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More on the Revival of Magee & Marshall of Bolton

Our recent blog post about the revival of Magee & Marshall came to the attention of the reviver himself, Edd Mather, who got in touch with a bit more info.

The following is a straight transcript of a phone conversation with Edd, a native Lancastrian.

First, can you say a bit about yourself? What’s your background?

I’m 40-years-old. I’ve always been interested in beer – how it’s kept, how it’s brewed – and I was fortunate a few years ago to find a bit of unpaid work, if you know what I mean, with a local brewery, and out of that I developed a bit of knowledge.

I’ve also always had an interest in history – brewing history and local history in general.

I heard on the grapevine that the company that owned the rights to Magee & Marshall were going into liquidation. From 1853 to 1958 it was in family ownership, then from 1958 to 1970 it was owned and operated by Greenall’s group. The brewery shut down in 1970 but the brand and company was owned by Greenalls PLC up until 1999 when it became De Vere Group, and later Ereved Group Holdings. I did a bit of digging and found that the Magee & Marshall company was still active. I thought, right, if I can get it for the right price, I will, and took ownership in March this year.

A lot of people will ask why you’re bothering to revive an old brand like this.

It’s just because of my interest in brewing history and local history. There’s not much Magee & Marshall livery left in Bolton. There’s a big M&M on the Santander, which used to be the Lower Nag’s Head, and a few other bits. Most of the acid-etched windows around town have long gone.

Will you be brewing original recipes or just using the name?

Oh, yes, I’m planning to brew old recipes. The first will be BB which doesn’t stand for best bitter – it’s ‘bitter beer’, which was their best mild. I saw the comment on your blog about Magee’s mild and biting the heads of rats… I reckon that must have been a rival brewers pub! The recipe I’m using is from 1924 and will come out at about 4% ABV.

I’m doing a couple of new ones including a pale and hoppy beer, quite bitter, at about 3.8%, with all English and Continental hops. (That’ll be the case for all the beers.) Then two beers that will mostly be bottled. First, Crown Ale, which is based on a recipe from March 1926, and then a new beer, a lager, which will be more Pilsner style than Munich.

I was able to track down the original yeast at the National Centre of Yeast Cultures in Norwich. They’ve got seven or eight different Bolton area strains. I know that some other breweries have tried using original yeasts and found it a lot of trouble but I think you lose character if you just use something off the peg. I’ll be experimenting with it, trying to work out how to get the best from it, and I’ve also got some home brewing friends lined up to try the other local strains for me.

I’m currently laid up after an operation on old rugby injury so I’m using the time to do some research into the mineral content of the water in Burton. I know that Magee’s, from about 1903 until the 1960s, were bringing water from Burton into Bolton by train, because I’ve found documentation relating to non-standard-British-Rail-sized rail tankers.

I’ll be brewing at another brewery at first while I’m developing the recipes.

Which brewery is that?

I can’t say, not at the moment, but it’s someone I know and can trust.

Have you got some outlets lined up?

Yes, there are a couple of pubs interested, and a couple of friendly publicans.

When will we be able to come to Bolton and have a pint of 1924-style BB, then?

Ooh, now, that’s… I’m hoping – hoping – that it’ll be just before Christmas.

5 replies on “More on the Revival of Magee & Marshall of Bolton”

Looking forward to tasting this in the future, like the use of the original yeast.
Just realised that Ereved whom he bought the brand from is De Vere backwards.

Very interested in this! I live in Horwich, Bolton, so I’m guessing it’s going to be made at one of the four local breweries – Bank Top, Blackedge, DUB and Dunscar. Hopefully I’ll find some at a few of my locals!

Crown ale was the first beer I had when I was about ten I suppose. Forever sampling all the new IPAs in the hope of capturing that Madeleine moment. Once I was legal I wasn’t keen on Greenalls but Groves was OK. There is Butcombe Brunel Atlantic IPA which is like London Pride but better which contains wheat.

Would love to the return of Greenalls in cask form. I seem to remember it being hoppy and to me, always tasted “green”.

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