May 22, 2014

Victoria brewing volumes by region, 1863

I'm still mining those articles from the last few posts and today I've got something pretty cool. Although I guess that may stretch commonly accepted definitions of cool.

I've got the weekly production numbers here for a whole bunch of regions in Victoria. It's a real luxury to have this kind of information because we're relying so heavily on newspapers rather than official reports. This is from 1863, well into the gold-rush and the population of the colony had grown from 76,000 to over 500,000 in the previous 12 years.

Region Hogsheads/week  Hectolitres/week
Bendigo 640 1568
Ballarat 500 1225
Castlemaine 500 1225
Talbot, Carisbrook, Daylesford, Lamplough 250 612.5
Inglewood, Newbridge, Loddon, Rushworth 125 306.25
Kyneton, Gisborne, Malmesbury, Kilmore 90 220.5
Geelong 100 245
Beechworth 250 612.5
Portland, Warrnambool, Port Fairy 125 306.25
Gippsland 50 122.5
Melbourne 1500 3675

Total 4130 10118.5

I guess all those miners were a thirsty lot. Over 1,000,000L a week! And that's not counting all the imported beer and ale which were really taking off in Victoria at this stage.

The brewers were brewing ale and porter and Thomas Moulden, the author, notes that the brewers in Bendigo tended to brew stronger ale than in the other regions.

May 21, 2014

A couple of odd beer exports

One of the awesome things about sifting through old newspapers are the incidental details that pop up. From the same article with details about hopping rates that I found yesterday come two separate mentions of beer exports that surprised me and I thought were worth sharing.

The first is mention of the export of pale ale from the UK to Naples. From the description it sounds like this is from the 1830s or 40s. That isn't unusual in itself although I don't associate Naples with beer. The unusual thing is that these pale ales were brewed with wheat malt. I wonder if many breweries in the UK were using wheat malt at the time?

The Star (Ballarat), 31 December, 1863

The second snippet mentions the thriving trade that California was doing sending beer to China and India in the 1860s. Now this one raises heaps more questions but I always find references to pre-20th century America's engagement with the outside world interesting. What kinds of beers were they producing? How much were they exporting? Wasn't having impact on the London and Scottish breweries? And who was drinking the beer in China? Martyn Cornell recently wrote about the history of brewing in Hong Kong, I wonder if that's what's meant by China in this article?

The Star (Ballarat), 31 December, 1863

So there are lots more questions but these kinds of details help fill out the picture a little bit more.

May 20, 2014

1860s Australian pale ale recipe outline

I’d been sitting on yesterday's post about wheat malt and the beginnings of a distinctive Australian beer for a few weeks. I was hoping to find information about hopping rates to go with the information about malt and sugar so that I could produce a recipe outline. So of course the day after I gave up and posted it I stumbled across exactly what I had been searching for. I don't know how I managed to miss it but only two weeks later the same author wrote about the use of colonial hops. So much for my searching skills.

Anyway, now I've got enough information to sketch out a 1860s Australian pale ale. There's lots more to the article and I'll try to get back to it soon but the snippet below contains the gold for my purposes today:

The Star (Ballarat),  31 December, 1863

4 pounds per hogshead is described as the ‘low average’ hopping rate, that's about 7.5g/L or 170g in a 23L batch. We’re not given any details on how or when these hops were added but from the 8-10 homebrew recipes I've found from the time, the hops were often added as one giant first wort hop addition and that's exactly how I would do it here. Whenever I've used the FWH technique I've found that it has given a softer bitterness which would probably be a good thing when making such a large addition of hops. We're talking about roughly 90 IBUs by my calculations. That might sound excessive but if you've seen some of the recipes on Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, you'll know that it's not unusual. There's not enough information to be dogmatic about it though so add the hops as you see fit.

So based on that and the information I posted yesterday, if you want to brew a reasonably authentic mid-19th century Australian pale ale:

A starting gravity in the range of 1.045-1.055 made up of:
  • Australian barley and/or wheat malt in any combination up to 100% wheat
  • Sugar worth up to 25% of the gravity points

7.5g/L of hops, both colonial and UK hops were used so go with East Kent Goldings. Unfortunately I think Tasmanian Goldings are a thing of the past so until I can grow my own, the UK ones will have to do.

As discussed above, it's probably worth making it a first wort hop addition but the lack of specific information means you should use your own judgment. You might also want to adjust for the age and lack of cold storage of 19th century hops but I'm not sure how to go about that.

