London Brewed, by Mike Brown

London Brewed, by Mike Brown

London Brewed, by Mike Brown, subtitled 'A Historical Directory of the commercial Brewers of London from circa 1650'

Published by the Brewery History Society, 420 pages. Large A4 size paperback (N6072CHX2)

This book is the most detailed and comprehensive directory of London breweries ever compiled, and includes an index of over 17 pages with 5,600 entries! The book represents over 10 years of careful and painstaking research into the brewing firms that operated in the capital over the past 350 or so years. Some of the names are very, very familiar and the Author gives an objective report on their development. Perhaps even offering a different history to that recorded in their own biographies! The Author tracks each brewer, showing dates and presenting well researched facts, and many of the individual histories are illustrated with adverts, labels and photographs. You can find out about more about the names that only just remain in the collective consciousness, names such as Mann, Calvert, Hammerton, Huggins and Hoares. The book is an essential read for all those interested in brewing, beer and all things London....

From the introduction: In the fifteenth century, many London brewers were female, ie brewsters, and the Fleet Street area was a major centre of production. However, the product was often drunk very new, so would not have been especially intoxicating. For example, there was regulation that it should stand at least one night in the brewery! Stow in 1585 suggested 26 brewers in the City and Westminster, of whom about half were aliens. The majority brewed six times per week, usually about 20 quarters each time (about 100 barrels of small beer and 60 of strong). Estimates suggest close on 650,000 bpa. Monckton quotes Stow that in 1591 26,400 barrels of beer were exported from twenty great brewhouses on Thames side from Milford Stairs in Fleet Street to below St Catherines'.

The focus of this book is on commercial or common brewers, from a starting point of around 1650, determined by the introduction of government duties around then and the change to an industrial, rather than guild, means of organization. For example Pepys mentions Byde and Crosse, two examples of this new breed of producers. Meanwhile, out in rural Chiswick, the foundations of one of the oldest family breweries in the country were being laid. Their market was the provision of beer to retailers and later to the general public, with the growth of in-house bottling. In this, as in other aspects of brewing, London was an early mover. In 1643 taxation needs, together with the Excise desire for rationalisation to aid tax collection, was a factor for industrial organisation. The wastage allowance of 3 barrels in 36 spurred the growth of the common/ commercial brewers, especially in the capital, where from the 17th century they dominated production. The works of Peter Mathais provide an understanding of the wider context and the driving factors. By 1800 the six or so largest London brewers had outputs of over 100,000bpa, supplying an estate of tied and 'free' houses. The latter's loan provision suggest a somewhat loose definition of the term for those in London.

By 1817 half the licences were tied and the 12 largest brewers had some % of the London trade. Hawkins & Pass suggest that in 1830 the 115 commercial brewers supplied 95% of production. In 1828 there were 4530 publicans in London, of whom 39 brewed - Ale House licencing Bill Mr Slaney, though others give a higher number. Again, this may be a question of writers using different definitions eg 1829, eighty five retail brewers in London brewed 27,750 barrels of strong beer. In 1838 London had 1,461 licenced victuallers of which only 17 brewed. However, a newspaper report of 1853 suggested there were some 60 brew-on premises in London.

By 1830 the average size of a London brewery was six times that of a country one, and their output doubled between 1830 and 1850, whilst many smaller companies went to the wall. Throughout most of the C19 malt accounted for more than 2/3rds of production costs (Clark p35). Hence, the drive for economies of scale, helped by the growth of steam power, further strengthened the rise of a few key concerns. Although these are covered in some depth, it is worth noting that many of them have had their individual histories documented, though sometimes with the odd discrepancy.

In terms of identifying individual entries, the text uses either the name of the last known brewer, or in some cases the most common name under which it traded. Spelling varied, especially in the early days, and the most common usage is that adopted. It is possible that some are depots and stores and this has been noted where possible. In some entries, other individuals of a similar name or location are shown in smaller different typeface to aid future research. Extracts from the london Gazette and newspapers are usually shown in italic. The individuals at the start of each section, are those of whom it has been impossible to find more than a date and area. There is also a list of sales, given by Richardson, which have yet to be located, shown at the end...

The condition of the book is generally very good. The cover has one or two very minor scuffs but is clean and bright, the spine in tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is an old price printed and a small price sticker on the rear side cover.
Condition New