1870 for a reduction in their oppressive hours of labour, Bass was their most powerful friend. By his instrumentality an agent was despatched throughout the country to gather information and organise plans for relieving the condition of railway servants and removing the grounds of their complaints. The facts made known led to the establishment of the Railway Servants’ Orphanage at Derby.

The new church of St. Paul’s, at Burton, was built and endowed by Bass. He also raised a smaller church near his residence, Rangemore, a chapel-of-ease, Sunday schools, and an institute and reading-rooms for the use of the working classes of Burton. The entire cost of his benefactions to St. Paul’s parish in that town has been placed at not less than 100,000l. In addition to this, and to private charities almost innumerable, he presented the town of Derby with a large recreation ground and public swimming baths, at a cost of 12,000l., as well as a free library involving an outlay of 25,000l., and an art gallery upon which many thousands of pounds were expended.

Bass died at Rangemore Hall on 29 April 1884. He was extremely simple in his tastes and habits. He refused all offers of social distinction, declining a baronetcy and a peerage which were offered him by successive governments. As a mark of the general esteem, however, in which he was held, a baronetcy was conferred (during his own lifetime) upon his eldest son, Sir Michael Arthur Bass, M.P. for East Staffordshire.

MTBassII

Historical Beer Birthday: John Lofting

beer-engine
Today is as good a day as any to celebrate the birthday of John Lofting (1659–June 15, 1742). Like many people born centuries ago who weren’t royal or otherwise well-born, we don’t know the exact day he was born, but we do know that he died today. Lofting was a Dutchman who lived in London as an adult, and patented several devices, the most famous of which was the fire engine, but he may also have been responsible for the beer engine.

John-Lofting

Here’s his Wikipedia entry:

Originally Jan Loftingh, John Lofting was an engineer and entrepreneur from the Netherlands. His parents were Herman and Johanna. He moved to London, England, before 1686. He patented two inventions being the “sucking worm engine” (a fire engine) and a horse-powered thimble knurling machine. His mill was set up in Islington, where Lofting Road is named after him. However, in or about 1700, he moved his main operation to Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire to take advantage of the River Thames’ ability to turn a water wheel which improved productivity, enabling the production of over 2 million thimbles per year.

sucking-worm-engine
The Sucking Worm Engine, from the British Museum.

And while Joseph Bramah patented the first practical beer engine, Lofting’s design made it possible for Bramah to build on and create his. Although there’s little I could find specific about Lofting’s invention, it is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for the beer engine:

A beer engine is a device for pumping beer from a cask in a pub’s cellar.

The beer engine was invented by John Lofting, a Dutch inventor, merchant and manufacturer who moved from Amsterdam to London in about 1688 and patented a number of inventions including a fire hose and engine for extinguishing fires and a thimble knurling machine as well as a device for pumping beer. The London Gazette of 17 March 1691 stated “the patentee hath also projected a very useful engine for starting of beers and other liquors which will deliver from 20 to 30 barrels an hour which are completely fixed with brass joints and screws at reasonable rates.”

The locksmith and hydraulic engineer Joseph Bramah developed beer pumping further in 1797.

The beer engine is normally manually operated, although electrically powered and gas powered pumps are occasionally used; when manually powered, the term handpump is often used to refer to both the pump and the associated handle.

The beer engine is normally located below the bar with the visible handle being used to draw the beer through a flexible tube to the spout, below which the glass is placed. Modern hand pumps may clamp onto the edge of the bar or be mounted on the top of the bar.

A pump clip is usually attached to the handle by a spring clip giving the name and sometimes the brewery, beer type and alcoholic strength of the beer being served through that handpump.

The handle of a handpump is often used as a symbol of cask ale. Keg beer dispensers usually feature illuminated countertop fittings behind which a handle opens a valve that allows the gas pressure in the keg to force beer to the attached spout.

modern-beer-engine
A modern beer engine.