Lagered Ale of New Zealand

Lagered ale – how old?

Few terms suggest “recent craft origins” to me as much as lagered ale. The type of beer is not new, of course. Top-fermented ale has been cold-stored, filtered, and pale since (at least) the early 1900s, acquiring names such as Diamond Ale, Sparkling Ale, and Export Ale.

Today’s Kolsch Bier, of Cologne, Germany, is a type of lagered ale. Beau Brewery in eastern Ontario makes an excellent lagered ale, called Lugtread. 

I thought it likely the term, vs. beer type, emerged in the 1990s. In fact it is much older.

Newbigin’s Brewery

The Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank (HBKB) is a New Zealand public trust, dedicated to preserving history of its region. The HBKB website provides good detail on the history of what, in 1960, was still called Newbigin’s Brewery, in Hastings, NZ.

Dating from 1882, it was founded by George Ellis, and originally called Burton Brewery. Ellis sold it in 1893 to an employee, a Newcastle-on-Tyne emigrant named Edward Newbigin. He had come to the brewery with 21 years’ experience at Swan’s Brewery in Napier.

He later re-named Burton Brewery the Leopard Brewery, but it was also known with associated businesses as Newbigin’s. The Newbigin family owned it until 1957, when Malayan Breweries Ltd. of Singapore bought the business. After various ownership changes it ended as part of Dominion Breweries, now DB, owned by Heineken Asia Pacific.

The brewing plant was demolished some years ago, but numerous images on the HBKB website depict the brewery at different stages of its history.

Jim Newbigin, a descendant of Edward, gave a talk recorded and transcribed on the trust website. He discussed family history and some details of brewing when working at the brewery with his father.

The time is not stated, it was probably 1950s or 60s. Other details on brewing may be garnered from different parts of the HBKB website, which is an impressive document and resource for historians.*

Newbigin Lagered Ale

In this portion of the HBKB website appears a Newbigin Lagered Ale label, part of a group dating from different periods. (Click on the arrow three turns to see it).

It is hard to say exactly when the label was printed, as in this case the label does not bear a company name. It is seemingly before World War II, maybe 1930s, but could be later.

The brewery carried a lagered ale in 1960, as this brewery price list clearly shows. The brewery also listed an Export Ale that presumably differed from the Lagered Ale, unless they were the same beer.

Waikato Lagered Ale

Another NZ brewery sold a lagered ale, Waikato Breweries in Hamilton, in 1950 (via Papers Past):



A nice explanation of “lagered ale” we get, too, rather craft, but 70 years ago. Hamilton is half-way diagonally down North island from Hastings. In 1961 Waikato was absorbed into New Zealand Breweries Ltd., later the Lion (see below).

Crown Lagered Ale

Another label bearing the term lagered ale was Crown Lagered Ale, a brand of New Zealand Breweries Ltd. based in Christchurch. See a label offered at eBay, apparently 1960s vintage. This may be a continuation of Waikato’s lagered ale, given the buy-out in 1961, unless Crowm Lagered Ale had an independent history.

The Crown Brewery in Christchurch was a key component of New Zealand Breweries Ltd., with origins stretching back to the 1850s. Perhaps it had its own lagered ale before or independent to the others, but I have not been able to document this.

NZBL was finally absorbed into what is now Lion NZ, the Kirin-owned brewing giant in the country (and Australia). The other major group in NZ is Heineken-owned DB Breweries.

Bouquets to New Zealand?

Did lagered ale, as branding term, first emerge in New Zealand? At least three brands there used the term. I cannot say for certain, but am not aware of any usage prior to these elsewhere.

From what I can determine, the term was not used in this way in Australian brewing.

Canadian Connection

I traced a later usage, still pre-craft, in Forbes magazine in 1979, to describe Molson Golden Ale. This usage had to originate with Molson, so the term apparently was known in Canadian brewing or at least to Molson. It did not appear on the Molson Golden label, or in associated advertising, to my knowledge.**


The term was in use “in the brewhouse” in some parts of international brewing years before craft. Brewmasters migrating from an industrial setting to craft perhaps brought the term, or technical consultants dealing with both sectors.

In terms of branding or advertising use, so far it seems this originated in New Zealand.

Note re image: sourced from the archival New Zealand newspaper site Papers Past, as linked in the post. Used for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property in source belongs solely to lawful owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.


*Jim Newbigin states molasses was added depending whether the beer was to be a lager or stout, and intimated (or as I read him) that the same beer sometimes bore different labels. These practices were common in international brewing of the time, including in Canada.

**I recently reviewed the history of Molson Golden Ale, here.









India Pale Ale 1933-1980

I would identify five stages in IPA’s trajectory in America, by which I include Canada:

  1. The first importations before 1860 (Bass Pale Ale, Allsopp, etc.). Before that, American brewing was common beer, strong ale, and porter.*
  2. 1860-1900, when India Pale Ales from Ballantine, Greenway, C.H. Evans, John Labatt II, Molson’s, etc. were prominent in the market. First golden age of American IPA.
  3. 1901-1920 – IPA is now a semi-curiosity.
  4. 1933-1980 – IPA survives only vestigially post-Prohibition. American beer becomes increasingly homogenized, the crisp pale lager form.
  5. 1981 to present, IPA recreated with elan by artisan brewers.

In blog posting and journal articles I have discussed breweries and IPAs in each period. Period #4 covered a key progenitor of craft IPA – New Jersey’s Ballantine India Pale Ale.

During that time though, one still finds references to IPA, I’ll document some examples here. A late example is from 1962.

