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: Charles Wells

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Today is the birthday of Charles Wells (August 13, 1842-April 1, 1914). He “was the British founder of Charles Wells Ltd, now the largest privately owned brewery in the United Kingdom, and the progenitor of the Wells Baronets of Felmersham.” In 2006, the brewery entered into a joint venture with Young’s Brewery, becoming Wells & Young’s Brewing Co Ltd., with Wells retaining 60% of the combined business.

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This biography is from his Wikipedia page:

Wells was born on 13 August 1842, the second son of George Wells. He left Bedford Modern School at the age of fourteen and went to sea, ‘signing up with the shipping company Wigrams as a midshipman on the frigate Devonshire’. Wells was made a Captain on 16 December 1868 and offered command of Wigrams’s first steamship.

While on leave in the early 1870s, Wells became engaged to Josephine Grimbly of Banbury, Oxfordshire. Josephine’s father, although in favour of the match, said that ‘Charles Wells must leave the sea and find a new and less dangerous career’. In 1872 Charles and Josephine married; they had five sons (one of whom, Richard Wells was created a baronet) and three daughters.

In 1876, Wells became a brewer when he took over a coal wharf, a malt house and brewery in Horne Lane, Bedford and thirty five public houses, sold to him at public auction in December 1875. He subsequently sold off the coal business.

In 1903, Wells became a member of Bedford Borough Council which he served until 1909. Four of Charles’s sons became partners in the brewery on condition that they live in Wells’s native town of Bedford. In 1910, the business was registered as a private limited company, valued at £150,000 and owning 140 pubs.

Charles Wells died in Bedford on 1 April 1914.

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And this account is from the brewery’s Wikipedia page:

Charles Wells, after whom the company is named, was born in Bedford in 1842; he left school at the age of 14 and ran away to sea by boarding the frigate ‘Devonshire’ which was bound for India. In the late 1860s, Wells was promoted to Chief Officer when he fell in love with and proposed to a Josephine Grimbley. Unfortunately, his prospective father-in-law put paid to his plans when he announced that no daughter of his would marry a man who would be away at sea for months at a time. And so Wells, desperate to marry his sweetheart, left his seafaring career and in 1876 established the Charles Wells Family Brewery to provide beer for the local population of Bedfordshire.

Charles Wells Ltd (also known as Charles Wells Brewery and Pub Company, and previously as Charles Wells Family Brewery) was founded by Charles Wells in 1876. In 1875, a two and a quarter acre site came to auction on the banks of the River Ouse as it ran through Bedford. This site contained both a coal depot and a brew house; included in the price were 35 pubs, mainly in Bedford and the surrounding area.

Wells thought that beer would always be in demand, and with the help of his father-in-law he purchased the site and began work to turn the small brew house into a fully fledged brewery which could serve the county.

As water is an essential ingredient for any beer, Wells believed that good quality water is vital to create the best beer. In 1902, Wells climbed a local hill a couple of miles from the brewery and sank his own well to tap into an underground reservoir of water, purified through layers of chalk and limestone. All beers to this day, both their own and under licence, are made with the certified mineral water drawn from this well.

By 1976, exactly 100 years since the company was established, the brewing operation moved from the Horne Lane site to a new site, the Eagle Brewery on Havelock Street. The move came about due to an increased demand for the company’s beers, spurred on by a deal with Red Stripe brewery Desnoes & Geddes. This offered the company the chance to install the most up-to-date brewing equipment, and a state of the art bottling line.

The company is still in the family’s hands, with the fifth generation coming into the business. There are currently six members of the family who work within the company, serving the Charles Wells Brewery, Charles Wells Pub Company, and John Bull Pub Company. Charles Wells Pub Company has an estate of more than 200 pubs predominantly based across the Eastern and Northern Home Counties regions, while Charles Wells beers are distributed through both the Charles Wells and Young’s pub estates, as well as through various free houses.

