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The Industries of Scotland
Brewing


THE art of preparing beverages from fermented grain is of great antiquity. It was, according to Herodotus, practised by the Egyptians; Pliny the elder states that it was known to the western nations; and Tacitus mentions that a fermented liquor extracted from grain was the common beverage of the ancient Germans. One of the pleasures promised to Scandinavian heroes was that in their Valhalla, or Palace of the Gods, they should drink ale out of carved horns. A favourite beverage of the Anglo-Saxons in the fifth century was a kind of ale made from grain; and among the civic officers of the time were "ale-conners," whose business it was to taste the liquor offered for sale, and fix its price. In. the parish of Minnigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire, are remains of some kilns which tradition alleges to have been constructed by the Picts for the purpose of brewing ale from heather. The earliest mention of "ale-houses" in England occurs in 1014, and about that period the price of ale was fixed by law.

In Scotland the "broustaris," or brewers, were taken cognisance of in the Leges Burgorum, a code of burgh laws sanctioned by the Legislature in the twelfth century. Under those laws a licence-duty at the rate of 4d. a-year was imposed on all persons engaged in brewing. Another clause, entitled "Of the manner of ale brewing be assise," is as follows:—"What woman that wil brew ale to sell sall brew al the yhere thruch eftir the custume of the toune. And gif scho dois nocht scho sall be suspendyt of hir office be the space of a yhere and a day. And scho sall mak gud ale approbabill as the ty e askis. And gif scho makis ivil ale and dois agane the custume of the tonne and be convykkyt of it, scho sall gif til hir mercyment viii. s., or than thole the lauch of the toune—that is to say, be put on the kukstule, and the ale sall be geyflin to the pure folk the twa part, and the thryd part send to the brethyr of the hospitale. And rycht sic dome sal be done of maid as of ale. And ilk browstare sal put hit alewande ututh hir house at hir wyndow or abune hir dur that it may be seabill communly til al men, the whilk gif scho dois nocht scho sal pay for hir defalt iiij d." This shows that the brewing business was originally in the hands of women, and there is evidence that it continued to be so for many years subsequent to the passing of the laws referred to.

In the fourteenth century a list was drawn up of matters to be inquired into by the Chamberlain of each burgh in his term of office. The following "items" will show that brewers were to be particularly looked after:—"Also, gif the Baffles have executed judgment upon baksters, browster men and women, after they be amerced. Also, gif browster-wives sel aill be quart and be just measures. Also, gif browster-wives brewe and selle aill conform to the price set upon it by the taisters. And gif they selle before the aill has been prised by the taisters. Also, gif browster-wives sell their aill by potsful, and not by sealed measure. Also, how many of the browster-wives were amerced in the year. Also, gif any man keip hand mylnes, other than are burges, and brewes and maks malt, composition not made, and wha manteins them."

In the year 1124 the price of a Scotch gallon of ale was equal to 6d. of modern money. In 1562 the price of a pint of ale is stated in the Council Register to have been 9d. The records of the Scotch Privy Council show that, in 1666, the price of ale was fixed as follows, in sterling money:—"When rough here is 10s. per boll, Linlithgow measure, then ale shall be sold, per Scotch pint, at ld.; with the addition of one-sixth of a penny as excise in country parishes, and one-sixth more in the city of Edinburgh. When bare is at 13s. 4d., the pint of ale shall be 1d.; when at 16s. 8d., the pint of ale shall be 2d." Ale was in those days an article of consumption in every household and at every meal. The upper classes drank wine, which they obtained at the following rates:—Bordeaux wine, if imported by the east sea, 3s. 11d. per Scotch pint (equal to about 11 imperial quarts); ditto, by the west sea, 2s. 6d. Rochelle wine, if imported by the east sea, 2s. 6d.; ditto, by the west sea, Is. 101d. An Englishman who visited Edinburgh in 1598 wrote:—"The Scots drink pure wines, not with sugar as the English; yet at feasts they put comfits in. the wine, after the French manner, but they had not our vintners' fraud to mix their wines. I did never see nor hear that they have any public inns with signs hanging out; but the better sort of citizens brew ale, their usual drink (which will distemper a stranger's body)." The usual allowance of ale at table was a chopin (equal to about an imperial quart) to each person.

