It takes time to write briefly.
Focus. A jab or joke.
An idea. Maybe.
And, of course, a link back to my blog.
Early this January just past I posted that image above and told you all that it was my new favorite quote about sulfurous brewing waters from around Burton in Staffordshire, England. It's from The Natural History of Staffordshire from 1686 by Robert Plot. The beer was brewed as a local health tonic but - now as then - I love that it was available especially at the Brimstone Alehouse. Why this particular penny did not drop connecting this post to one that I posted one month before is now beyond me. I posted in my own comments about the first mention of Staffordshire's sulfurous Burton ale in a high society establishment, the Vauxhall Garden aka Spring Garden, in the nation's capital of London as described in an issue of The Spectator from 1712. Just 26 years after the reference to the Brimstone Alehouse in the book by Robert Plot. Hmm.
This hit me like a slap on the back of my head as I watched an episode of a Michael Portillo train show Great Continental Railway Journeys on TV. He was at a central European spa, having a steam bath one moment and a mud bath the next. Then he drinks the water. He appears to almost gag. It was full of sulfur. Like the water in Staffordshire 330 years ago. Horrible stuff taken for only medicinal reasons. Made palatable by brewing with it. Double Hmm.
Now, Martyn checked my story about the arrival of Burton ale in the greater marketplace around 1712 and gave it a good hard shake and it appears to be pretty solid, a real myth buster. Which leads to a quandary and a theory. Here's the quandary. How does this gak water beer from Staffordshire get just one rustic small mention in an agricultural and industrial guide to the county from 1686 and then show up on a very expensive table before the finest of society no earlier and also no later than 26 years later. As you can see above, in each case it is sought out for a quality. But not the same quality.
That leads to the theory. It appears to me to be a bit of a longer distance from the Brimstone Tavern of 1686 to the Spring Garden of 1712 than just the intervening years. What was in the beer itself? Did the brewer of the Brimstone Tavern in 1686 bang in an incredibly high volume of hops to overcome the stated vomit inducing taste of the water? There is no mention that the experience in 1712 was at all unpleasant. Could it be in those 24 years that the hopping technique became refined and the sulfurous waters diluted? Were the waters calmed? I don't know how I might go figuring out, how to determine if that was the case. But it's an interesting theory. Somehow, it went from horrible to haute in 26 year.
Now here is a conundrum:
"We were getting frustrated. Some of the stuff showing up already expired," Hill said. "Some of the stuff showing up, you know, between two and six weeks to go and our ordering cycle is longer than that. Typically from when we order, it takes three weeks just to get here."
That is the situation at the Yukon Territory's liquor corporation. It's not a huge marketplace but annually 14,000 bottles and cans are chucked. Wouldn't it be nice if the craft beer stores would explain how they manage the same? The pumpkin beer glut would be a nice start. There was a hell of a lot of that in the CNY and NNY grocery stores and gas stations the other week. What should folk be doing with that? Sure hope the shopkeeper isn't stuck with it.
But then again, maybe it is a good idea to stick the shopkeeper. Then they won't order it again and the marketplace will do its job. As long as it's all "glory glory hallelujah" with the pop reporters of the beer trade how does the shelf stocker get the straight goods? Maybe a short sharp shock will teach a lesson. I once stood in a flower shop cooler looking at $15,000 wholesale in beige coloured roses on the 15th of February - the day after Valentines - and also looking at the guy who bought them from the importer hoping to make a killings. He never did that again.
One of my mentors in beer writing wrote this in an email the other day:
And one more [thing] about the 1790s, or up until somewhere before 1850, is I think it is hard to get people's attention because we can't point to a direct connection or there isn't something spectacularly strange, like people drawing in a flood of porter.
I think this gets to the very point of something I have been hoping my researching and writing of brewing trade history is illustrating implicitly. There is and has always been a tension between the money making side of brewing and the truth telling side. Frankly, this should not come as a shock. Beer is mind altering happy happy juice. It wants you to think you are a better dancer or part of a community. In return, we want to like the stories about it, to wrap it up in a big bright bow of hooray for everything. It wants you to feel that the immediate moment is fabulously special, to want to meet the brewer, discover he or she is a genius and then buy the t-shirt and sign up for the cause. Beer wants to be both liked and profitable. To that end, it tells you stories.
That being the fact, other actual facts can actually get in the way. So, even if the unlikely occurs and a brewer is actually well informed and creative, we still should have to admit that the brewery owner really also wants to squeeze another dollar's profit off each six pack. And that special beer your genius just invented? Not that different from the one from three years ago... and 15 years ago... not to mention 165 years ago. Are we facing a new era mass marketing of hops with limited interests controlling the market? The same thing goes back at least 250 years. See, what the history of the beer trade tells us is that there are certain propensities. And patterns. So, if we are aware of it, we can respond properly when the brewery jacks the price or the communicator yaps about how special or difficult some aspect of brewing is. We are forewarned. We know what they are up to.