John Clellon Holmes (1926-1988) was a Beat generation novelist, poet, and essayist. He lived with his wife in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

In a journal entry for October 26, 1962, published in (1988) Kerouac and the Beats: a Primary Sourcebook, ed. Arthur and Kit Knight, he writes at p. 187 of  “… slow building talk with IPAs …”.

This can only mean Ballantine India Pale Ale, although it is interesting Holmes used the abbreviation IPA. Ballantine’s labels never used it as far as I know.

Holmes probably picked it up from literary or artistic associations in New York. The literati always liked ale – the real hipsters you know** – probably for the Anglo-American cultural resonance.

Another Bohemian writer, Don Marquis, writing in period #3, showed considerable appreciation for ale, see my essay here.



In 1936 the journalist and television star Dorothy Kilgallen (1913-1965), pictured, did a well-publicized world tour. It was a competition with two other journalists to see who did it fastest using public travel methods.



She  was 23-years-old, Chicago-born of Irish parentage, now working in New York. She wrote a book on the circumnavigation, preceded by news columns recording the stages. One was a breakfast in Gwadar, a port city now in south-western Pakistan.

She had flown in the night before from Shakar, and described her first meal:


The first Indian stop came at Gwadar at 10 o’clock, and there had our first meal of the day. The seasoned British officers, some of whom have lived in India many years, advised me that spicy foods keep one cool.

So I had curry—for breakfast. The inevitable lamb, hotter than weather, with pulao rice, and pickled cocoanut, and cooling chutney, and a bottle of India pale ale, shipped out from England.

Her column in the Albany Times-Union of 1936 gives further context. A full-page colour cartoon chronicling the trip appeared in the Chicago Tribune, showing her dining at said breakfast, beer bottle not shown (via Michigan State University Libraries).

No doubt Kilgallen and RJ Reynolds Tobacco, maker of Camel cigarettes and probably a trip sponsor, thought the tobacco connection enough.

The precise way she refers to the IPA is noteworthy. She probably had seen ads in New York for Ballantine’s India Pale Ale or other brands. She took took care to specify here the bottle was “shipped”, from England far away, not something local as the “India” might suggest.

IPA is now divorced from its late-1800s connotations of a standard American brewing product.

In 1917, or period #3, Paterson [New Jersey] Brewing and Malting Inc. created a visionary, a Far East mystique for its Hinchliffe India Pale Ale, to re-kindle new interest. See my three-part series on this brave attempt.

In 1936 Dorothy Kilgallen gave tangible expression to Hinchliffe’s vision, albeit Prohibition doomed any commercial success for Paterson Brewing and Malting.

A similar example how IPA became a marginal, romanticized product is a food columnist’s description of a lunch, also in the late 1930s, at the East India Club in London.

I referred to it earlier in passing but will give a fuller account. The American writer had a syndicated column, Victory Chef, giving advice on cookery in war conditions.

Proposing a curried dish in 1944, Victory Chef wrote an aside in the Washington Star of Washington, D.C.:

A few years before the war, I was taken to lunch at the famous East India Club in St. James’ Square in London, by a friend of mine, a retired British general. At this club, the curry is a fearsome and wonderful thing, served with a ritual that has not varied over a period of many years. The curry powder used is—or was—especially ground and blended for the club by a recipe known only to those within its sacred portals. Mutton was the chosen meat; the rice a special breed imported from a certain section in India. With the curry was served a pale India ale—unchilled, in fact, at just about room temperature. And there were only two of the many possible side kicks—Bombay duck, which isn’t duck at all but dried fish with a more than pungent odor, and a spicy chutney.

IPA is now something completely other, with enticing travel or literary/artistic associations. Note here how it was served warm, in a superbly un-American way. We could not be further from a Yankee commercial datum.

While a handful of IPA labels persisted in 1930s and 40s America, the beers had a tiny market share. By the 1960s, when John Clellon Holmes was savouring his Ballantine IPA in arty klatch sessions, that was the only brand left. By about 1995 it departed the market.

In period #4, IPA had exited the general culture. While I would not claim it had national appeal in period #2, it was still a well-known beer type in the Northeast, and unexceptional to that extent.

Only craft brewing, starting about 40 years ago, would restore IPA to broad-based visibility in consumer America. Craft brewing rescued the old lore, enough of it.

N.B. Pictured above is a revival of Ballantine India Pale Ale, re-introduced about seven years ago by current label owner, Pabst. The beer failed to click in the market and was withdrawn after a couple of years. The recipe was completely wrong, in my opinion. It resembled too closely countless modern IPAs, and failed to capitalize on the undoubted legend and uniqueness of Ballantine IPA.

Note re image: Image above of Dorothy Kilgallen was sourced from her Wikipedia entry linked in the text. Fair use claimed for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to lawful owner. All feedback welcomed.


*See my second comment viz. when IPA was first imported.

**The non-gentry section, certainly.








The Countess who Brewed

Women Historically in Brewing

A Polish countess figures in our story (see below) but first, some general background on women and brewing.

A detailed Wikipedia essay on women in brewing states:

From the beginning of industrialization to the 1960s and early 1970s, most women were moved out of the brewing industry, though throughout the world, they continued to homebrew following ancestral methods.”The main obstacles that women continue to face in [the] industry include perceptions of taste, media influence, and preconceived notions about their skill and ability”, according to journalist Krystal Baugher.

The essay details the long history of women in brewing. In world-historical terms, the period of exclusion is relatively narrow. It intensified with industrialization, but my reading suggests it started earlier, with the rise of brewing guilds in Europe.

I will have the chance to document this in scholarly writing later this year.

