The Crowley Brewery
Found this peice on Crowley's grandfather's brewery. Wonder if I could get a local brewer to re-create his ale. Thought it might be of interest.
Crowley & Co. of Alton
After hundreds of years of fulfilling the dual role of being Yateley's main "entertainment centre", whilst providing alms for the poor and needy, the parish church council decided to sell the Dog & Partridge by auction and the property went to a brewery, Crowley & Co of Alton in 1898. The proceeds of the sale were added to the existing Yateley Charities and Funds, which had been regulated by the Charity Commissioners in 1886. The story of the D&P did not of course come to an end, since the pub took on a new lease of life as a tied house.
The history of the Crowley brewery of Turk Street, Alton goes back to James Baverstock Senior, who established the brewery in 1763. Just as Reading was one of the main brewing centres when Baverstock was brewing, so Alton subsequently became one of the main brewing towns in Britain. After 1750 Londoners had acquired the taste for Porter, the dark brew for which Samuel Whitbread became famous. Burton on Trent developed a different style of beer called Pale Ale. The Burton breweries, including the two biggest, Bass and Allsopps, had developed extensive export markets in Scandinavia. But the Napoleonic blockade of their markets caused them to take entrepreneurial action. They developed India Pale Ale (IPA) for export to India and, as soon as rail reached Burton, they attacked the London market. Pale Ale became very fashionable and eventually swept the London market, leaving London brewers like Whitbread, Courage, Trumans, and Watney to make different marketing responses. Pale Ale was all down to Burton's water, which gave such a clear sparkling colour when brewed as a light coloured beer. Whitbread responded by adding gypsum to the London water and continued brewing in London. Others like Ind Coope decided if they could not beat the Burton brewers they would join them, and opened in Burton in 1858. From 1830 onwards the sales of beer from Burton soared.
However there was another solution: find a place where the water was similar to Burton's. Alton was one such place. And it had other advantages. It was in the heart of the Hampshire barley belt. There were extensive hop plantations around Alton, including of course those in Yateley and Cove. Alton was also conveniently connected to London by rail. Courage, one of the big London brewers, had been buying in its lighter beers, first from Flowers of Stratford-on-Avon and then from Fremlins of Maidstone, both with suitable water. To enable it to brew its own pale ales and bitters Courage purchased in 1903 the business of G. Hall & Company of Alton who had also been supplying Courage for some years.
Small wonder then that Crowley & Co, capable of producing the new fashion of pale ales, prospered. A Quaker family, the Crowleys had been brewing beer near Croydon for 200 years when they bought Baverstock's business in 1821. In 1871 the Crowley family sold out to Joseph Burrell and his partners, who kept the trading name. Burrell went out on a take-over spree and, from 1878 to 1902, took over 7 breweries. Purchasing the Dog & Partridge in Yateley must have seemed "small beer" in comparison.
Crowley & Co pulled down Yateley's old Church House in 1912 and built a new emporium in the style which Mitchell and Butler and Ansell had introduced into the Midlands. In the run up to the first World War the temperance movement had its effect and beer sales had declined. The marketing response of brewers was to upgrade their tied houses so that they were no longer the cottage front parlours produced by the 1830 First Beerhouse Act. In the early twentieth century public houses should be modern roadhouses to attract the disposable income of the new middle classes.
Might be a plan. I'd prefer the Burton version to the London one mind you. However I'm sure it would get you "plastered" quicker. Gypsum gerrit? Oh boy tough crowd tonight. 😉
Interesting beer history, but still a shame that AC used the money-tree he inherited for fire wood - all the while also producing some very nice books, of course, even talismans, perhaps.
I believe "Alton ales" are still made, eg by the "Triple FFF" Brewery.
I am sure you are aware that - since F is the 6th character in the English alphabet - this obviously is the 666 Brewery!
As far as I can see, brewing in the old Crowley brewery ceased in 1970 and the site was redeveloped in 1990. FFF breweries still produce beer but there is probably little connection with the Crowley brewery.
I wonder what would have the greater worth - in today's money - Crowley's ales or the total worth of Crowley's literary output.
Come on Michael,
In monetary terms ? , in the UK !, the brewery obviously.
The Brewery, hands down.. Only few people read AC. A hundred times more, and I'm underestimating, drink Ale.
I have suggested this before and still feel it would sell well.
Boleskine, a fine dark ale, locally brewed from the deep mysterious waters of Loch Ness 6.66% proof - The Wickedest Beer in the World - Invoke Often' .........Brings out the Beast in you.
I'd buy that for a dollar. Sorry, by the time normal UK mark up applied £3.75.
"Little real connection with the Crowley Brewery"? In your original message, you asked if we could persuade some "local brewery" to "re-create" the Crowley Ales. In Triple FFF, we have a "local brewery" (at Alton), which will be using the same local water, and for all we know, may be using the original Crowley Ales recipes (micro-breweries have to get their "traditional recipes" from somewhere). With a name like "Triple FFF" (=666), they are obviously aware of the Crowley heritage. Authenticity is something you might like to take up with them, but don't dismiss the possibility out of hand, otherwise, what were you hoping for?
How 'big' was Crowley's Ales? Was it nationally known at least?
It was Lloyd-George, I think, who was often heard to say "Make mine a pint of Crowley's". Whether that was before World War One, or after, I can't say. He was also heard to maintain that the brew was "finger-licking good, look you" long before Colonel Sanders plagiarised the term decades later for his well-known gourmet dish.
There’s an element of alchemy about beer. In ancient times beer and bread were surely hit or miss affairs. People who have made either at home will know what I mean.
From about 1350 onwards brewers were after replicability and consistency, and every now and then a modern brewer will reach into his or her archives and find an old recipe, and give it a go.
Crowley’s Dad’s récipé will be glowing in some vault waiting to be discovered.
It won’t be anywhere near Croydon or Alton, though; Hollywood demands that it will somewhere like er, I dunno, Prince George, British Columbia.
Consistent beer is pretty easy to produce given consistent raw materials. I have been brewing my own beer for many years. Currently i have the remains of a batch of a summer wheat/barley saison, and a ridiculously strong Belgian abbey-style dubbel ale. Nothing currently in the fermenter, but will do an abbey trippel strong gold ale this week.
The real leap in brewing technology was in the 19th century (when the Crowley Ale money AC pissed through was being made) when modern understandings of yeast, bacteria, and sanitary technique emerged, and brewing was industrialized as a result. In the US, Prohibition essentially wiped out brewing knowledge, leading to American "sex in a canoe" ("fucking near water") beer. Of course, now the US is awash with good local microbrews.
There are still "wild beers" brewed, that approximate what was drunk before sanitary methods, such as lambic, brewed in open vats in the Belgian town of Lembeek. This is actually the cutting edge of avant garde brewing, with many breweries experimenting with non-traditional (or rather from a very old, lost tradition) yeasts and methods. One notable example is Brattleboro, Vermont's Hermit Thrush Brewery. This style of beer may not be for all: when i took my staff for beers at Hermit Thrush, one guy said, after tasting his sampler of six of their beers, "All this beer tastes like vomit".
Crowley Ale would certainly go into my brewing rotation if the recipe turned up, though i am not a huge British beer fan.