Portraits of E. Lacon and Carnegie Breweries, 1962

Courtesy a volume of The Brewing Trade Review, we have portraits in 1962 of two breweries of good historical interest, ones I’ve discussed earlier: E. Lacon in Great Yarmouth, England, and D. Carnegie in Gothenburg, Sweden.

John Levett wrote the Carnegie piece, see from p. 868. He included images of its brew kettle, enclosed in a brick-lined well, and a floor of the maltings, built, as I documented the other day, in 1939.

He discussed regulatory control of alcohol strength, the always-present Swedish temperance sentiment, and then-importance of Carnegie Porter in the Swedish beer market. The beer was nationally distributed including by some competitors.

Much is devoted to Pripps, the major brewer that also originated in Gothenburg, and by 1962 was the parent company of Carnegie. Pripps is now in the fold of Danish Carlsberg.

 

 

The Lacon’s story (from p. 706), uncredited, is a good complement to the 1957 commercial film circulated on Twitter today by Tim Holt, editor of Brewery History. It is a reminder how some regional breweries were seen still to have good prospects.

The brewery was publicly-traded but still family-controlled. It shared with other “seaside breweries” particularities of the trade, patterns of sales unique to them. Such charming details of British family brewing are now firmly of the past.

The detail of WW II damage from bombing and re-building is of particular interest.

E. Lacon was bought up by the London giant Whitbread’s in 1965, only three years after the hopeful portrait in the Review.

There is much else of interest in the volume linked.

John Levett also authored impactful pieces on Kirin in Japan and Carling’s U.S. expansion. I don’t know Levett’s name in British brewing or trade publishing, but he showed good knowledge of international brewing in this period.*

There is a good bit on a Watney’s demonstration unit, a vehicle meant to do “whistle stops” to market its Red Barrel (non-real ale) draught beer. The suave description of the interior, eg. “figured dark oak with contrasting walls”, is matchless.

“Gypsum”, a nom de plume likely of J.L. Shimwell, a British brewing scientist I profiled earlier, had a series on the Victorian brewing author Southby. He both extracts and comments on chapters from Southby’s influential brewing text.

It shows the respect Shimwell had for Victorian brewing but also the great diversity of brewing methods and equipment then. Although Shimwell was as sophisticated as brewing scientists came in 1962, he knew how much had been lost to British brewing.

His asides provide rich detail, eg. on the Irish practice of “worting” casks with unfermented beer to ensure condition.

You may read at your leisure, to learn more.

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*If anyone tells me I’ll buy you a pint – in Toronto, when the bars open.

 

 

 

 

Cambozola Cheese

Sometimes a food or drink emerges as a ready-formed (more or less) classic: Grey Goose vodka, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Jarlsberg cheese. Haagen-Dazs ice cream, Jagermeister,* Spam, Heinz Ketchup. It goes on.

The originator may be small, medium, or large. Artisan methods may be deployed, sophisticated science, mother wit, or a combination. Countless products started like this, but many are so old we forget the origins. Most I’ve mentioned were devised after WW II, or not long before.

A cheese that qualifies is Cambozola. This German-made blue cheese is a brilliant invention, first marketed in 1980. It is, first and foremost, delicious. The creamy base, not dissimilar to French Camembert, combines perfectly with the blue veining. The “blue” taste is similar to that in classics like Stilton or Gorgonzola, but milder (s similar penicillium culture is used).

The acid test: you can eat it at breakfast, or I do. The cheese, especially when warmed, has a complex, satisfying taste even though (I assume) pasteurized and made for optimal consistency.

It keeps well, too, even if indifferently wrapped after opening. The firm that devised it is a long-established cheesemaker, Käserei Champignon, based in Lauben/Allgäu in south Germany.

Some history can be gleaned from the company website. Sales now are sizeable, with some 30% representing export business. This page has further details. The firm is over 100 years old, having started with a Camembert-style cheese that offered a characteristic “mushroom” scent.

(Jarlsberg was meant originally to resemble Swiss Emmental. It ended as its own style, as Cambozola has).

Research and dairying know-how combined to make a first, enduring product, and then they did it again with a blue version.