With the growth of modern craft brewing women have entered – re-entered – professional brewing. Lingering attitudes that may inhibit their opportunities is one of the cultural issues discussed in social media and academic writing.

Women in Pre-craft Breweries

What of the industrial period though, when women “didn’t” brew? Of course, some did. There is probably a large group, especially connected to smaller breweries, who worked closely with their husbands even though not possessing a formal role. This area needs further study and probably will be quite revealing.

Other cases, where women assumed formal roles as brewery owners, managers, or brewers, are not common but documented. There is the case of Susannah Oland in Canada. Another was a brewer in Leeds, England circa 1940 with the Corporation Tavern, Miss Charlotte Castleow.

Earlier known as Palace Hotel, it was associated to Charles Castleow, presumably her late father, or another relation. According to an April 22, 1940 report in the Evening Star of Washington, D.C., she brewed over 300 gal. of beer per week in the family brewery with a male assistant.

Another female brewer was the famous “Madame Rose”, of Liefman’s, in Belgium. No doubt there were more. War conditions may have brought some into North American and European brewhouses in the two World Wars, although I am not aware of a specific case (Castleow had worked in her brewery since childhood).

A Countess Brewer

Another case, previously unstudied to my knowledge, is the “Countess Brewer” of Kiev, Russia, now in Ukraine. In 1896, dozens of American newspapers printed an item that originated in the Philadelphia Record.

It stated a “Russian” countess owned and managed a brewery on her estate. The Naples Record printed it on February 5, 1896, see here (via Fulton Newspapers).



She was visiting a brewery in Berlin to learn details of pneumatic malting, as she wanted to install this in her brewery. She grew her own barley on “large acreage” and couldn’t get sufficient labour to work a traditional floor maltings (is the implication).*

The story stated she sent samples of her beer to the German brewer, who pronounced them equal to the best German and Bohemian beer. The report added, she was believed to be “the only woman brewer in Europe”.

Countess Branicka

The countess brewer is not named in the story. Who was she? I believe Rosa Maria Branicka, a member of a noble Polish family. She was often described by her married name, Rosa Maria Tarnowska (or Tarnowski).

Her husband, Count Stanislaw Tarnowski, was a well-known historian and literary figure.

A Countess Branicka is mentioned in Galina Ulianova’s (2009) Female Entrepreneurs in Nineteenth-Century Russia, at pp. 170-171:

The big landowner Countess Maria Branicka owned eleven enterprises in Kiev Province: four mills (all leased out), two distilleries, one brewery and four sugar beet plants.

Ulianova goes on to state that in 1897 these businesses employed a total of 2,010 workers and realized M 2.2 roubles.

I believe the determined-looking young woman pictured in the Geni site, described as Roza Maria Augusta Tarnowska (1854-1942), is the Countess brewer in American accounts and Ulianova’s book. In an ancestry website of the Branicka family she is described as a countess.

It appears her grandfather was Count Władysław Grzegorz Branicki, described as a Polish nobleman and general officer in the Russian army owning estates, a descendant of Catherine the Great.

The estates were, based on further checks, about 50 miles from Kiev. I believe Countess Branicka inherited some of the lands through her father, Konstanty.

I’ve approached the history with deliberation, as I do not read Polish, but believe the above accurate. Comments are (always) welcomed.


*This 1910 paper given in England by C.S. Meacham neatly explained the advantages of pneumatic malting over the older floor process.








Herkimer and American Gastronomy

This post replaces an older version, with updated information. Notice “Herkimer” on the wheel of cheese being rolled by the plump bunny?



The artwork is the cover of Charles N. Miller’s (1899) Welsh Rabbit at Hildreth’s, an amusing panegyric on his cheesy subject. I referred to the book numerous times in my series on Welsh Rabbit, which starts here.

What is, or was, Herkimer? A famous cheese centre in America in the second half of the 19th century. It forms a little-known chapter in American culinary and commercial annals.

Herkimer is a county in central New York State, one of a group of counties that comprises the Mohawk Valley.

Every summer since 2015, a woman called Nan Ressue with others holds a New York cheese festival in Little Falls, Herkimer County. Ressue authored excellent notes, with sources listed, on the history of Herkimer cheese, which you may read here (Cheese Capital tab in “About Little Falls, NY”).

The history below relies largely on her account.*

A factory-based system established in the 1860s caused great increase in Herkimer cheese production. It largely ended with WW I, as much milk was diverted from creameries to make condensed milk for Allied forces. But cheese shipments had been declining since the 1880s.

Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Iowa started to compete with Herkimer’s output, as did Canadian exports of cheddar. Much was from Ontario, still a cheddar stronghold.**

New York’s cheese exports, formerly strong in Britain, dropped in part due to frozen meat from Argentina and the Antipodes. It was introduced there at the same price as imported Herkimer, and displaced part of the market.

This point is made in a 1904 issue of The American Product Review. It shows that markets can be complex in the sense that competitive alternatives may range across food groups.

A trade that once attained an impressive 30M lbs of cheese per year, that created a busy cheese mart at Little Falls, was virtually at an end by 1920.

But in its heyday Little Falls bustled with cheese commerce, as an 1879 history of Herkimer County further attested.

Is this all in the past? Not quite. There has been a modest revival in the last two generations. The Herkimer Cheese Company, founded in 1949 in Little Falls, was the start.

Since its founding numerous small dairy farms and artisan dairies emerged to again produce fine New York cheese.

A cheddar-type was the main product of the original industry, white or orange-coloured (from anatto). Herkimer cheese was evidently prized for Welsh Rabbit, the melted cheese specialty that British colonists must have brought to America.

