Today is the 35th birthday of Irish beer writer Eoghan Walsh, whose work brought him to live in Brussels, Belgium, where he writes the blog Brussels Beer City. While I was aware of Eoghan’s work thanks to the interwebs, I finally got to meet and spend some time with him during judging for the Brussels Beer Challenge a couple of years ago, which was great fun. Join me in wishing Eoghan a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Oliver Hughes (May 20, 1959-July 30, 2016). Hughes, along with partner Liam LaHart, co-founded Ireland’s first brewpub, the Porterhouse Brewing Company in 1996. It’s now grown in size, part of the Porterhouse Group. Unfortunately, He passed away in the Fall of 2016 at age 57, and the brewery he started continues to grow and expand, with locations in the UK and America.
This is an appreciation written about Hughes in Drinks Industry Ireland:
Oliver was the co-founder and director of the Porterhouse Group. An entrepreneur who pushed the boundaries wherever he could, he was not content with helping to start the craft beer revolution in Ireland; he went on to create Ireland’s first purpose-built distillery in over 200 years.
Oliver’s mind never stopped turning, whether it was thinking of how to improve his own ventures or how to help others. His ideas are ingrained in the mind of the Porterhouse and his concepts for growth in the Porterhouse Group have been put in place, mainly due to his boundless energy and dreaming.
Oliver and Liam LaHart’s original “mad” idea was Harty’s brewery in Blessington, Co Wicklow, in the 1980s. This attempt at a micro-brewery in Ireland was followed in 1989 by the setting up of The Porterhouse in Bray which pushed craft beer onto the Bray locality.
Following that in 1996, we saw the Porterhouse Temple Bar begin trading. This was only the beginning of the adventure for cousins Hughes and LaHart. They soon opened up Porterhouse Covent Garden in London, the Porterhouse North (recently converted to The Whitworth), the Porterhouse Central and the Porterhouse at Fraunces’ Tavern in New York while the group also expanded to The Port House chain of tapas restaurants.
Oliver’s most recent treasure was the Dingle Whiskey Distillery. His idea was once again ahead of the curve. Oliver only saw one cask ever released, Cask No 2, on 19th December 2016. He was extremely proud of the Dingle Distillery and he knew the future was bright.
Oliver’s ideas, influence and energy can be seen in everything the Porterhouse group has done and will do going forward.
He will be missed.
And this was his obituary in the Guardian, written by Roger Protz:
Oliver Hughes, who has died of a heart attack aged 57, was known as the godfather of the Irish beer revolution. His pioneering Porterhouse pubs and brewery brought much-needed choice to Irish drinkers and, while he was a minnow in an ocean of stout, his mere presence annoyed Guinness.
There are now about 50 small breweries in the republic, challenging the hegemony of the duopoly of Guinness and Murphy’s, the latter owned by Heineken. The existence of that growing independent sector was inspired by Oliver’s determination to create diversity for beer drinkers.
Born in Dublin, he was the only child of Lillian and Brian, a barrister whose work took the family to Fiji, where he served as a magistrate. They later moved to the UK, where Brian practised in Nottingham and Scunthorpe. Oliver studied law at Hatfield Polytechnic (now the University of Hertfordshire) and, while drinking in pubs in Hatfield and neighbouring St Albans, he came into contact with Alan Swannell, one of the early microbrewers of the 1980s, who ran tiny breweries in Kings Langley and Ware.
With his cousin and future business partner Liam LaHart, Oliver went to folk concerts organised by the Irish community in Kilburn, north-west London, and the pair also took part in Troops Out demonstrations and campaigned for the release of the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four. In London they came across the groundbreaking chain of Firkin brewpubs run by David Bruce. Oliver and Liam were impressed by beers with quirky names such as Dogbolter and T-shirts with slogans such as: “If you nick my pint I’ll firkin punch you.” Oliver said the Firkins were the model for the future Porterhouse pubs.
Back in Dublin, Oliver practised as a barrister between 1989 and 1999. But he was still enthused by brewing, and with Liam he opened a brewery called Harty’s in County Wicklow. It failed after two years because, Oliver sai,: “We brewed beer for publicans who wouldn’t pay the bills”. Undaunted, the pair opened the first Porterhouse pub in Bray. They hired “a man with a van” who drove to Europe to bring back previously unknown beers from Belgium and Germany. They also sold beer from another early Irish micro, Galway Hooker.
“We discovered years later,” Oliver recalled, “that other publicans had opened a book on how long we would survive in a pub that didn’t serve Guinness. Some said two days, others six months.”
But Oliver and Liam had touched a nerve with Irish drinkers, and in 1996 they opened a Firkin-inspired Porterhouse brewpub in Temple Bar, Dublin. I was an early visitor to the pub on Parliament Street, a three-storey building with a 10-barrel brewery that restored a famous Dublin style called Plain, the local name for porter made famous by Flann O’Brien in his poem A Pint of Plain is Your Only Man.
Oyster Stout used real oysters, restoring another old Irish tradition. The stand-out beer for me was Wrasslers 4X Stout, based on a recipe from a long-defunct brewery called Deasy’s in west Cork: it was the favourite beer of Michael Collins, founder of the Irish Free State.
Oliver’s ability to get up the noses of big brewers was shown when he was threatened with legal action by Anheuser-Busch and Carlsberg over a wheat beer called Weiserbuddy and a lager dubbed Probably, which was brewed at the Porterhouse. Anheuser-Busch owns Budweiser, the biggest brand in the US, where it is known simply as Bud, while Carlsberg is famous for its long-running promotion that claims the beer is: “Probably the best lager in the world.” Oliver’s legal training told him he would have to change the names before the writs arrived, but he ensured maximum publicity for his beers and pub.
Oliver and Liam expanded. They opened a vast Porterhouse in Covent Garden, London, and two more followed in Dublin, including the equally vast Porterhouse Central on Nassau Street, with their long-standing beers joined by a cask-conditioned real ale, TSB, and Dublin Pale Ale. “We were the first brewery to make pale ale in Ireland,” Oliver said. “Nobody knew what it was and we had to teach people about hops.”
Restless and energetic, Oliver and Liam added restaurants and a nightclub called Lillie’s Bordello in Dublin, built a standalone brewery outside the city to supply their pubs and free trade, and turned Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan into a Porterhouse. The tavern is the oldest inn in New York and famous as the place where George Washington said farewell to his troops at the end of the War of Independence. The site pleased Oliver’s quiet but passionate republicanism. The Porterhouse group now employs 500 people and exports beer to the US, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia.
