The Kegronomicon

Watney Mann quality control manual, 1960s.

Yesterday, we received something special in the post: a Watney Mann quality control manual covering the period 1965–1971.

It’s on loan to us from a for­mer Watney’s brew­er who we got in touch with on the sug­ges­tion of Dominic Driscoll at Thorn­bridge. (Thanks, Dom!)

Watney Mann quality control manual, 1965.

The con­tents of this black plas­tic binder was first print­ed in 1965 and includes every piece of infor­ma­tion a brew­er at any Watney’s-owned plant could have need­ed to pro­duce their full range of beers, from Red Bar­rel to Brown Ale.

Ingre­di­ents, meth­ods, mea­sure­ments and mate­ri­als are all spec­i­fied pre­cise­ly.

It also con­tains numer­ous inserts – let­ters, tech­ni­cal notes from head office, and scraps of paper with test results writ­ten on them. There are numer­ous hand­writ­ten amend­ments to the orig­i­nal recipes, pre­sum­ably made in response to orders from on high.

Detail from the Watney Mann Quality Control manual.

Most impor­tant­ly, for us, at least, there are sev­er­al sheets of typed instruc­tions for brew­ing Watney’s Red, the beer that replaced Red Bar­rel in 1971.

We’re going to digest the man­u­al care­ful­ly and share some key infor­ma­tion here in a series of posts. We’ve also got the owner’s agree­ment to make scans to share with oth­er researchers. There might be a way to make it avail­able pub­licly online – at, for exam­ple – but that will prob­a­bly require per­mis­sion from Dia­geo. We’ll look into it.

In the mean­time, here’s an inter­est­ing nugget: pre­scribed car­bon­a­tion lev­els for Watney’s Red Bar­rel from 1965, with an amend­ment we’d guess is from around 1968.

Watney's Red Barrel pressure instructions,  1960s.

And then for the new Watney’s Red:

Watney's Red pressure instructions, 1971

The lads in the Cam­paign for the Revi­tal­i­sa­tion of Ale weren’t imag­in­ing it: keg bit­ter real­ly was get­ting ‘fizzi­er’.

6 thoughts on “The Kegronomicon”

    1. One hopes pas­teur­iza­tion will be dis­cussed in detail since it is a part of this sto­ry, a more impor­tant part than is often real­ized.


    1. BTon Twit­ter, Pete Bris­senden tells us that “All Mean­time and, when I worked there Camden’s beers were pack­aged at about 2.3–2.5 vol­umes of CO2.” So much high­er.

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