We are used to it even. To paraphrase another respected email sender last week, we notice when people draw heavily on our work for paid books, articles and even blog posts without so much as a shout out. Yes, it is galling. But it is also, now that I think of it, to be expected. Of course people will lift your work. Of course the brewer and others will pick a guru, praise the guru and then (hoping you won't notice) sidle up and place their own reputation along side that of the guru undeservedly and without a share of the profits. Happens with big beer, big craft and micro beer. I suspect home brewers lie to each other, too. Why? Because beer is and has always been a relatively low-risk low-cost entry sort of business - and topic - that offers a reasonable return whether in cash or conviviality once the effort is put in. Throughout history, folk have come up with scheme after scheme to maximize the potential. Both as inventors and freeloaders. Geniuses and charlatans. Then and now. Adulterers of both sorts even. History show us that. Which makes it fabulous. It helps you foresee the future. So study it yourself. There are plenty of entry points and points of view waiting to be taken up. Don't accept imitations. There are lots of them out there. It's natural.
The main reason I got into hunting for parallels to IPA over six years ago was Pete Brown's excellent book Hops and Glory. I liked it so much that I posted a review in four parts. It seemed to me that if beer was being shipped to India it should have been shipped across the Atlantic Ocean as well. And as it turned out my hunch was correct. It shouldn't have needed to be a hunch, of course. This all should have been well researched but, as I have droned on about, there has been a tendency in beer writing to skip the whole research thing and rush to observation. So, we have wallowed in myth. In this post, like the one on how beer was commonly pale and not smoke-laced before the use of coke for malting, let's just summarize what is known so that we don't ever have to slip back into the land of fibs where it takes the latter 1800s popularization of lager to invent the concept of the know-how and practice shipping of US beer over long distances to lucrative markets.
=> First, Taunton ale. As we have known for a few years, Taunton ale was imported in large quantities into New York City since at least the 1750s when newpaper notices for the stuff start appearing. It was brought to NY in the first two decades of the 1800s. It was certainly also in Jamaica in the later 1700s. We do not know how much of it was imported into other colonial communities solely because no one has researched the question as far as I know.
=> Next, Hibberts Brown Stout. This stuff is all over the place. Click on that thumbnail. That is a notice from just one store in 1805 stating that they have fifty-five casks on hand with another 498 casks on route. British beer brought in and in bulk. Broadly. Nova Scotia. Texas. Lots of folk were importing. They knew how to put a cask on a ship.
=> And then, porter. As I recently wrote, it "was enjoyed in New York City as an import and then a local product in the second half of the 1700s, before and after the Revolution. The best was ripe and brisk." A brewery built in the 1760s by a Hudson River dock was known as the porter brewery for half a century. It shipped to both the East and West Indies. Again, masses of the stuff being shipped in and shipped out.
=> There's New Haven ale, too. Worthy of its own post, New Haven, Connecticut ale appears in Albany (of all places) in 1802 in an ad that also have NYC ale coming north, too. There was an agency in NYC and some sort of Federalist plot related to the 1803 burning of the brewery. The brewery had enough barley for 1500 barrels of ale when it was destroyed. Scale.
=> Plus, there's southern beer. You see it in the logs. Click on the ad. Brewing was not practical below a certain latitude so brewers like William Faulkner of NYC and Albany shipped to South Carolina... and the West Indies. He died in 1792. Not to mention there was northern beer, too, three decades later. I haven't even figured out what that was. Except it was shipped in bulk and was intended for trade.
=> And, of course, there's the entire history of Albany ale in the first half of the 1800s. Enjoyed from Newfoundland to Hawaii. Brewed at a scale that rivaled anything in Europe by mid-century and for decades after that.
=> And it goes on and on - there was Burlington Ale and Philadelphia Cream. There was all that Philadelphia porter, too. And then there was just those notices for custom batched shipping beer, a purely wholesale product in the 1820s like under that thumbnail. Local and shipping were two distinct and equally valuable markets for the ambitious brewer in the early 1800s. That image way up there? A detail from Vassar's log in August 1834. Like other every page, it shows how mixed his intended markets were. Why else do you think US ale breweries were built on rivers or near the sea?
Why wouldn't US brewed beer and ale be shipped in mass quantities well before the rise of lager? Ship's beer is a core product. Ship + brewing = wealth. Just like they knew how to make pale ale without smoke fouling, the English knew how to load a ship full of beer for an expedition to the Arctic in 1577, for God's sake. The Hanseatic League was shipping beer internationally before 1400. Why? Money! Just as with big craft today, every brewery owner has always known that getting past the local market is where the real money is. It's the goal. The goose that lays the golden egg. When the great American lager breweries begin shipping by rail in the later 1800s they are just building upon centuries of bulk beer shipment under wind and sail. Albany may have been a leader but it was not unique. The more that actual brewing trade research is undertaken the more clearly this will be set out. Guaranteed.