The regular product, the Classic, is pictured (source: brand website). There is also a premium Black Label. Cambozola is attractive as well for not being too salty – or expensive. Classic blues at least when exported can be rather saline, reducing their appeal for many. And they come at a price.

The company website explains well the origins and merits of the cheese:

In 1980, master cheese-makers in south Germany succeeded in achieving this uniqueness. The result was a new and fascinating composition. A very special cheese of its own kind: CAMBOZOLA.

With the unique interplay of tenderly melting curd and the refined flavour of blue mould, CAMBOZOLA is sure to impress. Cheese connoisseurs experience this stimulating taste experience in every single piece.

Today, CAMBOZOLA has a firm place in well-stocked cheese counters around the world. In over forty countries, connoisseurs choose CAMBOZOLA when they want to enjoy a truly exquisite soft cheese.

 

Marketing talk? In part, but justified. I like fine traditional cheeses with the best of them. Cambozola ranks with the best.

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*Jagermeister originated in the 1930s in Germany. It had success as a domestic product, but I was thinking of its American career once introduced about 40 years ago by branding whiz Sidney Frank. He created a new, unlikely, college-based market for it. Earlier Frank had created the Grey Goose vodka brand.

Carnegie Porter. Part II.

How Strong in the 1800s?

In my Part I, I stated Carnegie Porter is currently 5.5% ABV. A commenter, Bryan B, noted that a weaker version, at 3.5% abv, is sold in Swedish supermarkets.

We thank him for that, and it prompted a memory of reading this years ago, probably from renowned beer writer Michael Jackson. It was Jackson (1942-2007) who first drew attention internationally to Carnegie and other surviving porter in the Baltic and East Europe, descendants of an Augustan era export trade by London brewers.

The 3.5% version is a reminder of the long concern with temperance in Sweden. 3.5% is lower alcohol beer, not a temperance drink, but evidently abuse will be lessened where, say, two rich-tasting beers must be consumed to equal the hit of the typical IPA – or indeed historic “brown stout” of early porter days.

I located an analysis of Carnegie Porter in the 1880s, which is interesting to compare to both versions marketed today.

But first, for further background to the Carnegie story, consider this page from Carnegie Investment Bank in Sweden. It notes that brewery founder David Carnegie, Jr. returned to Scotland once the business was on solid footing, leaving management to a highly capable associate.

The brewery was divested in 1920, as explained in the link, and by a wending path Carnegie porter today is in the Carlsberg portfolio. Yet the Carnegie name is still potent in Swedish business, associated with real estate, finance, and other activities.

Part of the history concerns the very circumstance that led to a weak version of Carnegie porter: alcohol control. Gothenburg is famous for attaching its name to a liquor control system that saw national spirits production moved into a public trust. A unique method to operate public houses accompanied, “Gothenburg licensing”.

Carnegie himself promoted the scheme, including in Scotland, because it suited his purpose to promote beer as a reasonable alternative to liquor. There is an extensive history to this background, beyond my scope here.

But e.g. it explains why in the Parliamentary testimony I linked in Part I, he stated his porter was weaker than “English porter”. Was it, though, viz. the average English porter anyway? It is interesting to peruse the tables in Frederick Salem’s (1880) Beer: Its History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage.

The data is drawn from disparate sources, some going back to the 1840s, and appears to state alcohol by volume. Carnegie’s was 5.8%.

I think it likely Carnegie was distinguishing his beer from best quality British porter and stout (and likely from the porter he first made in 1836). Guinness stout was over 7% abv then.

In any case 5.8% percent is about where Carnegie is today for the version known internationally, which attests to some continuity for 140 years, at least in that respect.

Incidentally, why has Ontario’s LCBO never listed Carnegie porter? Lots of Carlsberg is moved here. It should not be much trouble to put in a pallet of Carnegie Porter once in a while.

 

 

 

 

Carnegie Porter. Part I.

Drilling Down on the Black Gold

One of the first traditional porters I drank many years ago was Carnegie Porter, which I found in specialist American outlets or parts of Europe. It immediately made an impression for its luscious, burnt/fruit character.

It was considerably ahead in character of surviving porters from old-school brewers in North America, but some emerging craft porter approached it in quality.

I’ll pen aspects of Carnegie’s eventful history below. The image is from the current website for the brand.

