Newsletter No.57

1. Chairman’s Statement:

It is with deep regret to inform you that Richard Rees, committee member, has passed away following a short illness. I have known Richard from the 1970s when we both worked at Holyrood and Fountain breweries in Edinburgh. Richard proved to be a valuable SBAA member and was instrumental with the recent introduction of the MOJO membership management system which has proved to be a great success.

Richard will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Richard’s obituary follows.

As you read this, the SBAA enters its new financial year. Thank you to all who have renewed their membership. Members who have renewed will receive a copy of this years Annual Journal which is yet another bumper issue. The AGM will be held on Thursday the 23rd  of November starting at 2pm in the upstairs room at the Beehive in Edinburgh. Please inform Ivor our Secretary if you wish to attend.

Well done to our brewery members who were successful at this year’s Scottish Beer and SIBA awards.

The awards are listed later in this Newsletter.

Many thanks again to everyone who have provided articles for the Newsletters and Journal which underlines there is still a great deal of mileage in Scottish Brewing history. Please keep it going.

John Martin  

2. Richard Rees – Obituary

A celebration of the life of Richard Rees

 

Richard was born and brought up in Newcastle and educated at the Royal Grammar School and later at Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he studied Geography. Richard started his working career with Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) as a trainee in 1972 and was part of the company’s first graduate intake, which also included Jenny, who he later married. Following an extensive induction period Richard was appointed as a brewing shift manager at Holyrood Brewery in 1973, reporting to Stirling Gardiner, the Head Brewer. Richard was then appointed Senior Brewer at New Fountain in 1976 where he was responsible for maturation, filtration, and production planning. Richard continued to work for S&N for a period of 25 years in positions that included Group Beer Production Controller and Logistics Controller for S&N.

Following a successful career with S&N, Richard had the opportunity to take over a Dutch company, Scanology, specialising in bar-codes and later RFID technology for product tracking and identification. He ran this business for many years while also being the UK lead on behalf of the British Standards Institute, on a working group developing international standards in relation to the Internet of Things. This involved a lot of travel to the Netherlands and worldwide.  

Richard was also an active member of the Incorporated Brewers Guild (IBG) Scottish section and the Institute of Brewing (IOB) and later the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD). Richard was appointed chairman of the IBG in 1989 and 1990.

One of Richards passion was his visits to Fortingall in Perthshire where he and Jenny owned their country cottage and spent many happy times there together enjoying the scenery and the friendship of their neighbours and joined in the village community events. Richard also enjoyed brewing beer in his cellar at home in Edinburgh. 

Richard did often speak about his family and the happy times they had together, and you could tell he was so proud of them.

Richard joined the SBAA and became a loyal supporter over a period of ten years and joined the committee where he provided great experience and advice. Last year, under Richard’s leadership, the SBAA enrolled with a system called MOJO which is an online membership management software. MOJO has proved to be a great time saver and eliminated the previous tedious manual methods of maintaining membership details that had been in operation for many years.

The SBAA will certainly miss such a loyal and respected member. Thank you, Richard.

Our thoughts and well wishes go to Jenny, Richard’s wife and son and daughter Tristram and Tamsin.

John Martin  

3. New Zealand Earthquake reveals Scottish beer hoard

You may recall the tragic earthquake that struck Christchurch in New Zealand in 2011. However, in the aftermath and clear up of damaged buildings a hoard of some 300 Scottish Beer bottles and 200 German “Selter mineral water” bottles were discovered in a sunken pit.  The site had been the location of the “Avon Bond” and it is speculated that the bottles , mainly smashed with the seals still intact, were either spoiled or unsold stock. By destroying on the premises they would have avoided paying any duty.    

This photo pre dates the bond which was established by Wood and Shand & Co. further along Oxford Terrace, past or close to the large brick building in 1874. (photo Canterbury Museum) 

The bond handled a wide range of goods imported from all over the British Empire including Tobacco , Foods , Oils and Spices.

The advert opposite from 1876 is note worthy for the inclusion of Scottish beers specifically “Younger’s Ale” and the Alloa brewers “Arrol’s Extra Stout” 

Other items catching the eye are “Tasmanian Hops” and a consignment of “Scottish clay pipes”  

By far the best-preserved items recovered from the discovery were the fragments of bottles of J&R Tennent Pale Ale which still have their heavily embossed seals intact clearly identifying  the brewery and brand. 

The following photos are from a recent archaeological exhibition in New Zealand. We would like to thank former TCB employee Colin Dunigan for passing these on to share with the SBAA membership.

4. SBAA event – Historical Brewing Walk  Edinburgh Southside

This year the historical brewery walk took place on 14th September and once again the weather was kind. John Martin led the posse with interesting information about the former brewing locations along the way supplemented with rich historical facts on the route. Including the impressive McEwan’s Hall and various haunts of Rabbie Burns.

The Then and Now photos were taken during the walk outside the Boroughloch Brewery  where distinctive features can still be recognised 116 years since brewing ceased . The evening ended at with some good beer and tapas at Summerhall , the site of an original brewery dating from the 1710’s , and now home to Barney’s microbrewery. 

