Brewing in the Transvaal

MEETING HELD AT BREWERS’ HALL, ADDLE STREET, E.C., On Monday, October 16th, 1905.

Mr. A. C. Tanqueray in the Chair.

The following paper was read and discussed:—

Brewing in the Transvaal.
by A. R. Hodson.

This title was expressly chosen in preference to Brewing in South Africa, as circumstances in so many ways differ entirely between the Transvaal and the country round the coast. Altitude, cost of labour, materials, and building, as well as different races of people to cater for, all have to be taken into consideration.

As will be readily seen, the cost of erecting and equipping a first-class brewery so far from the coast, and where labour is so high, must be very great, and none but first-class breweries have been successful.

Taking Johannesburg as an example, bricks were costing at least £3 a thousand when the country had settled after the war; timber about 50 per cent, above home prices; all machinery and plant could be reckoned double what we should pay in Europe; and labour £3 10s.— £4 10s. a week for unskilled, and £1 a day for carpenters, fitters, etc. Each man would have a Kaffir attendant (paid £3 a month) in addition to board and lodging.

As one could not have experts out from the makers to fix up coppers, refrigerating, or other complicated machinery, as is often the custom elsewhere, a thoroughly competent and well-paid engineer is absolutely necessary; a head brewer who is incapable of mastering every detail of the engineering and building department would fail at once.

If an architect is called in, he has to depend entirely upon the head brewer for all suggestions and many details. Some of the breweries have been designed at home, but in every case that I have met with, the home architects have failed to grasp the situation and have erected plants and buildings quite unsuited to local requirements. Change in palate tastes, opposition, and fluctuation in trade are all matters that only those can cope with who have studied a district where all is new with an ever-changing cosmopolitan community. One brewery I controlled was designed for 600 barrels a week, and at one time I had to turn out over 2,000. I knew this would not last, but it created a great difficulty. We were, fortunately, using Pfaudler tanks, and I borrowed tanks and rings from our branches and built up existing vessels until we were fermenting and storing in five ring tanks. The beer for the troops which were then returning from trek went out four days from the mash-tun, and was all drunk at once. The rest of the beer was stored, as I will explain later on. We brought up all the hogsheads that had been sent out from home with beer in and managed to meet the demand.

An enormous amount of money is sunk in breweries in the Transvaal, one firm alone spending a quarter of a million this year in building and plant.

The systems adopted generally are to produce either light ales brewed with English yeast on the dropping system, chilled in storage tanks, and sent out filtered after three weeks from the time the fermentation has finished, kräusened in the usual way, and racked under pressure; or ales of similar gravity brewed with German top yeast, the after-treatment being the same. While I was introducing the one, a Swiss brewer introduced the other, and most of the breweries followed our lead. The taste for lager, however, has caused costly breweries to be erected, the most successful, so far, being on the vacuum system slightly modified.

When I left the country six months ago, the troops were so struck with this lager which they drank in the towns, that they demanded it in their canteens at the cantonments.

It will be well, perhaps, to take in detail each department connected with a brewery.

With regard to the site, of course, after probable trade is taken into consideration, water is the most important point. This in and round Johannesburg and along the reef is one of the great difficulties. The mines tap the ground to a considerable depth, the upper strata of soil is very porous, with rock and reef sloping towards the mines at an angle of about 40 degrees, with frequent fissures, so that, unless one hits on a geological fault, it is hard to find any water at all. You may tap a few small springs, and when you do the water is often good. I will append a section of a well I bored in the lower part of the town of Johannesburg, and also the analysis of some waters.

The town supply comes from so many different sources that it makes any hardening process extremely difficult. A sample taken one month often differs considerably from that of another.

In Pretoria, Middleburg, Potchefstroon, Heidelburg, and other brewing centres the same trouble does not apply at present, and in some towns one can really obtain quite a good brewing water.