It seems that Australian brewers were using yeast from imported beers and ales so the best way to go would be to use something descended from a Burton, London or Edinburgh brewery or use the Coopers strain. You can probably get away with any UK strain though.

My shortlist would probably be cultured up Coopers dregs, WLP009 or WY1028.

So there you have it, I just need to find the time and energy to get brewing. I'd love to hear from anyone else who gives it a try.

May 19, 2014

Colonial-style Australian pale ale

I've been getting hints at what some of the colonial ales and beers looked like through homebrew recipes and comparisons made in newspapers but most of the time they were either nasty bran & molasses affairs or otherwise very similar to the Burton and pale ales being imported into the country. Our national inferiority complex was in full effect even then and meant that very often our colonial ales and beers were attempts to mimic British beers.

But I found an article which shows something else emerging in Victoria & South Australia in the mid-19th century, something uniquely Australian. It's agenda is to argue for prioritising the use of the abundant colonial wheat in brewing instead of spending money on imported British malt. In the process gives heaps of interesting details about the practice of breweries in the area. I think we're getting an early glimpse of the Australian pale ale, an ale more appropriate to our climate and available ingredients than most of the imported stuff.

The Star (Ballarat), 15 December, 1863

The first gem is an outline of the standard grist used by brewers in the region: the equivalent of 4 bushels of malt per hogshead made up of 3 bushels of malt and sugar equivalent to 1 bushel of malt. 3 bushels of malt/hogshead is, if Wikipedia can be trusted, around 190g/litre. In a 23L batch of homebrew that's 4.35 kilograms of malt. Exactly how much sugar they were able to extract from that malt is not clear up my hunch is that it would be more comparable to homebrew systems than the high efficiency of today's commercial breweries. Assuming 70% efficiency, we're talking about an original gravity of around 1.048 of which 1.036 is from the malt and 1.012 is from sugar.

Use of sugar deserves attention. As I mentioned above, the article suggests that around 25% of the fermentables came from sugar. There were plenty of reasons for colonial brewers to use sugar and I’ll probably have a post up about that soon. Even more than the presence of wheat, the use of sugar was a distinctive of early colonial brewing while the the use of sugar was illegal in Britain until 1847 and only seems to have become popular through the 1870-80s. The use of sugar in these Australian pale ales led to a lighter bodied, more refreshing ale than the majority of the imported ales that were available.

The Star (Ballarat), 15 December, 1863

It's worth noting that they were often using a large amount of wheat. I already posted about Tasmanian homebrewers using wheat in times of plenty but above we've got a report of a brewery in Bendigo relying on wheat malt and only turning to barley once there was no more wheat available. There's also mention of a brewery in Adelaide using wheat when there was a shortage of barley and several others in the Beechworth district and Melbourne were also using it. It doesn't seem like everyone was using it but it sounds as if it was common enough and hints at the beginnings of a unique style of beer – the Australian pale ale.

There's some more gold to be mined from the article as well as more about wheat malt and sugar in colonial brewing that needs to be pursued. Each post leads to way more questions. Well, for me at least.

May 18, 2014

Van Diemen's Land brewed IPA

The other day I posted about the imported IPA that was available in Tasmania during the 19th century. While it might not have been the most popular drink in the colony, it was certainly readily available from the 1830s through to Federation.

This time I want to explore the evidence for local breweries trying their hand at the style. As far as I could find there is only evidence in the newspaper archives for two Tasmanian breweries producing IPA, Walker's in Hobart and Ditcham, Button & Co. in Launceston. The difficult thing with this kind of search is that it's only possible to find positive evidence and finding that evidence depends on whether the brewery advertised or not. It looks like only the bigger of the local breweries spent much money advertising their beer and ale.

The first example I've been able to find comes from a puzzling ad for walkers XXX Ale. I'm no expert on brewery abbreviations but I thought that the ‘X’ labelled beers referred to milds. While the milds of the 19th century were very different to those of the 20th century, I was surprised to see the XXX label used interchangeably with India pale ale. I'm sure there's precedence for this that I'm just ignorant about though.

Colonial Times (Hobart), 13 August, 1852

Whatever the story with the XXX/IPA, Walker's brewery seems to have been highly regarded through the mid to late 19th century. Below is a snippet from a report on a Hobart regatta. It includes a nice little reference Peter Dudgeon (who was in the last months of his life at that stage) and the author sharing a glass of Walker’s ale. Also see how important it is to Tasmanians even in the 1850s to compare their produce to the rest of the world.

Colonial Times (Hobart), 6 December, 1850

The other point that is worth noting is that it was made expressly for bottling rather than for cask sales. This seems to be a trend with both imported and locally made IPA.

