1. Bristol Brewery Georges and Co Ltd (1938)

Extracted from the illustrated history, Bristol Brewery Georges and Co Ltd, published 1938.

 

Introduction

Few can credit what a vast organisation exists behind a glass of Beer.

In presenting this Souvenir book to commemorate the one hundred and fifty years of brewing by the company, we have endeavoured to give our many patrons a survey of the history and development of: -

THE BRISTOL BREWERY GEORGES & CO. LTD.

Founded in 1788, it has stood the test of time and grown year by year on the merits of its brew.

Georges Brewery 1788

Today the company possesses nearly a thousand houses in and around Bristol comprising of some of the most up-to-date inns of the country.

A perusal of this book will give a view of the extensive area served by Georges.

The aim of the company is to give of its best in the interest of mankind and to develop with the times, making their houses fit and proper places where man may take his family and enjoy his leisure hours.


In the Year 1788 This Firm was born

On January the 3rd., 1788, Philip George successfully laid the foundation stone of the present undertaking of The Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd. At a meeting held this day he was authorised to purchase from a Mr Grimes, at a sum not exceeding 2,400, a Brew House and a Malt House in Tucker Street, in the Parish of St Thomas and to negotiate for the purchase of a Warehouse and Cooperage adjoining. Parts of the original building still exist in the present-day Brewery.

"Black Ale" was at the height of its popularity in 1802 and when peace was proclaimed during that year the Brewery displayed an alliterative and handsomely produced motto:-

"PEACE, PLENTY AND PORTER."

Guildhall Tavern 1788

By 1888 the business had grown to such dimensions that the partners decided to make an incorporated Company of the undertaking. Accordingly in February, 1888, just 100 years after the foundation of the firm of Georges & Co. the present Company was formed under the title of "The Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd." The public immediately recognised the sound investment that this undertaking represented and though it was originally intended to keep the subscription list open for a week, the amount of 400,000 asked was over subscribed with five hours - the public offering 6,300,000.

After over 100 years successful business as a private concern, the change to a public company had the effect of renewed activities and a programme of further expansion was immediately adopted.

A number of interesting facts and figures about the output and expansion of this progressive house will not be amiss here.

In 1889 the business of James & Pierce, The Bedminster Brewery was acquired, in 1911 that of R.W. Miller The Stokes Croft Brewery, in 1912 The Lodway Brewery of Messrs. Hall & Sons, situated at Pill, in 1918 The Brewery of John Arnold & Sons, Wickwar, in 1919 The Welton (Somerset) Brewery, Chippenham, and the latest acquisition The Ashton Gate Brewery Co. Ltd. in 1932.

The Chairmanship of the Company has been successively held by the late Mr. Philip Henry Vaughan, the late Mr. C.E.A. George and late Mr W.E. George, the last of whom established a record of 57 years connection with the company.

The present Directors of the Company are Messrs. Christopher George (Chairman), Philip A. George (Deputy Chairman), H. Stanley Taylor and Inman H. Harvey (Directors), Arthur Hadley (Managing Director) and Sidney Drewett (Secretary and Assistant Managing Director).

In 1919 the Company purchased the extensive premises originally known as the "Talbot Hotel," with the yard and stabling adjoining, at the corner of Victoria Street and Bath Street. In this building the offices of the Company are now situated. The acquisition of the various breweries extending over a large area and the number of extra licensed premises that were added to the undertaking taxed the Brewery output considerably. It was now necessary to extend the Brewery to meet the increased demand and premises were purchased adjoining the Brewery, lately occupied by Messrs. Perry & Sons, which cover about two-thirds of an acre.

On this site a building has been erected on a reinforced concrete raft lying on the river bed. This concrete raft carries the whole weight of the building and alone cost some 40,000 to construct.

Lying below the level of the river is a vast cellar, perfectly dry, cool and airy. Above this ground level is the transport garage, covering the whole floor area, sufficiently extensive to house the entire fleet of vehicles of the Company. Going up again in one of the huge automatic lifts we reach the cask-washing plant. To watch the automatic machines in operation is most uncanny, weird and yet fascinating. Casks placed on the feed-end of these machines are adjusted on the racks to the first nozzle and then start on their automatic travel through the various operations of this wonderful piece of mechanism. Each cask is thoroughly washed out, sterilized by super-heated steam, revolved and scrubbed outside, passed on to another set of nozzles which rinse the inside, and thence to the delivery end. These machines are capable of dealing with 500 casks per hour. Above this floor is the Cooperage, where thousands of casks pass through the skilful hands of the Coopers. We could go on indefinitely in this manner describing the numerous and varied operations in an up-to-date Brewery.

The annual output is about 250,000 barrels and the Excise Duty paid represents upwards of a million pounds. The total paid-up Capital if 1,271,835 is held by about 2,500 Shareholders. The Company owns and controls nearly 1,000 licensed houses in Bristol and the West of England.

The Brewery specialises in the brewing of light and strong ales and stout. A perfectly equipped bottling plant in Bath Street has a capacity for washing, bottling, corking and labelling 200,000 bottles daily. Georges' Old Beer, famous throughout the West, is matured in huge vats, some of the largest in the Kingdom, with a total capacity of one million gallons. The beer remains in the vats for at least 12 months before it is allows to go to the consumer. One year's supply of raw material for the Brewery's use necessitates the cultivation of 500 acres of hops and the harvesting of 300,000 bushels of barley. The latter is approximately one-half of the total quantity produced in the County of Somerset.

The fermenting capacity of the Tun Room is 7,300 barrels a week and any visitor who may have the opportunity of visiting the Brewery will relish the appetizing aroma given off in this section of the building.


The Art of Brewing

Beer is the oldest and best friend England has ever had. In the remote past it was discovered that, given good beer, human life in this despite every commercial incentive, nothing so acceptable has ever been found to displace it, either at home or the wide world over.

Time was when teetotalism was unknown in Britain, when there was no talk of the handicap of drink or decadent population. And England gave a good account of herself in those days: she became mistress of the seas, predominant in commerce as in literature, triumphant and respected in every walk of life and in every corner of the globe.

Nothing was know of the vitamines (sic) in those days, but people got in their foaming ale and waxed lusty and strong.

After nearly a century of vilification it is almost universally recognised that there is hardly a man or woman in this empire who would not be better in every way for a daily measure of good British beer!

Despite all opposition, all prejudice, all disparagement, it remains true that beer is the healthiest, the purest and most wholesome beverage available in England at the present time. Without it multitudes of people would lose tone, vitality and skill and would find the daily burden of life insupportable.

The Mash Tuns

The brewing of beer is one of the prime needs of the people and the re is no article of human diet upon which more care is taken to ensure its absolute purity and perfection, none which normal adults can use with greater confidence and enjoyment.

The two common fallacies among the rising generation are (1) the weakness of present day beer and (2) that beer is made from chemicals.

The answer to No. 1 is that the gravity of beer is restricted by the amount of the government - the higher the gravity the greater the tax - with the result that per-war gravity beers are beyond the purchasing power of a great many pockets.

(2) In the manufacture of beer, chemicals play no part - there are no chemicals that can take the place of malt and hops, the main constituents of beer.

Upper Egypt was the centre of the origin of civilisation, some 4000 BC - and here the history of beer commences. Beer was regarded as the life-prolonging, essence of the sacred barley, which again was identified with the body of the god Osiris.

In every part of the world subsequent civilisations imitated their Egyptian forerunner. Thus no only in civilisation itself to be traced to the Barley plant, but civilised races have never since willingly allowed themselves to be deprived of the fermented products of this cereal.

Barley when sowed in the soil 'germinates,' as it is called, or grows to a new plant if given time, but a sees will germinate if moistened even though not sown in the ground, and the first step in the brewers' art is to moisten and grow his barley seeds on the floors of the malthouses.

The changes which take place in the process of malting a barley are full of interest. The barley is steeped in tanks with successive changes of water until it has absorbed some 40 or 45 percent. of moisture . It is then spread out on the malting floor and grown for about ten days, by which time a little bunch of rootlets will have appeared at one end. The piece as it is termed, is gradually worked forward by men with shovels to the end of the floor, where the kilns are situated. By this time it is withered to a certain degree and it is then loaded on to the kilns. Skill and judgement are required in the drying and curing; if the temperature rises too rapidly the malt becomes vitreous and hard.

The malt after a rest for cooling and maturing is conveyed to the brewery by rail and barge, where it is crushed - not ground - in the malt mills and mashed with water at a temperature of about 160 degrees F. - this pasty mixture, or "mash" as it is now called, remains in the tun undisturbed for two hours, during which certain changes of a complicated character take place, the main result being that starch is changed into a mixture of fermentable sugars and unfermentable but digestive carbo-hydrates, which, with nitrogenous constituents of the malt, contribute to the nutritive value of the beer. This is increased by the natural phosphates and other salts also derived from the barley.

All these valuable substances are dissolved in the "wort", which is drawn off from the mash tun and pumped to the coppers where it is boiled with hops for 2 hours or longer. Additional sugar is added at the stage if desired.

The boiling not only sterilises the wort and purges it of undesirable constituents, but extracts the valuable properties from the hops.

The contents of the coppers are turned out into the hop back and the hopped wort drains away from the spent hops and is pumped to the coolers from which it flows on to the refrigerators. In the process of cooling, the wort absorbs sufficient oxygen for the yeast to start fermenting the sugars of the wort.

At this stage, probably the most critical in the process, the greatest care is taken to avoid foreign organisms getting into the wort. The water which flows through the interior of these refrigerators is pumped from the brewery wells, over Baudelot coolers at the top of the new tower, being cooled from 58oF. to 42oF. and collected in the large receiving tanks holding 1,200 barrels, which tanks command the whole of the Brewery.

A Bottle Washing Unit

The wort passes from the refrigerators to the fermenting vessels at a temperature usually about 59o degrees and it is at once pitched with the seed yeast - these yeasts are microscopically examined daily and selected by purity. When the vessels have been filled the Brewer and Exciseman determine its specific gravity and the Duty charges are fixed.

At this stage it may not be out of place to remark that no part of the collections of Inland Revenue is so cheaply effected as in a Brewery. The Duty is now 4 0s. 0d. per barrel of 36 gallons at a standard gravity of 1,055o. This duty is 10.32 times the pre-war rate. This Company alone pays 1,000,000 annually to the Revenue.

The fermentation proceeds and is usually completed in seventy-two hours, the temperature being controlled by attemperators through which runs cold water from the Company's store.

In the course of fermentation the yeast lives its life and in doing so breaks down the sugar derived from the malt into equal weights of alcohol and carbon dioxide and a the same time uses up a portion of the nitrogenous constituents of the wort for purposes of its own reproduction.

The gas, of carbon dioxide, given off during fermentation is collected and after being purified is compressed in large storage tanks. It is afterwards used in the Brewery for saturating the beers for bottling with their own gas.

The beer in the fermenting vessels is allowed to remain quiescent for a few days to enable the suspended yeast to settle. Part of the beer is raked into trade-casks and fined with isinglass finings, the remainder is pumped to the Bottlery into the glass-lined steel tanks called Pfaudlers.

During Autumn and Winter Georges' famous Old Beer is brewed from the finest materials obtainable and vatted in the huge oak vats, some of the largest in the world, where it is left to mature for at least twelve months before going out to the trade. In painting the hops round these vats the painters have 15 miles of hoop iron to cover!

Beers intended for sale in bottle are transferred to the glass-lined tanks in the Bottling Department, where they are frozen by means of a counter-current chiller - carbonated at low temperature with the C02 collected from the fermentations, filtered in a series of filters packed with layers of compressed cotton fibre and conveyed to insulated glass lined containing-tanks each holding 50 barrels of chilled and filtered beer. From these vessels the beer is forced by means of top-pressure carbon dioxide to the filling machines. Precautions are taken at all parts of the process to see that every pipe and vessel is absolutely sterile. All these advantages would be nullified if the beer were filled into bottles containing harmful organisms. To ensure cleanliness, each bottle is examined and smelt before being placed in the washing tanks, where they are soaked in dilute caustic soda - drained and part-filled with warm water, then brushed inside and out on rotating machines and finally rinsed in a copious stream of pure water at high pressure.

After the bottles are drained they are conveyed to the rotary filling machines. After filling, the bottles are closed either by crown corks or screw stoppers and proceed to the automatic labelling machines where the two labels are attached in one action, each machine labelling 50 bottles a minute. The bottles are then cased and proceed along gravity conveyors to the stores in readiness for loading upon the drays and lorries.Recently several new automatic Bottle-Washing units have been installed with Automatic Fillers, Crowners, and Labellers , each of which deal with 600 dozen bottles an hour, every label being dated as it passes through the machine.

Over 130 girls are employed in the Bottlery in addition to men and a large new Girls' Messroom has recently been opened for their use.

Although for delivery to nearly a thousand houses a large and efficient transport service is necessary, it is still found that dray-horse delivery is economical for city delivery and Georges' beautiful grey horses are well known to all who live in Bristol. The grey horse is the Firm's trade mark and the draymen are keenly interested and proud of their charges. The horse drays are all fitted with ball-bearing wheels and pneumatic tyres, which eases the load these magnificent horses have to draw. The well kept hygienic stables are worthy of a visit.

The Famous Greys

The steam lorries are gradually being replaced with petrol driven vehicles, the garage for which is fully equipped to its own repairs.

Our Modern Fleet of Petrol Lorries

The majority of the public regard beer as a stimulating and refreshing beverage, but as no more than this: its feeding properties being assumed to be small.

This view is decidedly wrong, and it is only fair that the additional asset of beer as a food should be emphasised. Beer, largely combines the value of tea and coffee (which, without sugar and milk, are merely stimulants) with that of milk, which is merely a food. Beer moreover possess certain advantages in respect to the ease and rapidity with which it is absorbed and converted in the body-tissues into useful energy. The advantages of an appetising appearance and taste which a sparkling bright beer possesses, play a very considerable part in promoting a copious flow of the various digestive secretions. The aromatic and bitter principles derived from the hops directly stimulate these.

Thus beer, apart from its own food value, is a useful adjunct in facilitating the digestion of other foods.

Finally, it should be remembered that beer is always free from pathogenic organisms (not so milk), that adulteration by the brewery is out of the question with the careful Revenue supervision, and that it is sold largely on specific gravity, which a direct measure of its value as a food.

The Brewery and Bottlery are open to visitors at any time by arrangement, when the whole system carried out under the most up-to-date conditions, will be explained by competent brewers and will act as an eye-opener to the general public, who have no idea of the care and attention given to all details and the scrupulous cleanliness observed in every department.

The Staff of The Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd., work under the very best conditions it is possible to make, every facility being provided for their comfort and convenience. Thus we have contented and efficient teams of men and women, each striving to maintain the high standard of Georges' Famous Bristol Beers.

Mess rooms are provided for men and women with modern kitchen equipment where all their cooking is done by expert cooks.

This illustration above shows the Girls' new mess rom which is situated in the bottling department. This room is very large and well appointed, having seating accommodation for 150 girls, and is equipped with wireless.


1938. One hundred and fifty years of Progress.

The Bristol Brewery Georges & Company Limited started as The Porter Brewery, but before long the quality of its beers gained such a reputation that the promotion of its beer to porter produced made this title a misnomer. It is interesting to recall the fact this took place before the Tied House system was introduced and there were then many more breweries in existence than at present. To-day the public have smaller choice of beers, so consequently know the reputation and taste of each brewery's product: their partiality for Georges' beers is therefore not so haphazard as in former times.

This enlightenment of the people caused a demand for more comfort and pleasanter surroundings for refreshment. What was good for their forefathers was not good enough for the present generation. Low ceilings and insufficient ventilation was too often a feature of the old public house. Beers kept in a warm room full of tobacco smoke were not at their best, and y more than those drawn from a cellar through lead pipes and old fashioned pipes.

How Georges have foreseen this and met these requirements is illustrated in photographic form in the following pictures of some of their houses.

The modern inn is a home from home, where food and drink may be obtained under hygienic conditions with comfort and good fellowship. The aim of the Company has been to provide a house where a man can take his wife without fear of debasing conditions, for the force of public opinion and good surroundings are the greatest safeguards against excess, possibly the greatest agent working for temperance this country has ever known, This fact has now been recognised by the Licensing Justices, who do not stand in the way of reconstruction as did those of a past generation.

Even the older houses of historical interest have been modernised with regard to cellarage, service and sanitary arrangements, wherever possible without destroying their old-world atmosphere and appearance.

The provision of gardens is also a great asset for such times as the climate allows for outdoors rest and recreation, in many cases special parts for children being set aside to play in for the benefit of parents and with their families. Many of these gardens are really ornamental and a joy to the town dweller who delights in well-kept lawns and flower beds.

All cellars are now being provided with stainless steel pipes leading to beer engines which are of metal construction, while in the largest houses the pressure system is being adopted. This system demands that the draught beer be supplied in especially strong casks, and, when purified air is used as top pressure, the beer is forced up to the dispensers on the counter, coming into contact with no surface other than the stainless steel pipes. Thus the consumer receives the beer in as perfect a condition as science permits.


Hand written note on inside cover - instructions to salesmen signed 'A. Hadley'.

"Carry this book in your car when
on travels for business or pleasure:
A Georges' house may just be handy,
and what is better than Georges' beer?
A map is provided shewing the places
where there are Georges' houses.
We do not want people to drink more beer
- we want more people to drink beer.

A. Hadley.


Addendum

In 1999 the brewery which had been inaugurated as Georges & Co. ceased to brew and beer production on the site ceased after 210 years.

 

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