Historic Beer Birthday: William Cullen

refrigeration
Today is the birthday of William Cullen (April 15, 1710-February 5, 1790). He “was a Scottish physician, chemist and agriculturalist, and one of the most important professors at the Edinburgh Medical School, during its hay-day as the leading center of medical education in the English-speaking world.

Cullen was also a central figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. He was David Hume’s physician and friend, and on intimate terms with Adam Smith, Lord Kames (with whom he discussed theoretical and practical aspects of husbandry), Joseph Black, John Millar, and Adam Ferguson, among others.

He was President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (1746–47), President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (1773–1775) and First Physician to the King in Scotland (1773–1790). He was also, incidentally, one of the prime movers in obtaining a royal charter for the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh, resulting in the formation of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783.”

Cullen extended the subject of chemistry beyond medicine by connecting it to many “arts” including agriculture, bleaching, brewing, mining, and the manufacture of vinegar and alkalies. In brewing, it was the very important need for cooling using artificial refrigeration where William Cullen at the University of Glasgow in 1748 made his impact, making advances crucial to the development of refrigeration for the brewing industry when he began studying the cooling effects of liquids evaporating in a vacuum, the process by which we cool foods today. He even demonstrated artificial refrigeration for the first time in 1748.

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In the Brussels Journal, in a multi-part history of beer, Cullen’s contributions are acknowledged and explained:

The principle of vacuum refrigerators is based on the fact that water in a sealed container can be made to boil if the pressure is reduced (the “boiling point” of 100 degrees Celsius refers to the situation when the external pressure equals one atmosphere; water can be made to boil at lower temperatures on a mountain top). The heat necessary for evaporation is taken from the water itself. Reducing the pressure further lowers the temperature until freezing-point is reached and ice is formed. The Scottish scholar and chemist William Cullen (1710-1790) gave one of the first documented public demonstrations of artificial refrigeration, and the United States inventor Oliver Evans (1755-1819) designed, but did not build, a refrigeration machine which ran on vapor in 1805. I. Hornsey writes in his history of beer and brewing:

“The earliest machine of this type was constructed in 1755, by Dr William Cullen, who produced the vacuum necessary purely by means of a pump. Then, in 1810, Sir John Leslie combined a vessel containing a strong sulphuric acid solution along with the air pump, the acid acting as an absorbent for water vapour in the air. This principle was taken up and elaborated upon by E.C. Carré, who in 1860 invented a machine that used ammonia as the volatile liquid instead of water….The first compression machine was manufactured by John Hague in 1834, from designs by the inventor, Jacob Perkins, who took out the original patents, and recommended that ether was used as the volatile agent. Although Hague’s machine can be regarded as the archetype for all ‘modern’ refrigerators, it never really got past the development stage, and it was left to the Australian, James Harrison, of Geelong, Victoria, to finalise the practicalities and produce a working version, which he did in 1856. By 1859, Harrison’s equipment was being manufactured commercially in New South Wales, and the first of them (which used ether as the refrigerating agent) came to Britain in 1861.”

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Although the first inventor of a practical refrigerator was Oliver Evans in 1805, Cullen invented the process in 1748 which allowed the technology to be further developed. After his public demonstration of the refrigeration effects of evaporative cooling, he described the phenomenon in “Of the Cold Produced by Evaporating Fluids and of Some Other Means of Producing Cold” (Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary, vol. 2 [1756]).

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Historic Beer Birthday: Hew Ainslie

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Today is the birthday of Hew Ainslie (April 5, 1792–March 11, 1878) He is best remembered as a Scottish poet, although he came to America in 1822, settling first in upstate New York, before later moving west to Indiana. According to IndianaBeer.com, he co-founded Bottomley and Ainslie, the first brewery in New Albany, Indiana (which is near Louisville), at least from 1840-1841:

Hew Ainslie, an immigrant from Scotland and a well-known poet, joined the New Harmony community in 1825. When New Harmony folded went to Cincinnati where he opened a brewery. Later he opened a brewery in Louisville that was destroyed in the flood of 1832. He worked after that at the Nuttall brewery in Louisville.

Coming back across the Ohio River, he opened the Bottomley and Ainslie brewery in New Albany in 1840 which was destroyed by fire shortly thereafter. He was listed in the city directory as a maltster in 1841 and then dropped out of brewing. By 1842 he was working in a foundry.

The brewery continued without him, under various names, until prohbition, and eve re-opened after repeal, though only lasted another two years, closing for good in 1935. Here’s the chronology and some more history from the book “Hoosier Beer: Tapping Into Indiana Brewing History,” by Bob Ostrander and Derrick Morris.

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There’s not a lot I could find, and the fullest account of Ainslie’s life was written by Conrad Selle for the FOSSILS newsletter, his local homebrew club, and happily was posted in 2005 on the Potable Curmudgeon’s blog.

Many early brewers worked their trade as a sideline or temporary trade before moving on to other occupations. Hew Ainslie is unique for having been principally a poet.

He was born at Bargany in Ayrshire, Scotland on April 5, 1792. Hew was the only son of George Ainslie, an employee on the estate of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton. He was educated in the parish school at Ballantrae, and later at the academy at Ayr. In 1809 his family moved to Roslin, about six miles from Edinburgh. He married his cousin Janet Ainslie in 1812, whose brother Jock had married Hew’s sister Eleanora.

Ainslie studied law in Glasgow, and worked as a clerk in the Register House in Edinburgh. In 1820 he revisited Ayrshire on foot with James Wellstood and John Gibson and in the next two years wrote A Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns, which was published in London in 1822. The book was an account of their travels and visits with some of Robert Burns’s contemporaries, with songs and ballads by Ainslie that were much in the style of Burns, and illustrations by Wellstood.