Walker’s continued to produce an IPA at least up to the 1880s. It also seems to have been the more expensive of their ales based on the ad below.

The Mercury, 27 February, 1879 

In Launceston, Ditcham, Button & Co. were also producing an IPA by the late 1870s if not earlier. Charles Button was an member from an important family in the North. His father was William Stammers Button - what a great name - the first mayor of Launceston and a brewer himself. He ran the Launceston Brewery in partnership with Waddell after William Barnes retired. Charles brewed with his father in the early days, spent some time in New Zealand and then returned to Launceston, overseeing the brewery operations for Ditcham, Button & Co.

Launceston Examiner, 16 October, 1877

Ditcham, Button & Co. produced an East India Pale Ale and a No. 3 strong ale, a lineup which sounds very similar to the Younger and Bass brews that were being advertised in the colony at the time. The IPA was bottled and have a blue label and seems to have been known by that mark. As far as is possible to tell they seem to have been quite successful in imitating the well-known imports.

While there isn't a huge amount of information about local breweries producing IPAs, I think that what we’ve got here is the tip of the iceberg. Walker's Brewery was producing IPA for at least 30 years yet there are only a couple of mentions of it in advertising. This raises the question of how many other breweries with producing IPA (and other styles for that matter) but weren't advertising in the newspapers. The existence of their IPA is just assumed in that 1879 ad. Hopefully I'll be able to discover a bit more over time.

While the full extent is difficult to work out with the available information, at least a couple of Tasmanian breweries jumped on the original IPA bandwagon and seem to have produced quality versions of the style. However, as with so many other aspects of the brewing industry in colonial times, imitation rather than creation seems to have been the main concern.

May 16, 2014

India Pale Ale in Van Diemen's Land

The first reference to IPA in Tasmania that I've been able to find is in February 1830, just months after the first known use of the term. Whether this term indicates A genuinely different beer at this stage or merely a different label for beer that was already being brewed, it catches on very quickly.

It's also described as “the best summer drink” which was an important quality to settlers in the colonies I guess since we actually have summers.

Hobart Town Courier, 27 February, 1830

Launceston wasn't far behind Hobart. They had Ind & Smith’s IPA as early as 1833 and overall, seem to have enjoyed a wider variety of IPAs than Hobart did.

By 1840 we’ve got Ind & Smith & Dunbar IPAs to go along with some unnamed India pale ales. IPA is well and truly a thing by this point and comes up regularly in the newspapers.

Launceston Advertiser, 26 December, 1833

Hobart Town Courier, 7 December, 1838

As with all malt beverages at the time, it was very important to praise the medical value of India pale ales. Apparently they had “high tonic properties,” which sounds like a nicely vague kind of thing to say in order to sell it.

Over this time, Ind & Smith seem to be the dominant brand on the market. That is, if the number of advertisements is anything to go by.

Cornwall Chronicle, 11 August, 1852

In 1850 Allsopp gets in on the action and in the 1860s the Scottish breweries really move in on the Tasmanian scene. William Younger's and Dawson Kirkstall’s IPAs are very visible along with appearances from the English breweries Harvey’s and Jeffrey’s. Bass also arrives on the scene during this period.

When looking into the historical side of beer and brewing, the obvious question is ‘what were these beers like?’ And although I haven't found any good descriptions, the ad for Younger’s IPA below mentions the ‘delicacy of aroma’ which is cool to see given the time and distance it had passed on its way to Van Diemens Land. Even though the aroma (and probably everything else) would be quite different from today's crazy hoppy IPAs, it's nice to know that aroma was very important then as well as now.

Cornwall Chronicle, 3 December, 1850

The Mercury, 12 March, 1864

The Mercury, 28 March, 1872

In 1881 we've even got McEwan's IPA. While they started late in the IPA game in Australia, retailers made up for it with an incredible barrage of advertising throughout the 1880s and 1890s. If the number of ads are anything to go by, they dominated the IPA market with Bass IPA a distant second and and one or two others further back.

McEwan's IPA trademark application from 1909. Note the
globe in their branding. Taken from

To round out the gang of Scottish IPAs, Tennent’s IPA was also available in Hobart on occasion. It seems that they were making push to export their beer and it made the journey to Tasmania at least on one or two occasions. Stone & Sons also sent IPA to Tasmania in the late 19th century.

