Yet another brewery that closed in the mid-20th century is making a comeback.
We heard this news from an unusual source: a librarian in Bolton. He told us, matter-of-factly, that some of the company records for Magee Marshall, which operated in Bolton from 1853 to 1970, are currently unavailable because they had been acquired along with the trademark by someone who is starting a brewery.
We wrote at length about this kind of thing in an article for Craft Beer Rising magazine a couple of years back (link to flippy-flappy pretend paper interface) but here’s a relevant chunk:
At first, Truman’s re-launched with a straightforward, darkish bitter called ‘Runner’, brewed in Essex and using an inauthentic yeast. This led to accusations that it was merely a logo being slapped on off-the-shelf product… This is the kind of question all revived breweries must face: is this really Truman’s? Or is it a mere opportunistic tribute act?
Magee Marshall is a particularly interesting case because, if the papers we were able to read in Bolton are anything to go by, its beer wasn’t universally admired. It was nicknamed ‘crickets’ piss’ according to one note in the Mass Observation papers that lay behind the famous book; in another document, a pub landlord is recorded as saying, ‘A man who can drink Magee’s mild must be able to feed on rats.’ So we’ll give this new enterprise some leeway in regards to authenticity.
Bringing back these old names, trampled under foot by the Big Six half a century ago, is, we think, something of a noble cause, regardless of motivation. We’d certainly have enjoyed the time-travelling thrill of ordering pints of Magee’s at the Hen & Chickens last week if it had been available. (And if Henry Hall had been on the wireless, even better.)