... and porters, too, as we read in an interesting reference to the state of brewing in Albany in the 1880s from a book titled The Empire State: its Industries and Wealth sitting over at Google books. At page 120 this is part of the florid description of the brewing business of Quinn & Nolan:
The Quinn & Nolan Ale Brewing Company brew extensively the famous California Pale ale, Cream Amber XX, XXX ales and porter. The brewery, malt house and other buildings are spacious, and are admirably equipped with all the latest improved apparatus, appliances and machinery known to the trade. Eighty experienced brewers and operatives are employed in the various departments, and the machinery is driven by a splendid steam-engine. The capacity of the brewery is 80,000 barrels of ale and porter per annum, and during the year 1887 the company sold 60,000 barrels, their trade extending throughout all sections of New York, New Jersey and New England, The brewery is a model of neatness and cleanliness, and has no superior in these respects in the country. The best malt and hops that can be purchased are utilized, and these are handled in such a scientific and careful manner as to result in the production of ale and porter which for purity, flavor, excellence and quality are unsurpassed in this or any other market. The storage accommodations of this noted brewery are very extensive, so that the ale is not hurried from the vats to the consumer, but is retained in the cool cellars until of proper age. Since its establishment the business of this famous brewery has been constantly increasing, and it is likewise said with truth that an inferior grade of ale or porter is never permitted to pass its gates, hence in a measure it has obtained its excellent reputation with retailers, families and the general public.
Scientific principles are an interesting part of the brewing story around Albany. Over sixty years earlier, someone connected to the local Agricultural Society undertook a study published in 1824 of the production of the county and gave recommendations as to how wealth might be expanded. One recommendation was that all rural households be set up to make two barrel batches of strong ale. It is described as an ale strong enough that the "residuary substance" would provide a supply of table beer. The 1888 text provides a description of another brewery also at page 120 with even stronger beer - if the number of "X"s can be believed:
Albany with her large population, and being the point of supply for such a large area of territory, coupled with the fact of her splendid transportation facilities by rail and water, all render her a favorable location for the brewer to carry on business upon the most extensive scale. The celebrated firm of Messrs. Granger & Story, whose splendid XXX and XXXX Ales and Porter have achieved such an enviable reputation and wide-spread consumption are thorough representatives of the best methods, the most perfect facilities, and the most unremitting attention to keeping up the high standard of their product. It should be recollected by the public that the proprietors, Mr. George F. Granger, and Mr. George Story are both practical brewers of vast experience, and that their outfit is new and of the most improved pattern. They give close personal superintendence, and exercise the greatest care, manufacturing their own malt of the highest grade, and producing beverages of the highest quality, and absolute purity. Their brewery is conveniently located on the corner of Broadway and Fourth Avenue, and is a spacious three story structure, with ice-house, cooper shop and other buildings adjoining. The outfit includes capacious 105 barrel kettles ley vats, mash tubs, etc., upwards of twenty skilled hands being employed...
XXXX!!! That's more than XXX. Well, it could be. We can work on the basis that it is. Provisionally. For now. You might have noticed that there was no reference to the Taylor brewery - a brewery with a capacity of 250,000 barrels alone - but it burned in 1886. There was a definite explosion of Albany's brewing capacity through the 1800s. The 1824 statistical report stated that the city's production was just 8,500 barrels a year. Amsdel Brothers brewed almost ten times as much in 1887. I probably have a number for the annual production of McKnights shown in 1854 above, too.
Which is why it is like an itch. It seems incredible to me that so many references exist to the stuff and nothing makes the histories of US brewing. That article on the Times Union's website and discussions with Craig by email over the weekend has got me thinking we need to get this information all in order. Even with a start having been made, I still am not sure how.