The Mercury, 6 April, 1882

It's crazy how much Scottish IPA was exported to Tasmania - at least 4 breweries were sending their IPA our way. I completely missed those IPAs when I did that post on Scottish ale. Just as well I hedged and called it “A first look…”! There was a real surge of popularity for the style during the 19th century but by the time of Federation, IPA had waned in the public's estimation if the number of newspaper ads is a guide. Still, from the earliest Times IPA was available and popular in Van Diemen's Land.

Next I'm going to look at locally brewed IPAs to see what kinds of things they got up to.

May 13, 2014

A death in a Hobart brewery, 1830

Just a little snippet today. I always find it shocking to hear about deaths in breweries, even if they're from the 19th century. Beer is fun and light and rarely too serious and I think it makes this kind of thing especially sobering. Safety has obviously improved since then but a brewery is an industrial environment and there's always an element of danger.

A serious accident happened on Saturday last, to a man of the name of Stephen Ward, who was in the service of Mr. GATEHOUSE, at New-town. It appears that some alterations were considered necessary with respect to the replacing of some of the coolers, which were in the process of being removed, the part of the building where they stood being rendered unsafe, through one of the side walls having given away, and with it the first floor. A new wall was just finished to replace it. The morning following the replacing of the coolers, the unfortunate man was turning in the water to supply the brewery and malt cistern, when sad to relate, the new wall gave way, and with it the floor of the cooling room, on which he was standing, and with it the coolers, all of which were instantly precipitated to the underground cellar. The poor man's right leg was locked between the beam and the edge of one of the coolers, and was crushed in a most dreadful manner. Surgical assistance was obtained as early as possible, but he only survived the amputation about half an hour. We understand he has left a wife and large family to lament his loss. [taken from Colonial Times (Hobart), 30 April, 1830]

This is the second brewery related amputation I've read about in the early brewing scene (James Whyte is the other). Both guys died soon after probably because they had amputations in the early 19th century.

May 12, 2014

The gold standard and Australian ale

The little editor's note is what caught my eye: "fully equal to the best V. D. Land ale." The beers and ales of Van Diemen's Land were the standard by which Australian brews were judged at least through the first half of the 19th century. I get the impression that this had changed somewhat by the time of federation and I'd like to try and figure that out sometime.

The Sydney Monitor, 25 August, 1830.

It's also an early indication of brewers successfully adapting to Australian conditions. It understandably took time for Australian brewing to develop an identity of its own but it's useful to have a hint of it happening in 1830.

I haven't been able to find out anything meaningful about Eveson and this is the only mention of his brewery. With death and financial ruin pretty constant realities to be contended with, many breweries popped up and then vanished again very quickly.

May 11, 2014

The tradition of Tasmanian stingo

One of the popular ales brewed in Hobart was Tasman Brewery's Stingo, a Tasmanian take on the aged Yorkshire strong ale. It was only brewed for a short time before the owner and brewer, James Whyte, died in a pretty dreadful way. His brewery was continued by his wife but the stingo seems to have disappeared.

Check out the Don Draper-esque ad:

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
2 August, 1823

The hyperbole of that ad aside, it was a very popular brew in Hobart. Even in 1829 there was a newspaper article complaining about the absence of Tasman's stingo from the market. It didn't end there though, Tasman's stingo was something like a cult classic.

So in 1835 the Tasmanian Brewery, run by the new owners of the original Tasman Brewery, decided to relaunch the stingo. It not clear how the relaunch was but the absence of further mentions in newspaper advertising is not a positive sign. I've also found a mention that Noake's Brewery in Longford was also brewing one in 1852 and presumably earlier since at that point it already had a good reputation.

There were very limited quantities of the real deal Yorkshire stingo imported into the colonies but that local versions were produced over several decades is a fun little distinctive of Tasmanian brewing.

May 9, 2014

Peter Dudgeon: brewer, publican & delinquent goat owner

Let me introduce you to Peter Dudgeon. Google won't tell you much about him, he didn't succeed or fail in spectacular enough ways to be remembered or written about. He was known but never one of the leading members of the Van Diemen's Land colony. His story is interesting because it illustrates something of the promise and frustration of operating a brewery in the colony.

Dudgeon was part of the second wave of brewers in Hobart. He arrived in Tasmania in on October 4th, 1825, on board the Triton which had set sail for Hobart from Leith, Edinburgh on May 21st. He was a single bloke and only 21 years old who came out from Scotland with high hopes of 'carrying on an extensive brewery in the colony.'

