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We all know that the export trade was important to Scottish brewers. But where exactly was George Younger's beer going? All over the British Empire, is the answer. And elsewhere, too.

Unfortunately, when the history of George Younger was written in the 1920's, many of the records from before 1875 were missing. So the exports up to that date couldn't be quantified precisely. But there were enough records to make an estimate of total sales:

"The position of the business, as far as can be gathered from the books which still remain, show that the average yearly combined Home and Export Sales up to 1875, when accurate records become available, were between 20,000 and 25,000 barrels.

It is known that prior to 1850 a very considerable connection vas already established in various Dominion and Foreign markets."
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, page 5.
20,000 to 25,000 barrels is a tiny amount. There were 12 breweries in London brewing more than that in 1817. And six of those produced more than 100,000 barrels annually. It's another example of the surprisingly small scale of Scottish brewing. The reach of Scottish beers around the world and the fame of its breweries was way out of proportion with the quantity they brewed.

"The chief market at that time was Demerara. The beer, or rather very strong ale, was matured in bulk, bottled in stone bottles, and shipped in vessels which had a regular coal carrying trade between Alloa and the West Indies.

Rumour has it that, although this ale exceeded 1.110 - 1.115 in gravity, the consumer in the West Indies did not consider this strong enough, and that a glass of neat rum had to be mixed with every bottle of ale, before a drink of sufficient strength could be obtained."
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, page 6.
Demerara is, in case you hadn't realised, part of Guyana, back then British Guiana. Which, despite technically being South America, tended to get lumped together with the West Indies by the British. Sounds like it was a top-of-the range beer that Younger were sending there, judging by the gravity. Those planters sound like men after my own heart. I've been known to accompany my St. Bernardus Abt with a jenever. Though I'm not quite such of a philistine as to mix them.

We also learn of another difference between English and Scottish breweries: export packaging. In the early 19th century English breweries exported in bulk, usually in hogshead, sometimes in tuns. If there was any bottling to be done, that happened at the destination. The Scots had taken to bottling early. In the 18th century it was a common way of selling beer. Breweries sold hogsheads to grocers of merchants who then bottled it. This is what happened to the William Younger beers with a shilling designation. When the same beer was sold on draught, it was called X, XX, XXX or S, XS, etc.

"The main markets at the period when records became available included the Australian ports, Melbourne, Sydney, Freemantle, Brisbane, and an occasional shipment to Auckland, New Zealand. There were steady shipments to various West Indian ports; Demerara, Barbados, Jamaica appearing very frequently, and a very considerable business in Canada and the United States of America; Montreal, St. Johns, Halifax, New Orleans, New YorK, Boston, Havana and San Francisco appearing at regular intervals as ports to which shipments were made. The Indian and East Indian markets at that early period do not seem to have been developed to any extent. There is, for instance, only one shipment to India between 1800-75, although Colombo appears regularly. Rangoon, a most important market in later years, only appears in the books at infrequent intervals. There are also South African and South American ports appearing regularly, to which shipments were made, such as Zanzibar, Algoa Bay and Guadalupe. That the ways of trade even in those days did not always run smoothly, is shown by an entry appearing in the books in the year 1866 to the effect that damage amounting to about £160 was done to a shipment in the harbour of Valparaiso, due to bombardment by the Spaniards.
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, page 6.
Now isn't that interesting. Most of George Younger's exports were going west rather than east. And seems to have been Strong Alloa Ale rather than Pale Ale. With all the attention given to Pale Ale exports to India, the trade in the other direction is often neglected. Even though the legacy is still there in the former British colonies of the Caribbean. In Jamaica, Desnoe and Geddes brews two Stouts (a version of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout and Dragon Stout) and they used to make McEwan's Strong Ale under licence (I still have a bottle). Pale Ale never took off out West, with Strong Ale and Stout remaining the most popular imports.

Australia was a happy hunting ground for Scottish brewers. They dominated beer imports, elbowing aside all but the most famous competitors, such as Bass and Guinness. Though it wasn't to last.

I'm a bit surprised that George Younger, which got into Pale Ale early, wasn't shipping any of it to India in this period. It seems an obvious market to try and crack. Especially if you're already brewing Pale Ale.

British beer exports to the North America are also now largely forgotten. Some of it was destined for expats, especially that from Scotland. Much harder to imagine now is the trade with South America. A region which, at the time was relatively much more prosperous than today. Quite large numbers of Britons had settled in Argentina, providing an obvious market for British brewers.

We'll be looking at the period 1876 to 1914 yet. Tricky years for beer exporters.