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.

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