For many years the inhabitants of the City Parish of Edinburgh paid a tax of 2d. on every Scotch pint of ale they consumed, and that was continued after the imposition of a tax by Government. In the year 1690 this local tax produced L.4000. In 1723 the tax was extended to the parishes of St Cuthbert's, Canongate, and South and North Leith, and with the money which it was expected would flow into the municipal treasury from this source many good things were to be done. The stipends of the city ministers and the salaries of professors were to be augmented, an increased supply of water was to be brought in, and public buildings were to be erected. The imposition. was ill-timed, for the people were beginning to cultivate a taste for a more potent preparation from malt, and to find out the virtues of tea. The tax produced L.7939 in the first year of its operation over the extended area; but never again did it reach that figure. In 1776 it had dwindled down to L.2197; and moralists were loud in their wails over the fact that "the use of that destructive spirit (whisky) was increasing among the common people of all ages and sexes with a rapidity which threatened the most important effects upon society." After a time the tax was abolished, but the domestic use of ale has never again been so common as it was a hundred and fifty years ago.

In 1643 a duty was imposed on the ale produced at public breweries in England. This tax was subsequently levied in Scot-land, and continued till 1830, when it was repealed. In England malt was subjected to a tax of 6d. a bushel in 1695, and the tax was extended to Scotland in 1725. The Scotch people submitted very unwillingly to the imposition, and strong manifestations were made against it in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. In the latter city riots occurred which resulted in the death of nine and the wounding of seventeen persons. Mr Campbell of Shawfield, the member for the Glasgow district of burghs, had rendered himself obnoxious to a large body of the citizens, by voting in Parliament for the extension of the tax to Scotland, and on the 23d June 1725, the day on which the tax came into operation, a mob assembled, obstructed the excisemen, and assumed such a threatening attitude, that on the evening of the next day, two companies of soldiers, under the command of Captain Bushel, entered the city. The appearance of the military did not overawe the mob, nor deter them from making an attack on Mr Campbell's house, then one of the finest in Glasgow. While the magistrates were spending the evening in a tavern, and the soldiers were at their barracks, a mob marched to Shawfield House, the furniture and fittings of which they completely demolished. Mr Campbell and his family had removed to their country residence a few days previously. The captain of the soldiers having learned what had been done, sent to the Provost to ask for instructions; but the proffered services of the military were declined Emboldened by the success they had achieved so far in carrying out their designs, the mob next day set themselves to molest the soldiers. After his men had withstood several volleys of stones, Captain Bushel gave the order to fire on the mob, and two persons were killed and several wounded. Finding themselves at a disadvantage against the muskets of the soldiers, the mob broke into the town-house magazine, and carried off the arms. At the request of the Provost, Captain Bushel removed his men towards Dumbarton, but they were overtaken on the way, and a sharp encounter took place. The military fired on the people, and several were killed and wounded. On information of the riots reaching headquarters, General Wade, with a large body of troops, took possession of the city. The Lord Advocate accompanied the General, and made an investigation into the circumstances of the disturbances, the result of which was that nineteen persons were apprehended, bound with ropes, and delivered over to Captain Bushel, who conveyed them to Edinburgh, and lodged them in the Castle. At the same time the whole of the magistrates were apprehended, and taken to Edinburgh. The charge against them was that they had favoured the rioters, and winked at the destruction of Shawfield House; but that charge was not substantiated; and after being a day in custody they were released on bail, and subsequently absolved. The nineteen inferior persons were punished in various ways—two were banished for life, some were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, and others were whipped through the streets of Glasgow. By order of Parliament the citizens had to pay L.9000 to Mr Campbell as indemnity for his loss.

The riots left many bitter recollections in Glasgow, and did not tend to allay the popular feeling against the malt-tax. In the following year the duty was reduced to 3d. a bushel. Subsequently the rate underwent many fluctuations. In England, in 1760, it was raised to 9d. a bushel; in 1780 it was raised to ls. 4d. a bushel, and to 8d. a bushel in Scotland. In 1785 the duty was imposed in Ireland at 7d. a bushel; and raised in 1795 to is. 3d. In 1802 it was respectively 2s. 5d. in England, ls. 8d. in Scotland, and ls. 9p. in Ireland. In. 1804, which was a year of war tax, it was raised to 4s. 5P. in England, to 3s. 9P. in Scotland, and to 2s. 3A d. in Ireland. In 1813 it was raised to 3s. 3d. in Ireland; and in. 1815 it was further raised to 4s. 5d. In 1816 the duty was reduced to what it had been prior to 1804, namely, 2s. 5d. in England, and ls. 8p. in Scotland, but it was reduced to 1s. 4d. in Ireland. In 1819 it was raised to 3s. 7d. in England and Scotland, and 3s. 6d. in Ireland. In 1822 the duty was fixed at 2s. 7d. uniformly, at which rate it stands at the present time, with the exception of 5 per cent., which was added in 1840 to the Excise duties generally, making the actual impost 2s. 8d. During the Crimean war the duty was raised to 4s., and after the war it reverted to 2s. 8d.