In July, 1822, Ainslie sailed from Liverpool to New York with his friend Wellstood. Mrs. Ainslie and their three children joined him in the following year. Ainslie and Wellstood purchased Pilgrim’s Repose, a farm at Hoosac Falls in Rensselaer County, New York. Ainslie and his family lived there for almost three years before joining Robert Owen’s utopian socialist cooperative community at New Harmony, Indiana in 1825.

When Owen’s community failed about a year later they moved first to Cincinnati, where Ainslie became a partner with Price and (Thomas) Wood in a brewery, then to Louisville. In Louisville, a town of 7,000, Ainslie opened a brewery in 1829 at 7th Street between Water and Main. Records show that B. Foster, Enoch Wenzell and Robert McKenzie worked there.

In February, 1832 there was a major flood of the Ohio River, with the river’s waters rising to 46 feet above the low water level. A contemporary account of the “calamity” reads:

This was an unparalleled flood in the Ohio. It commenced on the 10th of February and continued until the 21st of that month, having risen to (an) extraordinary height … above low-water mark. The destruction of property by this flood was immense. Nearly all the frame buildings near the river were either floated off or turned over and destroyed. An almost total cessation in business was the necessary consequence; even farmers from the neighborhood were unable to get to the markets, the flood having so affected the smaller streams as to render them impassable. The description of the sufferings by this flood is appalling …

Ainslie’s brewery was swept away with most of the neighborhood, but in the following years he remained in the beer business, working at the Nuttall brewery on the west side of 6th Street between Water and Main.

In 1840 he opened the first brewery in New Albany, the partnership of Bottomley & Ainslie. Soon that business was destroyed by fire. In the 1841 Louisville City Directory, Hew Ainslie is listed as a maltster; it was his last listing in the brewing trade. Discouraged by fire and flood, he gave up the brewing business altogether. Thereafter, his working life became somewhat intertwined with that of his children, particularly George and James Wellstood Ainslie.

Hew and Janet Ainslie had ten children, seven of them surviving to adulthood. George Ainslie, the eldest Ainslie son, had been apprenticed to Lachan McDougall around 1830 to learn the iron foundry and moulding trade, and he had acquired a solid business and technical education. He became a foreman at John Curry’s foundry and married Mary Thirlwell, daughter of Charles Thirlwell, who was a brewer at the Nuttall Brewery (Hew Ainslie’s one-time employer).

Thirlwell eventually acquired Nuttall and operated it until 1856. In 1842, George Ainslie became a partner in Gowan and McGhee’s Boone Foundry. By 1845 Hew Ainslie — still a poet throughout — was employed as a finisher there as well as working as a contractor and in the building trades.

George and James Ainslie became highly successful in the foundry and machine business, enabling their father to devote more time to writing in later life. In 1853, Hew Ainslie made a long visit to New Jersey to visit members of the family of James Wellstood, undoubtedly providing the poet with a nostalgic link to the Scotland of his youth.

In 1855 a collection of Ainslie’s verse, Scottish Songs, Ballads and Poetry, was published in New York. One latter-day commentator called Ainslie’s songs of the sea “the best that Scotland has produced,” and perhaps this assessment was borne out by the reception accorded Ainslie in Scottish literary circles in 1863, when he returned to Scotland for a final visit.

Janet Ainslie died in 1863 prior to Hew’s last Scottish journey. In 1868 the elderly poet/brewer went to live with his son George in a new home on Chestnut Street (between 9th and 10th) in Louisville, where he spent the last decade of his life and was a familiar sight as he passed time tending the garden there. Ainslie died on March 6, 1878, and was eulogized in the Courier-Journal as “a poet of considerable merit to the people of his native land.” Hew and Janet Ainslie are buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.

In addition to the many accomplishments noted previously, Ainslie is remembered for his height — at 6 feet, 4 inches, he referred to himself in his works as “The Lang Linker” — and for never losing his Scottish accent during almost six decades in America.

There is no specific information to be found as to the products of the breweries with which Hew Ainslie was involved in Louisville and New Albany, but we can surmise from the available evidence that they were typical small breweries of the time, with four or five employees, making ale, porter and stout. As a man who appreciated truth and beauty, it is likely that Hew Ainslie made good malt, and being conscientious with it, good beer as well.

Hew-Ainslie-pastel

And this is a biography from a collection of poetry, The Scottish Minstrel, published in 1856.

HEW AINSLIE.

Hew Ainslie was born on the 5th April 1792, at Bargeny Mains, in the parish of Dailly, and county of Ayr. Receiving the rudiments of education from a private teacher in his father’s house, he entered the parish school of Ballantrae in his tenth year, and afterwards became a pupil in the academy of Ayr. A period of bad health induced him to forego the regular prosecution of learning, and, having quitted the academy, he accepted employment as an assistant landscape gardener on the estate of Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton. At the age of sixteen he entered the writing chambers of a legal gentleman in Glasgow, but the confinement of the office proving uncongenial, he took a hasty departure, throwing himself on the protection of some relatives at Roslin, near Edinburgh. His father’s family soon after removed to Roslin, and through the kindly interest of Mr Thomas Thomson, Deputy-Clerk Register, he procured a clerkship in the General Register House, Edinburgh. For some months he acted as amanuensis to Professor Dugald Stewart, in transcribing his last work for the press.