He soon met Frederick Bell who had shipped out from London and arrived in Hobart just a month before Dudgeon. Soon the new arrivals formed a partnership and bought the Derwent Brewery in January 1826. The brewery had been started by James Ogilvie and included a malting house and kiln and was listed as one of 6 licensed breweries in Hobart in 1823. Ogilvie's stated reason for selling was the burden of managing the brewery on top of his other business ventures, which included the British Hotel and importing goods to the colony. However, the snippet below hints at problems with keeping a regular supply of ingredients, an ongoing problem faced by those running breweries in the colonies and which may have been a factor in his decision.

Hobart Town Gazette & Van Dieman's Land Advertiser,
April 23, 1824.

Ogilvie first put the brewery on sale in May 1825 and it was still on sale in October as Dudgeon arrived on the Triton. Ogilvie was willing to sell the brewery on pretty generous terms with only a deposit, allowing the balance to be paid over time. The sale to Dudgeon and Bell finally went through in January 1826 and in May they started the process of buying barley in preparation for malting and brewing their first batch.

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser,
June 2, 1826

The brewery got off to a good start, producing ale that was highly regarded if not immediately acclaimed the best in the colonies. They produced a single ale, selling for £6 10s a hogshead of which they sold 15-20 per week in Hobart. The frequent criticism of Dudgeon and Bell's ale was that their beer wasn't high enough in alcohol so in 1827 they began selling a stronger one as well. By April 1827 Dudgeon & Bell's was the standard by which to judge other colonial beers according to at least one NSW writer. It seems to have been regarded as far superior to any of the beers produced in Sydney.

My guess is that some of the success of Dudgeon and Bell was due to their commitment to using colonial grown hops, and being willing to spend quite a bit of money to do so. Those first batches of beer were made with hops grown by Mr. Shoobridge in Providence Valley, North Hobart. Shoobridge himself had migrated to Tasmania from Kent in order to develop a hop garden and by 1826 his hops were beginning to reach maturity. The benefit of using these hops was that they were far superior in quality to the imported hops which were long past their best after the voyage from England.

Hobart Town Gazette, August 19, 1826

Hobart Town Gazette, December 30, 1826

Then in early 1827 Dudgeon was in the news for something else completely. His goat managed to escape and wreck the garden of a poor man called Turner. Turner impounded the goat asking for 10 shillings to cover the damages to his garden. Dudgeon refused but somehow managed to pinch it back from the pound. The goat, in classic goat style, escaped again and this time destroyed Turner's cabbages! Turner locked it up again and demanded 20 shillings from Dudgeon. Then Dudgeon abused him, threatened him and then when the magistrate's ruling didn't go 100% his way, went out and found another who would write an order for the goat's release for him. So he got it back without paying Turner or the pound-keeper for their expenses. Not a classy move.

Still, things seemed to be going very well for him. A few months after the goat incident he was married to Mary Lord at St David's in Hobart. She was the oldest daughter of David Lord, an important and wealthy character from the 1820s through to the 1840s. At this point he's 24 years old and seems like he's becoming an important character in the colony.

Praise for Dudgeon & Bell's ale in:
The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser,
July 20, 1827

Within the first five months of operation they were successfully exporting a limited quantity of their ale to Sydney and soon after had increased the strength of their beer in response to public feedback. In August 1827 Dudgeon and his new wife sailed to Sydney to secure their export business and to try and find a market for malt among the distillers in Sydney. Although it was small at the time, the prospect of having a successful and growing colonial brewery, one that could potentially challenge the London breweries' export to India was important to establishing a functioning economy in the colony as well as addressing the social problems associated with the consumption of spirits. The newspapers were very excited about the possibilities.

Not just favourably compared to London, but Scotch ale
as well. The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser,
September 17, 1827

Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser,
October 12, 1827

In November of the same year, soon after returning from the trip to Sydney, his partnership with Bell was formally dissolved. What happened isn't clear but whatever the case was, Bell seemed to do alright for himself afterwards. In 1829 he was importing rum and brandy. In 1835 he'd been granted some land near Ouse and in 1839 he was making a claim for a grant of 2000 more acres of land in a similar part of central Tasmania. He was also made a justice of the peace in 1839. He had an estate in Sandy Bay and in 1840 he made Sandy Bay an attraction by building the Sandy Bay baths.

Dudgeon retained the brewery but after the excitement and acclaim of the first 18 months, the following years appear to have been relatively quiet. The brewery was never huge volume of beer but from 1828-1831 Dudgeon's and other Tasmanian breweries seem to have operated only sporadically. The exact cause is difficult to determine. Dudgeon upgraded the brewery early in 1828, presumably in preparation for a greater volume of exports, which caused a stoppage in brewing over what seems to have been a couple of months but that only explains the first few months of the period. A shortage of ingredients or a glut of imported spirits and British ales are other possibilities, it was probably a combination of both. It's a fascinating little puzzle that I'm trying to work out and I'll post about it when I reach some conclusions.