The following are analyses of Johannesburg and Pretoria waters:—

The Johannesburg well was 182 feet, and the boring passed through the following strata: surface soil (7 feet), sandstone shale (57 feet), hard blue bar (18 feet), conglomerate (27 feet), blue rock (14 feet), diobas rock and conglomerate (34 feet), hard blue rock and white quartz (17 feet), and blue rock (16 feet).

It must be noted that this water was sent to London, and the analyst stated that some change in the ammonia may have taken place since the sample was drawn, as ammonia may slowly oxidise into nitrates on storage.

Many of the towns have no public water supply, and where there is one the cost is very .high (for instance, Pretoria, 6s. 6d. per 1,000 gallons), while most of them have no drainage.

Getting rid of brewery effluent is one of the greatest difficulties, and will be for some time to come. The two largest breweries in Johannesburg have to pump the whole of the effluent more than a mile and a half, through 6-inch pipes laid at their own expense.

In Pretoria I experimented with septic tanks and filters, but found that the organic matter in the brewery effluent was not entirely broken up unless mixed with town drainage. In a country entirely without rain for half the year, the slightest amount of organic matter is most difficult to deal with, but if the effluent is thoroughly purified it may be most valuable for irrigation.

Buildings.—Of course it has to lie considered in building what materials can be obtained locally and at reasonable cost. There are brickfields in almost every district throughout the Transvaal, but as a rule it is essential to go to the nearest brickyard, as the cost of transit is so great. There is a quantity of excellent stone, and it is largely used untrimmed for foundations, but the cost of working it in a country where labour is so high prevents it being economical when dressed.

The waste stone from the mines is excellent for concrete, as it is very hard and is broken, with rough sides and edges, and, like the sand from the mine tailings, is sharp and clear. Cement may be obtained locally but is of poor quality.

The brewery should be entirely above ground. Cellars are unsatisfactory as a rule, as in many towns they are certain to be flooded frequently during the rainy season, and one often comes on extremely hard rock of a quartzite character, which may be very good for gold mines but not for breweries. Corrugated iron is always used for roofing and outhouses, cask sheds, etc. The wood framing usually used may be very light, but care must be taken that only certain hard woods come in contact with the ground, or the white ant will soon wreck the building. Iron supports are coming into use, but the initial cost is greater.

I prefer, if possible, to have hollow walls in the more important portions of the buildings, such as the hop stores, fermenting and collar departments, and bottle store. This applies more to the north side, as the sun is beating steadily on the whole day long.

The walls should be strong enough to support flat roofs on which tanks may be placed, as in most cases, for economy, one must have tanks for brewing and washing, one for condensed liquor, and another for circulating the liquor that flows over the condensers. Brine tanks must also be considered.

To illustrate the necessity for checking any waste of liquor, our bill in Johannesburg often exceeded £300 a month, although we had to supply from our own wells.

The cellars, racking and bottling store must be insulated, and if lager is brewed, of course the fermenting room must be insulated as well. Too much attention can hardly be paid to this matter. I have seen, in many cases, the floors absolutely neglected, and the leakage, especially in dug-out cellars, is considerable. I generally use ashes well rammed, then a layer of ashes and tar, then six inches of concrete, one inch of asphalte, two layers of felt or insulating paper, and another inch of asphalte. This is not at all too much. Concrete, although useless as insulating material, is necessary to carry the weight of the tanks, etc.

For the walls I recommend blue-burnt brick with air space. I have tried cork-stone, but fail to see the advantage, and the extra cost is great. The inside of the room should be rendered with cement and sand, and then faced with tiles or enamel. The roof that I prefer for an insulated building is a flat one, with steel joists spaced evenly and filled in with cement concrete, with a double layer of asphalte above, with felt or insulating paper between. Of course, another storey can be added, and I consider this an excellent position for an insulated hop store. If, for the sake of cheapness, a galvanised iron roof has to take the place of a flat one, it should be of double sheeting, with an air space of not more than a quarter of an inch. This, I have proved, is the coolest roof of its kind in a sunny climate. The space must be very small to cause a good draught. The room should be ceiled with double match-lining having two layers of insulating paper between, and a floor added above the joists consisting of five-eighths match-boarding, double insulating paper, and seven-eighths floor board. If it is a queen-post roof the space above will make a most useful store or may be used for a tank to circulate the brine for the attemperators.

