May 6, 2014

A first look at Scottish ale in the colonies

One thing I hadn't realised in my searches so far was just how much Scottish ale was available throughout the colonies. Until the 1850s and 1860s it's often advertised with the generic place name rather than brewery but there are references to Younger's in the 1840s and following. I'd come across it of course but the number of references when I started searching for it blew me away. Scottish ale seems to have been quite popular in the colonies.

Edinburgh Ale
Edinburgh was a major brewing centre in the early days of the Australian colonies and it shows with both the number of references and in how early the first ones come. In the early 1820s there wasn't a great choice in beer and ale but there was as much Edinburgh ale as just about anything else.

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser,
28 September 1820.

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
28 September, 1822.

Hobart Town Gazette, 19 August, 1826

McEwans wasn't established until the mid-19th century but once they got going, plenty of their beer saw the colonies. The first mention I could find of them is in Melbourne from 1864, less than 10 years after the brewery was established. It's tricky to be sure that this is their first mention because there were several McEwans in the colonies importing all kinds of things including ale. Also, if you want to search for them on OCR'd newspapers, I recommend searching for "M'Ewans".

The Argus (Melbourne), 23 August, 1864

Your ale really is global if it's advertised in Zeehan!
Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 9 September, 1891.

Alloa Ale
As with Edinburgh ale, there are plenty of generic references to Alloa ale but they don't start until the late 1830s and hit their peak in 1880-1889. The first reference I've been able to find is in Hobart in 1837 and there's 'strong Alloa ale' in Sydney in 1839.

Southern Australian, 16 January, 1840

Probably the most significant Alloa brewery, Younger's, is first mentioned by name in Sydney, 1848 and then later throughout the colonies.

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 November 1848

That's quite a nice list in addition to the Younger's!
Launceston Examiner, 11 October, 1860

The Argus, 25 August, 1863

For those interested in brewing up a taste of history, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins has a recipe for Younger's No. 3 Export Ale from 1868, presumably not too different from the 1863 version above (I've actually got an Australian homebrew recipe from 1835 that is quite similar to the Younger's No. 3 as well. I'll post about that sometime). If you brew it, let me know how it goes!

Aitkens in Falkirk
The first reference to Aitkens I've been able to find so far is in Melbourne, 1856. It appears again in the 1860s and the on and on into the First World War.

Why don't other breweries market their beers to invalids?
Evening News (Sydney), 3 February, 1875

Some of their beer was sold as Aitken's Life Belt (sometimes Life Bouy) Ale and came with this pretty terrible label.

Pic pinched from Shut Up About Barclay Perkins

Scotch Pale Ale and Porter

Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen's Land Advertiser,
18 May, 1822

Along with the reference in Hobart, there's also a reference to Scotch pale ale in Sydney in 1825 and again in 1837-8, 1842, 1846 and a few others throughout the remainder of the 19th century. I'm not sure what the Scotch pale ale was like and it's relation to the English pale ales. Whatever it was like, it's not imported in great quantities.

The Scotch porter appears in Hobart in 1826 (see the 1826 snippet in the Edinburgh ales section) and 1827 and in Sydney the year after. Like the pale ale it is only around sporadically. It also pops up in Geelong and Melbourne in 1850 and Launceston in 1852 and occasionally afterwards throughout the 19th century and into the 20th.

There's also strong Scotch ale from 1833 and occasionally double strong Scotch ale which follows much the same pattern as the pale ale and porter.

So there you have it, there was a lot of Scottish ale in the colonies and people seemed to like it.

1 comment:

  1. I quite enjoy the Scotch ales that I find around these days. I think I'm partly drawn to them because of my Scottish heritage, but I also just really lean in the direction of those flavours.

    I wonder how these contemporaries compare with the older stuff.


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