Colonial Times, 26 June, 1829

Whatever the cause of the stoppages, he was still working on building his business and exporting to the other colonies. At the time the brewery had a copper that could boil 40 barrels of wort along with mash tubs of suitable size, a pump, cooler and fermentation vats. Along with that was the malting floor and a 20 foot square kiln. By October 1830 Dudgeon had added a beer to his lineup and we've got a shipment of an unknown quantity of beer to the Swan River settlement which was just over a year old at the time.

Recorded in The Sydney Gazette and NSW Advertiser,
23 October, 1830

At this point Dudgeon seems to have changed course. He obtained a license to retail wine, spirits and beer at his brewery in 1830 and in 1832 he's operating Dudgeon's Cellars on Elizabeth St. It seems like he was attempting to diversify and insulate himself financially from the fluctuations of the brewery. Particularly as in 1832 he leased the brewery out to William Adams Brodribb.

This strategy doesn't seem to have worked, he was in fairly constant financial trouble throughout 1832-1836 which culminated in a court ordered sale of the brewery. A notice was put in the newspapers that the brewery was up for sale in September 1835 and while Dudgeon managed to stave it off at that time, when the matter was heard in March 1836 he was declared insolvent and the brewery was to be sold to cover his debts. At just about the same time there was a flood of the Hobart rivulet which ran through the brewery property. It took away a wall of the brewery and some of the brewing equipment and it's possible that this ended Brodribb's time running the brewery.

Hobart Town Courier, 4 March, 1836

Ads for the sale or leasing of the brewery appear in 1836 and it's still on offer into 1838 when it was under the operation of Reeves, Boreham and Co. That arrangement seems to have ended very quickly and an L. J. Prentis & Son were operating it in 1840 or earlier. Charles Bilton is the agent selling the lease in 1848 and through until 1850 when the whole property was auctioned off. The ad for the auction suggests that the brewery plant might be sold separately and since there's no more mention of the brewery, it appears to have ended its life at that point. A sad petering out of what seemed like such a promising brewery.

Map of Hobart pinched from the Parliament of
 Tasmania website. Download the full size thing.

Back to Dudgeon, he and his wife moved to Launceston around 1837 and spent a number of years there, Dudgeon working as a constable in the George-Town district. Following the untimely death of Mary in 1842 at only 38 years old, he returned to Hobart and the pub trade. He took over the Britannia on Macquarie Street in February 1845 and the following year transferred his license and took over the Boar's Head on the corner of Harrington and Macquarie Street and only a month later is listed as the licensee of the Golden Gate on the corner of Harrington and Collins Street. He certainly threw himself back into things.

Unfortunately he didn't fare too well and he was back in insolvency court in 1847. The result of that episode is not clear but he turns up in 1850 as the licensee of The Palace which was later renamed Holyrood House and stood on the corner of Murray & Patrick Streets. He died there in 1852 after a 'protracted and painful illness'. The license of Holyrood House passed to his second wife, Elizabeth Dudgeon who continued to operate the pub throughout the 1850s and into the early 1860s.

In some ways Peter Dudgeon's experience matches the arc of the colony itself. While far from a failure, he never managed to make good on his early promise. The colony had so much going for it but somehow never managed to thrive the way it might have. Whatever else might be said about him, he was persistent and entrepreneurial through setbacks and loss and he brewed a very good ale.

May 7, 2014

Barclay Perkins in Sydney, 1820

Look what I found:

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser,
30 September, 1820

When I posted about Barclay Perkins in the colonies I missed this reference. It puts the first mention of BP more than a year earlier than the December 1821 one I had. And it's parked next to Edinburgh ale!

It's also second earliest reference to imported beer I can find that carries the name of a brewery (Hodgson's pale ale is the first I've found with one mention in 1819). The previous mentions of imports are all generic like brown stout, porter, pale ale or Edinburgh ale. I've got also got Taylor's brown stout in 1823.

There's not much more to say about this, I just wanted to add it to the list for the sake of completeness.

May 6, 2014

A first look at Scottish ale in the colonies

One thing I hadn't realised in my searches so far was just how much Scottish ale was available throughout the colonies. Until the 1850s and 1860s it's often advertised with the generic place name rather than brewery but there are references to Younger's in the 1840s and following. I'd come across it of course but the number of references when I started searching for it blew me away. Scottish ale seems to have been quite popular in the colonies.