The brew-house should be on the same lines as ought to be usual here, always having short mains in view.

As to the plant, there is not the same difference in price that there is at home between British and foreign goods, so that one has the whole world to choose from. British machinery is generally of first-class workmanship, but, as I will show, other countries are ahead in designing—more adaptable and often cheaper. My experience of British manufacturers is that they prefer to send what they think suitable rather than what is required. In one case, when I ordered two wrought-steel brine tanks and sent sketch with full details, one cast-iron tank of double the size was sent, and arrived at Delagoa Bay with five plates broken, more being cracked coming up country. The price was higher than the steel tanks would have been, and the lowest local estimate to replace the plates was over £50. Of course, I had to order the tanks elsewhere, after great delay and inconvenience.

If one orders anything to suit local requirements, or South African standards from America, it is almost invariably shipped at once, but an English maker will stop to argue the point. There is probably no local agent to attack, so to save time and trouble the order goes to America. Last year a hop-back was sent out from home in sections without a key, and we received the instructions how to erect and work a new sort of filter two months after delivery. The filter arrived with the sight-glass missing and no important parts in duplicate.

Starting with the mill, the important part is to have a good screen and fan as adjuncts. These are generally omitted, as all malt is supposed to be shipped thoroughly screened, but through the rough handling there is a good deal of dust on arrival, and I regret to say that many maltsters don’t screen as well as they might.

Hopper.—Steel is best for this, with a Steele’s or other outside masher attached.

Mash-tun.—I should certainly recommend anyone to have a lager mash-tun, wrought steel for choice. Even if brewing a top fermentation beer, you generally want to raise the heat considerably, and this is most difficult to do evenly in any English tun I have seen abroad. A circulator is also an advantage.

Copper.—Instead of the usual type of copper we have at home, I should always recommend a steel vessel with coils and false bottom for steam boiling either for pressure or not. I have no doubt that many will disagree with me, but I speak from experience. I have used all sorts, and in spite of the altitude and the fact that the boiling point was only about 203° F., I got the soundest beers from a steel kettle, closed, but without pressure, in one ease with, and in another without, a fountain. The lightly hopped ale of 18·5 original gravity after pasteurisation was perfectly sound and without deposit after six months at summer temperature.

Hop-back. —Here, again, I prefer wrought steel. The sections can always be riveted on the spot. Circular form with sparge and cover is best.

Cooler. —Certainly, in a dusty country like the Transvaal, I like to do without the surface cooler altogether. There were elaborate coolers in the first brewery I went to, and I tried all sorts of experiments, filtering the air and trying in every way to reduce the chance of infection. Finally doing without the surface cooler entirely and substituting a spread.

The roads in all the towns are unpaved, sanitation is absent, orchards prevalent everywhere, and there is a daily dust-storm.

Of refrigerators I prefer the Baudelot type. They are far easier to clean and examine than most of the vertical and horizontal ones we have at home, and if part is of polished steel, with, ammonia circulating through, and the remainder copper, for brine, they are most efficient.

For fermenting vessels, where initial cost need not be taken into consideration, the Pfaudler is far ahead of any other.

I have used copper to a large extent, but the labour required to keep it in perfect order is very great. Wood is not satisfactory in such a dry climate. The cost in liquor alone to keep the vessel tight is great, Un-enamelled steel has been tried, but I always think that I can detect a metallic flavour in the resulting beer. I have only used steel vessels to a limited extent and then applied whitewash with good result. Slate was popular at one time, but the Welsh exporters knocked the business on the head by packing and shipping the slabs so badly that brewers were forced to give it up.

For storage, the Pfaudler tanks have entirely superseded the old wooden pieces, and I have not yet met a perfect preparation for treating ordinary steel tanks.