I once arranged to meet Oliver in Porterhouse Central on Nassau Street in 2012. He was very late, as timekeeping was not his strong point. I’d been travelling all day and urgently needed food. “Let’s go and eat,” he said, and marched me off to a nearby restaurant where we dined on superb Spanish tapas. “Who owns this place?” I asked innocently. “I do,” he replied.
His last enterprise was a whiskey distillery built in 2012 in a redundant sawmill in Dingle on the west coast of Ireland, the first new distillery in the country for 200 years.
Irrepressible and unstoppable, he said his rule of thumb for running successful pubs and breweries was “to watch what the big players do… and avoid it”.
Today is the birthday of Lord Benjamin “Benjie” Iveagh (May 20, 1937-June 18, 1992). His full name was The Rt. Hon. (Arthur Francis) Benjamin Guinness, 3rd Earl of Iveagh. “Lord Iveagh (often popularly known as Benjamin Iveagh) was born into the Anglo-Irish Guinness family, being the son of Arthur Onslow Edward Guinness, Viscount Elveden, and Elizabeth Cecilia Hare. He was educated at Eton College, Trinity College, Cambridge, and the University of Grenoble. He inherited the title from his grandfather, The 2nd Earl of Iveagh, in September 1967. He lived at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park in Dublin and was chairman of Guinness 1961–1992. He was a trustee of two charitable housing associations, the Iveagh Trust in Dublin and the Guinness Trust in London.”
Here’s Guinness’ obituary from The Independent:
Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness, businessman, born 20 May 1937, styled Viscount Elveden 1945-67, Director Guinness 1958-92, Assistant Managing Director 1960-62, Chairman 1962-86, President Guinness plc 1986-92, succeeded 1967 as 3rd Earl of Iveagh, Member Seanad Eireann 1973-77, married 1936 Miranda Smiley (two sons, two daughters; marriage dissolved 1984), died London 18 June 1992.
As far as the business world is concerned, the Earl of Iveagh will be remembered chiefly as the man who recruited Ernest Saunders to Guinness.
His own business career was at best undistinguished and at times positively disastrous. By the early 1980s, Guinness’s need for a dynamic new chief executive was desperate. With every day that passed, the Guinness family fortune seemed to slip further into the sea as the company’s stock price plummeted new depths. The City was clamouring for management changes.
It was in these circumstances that Saunders, head-hunted from a top marketing job with Nestle in Switzerland, went to Ireland to be interviewed at Iveagh’s house, Farmleigh, in Phoenix Park on the outskirts of Dublin.
Iveagh’s undoing was probably in being appointed chairman of Guinness at too young an age – a mere 25. His reign was marked first by a phase of unbridled diversification away from the core brewing business and then a prolonged period of debilitating decline. By the time Saunders had his first meeting with him, Guinness was engaged in, among other things, snake-farming, orchid-growing, and the manufacture of babies’ plastic potties.
Saunders remembers Farmleigh as a cold, empty, lonely sort of place with ‘an enormous entrance hall lined with dozens and dozens of wellington boots’. In his son’s book Nightmare, Saunders paints a picture of aristocratic decay – lunch at a tiny table in the middle of a huge draughty dining- room punctuated by the sound of a butler padding down forgotten corridors. At one point a cat jumps up on the table and tiptoes through the butter.
Saunders believed that he was seen by Iveagh and the rest of the Guinness family as a kind of gamekeeper. He still tells the story of how at a family wedding he was put below the salt on the servants’ table during the reception. He believes that the Guinnesses, as much as anyone else, made him into a scapegoat for what later occurred.
In truth Iveagh was the perfect chairman for a thrusting, dynamic and unscrupulous chief executive such as Saunders. From the beginning Iveagh abdicated all responsibility and power to Saunders. Often away from London at his home in Dublin, he became like an absentee landlord. At the same time he became a highly useful foil to Saunders, who would use Iveagh to bolster his management decisions. ‘I have spoken to Lord Iveagh and he is entirely in agreement,’ Saunders would say, often falsely.
Indeed, when Saunders was put on trial over the Distillers takeover, there were some famous and bitter recriminations between the two. Time and again, what Saunders said happened was at odds with Iveagh’s account. The sadness of it all was that by the time Iveagh gave evidence, Saunders’s claim that what was being heard was the rambling, confused and muddled account of a befuddled alcoholic suffering from some form of amnesia was all too believable. It was plain to all who witnessed Iveagh on the stand, that by giving Saunders and his henchmen such a free hand, Iveagh had failed in his duties as chairman, and indeed to that extent could be held accountable for the financial scandal that followed.
And here is his obituary from the New York Times:
The third Earl of Iveagh, who served as chairman of Guinness P.L.C. during a period of change and turmoil for the British brewing and spirits giant, died here on Thursday. He was 55 years old.
Company officials said he had died of a throat ailment but declined to provide further details.
Lord Iveagh was a descendant of the Arthur Guinness, the brewer who founded the company in Dublin in 1759. Lord Iveagh served as chairman from 1962 until 1986 and as president from 1986 until last month, when he left the company.
By the late 1970’s, the company, whose name is still most widely associated with the stout that bears its name, was stagnating and appeared to be in danger of becoming a takeover target. A program undertaken by Lord Iveagh to diversify out of alcoholic beverages did not do much to improve the company’s performance. Consumption Increased
To breathe new life into Guinness, Lord Iveagh recruited Ernest W. Saunders from Nestle, the Swiss food giant, to be chief executive in 1981. Mr. Saunders began the marketing effort that increased consumption of Guinness stout, whose sales are among the fastest growing of major beers in the world.
Mr. Saunders also began to pursue the acquisition strategy that helped to transform Guinness into a world powerhouse in spirits, especially Scotch and gin. Under Mr. Saunders, Guinness bought Arthur Bell & Son, a Scotch producer, for $574 million in 1985 and the Distillers Company, a leading British spirits company, for $4 billion in 1986.
It later emerged that Mr. Saunders had taken part in an illegal scheme to prop up Guinness’s share price during the takeover fight for Distillers to give Guinness’s stock-and-cash offer a better chance of prevailing.
When the scandal broke, Lord Iveagh at first backed Mr. Saunders but then changed his mind. Guinness’s board, including Lord Iveagh, voted to dismiss him in January 1987. Mr. Saunders later went to jail.
Under Anthony J. Tenant, who succeeded Mr. Saunders as chief executive and is now chairman, Guinness has become one of the world’s most successful and profitable drinks companies. But the scandal tarnished the Guinness name. Over the centuries, the family had earned a reputation as philanthropists and enlightened employers.