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This video, “Charlie Wells: The Story,” was produced by the brewery:

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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Historic Beer Birthday: Edward Greenall

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Today is the birthday of Edward Greenall (August 10, 1758-August 20, 1835). He was the son of Thomas Greenall, who founded Greenall’s Brewery in 1762.

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There’s not too much biographical information about Edward, but he is mentioned briefly in Thomas Greenall & Family:

The eldest son of Thomas Greenall was Edward (1758-1835), who purchased the Walton Hall estate. He had five sons of whom Thomas, Peter and Gilbert entered the family firm. It was Edward’s youngest son, Gilbert Greenall (1806-1894) who first lived at Walton Hall.

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Here’s a history of the brewery, from Wikipedia:

Greenall’s Brewery was founded by Thomas Greenall in 1762. Initially based in St Helens, the company relocated to Warrington in 1787.

It bought the Groves & Whitnall Brewery in Salford in 1961, Shipstone’s Brewery in Nottingham in 1978 and Davenport’s Brewery in Birmingham in 1986. For much of the 20th century, the company traded as Greenall Whitley & Co Limited. The St Helens brewery was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a new shopping centre. The Warrington brewery on the edge of Stockton Heath was bought by Bruntwood, renamed Wilderspool Business Park and is now let to office occupiers.

The company ceased brewing in 1991 to concentrate on running pubs and hotels.

In 1999, the tenanted wing of the Greenall’s operation was sold to the Japanese bank, Nomura for £370 million and the main Greenall’s operation, involving 770 pubs and 69 budget lodges, was sold to Scottish and Newcastle for £1.1billion. Greenalls started to focus its resources on its De Vere and Village Leisure hotel branding at that time.

In February 2005, Greenalls sold The Belfry to The Quinn Group for £186 million.

The Greenall family connection remained as Lord Daresbury, the descendant of the original founder, remained the non-executive chairman. This tie was severed in 2006 when Daresbury stepped down from the post and much of the family’s interest was sold.

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The Greenall, Whitley & Co. Ltd. Brewery, in St. Helens, in 1902.

And this is from Funding Universe:

Patriarch Thomas Greenall learned the brewing trade from his wife’s family in the 1750s and founded his own brewery in northwestern England at St. Helens in 1762. Brewing was a highly competitive business, with rivals ranging from the lone homebrewer to inns and pubs that brewed their own ales to wholesale brew masters like Greenall. Though the founder dabbled in nail making, coal mining, and yarn spinning throughout the late 18th century, brewing remained the family’s core interest. By the turn of the century, Thomas had brought sons Edward, William, and Peter into the business. The Greenalls began to purchase their own pubs and inns as early as 1800, helping to accelerate a gradual elimination of their competition. In Britain, it was customary for bars owned by breweries to carry only the beers brewed by the parent company. For nearly two centuries, these “tied houses” were a profitable segment of Greenall’s business.

In 1788, Greenall formed a separate partnership with William Orrett and Thomas Lyon to purchase the Saracen’s Head Brewery in nearby Wilderspool. Business was so good that within just three years the three partners undertook a £4,400 expansion of the operation.

The family business interests endured a rapid succession of generations in the first two decades of the 19th century. In 1805, both Thomas Greenall and William Orrett died. By 1817, the passing of William and Peter Greenall left only Edward to operate the growing St. Helens brewery. Just a year later, Thomas Lyon died. His nephew and heir, also Thomas, was interested in the Wilderspool brewery only as an investment. In 1818, 60-year-old Edward assigned eldest son Thomas to manage the family’s half interest in Wilderspool and charged younger son Peter with management of the family brewery at St. Helens.

While Peter pursued politics, eventually winning election to Parliament, Thomas proved to be the brewer of his generation. By this time, the family businesses had grown to the point that the Greenalls served as chairmen, guiding the overall direction of the company but leaving daily management concerns to other top executives. Throughout this period, ownership of the pubs and inns through which Greenall’s porters, sparkling ales, and bitters were dispensed was a key to maintaining a strong competitive position.

