From the 1950s to the 1970s several new lager brewing plants were set up in Britain and Ireland, usually under the management of, or at least with guidance from, Continental lager-brewing experts.
We’re fascinated by the stories of these people who left great European cities to live in places like Northampton or, in the case of today’s case study, Dundalk, Ireland, pop. 37,000.
We had read about Dr Hermann Muender before but our interest was renewed when we came across this picture of him (photographer uncredited) in the Autumn 1968 edition of Guinness Time, the staff magazine for Guinness’s London brewery at Park Royal:
It accompanies a lengthy article on the development of the Harp Lager brand from 1958 onwards which says:
For the technical expertise which would be required at the top Guinness decided to look to the Continent for a brewer and Dr. Hermann Muender, a distinguished Braumeister, was engaged to produce a lager which would as excellent in its own way as their stout. Eminently qualified, he had worked with the scientific research department of the Institute of Fermentation in Berlin, an din Cologne where he directed the rehabilitation of the war damaged breweries in the Ruhr. He had been the large managing director of a large brewery in Cologne.
These wonderfully colourful covers for editions of the Guinness London staff magazine remind us of cartoons and children’s books from our childhoods, but could just as easily grace the sleeve of a Kinks LP.
For the ObserverMagazine published on 7 July 1968, Cyril Ray (who we wrote about yesterday) assembled a crack team to taste beer.
The tone of the feature as a whole is a little uncertain: Mr Ray’s text argues that beer is really worthy of respect only to be undercut by an illustration (Watney’s pale in a wine basket) and sub-headline (borrowed for this post) which suggest there is something faintly ridiculous in the exercise.
Because he didn’t think it would be fair to ask professional tasters from brewery quality control departments to take part, he recruited Michael Broadbent, head of the wine department at Christie’s auctioneers, and Douglas Young, a professional tea-taster.
Michal Broadbent learned after a couple of lagers… to taste in mouthfuls rather than in his customary sips, realising that beer is meant to be quaffed, and that this is how it best shows its character. Douglas Young was soon isolating specific characteristics of each beer, and asking the brewer who looked after us, in Whitbread’s hospitable tasting-room, for the brewers’ phraseology with which to define them.
Batsford published a whole series of guides to pubs in the South and East of England in the 1960s. Vincent Jones wrote the guide to East Anglia and here are some nuggets that caught our eye.
→ Introduction:‘Houses owned by all sorts of brewers are here; but there is a preference for those which belong to East Anglian breweries and sell East Anglian beer. This choice is purely personal.’ Buying local, resisting monopoly — the SPBW-CAMRA tendency?
→ Sorrel Horse, Barham, Suffolk:‘Those who fear that the bread and cheese and pickles pub has altogether disappeared may take courage for here one is and a very fine one too.’ We can’t recall the last time we found a pub like this though we remember them from childhood.
→ Queen’s Head, Blyford, Suffolk:‘Among the snacks he is noted for his Scotch eggs.’
→ Lord Nelson, Burnham Thorpe, Norfolk:‘They are mainly drinkers of mild ale in this area: it is drawn from the cask.’ More evidence of the East Country as mild territory; interesting to note cask, draught and ‘drawn from the wood’ are used interchangeably throughout. (More on the development of the language around cask/keg here.)
In July 1966, an anonymous editorial in A Monthly Bulletin explained how breweries of the time carried out market research into beer.
AMB was a Reader’s Digest style magazine focusing on beer and pubs and was published by the Brewers’ Society. About 18 months ago, Martyn Cornell sent us his spare volumes (he retains a full set) and we’ve been going through them with a fine tooth comb lately while researching a Big Project which is how we came across this article:
If you are market-researching in beer, you cannot merely send your team out for the day to knock on every other door in a suburban street. For one thing the men, who are probably your main customers, will be out at work: for another, they will not appreciate your representatives calling while they are out to ply their wives with drink.
The author explains that market research begins with sales statistics and surveys distributed to ‘bartenders’ (those who think that word is a recent Americanism, take note) and customers, before moving on to taste tests:
In the early days of market research in beer, tasting tests were conducted rather tentatively. Perhaps at heart the researchers wondered whether, deprived of the guidance of labels, consumers might not be foxed by any two beers of the same colour. In fact, it has been found that consumers’ discrimination is good provided only that they are kept to the kind of beer — mild, bitter, or whatever — to which they are most accustomed.