The Saunders era also brought about the end of the Guinness family’s dominance over the company. As a result of the issuing of new shares by the company to pay for acquisitions, the family’s stake in Guinness fell from about 25 percent in the late 1970’s to less than 2 percent today. Lord Iveagh’s decision not to seek re-election to the company’s board in May left it without a Guinness director for the first time.
Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness, who was known as Ben to friends, was born on May 20, 1937, to Viscount Elveden and the former Lady Elizabeth Hare. His father died in action in World War II in 1945, and he became Viscount Elveden and heir to his grandfather, the second Earl of Iveagh.
He was educated at Eton, at Trinity College, Cambridge, and the University of Grenoble.
A shy man and bibliophile who once dreamed of becoming a farmer, he found himself drawn into the family business instead. He was elected to the board of the company in 1958, became assistant managing director in charge of the Park Royal brewery in London in 1959 and succeeded his grandfather as chairman three years later. Married in 1963
He married Miranda Daphne Jane Smiley in 1963 and became the third Earl of Iveagh when his grandfather died in 1967.
Lord Iveagh, who had a home in London and estates in Suffolk, England, and Castleknock in County Dublin in Ireland, loved horses and racing. He also served four years as an appointed member of the Irish Senate in the 1970’s.
Lord Iveagh’s marriage ended in divorce in 1984. A newspaper obituary today in The Daily Mail by his cousin Jonathan Guinness, said the divorce was amicable and Lord Iveagh had been cared for in his former wife’s home in London during the illness that caused his death.
He is survived by their two sons and two daughters. The earldom now goes to his eldest son, Arthur Edward Guinness.
Benjamin Guinness and his wife Miranda Smiley, from their wedding in 1963
Today is the birthday of Charles Duff (April 7, 1894–October 15, 1966). He was primarily known as “an Irish author of books on language learning,” although his most famous book was “A Handbook of Hanging,” which also covered “electrocution, decapitations, gassings, innocent men executed and botched executions.” He was an interesting, eclectic person, to say the least, and last year Gary Gillman did a nice job summarizing his quirky life in a post entitled “Charles Duff on the Circa-1950s Irish P
But he also wrote a few travel guides, including one called “Ireland and the Irish,” published in 1952. In it, he starts with Irish history and its folklore, in fact spending nearly 100 pages of the 282-page book, before actually suggesting what the reader should see in Ireland.
Duff also had a lot to say about beer in Ireland at the time, and it’s fascinating to see his views over 75 years later. Gillman also analyzes his writing historically and reprints some of his great writing, and you should read that, too, but I’m also sharing my favorite passages from Duff regarding the beer.
In discussing Dublin, Duff attempts to provide an image of the typical modern Dublin
The atmosphere is
cocktailish, the seats are most comfortable, the carpets soft. I did not find the drinks or service any less efficient, nor, I must say in fairness, any more efficient than in the old days when, before Dublin was really awake in the morning, a kindly and sympathetic barman diagnosed your hangover and might prescribe, as he did for me on one occasion, a seidlitzpowder, telling me not to drink anything alcoholic before noon, when he recommended a dozen oysters and a bottle or two of stout “to settle the inside and get back the feelings of a Christian.” Today the atmosphere is convivial and friendly, and you will get a good drink there. But when you go out into the street you will not have the feelings we had after a session there. I think the main difference is that in the old days the drinkers in ‘Davy Byrne’s’ had a higher opinion of one another than they have now. And in the old days you sat on any sort of old chair with a pint in front of you on a very plain table and knew that there was no other pub quite like this. It is almost ill- mannered to make the comparison, and perhaps unfair to the present house which, after all, is not responsible for the age in which we live.
Another interesting insight about
It is not a bad preparation for a visit to Dublin to read James Joyce’s Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses—in that order if you have not already read Joyce. On your second visit, or perhaps on some later occasion, you can have a try at Finnegan’s Wake, which a Dublin friend assures me is best read by moonlight as you lean over one of the Liffey bridges, and preferably while in that state of imaginative gestation to which a reasonable consumption of the wine of the country—Guinness’s Stout—is conducive. But you will not need any of this preparation to tell you that Dubliners are not always easy people to understand, and experience of Ireland can lead you to the conclusion that it is more difficult to grasp and
analysethe mentality of the Dubliner than of any other kind or class of native. For one thing, Dubliners are a more mixed breed than you will find anywhere in Ireland,because Dublin has been a cosmopoli- tancommunity longer than any other in Ireland. This ‘town of the ford of the hurdles’ had its original Picts, Celtic Irish, its Norsemen, its Normans and then its English as the principal elements in its ethnic constitution. It has also had a generous sprinkling of the adventurous; and of the adven- turers, military, political and commercial, who invariably find their way to promising territories. In Dublin you will find surnames which come director are derived from those of almost every country and race in Europe; one cannot say this of any other Irish city or town.
Duff’s other travel guide was called “England and the English,” in which he followed a similar format as his Irish guidebook. This one was published a few years later, in 1955. Gillman also analyzes Duff’s English writing, too, in a two-part post entitled Charles Duff Eulogises the English Pub – Part I, which primarily provides context and background to the 1950s climate in which Duff was writing. But in Part II he tackles Duff’s take on the Eglish pub.
But I’m more interested in just sharing his stories. Like his previous work, it is filled with interesting anecdotes about like in England, with this one from
By way of final warning, I can tell of an episode I am not likely to forget. There was a shortage of beer in the last years of the Second World War when I was staying at the cottage in Devon. That did not greatly worry local people; they drank their local cider. But very often the American troops stationed in the neighbourhood suffered distress from the lack of alcohol and (I suspect, somewhat to their disgust) were driven back on cider, which they contemptuously regarded as a soft drink 1 Friendly patrons of the pub advised them to ‘take it easy’ until they got used to it. But those hearties just laughed, possibly
regarding thecivilian adviser as needlessly timid; and they just went ahead. At about the third mug the fun began then the cider startedto have effect. Another mug or two and the balloon wentup. The usual effects of strong alcohol were felt :in this caseof an alcoholic beverage to which those strong, healthy menwere quite unaccustomed. We all felt sorry for them, and fortheir poor heads nextday. And as, one by one they rolled off, the locals smiled and called for another mug saying: “Don’t it just show ‘ee !”
My friend would often reminisce and philosophize
about cider, telling me that farm-workers used to have little barrels (he later showed me his; it held about a pint and a half) which theytook with them to their work, but that the young genera- tionknow nothing of this. He thought that modern cider is betterand purer than that of his youth. He had known of men who drank themselves to death on cider, but insisted that this is rare; because, he said, cider is one of those rare drinks which carries its own safety-point and, when that point has been reached depending on the drinker’s capacity and head there is no inclination to drink any more. “How very con- venient!” the conservative drinker will say. The illustrious maycomment: “How awful! ” There it is.