Like other branches of trade which had long been conducted on a small scale in the ordinary dwellings of the people, brewing was about two centuries ago developed into a wholesale manufacture, and carried on in buildings specially fitted up. There are no statistics to show what the extent of the trade was in those early days; but for many years the production was limited to home requirements. In the beginning of last century ale and beer were exported from Leith to several continental countries. Since that time the export trade has gone on extending, and a marked increase has taken place within the past eight or ten years. The brewing trade is becoming concentrated into fewer hands, and operations are in some cases conducted on a gigantic scale. In the year 1835 there were 640 persons licensed to brew beer in Scotland. By 1863 these were reduced to 225, and in 1866 the number was 217, of whom 98 were brewers, and 119 victuallers who brewed their own beer. In 1836 the Scotch brewers consumed 1,137,176 bushels of malt; in 1863, 1,780,919 bushels; and in 1866, 2,499,019 bushels. The exports of ale and beer in 1863 amounted to 47,415 barrels of 36 gallons each, the declared value of which was L.172,140; in 1866 the quantity sent out was 61,723 barrels, valued at L.230,109. In order to show the wide connection which the brewers have established, the places to which the last mentioned quantity of beer was sent may be stated:- 1370 barrels went to Hamburg, 1250 to Mauritius, 13,975 to the continental territories of British India, 1564 to Singapore, 4337 to Victoria, 455 to New South Wales, 557 to Queensland, 1420 to New Zealand, 1904 to British North America, 8797 to the British West Indies, 5161 to Foreign West Indies, 3346 to the United States, 956 to Chili, 2715 to Brazil, 3636 to Uraguay, and 5965 to the Argentine Republic. In 1867 there were 66,909 barrels exported.

The Edinburgh brewers have long been famous for the superior quality of their ales and beers, and their trade forms one of the most important branches of manufacturing industry in the city. The names of Younger, Jeffrey, Drybrough, Campbell, Usher, and others, are familiar wherever Scotch ale is consumed, and that signifies, as shown above, that they are known in every quarter of the world. A description of the malting and brewing establishments of Messrs J. Jeffrey & Co., of the Heriot Brewery, will convey some idea of the mode in which an extensive business of this kind is carried on. The malting premises, bottling-house, and ale stores of this firm are at Roseburn, at the extreme west end of the city, while their brewery is in the Grassmarket. This separation is a considerable inconvenience; but as the brewery, by repeated extensions, occupied every inch of available ground, it became imperative, when further extension was required, to sever the connection between the malting and brewing departments. Accordingly, a year or two ago, the firm acquired a site at Roseburn, adjoining the Caledonian Railway, and erected thereon malting premises and stores of great extent, and fitted up in the most complete manner. The malt-barn is a substantially constructed building of five floors, and measures 320 feet in length by 90 feet in breadth. On the upper floor the barley is stored in bulk, being raised to that part of the building by means of belt-and-bucket gearing, communicating with horizontal tubes fixed overhead, through which Archimedean screws draw the grain along to any point desired. From the store the grain is transferred, as required, to the floors beneath, by means of tubes or shoots.