I was looking up spruce beer to see how late it was being advertised and came across a small batch of notices from one newspaper in Schenectady New York in the 1830s. By the second half of the 1800s, there are plenty of recipe books that offer homemakers the ability to make a 1.5% alcohol soft(ish) drink for the family based on sugar and essence of lemon. Unlike those household guides, the 1830s lemon beer appears to take its place with other alcoholic beers and not in the temperance drinks cabinet.
The notice of the lost notebook to the right is particularly interesting. from the 28 March 1832 edition of the Schenectady Cabinet, it explains its own purpose - but whoever was keeping track of the debts of this drinker was serving lemon beer along with rum and beer. Or porter, sweet wine, strong beer and New Jersey cider. Premium drinks. Yet, the recipe for ginger beer to the lower right is from 2 May 1818 of Albany Gazette and that looks a heck of a lot like the later 1.5% temperance drinks. Maybe the stuff was both premium and light, a small nod to sensible drinking in the fairly debauched days of James Monroe.
One of the interesting things about working with a database are the limitations inherent within the database. As you can see from the posts in recent months on New York brewing history, there is a fabulous amount of information in the New York's state library system's online newspaper database. The opportunity is still limited by one or two natural limits within a records. For the most part, I am looking at advertising notices and legal notices. Who has what beer to sell and whose brewing partnership has broken up. This means that if your market is local you may not be using a newspaper to spread the news. It also means if you business is successful and stable you may not need to post a legal notice. As a result, it can be considered a record of the breweries which are big enough or volatile enough to need to post a notice. Still, smaller players that the big breweries discussed the other day do make appearances. Some addresses appear to be passed from hand to hand as tenant brewers come and go. Some are only referenced as landmarks near the actual subject of the news clipping. Let's see if we can get a few of those a bit better organized and see what we can see.
A brewery can seem to move location. Under that thumbnail, you will see that starting in March 1788 the partnership of Appleby and Matlack operated out of 36 Chatham Street. We know it doesn't last as Appleby is operating out of Eden's place by 1791. He had previously been brewing at Catherine Street. It's a bit up-Manhattan compared to the pre-Revolutionary locations of choice. The city is growing. What was Chatham Street then is now Park Row between Nassau Street and the Bowery. Chatham Street ran west to east just to the south of the Fresh Water Pond as you can see on the ever handy 1865 Veile map. In August 1793, the brewer "M. McLachlan" was offering up London Porter and Brown Stout at "the Brewery, 36 Chatham Street." Yet, in December 1794, "M.McLachlan" adds a partner, Robertson,* and operates out of 139 Chatham Street. Just a typo or a street renumbering? Dunno. But on 6 January 1796, a one-half share in "that valuable brewery 136 Chatham Street" was for sale in the Daily Advertiser. Death did not cure the problem. As you can see up top in the notice from July 1802, the brewer is now...errr... was Michael McLaughlin and not McLachlan and the address has become No 143 Chatham Street But is it all one brewery? Dunno. At least it was a fabulous one wherever it was - "the finest and most convenient stand of any in the city." Goody. I hate records.
In other cases, one or more breweries seem to hover in a zone near common landmarks. In 1799, John P. Groshon placed his brewery up for sale by putting a notice in the 8 February edition of the Daily Advertiser. The ad helpfully states that the brewery was "in Barley Street near the Hospital." Barley Street is shown in that diagram up there attached to a 1796 deed. It's just to the right to the triangle. That triangle is Duane Park and Barley Street was absorbed into Duane Street in 1809. Interesting. Comparing the 1865 Veile map to the 1776 Hinton map, we can see that what became Barley/Duane Street, as noted in blue, is only one block long at the beginning of the American Revolution, at the outskirts. But by 1797 it reaches and turns south all the way to Rose Street. Which made it a long street and one that crosses Chatham Street just south of the Fresh Water Pond, near Coulthard's next gen creepily notorious brewery at Five Points.