Charles Miller’s book appeared just as tolling time for Herkimer cheese was nigh. But culinary and beverage associations long endure.

In 1930 Arnold Shircliffe in The Edgewater Sandwich Book called for Hermiker cheese in numerous recipes, hot and cold. A sandwich on rye features Herkimer mixed with chopped pickles, lettuce, and bacon.

In the same period food writer Virginia Elliott recalled Herkimer’s heyday in her recipe for Welsh Rabbit, which specified “well-cured New York or Old English cheese”.

(Evidently a little was still made to supply these needs, or something similar was fetched).

The Little Falls cheese festival this year is scheduled for October. Little Falls is a rambling, atmospheric old riverside town, sheltered by verdant hills. This YouTube video produced by the City of Little Falls offers a fine visual tour.

I attended a few years ago, and it was excellent. At the time, it was held in July. October will be an even better time as the weather won’t be too hot.

For full details see the Festival website linked above.

Note re image: Sourced from Hathitrust, where Charles Miller’s book is catalogued as linked above. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*See also a later history of Herkimer County than I mention in the text, from 1893, for a detailed history of cheese-dairying in the County.

**An 1890s Britannica account of American dairying suggests factory cheese-making in Ontario was implanted by Herkimer County dairymen, and prior to that cheese was imported from Herkimer County. This is telling.





A Case of Champlain

Mega Merger Gives Rise to Champlain Brewery

In my writing on the history of Quebec brewing, I highlighted a 1909 merger of breweries in the Province. All joined the resultant National Breweries Ltd. (NBL), except Molson Brewery in Montreal and the small Silver Springs Brewery in Sherbrooke, QC.

Proteau & Carignan, a small Quebec City brewery, joined the merger. An ex-employee, Alfred-Pierre Robitaille, decided to establish his own brewery, in 1911. See details from the Quebec Historical Society. My searches suggest M. Robitaille was an accountant not a brewer, but it’s not fully clear.

His Champlain Brewery, named for the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, remained independent until 1948. In that year NBL bought its shares, as I described in this post.

Larger Context of the 1948 Sale

37 years of independence seems pretty good, comparable to modern craft breweries bought out after a generation’s run. But in Quebec, such events had – still do – significance beyond the purely commercial.

And it relates to language and culture. Brewing, even in the historical capital of Quebec City, had been Anglophone-dominated since the British Conquest. But spirited Francophone firms did make periodic attempts to crack the market. Proteau & Carignan was one, established in 1891 in Quebec City.

Frontenac Brewery, established in 1912 in Montreal was another. Champlain Brewery a third.

Yet a fourth, Imperial Breweries Ltd, was incorporated in 1907 as a cooperative managed by French speakers, in Montreal again.

All ended being absorbed by NBL. Its senior management was dominated by Anglophones who formerly had run the Dawes, Dow, Ekers, and Boswell breweries, the main components of the merger.

The NBL in-house magazine of the 1940s was bilingual, as I discussed earlier. Clearly two languages were used at work. But the business was not owned and run by French-speakers, who formed about 80% of the Province-wide population.

French-speaking business in many sectors couldn’t get a foothold, or not a permanent one. Frontenac was absorbed in 1925, just 13 years after being formed. Imperial Breweries was taken into NBL after only two years of operation.

Why Francophone breweries couldn’t keep pace with NBL is beyond my examination here. It would make an interesting study in some branch of the social sciences or economics. They had the advantage of appealing to national sentiment. Imperial Breweries did, as I explained in earlier accounts here.

So did Champlain. Frontenac seems to have been more nuanced, but even there the sub-text could not be ignored. French speakers there made a product popular among the population; it only made sense their compatriots would buy the beers.

Not enough did, it seems, but there may be more to it than that. A range of technological, economic, and market questions need careful study.

I’ll cite one example where Champlain made a clear attempt to appeal to nationalist sentiment, in the 1930s.

La Madelon Beer; a Famous Tune

In 1935 Champlain launched a new brand, La Madelon. This was clearly an ale, British in pedigree, not a “Continental” lager such as Frontenac was making. Surviving labels for Madelon state “ale” next to bière. The charming label below illustrates this (via Thomas Fisher Rare Book Collection on Flickr).



In 1936 the brewery listed its current range and made a frank appeal for French-Canadian support. From Le Soleil of June 30, 1936 (via Quebec Government Archives):



“French-Canadians: If we helped each other in all aspects of life, so much stronger would we be!”.

Clearly La Madelon, with its French name, was intended to support the nationalist appeal. The brand was named for a patriotic French song of WW I, also called Quand Madelon. The stirring tune endured in popular memory, remaining a rallying point into the Second World War.

The song was popular in Britain and the U.S. as well, with many recordings in English. A recent version, included in an informative blog entry at The University of Melbourne, is affecting.

Whether sung in French or English, Madelon was a young server Allied soldiers encountered at her father’s tavern. She reminded them of home, of what they were fighting for.

Emotive Features of the Madelon Brand

It is noteworthy that Champlain selected the Madelon name and image. On the one hand, the allusion was French, not British as such despite the two flags on some labels (a version of the Union Jack, the Red Ensign, served as Canada’s flag too, at the time).

This precluded the charge of over-sympathy with the British-inspired war effort, always a sensitive point for French Canada. (This derived from being defeated by the British on the Plains of Abraham in 1759).

On the other hand, the name commemorated the Allied victory, something most citizens, Anglophones too of course, could gather round. Why alienate that part of the Quebec drinking public? Many French Quebeckers fought in the war, in any case – need I mention the Van Doos?