Duff discusses pubs more generally when covering the “prosperous market-town of Bishop’s Stortford (about thirty miles from London) is on the River Stort, which forms the boundary with Essex.”
It was precisely this easy-going atmosphere which I liked about Bishop’s Stortford. With it goes a great variety of friendly pubs Herts is a good county for beer some of which confront the traveller unexpectedly, and inside are found to be just the sort of typical little country pubs one reads about. You can find a pub almost anywhere in the town. There are the major houses such as the ‘George* and the ‘Chequers’, but I felt attracted by old names such as:
- The Feathers
- The Falcon
- The Anchor
- The Swan
- The Grapes
- The Reindeer
- The Boar’s Head
- The Half Moon
- The Rising Sun
- The Castle The Royal Oak
- The Bull
- The Fox
- The Bricklayers’ Arms
most of them with their colourful, interesting signs. The names I have listed do not exhaust the possibilities of Bishop’s Stortford, and merely represent what I recall easily. The little ‘Bricklayers’ Arms’ on the road to Hadham had just received a fresh coat of paint the last time I was there. I thought it
lookeda very beautiful little pub from outside. Inside I was not disappointed: the beer was delicious, and Mrs. Morgan, the landlady, a great personality whom I am not likely to forget.
I should like to dwell on these pubs, some of which are very old, because of their importance as an institution of considerable import in the social fabric of this country. Hertfordshire, and, indeed, all of this eastern area, can provide examples of more than ordinary interest. At St. Albans there is the ‘Fighting Cocks’, which is said to be the oldest inhabited licensed house in England. Thomas Burke mentions A.D. 795 as the date of its foundation. “The
travellerby carwho takes the Great North Road the historic highway linking London with Edinburgh will come upon many pub signs which will inevitably attract his attention and often make him stop for a closerscrutiny. A little conversation with landlords and know- ledgeablelocal people will quickly show that the English public-house (as we usually call it now), with which one may include the terms ‘inn’ and ‘tavern’, embraces a vast social his- tory that can be traced back to Saxon times. For over one thou- sandyears the house which provides food and drink for the travellerand wayfarer, and a centreor dub for local people, has been a part of English life. If I have not mentioned the subject until now, it is not because other areas of England are less rich in public-houses than this eastern part, but merely that it falls in more conveniently at this stage. What I say about the pubs here can be paralleled for most parts of England and, as it is, I can deal with it only in the most summary way. Take, for example, the ‘Letchworth Hair at Letchworth, formerly a manor-house and, some may say, too much of an hotelto be considered as a ‘typical’ pub. It is mentioned in Domesday Book. And the ‘Sun’ at Hitchin, which was used by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War (1642-1648), and, in 1745, was the place in which North Hert fordshiremen enrolled for the ResistenceMovement that was to face the advancing army of the Pretender. Some of these old buildings are architecturally and artistically extremely interesting, externally or internally, and sometimes in both senses. As we move northwards, a slight detour takes us to Buckden and Huntingdon, both in Huntingdonshire. The first town has the ‘Lion’ with a lounge beautifully adorned by some magnificent oak beams; the second town has the ‘George’, with its long frontage and a lovely row of fifteen windows. Stilton, where one of the world’s great cheeses is made, has the ‘Bell’ dating back to the spacious days when men travelledon horseback, more often than not in companies in order to be able to cope with the activities of such gentry as Dick Turpin. Lincolnshire has some noteworthy houses: the ‘George’ at Stamford where, in 1746, William Duke of Cumberland put up after his victory over Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden; and the curiously named ‘Ram Jam Inn’, a haunt of Dick Turpin and his men. At Granthamthere is another ‘George’, visited by Charles Dickens in 1838 and about which he wrote to his wife, “. . . the most comfortable inn I ever put up in”. In Granthamthere is also the ancient ‘Angel and Royal’ with seven hundred years of history behind it and originally a favouritehouse of the Knights Templars. Kings held their courts there; the present building dates from about the middle of the i4th century. These few dips will indicate the scope of the subject, but I think I have said sufficient to show the reader that the English pub is a very old, very strong institution and in every way worthy of his attention. I have never yet entered a pub, however humble, from which I did not emerge refreshed in mind and body, and I think that a good argument could be put up in favour of the pub as the most characteristic institution of the people of England: of the men, that is, for it is only in comparatively recent years that women are frequenting licensed premises with the approval of the younger generation of men, of course, but often with the strong disapproval of old regulars. To theseit is unbecoming to the spirit and atmosphere of their club that lively and frivolous girls the more attractive they are, the worse it is ! often in slacks or even shorts, should lower the serious tone of the establishment with their disconcerting jazzing, crooning and giggling. This little survival of Puritanism is quickly passing and in many places no longer exists. It will soon be gone. The pub will survive by adapting itself to the social environment: as it always has done in the past.
He also stresses that one should never discuss politics or religion in a pub, good advice now as then.
Again it comes back to the desire for political stability, for if there is one thing that the English have learnt by bitter experience, it is that nothing can cause greater disturbances than religion, especially when used for a political end. A man’s religion is his own affair. Hence, in conversation it is never even discussed! The unwritten law of the English pub is: No religion.
Though his father’s birthdate is uncertain, today is definitely the birthday of Arthur Guinness II (March 12, 1768-June 9, 1855).
Here’s his story, from Wikipedia:
Arthur was the second son of Arthur Guinness and his wife Olivia Whitmore, and was born at their home at Beaumont House (now a part of Beaumont Hospital, Dublin). He attended White’s Academy in Grafton Street, Dublin, (now the site of Bewley’s). Arthur started working for his father at the St James’s Gate brewery from the 1780s. In 1790 his father, then aged 65, commented in a letter that the expansion of his brewery was partly due to his help:
“..one of my sons is grown up to be able to assist me in this Business, or I wd not have attempted it, tho’ prompted by a demand of providing for Ten Children now living out of one & twenty born to us, & more likely yet to come.”
On his marriage to Anne Lee in 1793 the lease of the brewery was assigned to their marriage settlement, proof that he was intended to take over the management of the brewery on his father’s death. At the time his younger brothers Benjamin (d.1826) and William (d.1842) were also working in the brewery.
In 1782 his father had also founded the “Hibernian Mills” beside the River Camac in Kilmainham to mill flour for the expanding city’s population. This was due to the expansion of Irish exports and commerce fostered from 1779 by the Irish Patriot Party, which the Guinnesses supported.