Another brewing business has a Barley Street address. In 1792, in the 11 October edition of the Daily Advertiser Henry Snyder and Peter Bertine announce the dissolution of their partnership. The brewery is located on Barley Street where Bertine will continue to brew in his own name. And the ad goes on to say that Snyder has erected a brewhouse "opposite the hospital in Great George Street." Groshons in the later 1790s was near the hospital, too. Or at least a hospital. One was founded in 1771 with a charter from King George III which was located, according to Wikipedia, on Broadway between Anthony Street (now Duane Street) and Catherine Street (now Worth Street). Seems like the right address. In the exceedingly handy book The City of New York in the Year of Washington's Inauguration, 1789 by T.E.V. Smith published a century after the fact, the following is stated about Broadway aka Great George Street**:
…below this, on a plot of ground 440 feet by 455 feet, afterwards bounded by Broadway, Anthony, Church, and Duane Streets, stood the Hospital. The erection of this building had been begun on the 27th of July 1773, the basement walls being of brown stone and the upper portion of blue stone, but it had no sooner been completed than the interior was destroyed by fire on the 28th of February 1775.. and lack of funds prevented the opening of the building as a hospital until the 3rd of January 1791 when eighteen patients were admitted... Below the Hospital, on the northeast corner of the present Duane Street and Broadway stood an old brewery...
That being the case, the brewery opposite the hospital was run by Snyder in 1792 and Groshon's was seemingly near it in 1799. That makes sense. A notice published on 25 April 1795 in the Daily Adverstiser for the lease of a house described it as being next to Groshon's brewery "near the Broadway" - not on it. And just a few weeks before Groshon's partnership with Caleb Pell was announced as dissolved in the 6 April edition of the Gazette. It's location was given as No.3 Barley Street roadway. Which means in the 1790s there was a cross-roads at Barley Street and Broadway with likely Bertine's brewery at the northeast corner as well as Snyder's then Groshon's brewery a bit west of it at No.3 Barley Street. Probably. Maybe. No, it was Bertine and Groshon at No. 3 according to this notice of dissolution.from May 1794. Crap. I hate records.
OK, let's see if we can unpack this. Click on that thumbnail of the auction notice. It is from the Daily Advertiser of 4 June 1788 and, fabulously, references the deceased Anthony A Rutgers, Leonard Lispenard as well as Peter Bertine. And it places Bertine as brewing in that year at 3 Barley Street. It appears the sequence for that location is: Bertine (1788), Bertine and Snyder (-1792), Bertine and Groshon (-1794) then Groshon (1794-). Groshon appears to stay at Barley Street into the next century as he still brewing there in 1803 and is named as a ward tax collector in 1804, both notices stating his address as No 7 Barley Street. So, Groshon seem to be a stable factor to work around. And, if you click on the other thumbnail, in 1801 there is another brewery operating "opposite the Hospital, Broadway" by the name of Steenbach and Brown. They are mentioned again in a notice in 1802 as being "nearly opposite the hospital" on Broadway.*** Opposite the hospital and around the corner from the hospital appear to be two distinct breweries.
At least three breweries. That's what I think. One on Chatham Street, one on Brewery Street and one of Broadway opposite the hospital. Probably. Maybe four. Maybe McLachlan moved from 36 to 136 Chatham mid-career. Could be. Maybe. I hate records.
Update: Click on the map below:
That is a detail from Anderson's 1796 map of New York. It shows the relationship between the hospital and the two breweries near it. It also shows how Barley Street is still undeveloped one block west of Broadway. See Rhinelander's empire on the Hudson? Notice how the hospital sat back from the streets. Here is an image of it in 1791. Here is a photo from 1865 with the City enclosing it except to the front. So when these two breweries were established and operating through the 1790s they are at the edge of the City and facing open spaces. As the streets rapidly develop to meet the tripling of the population by 1810 that reality ceases and the function of brewing arguably moves on.
Note: on 21 March over on Facebook, Gerry Lorentz added a lot of detail which I would not want to lose to the internets. Here is what he wrote:
Alan, as you note there is a lot of confusion in terms of “who’s on first” with breweries in the area at that point in time. The situation in Chatham Street and in those surrounding it was murky in more than just the water. Below are some random thoughts on some of the folks and the area that you discuss. Of course, this just might make everything even more murky.
As you note, Michael McLachlan had more than one brewery on Chatham St., one at 36 and one at 139. The latter was probably connected both physically and business-wise with that of Thomas Robinson, who was operating out of 137 Chatham Street in 1796. He was likely the same as the Thomas Robertson who was operating on Greenwich Road in 1791, and whose brother William was operating another brewery at Grand and Fourth that same year. The brewery at 139 Chatham was being run by William Street and Thomas Stevens as Street and Stevens from 1808 into the mid-1810s. They operated it while testamentary things were worked out for Michael McLachlan, whose widow had married Phillip Garniss, another brewer operating in the area. In 1809 the property, now noted as being at 165 Chatham Street, was going through Chancery after Jane McLachlan/Garniss’s death. The property at 139 Chatham Street seemed to have stayed in the McLachlan family, as it was back to being operated by a “Michael McLachlan” in the 1860s.