The depiction of rustic-looking Madelon also had to remind French Quebeckers of a less urbanized, more old-fashioned French Canada, one modern life was quickly effacing.

In sum, the right notes were struck. Still, the brand seems to have languished. It was not included as a keynote brand in the 1940s annual reports I mentioned.

Mid-1930s Beer Range of Champlain

The range in the 1936 ad is interesting to analyze. The first beer, the Special, was an old-line India Pale Ale. This is made clear in 1940s company reports, which I discussed here.

This Thomas Fischer item shows that Special meant the IPA, as well. The third beer, Champlain XXX, was likely the regular gravity porter. The “Real Stout”, termed “Porter anglais” vs. porter alone for the XXX, was probably higher gravity.

Real Stout may have been all-malt or without licorice – something in other words more strictly English in character.

(I recall the descendant of Champlain Porter in the 70s and 80s being sweet and with a licorice tang).

The Madelon was perhaps a lower gravity, filtered version of the Special India Pale Ale. In the 1920s Champlain marketed two IPAs, one subtitled Export as this advert shows.

The Export was perhaps filtered and “sparkling”, à la Molson Export Ale introduced before WW I. Maybe La Madelon was simply the Export IPA rebadged.

Endgame for Champlain and Similar Breweries

In the end, NBL scooped the Francophone businesses – for a time. By 1952 it was gobbled up by a bigger fish, Edward P. Taylor’s Toronto-based Canadian Breweries Ltd.

Business, finally, is impersonal in its objects: it has an internal logic irrespective of patriotic and other considerations, assuming at least a free market.

True, the Francophone breweries had a seeming advantage of shared national identity with the market. But whatever business was extracted thereby wasn’t enough, or other factors were determinative.

Canadian Breweries Ltd. and Anti-trust

The buy-out of NBL and closure (1951-1952) of Champlain Brewery (Boswell Brewery in Quebec continued, it became Dow Brewery)  probably contributed to a subsequent, federal anti-trust investigation of Canadian Breweries Ltd.

A March 1951 item in Le Soleil stated a union delegate had requested the support of his Trades Federation to cause the government to inquire into whether a monopoly in brewing now existed.

The NBL deal followed many acquisitions and closures of regional breweries in Canada by Canadian Breweries Ltd. The Quebec example was similar to the others in economic impact – rationalization of plants and trimming of brands.

Economic consolidation though had an added dimension in Quebec, where the Francophone breweries’ distinctive character was lost initially to NBL, then to Canadian Breweries Ltd.

Charges were finally laid against Canadian Breweries Ltd. for violating Canada’s Combines Investigation Act. The company was acquitted though, mainly because it was found provincial regulation of beer markets necessarily excluded a normal competitive market.*

A Hockey Connection?

Howie Morenz was the great star of the Montreal Canadians hockey team in the 1930s. He had a connection to a Montreal restaurant called Madelon, which specialized in French cuisine. In a website collecting his memorabilia a restaurant card features his name.

Whether Champlain Brewery was connected I cannot say. The time period seems right, and the links between big brewing and hockey are well-known.

Yet the Madelon name was widely used by different establishments at the time, so it may be a coincidence. Indeed a brewery in France had the name.**

Morenz died tragically young after a bad check on the ice. When I grew up in Montreal he was still legend.

Note re images: source of images above is identified and linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


* For more detail see this study by the Toronto lawyers Tim Kennish and Janet Bolton.

**I believe it exists today, in the Vosges, after revival some years ago.










A Beery Thespians’ Regale

Early Beer Cuisine, “Mixed ale”

The Cliff, or Cliff Hotel, was an upscale hotel built in North Scituate, Mass. in 1896. Surviving postcards and other ephemera depict a handsome, rambling white clapboard. This image, showing a surrounding aspect, is courtesy Mass. Digital Commonwealth.



The Cliff remained a lodestone of the local social scene for much its lifetime but forever disappeared in a 1974 conflagration.

In 1900, the trade journal Hotel Monthly printed a menu served to a “company of actors”. Beer figured not a little – it is mentioned in the menu three times. Beer dinners before the 1980s were unusual in American gastronomy.



They still play a minor role, associated with the craft beer revival. Nonetheless beer dinners, or informal meals built around beer service, did exist in previous generations. I have described a number of them. They included a German-American dinner served in 1898 at the Pabst Estate outside Milwaukee, and Virginia Elliott’s menus of informal dining published early post-Repeal.

This menu for actors is interesting because it was a set affair, probably a luncheon or post-performance supper. No detail is given on the group, who must have performed in a local playhouse or perhaps the hotel.

Scituate is old, seaside New England, of which North Scituate is an extension. Scituate was settled by emigrants from Kent in the early 1600s. Today it functions as a suburban idyll, one that ramps up in summer for the “season”.

A town historical site offers good background.

The menu started with Manhattans, a cocktail already established in the Northeast as a pre-meal bracer. Some Europeans worried – still do – that strong drink ruins the food and wine to come.

Americans were insouciant – still are.

The next drink was “mixed ale”. Mixed ale, on the Beer et Seq radar for some time, had special significance between the 1880s and about 1910. It meant some combination of beer leavings, hence none too refined. Saloons specialized in it, sometimes adding camphor, grain alcohol, and other suspect ingredients.

At the bottom end of this trade the mixtures could induce a clattering or worse in the drinkers. The end was often criminality, judging from period press reports.

The term became a cipher for low living, for something disreputable or tawdry. A fighter past his prime might be called a mixed ale pugilist.

