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I told you bottling held a weird fascination for me. Which is why we've returned to "The bottling of English beers". I suspect this won't be the last time we visit it. (Unless, of course, WW II distracts me again.)

This particular extract discusses bottled beer for export. Which was still being made the proper way, without any on this new-fangled chilling and carbonating.

"The production of beer for bottling naturally depends to some extent upon the particular bottling process for which it is intended, and it will be convenient to consider first the question of beer designed for bottling upon the maturing process. In this case, the main consideration is the production of a beer that will come into bottle condition without the accumulation of excessive sediment, or of too high bottle condition.

Amongst these beers of natural maturation we must include those which are intended for export. Unfortunately this particular trade is now so restricted that any remarks upon it can only interest comparatively few readers. At the same time, no book upon such a wide subject as "Bottling" would be complete without some reference to this branch of the trade. The export trade entails the acme of success in primary production, for beers that are intended for export bottling must be produced from the best materials and upon the soundest lines. The most successful firms still use malt alone in the production of these beers, but they will admit that as a rule they draw heavily upon a foreign supply of barley. The ales intended for this class of trade are frequently stacked in the open, and are matured in this way for fully a year. They are thus subjected to the extremes of winter and summer, and may to some extent be considered as cold stored.

At any rate, there can be no doubt that beers which are stacked in the open, and are merely shielded by straw hurdles or hop-sacking, are much less amenable to any variations of climate with which they may have to contend after transference to bottle.

This gradual influence of climate is, however, a very different thing in its resultant effects from the more artificial methods which have recently come into use in the production of beers for home consumption. Beers which have been matured and exposed in this natural way are, of all others, the least susceptible afterwards to the influence of varying temperature, and they have acquired this character without loss of natural flavour. They are not bottled until they drop spontaneously brilliant, and this alone ensures the minimum degree of sediment in bottle. It must not be assumed that they are entirely immune from cloudiness at reduced temperatures, because this is not the case. They do show a cloud in bottle if the weather is very cold, but they are usually intended for warmer climates than that in which they are produced and bottled, and the consequence is that directly they get into warmer regions they develop their characteristic flavour and condition upon which the trade depends. These beers may be seen quite hazy in their original store, but on slightly warming they entirely recover, and pour out brilliant, with only a slight and distinctly compact and adhesive sediment. The export trade in bottled stout is not very great, but the finest quality is still matured in vat for some two years before it is bottled, and this is a further proof of the fact that time is yet an important factor in the production of malt liquors of really high quality."
"The bottling of English beers" by Arthur Hartley, 1906, pages 21 - 23.
Which beers are they talking about? Bass and Guinness, amongst others. They both still had a decent export trade at the time.

"this particular trade is now so restricted" that author says. Britain's beers exports fall dramatically at the end of the 19th century, due to several factors. Like the establishment of breweries in colonies such as India. And competition from German and Danish lagers in tropical markets. British brewers had a technological edge earlier in the 19th century, before artificial refrigeration. They brewed beer that could last, unrefrigerated and in fluctuating temperatures for months, if not years. Lager had a very short shelflife once it was taken away from ice. At least when it was in barrels. Bottled it didn't have the same problem. And there's another reason: the rise in the export of beer in bottles rather than casks.

I was gobsmacked the first time I read of how Bass stored their Pale Ale: stacked up in the brewery yard, exposed to the elements. Except in particularly hot weather, when dampened straw was strewn over the barrels. Sounds like a sure way of getting sour beer to me. It's a testament to the keeping qualities of Bass Pale Ale that it could easily withstand such trials. I suppose it makes sense that a beer that had been through this would be less likely to spoil due to a change in climate later in its life.

This is a teasing statement: "directly they get into warmer regions they develop their characteristic flavour and condition". It begs the question, what was that characteristic flavour? And did it ever acquire that flavour if it remained in the cool British climate?

Nice to see that detail about vatting Stout before bottling. Up to two years in a vat. That's not bad. I suppose that would apply to, in addition to Guinness, Barclay Perkins Stout, which was also widely exported.