On his father’s death in January 1803, he and his brothers Benjamin and William Lunell created a partnership trading as: “A. B. & W.L. Guinness & Co, brewers and flour millers”. He bought Beaumont House from his elder brother the Revd. Hosea Guinness, who was Rector of St. Werburgh’s Church, Dublin. In 1808 they bought their first steam engine from Boulton and Watt for pumping water.
Sales grew from 360,936 gallons in 1800 to 2,133,504 gallons by 1815. A slump followed, with sales dropping from 66,000 barrels to 27,000 by 1820.
From its rebuilding in 1797–99 the brewery had stopped brewing ale and concentrated on porter. From the 1820s enhanced and stronger varieties of porter known as “Extra Superior Porter” or “Double Stout” were developed in Dublin for the export trade to Britain. By 1837 the young Benjamin Disraeli mentioned that he had: “.. supped at the Carlton.. off oysters, Guinness and broiled bones”.
In the background Arthur’s brewery benefited hugely until the 1830s from the difference between the malt tax levied in Britain and Ireland, easing his higher-value exports to Britain, and so Arthur became more of a supporter of the union as it was in the 1830s, having been a supporter of Grattan’s form of home rule in his youth.
In 1839 Guinness assisted his nephew John in establishing a short-lived brewery in Bristol.
By his death in 1855, St James’s Gate was brewing and selling 78,000 hogsheads annually, equivalent to 4,212,000 gallons. Of these, 42,000 hogsheads were exported, mainly to the British market.
Today might be, though it probably isn’t, the birthday of Arthur Guinness (March 12, 1724-January 23, 1803). But this is as good a day as any, and in some ways better than many others that have been suggested. I’ve been collecting holidays, dates, birthdays, etc. since the late 1970s. I bought a cocktail paperback book and in the back, one of the appendices had four reasons to drink for every day of the year. Intrigued, I bought a thin diary and started writing them down as I came across new ones. When I outgrew that one, I bought a bigger one and hand-copied all of them from one to the other. Thank goodness computers came along so I didn’t have to keep that up. To save space, everything was color-coded and I never noted the original source, primarily because in those early days it was just something goofy I did for myself and I didn’t envision any practical application for such a list. Silly rabbit. Fast forward thirty years and the first website I set up, in 1998, was The Daily Globe, which was to house my collection of dates, among other things. It was then it became apparent that having the original sources would have been useful, but the damage was done. At some point I stumbled on the birthdate of Arthur Guinness, given as a day in September. Several years ago, after the Bulletin started, I ran my daily list as a matter of course on the date I had for Arthur Guinness’ birthdate, and understandably got called out by the Beer Nut for the source of the date. Of course, I had not been keeping them but have always taken the position that it’s better to celebrate the person’s life even if you don’t have the exact right date than ignore them entirely.
Eventually, I got around to trying to find that earlier source, and in the process opened a can of worms. That September date is more than likely wrong, of course, and was simply made up in 1991 by the Guinness company “apparently to end speculation about his birthdate,” as if that would do any good. That’s probably where I got the date, but since I didn’t keep my sources, who knows? In 2009, Guinness decided to declare September 24 “Arthur’s Day” further muddying the waters. The first year was to mark the 250th anniversary of Guinness, but in subsequent years it became a music festival and opportunity to do a worldwide toast to promote the beer. They kept up that farce on the 3rd Thursday in September each year until 2013, but cancelled it in 2014. So clearly September is a dead end.
In 2012, my favorite British beer historian, Martyn Cornell, weighed in on Guinness myths and scandals, including the date of his birth.
“Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 in Celbridge, County Kildare.” The Dictionary of Irish Biography claims he was born on March 12, 1725. However, that does not match the statement on Arthur Guinness’s grave in Oughterard, Kildare that he died on January 23, 1803 “aged 78 years”, from which it can be inferred that his birthday must have been between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725. The most accurate statement, therefore is that his date of birth is unknown, but he was born 1724/5.
Here’s his gravestone:
So if March 12, 1725 can’t be correct, but it must be “between January 24, 1724 and January 23, 1725,” then maybe it was 1724. So for no better reason than it fits the span of dates, maybe The Dictionary of Irish Biography simply got the year wrong by one. Maybe not, but I like having a date to hang my hat on. So until I find something more compelling, and merely for the purposes of commemoration, I’ll toast Arthur Guinness on March 12.
Arthur Guinness, of course, founded the Guinness Brewery in 1759, famously signing a 9,000-year lease for the St. James’ Gate property in Dublin. Shortly afterwards, in 1761, “he married Olivia Whitmore in St. Mary’s Church, Dublin, and they had 21 children, 10 of whom lived to adulthood.”
Arthur Guinness was born to a family of brewers on the estate of Arthur Price, the Protestant Church of Ireland archbishop of Cashel. Arthur’s father Richard was Dr. Price’s brewer, and was known for his particularly fine porter beer. He taught Arthur the craft of brewing.
Arthur must have been a particular favorite of Dr. Price, because on the archbishop’s death in 1752 he bequeathed to Arthur the sum of £100, the equivalent of four years wages. Over the following three years, he perfected his skills as the brewer for an inn owned by his stepmother. In 1755, he struck out his own, purchasing a small brewery in the village of Leixlip. He may have seen brewing beer as a service to the community: this was the era in which gin was devastating poor communities and beer provided a far healthier and less intoxicating alternative.
In 1759, Arthur moved to Dublin. There he found an abandoned brewery at St. James’ Gate, for rent for £100 down and £45 per year. Arthur somehow managed to get the owner to agree to a lease for up to 9,000 years on these terms, and so Arthur opened his new brewery in Dublin.
Arthur was a very dedicated member of the Church of Ireland. In Dublin, he attended a church in which John Wesley preached, and Wesley’s ideas about hard work, the goodness and responsibilities of wealth, and the importance of caring for the poor had a powerful impact on Arthur’s faith.
As a result, Arthur became involved in a variety of social welfare organizations. He was on the board and became governor of Meath hospital and was dedicated to ensuring that it provided care for the poor. He also gave to a number of charities, promoted Gaelic arts to encourage pride in the Irish heritage, and joined the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, an organization dedicated to ending the practice of dueling.
He was also a champion of the Sunday School movement in Ireland, which provided basic education to children. For Arthur, this was part of an interest in prison reform: he believed that education combined with Biblical teaching would keep people from falling into a life of crime.
Even though a dedicated Protestant in a community that looked down at Roman Catholics, Guinness advocated for the rights of Catholics and treated them well at his brewery. This may have cost him business, but he believed it was the right thing to do.