Having entered into the married state, and finding the salary of his office in the Register House unequal to the comfortable maintenance of his family, he resolved to emigrate to the United States, in the hope of bettering his circumstances. Arriving at New York in July 1822, he made purchase of a farm in that State, and there resided the three following years. He next made a trial of the[Pg 61] Social System of Robert Owen, at New Harmony, but abandoned the project at the close of a year. In 1827 he entered into partnership with Messrs Price & Wood, brewers, in Cincinnati, and set up a branch of the establishment at Louisville. Removing to New Albany, Indiana, he there built a large brewery for a joint-stock company, and in 1832 erected in that place similar premises on his own account. The former was ruined by the great Ohio flood of 1832, and the latter perished by fire in 1834. He has since followed the occupation of superintending the erection of mills and factories; and has latterly fixed his abode in Jersey, a suburb of New York.

Early imbued with the love of song, Mr Ainslie composed verses when a youth on the mountains of Carrick. A visit to his native country in 1820 revived the ardour of his muse; and shortly before his departure to America, he published the whole of his rhyming effusions in a duodecimo volume, with the title, “Pilgrimage to the Land of Burns.” A second volume from his pen, entitled, “Scottish Songs, Ballads, and Poems,” was in 1855 published at New York.

Here, for example is one Ainslie’s poems,

The Daft Days

The midnight hour is clinking, lads,
An’ the douce an’ the decent are winking, lads;
Sae I tell ye again,
Be’t weel or ill ta’en,
It’s time ye were quatting your drinking, lads.
Gae ben, ‘an mind your gauntry, Kate,

Gi’es mair o’ your beer, an’ less bantry, Kate,
For we vow, whaur we sit,
That afore we shall flit,
We’se be better acquaint wi’ your pantry, Kate.
The “daft days” are but beginning, Kate,

An we’re sworn. Would you hae us a sinning, Kate?
By our faith an’ our houp,
We will stick by the stoup
As lang as the barrel keeps rinning, Kate.

Thro’ hay, an’ thro’ hairst, sair we toil it, Kate,
Thro’ Simmer, an’ Winter, we moil it, Kate;
Sae ye ken, whan the wheel
Is beginning to squeal,
It’s time for to grease an’ to oil it, Kate.

Sae draw us anither drappy, Kate,
An’ gie us a cake to our cappy, Kate;
For, by spiggot an’ pin!
It’s waur than a sin
To flit when we’re sitting sae happy, Kate.

And here’s an excerpt from another, suggesting meetings in Ainslie’s day were as pointless as today. This is from “Let’s Drink To Our Next Meeting:”

Let’s drink to our next meeting, lads,
Nor think on what’s atwixt;
They’re fools wha spoil the present hour
By thinking on the next.

Historic Beer Birthday: James Younger

george-younger
Today is the birthday of James Younger (February 28, 1818-August 5, 1868). He was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, and was the son of George Younger, and the grandson of George Younger, who founded the brewery that would become George Younger and Son in 1764. He was also a first cousin of Robert Younger (1850-1887) and the ancestor of the Younger family of York, North Yorkshire. Presumably because he wasn’t the first, but one of several in the very early days of the brewery, there’s very little information about him I could find.

James-Younger

He married Janet McEwan, daughter of John McEwan, in November 1850.

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Here’s the Meadow Brewery around 1890, just before it became known as George Younger & Sons.

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Historic Beer Birthday: George Younger

george-younger
Today is the birthday of George Younger (February 17, 1722-September 28, 1788). Well, not exactly. His exact birthdate was not recorded, but he was baptized today, so that’s the best date we have to use.

Here’s a biography from the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Brewing Archive.

George Younger (1722–1788), a member of a family of saltpan owners in Culross, Fife, Scotland, was brewing in Alloa, Scotland from 1745. He established his first brewery, later known as Meadow Brewery, in Bank Street, Alloa, in about 1764. After his death the business was passed on from father to son, trading as George Younger & Son. Additional premises adjacent to the brewery were acquired in 1832 and 1850.

The Candleriggs Brewery, Alloa, owned by Robert Meiklejohn & Co, was leased in 1852 and bought outright for GBP 1,500 in 1871. The Meadow Brewery ceased brewing in 1877 and was turned into offices for the business. Craigward Maltings, Alloa, were built in 1869 and a new bottling department was established at Kelliebank, Alloa, in 1889. The Candleriggs Brewery was badly damaged by fire in 1889 and rebuilt on a larger scale to cover nearly 2 acres, becoming the largest brewery in Scotland outside Edinburgh.

George Younger & Son Ltd was registered in February 1897 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a purchase price of GBP 500,000. The company traded extensively to the North of England, West Indies, Australia and North America and from the 1880s to India, the Far East and South Africa. It took over R Fenwick & Co Ltd, Sunderland Brewery, Low Street, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, England, and Robert Fenwick & Co, Chester Brewery, Chester–le–Street, Durham, England (closed 1934), in 1898.

The first chilling and carbonating plant in Scotland was installed at Kelliebank Bottling Stores in 1903. The company’s own bottling works was established there in 1908 and a new export bottling plant opened in 1912. The company built up large supply contracts with the armed forces at home and abroad and by 1914 had a lucrative regimental canteen business at Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

It acquired the Craigward Cooperage of Charles Pearson & Co, Alloa; George White & Co, Newcastle–upon–Tyne, Tyne & Wear; and the Bass Crest Brewery Co, Alloa, in 1919. During the same year the Kelliebank bottle manufacturing plant was floated as a separate company and eventually became known as the Scottish Central Glass Works. The Grange Brewery closed in 1941 and the Sunderland Brewery was rebuilt, being sold in 1922 to Flower & Sons Ltd, Stratford–upon–Avon, Warwickshire, England.