The theatre scene can have its raffish side, so the association with acting is not surprising. At least one burlesque was called Mixed Ale. Billy Golden, a vaudevillian of the period, had a song called Mixed Ale, a strange yodelling tune.

In an early social investigation The Sun in New York in 1894 inquired into mixed ale, you may read it hereIt noted:


No drink ever invented by man for the delight or destruction of his fellow man so characterizes its imbiber as mixed ale. A man may drink whiskey sours and be either a Southern Colonel or a backwoods sport; he may drink gin fizzes and be a gay and giddy clubman or simply a sufferer from weak kidneys; he may stick to plain seltzer and not be a temperance advocate necessarily, but perhaps a penitent of last night’s revels … and simply because a man opens champagne, that does not stamp him as a millionaire; he may be a wine agent. As for beer, everybody drinks beer who drinks anything; but when you see an individual swagger up to the bar, fix the barkeeper with a menacing eye and growl, “Gimme a cooler o’ mixed ale”, you can set him down as a good person to keep away from.

The Sun explained, in a way the beer historian understands completely, that mixed ale originally was a worthy drink: simply new ale and old combined, but became something different, a cheap simulacrum.

Mixed ale in a high-end hotel would not have been the degraded form. It was likely lager and ale mixed (one form of American musty ale as I have written elsewhere), or a proprietary bottling from a reputed Massachusetts brewer.

Appearance on the menu was an in-joke, no doubt pleasing to the actors being served. Just as hippies of the 1960s neutralized the charge of “freak” by assuming it as honorific (“Gonna wave my freak flag high”, sang Jimi Hendrix), these patrons didn’t mind being typed a mixed ale troupe.

The festivity’ s respectable nature was emphasized by the second beer served, King’s Bohemian lager, from a Mass. brewery.

At Worthpoint is an actual pre-Prohibition bottle of King’s, probably the same as the actors drank. In that period, the brewery was called Continental Brewing Co.

(The same plant marketed a King’s malt tonic during Prohibition. It appears a King’s Bohemian Beer returned in 1933, but not for long sadly).

If two courses of beer weren’t enough for the players, a third was available, signalled by the laconic “More Beer”. Nothing sums up the beer ethos better.

As to the food, there was broiled lobster, much associated with beer in the Gilded Era. And tomato salad – tomato was just starting its career as a fresh vegetable on menus, not cooked to disguise its once-suspect origins.

Also, three sandwiches, of plain ingredients but surely toothsome in the all-organic, market days. To end, cheesed crackers, and fruit.

Poised, lovely provender for a beer-fuelled affair. Not too heavy, to allow room for the semi-food, beer.

The Cliff’s steward, L.F. Brundage, was an old hotel man, see p. 14 in the same volume of Hotel Monthly. He knew his trade, which included knowing his customers.

Mixed ale, by his plan clearly, was set dressing in the Cliff’s dining room that night, a playhouse different from the actors’ usual sort. Most actors are demonstrative either by nature or profession. I’m sure they toasted old Brundage with verve, for a grateful respite from a long tour on the provincial boards.

Note re images: source of images above is identified and linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.



Confectionately Yours

Pastry Stout Avant la Lettre

Dear Readers:

Guinness Brewery had a brilliant ad poster in the 1950s, co-signed with a butterscotch-making subsidiary. The headline: Confectionately Yours.

Alamy has a sample up for sale, see here. (It takes a second or two to load).

The sweets maker was an old London firm, Callard & Bowser. Guinness acquired it in 1951, divesting finally in 1982. The Let’s Look Again site has a good capsule history.

One may be pardoned for thinking Guinness was ahead of its time, given the current fashion for pastry stout. (Bemused readers should read Kate Bernot for the lowdown).

In truth though the Guinness ad took pains to separate while still likening stout and sweets, in a dazzling Lewis Carroll pastiche.

Guinness did not think evidently of combining the two for a new product. Had it done so and named it Confectionately Yours, it might be the grandfather of all pastry stout, who knows.

What remains clear is, such advertising, next to today’s, is like comparing a Rolls Royce to a push wagon.

Expressionately Yours,

Beer et Seq


Beamish Stout Journeys to America

Beamish & Crawford were famous porter brewers in Cork, Ireland. The brewery closed in 2009. Beamish stout is now brewed at Heineken’s ex-Murphy plant in the same city.

In 1950 Beamish made a determined push in the American market. Read the background in an advertorial-style piece that year in the Irish-American Advocate, a long-running New York weekly that closed decades ago.



In the article, Beamish reviewed the current brewing range:

At present four types of Stout are brewed:

A Porter for consumption “on draught” in Ireland.
“XXX” Stout for consumption “on draught” and in bottle for Ireland and in bottle for the United King­dom.
“Knuckleduster”—a stronger stout for consumption in bottle for the United Kingdom.
“Foreign Extra”—a still stronger and well matured stout, in bottle, for export to all countries abroad, in­cluding, of course, the U.S.A.
And so, with progress and expan­sion, the aim of those who guide the destinies of the Company to-day, Cork men and Irishmen, will have reason to continue to feel justly proud of this Brewery they have known for genera­tions …

Of these beers, it appears only the Foreign Extra was sent to New York. A fine image of the modern-sounding Knuckleduster label appears at the BestBeerStuff t-shirt and apparel site.

This four-cornered brewing strategy, with gravities rising from four to eight per cent ABV (approximately), was followed by Guinness too, Beamish’s “bigger brother”. See e.g. Ron Pattinson’s tabular data here, and Jess Kiddens’ survey of Guinness’ c.1950 marketing. Kidden includes the following:



As beer historians have long known, in the 1940s* Guinness bought a brewery in Long Island, New York, the E. & J. Burke Brewery. Purpose: to brew Guinness domestically. Burke had been the venerable distributor for Guinness in America, going back to the 1800s.