Meanwhile, Guinness continued to develop and improve as a brewer. In 1779, he was named official brewer of Dublin Castle. At this point, he was brewing ales as well as a variety of dark porters.
Gradually, though, he decided to specialize in porter; he finally gave up brewing ale in 1799. Porter was very popular in England, and when Arthur and his fellow Irish brewers finally figured out how to produce a good quality black porter (stout), specializing in this kind of beer made sense. Soon Guinness’s porter was in demand not only in Dublin but increasingly in England as well.
Arthur died just a few years later, in 1803. But his story does not end there. Over the next century, Guinness grew to be one of the largest and most respected breweries in the world. That story is a tribute to Arthur’s hard work and insistence on excellence, qualities which he passed on to his children and heirs. But that is only part of the Guinness story. The other part is the amount of good Guinness has done for its employees and their families and for Dublin, all of which is also part of Arthur’s legacy.
And here’s another bio:
The Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.
In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of Guinness brewing company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time it was quite a large sum of money).
Guinness story began in a small Irish village Celbridge, which was the home of Arthur Price, the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Cashel with a sufficient security. Arthur was one of those people who did not want to burden himself with a daily routine, and therefore he had hired Arthur Guinness (1724 or 1725 – January 23, 1803), a manager for all the cases. As time passed a very real friendship ensued between them to the point that Price baptized Arthur’s son Arthur Guinness II, born on March 12, 1768, who helped his father since childhood on the farm of the generous employer.
In his spare time, Arthur Guinness brewed real ale. Dr. Price had a benefit of all necessary equipment at his basement for this. In 1752, Arthur Price died. Such a tragic event, however, marked the beginning of Guinness brewing company’s story. The thing is that Arthur Price left a legacy of 100 pounds to both of them: Arthur Guinness and his son (at the time it was quite a large sum of money).
However, all this time, Arthur continued to produce the same ale. Arthur Guinness started producing the dark beer only in 1799. The production of the dark beer with creamy foam originated in 1799 that further made the company one of the symbols of Ireland. Four years later after this momentous event, at age of 78, Arthur Guinness died. As a legacy to their children businessman left 25,000 pounds, which by today’s standards would amount to about 865,000 pounds.
Today is the feast day of St. Columbanus of Ghent (543 CE–February 15, 959 CE), not to be confused with Columbanus from three centuries earlier. He was a patron saint of Belgium, Ghent, and brewers. He was probably born in Ireland but moved with his followers to Ghent, Belgium, to escape raiding parties. There isn’t a great deal of information about him, and he’s not much remembered outside Belgium. He’s buried in the cathedral of Ghent, which at the time was known as the church of St. Bavo. His name is in the litany to be recited in Belgium during public emergencies.
This account is from Celtic Saints:
Saint Columbanus was probably an Irish abbot who led his community to Belgium following the constant raids of the Norsemen. On February 2, 957, Columbanus became a hermit in the cemetery near the church of Saint-Bavo at Ghent, where he acquired a wide reputation for holiness. He is buried in the cathedral and is one of the patrons of Belgium.
This one is from Omnium Sanctorum Hiberniae:
February 2 is the commemoration of a tenth-century Irish recluse at Ghent in Belgium. It seems, to judge from the footnotes to Canon O’Hanlon’s entry for Saint Columban, that he has been confused with his more famous namesake, Saint Columban (Columbanus) of Bobbio. It also seems that the saint is commemorated on the day of his enclosure as a hermit, February 2 in the the year 957, rather than on the day of his death, February 15. Canon O’Hanlon relies on the efforts of the seventeenth-century hagiologist, Father John Colgan, to uncover what was known about the Belgian Saint Columban.
Today is the feast day of St. Brigid (c. 451 CE–525 CE). She is a patron saint of brewers. She was also known as Bride, Bride of the Isles, Bridget of Ireland, Bridget, Brigid of Kildare, Brigit, Ffraid, and Mary of the Gael. She is one of Ireland’s patron saints, along with Patrick and Columba. Irish hagiography makes her an early Irish Christian nun, abbess, and foundress of several monasteries of nuns, including that of Kildare in Ireland, which was famous and was revered. Her feast day is February 1, which was originally a pagan festival called Imbolc, marking the beginning of spring. Her feast day is shared by Dar Lugdach, who tradition says was her student, close companion, and the woman who succeeded her. She also a patron saint of brewers. “Brigid, who had a reputation as an expert dairywoman and brewer, was reputed to turn water into beer.”
Here’s account of her life, from Wikipedia:
Probably the earliest biography, Vita Sanctae Brigitae (Life of St. Brigid), was written by Cogitosus, a 7th century monk of Kildare. A second, Vita Prima Sanctae Brigitae (First Life of St. Brigid), by an unknown author, is sometimes attributed to St. Broccán Clóen (d. 650). The book of uncertain authorship is occasionally argued to be the first written biography of St. Brigid, though most scholars reject this claim.
A Vita sometimes attributed to St. Coelan of Inishcaltra in the early 7th century derives further speculation from the fact that a foreword was added, ostensibly in a subsequent edition, by St. Donatus, also an Irish monk, who became Bishop of Fiesole in 824. In his foreword, Donatus refers to earlier biographies by St. Ultan and St. Ailerán. The manuscript of Vita III, as it has come to be known, was preserved in the Italian monastery of Monte Cassino until its destruction during World War II. As the language used is not that of St. Coelan’s time, philologists remain uncertain of both its authorship and century of origin. Discussion on dates for the annals and the accuracy of dates relating to St. Brigid continues.
According to tradition, Brigid was born in the year 451 AD in Faughart, just north of Dundalk in County Louth, Ireland. Because of the legendary quality of the earliest accounts of her life, there is debate among many secular scholars and Christians as to the authenticity of her biographies. Three biographies agree that her mother was Brocca, a Christian Pict slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick. They name her father as Dubhthach, a chieftain of Leinster.
The vitae says that Dubthach’s wife forced him to sell Brigid’s mother to a druid when she became pregnant. Brigid herself was born into slavery. Legends of her early holiness include her vomiting when the druid tried to feed her, due to his impurity; a white cow with red ears appeared to sustain her instead.
As she grew older, Brigid was said to have performed miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. According to one tale, as a child, she once gave away her mother’s entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigid’s prayers. Around the age of ten, she was returned as a household servant to her father, where her habit of charity led her to donate his belongings to anyone who asked.