The company took over Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd, Townhead Brewery, Alloa, in 1959. It was acquired by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd in April 1960 and became part of the combined Scottish interests of that company, Caledonian Breweries Ltd, later United Caledonian Breweries Ltd, which merged with J & R Tennent Ltd, Glasgow, Strathclyde, in 1966 to form Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd. The Candleriggs Brewery ceased to brew in December 1963.

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And here’s another short account from the Scottish Antiquary.

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Here’s his Meadow Brewery around 1890, before it became known as George Younger & Sons.

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Ron Pattinson has a post about Boiling at George Younger in the 1890’s, and also about the early years of George Younger.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Robert Burns

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Tonight, of course, in Burns Night, with Burns Suppers and other celebrations going on in Scottish, and other, communities worldwide. The reason it’s today is because it’s the day that Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns was born (January 25, 1759–July 21, 1796). He was “also known as Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire, Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these writings his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.”

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He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and “Scots Wha Hae” served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include “A Red, Red Rose”, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That”, “To a Louse”, “To a Mouse”, “The Battle of Sherramuir”, “Tam o’ Shanter” and “Ae Fond Kiss”.

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Never been to a Burns Night? The Telegraph has an answer to What is Burns night and who was Robert Burns? “It’s a night that features whisky, haggis and poetry in honour of ‘Rabbie’ Burns.” Notice that it’s primarily whisky that is the featured drinks at these events. In a nutshell, “Burns suppers may be formal or informal. Both typically include haggis (a traditional Scottish dish celebrated by Burns in Address to a Haggis), Scotch whisky and the recitation of Burns’s poetry. Formal dinners are hosted by organisations such as Burns clubs, the Freemasons or St Andrews Societies; they occasionally end with dancing when ladies are present.”

Burns’ favorite drink was most likely whisky, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t drink wine or beer, and that fact was reflected in his poetry and song lyrics. He even did his own well-known version of the folksong John Barleycorn. So after you’ve enjoyed your haggis, and drank your whisky, here are a selection of Burns’ work where he mentions beer or ale. Some are the full poem, though most are simply an excerpt from longer poems or lyrics.

Robert Burns, from “Epitaph On John Dove, Innkeeper,” 1785

“Strong ale was ablution,
Small beer persecution,
A dram was memento mori;
But a full-flowing bowl
Was the saving his soul,
And port was celestial glory.”

Robert Burns, from “The Holy Fair,” 1785

“Leeze me on drink! it gies us mair
Than either school or college;
It kindles wit, it waukens lear,
It pangs us fou o’ knowledge:
Be’t whisky-gill or penny wheep,*
Or ony stronger potion,
It never fails, or drinkin deep,
To kittle up our notion,
By night or day.”

[*Note: a “penny wheep” is English small beer.]

Robert Burns, chorus from “Lady Onlie, Honest Lucky,” 1787

“Lady Onlie, honest Lucky,
Brews gude ale at shore o’ Bucky;
I wish her sale for her gude ale,
The best on a’ the shore o’ Bucky.”

Robert Burns, from “Duncan Davison,” 1788

“A man may drink, and no be drunk;
A man may fight, and no be slain;
A man may kiss a bonie lass,
And aye be welcome back again!”

Robert Burns, from “Tam o’ Shanter,” 1791

“Inspiring bold John Barleycorn, What dangers thou canst make us scorn! Wi’ tippenny, we fear nae evil; Wi’ usquebae, we’ll face the devil!”

Robert Burns, “Gude Ale Keeps The Heart Aboon,” 1795

“O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon,
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.

I had sax owsen in a pleugh,
They drew a’ weel eneugh,
I sald them a’, ane by ane,
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.

Gude ale hauds me bare and busy,
Gars me moop wi’ the servant hizzie,
Stand i’ the stool when I hae done,
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.

O gude ale comes and gude ale goes,
Gude ale gars me sell my hose,
Sell my hose, and pawn my shoon,
Gude ale keeps my heart aboon.”

Robert Burns, “On Gabriel Richardson,” 1795

“Here brewer Gabriel’s fire’s extinct,
And empty all his barrels:
He’s blest – if as he brew’d he drink –
In upright, honest morals.”

Robert Burns, from “Scroggam, My Dearie,” 1803

“There was a wife wonn’d in Cockpen, Scroggam;
She brew’d gude ale for gentlemen;
Sing auld Cowl lay ye down by me,
Scroggam, my dearie, ruffum.”

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Engraving by David Allan, an artist from Alloa, of Burns’ poem Contented Wi’ Little.

Robert Burns, from “Contented Wi’ Little and Cantie Wi’ Mair,” 1794

“Contented wi’ little, & canty wi’ mair,
Whene’er I forgather wi’ sorrow & care
I gi’e them a skelp as they’re creeping alang,
Wi’ a cog of good ale & an auld Scottish sang.”

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Belhaven’s Robert Burns Scottish Ale.

Historic Beer Birthday: James Watt

reddy-killowatt
Today is the birthday of James Watt, not the BrewDog co-founder, but the “Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer, and chemist who improved on Thomas Newcomen’s 1712 Newcomen steam engine with his Watt steam engine in 1781, which was fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.

While working as an instrument maker at the University of Glasgow, Watt became interested in the technology of steam engines. He realised that contemporary engine designs wasted a great deal of energy by repeatedly cooling and reheating the cylinder. Watt introduced a design enhancement, the separate condenser, which avoided this waste of energy and radically improved the power, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of steam engines. Eventually he adapted his engine to produce rotary motion, greatly broadening its use beyond pumping water.