The process of malting embraces four operations—namely, steeping, couching, flooring, and kiln-drying—the object of all being to force the barley to germinate, and then to check the germination at g certain point. Across the end of each of the malting floors is a steep capable of containing 84 quarters of barley. The grain is run into the steep from the store-loft, and when the steep is partly filled, water is allowed to flow in. After the grain has been steeped for about sixty hours, the superfluous water is run off, and the barley is thrown out of the steep. At this stage it is measured by the Excise officers, and charged with malt duty. It is then "couched," that is, allowed to lie in a heap on the floor for twenty-six hours or so, during which time its temperature rises about ten degrees, and it gives off some of the superfluous water. This "sweating," as it is termed, is the result of the partial germination of the barley. On examining the grain at this stage, it is seen that rootlets have begun to appear, and traces of a stem may be detected beneath the husk. Now is the time for "flooring." The barley is spread in an even layer on the floor, to a depth of six or eight inches, and as it dries it is frequently turned. This operation extends over several days, at the end of which the barley is placed in a kiln and dried thoroughly. The action of the kiln in drying is not confined to expelling the moisture from the germinated grain, but serves to convert into sugar a portion of the starch which remained unchanged. Malt is generally distinguished by its colour—as pale, amber, brown, or black malt—arising from the different degrees of heat and the management in drying. The pale and amber coloured varieties are used for brewing the lighter kinds of beer; a darker variety is used for sweet ale; and the darkest for porter.

A remarkable change takes place in the grain during its conversion into malt, as will appear from the following analysis:—

These figures show that the amount of the convertible starch and sugar has been nearly doubled at the expense of the hordein, a portion of which has also passed into the condition of mucilage, or a soluble gum, while the gluten is reduced to one-third of its original quantity. In converting barley into malt a loss of material occurs. Thus, 100 lb. of barley yield only 80 Th. of malt; but, on the other hand, there is an increase in bulk, 100 measures of barley yielding 101 to 109 measures of malt. This change in weight and bulk may be tested by casting some grains of barley and malt into water, when it will be seen that, while the barley sinks at once, the malt keeps afloat.

In order to see how beer is made, the malt must be followed to the brewery. The Heriot Brewery has been in operation for a century, and for upwards of thirty years it has been in the possession of Messrs Jeffrey. Like most works which have been gradually extended from small beginnings on limited sites, the brewery is not arranged according to modern ideas of such establishments; but that drawback apart, the place is complete in all its appointments, and the more recent additions have been made according to the most advanced views of the business. The malt is raised to a large store-room on an upper floor, and thence it is withdrawn to supply the mill The latter consists of a pair of steel cylinders which bruise the malt—bruising being preferred to grinding, which would make the malt become pasty when mixed with water. From the mill the malt descends to the mashing-room. A new mode of mashing recently introduced is here at work. Formerly the bruised malt was placed in the mashtun with a certain quantity of hot water, and there stirred about by revolving rakes till all the saccharine matter was dissolved. By the new method the malt escapes from a hopper into a horizontal cylinder having a series of revolving arms inside. At the same time the proper supply of water is allowed to flow in, and, as the malt and water pass through the cylinder, they are so completely mixed that they require no further mechanical treatment for the production of "wort," as the extract of malt is called. The mash-tuns are fitted with false bottoms, through which the liquid percolates, leaving the malt behind. The wort is drawn off into large vats called "underbacks," situated beneath the mash-tuns, and fresh water, at a higher temperature than that first used, is run upon the malt. This is styled the "second mash," and it is effectual in extracting a further quantity of sugar from the grain. The produce of those two mashes is mixed, but that of a third mash, which is sometimes made, is kept apart and used either in brewing small beer or in treating the malt in a first mash. The residue of the malt, under the name of "draff," is used as food for cattle.