I think that you are talking about more than one George Appleby. The older George, the one operating the old spruce beer brewery, died in 1791, and his wife Margaret continued to operate a brewery out of their home on Harmon Street for a number of years. So I think that the Appleby & Matlack George is George II – but I could be wrong. White Matlack lived at 33-34 Chatham Street, so he was pretty convenient to the brewery.
In 1790 “Snyder and Bartine” were noted as operating the brewery at 2 Barley Street, which might or might not be the 3 Barley Street brewery that you note. It’s interesting that Henry Snyder opened a new brewery on Great George, as it was Peter Bertine, or Bartine (and Bartin as he’s also noted) who originally owned property on that street, so it could be that part of the deal was Snyder buying Bertine’s property.
Anthony Steenback, or Steinbach, or Steenbach, operated a brewery on Catherine street “nearly opposite the hospital” at the turn of the century (Steinbach & [Anthony] Brown), so we can assume that this brewery was located at the corner of Catherine and Broadway. Anthony Brown operated a brewery at 338 Broadway in 1796. In 1796 there was also a Thomas Brown operating a brewery on Lumber Street and a James Brown & Co. located at 334 Broadway, which might mean that Anthony Brown was part of more than one brewing business at the time. In 1808 Steenbach & Brown brewed out of 332 Broadway. This is essentially the corner of Broadway and Worth Streets today. This was turned over to Peter Snyder in 1813. In the 1820s Peter Snyder & Co ran the brewery at 334 Broadway, as well as operating a separate facility at 93 Anthony Street (which could have been modern Worth St. or modern Duane St.). It appears that 332-338 Broadway was all brewery in the first part of the nineteenth century. There was a brewery run by John A. Brown in the 1840s, although the address at that point was 376 Broadway, which might represent a shift in street numbering or a whole new place.
A John Groshon was still operating a brewery in 1829, although this would be the son, as his mother Catherine is noted as a widow in that same year. The elder Groshon worked in partnership with Matthew S. Slowly in the early 1800s at 8 barley Street (although Groshon is noted at 7 Barley Street), and with Thomas Prowitt (or Prewitt), at 126-128 Duane Street in the 1810s, and on his own after that. He was noted as John Groshon, John Grosslein, and John Piergoson (rather than John Pier Groshon as he had been styled earlier). The oddities of spellings and the vagaries of hearing by those taking names at the time, I suppose. His son, John Groshon (without the P.), worked with his father in the Duane Street brewery and carried it on after his father died.
Some others brewing on Chatham Street in the early 1790s include Lawrence Arkison (at 10), George Janeway at the corner of Chatham and Magazine (70 Chatham), and William Janeway (68 Chatham) and his future partner, Peter Vanzandt at 66 Chatham. Again, these three addresses but could all be one brewery. In the 1810s John Mounsey operated a brewery at 181 Chatham (181 1-2 Chatham), and this had been in operation before he took over control, although I’m not sure who ran it previous to that time.
I found the passage below in the 1969 book Rogers Rangers: The First Green Berets by Burt Garfield Loescher. Like you, I was spending my Thursday looking for spruce beer references. The book covers the span of the Rangers operations in the French and Indian War against New France and then later during the American Revolution from April 1758 to December 1783. This passage at page 106 describes two beer related scenes in the summer of 1760 as British and Anglo-American local forces are in camp at Crown Point, New York making preparations to move on Quebec to the north.
…The month of July and the first two weeks of August were a period of bustling activity at Crown Point as Haviland's army prepared to advance. To encourage the temperance of the men Haviland ordered the Sutlers to put all of their barrels of Rum in the Fort's Casemate and they were allowed to withdraw a barrel at a time only with an order from the Colonel of each Corps, in the case of Rogers Rangers, Major Rogers. This excellent practice was observed with "good effects" for over a month until July 3rd. The previous day Haviland had decreed that no Sutler should sell any spirits after the evening gun, but two enterprising Sutlers sold the men Beer and Wine. This was revealed when several of the men became hilariously drunk and started a small riot. Upon which the Sutlers' casks were stove in exciting the following remark from a Provincial witness. "So we have wine and strong beer running down our street. . . " Unfortunately one of the two Sutlers was one of those attached to Rogers Rangers and he was ordered "To quit Crown Point Emediately and if he, or the other Sutler miscrepeant, George Morris, were found" in the camp or in any Post between Crown Point or Albany they will be whipt and Drum'd out…
On June 17, Captain Brewer "piloted" Captain Jenks of the Provincials with 200 men across the Lake to a Spruce grove that he had previously discovered. Brewer and his detachment of Rangers instructed Jenks' 200 Provincials in the Rangers' method of march, thus making the expedition serve a dual purpose - to protect their march to obtain Spruce for Beer, and to make them more effective fighting force for the campaign. Brewer and Jenks returned laden with Spruce, and without meeting any scalping parties.