Watt attempted to commercialise his invention, but experienced great financial difficulties until he entered a partnership with Matthew Boulton in 1775. The new firm of Boulton and Watt was eventually highly successful and Watt became a wealthy man. In his retirement, Watt continued to develop new inventions though none was as significant as his steam engine work. He died in 1819 aged 83.

He developed the concept of horsepower, and the SI unit of power, the watt, was named after him.”

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A portrait of James Watt, by Carl Frederik von Breda, completed in 1792.

Of course, from our perspective his most important contribution was to the industrial revolution, and specifically the improvement of brewery efficiency. While Watt did not invent the steam engine, his improvements made it practical, especially in breweries.

The Watt Steam Engine

The Watt steam engine (alternatively known as the Boulton and Watt steam engine) was the first type of steam engine to make use of a separate condenser. It was a vacuum or “atmospheric” engine using steam at a pressure just above atmospheric to create a partial vacuum beneath the piston. The difference between atmospheric pressure above the piston and the partial vacuum below drove the piston down the cylinder. James Watt avoided the use of high pressure steam because of safety concerns. Watt’s design became synonymous with steam engines, due in no small part to his business partner, Matthew Boulton.

The Watt steam engine, developed sporadically from 1763 to 1775, was an improvement on the design of the Newcomen engine and was a key point in the Industrial Revolution.

Watt’s two most important improvements were the separate condenser and rotary motion. The separate condenser, located external to the cylinder, condensed steam without cooling the piston and cylinder walls as did the internal spray in Newcomen’s engine. Watt’s engine’s efficiency was more than double that of the Newcomen engine. Rotary motion was more suitable for industrial power than the oscillating beam of Newcomen’s engine.

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Watt’s most famous steam engine was the one installed at the Whitbread Brewery in 1785, which was known as the Whitbread Engine. Today it’s located in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia.

The Whitbread Engine

The Whitbread Engine preserved in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, built in 1785, is one of the first rotative steam engines ever built, and is the oldest surviving. A rotative engine is a type of beam engine where the reciprocating motion of the beam is converted to rotary motion, producing a continuous power source suitable for driving machinery.

This engine was designed by the mechanical engineer James Watt, manufactured for the firm Boulton and Watt and originally installed in the Whitbread brewery in London, England. On decommissioning in 1887 it was sent to Australia’s Powerhouse Museum (then known as the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum) and has since been restored to full working order.

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Installation of the Watt Steam Engine at Whitbread.

History of the Whitbread Engine

The engine was ordered by Samuel Whitbread in 1784 to replace a horse wheel at the Chiswell Street premises of his London brewery. It was installed in 1785, the second steam engine to be installed in a brewery, and enabled Whitbread to become the largest brewer in Britain. The horse wheel was retained for many years, serving as a backup in case the steam engine broke down. The drive gear of the engine, still evident today, was connected to a series of wooden line shafts which drove machinery within the brewery. Connected machinery included rollers to crush malt; an Archimedes’ screw, that lifted the crushed malt into a hopper; a hoist, for lifting items into the building; a three-piston pump, for pumping beer; and a stirrer within a vat. There was also a reciprocating pump connected to the engine’s beam, used to pump water from a well to a tank on the roof of the brewery.

In a marketing coup for both the brewer and the engine’s manufacturer, King George III and Queen Charlotte visited the brewery on 24 May 1787. The engine remained in service for 102 years, until 1887.

The engine made its way to the Powerhouse Museum (then known as the Technological, Industrial and Sanitary Museum) through Archibald Liversidge, an English-born chemist, scientist and academic at the University of Sydney, who was a trustee of the museum. Liversidge was in London in 1887, at the time of the engine’s decommissioning, and when he heard that the engine was to be scrapped he asked whether it could be donated to the museum. Whitbread & Co agreed on condition that the engine be set up and used for educational purposes.

Subsequently, the engine was dismantled and shipped to Sydney on the sailing ship Patriarch. For shipping purposes, the large flywheel was divided into two halves. While the flywheel’s rim could be unbolted, the hub with attached spokes had to be drilled through and rejoined after shipping. A shortage of funds meant the engine was kept in storage for several years. Eventually the engine was erected in its own engine house, behind the main building at the museum’s old Harris Street premises. During the 1920s or 1930s, an electric motor was added so that people could see the engine in motion. During the 1980s the Technology Restoration Society was formed in order to raise funds for the engine’s restoration. Restoration took place at the Museum’s Castle Hill site. During the restoration, some parts – including the piston – were replaced to preserve the original parts. The engine, restored to steaming condition, was installed in the new Powerhouse Museum in 1988. Today the engine is sometimes operated as part of the Museum’s Steam Revolution exhibition, steam being provided by the Museum’s central boiler.

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Technical specifications

The engine has a 0.64 metres (25 in) diameter piston with a 1.8 metres (6 ft) long stroke, driven by a mean effective pressure of 70 kilopascals (10 psi). Its top speed is 20 revolutions per minute (rpm) of the flywheel. In the engine’s youth, it had a maximum power output of approximately 26 kilowatts (35 hp).[It underwent a series of alterations in 1795, converting it from single-acting to double-acting; it was alleged at the time that this conversion improved its power to 52 kilowatts (70 hp), but the Powerhouse Museum claims this is false. A centrifugal governor, which moderates the level of steam provided if the engine begins to overload was added some years after this, and beam and main driving rod, both originally of wood, were replaced in sand-cast iron.