Then

Now

Please give some thought to SBAA events you would like to happen in 2024.  

5. Stoneware Bottle – Wm Younger’s Abbey Brewery “Monk Brand” ale

Further to the item which  appeared in the last Newsletter (no 55) re the letters from John Jeffreys  regarding their 19th century export trade & that other Scottish breweries at that time, I recently acquired a stoneware beer bottle from a dealer in Connecticut, USA which he had advertised as

“a rare old English (sic) stoneware beer bottle with original monk label”

The bottle dates from the late 19th century and is not English but a Scottish bottle by W A Gray, t/a Midlothian Stoneware Potteries, manufactured at their Portobello pottery, containing Wm Younger’s Abbey “Monk Brand” ale. Details of this, and other Scottish stoneware beer bottle potteries, can be found in the publication “Stoneware Bottles 1500-1949 by Derek Askey” (BBR Publications 1998).

This Youngers beer bottle dates from the 1880’s and it is unusual to find one with the original label intact. Youngers registered the ”Monk Brand” trademark in May 1884 which can be seen from the following photograph (right half) which shows the label as detailed & illustrated in the publication “Scottish Brewery Trademarks, 1876 to 1900 by Edward Burns Hippo Publications 1986).

Interestingly, a very detailed description of the bottling process of the Monk Brand ale at Youngers Brewery Export Bottling Store at that time is contained within the 1889 publcation “The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland by Alfred Barnard”:
In this section Barnard decribes the problems facing brewers regarding the bottling of their beers:
“It is of little purpose to brew a good liquor if you cannot be sure that your bottlers deal honestly with it, by bottling it as it comes from the brewery. Much injury has before been done to firms by their label being affixed to bottles over the filling of which they have no control. Brewers have now learned to avoid these difficulties by dealing each with a separate bottling-house, of which respectability they have a perfect guarantee. Owing to the extent of Messrs. Wm. Younger & Co’s business, it would be impossible for any single house in the trade to undertake their bottling, but we are informed that several houses with which they deal for this purpose are all of the highest standing in the trade.”
Barnard then goes on to describe bottling in detail:
In the case of this bottle Barnard’s description raises a number of questions – before the beer was exported to the USA was the beer bottled by Youngers at their Edinburgh Brewery in bottles provided by Grays of Portabello (the most likely) or was it bottled somewhere else in Scotland by one of Younger’s approved bottlers and then exported or was it exported in bulk (ie casks) and then bottled & labelled in the USA ( by far the least likely). The following 3 adverts from the USA & the Carribean islands at around that time illustrate the point:

       St Christopher Advertiser, St Kitts & Nevis 09 Nov 1886

 Barbados Herald, Barbados, 30 Sep 1886

           Charles Daily News, South Carolina, USA, 05 Oct 1869

6. Brewing Memorabilia 

Back in July this year, one of our members Alastair Carmichael gave an invitation to view his brewing memorabilia collection at his home. It was during our visit, two things of note made me think that a follow up article would be an idea. 

At the end of our visit Alastair presented everyone with a MY Scotch Lager class, a collector’s item. 

In 1931, two of the largest brewing companies in Scotland, Wm. McEwan and Wm. Younger joined forces to form Scottish Brewers. Not long after this amalgamation a separate subsidiary company was formed to handle armed forces contracts and overseas business and was named McEwan-Younger and shortened to MY.  

Please note the trademarks on the beer labels. McEwan’s was represented with the globe and British colonial flags and Wm. Younger with Father William. In the mid 1930s the McEwan’s trademark was changed to the more familiar cavalier.

During our visit Alastair explained that a good part of his collection was from his stepfather Bob Feltham, packaging manager at Fountain Brewery in Edinburgh and later Group Packaging Manager of Scottish & Newcastle.

Bob joined Wm. Younger in 1952 having left the Royal Marines as a Warrant Officer. He worked at the Park Stores Bottling Hall at Holyrood (today Dynamic Earth) where he quickly became the Assistant Manager. Bob gained further experience at the Colin Croft Brewery in Kendal, W.B.Reids in Newcastle and Fountain Brewery Bottling Hall. In all cases he was an excellent manager and had the unique gift of inspiring others and gaining the respect and affection from all his colleagues.

Bob and Pam Feltham and Michael Clutterbuck presenting his retiral gifts.

One of our members, Bill Brown does remember Bob Feltham in S&N and explains as follows.
“The name Bob Feltham took me back to the early 1960s when I was employed as a clerk at Fountain Brewery in the Forwarding Dept. (years later known as Customer Services). At that time Bob was the Bottling Hall Manager and known as a hard task manager but at the same time a most knowledgeable, very fair, and honest manager and highly respected by everyone he came into contact with, from S&N director level down to the newest recruit in the Bottling Hall and all levels of staff withing the brewery complex. In short, Bob Feltham was a man of substance, so much appreciated and admired by all”.

