Sunday, 27 June 2010

Steel Coulson beers in 1954

Awash with light. It sounds like something from a photography article, but it describes Scotland in the 1950s; light being the low gravity beer drunk in pubs in vast quantities, equivalent to mild.

Steel Coulson had three draught beers: Edinburgh Ale, Brown Ale and P.X.A. Xtra? Edinburgh Ale and Brown Ale were both classed as 60/– at 1030 and P.X.A., a little stronger at 1034,was 70/–. Bizarrely, P 60/– retailed at a penny more in Scotland than in England.

Look how much more popular P 60/– is than the other draught beers – over 10000 barrels compared to just a couple of thousand. Makes you wonder why they bothered with the others really. Mind you, costing 4d more per pint, P.X.A. was 26% more expensive than Edinburgh Ale, but only 13% stronger. Perhaps that's why it didn't sell so well.

On the bottled side things look startlingly familiar. Little bottles of Export and Strong Ale and Sweet Stout. You still saw those on the shelves of pubs when I started drinking in the 1990s. And Elephant Pale Ale. What resemblance a nip bottle of 1.031 beer could possibly have to anything elephant-like, I do not know. Maybe you couldn't get drunk enough on them to forget things.


  1. had a pint of Coulsons edinburgh pale ale recently.Why do brewers bring back beers from defunct breweries?they are usually boring beers.

  2. Interesting stuff. I wish I could get to the Scottish Brewing Archive more easily.

    I think this demonstrates well how terms like 60/- and 70/- didn't refer to specific styles but to relative strength.

    This fills out nicely stuff I've got about Steel Coulson beers from the Whitbread Gravity Book. It has analyses from exacrtly the same period, but only of their bottled beers.

  3. Ron, I will be happy to retrieve anything you desire from the SBA. It's just a pity that they seem to have so few brewing records from the two most significant Scottish brewers, Tennent's and McEwan's/Younger's.

  4. In Edinburgh today I popped into a pub that had a gorgeous old brewery mirror advertising Drybrough's Pale and Mild Ales. Poor bastards clearly didn't understand they were meant to be brewing "Scottish Ale".

  5. Barm, I might well take you up on that. Maclay's, records for example. I only looked at a couple of early ones.

    Yeah, they don't seem to really have anything from McEwan's, but they have enormous sets of brewing records from Younger's. Both breweries. I looked at stuff from 1819 to 1950.

  6. I found a note saying that some of the McEwan's brewing books had been thrown away by a past head brewer, which might explain some things.