 

 

A website for Hotel Waterfront Gothenburg, in the historic harbour of Gothenburg, Sweden, confirms that Eton-educated Scot David Carnegie, Jr. bought the Lorent Brewery (est. 1817) in 1836.*

An uncle had traded in Gothenburg earlier but the nephew had the association with the brewery. Part of the brewery is now the hotel named, but the history is not forgotten: a Trip Advisor link contains a striking rendering of the brewery, seeming early 1900s:

 

 

The Carnegie brand is part now of Danish Carlsberg. Porter is still brewed, at a Carlsberg facility in Falkenberg, Sweden.

As I discussed earlier, just before WW I Carnegie Porter was also brewed in Copenhagen, further attesting to its international character. Indeed while long naturalized in Sweden the foreign, specifically British, origins of the drink have never been forgotten.

There have been tinkerings over the years with the strength, currently at 5.5% ABV, and yeast type, but current reviews attest to traditional quality. See especially Beergoot’s remarks on January 18, 2018. My own experience confirms his view.

The message is a rich, sweet beer with notes of chocolate and toffee. This is consistent with historical descriptions of fresh porter. There is the odd dissenting view, an enthusiastic Briton felt the beer essentially a “brown ale”, but so traditional is the palate I think it may confuse some drinkers today.

With a nod to its history the hotel makes a specialty of the beer, offering a range of vintage Carnegies and other porters from its “porter pantry”. As beer writer Michael Jackson pointed out years ago, despite being pasteurized the brewery considers the beer can benefit from cellaring.

The hotel has offered porter tastings and tours, a nice way to combine commerce and history.

Returning to the 19th century, Carnegie Porter was reputed enough to attract attention from English observers. An example from traveller William Hurton in 1851:

Carnegie’s porter is excellent, and I am assured much is actually sent to England, and sold as English porter!

In 1877 David Carnegie, Jr. himself, in Parliamentary testimony, likened the beer to English porter except being less strong.

By the early 1900s the porter is sent to North America, Cuba, and Brazil. My research disclosed Carnegie in San Francisco in 1913 (Swedish language ethnic press) and Duluth, MN, (Duluth Herald, 1912).

As I discussed earlier, the beer was also sold in that period in Victoria, British Columbia, outside a Continental ethnic context. (The Duluth ad was in English but the large Swedish implantation in the state should probably be factored).

After Prohibition, Carnegie comes back to North America, eg. New York as this lavish ad showed in June 1933. Despite the great strides made by pilsener beer on the Continent, Carnegie Brewery was still ambitious for its porter in the 1930s.

In September 1939, with a huge war dawning, the brewery made a big upgrade to its malting facilities, as described in a Tasmanian newspaper item (stout still had a good market in the Antipodes).

A hyper modern malting plant, in which production will be carried on according to methods traditional in the brewing of English stout, ls being erected at Gothenburg by the Carnegie Brewery, Sweden’s largest producers of stout. The plant includes 21 high silos made of reinforced concrete and an eight-storey malt-house, and will be capable of dealing with 5,400 tons of barley a year, the daily malt output being 21 tons. The silos comprise 33 chambers with a total storage capacity of 2,000 tons of grain …

The story explained that the brewery decided specifically to install a traditional floor maltings, vs. the drum method now usual in Europe, due to the enhanced quality.

After WW II the porter flows anew to New York, as seen from a 1951 advertorial in the Brooklyn Eagle:

Like good champagne, it pops the cork when properly chilled for serving. Abroad it is used as an aperitif, served in thin-shelled, chilled wine glasses. Here it is more frequently added to a good lager beer, to make a flavorful drink. Best proportion for most tastes is one-fourth stout to three-fourths beer. Mixed half and half with champagne it makes a drink known as “black velvet.” The 10.8 ounce bottles of this Carnegie stout retail at 39 cents, also at the Skandia shop, at Petzinger’s, 86 3rd Ave., and Dupper’s at 524 86th St., Bay Ridge.

The lager mixing idea evokes 1930s American Guinness advertising which suggested the stout be mixed with lager. Indeed that can produce a most satisfactory drink.

The Three Towns lager mentioned in the 1951 piece is a story unto itself. Suffice to say it was probably not a literal blending of beers from three Swedish breweries but a single, collaborative brew. Three Towns continues in Sweden at least, as the popular “TT“.