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And this is Greenall Whitley & Co’s., Wilderspool Brewery, in Warrington in 1887.

And continuing Funding Universe’s history, this portion, entitled “Consolidation of Family Holdings in Mid-19th Century” is where Gilbert comes in and runs the company:

When both Peter and Thomas died in the late 1840s, their younger brother, Parliamentarian Gilbert Greenall, inherited the family’s St. Helens and Wilderspool holdings. Gilbert appointed his nephew, John Whitley, to manage the Wilderspool brewery in 1853 and set out himself to rebuild, retool, and enlarge the St. Helens operation mid-decade.

Longtime silent partner Thomas Lyon died in 1859 and his estate sold his stake in the Wilderspool brewery to Gilbert Greenall, making the Greenall family the sole owners of both the St. Helens and the Wilderspool operations. Gilbert marked the occasion by changing the unified firm’s name to Greenall & Company. Not long thereafter, Greenalls eliminated its last major local competitor by acquiring the Dentons Green Brewery in St. Helens. In 1880, Gilbert (who was made a baronet in 1876 by Queen Victoria) merged the St. Helens and Wilderspool breweries as Greenall Whitley & Company Limited and installed himself as the corporation’s first chairman. Though operating under the same corporate umbrella, the two houses retained their separate identities and brands. By 1882, Greenall’s annual sales volume totaled nearly 90,000 barrels of beer and the company owned about 200 pubs.

Sir Gilbert guided the expansion and modernization of the Wilderspool brewery as well as a flurry of acquisitions in the waning years of the 19th century. His four-year, £6,750 modernization program brought in state-of-the-art brewing and bottling equipment, upgraded the company’s railway access, and expanded the operation’s office space. Acquisitions included the Halewood, Richardson’s, and Spring breweries, bringing with them more than two dozen pubs. A rapid series of untimely deaths accelerated the family’s succession plans when in the space of just two years both Sir Gilbert and his second-in-command, Peter Whitley, died, propelling the chairman’s son, also Gilbert, into the leadership of two growing breweries at the young age of 27.

The new chairman suffered a trial by fire in the first two decades of the 20th century. He began the transition from horse-drawn transportation to gasoline-driven vehicles as early as 1908, adopting some of the first vehicles of their type. World War I brought extreme deprivation to the United Kingdom. Rationing of all foods–including brewing ingredients–and manpower shortages made this period a difficult one for Greenall Whitley, but the company emerged from the conflict unscathed.

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The St. Helens brewery in the 1930s.

Greenall Whitley resumed its acquisition strategy in the period between the World Wars, purchasing nine pubs in 1919 alone. Four years later, the brewery diversified into wine and liquors through the acquisition of Gilbert & John Greenall Limited, a distillery owned by another branch of the family. Though the business remained concentrated in the northwest region of Britain, acquisitions gave Greenall Whitley a growing share of the area’s breweries and pubs in the early 1930s. The purchase of three operations in as many years added nearly 90 ale houses and inns to the company roster.

After four decades as chairman, Lord Gilbert Greenall (who had been given the hereditary title First Baron Daresbury of Walton by King George V in 1927) died in 1938, passing leadership of Greenall Whitley to his son Edward. In his nine years of service to the company, Edward made a special effort to restore and preserve the company’s historic pubs, as well as maintain high standards of quality in the breweries.

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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.

NPG D21497; Hamar Alfred Bass

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

The Mug-House Riots

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Today, just over three-hundred years ago — July 23, 1716 — a little-known historical event took place in London, known as the Mug-House Riots, between Jacobite and Hanoverian partisans.

