Today is the 37th birthday of Jame Watt, co-founder of the Scottish brewery BrewDog. I first met James in Philadelphia during Philly Beer Week in 2009. Bill Covaleski, Greg Koch and I took James for his first cheesesteak at Jim’s after a beer event. I’ve run into him a few times since then and it’s always a good time. Join me in wishing James a very happy birthday.
Today would have been Bert Grant’s 91st birthday, and he is still definitely missed. Bert opened the country’s first brewpub in 1982 in Yakima, Washington and was a fixture in the industry until his death in late July of 2001. Join me tonight in lifting a pint to Bert’s memory.
Here’s his obituary from Real Beer:
Craft brewing pioneer Bert Grant, who founded the first modern day brewpub in the United States, is dead at 73.
Grant had been ill for two years and died Tuesday at the University of British Columbia Hospital in Vancouver. He had moved to that city a year ago to be close to his children.
When Grant founded his brewpub in Yakima, Wash., in 1982 there were fewer than 50 individual brewing operations in the U.S. Today there are more than 1,500. That brewpub expanded to become a bottling microbrewery, selling about 10,000 barrels of Bert Grant’s Ales in 2001. He sold the brewery to Chateau Ste. Michelle wines in 1995, but Grant remained an active spokesman until being slowed by illness.
He’d sometimes wear a kilt at his pub in Yakima and occasionally dance on the bar. He kept a claymore — a double-bladed broadsword — just in case he had to enforce his ban on smoking.
He was born in Dundee, Scotland, in 1928. He moved to Toronto, where he grew up and got his first job in a brewery … at 16, he became a beer taster. He remained in the beer business all his life. He moved to Yakima in 1967, where he helped build and operate two plants that processed hops. His patented processing of hops is still in use today.
Bert Grant Bert was one of a kind,” said Paul Shipman, who founded Red Hook Brewery around the time Grant began Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. “He was a scientist, a brewer, and I don’t think he even graduated high school.”
He remained dedicated to assertive beer and carried a vial of hop oil in his pocket to boost the flavor of a bland domestic beer. His first priority was to brew beer he liked. “It may not be your favorite beer,” Grant’s son Peter said. “But it was his.”
And here is his obituary from the New York Times:
Bert Grant, a veteran brew master who in 1982 opened the granddaddy of all the good, bad and so-so brew pubs slaking thirsts across the country today, died on July 31 at a hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he had recently made his home. He was 73 and a longtime resident of Yakima, Wash.
The cause was a bowel rupture, his family said.
Mr. Grant’s experience in brewing stretched back to his teenage years in Canada. He worked at big brewing companies and later as an international consultant to them before settling in Yakima, the center of American hops country.
Mr. Grant started the Yakima Brewing and Malting Company in the 19th-century former home of the Yakima Opera, using plenty of the flavorful hops he thought other beers lacked. At first he brewed just eight kegs at a time.
Friends who sampled his recipe liked it and spread the word. It caught on with Yakima beer lovers, who welcomed it as an alternative to national brands and expensive imports. Mr. Grant got some chairs to sit on in the lobby and convinced skeptical licensing officials that Washington State law permitted each brewer to operate one pub.
This gave birth in the summer of 1982 to Grant’s Brewery Pub, the first such establishment in the United States since Prohibition. Food and tables were added, and a growing clientele prompted Mr. Grant to move his pub across the street into what used to be Yakima’s downtown railroad station. He liked to greet customers personally and, as a native of Scotland, often did so wearing a plaid kilt with a clan pin.
His brewing company, meanwhile, came to offer an assortment of beers and ales, including seasonal brews that varied with the harvest of the region’s distinctive types of hops. Mr. Grant built the company into one of the Northwest’s leading microbreweries and started bottling his brands, like Grant’s Scottish Ale, Imperial Stout and HefeWeizen. Last year, Yakima Brewing and Malting brewed 10,000 barrels and shipped bottles to distributors in 20 states, from Alaska to Connecticut to Florida.
Herbert Lewis Grant was born in Dundee but immigrated to Canada with his parents as a toddler. With World War II draining his adopted country of manpower, he left school at 16 to work at Canadian Breweries (now Carling).