For the 1960s, It would be interesting to read the full text of a 1962 article in the Brewing Trade Review on Carnegie Brewery. I’ll see if I can uncover that.

With other famous stouts such as (Finnish) Sinebrychoff Stout, (English) Courage Imperial Russian Stout, and Lion Stout (Sri Lanka, the former British Ceylon), also Guinness in its heyday, Carnegie launched a thousand vats of black gold.

Note re images: Images above are sourced from the sites identified and hyperlinked in the text. Used for educational and research purposes. All intellectual property therein is solely the property of lawful owner, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.

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*Some sources state, established 1813.

 

 

The Fate of Springfield Brewery, Mitcham

The Springfield Brewery in Mitcham, South Australia is the little brewery that couldn’t, finally. Too many breweries in the days of unceasing consolidation were absorbed in groups or didn’t even make it to that stage, simply shuttering.

Springfield was one, ending its days in bank-ordered liquidation in 1954. Mitcham is about a 15-minute drive east of central Adelaide, a suburb today but originally with a separate history, connected to a large sheep station.

The Adelaide area once counted, pre-craft that is, dozens of breweries, a lot for the sparse population. Today, apart the craft breweries, there is the inspiring Cooper’s, still family-owned, and the Lion/Kirin-owned West End Brewery in Thebarton, makers of famed West End Draught.

Last October reports had it that even West End brewery will shut soon, in June. InDaily has the details, here. National per capita consumption has dropped significantly in the last 10 years, an astonishing 20%.

The West End facility is operating at only 50% capacity, not sustainable. Production will be moved interstate, to other Lion facilities. Something like this happened to Springfield, except it wasn’t part of a large group, and the beers it made died with the firm.

Springfield is an interesting case, too, in that it did not start in Victorian or even Edwardian Australia. It started in 1939, relatively late given how competition and merger would intensify in Australian brewing.

It was built on the site of the closed Waverly Brewery, product of an early entrepreneur settler, Charles Edward Mallen. A group of Adelaide businessmen refitted the brewery for bottom fermentation, and an Adelaide News report in 1941 lauded a new local hero.

A sketch of South Australian brewing by Dr. John Radcliffe in 2014 pictured the brewery in the early 1950s. The brick tower, an addition to the Waverly facility, still looked new in the South Australia climate.

In 1941 times were heady, the war was on, and the two main products, a Bitter and Stout, were doing well. Its brewmaster, named O’Donnell, had decades of experience in other breweries. All looked set for decades-long prosperity.

15 years later it was all over. While causes were numerous, including a lack of re-investment to upgrade the plant post-war, the immediate cause of closure seems to have been a spate of bad production.

A June 1953 press report contained an uncharacteristically frank admission of the company chairman: early in 1953 the beer had been mostly (80%) bad, even sour, resulting in a significant financial loss.

In a buyer’s market the company sent much of its beer out of the State, to western New South Wales. Then, it found an agent in Sydney willing to take 100% of brewery output. It therefore boosted production, not aging the beer correctly. As quoted in the report:

“We then boosted production and foolishly went over the capacity of the plant.” Mr. Parsons said. “The poor quality was caused by insufficient fermentation and insufficient storage. I found some of our beer completely undrinkable in Sydney. It was a dirty, dark, hazy color without much flavor; Some of it would have been a good substitute for vinegar. But it had been warm in Sydney and our agents got rid of most of it. You may ask why we didn’t get rid of the brewer”. A voice: “Which brewer? You have had so many”.

While finding a buyer for all one could produce seems a plus, it points as well to lack of a robust local market. Unless one is set up to be an export brewery, as say Beck’s was in Bremen, Germany, relying on distant markets can be chancy in brewing.

A later report confirmed the company got a handle on the quality problem, see also here. It hired a new brewer with long experience at the historic Cascade Brewery, Tasmania.

He was quoted that elimination of bacteria in brewing water was a key element of the strategy to improve quality. He would not use reservoir water except for process purposes; for mashing malt they used spring water thoroughly boiled.

Together with the chairman’s remarks, this points to a number of quality issues that had to be overcome. In last days the beer flowing was sweet and clean, but it was too late.