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Apart from its age, the engine is notable in that it embodies the four innovations which made Boulton & Watt’s engines a significant driver of the Industrial Revolution. The first is a separate condenser, which increases the efficiency of the engine by allowing the main cylinder to remain hot at all times. The second is the parallel motion, which converts the up-and-down motion of the piston into the arcing motion of the beam, whilst maintaining a rigid connection. The rigid connection allowed the engine to be double-acting, meaning the piston could push as well as pull the beam. Third is the centrifugal governor, used to automatically regulate the speed of the engine. Finally the sun and planet gear convert the reciprocating motion of the beam into a rotating motion, which can be used to drive rotating machinery.

There’s also another Boulton & Watt engine at the National Museum of Scotland. It “was built in 1786 to pump water for the Barclay & Perkins Brewery in Southwark, London. Made double-acting in 1796, it was then capable of grinding barley and pumping water. At that time, no one else could supply a steam engine that performed both these actions at once. With some minor modifications, it remained in service at the brewery until 1884.”

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And this is more from the National Museum of Scotland:

James Watt (1736-1819) was a prolific inventor, surveyor, instrument maker and engineer. His engines dramatically increased the power that could be generated through steam.

By entering into partnership with the Birmingham magnate Matthew Boulton in 1774, James Watt was able to channel the vast resource of Boulton’s Soho Foundry. Their partnership was so successful that the Boulton & Watt firm supplied engines and expertise to countries as far a field as Russia and Greece.

After pumping water and grinding barley for almost eighty-seven years, the engine came out of service in 1883.

You can see a diagram of the engine in action here:

Watt’s Steam Engine

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Inside the Engine

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Lighting the Fire

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Running the Engine

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If you want to read more in-depth about Watt’s development of the steam engine, Chapter III of “The Development of the Modern Steam-Engine: James Watt and His Contemporaries” is online, and there’s also various links at Watt’s page at the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

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Carol Ann Duffy’s John Barleycorn

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Today is the birthday of Scottish poet and playwright Carol Ann Duffy, who is also currently the Poet Laureate of Great Britain. In 2009, she wrote a poem entitled “John Barleycorn” for a BBC2 program “The Culture Show,” which aired November 26, 2009. They describe it as “a lament for, and a celebration of, the Great British Pub, and was “filmed in various bars in Glasgow, including The Horseshoe Bar, The Vale and The State Bar.”

When it first came out, my friend, and British beer historian, Martyn Cornell, referred to it as “one of the best,” which is high praise indeed. He wrote about it in a piece entitled “The best ever poem in praise of the pub.” He also believes that each and every pub that is mentioned in the poem is a real one, which is pretty cool.

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John Barleycorn, by Carol Ann Duffy

Although I knew they’d laid him low, thrashed him, hung him out to dry,
Had tortured him with water and with fire, then dashed his brains out on a stone,
I saw him in the Seven Stars, and in the Plough.
I saw him in the Crescent Moon and in the Beehive.
In the Barley Mow, my Green Man, newly born, alive, John Barleycorn.

I saw him seasonally, at harvest time, in the Wheatsheaf and the Load of Hay,
I saw him, heard his laughter in the Star and Garter and the Fountain and the Bell,
The Corn Dolly, the Woolpack and the Flowing Spring.
I saw him in the Rising Sun, the Moon and Sixpence and the Evening Star.
I saw him in the Rose and Crown, my Green Man, ancient, barely born, John Barleycorn.

He moved through Britain, bright and dark, like ale in glass.
I saw him run across the fields, towards the Gamekeeper, the Poacher and the Blacksmith’s Arms.
He knew the Ram, the Lamb, the Lion and the Swan,
White Hart, Blue Bull, Red Dragon, Fox and Hounds.
I saw him in the Three Goats’ Heads, the Black Bull and Dun Cow, Shoulder of Mutton, Griffin, Unicorn.
Green Man, beer-born, good health, long life, John Barleycorn.

I saw him festively, when people sang for victory, for love and New Year’s Eve,
In the Raven and the Bird in Hand, the Golden Eagle, the Kingfisher, the Dove.
I saw him grieve and mourn, a shadow at the bar, in the Falcon, the Marsh Harrier,
The Sparrowhawk, the Barn Owl, Cuckoo, Heron, Nightingale.
A pint of bitter in the Jenny Wren for my Green Man, alone, forlorn, John Barleycorn.

Britain’s soul, as the crow flies, so flew he.
I saw him in the Holly Bush, the Yew Tree, the Royal Oak, the Ivy Bush, the Linden.
I saw him in the Forester, the Woodman.
He history: I saw him in the Wellington, the Nelson, Marquis of Granby, Wicked Lady, Bishop’s Finger.
I saw him in the Ship, the Golden Fleece, the Flask
The Railway Inn, the Robin Hood and Little John.
My Green Man, legend-strong, reborn, John Barleycorn.

Scythed down, he crawled, knelt, stood.
I saw him in the Crow, Newt, Stag, all weathers, noon or night.
I saw him in the Feathers, Salutation, Navigation, Knot, the Bricklayer’s Arms, Hop Inn, the Maypole and the Regiment, the Horse and Groom, the Dog and Duck, the Flag.
And where he supped the past lived still.
And where he sipped the glass brimmed full.
He was in the King’s Head and Queen’s Arms. I saw him there:
Green Man, well-born, spellbound, charming one, John Barleycorn.