I have a thing for Major Robert Rogers who lived from 1731 to 1795. Despite remaining loyal to the Crown, he is rightly credited with being the founder of the US Army's Rangers. "Rogers' Standing Orders" are still used and his unit is the namesake of the New York Rangers. After Quebec falls, he passes though my town in the autumn of 1760 on something of a commando mission to alert the back country that the English are in charge. I have an annotated copy of Major Robert's journal. Nerd.
There is more information in the journal on the sutler indecent. A "sutler" was a non-military food and drink vendor that followed an army which, as we mentioned in Ontario Beer, often set up in tents. They were basically small mobile taverns. So, having the civilian booze shack attached to your unit get out of line was pretty embarrassing - especially in the lead up to battle. The order of 3 July was broader that just the sutlers in question.
All sutlers and market people are desired to take notice that they will be served in the same way or worse if they are found to make soldiers drunk or do anything else contrary to orders.
Interestingly, Roger's Rangers were soon ordered to be in charge of piling wood at the edge of camp all day and keeping it burning all night as sentries. That'll keep you out of the sutler's tent and away from the rum, wine and strong beer.
The spruce hunting expedition of 17 June is also pretty cool. Roger's unit was out on patrol at the time, returning on the 21st with twenty-six prisoners. The less experienced troops who go off for the spruce are gathering the boughs for a healthier sort of beer that was brewed within the camp under orders. In 2008, I posted about the order of General Amherst that details out how it was made. Seven pounds of spruce to three gallons of molasses. Sending 200 soldiers out to gather boughs must have meant they were getting in maybe a few tons. Laden they were.
Spruce beer continues to have its fans well after the wars. Medcef Eden was brewing it in 1785 in what is now the Financial District of Manhattan. The last reference I can find is in a new report of a tavern brawl in 1885, like something you'd expect in a sutler's tent.
I've been trying to figure out how to catch up notes on some of the larger New York breweries* in the 1790s and early years of the new modern nineteenth century. It's a time of transition and not just in the sense of the changing of the guard. The post-war political and economic confusion was well on its way to leveling out. One factor that was helping were the Napoleonic Wars and Europe's continuing disruptions. There was a market for grain on the continent and Britain had a bigger enemy to deal with. Still, there was also a changing of the guard. Even though many of the big brewing interests in both Albany and NYC backed the winners, they did not stay in brewing for very many decades after peace broke out.
Among many things, one interesting aspect for me is how repetitive the pattern is in the beer industry. Beer is an easy entry trade that, when done well, eventually offers wealth and perhaps even political power. As we see today in the big craft sell off, it can take time but what doesn't? Folk with the myopic interest in whatever the PR guy or craft brewery owner is handing out as a story may not notice but brewing is a great way to shift one's economic class upwards. A business for the ambitious to enter then later leave. Perhaps a summary post will help illustrate what is arguably happening at the turn of the nineteenth century and how similar it might seem to today. Think of it just like a weekly bullet point round up but for a period of time lasting just about the best part of a decade about two centuries ago.
First, let's consider the Eden brewery of Gold Street in NYC. Last November, I posted about the brewery of Medcef Eden** on Gold Street just off Maiden Lane. When last we met George Appleby had taken over the place in 1791. Medcef is too prosperous to bother running the place himself. The brewery is located opposite the First Baptist Church on the corner of John and Gold, a bit of a highland location. Appleby is still there in October 1792 brewing his ship's beer and spruce beer even though he is no longer on the waterfront. On 16 November 1795, right below the report on the price of pork, the Albany Gazette reported the death of George Appleby, remembering his years with former partner Mr. Matlack. In the 19 October 1797 edition of the New York Gazette Eden is selling off his kettles as well as hair cloth, used to moderate the malting and kilning process. The sale is secondary to his reward for the return of "stolen" slaves. Not runaways. Stolen. Medcef Eden Sr. dies in September 1798 and leaves his estate to three executors: Joseph Eden, Medcef Eden Jr and Martha Eden. The site of the brewery was also done by 1802. A notice in the New York Daily Advertiser from 27 March of that year - as shown under that thumbnail - indicated the site had been formerly occupied as a brewery but would take a some level of conversion to revert back to that use. The kids ain't interested. And arguments over the will, due to the later huge value of his accumulated Manhattan lands, go on for decades. I suspect you will see this sort of thing when hold out craft like Stone gets into the next generation of ownership.