Media accounts pointed deeper market issues, however. Many State hotels were in the clutches of other breweries, and too few free houses were buying Springfield’s beer.

The quality problem, abetted perhaps by a too-plain-spoken chairman, could not have helped. It’s a reminder that brewing is never quite vouchsafed the “bad batch”, even today. The bad spirits that so preoccupied pre-industrial brewers have never quite flown.

In the company’s heyday it produced a vatted stout, see the handsome colour labels at the VLBC Society’s Springfield collection. The 1941 news story stated the stout was matured in “oaken vats”, just as was done in England.

(Well, not so much latterly, but brewing must be allowed its heroic tales).

This mix of methods and terminology was characteristic of Australian brewing then. I suspect the light-coloured beers were aged in modern glass-lined tanks, mentioned in press accounts, but it seems a black lager was aged in wood vats, maybe those formerly belonging to Waverly Brewery.

The last sales of beer by Springfield, at a discount, went fast – to locals. The press told the tale. An employee said sales had never been as brisk for a long time, and it was not even the beer season quite yet.

You don’t know what you have ’til its gone – the oldest story ever told.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ranch Water – Origin of the Name

Gathering pace in the last couple of years is ranch water. It originated in West Texas, in time spreading through the state. The drink is known elsewhere, too, urban areas and other trendy parts.

Classically it is a mix of tequila, lime, and bottled mineral water. Coca-Cola-owned Mexican Topo Chico mineral water is emblematic. In recent years ready-to-drink versions have been marketed in cans.

Emulations have appeared, too, not using tequila but perhaps a malt or neutral alcohol base with agave flavouring. These are not mocktails but half-way one might say. Articles have been written on the trend, with major beverage companies, craft brewers, and entrepreneurs all in the game.

Kate Bernot has just done a thorough analysis for Good Beer Hunting, see hereFor a short, Texas-flavoured description, see Paula Forbes’ 2018 article in GQ.

My interest is the name – why ranch water? No one really knows, just as the actual inventor is not known although various theories exist.

I project that in the 1960s, when Texan ranchers used Topo Chico to refresh – the water was first marketed in the 1890s – they made a joke on the term branch water. A branch in the South and Southwest is an old term for a stream, an offshoot of a river.

Bourbon-and-branch was a highball – whiskey lengthened with cool, fresh water. Ranch water is also a highball, but the water is fizzy, as Topo Chico has always been. In this way of looking at it, ranch water was bubbly counterpart to the still branch water.

While bourbon’s popularity has soared in recent years, branch water as a drinks term has dipped proportionately in public understanding.

Summers are hot and dry in West Texas, a look at a geological map shows river and stream systems mainly in the east and centre. Branch water in a drinks context was certainly known in Texas in the 1960s.

President Lyndon B. Johnson drank a bourbon-and-branch each day, according to a 1965 column in the Albany Times-Union:

President Johnson ordered his White House aides off the Washington cocktail circuit. All wind up 1964 as year-long teetotalers – except the President, who confides on the fourth to last day of the year that he’s been taking a daily bourbon and branch water.

L.B.J. for what it’s worth was born on a riverside in the central state, the part of which Austin is hub. Emblematic Texan and rancher he was, although he started as a high school teacher.

Since fizzy water is the basis of ranch water drinks, it seems plausible L.B.J.-era ranchers in arid West Texas wryly dubbed the bottled water in their Jeeps or pickups “ranch water”.

Tequila, from Mexico where Topo Chico is bottled, would substitute for bourbon in the spiked version.

The lore is Texans took a swig of Topo Chico neat and then poured in tequila, so it makes sense the term for the water became attached to the drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lagered Ale of New Zealand

Lagered ale – how old?

Few terms suggest “recent craft origins” 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, Edward Newbiggin, a settler originally from Newcastle-on-Tyne. He came to the brewery with 21 years’ experience at Swan’s Brewery in Napier, where he had risen to head brewer.

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. Further details on brewing may be garnered from different parts of the HBKB website, 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 circles or at least to Molson. It did not appear on the Molson Golden label, or in associated advertising, to my knowledge.**

Envoi

The term was in use “in the brewhouse” in 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.

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*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.

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*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.

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*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.

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*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.