1. Chairman’s Statement
Hope all is well with everyone during these troubled times. With the roll-out of the COVID vaccine, there is room for optimism, by looking forward to a brighter future later this year.
This year marks an important landmark for anniversaries, firstly CAMRA marks 50 years of successful campaigning, then the Scottish Brewing Archive was formed 40 years ago and 30 years ago the SBA was transferred to the University of Glasgow, where it is currently housed. You can read further details of these important milestones in this Newsletter.
Articles for this years Annual Journal are well on their way, so many thanks to all who contributed. It is amazing that there is so many beer related stories and good that we can build on further history of brewing in Scotland, directly or indirectly.
As many businesses are finding it difficult to survive, I would urge you to support our corporate members, by buying their products either at supermarkets or online.
2. The Scottish Brewing Archive at 40
This year marks forty years since the Scottish Brewing Archive (SBA) was formed by Heriot-Watt University, therefore it is important to recognise this milestone in some way. It was Sir Geoff Palmer, the founder of the SBA, who told how it came about, and his story is detailed in the 2014 Annual Journal.
Heriot-Watt who provides a brewing qualification, and still does, were well aware of the many brewery closures that were taking place in the 60s and 70s and decided to take action, with the aim of preserving many of the historical records held by breweries. Led by Anna Macleod, Alex Anderson and Geoff Palmer an Advisory Board for the SBA was formed, as follows.
Chairman: Anna MacLeod. Emeritus Professor of Brewing. Heriot-Watt
Director: Alex Anderson. Heriot-Watt University Librarian.
Secretary: Dr. G.H.Palmer. Dept of Brewing & Applied Biochemistry. Heriot-Watt
Members of the Board
Professor N.K. Buxton
Dr. Ian Donnachie
Mr. A. Hunter
Mr. A. MacWilliam
Professor D.J. Manners
Dr. J.C. Slaughter
Mr. J.R. Swan
Mr. J. Whitton
Department of Economics. Heriot-Watt
The Open University in Scotland
Belhaven Brewery Co. Ltd
Drybrough & Co. Ltd
Dept. of Brewing & Biological Sciences. Heriot-Watt
Dept. of Brewing & Biological Sciences. Heriot-Watt
Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd
Brewers Association of Scotland
It would be fitting to mark both these anniversaries in some way this year but due to the current restrictions of COVID we can only wait and decide what we can do in the second half of this year to celebrate this occasion.
3. Happy birthday from the Archives & Special Collections Team!
Thirty years ago, the University of Glasgow was delighted to provide a new home for the Scottish Brewing Archive. In many ways, the University was a natural fit for the Archive; since the 1960s the University had been working to support the preservation of Scotland’s industrial and economic heritage. This collecting activity had brought together the records of Scottish shipbuilding, engineering, mining, locomotive construction, and textile industry. At the same time as the Scottish Brewing Archive came to Thurso Street, the University was building up its whisky industry archives, ensuring that we cover (almost) all aspects of Scotland’s drinks industry.
The value of the Scottish Brewing Archive is due to the breadth and depth of its coverage of the industry. The brewing archives include records of so many of Scotland’s breweries; from those which were small and local in scale, through to the major players which came to dominate the Scottish brewing landscape: McEwans, Youngers, and Tennent’s in particular.
The importance of brewing to the local economies, such as Edinburgh’s, becomes apparent as we browse the collections – 37 collections from companies based in Edinburgh. A similar browse through volumes of labels, advertising, and trademarks allows a glimpse into the international dimension of this Scottish industry.
In 2008 the brewing archives transferred into University management and have become part of the Scottish Business Archive. Since then, Archives & Special Collections have focused on supporting our corporate partners to preserve and utilise their heritage. It is always rewarding to see that heritage being valued at a senior level. Tennent’s recent investment in their Visitor Centre is a fantastic example of how a company can use heritage to engage its customer base.
Of course, the world has changed significantly since the creation of the Archive in 1981 and since it’s move in 1991; and the Scottish brewing and heritage sectors are no different. The craft ale industry has boomed with a significant number of new craft breweries emerging across the country. The growing importance of off-trade and supermarket sales has been a long-term trend for all sectors of the industry, and one which has become essential over the last twelve months. The shift to digital is permanent in brewing and heritage. This not only poses a challenge; how do we capture the born-digital records of brewing, the complex databases which sit behind production and administration, the advertising disseminated solely through social media; but also offers opportunities to use technologies to share heritage more widely and engage new audiences. Archives & Special Collections are facing these challenges and taking up the opportunities; our Virtual Collections Classroom and Virtual Reading Room services allow us to bring our collections to remote researchers and student groups through live video conference calls. Our digital preservation capabilities are developing, allowing us to capture, preserve, and make available born-digital heritage collections into the future. We’re all looking forward to taking the brewing collections into their next 40 years.
Archives & Special Collections, University of Glasgow
4. The way we were Part 3 :
Roger Putman continues to look back over the last 50 years. This time he looks back at packaging and the pub (Parts I & II appeared in Newsletters No. 45 & 46).
The following are extracts of Roger’s article that appeared in the Sept. 2020 issue of the ‘Brewer & Distiller’ publication.