One of my favorite old books on dates, entitled “Chamber’s Book of Days,” which was published in England, in 1869, has an account of the Mug-Houe Riots:

On the 23rd of July 1716, a tavern in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, was assailed by a great mob, evidently animated by a deadly purpose. The house was defended, and bloodshed took place before quiet was restored. This affair was a result of the recent change of dynasty. The tavern was one of a set in which the friends of the newly acceded Hanover family assembled, to express their sentiments and organise their measures. The mob was a Jacobite mob, to which such houses were a ground of offence. But we must trace the affair more in detail.

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Amongst the various clubs which existed in London at the commencement of the eighteenth century, there was not one in greater favour than the Mug-house Club, which met in a great hall in Long Acre, every Wednesday and Saturday, during the winter. The house had got its name from the simple circumstance, that each member drank his ale (the only liquor used) out of a separate mug. There was a president, who is described in 1722 as a grave old gentleman in his own gray hairs, now full ninety years of age.’ A harper sat occasionally playing at the bottom of the room. From time to time, a member would give a song. Healths were drunk, and jokes transmitted along the table. Miscellaneous as the company was—and it included barristers as well as trades-people—great harmony prevailed. In the early days of this fraternity there was no room for politics, or anything that could sour conversation.

By and by, the death of Anne brought on the Hanover succession. The Tories had then so much the better of the other party, that they gained the mob on all public occasions to their side. It became necessary for King George’s friends to do something in counteraction of this tendency. No better expedient occurred to them, than the establishing of mug-houses, like that of Long Acre, throughout the metropolis, wherein the friends of the Protestant succession might rally against the partizans of a popish pretender. First, they had one in St. John’s Lane, chiefly under the patronage of a Mr. Blenman, a member of the Middle Temple, who took for his motto, ‘Pro rege et loge;’ then arose the Roebuck mug-house in Cheapside, the haunt of a fraternity of young men who had been organised for political action before the end of the late reign. According to a pamphlet on the subject, dated in 1717,

‘The next mug-houses opened in the city were at Mrs. Read’s coffee-house in Salisbury Court, in Fleet Street, and at the Harp in Tower Street, and another at the Roebuck in Whitechapel. About the same time, several other mug-houses were erected in the suburbs, for the reception and entertainment of the like loyal societies; viz., one at the Ship, in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, which is mostly frequented by loyal officers of the army; another at the Black Horse, in Queen Street, near Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, set up and carried on by gentlemen, servants to that noble patron of loyalty, to whom this vindication of it is inscribed [the Duke of Newcastle]; a third was set up at the Nag’s Head, in James’s Street, Covent Garden; a fourth at the Fleece, in Burleigh Street, near Exeter Exchange; a fifth at the Hand and Tench, near the Seven Dials; several in Spittlefields, by the French refugees; one in Southwark Park; and another in the Artillery Ground.’ Another of the rather celebrated mud houses was the Magpie, without Newgate, which still exists in the Magpie and Stump, in the Old Bailey. At all of these houses it was customary in the forenoon to exhibit the whole of the mugs belonging to the establishment in a range over the door—the best sign and attraction for the loyal that could have been adopted, for the White Horse of Hanover itself was not more emblematic of the new dynasty than was—the Mug.

It was the especial age of clubs, and the frequenters of these mug-houses formed themselves into societies, or clubs, known generally as the Mug-house Clubs, and severally by some distinctive name or other, and each club had its president to rule its meetings and keep order. The president was treated with great ceremony and respect: he was conducted to his chair every evening at about seven o’clock, or between that and eight, by members carrying candles before and behind him, and accompanied with music. Having taken a seat, he appointed a vice-president, and drank the health of the company assembled, a compliment which the company returned. The evening was then passed in drinking successively loyal and other healths, and in singing songs. Soon after ten, they broke up, the president naming his successor for the next evening, and, before he left the chair, a collection was made for the musicians.