In both of the earliest biographies, Dubthach is portrayed as having been so annoyed with Brigid that he took her in a chariot to the King of Leinster to sell her. While Dubthach was talking to the king, Brigid gave away his bejeweled sword to a beggar to barter it for food to feed his family. The king recognized her holiness and convinced Dubthach to grant his daughter freedom.
Saint Brigid as depicted in Saint Non’s chapel, St Davids, Wales.
It is said that Brigid was “veiled” or received either by St. Mac Caill, Bishop of Cruachu Brig Ele (Croghan, County Offaly), or by St. Mél of Ardagh at Mág Tulach (the present barony of Fartullagh, County Westmeath), who granted her abbatial powers. It is said that in about 468, she and a Bishop MacCaille followed St. Mél into the Kingdom of Tethbae, which was made up of parts of the modern counties Meath, Westmeath and Longford.
According to tradition, around 480 Brigid founded a monastery at Kildare (Cill Dara: “church of the oak”), on the site of a pagan shrine to the Celtic goddess Brigid, served by a group of young women who tended an eternal flame. The site was under a large oak tree on the ridge of Drum Criadh.
Brigid, with an initial group of seven companions, is credited with organizing communal consecrated religious life for women in Ireland. She founded two monastic institutions, one for men, and the other for women, and invited Conleth (Conláed), a hermit from Old Connell near Newbridge, to help her in Kildare as pastor of them. It has often been said that she gave canonical jurisdiction to Conleth, Bishop of Kildare, but Archbishop Healy says that she simply “selected the person to whom the Church gave this jurisdiction”, and her biographer tells us that she chose Saint Conleth “to govern the church along with herself”. For centuries, Kildare was ruled by a double line of abbot-bishops and of abbesses, the Abbess of Kildare being regarded as superior general of the monasteries in Ireland. Her successors have always been accorded episcopal honour. Brigid’s oratory at Kildare became a centre of religion and learning, and developed into a cathedral city.
Brigid is credited with founding a school of art, including metalwork and illumination, which Conleth oversaw. The Kildare scriptorium made the Book of Kildare, which drew high praise from Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis), but disappeared during the Reformation. According to Giraldus, nothing that he ever saw was at all comparable to the book, every page of which was gorgeously illuminated, and the interlaced work and the harmony of the colours left the impression that “all this is the work of angelic, and not human skill”.
According to the Trias Thaumaturga Brigid spent time in Connacht and founded many churches in the Diocese of Elphin. She is said to have visited Longford, Tipperary, Limerick, and South Leinster. Her friendship with Saint Patrick is noted in the following paragraph from the Book of Armagh: “inter sanctum Patricium Brigitanque Hibernesium columpnas amicitia caritatis inerat tanta, ut unum cor consiliumque haberent unum. Christus per illum illamque virtutes multas peregit” (Between St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the pillars of the Irish people, there was so great a friendship of charity that they had but one heart and one mind. Through him and through her Christ performed many great works.)
Her exploits appear to have included beer on more than on occasion, as detailed by journalist Jack Beresford in an article for the Irish Post last year.
One of Ireland’s three patron saints alongside St Colmcille and St Patrick, the feast of St Brigid also happens to fall on the Celtic first day of spring, Imbolc.
There are plenty of stories surrounding St Brigid, but few are as famous, fun or fascinating as the tale about how she supposedly turned some ordinary bathwater into beer.
The story goes that one day, while working in a leper colony, she discovered to her horror that they had run out of beer.
It’s important to understand that in those times, centuries ago, beer was consumed on a daily basis as a source of hydration and nourishment.
As opposed to today, of course, when…oh wait, scratch that.
In any case, back in those times many of the water sources close to villages and towns were often polluted to the point where consumption would likely result in illness or, worse still, death.
Alcohol offered an (almost) germ free alternative and was almost as good as any meal of the era.
So, to be faced with a beer drought was nothing short of disastrous.
Not that it mattered all that much to St Brigid.
Channelling a little divine intervention, she answered the prayers of the thirsty lepers under her charge by turning the water they used to bathe into not just any beer, but a genuinely brilliant beer that was enjoyed by one and all.
Her water-based exploits don’t end there either.
Another part of the legend says St Brigid also succeeded in turning dirty bathwater into beer for the clerics visiting the leper colony where she was based.
There’s even a tale of her supplying some eighteen churches with enough beer to last from Holy Thursday through to the end of Easter despite only having one barrel to her name.
Whether fact or fiction, one thing appears undeniable: St Brigid liked beer.
Though perhaps this 10th century poems captures Brigid’s commitment to beer best. It’s entitled “I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.”
I’d like to give a lake of beer to God.
I’d love the heavenly
Host to be tippling there
For all eternity.
I’d love the men of Heaven to live with me,
To dance and sing.
If they wanted, I’d put at their disposal
Vats of suffering.
White cups of love I’d give them
With a heart and a half;
Sweet pitchers of mercy I’d offer
To every man.
I’d make Heaven a cheerful spot
Because the happy heart is true.
I’d make the men contented for their own sake.
I’d like Jesus to love me too.
I’d like the people of heaven to gather
From all the parishes around.
I’d give a special welcome to the women,
The three Marys of great renown.
I’d sit with the men, the women and God
There by the lake of beer.
We’d be drinking good health forever
And every drop would be a prayer.
And this is part of an account of Brigid entitled “Wild Irish Women: Saint Brigid – Mary of the Gaels” by Rosemary Rogers for Irish American.
Despite all her accomplishments, her legend grew because of her many miracles, so resonant with Irish mysticism: she taught a fox to dance, tamed a wild boar, hung her damp cloak (that cloak again!) on a sunbeam to dry, obliging the sunbeam to remain all night. In her later years, her powers took on almost Christ-like proportions – she could multiply food, exorcise demons with a casual sign of the cross, and calm storms. Proving she was someone you’d like to have a beer with, Brigid, fond of the brew herself, could produce bottomless barrels and turn both milk and water into ale. Once, while curing lepers, she learned there was nothing to drink and used her own bathwater to stand the entire colony to a pint.
Today is actually the day that Matthew Nunan passed away, January 7, 1916, and was born in 1834, or possibly 1836, or maybe even 1828, but the exact date or even month is unknown. There are even some sources that give his date of death as January 13. He was born in Limerick, Ireland, and emigrated to the U.S. when he was fourteen, settling in California in 1855. Lured there by dreams of striking it rich in the goldmines, he soon tried of mining, and first opened a grocery store in San Francisco, but eventually bought the Mission Street Brewery. When they moved the brewery and built a larger one, they renamed it the Hibernia Brewery. Matthew Nunan also served two terms as Sheriff of San Francisco, 1876-1877 and 1878-1879.
