Saturday, September 29, 2007

The family jewels and a reminder of them

As you might have read in the side bar I descend from some rather beer related English men and women. On my Moore side my ancestors ran a tavern in the 1840's called the Kings Arms in Salcombe Devon, its still there and I hope to visit it some day. On my Haslett side my grandfather Alfred was borne in the draymans quarters above a horse knackering yard in the east of London somewhere. My great grandfather was a drayman first for a brewery then a milk company. When Alfred passed away we found two unopened bottles of beer in his liquor cabinet, a Dogshead Bottling Nip Guinness and a bottle of Pilsner Urquel. After some research I found that its highly likely that both bottles date from 1950 or before. Alfred and my grandma Joan both migrated south in the late 40's in a bid to start a new after the war. It seems likely that these bottles were carried with them. Alternatively the beers could have been on sale here in the late 40's early 50's. Why my Grandfather kept these unopened bottles I'm not sure, but I am very glade that he did, they have prized place among my bottle collection.
The Nip Guinness interests me in particular. It was bottled by a company called Read Bro's who specialised in bottling beer from large brewers casks. Bass and Guinness didn’t bottle their own beers but shipped hogsheads out to specialist bottling companies like the Read Bro's, from there the bottles were exported. I often wonder exactly what sort of beer this Nip Guinness was; by now the contents of the bottle would surely be oxidised vinegar. The word Nip suggests it was a strong product and since Read Bro's specialised in export it’s likely that the products they bottled were robust. I imagine it might be similar to today’s Foreign Extra Stout, the Dublin brewed version I have been lucky enough to sample several times in the past, the Nigerian version I have just finished sipping.

Guinness F.E.S. is one of, if not the largest selling Guinness product worldwide. According to Wikipedia (I know not the most solid of references but it was all I could find) Guinness has around 40% of the African market with F.E.S. being the main product. F.E.S. is also big in Asia and the Caribbean where barmaids will often say "put some lead in ya pencil" when its ordered, a variant on the African "a baby in every bottle". We hardly see F.E.S. in NZ, its very exciting when we do as it offers a chance to show people why Guinness became so big, it wasn’t always about sharp creamy water.

Nigerian Guinness Foreign Extra Stout 7.5% abv
Pours a pitch black with a lovely natural tan head. Aroma features a massive creamy caramel milkshake character, confected and unique. On the palate there is a woody note, warm alcohol then bitter sweet caramel that’s rich but is cut by a sharp dry finish that prevents it from being cloying, like spicy xmas pudding with brandy sauce. World class

If anyone has information on Read Bros or Nip Guinness I would love to hear it

1 comment:

Stonch said...

I'm not sure that beers sold in nip bottles were necessarily strong.

FES - in it's various forms (it's brewed across the tropics and also in Dublin of course) - is indeed the best selling Guinness product in the world.