Wednesday, 1 February 2017

History: IPA in Carlow in the 1840s - Approved by the Surgeon General!

When we last met Henry Birkett in 1842 he was having a bit of a to-do with Guinness regarding the quality of their porter, and as I trawl through old editions of The Carlow Sentinel in my local library looking for more information on the breweries that dotted the town up to the mid 1800s, his later advertisements catch my eye on occasion. They seem to have put aside their disagreement, as he is continuing to sell Guinness's product in 1844 along with a few other beers, plus a perry and a cider, as the below advertisement shows.

This version is similar to the one I posted before regarding the Guinness dispute and that I flagged on Twitter as the first mention of 'East India Pale Ale' for sale in the town (1842) but what was interesting this time were the prices...

Perry 7s per dozen
Devonshire Cider 6s per dozen
Cairnes' Drogheda Ale 4s per dozen
Guinness's XX Porter 3s 6d per dozen
East India Pale Ale 3s per dozen

The pale ale was the cheapest. 

Admittedly the perry and cider were imported, but this surprised me as I thought  the East India Pale Ale would be offered as a new, premium product at a premium price, even if it was brewed - I suspect - in Dublin as an earlier advert from 1842 (below) seems to show that Pim's offering was the bitter beer of choice in the town, and available across Market Cross in another grocery establishment. This advert sang its praises as a medical fix-all - endorsed by the 'Surgeon General' noless - so why was it now priced cheaper than all other beverages? Had it dropped since it was first seen 2 years previously in the town?

Sorry, that's an actual question ... I don't know the answer.

But perhaps the answer lies in the fact that this was just the price of IPA...

Another find - you can see here - shows by 1846 Birkett now stocked Bass Ale, adds weight to my argument that their East India Pale Ale from 1842 was indeed supplied by Pim's ... and had to drop his Guinness price back to a 1844 level, for bulk purchases at least!

A discussion an 'Imperial Perry' and 'Captain Pidding's Celebrated Teas' will be left for another day!

Interesting stuff ... to me anyhow.


[With thanks once again to the local history room in Carlow library]

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