Edinburgh Ale
Edinburgh was a major brewing centre in the early days of the Australian colonies and it shows with both the number of references and in how early the first ones come. In the early 1820s there wasn't a great choice in beer and ale but there was as much Edinburgh ale as just about anything else.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser,
28 September 1820.

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
28 September, 1822.

Hobart Town Gazette, 19 August, 1826

McEwans wasn't established until the mid-19th century but once they got going, plenty of their beer saw the colonies. The first mention I could find of them is in Melbourne from 1864, less than 10 years after the brewery was established. It's tricky to be sure that this is their first mention because there were several McEwans in the colonies importing all kinds of things including ale. Also, if you want to search for them on OCR'd newspapers, I recommend searching for "M'Ewans".

The Argus (Melbourne), 23 August, 1864

Your ale really is global if it's advertised in Zeehan!
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 9 September, 1891.

Alloa Ale
As with Edinburgh ale, there are plenty of generic references to Alloa ale but they don't start until the late 1830s and hit their peak in 1880-1889. The first reference I've been able to find is in Hobart in 1837 and there's 'strong Alloa ale' in Sydney in 1839.

Southern Australian, 16 January, 1840

Probably the most significant Alloa brewery, Younger's, is first mentioned by name in Sydney, 1848 and then later throughout the colonies.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November 1848

That's quite a nice list in addition to the Younger's!
Launceston Examiner, 11 October, 1860

The Argus, 25 August, 1863

For those interested in brewing up a taste of history, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins has a recipe for Younger's No. 3 Export Ale from 1868, presumably not too different from the 1863 version above (I've actually got an Australian homebrew recipe from 1835 that is quite similar to the Younger's No. 3 as well. I'll post about that sometime). If you brew it, let me know how it goes!

Aitkens in Falkirk
The first reference to Aitkens I've been able to find so far is in Melbourne, 1856. It appears again in the 1860s and the on and on into the First World War.

Why don't other breweries market their beers to invalids?
Evening News (Sydney), 3 February, 1875

Some of their beer was sold as Aitken's Life Belt (sometimes Life Bouy) Ale and came with this pretty terrible label.

Pic pinched from Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

Scotch Pale Ale and Porter

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
18 May, 1822

Along with the reference in Hobart, there's also a reference to Scotch pale ale in Sydney in 1825 and again in 1837-8, 1842, 1846 and a few others throughout the remainder of the 19th century. I'm not sure what the Scotch pale ale was like and it's relation to the English pale ales. Whatever it was like, it's not imported in great quantities.

The Scotch porter appears in Hobart in 1826 (see the 1826 snippet in the Edinburgh ales section) and 1827 and in Sydney the year after. Like the pale ale it is only around sporadically. It also pops up in Geelong and Melbourne in 1850 and Launceston in 1852 and occasionally afterwards throughout the 19th century and into the 20th.

There's also strong Scotch ale from 1833 and occasionally double strong Scotch ale which follows much the same pattern as the pale ale and porter.

So there you have it, there was a lot of Scottish ale in the colonies and people seemed to like it.

May 5, 2014

The first reference to IPA. Just.

About this time last year, beer historian Martyn Cornell posted about the first occurrence of the term 'India Pale Ale', 29 August, 1829. It was 6.5 years before the previous known first usage and was notably from a Sydney newspaper. Australia was into IPA before it was cool. We're just a bunch of beard-wearing hipster convicts.

As I was ferreting around in the depths of Trove today I discovered a reference to IPA from 27 August of the same year, just two days earlier. It's the same ad, run in the same newspaper so it's not really moving the needle in terms of the history but I guess it's worth pointing out.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser,
27 August, 1829

The ad is a bit unclear as to whether it's advertising an IPA brewed by Taylor or whether it's referring to Taylor's pale ale and an East India pale ale. The former is a possibility with "Taylor's" referring to their stout or porter. Taylor's brown stout (or porter) and pale ale had been advertised together a number of times in the preceding years. Their stout in particular appears so often in colonial advertising that it's conceivable that it could be referred to simple as "Taylor's". However, the latter seems to make more sense grammatically. Check out the post by Cornell for more discussion about it.

This is the kind of ad I'm talking about. From:
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser,
25 July, 1828

So there you go, a tiny discovery that doesn't change things at all! That's what I'm all about.

May 4, 2014

The evils of tea

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
3 September, 1824

Get the working classes off that miserable and expensive tea and get them brewing their own nourishing beer!

