Scottish Brewers Make Their Move
This continues our series on beer in the British Mandate of Palestine. It began with this post, a correspondent’s tour of Palestine Brewery Ltd. in 1944.
Below, I document further examples of British beer available in 1930s Mandate Palestine.
The Australian press in 1940, reporting on doings of the A.I.F., mentioned that McEwan’s “brown ale” was enjoyed by the troops in 14-oz. glasses.
It stated also that “well-known” English brands of beer were available, of which we saw examples earlier.
Australian camps in Palestine were allowed wet canteens, unlike in Australia. Initially, English beer was supplied, but the men preferred lager, by then generalized in Australia.
It was addressed partly by importing Australian beer, and partly by engaging Palestine Brewery in Rishon LeZion to brew lager for A.I.F. canteens. I will revisit this in Part IX.
In 1930 McEwan’s is advertised along with Younger’s ale “in draught” by the International Restaurant. McEwan and William Younger merged that year, in part to market jointly their beer in places like Palestine.
Certainly McEwan’s took good interest in the Palestine market even before the merger. The social page in January 1930 (Palestine Post, as all news references herein except the first) noted that a Mr. Whitle and wife, “representing McEwan’s beer, England”, were staying at the Windsor Hotel in Haifa with other named dignitaries.
The merged Edinburgh brewers clearly made inroads in the expat and military markets through the 1930s. In 1939 a Mr. Wilcockson, representing McEwan-Younger, donated a cup for competitions held by the Jerusalem Services & Police Football League.
The occasion was a Dance at the Menorah Club. A battalion of the Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment, took the palm.
In 1935 the German Restaurant in Jerusalem, run by F. Nothbaum and connected to the German Templers, vaunted Hacker and Lowenbrau (Munich lagers), Younger’s ale, Guinness stout, and milk stout.
The Younger’s was probably from George Younger, whom we dealt with in an earlier Part, as the brewery was noted for its milk stout. The product was regularly advertised by George Younger then, for example here, in 1937. But possibly the Younger’s advertised McEwan-Younger’s.
In this series, it seemed a daunting task to find an actual beer list from a N.A.A.F.I. in Palestine, bar, restaurant or hotel. The distance in time, and other limitations, seemed too great. Finally, I did though.
The extract below is from a Wine-Card of the Hotel Fast in Jerusalem in 1938. Hotel Fast was a longstanding hostelry in the city founded in the latter 1800s, just outside the Jaffa Gate. It was owned by the Fast family. Following an interruption of ownership after WW I, in 1929 the family recovered ownership.
The Fasts were German Templers. The hotel continued until WW II when it became a club for the Australian forces. After 1948 in Israel it found various uses until it fell into ruin. It was torn down in 1975 and a new hotel was later built on the site.
Further information on the Hotel Fast may be gleaned from Tourists, Travellers and Hotels in Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem (2013) by Rupert L. Chapman, III and others. The authors devote a full chapter to the hostelry’s changing fortunes.
Czech Pilsner Urquell was on the wine list, the most expensive item. I had stated earlier it was likely available in Mandate Palestine. The other beers on the list: Tennent’s, Whitbread’s Double Brown Ale, stout (perhaps Guinness), a Munich beer, brand not specified, and Palestine Brewery Ltd.’s Eagle (aka Nesher), a lager.
The full wine list may be perused at the New York Public Library’s menu archive, here. It is interesting on numerous accounts, for example the local wines from Rishon LeZion.
Tennent’s of Glasgow took good interest in Palestine, as indeed George Younger had, and McEwans-Younger’s. Consider this ad of Tennent’s in 1933 (“Tennent’s: The Beer”) and, in 1934, this one. The brand was probably Tennent’s Lager, for which Tennent’s long had a reputation in the U.K.
The brand is still made and very popular; below is an image of the current label, from The Beer Store in Ontario. Tennent’s had an advantage over most other U.K. breweries in that it already offered a lager suitable for a hot climate market – what’s more, an established, known brand. It did not need to adapt an ale for the purpose as other brewers did, although it produced ales as well.
It seems the Scots were more alert than English breweries to develop export markets after about 1875. Skill at such business was a Scots specialty, probably reflecting the comparatively small size of Scottish industry and the greater domestic competition it faced.
For further background, particularly viz. McEwan, see Wilson & Gourvish, The Dynamics of the Modern Brewing Industry (1998).
Nonetheless, a signal exception existed for London-based Barclay, Perkins & Co. Ltd: its investment – after WW II – in a Sudan brewery. I will revisit this soon.
Numerous ads from cafes in the Palestine press through the 1930s mention beer and ale without specifying the brands. Hence, brands may have been offered from breweries I haven’t canvassed. And not all brands available in the country were advertised, of course.
In 1940 the Kineret Bar on storied Allenby Road advertised “all kinds of English beer”. The Kineret also touted its “English food”. In 1939 the same bar advertised simply, “the best glass of beer”. Clearly, the Kineret was a Palestine beer haunt, proud of its offerings, not just offering a “list”.
Futter’s Restaurant in 1935 on Storrs Road in Jerusalem advertised simply “Wines and Ales”. This bald and to us rather unusual juxtaposition of drink types made clear the potables were a specialty, though.
The Hotel Fast is pictured below as it appeared in 1935.
Note: the series continues with Part IX.
Note re images: the source of the first two images image above is identified and linked in the text. The third was sourced from Wikipedia Commons, here. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owners, as applicable. Used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.