Gary Flynn has a more thorough Biography of Matthew J. Numan at his Brewery Gems website. He also has a lengthy history of the Mission Street Brewery (1860-1867) and [its] successor The Hibernia Brewery (1867-1920).
Today is the birthday of James W. Kenney (January 2, 1845-?). He was born in Ireland, but followed his older brother to Boston when he was eighteen, in 1863. He was involved in starting and running several different breweries in Boston over the span of his life, starting with the Armory Brewery in 1877. Then he opened the Park Brewery, the Union Brewing Co. and finally was involved in the American Brewing Co., plus he bought the Rockland Brewery at one point. It also seems like he was involved in the Kenney & Ballou Brewery, but I wasn’t able to confirm that one. Suffice it to say, he was a busy, industrious person, involved in a lot of Boston breweries.
Here’s a short biography from “Important Men of 1913”
Kenney, James W., born near Derry, Ireland, Jan. 2, 1845, and educated in the national schools of his native land. Came to Boston, 1863, and was placed in charge of a large grocery conducted by his brother. Became master brewer in a large brewery. In 1877 started Amory Brewery; 1881 Park Brewery; 1893 organized Union Brewing Co. Was mainly instrumental in organizing the American Brewing Co.; member of directors’ board two years. Large owner and operator in real estate, with interests in railroads, gas companies, banks, newspapers, etc. President, director and vice-president of Federal Trust Co.; director Mass. Bonding and Insurance Co. and Fauntleroy Hall Association of Roxbury; member of American Irish Historical Society and of numerous social and benevolent organizations. Married, April 24, 1876, Ellen Frances Rorke, of Roxbury. Residence: 234 Seaver St., Roxbury, Mass.
Norman Miller’s “Boston Beer: A History of Brewing in the Hub,” has a few paragraphs on several of Kenney’s businesses.
Here’s a rundown of his breweries:
Armory Brewing Co., 71 Amory Street: 1877-1902
This was his first brewery, but it was only known by that name until 1880, and I think he may have then sold it to a Mr. Robinson, who called it the Robinson Brewing Co., although some accounts indicate it was called the Rockland Brewery, which was his nickname. Their flagship was Elmo Ale, named for Robinson’s son, and not for the beloved Sesame Street Muppet. Other sources seem to suggest it was then bought back by Kenney at some point.
Park Brewery, 94 Terrace Street: 1881-1918
Four years later he opened the Park Brewery, which apparently produced only Irish Ales.
American Brewing Co., 249-249A Heath Street: 1891-1918
This was a larger brewery than his other ventures, and he was merely one of the investors in the business, and was on the Board of Directors, though he did hired all Jamaica Plain brewmasters. Apparently it survived the dry years by operating a “laundry” (wink, wink). After repeal, the Haffenreffer family bought it and used it briefly as a second brewery, before closing for good in 1934.
The Jamaica Plain Gazette described their neighborhood American Brewing Co.:
The most “handsome” of all the remaining Boston breweries, the American Brewing Company was active from 1891 to 1918, and then again from 1933-34. Owned by James W. Kenney, who also owned the nearby Park and Union breweries, the Queen Anne style building stands out architecturally with beautiful granite arches and a distinctive rounded corner, topped by a turret.
Historically, one of the most unique features of this brewery was the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes.
The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has even more information on it in their piece about Boston’s Lost Breweries:
The brewmasters were Gottlieb, Gustav and Gottlieb F. Rothfuss, all of Jamaica Plain.
This is undoubtedly the most handsome of all the remaining breweries in Boston and once can see at a glance the pride the owners had in the place, the process and the product. The architect was Frederick Footman of Cambridge. It was built in three phases, with the oldest part on the left, the second one with the American Brewing Company name came next and then the third wing with the beautiful granite arches and terra cotta heads which was the office complex emblazoned with the initials ABC. The granite was probably either Chelmsford or the slightly grayer Quincy.
Still visible in the main, or brewing, building is the large overhead access shaft where the malted barley and water were lifted to the top floor with hoists and pumps. The barley was stored in cedar-lined rooms in the top two stories of the main building to prevent insect infestation. The brewing process was started there as the grain was cooked. The cooked mash then flowed to the floor below where the grain was removed as waste and hops and other ingredients were added to the residual brew, along with the yeast that triggered the fermentation that produced the alcohol. The final product was then stored in temperature-controlled areas at the lowest level. Also still visible in the lower level is the capped wellhead that had delivered countless thousands of gallons of pure Mission Hill spring water to the process.
A wonderful touch of the spirit of the times is the “customer” room in the basement. Customers were entertained here in a room with walls, ceiling and floor painted with German drinking slogans, flowers and other reminders of the source of the Lager recipes. The offices had beautiful arched, semi-circular windows with stained glass. The tower is rounded and has a clock fixed at seven and five, the workers’ starting and quitting times. It also has granite carriage blocks to protect carriage wheels from breaking if too tight a turn were attempted when entering or exiting.
During Prohibition it was used as a laundry. After 1934, Mr. Haffenreffer used it for a time as a second brewery. Most recently it was used by a fine arts crating and shipping company, the Fine Arts Express Co. It is presently being converted to housing units.
Union Brewery, 103 Terrace Street: 1893-1911
Next was the Union Brewery, this time to brew German Lager beer exclusively. Here’s a brief description of the Union Brewery from the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, detailing it in Boston’s Lost Breweries:
The Stony Brook culvert sits very close to the surface of Terrace Street, the home of two very productive breweries. The Union Brewery, active from 1893 to 1911, was located at 103 Terrace Street. It produced only German Lager beer. It had a large six story, arched, main building and two smaller buildings housing a stable and a powerhouse. The two smaller buildings and the mural-decorated smokestack, which now also does duty as a cell phone tower remain. The former stable is now Mississippi’s Restaurant.
While for those breweries, it’s certain they were owned by James Kenney, I’m less sure about a couple of others. From either 1878-1880 or 1898-1903 (sources differ) there was a Kenney & Ballou Brewery. It’s seems at least like that James Kenney may have been the Kenney in the name, although it could have been his older brother Neil Kenney, who James worked for when he first arrive in America. That seems even more plausible when you look another brewery founded in 1874, the Shawmont Brewery. In 1877, it became known as the Neil Kenney Brewery, but in 1884 it changed names again, this time to the James W. Kenney Brewery. It apparently closed in 1888, but it appears pretty clear that he and his brother worked together on one, if not both of these breweries. Unfortunately, except for listings in Breweriana databases, I couldn’t find any information whatsoever about either brewery, and they’re not mentioned in any accounts I found of Kenney, either.