The Stateside Burkes finally went into brewing for themselves, shortly after Prohibition. A Burke Ale in 1934, and Burke Stout in 1938 (see Kidden timeline) were offered in New York. This 1934 ad for Burke ale touts its “winter ale” qualities, suggesting a robust beer of the stock type.

A 1938 ad in the Advocate depicted a tall bottle of Burke stout with an “old sod” look, promising a traditional, “dry” flavour.

In 1949, Guinness owned the Burke brewery. It had started brewing Guinness-branded stout there, having ceased finally to brew Burke’s stout. Why would Beamish choose this time to expand in the U.S. market, when Guinness was making a determined effort to brew Guinness locally?

Inferentially, Beamish could market itself as truly Irish, given its beer was still made in Ireland. This seems confirmed by its advertising. On the same page as the advertorial, a Beamish box ad states “Imported” in prominent type. Other wording in the ad placed emphasis on the Irish origins.

The message to the intended market seemed clear: Guinness in America was no longer quite so Irish as in the past. For a time after Guinness started brewing in Long Island it still imported Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, but this was stopped to avoid confusion in the market. See David Hughes’ discussion in his book “A Bottle of Guinness Please”.

In 1952 Guinness was sued for anti-trust violation by Dublin Distributors, Inc. (DDI), a local business. DDI for years had been sub-distributor for Burke, obtaining its supply from Burke-owned, later Guinness-Burke, warehouses, and wholesaling through the New York area.

But DDI had also agreed to represent Beamish, for its push mentioned. It argued some of its customers wanted an all-Irish stout. Guinness, trying to protect its domestic business, understandably didn’t want that competition. It terminated DDI’s distribution rights for its Long Island stout.

It appears the litigation was resolved on the basis DDI could distribute Irish-brewed Guinness Foreign Extra Stout, the type historically imported by Burke, but not locally-brewed Guinness Extra Stout. Some years ago when an earlier version of this post appeared, I believe I saw a news item confirming this, but cannot locate it now.

If this occurred, with a dual Guinness supply again in the market, Guinness’ market profile was unclear again. For his part, Hughes attributes the failure to what Guinness brewed in Long Island – too strong and sweet, initially, although it made adjustments through the early 1950s.

In the mid-1950s both Beamish and Guinness are duking it out in New York for a small, mostly ethnic market. An interesting news item in the Advocate listed a series of Irish products the Irish Export Board helped promote in New York.

Both stouts are featured, but also food and other items. A marmalade maker, Lamb’s, featured two sorts, one a special old kind made with coarse-cut peel aged for seven months or more, to lend a “winey” flavour. (Sounds good).

By the early 1960s Guinness buys out DDI. But that was years after closing its Long Island brewing plant. Would Guinness have succeeded with stout domestically if Beamish had not made a strong pitch for the American market, and but for the lawsuit by DDI? Or was the product just “wrong”, as Hughes argues?

Guinness in recent years has re-established a brewery in America, near Baltimore. It brews lager there but not the classic Guinness stouts.** The earlier experience was probably telling in this decision, although we are of two minds about this.

Note re images: source of images above is identified and linked in the text. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owner, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.


*Hughes says 1943.

**It has brewed a draft milk stout at its Open Gate facility, and other experimental types.




The Origins of Robust Porter

The Spirit of ’91

Virginia-based Alistair Reece writes on beer, home brewing, and pubs, including at his Fuggled site and Twitter. He invited comments the other day on the origin of the term “robust porter”.

The term has been used since the 1990s on some beer labels. One of the earliest commercial examples is the excellent, flavourful Smuttynose Robust Porter.

The term once appeared in the style guidelines of the BJCPor Beer Judging Certification Program. (The history of the BJCP is of great interest, which I may revisit). The BJCP does not currently use the term, other than as a simple adjective to describe some beer qualities.

Some beer labels or websites still tout a robust porter though. In Ontario offhand I can think of Beau, Halo, Henderson, and Amsterdam, but there are numerous others. In the 2008 BJCP the following was noted of the “style”:

Stronger, hoppier and/or roastier version of porter designed as either a historical throwback or an American interpretation of the style. Traditional versions will have a more subtle hop character (often English), while modern versions may be considerably more aggressive. Both types are equally valid.

This is fairly vague, and from a historical standpoint cannot be justified, hence the abandonment of the term by BJCP. Still, “robust porter” has an acquired resonance in the market, and is not likely to disappear any time soon.



The answer I gave to Alistair’s question was one I found in Terry Foster’s 1992 book, Porter. London-born, American-based Foster has written a couple of books on porter and stout, and other books on beer.

He has advanced academic qualifications and is well-known in the American brewing establishment. Read his bio in the site Brewers’ Publications.

An excerpt from the book reads:

The American Homebrewers Association, in its specifications for entries in the 1991 National Homebrew Competition, deems it necessary to define two types of porter. The first is “Robust Porter”, with the accent on black malt flavor and no roast barley character; the second is “Brown Porter”, with no roast barley or strong burnt malt character. Personally, I would prefer to think of porter as one beer with a whole continuum of roasted malt flavours.

One can see by the last sentence that Foster understood the deficiencies of this two-fold definition, but he was simply explaining its origins.

In the U.K. where they originated, porter and stout were originally brewed with all-barley malt.* The dark colour came from brown, black, and/or amber malts. Later, roasted (unmalted) barley might be used to impart the colour, and malt adjuncts or sugars added to the mash.

