I’m a sucker for labels that feature pictures of the brewery buildings. In trying to choose one for this selection, it was a close run thing between the Puzzle Hall Brewery’s Home Brewed Stout from Sowerby Bridge and the magnificent frontage depicted on the Anglo-Bavarian Dinner Ale illustrated. I guess the deciding factor (other than a soft spot for West Country breweries) was that the Puzzle Hall image is a bit more of a slightly exaggerated “artist’s impression” of the brewery rather than the Anglo’s more realistic presentation.
We move back to my home territory for the next label which dates from the first decade of the 20th century. It comes from the small industrial Thames-side town of Northfleet just a couple or so miles to the west of Gravesend and my birthplace. I was well aware of the brewery long before I started collecting labels as I used to see it as I went to the local library. The brewery tower is still there in Dover Road, although for many years the premises have been used as the local traders club and all the brewing equipment (as well as most floors in the brewing tower) disappeared years ago. Early in my collecting career I was given a neckstrap from a New Northfleet Brewery beer, I don’t know which one but it does have a picture of a parlour maid in the central roundel and their slogan on it “The Last Drop”. Clearly that whetted my appetite as I sought for a long time before obtaining a full label. With its connection to my home town, its age and the traditional design, on all counts this has to be one of my favourite labels.
My fourth label choice is again influenced by the name of the brewery, or more specifically the public house at which the beer was brewed in Leeds. In these days of wholefoods and pure organic “artisanal” beers I think it’s marvellous to have a beer from somewhere called the “Chemic Tavern” reminding one of those old fashioned chemist’s shops which made and sold their own brands of non-alcoholic drinks such as cream soda, dandelion & burdock and sarsaparilla as well as the occasional herb beer or hop bitter. I took a long time to get hold of the label, but well worth it just for the name!
I first came across an illustration of a label from this Guildford brewery in the 1977 booklet “The Beer Drinkers Guide to Labology”and thought it would be quite nice to have one to add to my just-started collection, not knowing how difficult that would be and how long it would take me to achieve that aim. Decades later I managed it but the reason I’ve included this in my selection is that it’s a great name for a brewery, albeit a bit of a mouthful! I just wonder what the locals would ask for in the pub – a pint of Ticky perhaps?
The Russell’s Pale Ale is my first choice with a local connection. I was born and brought up in North Kent alongside the river Thames, although not actually in Gravesend. By the time I started collecting, Russell’s had been gone over 40 years, taken over by Trumans in 1930 but the parts of the brewery remained serving as their depot. I later found out that my uncle had been born in the boiler house of the brewery and his father was the brewery blacksmith and later a drayman. Again, I think this is a really elegant label and one of which I am inordinately fond!
Trying to choose my ten favourite labels has been a difficult task – and has taken me quite a long time. What criteria should I use? Rarity? Attractiveness? Historical Significance? In the end I decided to select labels which have meant something to me during my collecting endeavours, either because they have a local connection to where I was born (hence the bias toward Kent) or they have some other personal significance. Some reasons are obvious – the visual impact or some other quality, other reasons are more quirky. There is no particular order and I’d find it even harder to pick my top three!
I have no connection with Sheffield but just think this label has a wonderful 1930s feel to it. However what really fascinates me is the incongruity of the imagery. The glamourous, elegantly dressed women – reminiscent of a film starlet or “screen goddess” holding aloft a half pint of Nut Brown Ale is unusual to say the least. Needless to say that I doubt if she would have been among the regular clientele of Sheffield pubs or working men’s clubs, but one can always hope…
Three things in this post. For Outstanding Brewery, anyone driving, or walking from Exchange Quay metrolink stop should go down Ordsall Lane. The brewery is directly opposite Ordsall Hall, which you can see here.
Anyone arriving in the Manchester area on Friday and is wondering which of the many attractions to visit, should consider the Trackside Bar in Bury ELR station at 1 o’clock for a refreshment or two and then travel on to the Irwell Works Brewery in Ramsbottom for further refreshments.
And finally, there have been many additions to the Featured Brewery section and the Brewers in Lancashire sections of the website. Thanks to Keith who provided images for Nicholson & Sons which you can find HERE and the Carlisle Old Brewery which you can find HERE
I received an email yesterday and thought it deserved publishing. We all admire any number of labels, but what about the beer in the bottle. I think this deserves to be followed up.
As a lover of all things beer, I have been following the site for some time and appreciating the history and evolution of beer labels that has been presented on the site as an ‘armchair viewer’ if you will.
There are many labels that are brilliant and the stories behind them better still (my favourite being desert island labels!), however I never felt that I fully appreciated the magic and allure of labels until Tuesday night.
I have my shelf, as I always do, a selection of beers ready for the weekend or if I fancy a weeknight tipple. When I choose a beer from the local supermarket my choice has never been about what beer has a good label but rather, what have I not had? And so on my shelf I had a bottle of Box Steam Brewery – Tunnel Vision. Amongst all the other beers on the shelf this beer was rather unassuming but every time I looked up at it I thought ‘that beer is going to be superb!’ Now, as I said, the label wasn’t that exciting, just a standard Box Steam label, but something about it said ‘drink me’. So, sure enough, on Tuesday I did. And it was superb. And I think I finally understood the nature of a label to instill in a beer lover that feeling of yes, that is a beer I want to drink and I will forever remember that certainty of knowing it was going to be great because of the label.
A request from Onno in the Netherlands:
The Phoenix brewery in Amersfoort had several Pelican labels for Light Lager and Dark Lager (i.e. Münchener).
Most of the UK business by Phoenix was done with Export Bottlers or the constituent companies and their different Brands. Pelican used to be Machen, but………just above the beer type diverse logo’s are used. As you see in attached file there are three different ones. My question is about those. Is there anyone amongst the Labologists in UK knowing the origins?
One of the labels auctioned at the Sheffield meeting was a Trent Stout label. It was pointed out at the meeting that it was the variation with horizontal ‘bottled by’ rather than the more common curved version. Happily the pair are now side by side.