Even better, here’s Duffy reading her poem for the original BBC2 program, “The Culture Show,” in 2009:

Historic Beer Birthday: Peter Ballantine

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Today is the birthday of Peter Ballantine (November 16, 1791–January 23, 1883). He “was the founder of Patterson & Ballantine Brewing Company in 1840 in Newark, New Jersey,” which is better known by its later name, the P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company.

He was born on November 16, 1791 in Dundee, Scotland. He emigrated to Albany, New York in 1820 and learned brewing. By 1830 he had established his own brewery there. In 1840 he moved to Newark, New Jersey and partnered with Erastus Patterson and leased the old High Street Brewery that had been built in 1805 by John R. Cumming. In 1845 Ballantine pulled out of the partnership. In 1850 Ballantine built his own brewery on the Passaic River and in 1857 took on his sons as partners.

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Here’s a short bio of Ballantine from Find-a-Grave:

Businessman. He founded the Ballantine Brewing Company in 1840 in Newark, New Jersey. Born in Scotland, he emigrated to the United States in 1820, and learned the beer brewing craft in New York City, New York. He acquired a brewery with a partner and moved its operations to New Jersey. He became the sole proprietor in 1847, and the P. Ballantine and Sons Brewery would produce beer under that name until 1972. At the height of its operations it would be the 3rd largest brewer in the United States. Today the Ballantine Beer brand is owned and produced by the Pabst Brewing Company.

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This is from “America’s Successful Men of Affairs: The United States at Large,” published in 1896

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And here’s a history of the Ballantine brewery from “A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860,” by John Leander Bishop, Edwin Troxell Freedley, Edward Young, published in 1868:

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Historic Beer Birthday: George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie

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Today is the birthday of George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie (October 13, 1851-April 29, 1929). His great-grandfather was George Younger, who founded the brewery that would become George Younger and Son in 1764. It was located in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, in Scotland. When our George was 17, his father passed away, and he left college to run the family brewery, becoming chairman in 1897.

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According to Wikipedia, “Younger was a Deputy Lieutenant of Clackmannanshire from November 1901, and an elected Unionist MP for Ayr Burghs from 1906 until 1922. He was also Chairman of the Unionist Party Organisation from 1916 to 1923, and Treasurer of the Unionist Party in 1923. He was created a baronet on 12 July 1911, and a viscount — as the 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie — on 20 February 1923.”

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George Younger, at left, in a photo from around 1907, with his mother, son and grandson.

Here’s a biography of founder George and the brewery from the University of Glasgow’s Scottish Brewing Archive.

George Younger (1722–1788), a member of a family of saltpan owners in Culross, Fife, Scotland, was brewing in Alloa, Scotland from 1745. He established his first brewery, later known as Meadow Brewery, in Bank Street, Alloa, in about 1764. After his death the business was passed on from father to son, trading as George Younger & Son. Additional premises adjacent to the brewery were acquired in 1832 and 1850.

The Candleriggs Brewery, Alloa, owned by Robert Meiklejohn & Co, was leased in 1852 and bought outright for GBP 1,500 in 1871. The Meadow Brewery ceased brewing in 1877 and was turned into offices for the business. Craigward Maltings, Alloa, were built in 1869 and a new bottling department was established at Kelliebank, Alloa, in 1889. The Candleriggs Brewery was badly damaged by fire in 1889 and rebuilt on a larger scale to cover nearly 2 acres, becoming the largest brewery in Scotland outside Edinburgh.

George Younger & Son Ltd was registered in February 1897 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a purchase price of GBP 500,000. The company traded extensively to the North of England, West Indies, Australia and North America and from the 1880s to India, the Far East and South Africa. It took over R Fenwick & Co Ltd, Sunderland Brewery, Low Street, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, England, and Robert Fenwick & Co, Chester Brewery, Chester–le–Street, Durham, England (closed 1934), in 1898.

The first chilling and carbonating plant in Scotland was installed at Kelliebank Bottling Stores in 1903. The company’s own bottling works was established there in 1908 and a new export bottling plant opened in 1912. The company built up large supply contracts with the armed forces at home and abroad and by 1914 had a lucrative regimental canteen business at Aldershot, Hampshire, England.

It acquired the Craigward Cooperage of Charles Pearson & Co, Alloa; George White & Co, Newcastle–upon–Tyne, Tyne & Wear; and the Bass Crest Brewery Co, Alloa, in 1919. During the same year the Kelliebank bottle manufacturing plant was floated as a separate company and eventually became known as the Scottish Central Glass Works. The Grange Brewery closed in 1941 and the Sunderland Brewery was rebuilt, being sold in 1922 to Flower & Sons Ltd, Stratford–upon–Avon, Warwickshire, England.

The company took over Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd, Townhead Brewery, Alloa, in 1959. It was acquired by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd in April 1960 and became part of the combined Scottish interests of that company, Caledonian Breweries Ltd, later United Caledonian Breweries Ltd, which merged with J & R Tennent Ltd, Glasgow, Strathclyde, in 1966 to form Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd. The Candleriggs Brewery ceased to brew in December 1963.

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This is the original Meadow Brewery around 1890, before it became known as George Younger & Sons.

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Ron Pattinson has a post about Boiling at George Younger in the 1890’s, and also about the early years of George Younger.

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NPG x37250; George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger of Leckie

Here’s another short biography of Younger:

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Below is the coat of arms of Viscount Younger of Leckie, incorporating the three covered ceremonial cups taken from the arms of the Schaw family of Sauchie from whom the Youngers of Alloa descend through Marjorie Schaw who married Thomas Younger in 1598. The motto at the top translates as “swift and bold,” and at the bottom as “Younger as the years go by.”

