Breweries and Community (Part I)

I discussed earlier interesting issues that attended Joule’s Brewery in Stone, Staffordshire late 19th century.

As stated there, the beer had a good sale in Australia and parts of the United States. I found numerous advertising mentions in Sydney and San Francisco, in particular. India was covered as well according to the revived brand’s website.

The website claims, with justification from my review, that the beer always had an unusually good reputation. It was mentioned in the same breath as Bass at one time locally, each with a sizeable estate facing the other’s.

Today, I want to link a 1971 televised account of the takeover and closure of the brewery by that very Bass, Bass Charrington at the time. It is particularly useful because it focuses on the beer, not just the economics, jobs, and other aspects when a local hero expires.

We thank Tim Holt, editor of the journal Brewery History, for drawing our attention to the MACE video archive whence I found the Joule’s piece.

People of different backgrounds are interviewed, all agreeing how fine a drop the beer was.

Well, it’s been back for some years now. Joule’s Pale Ale is the flagship, a revival of the old 4% ABV bitter, with some new additions to the line. The brewery is behind a pub in Market Drayton a few miles from the old shop. The same aquifer is used as did the old brewery in Stone.

The current owners have full rights to the Joule’s name and famous red cross trademark, bought a few years ago from Molson-Coors, successors to the Bass brand. See again website for more detail.

What strikes me in a film like this is the deep affection the British have for a local brewery. Of course finally, as anywhere, it is to beer, not brand or even style for that matter. But they’ll go with you for a good long while if you stay the course with them. Having started in about 1780, John Joule PLC did that and then some.



A good example of this unusual attachment is the “funeral” marches the Campaign for Real Ale used to do when a local brewery was taken over. Where else would you see that in the world? Not even Germany.

One more film interviews former staff of the Fuller’s, Watney’s, and Young’s breweries in London (“Oral History of West London Brewery Workers”). It aired about a year ago. Known to a few beer historians, it is on YouTube and can be viewed by all.

Here, we get a really full picture of what the local heroes meant to London. All sorts again are interviewed, at every level of the organizations. The message that finally comes through is, remorseless change. It is explained big picture and smaller by the testimony.

An example, prophetic in retrospect, was the lady who missed the clatter of barrels rolling across the yard when the method of shunting changed. An ex-senior manager (Young’s) explained change from his perspective: technological, the market, the difficulty of holding together a Victorian facility in a new era. Finally it got all too much.

Yet, nothing in business is very permanent and probably never was, appearances to the contrary.

John Joule built his business in the first half of the 1800s by constantly growing and adapting. Today adaptation may take the form of selling the brewery but keeping the pubs, or whatever it is. You do what you have to.

Perhaps it all happens faster today, maybe.

The good news for a Joule’s is, it came back, the brewery I mean not just the name. It is something we see much less frequently in Canada or the U.S. It does happen – Sleeman’s was an example in Ontario, or Narragansett, say, in the U.S., brewed at a craft brewery cooperative.

But it seems to happen, including just the brand, more often in Britain. Truman and indeed Watney are further examples but there are many more.

It’s that special connection to long-established breweries, unique in the world. It comes through well in these two films.

See Part II immediately following, which discusses Germany.

Note re image: sourced via California Digital Newspaper collection, see here (July 1868, Daily Alta California). All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.




2 thoughts on “Breweries and Community (Part I)”

    • Thanks for this. Don’t have any further details, but interesting point. This was West Coast U.S. (see source linked in Note at end).


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