He moved on to the United States to develop a pilot brewing program for Stroh and, as his reputation grew, became an independent consultant for makers like Anheuser-Busch and the Australian brewer Foster’s.
Also working for hops companies, he became well acquainted with Yakima and moved there when he decided to brew to his own taste. He sold his business in 1995 to Stimson Lane Ltd., a long-established winery, but remained a consultant to it until recently.
Mr. Grant is survived by two sons, David H., of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Peter A., of Vancouver; three daughters, Shannon D. Grant and Melanie Bond of Vancouver, and Wendy Cundall of Calgary, Alberta; and five grandchildren. Also surviving is his former wife, Daphne Grant of Vancouver.
According to family lore, the Scottish doctor who delivered little Herbert lifted him by the heels and, slapping breath into him, said, ”Bottoms up.” His first cradle, the lore goes, was an oaken barrel sawed in half — possibly apocryphal, Mr. Grant allowed.
And finally, here’s a great retrospective written by Ryan Messer for the Yakima Herald in 2017, entitled “Bert Grant: The Godfather of Craft Brewing.”
He’s been called the “Dean of America’s craft brewers” and the Wall Street Journal called him “The Patriarch of the micro movement.” Personally, I prefer Bert Grant as the “Neil Young of Microbrews.” Neil didn’t invent Rock ’n Roll, but he was the Godfather of Grunge. Likewise, Bert didn’t invent beer but what he did to change it made an indelible mark.
Most people know Bert Grant as the man who gave us Yakima brewing and Malting Co., or Grant’s Ales. While he launched that business in 1982, his passion for beer, and hops in general, started decades before.
Bert was born in 1928 in Dundee, Scotland. Before he reached the age of 10, the Grant family moved to Toronto, and Bert had consumed his first beer. I should say his first of many beers. I don’t even know if it’s possible to quantify what Bert consumed over his lifetime. As a child, Bert’s father let him drink opened beers left behind, and his first job at age 16 was to taste beer; 50-100 per day — you do the math.
The thing about beer drinking for Bert was that he truly enjoyed it. It wasn’t about the feeling, it was about the flavor. And, it was about the science behind the flavor. Bert was a chemist and loved studying why one beer could taste remarkable, and another could ruin your evening.
Part of his career included working for Canadian Breweries (parent company of Carling) and Stroh Brewing Company, doing experimental brewing. He had the freedom to try new things, but sadly neither company utilized his research or expertise. Finally, Bert realized consulting was the best direction for him. He eventually worked with large breweries spanning the globe such as Guinness, Coors, Foster’s, Anheuser-Busch and Yakima hop company, S.S. Steiner.
Steiner was the business that really changed Bert’s world, and ours as a collective of beer drinkers. They convinced him to move to Yakima and redesign a hop extract plant. After great success, Bert and Steiner changed gears — literally. Under Bert’s supervision, Steiner built the first hop pellet plant in the United States. This was a game changer for the beer industry. It took the varying aroma of a whole hop cone (based on time from harvest) and replaced it with exacting smell and bitterness. It was similar in nature to the extract, but far easier and more precise for the brewer to use.
With over 40 years of beer tasting and testing under his belt, Bert wanted to share his knowledge with the world, or at least the people of the Yakima Valley. It would be a daunting task because at the time, no one even knew what a microbrew was. In the early ‘80s, there were two little known breweries in California, Sierra Nevada and Anchor Brewing, that were making something entirely different than the “King of Beers.” In 1982, when Bert was ready to start brewing professionally, his only competition in the state was Redhook. On July 1st that year, Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. poured its first Grant’s Scottish Ale in the old Opera House on Yakima’s Front Street.
Bert was at the helm as one of the chief investors and brewmaster, and the recipes and ideas all stemmed from him. He started with his son-in-law and a few others to round out the investment team and hired Rick Desmarais (who he had worked with at Steiner) as his first head brewer and Dan Boutillier as production manager. Within the first few years the Scottish Ale shared tap space with an Imperial Stout and an India Pale Ale (IPA). A few years beyond that, a low calorie “Celtic Ale”, Weis (white beer), “Spiced Ale” (winter beer) and Yakima Cider (a hard cider made exclusively from apple concentrate) were added to the lineup.