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George Younger in Vanity Fair, 1910.

Historic Beer Birthday: William McEwan Younger

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Today is the birthday of Sir William McEwan Younger, 1st Baronet (September 6, 1905–April 15, 1992). He was a Scottish brewer and political activist.

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According to Wikipedia, “His father, William Younger, was a brother of George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger, and of Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh; his great uncle was William McEwan, a Liberal MP for Edinburgh and the founder of McEwan’s Brewery.”

He was educated at Winchester College and at Balliol College, Oxford, before joining the firm of McEwan’s Brewery, which later became Scottish Brewers before merging with the Newcastle Brewery Company in 1961 to become Scottish & Newcastle. Younger was the first chairman and managing director of the new company.

He stood twice as the Unionist Party candidate for the West Lothian at the 1950 general election, but it was a safe seat for Labour and he came a poor second. He was honorary secretary of the Scottish Unionist Association from 1955 to 1964, and was later chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party from 1971 to 1974.

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Here’s an obituary, by Peter Lloyd, that ran in the Alpine Journal, a climbing club to which was a member:

Bill Younger, who died in 1992 after a long illness, outlived his climbing contemporaries, and it falls to me, who only knew him in the last 20 years of his life, to write his obituary. He was a great figure in the business world, especially in Edinburgh and in the Conservative Party in Scotland. He was elected to the Club in 1927 while still an undergraduate on the proposal of A M Carr Saunders and Geoffrey Winthrop Young, so totalling 65 years of membership.

On leaving Oxford he went straight into the family brewing business of McEwans and proceeded to build this up first by the acquisition of another family company, William Youngers, and later by the takeover of Newcastle Breweries and several smaller Edinburgh companies to form Scottish and Newcastle with about 10% of the market. He had an outstanding war record, enlisting in 1939 in a lowland anti-aircraft regiment of the Royal Artillery with which he served in the North African campaign, including the first siege of Tobruk, and in Italy, finishing up in command of the regiment. His double-barrelled name, evocative of beer, earned him the nickname ‘Colonel Screwtop’.

After the war he remained chairman of his company until 1969 and was also active as director of a number of other Edinburgh companies. He was Deputy Lieutenant of Midlothian and later of the City of Edinburgh and, in the seventies, Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party. Through his charitable trust he supported many good causes, notably his college Balliol, of which he became an Honorary Fellow, many Edinburgh charities
including the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Mount Everest Foundation and the A C Irvine Travel Fund.

Bill Younger’s mountaineering record is largely lost in the sands of time, but his companions in his Oxford days included Douglas Busk, A M Binnie and Carr Saunders. In the thirties and after the war he climbed with John Tilney and Claude Elliott. There is a splendid portrait in oils, now in the possession of his daughter, showing him as a young man against the background of the Cresta Rey on Monte Rosa.

When I knew him, in the seventies and eighties in Edinburgh, in Glen Lyon and then in his final home near Henley, we were both past anything more than walks on the Scottish hills. I remember him best in his beautiful house in Moray Place, a swell but quite without pomposity, easygoing but suddenly coming out with trenchant criticisms of the good and the great, casually dressed with a glass of whisky and a cheroot in his hand, enjoying life.

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William McEwan Younger is also featured in The Brewing Connection in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by Ray Anderson, published in Brewery History in 2005.

Scottish brewers get a good airing in the dictionary. Heading the list is McEwan, William (1827-1913), described as ‘a plain, blunt man’ but ‘undoubtedly one of the most successful brewers of his generation … a shrewd, hard headed, hard working businessman…one of the merchant princes of Scotland.’ The piece on McEwan also has a mention of his uncle John Jeffrey with whom he trained before in 1856 ‘he established his own business at the Fountain brewery,’ and of McEwan’s nephew William Younger who joined him as an apprentice in 1874, and who ‘played an increasingly important role … becoming managing director of the firm on its incorporation in 1889 with McEwan … devoting himself increasingly to politics.’ McEwan’s ‘presumptive only child,’ Greville [née Anderson], Dame Margaret Helen (1863-1942), ‘society hostess,’ is also in the dictionary in her own right and has her own place in brewing history having on her death left all her ordinary shares in the brewery to Younger, Sir William McEwan, of Fountainbridge, baronet (1905-1992), who would go on to become the first chairman of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. The dictionary succinctly explains the background of this splendidly named and unconventional ‘brewer and political activist,’ thus: ‘His father was the brother of George Younger, first Viscount Younger, and of Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh [a judge]; his paternal grandmother, Janet, née McEwan, was the eldest sister of William McEwan, Gladstonian Liberal MP for Edinburgh and the founder of McEwan’s Brewery. He was thus brought up with a background of brewing and politics… .’ Younger (known as Bill) joined McEwans when he left Oxford shortly before the firm merged with fellow Edinburgh brewers William Younger (not a relative) as Scottish Brewers Ltd. He had good war and was: ‘Known by his men as Colonel Screwtop, the main supplier of beer to the army being McEwan Youngers.’ The dictionary contains the following intriguing passage on Bill Younger’s unconventional approach to business as managing director of Scottish Brewers: ‘… when the main rival to Scottish Brewers Ltd in Scotland was offered to him he refused the offer on the basis that the resultant combine would so dominate the Scottish brewing scene as to extinguish competition and blunt the competitive edge of his company. His business philosophy was at variance with that of the rest of the brewing industry and he took no part in the councils of the various trade associations.’

McEwan’s is still around, as a brand at least, and today is owned by Wells & Youngs.

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