These clubs played a very active part in the violent political struggles of the time. The Jacobites had laboured with much zeal to secure the alliance of the street-mob, and they had used it with great effect, in connection with Dr. Sacheverell, in over-throwing Queen Anne’s Whig government, and paving the way for the return of the exiled family. Disappointment at the accession of George I rendered the party of the Pretender more unscrupulous, the mob was excited to go to greater lengths, and the streets of London were occupied by an infuriated rabble, and presented nightly a scene of riot such as can hardly be imagined in our quiet times. It was under these circumstances that the mug-house clubs volunteered, in a very disorderly manner, to be the champions of order, and with this purpose it became a part of their evening’s entertainment to march into the street and fight the Jacobite mob. This practice commenced in the autumn of 1715, when the club called the Loyal Society, which met at the Roebuck, in Cheapside, distinguished itself by its hostility to Jacobitism. On one occasion, at the period of which we are now speaking, the members of this society, or the Mug-house Club of the Roebuck, had burned the Pretender in effigy. Their first conflict with the mob recorded in the newspapers occurred on the 31st of October 1715.

It was the birthday of the Prince of Wales, and was celebrated by illuminations and bonfires. There were a few Jacobite alehouses, chiefly situated on Holborn Hill [Sacheverell’s parish], and in Ludgate Street; and it was probably the frequenters of the Jacobite public-house in the latter locality who stirred up the mob on this occasion to raise a riot on Ludgate Hill, put out the bonfire there, and break the windows which were illuminated. The Loyal Society men, receiving intelligence of what was going on, hurried to the spot, and, in the words of the newspaper report, ‘soundly thrashed and dispersed’ the rioters. The 4th of November was the anniversary of the birth of King William III, and the Jacobite mob made a large bonfire in the Old Jury, to burn an effigy of that monarch; but the mug-house men came upon them again, gave them ‘due chastisement with oaken plants,’ demolished their bonfire, and carried King William in triumph to the Roebuck. Next day was the commemoration of gunpowder treason, and the loyal mob had its pageant.

A long procession was formed, having in front a figure of the infant Pretender, accompanied by two men bearing each a warmin pan, in allusion to the story about his birth, and followed by effigies, in gross caricature, of the pope, the Pretender, the Duke of Ormond, Lord Bolingbroke, and the Earl of Marr, with halters round their necks, and all of which were to be burned in a large bonfire made in Cheapside. The procession, starting from the Roebuck, went through Newgate Street, and up Holborn Hill, where they compelled the bells of St. Andrew’s Church, of which Sacheverell was incumbent, to ring; thence through Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields and Covent Garden to the gate of St. James’s palace; returning by way of Pall-Mall and the Strand, and through St. Paul’s Churchyard. They had met with no interruption on their way, but on their return to Cheapside, they found that, during their absence, that quarter had been invaded by the Jacobite mob, who had carried away all the materials which had been collected for the bonfire. Thus the various anniversaries became, by such demonstrations, the occasions for the greatest turbulence; and these riots became more alarming, in consequence of the efforts which were made to increase the force of the Jacobite mob.

On the 17th of November, of the year just mentioned, the Loyal Society met at the Roebuck, to celebrate the anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth; and, while busy with their mugs, they received information that the Jacobites, or, as they commonly called them, the Jacks, were assembled in great force in St. Martin’s-le-Grand, and preparing to burn the effigies of King William and King George, along with the Duke of Marlborough. They were so near, in fact, that their party-shouts of High Church, Ormond, and King James, must have been audible at the Roebuck, which stood opposite Bow Church. The ‘Jacks’ were starting on. their procession, when they were overtaken in Newgate Street by the mug-house men from the Roebuck, and a desperate encounter took place, in which the Jacobites were defeated, and many of them were seriously injured. Meanwhile the Roebuck itself had been the scene of a much more serious tumult. During the absence of the great mass of the members of the club, another body of Jacobites, much more numerous than those engaged in Newgate Street, suddenly assembled and attacked the Roebuck mug-house, broke its windows and those of the adjoining houses, and with terrible threats, attempted to force the door. One of the few members of the Loyal Society who remained at home, discharged a gun upon those of the assailants who were attacking the door, and killed one of their leaders. This, and the approach of the lord mayor and city officers, caused the mob to disperse; but the Roebuck was exposed to continued attacks during several following nights, after which the mobs remained tolerably quiet through the winter.

