Kegger at Bob's!
Posted by Bob Whitworth on August 16, 1998 at 00:30:11:
The following is from Joshua White’s “Letters on England”, written during his travels there in 1810, and published in Philadelphia in 1816. It is topic which is dear to the hearts of many of us--and also many who lived in Jane Austen’s time.
A person who resides constantly in London, will almost overlook the astonishing variety of manufactured articles, which are made both for utility and elegance, amidst the striking features of its vast and extensive commerce; but the transient visiter, dazzled by the appearance which the former will present in every shop-window and in every street, will have his attention more firmly fixed on them Of the number or the value of the articles made, it would be extremely difficult to make an enumeration, or to form an estimate. A pretty accurate calculation has, however, been formed of one very important branch of the London manufactures; and this, from the quantity made, the excellence of the article, the amount it pays to the government, and from being almost exclusively a product of the capital of the kingdom, has been viewed as one of peculiar national importance. It will be readily perceived I mean the porter brewery. The origin and progress of this branch would form a subject of curious and interesting inquiry.
‘This salubrious and invigorating liquor,’ says a late writer on this country, ‘ was invented in the year 1730, by one Harwood, in order to combine the different flavours of ale, beer, and two-penny, the three kinds of malt liquor then in use, and which it became the general custom to mix for drinking. He gave it the name of entire, or entire butt porter, as being drawn entirely from one cask; and being a hearty and nourishing liquor for porters and other laborious people, it obtained the name of porter, by which it is now so celebrated.” As an object of curiosity, adds the writer, a great London brewery exhibits a stupendous and magnificent spectacle, and the enormous size of the vessels demonstrates the extent of the trade. A few remarks on two of the most celebrated and most valuable establishments will give the reader some idea of their importance. Those of Messrs. Whitbread & Co., in Chiswell-street, and of Mr. Meaux, are best known.
In the latter is a vessel constructed in 1795, which is sixty feet diameter, and twenty-three feet high; the cost was five thousand pounds, and it will contain nearly twelve thousand barrels. Two hundred people have dined in it. There is also a vat that holds twenty thousand barrels of porter; cost ten thousand pounds, and when full is worth forty thousand pounds. It is seventy feet diameter, thirty feet deep; some of the hoops weigh three tons, and cost three hundred pounds each.
A capital of nearly half a million is employed in Mr. Whitbread’s brewery. In it there is a stone cistern, which contains three thousand six hundred barrels, and forty-nine oak vats, some of which contain three thousand five hundred barrels. Each of the boilers contain five thousand gallons. The casks of the usual size are in number about twenty thousand; not fewer than two hundred workmen, and eighty very large horses are employed in it. The cisterns for cooling the porter are about six inches deep, and would cover a space of five acres. The whole machinery of this vast establishment is worked by one of Watt’s steam engines, which is equal to the power of seventy horses. The superior excellence of the London malt liquor, arises from the quantity which is made at one time, and not from any peculiar quality in the water; for the greatest portion which is used in Mr. Whitbread’s is not brought from the Thames, (the water of which has been supposed to be peculiarly fitted for making good malt liquor,) but from the New River, and a spring on his own premises.
The quantity annually made in London is about one million two hundred thousand barrels, each containing thirty-six gallons, and almost the whole of this is made by twelve brewers.
Hence it may, with great justice, be said that among the variety, splendour, ingenuity, and extent of the manufactures of London; amidst the vast multitude of articles which are made for ornament and utility, adapted to please the taste of a Proteus fashion; to minister to the whims, and contribute to the comfort of all classes, from the nobility to the labouring poor; none are of so much importance as the porter brewers. The immense exportation of this liquor adds greatly to the revenue; and in the kingdom, from the universal use which is made of it, it may be called the national drink. From the cheapness and salubrity of this beverage, it is preferred to ardent spirits; and how desirable would it be to see the excessive and destructive use of the latter, in the United States, supplanted by the former.
At the table of almost every respectable house-keeper, I found a drink more agreeable to my palate, because it is not so strong, and it is less biter than the porter. It is properly called domestic or table beer.
Thirty years ago it was stated that there were in the metropolis and its immediate vicinity, eight thousand ale houses; and from the increase of population since that period, with the increase of breweries, the number may be now reasonably estimated at ten thousand. They are the resort of people of almost every class: politics are here discussed by persons of “high and low degree;” and literary men frequently visit them, “to catch the manners, living as they rise.” Swift, Sterne, Goldsmith, and Foote, were wont to mix with the motley crew at such places, and hence they formed some of their best pictures of human character, both in its natural and distorted shape.
- Porter John W 04:08:10 8/29/98 (0)
- Samuel Whitbread, Porters and water Caroline 14:51:37 8/17/98 (0)
- Beer and ale were safer to drink than water RogerV 12:49:24 8/17/98 (1)
- However, Caroline 14:37:31 8/17/98 (0)
- Murder by Beer Lisa L. 02:02:02 8/16/98 (0)
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