May 3, 2014

Brewing with wheat, colonial style

1827 brought an abundant wheat harvest in Van Diemen's Land. All these settlers had extra wheat that they couldn't sell for a decent price so suddenly there are lots of homebrewers. It makes sense that homebrewers would use what they had on hand, we've already seen them turn to bran and treacle or molasses when they had to but today we've got something pretty cool because it's tied to a colony-wide event rather than random household  shortages. What else would you do with it all? The savings for brewing beer instead of buying would amount to more than the low price they'd get for selling the wheat. True farmhouse ale.

George Frankland's 'Hobart Town', 1827. Pic pinched
from UTAS

There aren't any recipe details of course, there'd probably be as many recipes as brewers. I think a good place to start would be with something like a wheat version of the burton or strong pale ale style beers that were being brewed in the colonies at the time. 100% wheat malt to 1.070-1.100, the stronger is probably better given we're talking about dealing with surplus wheat. For hops we're ideally after Tasmanian Goldings or something similar with alpha acids in the low range. Probably shoot for 60-100+ IBUs. Chuck in an English ale yeast and you're all set. Really though, any combination of wheat & Tasmanian hops is likely just as authentic as what I've outlined. I wonder if any of the farmers roasted their wheat malt dark to make a wheat porter?

Hobart Town Gazette, 26 May, 1827

It'd probably require all the rice hulls in the land if you're brewing on a 3 vessel system but BIAB brewers can just go for it.

May 1, 2014

On trial for the crime of spilling beer. Hobart, 1835

I actually do still brew and have several beers I need to do tasting notes for but in the meantime, more Tasmanian beer history.

This is an odd little story about something that pains brewers to think about: the loss of a batch of beer. It happened in Hobart but was somehow deemed important enough to be reported in the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, November 26, 1835.

IMPORTANT TRIAL.-We understand that an eminent brewer, in the neighbourhood of the Church, has had the misfortune to lose a whole "batch" of strong ale, under the following circumstances :-It was under the operation of fermentation on Sunday last, when, about eleven o'clock, the 21st Regiment arrived at Church, and the "earthquakers" let fly such a tremendous volley at the door while the men were entering the Church, that it had exactly the effect of a thunder-storm, and totally discharged a large batch of XXX ale! We understand that an action is commenced against Mr. Young, the adjutant, who, having looked at the drum-major, indicative of a "point of War" that great functionary gave three extra flourishes of his mace, and the big drummer-the middle drummer, and the little drummers let fly accordingly.

I'm finding it hard to picture exactly how drumming, even loudly, would have caused the strong ale to have leaked out. And even if the vibrations were somehow able to upset the fermenter then the brewer should have had things secured better. Regardless, it's good to see they were out for blood in the name of the spilled ale.

The Mr Young in the article seems to have been Wharton Thomas Young. His dad was the Sir Aretus Young, Governor of Prince Edward Island in Canada. Wharton was a lieutenant and adjutant in the 21st Regiment of Royal Scots' Fusileers and got married in 1835 to Amy Kemp. In August and September of the following year he was made an assistant police magistrate for Great Swan Port and coroner and then justice of the peace for Van Diemen's Land. He died suddenly in 1837 when a boat he and 5 soldiers were in capsized.

I'd like some more details about the trial and the church and brewery involved but I haven't been able to ferret that info out.

Apr 29, 2014

Ummm... maybe we will take some porter after all?

It seems that the pendulum swung back towards London porter after the heady days of 1826-7 when colonial beer and ale was selling so well that merchants were telling their London agents to slow down on sending porter. For some reason, the local breweries had slowed or even ceased their brewing between 1828-9.

The North-South comparison I posted the other day noted that Dudgeon & Bell and William Barnes had gotten their respective breweries churning out the good stuff in 1826 after something of a lull in beer production in the colony. I speculated that a shortage of ingredients was the problem but it looks like I was probably wrong about that. So now I have no idea what caused it, or this:

Originally from the Colonial Times but
reproduced in The Sydney Gazette,
January 16, 1829

They had the equipment, ingredient and environment on their side so why were they not brewing?Dudgeon's was successful and widely praised, what would make him reduce production? It's doesn't seem to be a financial problem. Dudgeon was paying 10 shillings per pound for colonial hops when he started up in 1826 so 3 shillings per pound is a brilliant price. Whatever the reason, colonists who could afford to were paying £2-3 more per hogshead for imported porter and those who couldn't drank spirits or whatever they could make themselves.

I guess this is just part of the disorganised and chaotic life of the early colony but it's bugging me. Need more details!

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