The unique thing about Yakima Brewing and Malting is that it started without a bottling line. It was only available in plastic bottles that the consumer could bring or purchase like a crude precursor to today’s growler. It was also available for consumption on premises. This is what really stood out because it was the first time anyone had an establishment of that nature in the United States since before prohibition. Yakima, Washington was the home of the first “brewpub” in America in over 60 years.
In 1984, Bert hired Darren Waytuck who eventually became head brewer. Waytuck said it was a tremendous learning experience working for someone like Bert. “He wasn’t only into the chemistry of the beer and that process, but in hops as well. That was really his forte. But he also had incredible experience. Someone new might know if a beer was flawed but wouldn’t know why. It was Bert’s job to understand why and how to correct it.”
As brew master, Bert was still in charge of all things happening with his beer. All ideas would come from him on the brewing process and ingredients. When asked about what hops they used to brew with, Waytuck said, “I preferred the whole hop cone and didn’t care for the smell of a hop pellet, but Bert insisted. When I still didn’t use them, Bert ran us out of whole hops so I had to use the pellets.”
Bert was a risk taker though, and had no problem with pushing the envelope for something he was passionate about. “No one was out there getting their beer in front of people like Bert did, it just didn’t happen before his time.” Waytuck said. With that success they had to build a bottling line directly behind the brewery in the Opera House. They also expanded into a space to the north for a larger pub which my mother, Jana Johnson, ran for the better part of two decades. When that wasn’t enough, the brewery expanded to a 20,000 square foot building off Washington Avenue and the pub moved across the street to the old train depot.
Waytuck and the crew enjoyed their craft, but he said, “it was a lot more fun at the Opera House. It became more corporate at the new brewery and was more of a task.”
Shortly after the locations changed, Bert continued to push the envelope, but this time with an organization that no one beats — the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, (ATF). Bert had done some testing on his beers and found that a 12 ounce bottle of Scottish Ale contained beneficial vitamins and nutrients, including 170 percent of the U.S. RDA of Vitamin B-12. He had table tents printed, added it to his 6-pack cartons and even made shirts advertising the news (although a bit tattered, I’m happy to say I still have mine).
Of course the ATF wouldn’t allow someone to suggest that beer was actually healthy for you and ordered him to stop. At the same time, the Bureau looked into his cider making process which was not technically a beer, but considered by them as a wine. Not only did they prevent him from continuing to make the cider, they required he pay back taxes for the years he paid too little. Waytuck said, “It was tough for Bert. He didn’t like the confrontation, but he was going to push as far as he could.”
After achieving a greater success than I believe Bert imagined he could, Yakima Brewing and Malting was sold to Stimson Lane, the parent company of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and other wineries in Washington and California, in 1995. While his role changed, Bert stayed on with the company until he passed away in July of 2001. Stimson Lane sold the company only a few months later. Waytuck stayed committed to the brand and eventually became brewmaster, before the company closed in 2004. “I promised Bert I would see it through and make the best beer as long as we were open,” Waytuck said.
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.
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.”
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 ).
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.
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.
And this is a biography from a collection of poetry, The Scottish Minstrel, published in 1856.
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.
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.
He married Janet McEwan, daughter of John McEwan, in November 1850.
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.
And here’s another short account from the Scottish Antiquary.
Here’s his Meadow Brewery around 1890, before it became known as George Younger & Sons.
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.”
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”.
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.”
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.”
Belhaven’s Robert Burns Scottish Ale.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
Inside the Engine
Lighting the Fire
Running the Engine
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.
Today is the birthday of Edward Younger (November 21, 1906-June 25, 1997). He was the great-great-great-great-grandson of George Younger, who founded the George Younger and Son brewery.
This account is from his Wikipedia page:
Lord Younger of Leckie came from a Scottish family which had been making money from brewing since the 18th century, and which entered the aristocracy in the early years of the 20th century. His great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Younger (baptised 1722), was the founder of the family’s brewing business, George Younger and Son. This George Younger’s great-great-grandson, also named George Younger (1851-;1929), entered politics, and was created Viscount Younger of Leckie in 1923. This peerage has passed in an unbroken line from father to son ever since.
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.
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.
This is from “America’s Successful Men of Affairs: The United States at Large,” published in 1896
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: