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23-02-2014, 08:11
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We're still only at the letter "C" in our slow barrel roll through 1920's Burton Ale.

Courage was one of the breweries doing well in the 1920's. Decent profits gave them money for acquisitions. This was when the main object of takeovers wasn't to get hold of the brewing plant, but the pubs it served. The number of pubs a brewery owned was the main limiting factor on their sales. A huge proportion of beers sales - both for on and off consumption - was sold by pubs. With most licensed premises owned by breweries, they rarely came up far sale. At least not with a licence.

We've already seen how they had grabbed Camden Brewery, closing it and keeping their pubs. Once they'd digested that tasty morsel, they moved on to Farnham United Breweries, located in Surrey about 40 miles southwest of London.


"FINANCIAL NOTES AND NEWS.
ANOTHER BREWERY DEAL IN PROSPECT.
CITY OFFICE of "The Yorkshire Post,"
1 and 2. Great Winchester Street,
London, E.C.2.
Monday Evening,
We understand that Courage and Co., the well-known London brewery undertaking, has made offer to purchase the shares of the Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.). the prices offered being 25s. for each £1 Six Per Cent. Preference Share and 45s. for each £1 Ordinary Share. Farnham United Breweries Shares have recently been advancing, especially the Ordinary, which at the end of last week were quoted about 38s., while the preference stood about 19s., so that the prices offered by Courage and Co. seem favourable to the Farnham Company's proprietors. Farnham United Breweries (Ltd.) have a share capital of £225,000, of which £100,00 is in Ordinary shares, and the balance in Six per Cent. Preference shares. The distribution to Ordinary holders has in recent years been rising, that for the twelve months ended September last being 10 per cent., or 2 per cent. more than for 1924-25. Courage and Co. are, of course, a much larger concern, with a share capital of £1,500,000, of which £1,100,000 is in Ordinary Shares. There has been a very substantial advance in profits year by year, the net figure for 1926 being £383,914, increase of £62,458 on that for the preceding twelve months. The Ordinary dividend for 1921 was 15 per cent., that for 1925 20 per cent. ; that for 1926 23 per cent. Courage Ordinary Shares stand in the market at just over £3 per share.
The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 12 April 1927, page 15.
Courage doesn't seem to have been quite as big as I thought. How do I know that? By looking at the profit figures of other breweries. Watney, for example, were making profits in excess of £1 million a year in the late 1920's, three or four times what Courage were making. Judging by the dividends given, Courage were earning very well, so I think it's safe to say that their profits were quite large for their size. My inference is that Watney must have been selling at least 3 times as much beer as Courage.

Courage's Mild was pretty middling, finishing in eighth place. Let's see if their Burton can do any better.



Courage Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1924


Year
Beer
FG
OG
ABV
App. Atten-uation
Appearance
Flavour
score


1922
KK
1012
1052.7
5.34
77.80%
fairly bright
fair
1


1922
KK
1013
1052.4
5.07
74.43%
not bright
fair old ale flavour
2


1922
KK
1012
1050.8
5.07
76.77%
bright
good
2


1922
KK
1013
1053.7
5.27
75.42%
bright
v good
3


1923
KK
1013
1052.1
5.14
75.82%
bright
v fair
2


1923
KK
1013
1052.8
5.20
75.76%
bright
good
2


1923
KK
1014
1052.8
5.07
73.86%
hazy
fair
1


1923
KK
1014
1052.6
5.07
74.14%
grey
going off
-2


1923
KK
1011
1051
5.21
78.43%
bright
v fair
2


1923
KK
1013
1052.6
5.20
76.05%
not quite bright
thin
-1


1924
KK
1011
1053.2
5.47
78.95%
v hazy
fair
1


1924
KK
1007
1052.7
5.92
85.96%
bright
good
2


Average
1012
1052.45
5.25
76.95%


1.25


Source:


Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001



Spec-wise, this is very much middle of the road: low 1050's, around 75% attenuation, just over 5% ABV. You can see that there's very little to choose between London Burton Ales. It doesn't surprise me. If Whitbread and Truman were keeping a close eye on what their competitors were up to, I'm sure other large London brewers were doing the same.

Clarity is disappointing, with just half of the samples clear. But flavour - that's a different story. Ten positive scores is very good. There's only one real bad example, the grey going off one. Funnily enough, that's the only one I know where it came from: the Princess of Wales in Deptford. The same source as one of the X Ale samples, though that scored a 1. Overall the standard is very high, with seven samples scoring a 2 or 3. Giving an average score of 1.25.

I reckon that's the score to beat. I'll definitely be giving Courage pubs a visit.

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