The Brooklyn Ferry Brewery tells a different story. One of grit, determination and successive failure. Almost insistent failure. In January, I wrote about the brewery at Brooklyn Ferry from the mid-1760s to 1795. At that point, the lands and wharf which had been built up by Isaac Horsfield and his sons were being leased out by one Cary Ludlow. The actual brewery was described as Mr. Sing's. A tenant. Maybe a sub-tenant. In the Christmas Day 1795 edition of the New York Gazette placed R.W Maddock and Co. as brewers on site with cellars for their ale and beer being kept in lower Manhattan. Just fourteen months later in February 1797, the partnership with Mr. William Sing and another behind the "Co." dissolves and early that summer, Roger Worthington Maddock is selling off the remainder of the term of his lease and all his equipment. The curse of Brooklyn Ferry continues. Ludlow gives notice of the opportunity to buy the brewery and associated lands again in 1801 as well as in 1803, shown above, with a great description of the range of facilities on the site: brewery, malt house, milk house, kiln, wharf as well as a water pump to supply ships at dock. Still, it was cursed. Lesson? The brewery, the brewery owner and the brewers are very different classes of thing. Pay attention today to how many craft "brewers" never did the actual work of brewing.
The end of the era of Lispenard's famous brewery on the Hudson displays how the right combination of Eden's wealth accumulation and Brooklyn's parade of brewers can catapult descendants into decades of idle wealth. Last month, I showed how the Rutgers clan through most of the 1700s controlled a four brewery conglomerate stretching across Manhattan from what is now Tribeca south across Maiden Lane and over to Corlear's Hook served by two farms and water from two drainage systems as well as the natural creek for which Maiden Lane is named. I lost steam at the end. In October, I wrote about the Lispenards and they married into the Rutgers dynasty when Leonard met Elsie. Their son, Anthony Lispenard, takes over the operations of the Greenwich Street brewery on the Hudson River at the foot of what becomes Canal Street. He marries well. Sarah Barclay is related to the brewing Barclays of London, England. I brought the family forward to the fire of 1804 and past it when their fortunes were made on the lands that, as we see so often, the brewing wealth allowed them to obtain but more detail can be added. In 1794, the brewery is described as brewing ale as well as table and spruce beer and Marston has joined Lispenard - Leonard Lispenard, son of Anthony. Three years later, Marston has the place up for sale even though it is occupied by a Mr. Wilson. Another two later in 1799, the brewery is up for sale again and again it is being sold by Thomas Marston. It is described as being in the rear of Trinity Church*** and "lately tenanted by H. Wilson." It covers two lots on Greenwich and two on Lumber Streets. In March 1803, it is up for sale and described as being the brewery of Anthony, the father, despite the son Leonard being brought into the firm in 1794. John S. Moore occupies the brewery at the time of the December 1804 fire. As I showed last fall, the tide of wealth catapulted those that followed into high society throughout the 1800s.
And then there was Henry Rutgers. Rutgers, you will recall, is the second or third cousin of the Lispenard controlling the Hudson River brewery as the 1800s dawn, depending on whether it is father Anthony or son Leonard we are talking about Lispenard-wise. He is a classic great American who leaves the fortune which founds Rutgers University in New Jersey. I sketched the story in February but let's fill in a bit more. As you can see from the thumbnail, Henry was moving on from running the brewery as early as January 1793. In 1795, he is elected to the hospital board, sits on a committee considering an international treaty and has diversified commercial interests. In late 1796, he chairs a Congressional nomination meeting. By 1799, he is a leading partner in the purchase and sale of the Watkins and Flint tract. The wealth generated over generations of brewing has made him one of the richest men in the young United States. That's his family's house up there well before this point. It was where he lived until 1830. Likely no one has ever moved from brewing to billions and power quite like this one man. I'd be interested in thoughts of anyone comparable.
One New York brewery seems to try to buck the trend in the period 1795 to 1803. Unlike the various forms of end-of-brewing we see with Rutgers, Eden, Lispenard and even the brewery that couldn't die in Brooklyn Ferry, the brewery that started as an 1760s plaything for George Har(r)ison, spoiled son of Francis the high placed colonial lackey of the Crown. After George dies in 1773 and the Revolution comes and goes, the brewery is in the hands of grandson, Richard. Richard reinvents himself as an ardent Republican and, like the others, leases out his brewery in the 1784 to Samuel Atlee who does not last even into 1788. The brewery itself, however, has at least one more life to live. In 1790, it is in the hands of a new partnership - Robertson, Barren and Co. It doesn't last. Click that thumbnail. By 1792, the brewery is in the hands of Fred and Phil Rhinelander who, by 1795, who are (delightfully) selling gin alongside ale and porter. Six and a half years later, operations at the brewery change hands again as John Noble and Co. announced in the 10 December 1801 edition of the Mercantile Advertiser that they have taken the extensive brewery lately occupied by Messers Rhinelanders in Greenwich Street." It is one of the more exciting beer notices from the era as it claims they "have been long accustomed to prepare" porter for the East and West Indies. Porter produced for export. The notice is titled "Porter Brewery." It lasts, again, just a few years. Noble's entire stock is sold off at an auction by his creditors in April 1805. Interestingly, the Rhinelanders' other business kept going - including the importation of spices - until Frederick passed away. After that the lands start to be sold off at the same time city government decides to clean up this part of the Hudson shoreline. Their sugar house, however, lasts until 1968.