You can read more about Bob in this year’s Annual Journal where Alastair gives more of an insight.

John Martin

7. Scottish Beer Labels:

SBAA member Janusz Mroz and labologist has been in contact regarding his “Scottish Beer Label” website.

Although the website is still underdevelopment the catalogue of Scottish Beer Labels is working and is truly remarkable with over 8000 already filed with excellent photos. Surely one of the best bits of recent archiving and well worth a look at  http://albabeerlabels.com/  Janusz would welcome feedback from SBAA members.

8. William McEwan and Central Library:

William McEwan
Central Library, Edinburgh
Some of you may remember an article that was featured in the SBAA Newsletter No 50 – Jan. 2022 and titled Edinburgh’s Brewing Heritage, which highlighted that the Central Library had added the history of brewing in Edinburgh to their Our Town Stories website.

A further page on William McEwan has now been added recently. William McEwan (1827-1913) was not only a brewer, but also a politician and a philanthropist. Last month I visited Central Library to look at the books that he donated in 1892, two years after the library was opened. The books he donated covered Scottish family history including the Maitland Club collection. The Maitland Club was a Scottish historical and literary club and included many famous members such as Sir Walter Scott.

City of Edinburgh Council – Edinburgh Libraries

This is the link to the Our Town Stories website. 

https://www.ourtownstories.co.uk/story/2948-edinburghs-brewing-heritage

 

Central Library built in 1890, was the first library building in the city.  Like many other libraries, Central Library was funded with £50,000 donated by Andrew Carnegie. The site selected for the library was the former home of Sir Thomas Hope, advocate for King Charles I. The home was built in 1616 and demolished in 1887 to make way for the library. Above the main door of the library is the motto “Let there be Light”, which Carnegie insisted was placed above the entrance to every library he funded.

The Central Library also holds past copies of the SBAA Annual Journal.

John Martin

9. Beer Awards 2023

Many congratulations to our members who were successful in winning many beer awards this year in both the Scottish Beer Awards and the Scotland Independent Beer Awards (SIBA).

Scottish Beer Awards:

Gold – Brewery of the Year

Gold – Best Amber or Dark Ale – Old Town Altbier

Silver – Best Lager – Craft Lager

Bronze – Best Session Beer – Wild Shore Saison

SIBA:

Gold – Cask Session Pale Ale – Lucky Spence IPA

Gold – Keg Session Lager – Vienna Secession Lager

Gold – Keg Session Pale Ale – Lucky Spence IPA

Silver – Overall Champion of Keg – Vienna Secession Lager

Bronze – Overall Champion of Cask – Lucky Spence IPA

Scottish Beer Awards:

SilverBest Juicy or Hazy – Clara Rosa

SIBA:

Gold – Keg IPA – Radical Road

Silver – Keg Sour & Wild Ale – Keg Lime Pie

Bronze – Keg Session Lager – Stewart’s Lager

Bronze – Keg Amber, Brown & Red Ale – Nitro 80  

SIBA:

Gold – Cask British Beer – Bitter & Twisted

Silver – Cask Speciality Light Beer – Schiehallion

Bronze – Keg Session Lager – Sorachi Pils

Bronze – Keg Premium Lager – Schiehallion

SIBA:

Silver – Best British Style Ale – Belhaven Scottish Ale

SIBA:

Gold  – Overall Champion of Cask – Old Jock Scotch Ale

Gold – Cask Imperial & Strong Beer – Old Jock Scotch Ale

So why not sample these beers and cheer on our brewery members for more success.

Over to you!

Another Corporate member Tennent’s can also celebrate. Figures published by the Scottish Licenced Trade Association this month showed that “ Tennent’s Lager continues to see off all comers by maintaining is position as the biggest selling drink (by value) in Scottish venues” , in second place was Smirnoff vodka. Guinness took fourth place and Birra Moretti claimed sixth spot. 

10. Last Runnings

A.G.M – Thursday 23rd NOVEMBER 2pm , The Beehive (upstairs) Grassmarket, Edinburgh. All welcome to attend , the business should take approximately one hour followed by a guest speaker, The intention is also to provide those attending with a couple of bottles of beer , to take away. The beer was brewed by SBAA members at a recent visit to Stewart’s Brewing.

A light buffet will be provided so please let the secretary know if you are attending BEFORE 13th Nov. secretary@scottishbrewingarchive.co.uk          

 There is a new book out, simply titled Cask – The real story of Britain’s unique beer culture by beer writer Des de Moor that covers the history of beer in the UK and well worth a read. Before the book was published the SBAA were contacted to cover some aspects of Scottish brewing.  

You can obtain a copy from the CAMRA web site – www.camra.org.uk

A warm welcome to new members  Alistair McMillan (Pub Trails), Katherine Noe, Robbie Millar (Beam-Suntory) and welcome back Ken Duncan 

 

 

Correspondence to the SBAA Secretary  secretary@scottishbrewingarchive.co.uk

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