The official history of the county of Stafford[shire], available through the excellent British History Online, has lots of fascinating information on Burton-upon-Trent and the history of brewing. For example, this evocative passage on the birth of India Pale Ale:
Although the Baltic market was not completely destroyed by the Napoleonic blockade, it came to an end in the mid 1820s as the Baltic countries acquired their own breweries and imposed high tariffs on English imports. Burton brewers, therefore, had to develop other markets, especially in London and South Lancashire, and further afield in North America and Australia: in 1822 the Wilson-Allsopp brewery advertised for sale a quantity of ‘rich pale and fine-flavoured Ale, of uncommon strength’ which it was unable to export to Russia. Also in 1822 Samuel Allsopp’s head brewer succeeded in reproducing a bitter, sparkling ale which London brewers had been for some time exporting to India. The qualities of the local water made the pale ale brewed in Burton especially suited to longdistance transport, and other local brewers followed suit, with the result that by 1832 the Allsopp and Bass breweries dominated the exports to India. Burton pale ale also became popular in the home market.
Rich, pale and fine-flavoured, of uncommon strength… so, a kind of English answer to a maibock?
Before blogging, anyone who wanted to record something interesting they’d come across to do with their hobbies and interests had to stick it in a scrapbook.
The Westminster Archive1 (which we’ve mentioned before) has an astounding collection of beer related scrapbooks — 82 volumes in total — all of which were the work of a mysterious chap2 called “D. Foster”.
Between around 1880-1900, Every time Mr Foster came across anything in a book or magazine to do with beer or pubs in London, he copied out the section by hand. His scrapbooks, of which there are between 10-20 per bound volume, are meticulously organised. The first 60-odd volumes cover London pubs from A-Z. Then there are volumes on beer and ale; drinking vessels; coffee shops; and so on.
It really does read like a blog, and is a priceless resource of knowledge about beer. The copy in the Archive is the only one — it’s never been printed or published — so if you’re in the area, it’s worth popping in for a look.
1. The archives are on St Ann’s Street, in Westminster, and are open every day except Sunday and Monday.
2. We’re assuming D. Foster was a chap — the librarians didn’t know much about where the scrapbooks had come from, except that their author was an “enthusiast”.
Truman, Hanbury and Buxton were one of the biggest breweries in London in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They moved to Burton in the 1970s, merged with Watney Mann not long after, and then closed altogether. East London — the area immediately around the old Black Eagle Brewery — is particularly rife with small reminders.
More after the, er, “more” link…
Continue reading “Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End”
I saw this sign on an office building on Fleet Street in London, and was intrigued.
You don’t see pubs called “The Devil” much these days, even though Britain is actually much less religious now than it was in the 18th century.
How did this long-gone boozer get its distinctive name? Well, it was originally called “The Devil and St Dunstan”, but St Dunstan got dropped. Samuel Pepys mentions the Devil Tavern several times in his diaries.
Here’s a bit on the history of the pub:
The noisy “Devil Tavern” (No. 2, Fleet Street) had stood next the quiet goldsmith’s shop ever since the time of James I. Shakespeare himself must, day after day, have looked up at the old sign of St. Dunstan tweaking the Devil by the nose, that flaunted in the wind near the Bar. Perhaps the sign was originally a compliment to the goldsmith’s men who frequented it, for St. Dunstan was, like St. Eloy, a patron saint of goldsmiths, and himself worked at the forge as an amateur artificer of church plate. It may, however, have only been a mark of respect to the saint, whose church stood hard by, to the east of Chancery Lane.
Quotation from: ‘Fleet Street: General Introduction’, Old and New London: Volume 1 (1878), pp. 32-53. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45023 . Date accessed: 04 June 2007.
In the November 1854 edition of Fraser’s Magazine, there is a fascinating article called simply “London Stout”. It paints a vivid picture of how a mid-Victorian London pub would have looked:
One of the earliest things to strike our country cousins is the universal appearance of the names of certain firms, painted in the largest letters upon the most florid backgrounds of the numerous public house signs of the metropolis. “What does ‘Reid’s Entire’ mean?” asked a fair friend of ours the other day, looking up with her brown eyes as though she had asked something very foolish, and pointing to the puzzling inscription on a neighbouring signboard.
Later, the writer describes a street porter-seller “with his little rack of quart mugs brimmed with the frothy liquid, or rattling the shiny pots against the rails by their suspended strap”.
The best section, to my mind, is a detailed description of the interior of the brewery of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Co at Spitalfield, East London.
After the process of mashing the wort is pumped up into a large copper, of which ther are five, containig from 300 to 400 barrels each, where the wort is boiled with the hops, of which often two tons are used in a-day. The boiling beer is now pumped up to the coolers. To get a sight of these the visitor has to perform a climbing process similar to that required get at the upper gallery of St Paul’s, and, when he has reached the highest point ladders are capable of taking him, he finds his nose on a level with a black sea, whose area presents a surface of 32,000 square feet.
Photo adapted from an original by , and used at the Wikipedia article on the Black Eagle Brewery, on Brick Lane.