In my view, what the people drawing the robust porter definition were getting at is that porter originally was all-malt and relied on dark malt for the distinctive palate.

Whereas modern Guinness uses a high proportion of unmalted grains, including roasted barley, with a correspondingly different palate. Guinness had considerable influence on craft thinking in the last 30-40 years, via in part the landmark writings of Michael Jackson.

It is reasonable that the 1991 competition inspired the now-abandoned BJCP usage and still-current commercial usages.

I’ve pointed to Foster’s book for the origin-explanation, and thus far no better one has emerged to my knowledge.

There is always a tension between historical and contemporary commercial realties. They meet somewhere in the middle; always did, always will. The robust term has a cool sound, and in time suggested variations to brewers such as a stronger beer.

Brown porter, in contrast, is an anodyne formulation, and has enjoyed less popularity, although one does see it occasionally on a beer label or blackboard listing of draft beers. It was getting at the (undoubted) fact that the earliest porters were brewed from all-brown malt, and hence lacked a strong burnt taste from highly roasted or black malt.

Some modern robust porters use both roasted barley and black or other dark malts, some are higher-alcohol, some are flavoured, and so on. Commercial life takes a shape of its own, as it should.

Finally, attendees of the 1991 competition – it was held in Manchester, New Hampshire – may have a paper in their basement on which that first definition was written. It might offer more insight on how the term emerged.

And god bless the domestic mixers of magic malt potions who present their brews for the delectation of the like-minded. Without them there would be no craft brewing industry today.


*Unless made at home where standards laws did not apply, but porter was pre-eminently an industrial phenomenon.




Chillin, Old-school. Part II.

The history of beer and the history of brewing technology are separate subjects, while clearly interrelated. In Part I we discussed that until at least the 1930s some newly-built breweries, both top- and bottom-fermenting, employed a double system of cooling the boiled wort.

(Wort is the sugar-rich extract of a barley-based mash. It is boiled with the aromatic and resinous hop, and then fermented with yeast to produce beer. The starch of the malted barleycorn must first be converted to fermentable sugar to permit production of alcohol, unlike the case, say, for wine fermentation. The sugar is ready-made in the grape envelope).

See the Comments where a brewing specialist usefully pointed out that a shallow surface cooler, apart from partially cooling wort, separates well the trub (or sludge) in wort. This is various lipids, proteins, hop debris, and other coagulants whose removal produces a clear wort, generally favoured for fermentation.

The question of sludge separation, the related cold and hot break removals, the reasons therefore and how it was and is done, is far from simple. This is why we have brewing schools and brewing technologies.

Here, I simply want to explain what the 1930s-era Malayan Breweries Ltd. in Singapore and Marine Brewery in Brussels had in mind, as well as older breweries using similar methods, when using the open cooler + heat exchanger.

A representative of the Singapore brewery told a reporter that open cooling, which used purified air in that case, had a beneficial impact on the beer.

Exactly the same thing was stated in 1930 by the great brewing engineer Dr. Leopold Nathan. Nathan was the Swiss-based designer of the cylindro-conical fermenter. Today this equipment is used all over the world in breweries of all scales.

He wrote that year in the Journal of the Institute of Brewing that surface coolers, used in the right conditions, produced an especially fine palate for lager. He explained this meant “volatile” substances in the wort detrimental to flavour, that resulted in an “onion” taste, were removed by the atmosphere.

See especially p. 539, bottom-left corner.

The beneficial effect was greatly assisted by cold, dry, snowy weather as the always-present risk of infection was minimized. He felt lager would not succeed in the U.K. using the traditional open cooler, as its climate was often foggy and humid. The volatiles would condense back into the wort due to these conditions.

His fermentation system had an enclosed tank that received and cooled hot wort over aluminium plates prior to fermentation in what is now called the “conical”. At the time, even for lager brewing his system, some 40 years in the making and now viewed as revolutionary, was just coming into use internationally.

Further, his system had a way to vent fermenting beer of these volatiles, by a scrubbing action of carbon dioxide – I discussed this in earlier writing.

While similar surface coolers were used in the U.K. and in 1870s Australia as noted, the problem of these volatiles was not quite the same. The infection risk remained, but the other was much less important.

The reason is the “onion” taste, a perceived defect in pale Continental beer discussed since the late 1800s, resulted mainly from dimethyl sulphide. DMS as it is known arises from use of very pale malts suitable for lager. His article noted that different materials were used in U.K. brewing, which implied that the problem was not acute there.

The malts used for ale and porter were kilned darker than for lager malt, with the result the volatiles of concern were produced in much lower concentrations. The onion taste did not appear.

Still, the infection risk remained for any form of beer produced, hence Dr. Nathan’s proprietary system that avoided the risks in question.

Traditionally, as Dr. Nathan alluded, long aging in large casks or tanks was employed to allow the objectionable volatiles to escape. Sometimes success was partial though. The use of krausen or newly-fermented beer to carbonate the old also potentially countered the beneficial effect of long aging.

Nathan’s system produced “clean” lager in much less time, with less risk of infection, than the old pan cooler-based and lengthy aging systems.

Even though Nathan fermentation was still quite new, period literature shows lager breweries had other alternatives to the double cooling system noted. These included deep hot wort receivers and various forms of filtration both before and after chilling in the heat exchanger, which itself was undergoing improvement notably by being enclosed.

While 1930s breweries had different options to chill and clear the wort, quality considerations for many still mandated use of the open cooler + heat exchanger (or refrigerator) system.