With the month of February 1716, these riots began to be renewed with greater violence than over, and large preparations were made for an active mob-campaign in the spring. The mug – houses were refitted, and re-opened with ceremonious entertainments, and new songs were composed to encourage and animate the clubs. Collections of these mug-house songs were printed in little volumes, of which copies are still preserved, though they now come under the class of rare books. The Jacobite mob was again heard gathering in the streets by its well-known signal of the beating of marrow-bones and cleavers, and both sides were well furnished with staves of oak, their usual arms, for the combat, although other weapons, and missiles of various descriptions, were in common use. One of the mum house songs gives the following account of the way in which these riots were carried on:

Since the Tories could not fight,
And their master took his flight,
They labour to keep up their faction;
With a bough and a stick,
And a stone and a brick,
They equip their roaring crew for action.

Thus in battle-array,
At the close of the day,
After wisely debating their plot,
Upon windows and stall
They courageously fall,
And boast a great victory they’ve got.

But, alas! silly boys!
For all the mighty noise
Of their “High Church and Ormond for ever!”
A brave Whig, with one hand,
At George’s command,
Can make their mightiest hero to quiver.’

One of the great anniversaries of the Whigs was the 8th of March, the day of the death of King William; and with this the more serious mug-house riots of the year 1716 appear to have commenced. A large Jacobite mob assembled to their old watch-word, and marched along Cheapside to attack the Roebuck; but they were soon driven away by a small party of the Loyal Society, who met there. The latter then marched in procession through Newgate Street, paid their respects to the Magpie as they passed, and went through the Old Bailey to Ludgate Hill. On their return, they found that the Jacobite mob had collected in great force in their rear, and a much more serious engagement took place in Newgate Street, in which the ‘Jacks’ were again beaten, and many persons sustained serious personal injury. Another great tumult, or rather series of tumults, occurred on the evening of the 23rd of April, the anniversary of the birth of Queen Anne, during which there were great battles both in Cheapside and at the end of Giltspur Street, in the immediate neighbourhood of the two celebrated snug-houses, the Roebuck and the Magpie, which shows that the Jacobites had now become enterprising. Other great tumults took place on the 29th of May, the anniversary of the Restoration, and on the 10th of June, the Pretender’s birthday.

From this time the Roebuck is rarely mentioned, and the attacks of the mob appear to have been directed against other houses. On the 12th of July, the mug-house in Southwark, and, on the 20th, that in Salisbury Court (Read’s Coffee-house), were fiercely assailed, but successfully defended. The latter was attacked by a much more numerous mob on the evening of the 23rd of July, and after a resistance which lasted all night, the assailants forced their way in, and kept the Loyal Society imprisoned in the upper rooms of the house while they gutted the lower part, drank as much ale out of the cellar as they could, and let the rest run out. Read, in desperation, had shot their ringleader with a blunderbuss, in revenge for which they left the coffeehouse-keeper for dead; and they were at last with difficulty dispersed by the arrival of the military. The inquest on the dead man found a verdict of wilful murder against Read; but, when put upon his trial, he was acquitted, while several of the rioters, who had been taken, were hanged. This result appears to have damped the courage of the rioters, and to have alarmed all parties, and we hear no more of the mug-house riots. Their incompatibility with the preservation of public order was very generally felt, and they became the subject of great complaints. A few months later, a pamphlet appeared, under the title of Down with the Mug, or Reasons for Suppressing the Mug-houses, by an author who only gave his name as Sir H. M.; but who seems to have shown so much of what was thought to be Jacobite spirit, that it provoked a reply, entitled The Mug Vindicated.

But the mug-houses, left to themselves, soon became very harmless.

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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.]