Things pass. The landmark that was Widow Rutgers' burnt brewery of Maiden Lane Is not the only end of these things. Eden, the Brooklyn Ferry brewery, cousins Rutgers and Lispenard as well as Harrison's plaything are all gone. The backbone of the entire City's brewing for at least the last half century pack it in by the middle of the first decade of the 1800s. It is not just that the good water is disappearing. The scions of the generation are as well. Plus, they have made their millions and the community needs their lands anyway to house the flood of new immigrants coming to make this the greatest city on the earth in the history of humankind. Arguably. In 1790, there are 33,000 people in New York City. In 1810, there are almost three times that. There is simply no place - no space - for the big dynastic brewers who dominated the southern tip of Manhattan, including some whose families had been there for most of the previous two centuries.
*Soon, the small brewers of 1795 to 1805.
**Last Saturday, fellow traveler beer historian Gerry Lorenz at the Shmaltz taproom in Clinton Park, NY made a good point after we realized we were pronouncing many of these brewers names differently. He is of the opinion that what I was pronouncing as "Med-seff" was actually "Met-calf" as in Metcalf, Ontario. Could be but I now need to explore the name as a Yorkshire artifact of the 1700s to make sure.
***That's the first Trinity Church.
Not just Albany. Delmar, too. Delmar! Land of Craig's youth. We sat at Real McCoy with owner and sign maker Mike Bellini and his pal Jay, a pro ciderman. I like a one-person brewery. Ron said it was the set up he dreamed of for himself. He was preaching the double brown gospel. Research. Comparing notes. Overly precious hipster nano failure v. single hop and malt explorations. The height of barley stalks and why. Maybe. Local hops were passed around. Forgot to mention the spruce beer idea, that coniferous flavouring predates DIPAs in the repetior.
Everywhere we go Canadian malt is the backbone of NY craft brewing. Good to see. It's good to be helpful. Definitely some sort of brown ale revival going on. And local ciders everywhere. 2014's fruit salad obsession may just be history. Wouldn't that be nice. Yesterday, Gerry L. was with us for a couple of hours and was corroborating and filling in gaps in 1700s NYC. And backdating schenck and lager. Was it just a new word layered on existing practice before the Panic of 1837? Maybe.
More nerdism this evening. Trains, canals and marketplace expectations. You don't advertise in a paper to the neghbourhood customers. Not in the 1790s. No way.
Looking for a ripping tale of 403 years of beer in Canada's biggest province? Look no more. Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay by yours truly and Jordan St. John takes you from Henry Hudson to the McKenzie Brothers via William Helliwell and EP Taylor - and then on to today's craft beer in an decidedly less than straight line.
You want to understand the history of Albany, New York through its forgotten role in New York brewing? Sure you do! This is the book for you. 400 years of beers in one tidy paperback brough to you by me and Craig.
The Junket Registry: A Good Beer Community Service for Tips and Confessions featuring Thrilling Tales of Graft and Sloth in the Lives of Wanton Dipsos!
Alan is apparently a Gen X-er who has hit
40... err...44... err... 45... YIKES... 46 ... [ZOW-WEE!!] 48... jessh, now 51... and edits and writes about other stuff at his personal website Gen X at 40. Please email Alan or any of the authors at this blog's gmail account - please write if you want to join the ranks of authors of this site or just want to send in a story on your favorite beer or photo of your regular pub.
I have moved the content of the OCB Commentary Wiki here. It is now a static document and pretty much is locked in as understandings existed as of 2012. Probably needs its own wiki to update the content! Below are the original introductory remarks:
"The purpose of this wiki is to collectively make comments, add annotation, identify errata and suggest further sources to the text of The Oxford Companion to Beer. Members are asked to avoid comment about the authors, the structure of the text or other extraneous matters. This wiki is a not for profit project that reviews the text pursuant to the concept of "fair dealing for the purpose of criticism or review" under Canadian copyright law." Alan McLeod, wiki Organizer, and chief bottle washer at A Good Beer Blog. Motto? "Many hands make pleasant work." Alan McLeod, 25 October 2011. Please provide some information about yourself when making a request to join the wiki. Anonymous requests for membership will not be approved. Overly ardent and rudely put claims to authority will be cause for removal from the membership. As of 11 January 2012, 134 entries or 12.2% of the total of 1,100 received commentary, many with multiple comments. Eight of the photos have been corrected as well. That number rose to 151 by 13 May 2012.