The wort having been reduced to the proper strength, is pumped from the "underbacks" to the boiling-house, which is occupied by two copper boilers, each capable of containing 5500 gallons. At this stage the hops are added according to the kind of beer that is being made. The proportion of hops varies from 4 to 14 lb. to the quarter of malt. The boiling is continued until the aromatic and bitter principles of the hops have been extracted, and the liquid has been concentrated to the required degree. A tap in the bottom of the boiler is then opened, and the liquid is run off into the "hop-back," a large iron cistern with a perforated bottom. As the wort percolates through the bottom of the cistern it runs into the "coolers," shallow troughs of iron covered with a roof but open at the sides. There the liquid cools rapidly, but not so rapidly as desired sometimes, and means are taken by fans and other contrivances to send currents of air over the surface. Systems of tubes called "refrigerators" are also used. The tubes are arranged in the form of a -vertical screen, and as a current of cold water flows through them, the wort is poured over them from above, and allowed to trickle from one to the other. If the cooling be not effected rapidly, the sugar in the wort becomes partially converted into acetic acid, and the quality of the beer is thereby deteriorated. When the liquid has been cooled down to about 60 it is ready for the next process, which is fermentation. The apartments in which the process is conducted are called tun-rooms, and each contains a dozen large tuns or vats ranged along the sides. The tuns are capable of holding 2000 gallons each. When the tuns are filled yeast is added to the wort, in order to start the fermentation. In a short time carbonic acid gas is evolved, and the liquid becomes covered with froth. The gas is so abundant that it becomes dangerous to breathe over the tuns. Even after the vats have been emptied the gas hangs about, and workmen entering them without first ascertaining whether the fatal gas had disappeared have fallen victims to their negligence. Great skill is required in determining the temperature to which the wort should be reduced before adding the yeast. In summer it is usual to cool it to some twenty degrees below the temperature of the tun-room, while in winter it is worked at several degrees above the temperature of the room. For the proper modification of the temperature the tuns are fitted with tubes inside through which warm or cold water may be made to flow. The pale amber colour and mild balsamic flavour which characterise Scotch beer are owing in some degree to the low temperature at which it is fermented. The process of fermentation is completed in from three to eight days, and then the yeast is skimmed off and the beer "cleared" by being subjected to a filtering and settling process, which removes all traces of fermentation. That completes the manufacturing operations, and the beer is run into casks, and either sent out to order or stored. The stock of porter is kept at the brewery in great vats upwards of twenty feet in depth, but the ale is stored at Roseburn. All varieties of beer, ale, and porter are made by processes similar to those above described. The liquor may differ in strength according to the quantity of water used, or in colour from the malt being mom or less charred in drying.

Messrs Jeffrey's ale store at Roseburn consists of two floors, each open throughout, and measuring 600 feet in length by 120 feet in width. A portion of the ground floor at one end is devoted to the bottling of ales for export, which forms a considerable item in the business of the firm. The remainder of the floor is piled with five or six tiers of large store casks, in which the beer is placed to mellow until required to be bottled or otherwise disposed of. Cranes, tramways, &c., are provided for moving the casks; and in this, as in the other parts of the establishment, hand labour is reduced to a minimum. On the floor above the empty casks are kept. The bottling operations are conducted with great expedition. The bottles arrive in crates, on being taken from which they are thoroughly rinsed, placed on hand-trucks, and brought forward to the bottlers. A boy sits in front of each bottling-machine, which consists of a series of six taps arranged on the syphon principle. Beginning at the left- hand side of the machine, he places a bottle on each tap, and by the time he gets the sixth bottle attached the first is full. Removing the full bottle he replaces it by an empty one, and so on. The rapidity of his movements may be judged from the fact, that in the course of a day of ten hours he fills 12,000 bottles, which is equal to an average rate of twenty a-minute. For the service of each bottling-machine there is a corking-machine, worked by a stout lad assisted by a boy; and a staff of "wirers" and "foilers." The corking goes on at the same rate as the filling; but as the wiring is a slower process, two nimble-fingered boys are required to wire for each machine. The wiring is indispensable in the case of beer intended for export. In some cases the cork and neck of the bottle are covered with tinfoil, and in others by metallic capsules, which are attached with great expedition. When all these operations are completed, the bottles pass to the labeller, who, holding a bunch of gummed labels in one hand, applies them with the other to the bottles, which are always moist enough to make the paper adhere firmly. Thus got up, the bottles have rather a gaudy appearance. As they are subjected to the successive operations described, the bottles are passing from one side of the bottling-house to the other; and as they leave the hands of the labellers, they reach the packers. One set of men in this department twist a layer of straw round each bottle, and another set pack the bottles into dryware barrels which contain two or four dozen each. When the barrels are filled, they are taken charge of by coopers, who put in the heads and make all secure. The barrels are then rolled across the yard to a steam-hoist, by which they are elevated to a platform on the railway siding belonging to the works, and thence taken to the port of shipment.

Adjoining the stores is the cooperage, which is on a scale coramensurate with the other departments of the establishment. The beer-casks are made of seasoned oak, which is cut up and shaped by steam-machines. The old system of firing has been abolished, and after the staves are "set up,"—that is, arranged in a circular form within a strong iron hoop, they are placed under a hollow iron cone, and subjected to the action of steam, which speedily makes them pliable; and while in that condition, they are "trussed" into form. Making large casks is heavy work. The dryware barrels are of slighter construction and are hooped with wood. Of these an immense number are turned out weekly.

Notwithstanding the numerous mechanical appliances which exist in the various departments of Messrs Jeffrey's establishments, they require the services of 250 men.


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