Cask & Keg
Cask racking was noisy due to the vast scale, but operations were much as they are today. The beer in cask was clarified using isinglass finings and usually injected into the cask at dispatch. Isinglass is the dried swim bladder of various tropical fish e.g. sturgeon.
Fifty years ago, bottling was in decline with most beer sold in the pub. Bottling’s share of the market dropped from 27% in the early 1970s to just 12% in 1979. The industry had standardised on the returnable half pint London amber bottle with a crown closure. Slower production lines would deal with pint and nip size bottles. The nip contained one third of a pint and was popular as a winter warmer, with the most popular being Bass No.1 or Tennent’s Gold Label, which was the strongest beer on regular sale in the UK. The death knell of the returnable bottle was the rise in the supermarket trade.
Fifty years ago, UK beer cans were three-piece steel with a base added by the manufacturer, but with a very obvious side seam, which made all-round branding impossible. Today all cans are two-piece.
The standard can size was the 440ml (16oz) to begin with, but later the 500ml can was introduced as an alternative and more recently 330ml cans have been introduced.
A typical 1970s pub was full of working men and with it a haze of tobacco as a result of smoking, which is banned today, and the lounge with its flock wallpaper and floral carpet was where you took your girlfriend for a Babycham. *The photo below made the press in 1973 when Women stormed a “Men Only” pub in Aberdeen.
Beer glasses did not have branded logos and, when you returned yours for a refill, which was not particularly hygienic, nor was a dip in warm water and a wipe with a grubby tea towel for the next customer. When ordering a beer, the barmaid would fill your glass completely and much froth would overspill into the drip tray. To save on wastage, the next pint being poured would include a small amount of beer from the drip tray. This was done automatically, so the customer was none the wiser.
The Weights & Measures Act of 1963 demanded that customers got what they paid for and with the growth of keg and cellar tank beer, gave rise to the introduction to meter beer into the glass to control wastage.
©Brewer and Distiller International
5. CAMRA at 50
Here Colin, appropriately holding a bottle of Isle of Skye “Munro Bagger”, has the ‘Inn Pin’ the Inaccessible Pinnacle in the background.
Over the past 50 years CAMRA has increased its membership to over 180,000, hitting a high point of over 190,000 a couple of years ago, increased its clout politically and industry wise and is one of the top ten most used reference points by MPs at Westminster and also increased the scope of its campaigning to include not only saving and promoting real ale, but also campaigning for pubs through planning laws and the Market Rent Only option for pubco tenants in England and Wales (and hopefully in Scotland in the next year) and for fairness in terms of beer duty and access to market for small and medium sized breweries. Of course, success in these endeavours benefit ordinary beer drinkers by giving us a both a wide choice of pubs to drink real ale in and a wide choice of beers.
We have published the Good Beer Guide annually which informs real ale drinkers of the 4,500 best real pubs in the UK for almost 50 years, all of which are chosen by volunteers and none of which has ever had to pay to be in the Guide, and up until this time last year ran almost 200 beer festivals every year to raise awareness of the real ales which are available. There have been no festivals, and virtually no pub going, since the pandemic struck and no one knows what the effect of pubs and beer festivals will be when we come out of lockdown. However, CAMRA will do all it can to assist publicans and brewers when we do as the industry faces its biggest challenge in decades and the organisation faces its biggest challenge ever.
Of course, given pubs are a major focus of our campaigning, it is a very social organisation if you are an active member, as I have always been, and I have made countless friends in the 30 years I have been a member.
I was Scottish Director for six years from 1995 until 2001 and spent 18 years from 2000 to 2018 on the executive, CAMRA’s board of directors, and was honoured to spend just over eight years as National Chairman. I am immensely proud of my contribution to the Campaign in those 23 years and hope I made a difference, even if only in some small way.
6. Name the Brewery ?
We hope to run a more indepth article on the Heriot Brewery in future editions.
If you have any old photos in your personal collection please send them in , particularly if they haven’t been seen before by a wider audience , the SBAA is your showcase.
7. Last Runnings
Thanks for the positive feedback following the on-line SBAA presentation given by the Chairman on 25th February. It was so successful, CAMRA have requested John to give the Zoom presentation to their membership. Some SBAA members contacted me to say they were unable to attend the original presentation but would have liked the opportunity. I will let them know when the CAMRA presentation is due and give them advanced notice.
Robbie Pickering, SBAA committee member, points out that Yeast archaeology is quite a popular niche these days. Some of the trendiest beers are made with yeast that originates from farmer-brewers in Norway and Lithuania, and a few small breweries in Berlin have re-cultured yeast from 40- and 50-year-old bottles of Berliner Weisse from defunct breweries. Bottles of the McEwan’s stout retrieved from the wreck of the Wallachia (see SBAA Journal 2020) have now been analysed at Brewlab and the beer was found to contain the expected Brettanomyces and also Debaromyces and S. bayanus. Published in the IBD Journal onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jib.641
We would like to welcome new members. David McGowan, Nathan McConway and Belhaven members Billy Mathers, Bryan McCraw, Steven Sturgeon.
And finally. Most of our corporate members have on-line services. Why not visit their websites and try some of the interesting beers on offer. Just click on their logo to find them via this link.
Correspondence to the SBAA Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org