As all beer is racked under pressure and filtered, the choice of back pressure racker and filter is of great importance. Of the latter the best I have come across is the “Loew,” and for a new plant I think it would be hard to beat the “Golden gate” racker.

Although the cost amounts to about 8s.—9s. per cask, I fully believe a saving would be shown at the end of two or three years. If bottling is done from the cask this system is distinctly handy. A back pressure bottler is invariably used. Until recently the bottled beers were all carbonated, but of late all bottled beer has been pasteurised, and I found that the beer that was not carbonated kept longest without deposit.

Pasteurising is necessary, as the public have been drinking so much lager imported from Germany that they have acquired the taste, and anything in bottle is preferred if pasteurised at not too high a temperature. With regard to the machinery, one often gets the best ideas from the mine managers and engineers who have bought their experience. There are many coalfields throughout the Transvaal, and you can generally get it delivered at less than £1 a ton. In most cases the coal is of a very bituminous character. This must be taken into consideration in selecting boilers. I have tried nearly all types from the loco. upwards. The Galloway I consider the most unsuitable, but have had excellent results from water-tube and tubular boilers. In the case of the tubular the leading makers have found that an extra grate area is necessary, amounting in many cases to 25 per cent. This is why I do not like the Galloway. The grate area is too small to be effective with the local fuel. Of course, as the country is opened up and means of transit are better, there may be alterations in this. Other features in favour of the multi-tubular and water-tube boilers are cheaper transit and greater conveniences in cleaning. The water in most cases is fairly suitable for boilers, but in consequence of the large amount of temporary hardness, the cleaning out must be frequent. If this is carefully attended to I have never found any trouble.

In cases where steam would be inconvenient for subsidiary engines, I have found oil the most satisfactory. The makers who have taken the trouble to adapt their engines to the rarified air, must, however, be chosen, as great trouble may arise otherwise. Gas is rarely used in the country and electricity is only available in the larger towns, being costly then as a rule.

A most important and costly part of a plant in a hot country is, of course, the refrigeration. In some cases the customers expect the brewer to supply ice, but this I have always opposed, the other demands on the machines being so high. In Johannesburg we were working three to four 25-tons machines (12 tons ice) night and day, and when one considers the large amount of beer in the chip tanks and the fact that all must be racked, bottled and delivered cold, of course one has a lot to cope with. With the earlier brewers I think the Pictet machine was the most popular, but I found it wise to discard that for an ammonia compression machine. Some English made machines had been tried and not proved satisfactory, but the best American machines with vertical compressors answer remarkably well. I have tried three makes of these, viz., the Buffalo, Case and Hercules, and it is difficult to say which is best. For a small brewery I think the Hercules, and I must say the American piping, valves, and fittings generally leave little to be desired.

I prefer direct expansion for the chip cellars and the Baudelot cooler. For attemperating and the remainder of the cooler brine is satisfactory, separate systems being advisable for the sake of regularity.

An important item in such a dry climate is casks. I have tried them from England, Germany and America. It is a well-known fact that in the Transvaal nearly every wood soon gets very brittle, and of the oaks I think the Memel is the worst in that respect. British casks, however well made, last a very short time. They have to stand a pressure of over 15 lbs. and are subjected to rough handling. German lager casks are fair, but the life of the stout American casks is greater.

These are sent out in shooks, and the most popular size is 12 gallons. The cooperage bill is a heavy one, and the loss of casks is of course great with an up-country trade.

Materials.—For everything except cane-sugar one has to depend on England and Germany.

The price delivered of a 40s. malt would be about 70s. to 72s. Of course other prices would correspond. Saccharum is about 47s., rice, 75s., Natal sugar, 10s. to 12s. per 100 lbs. (the usual African measure). Hops of course have varied too much for me to give an exact figure, but roughly you may add 6d. a pound on to home prices.

The duty is as follows :—

Light ale costs from 1s. 2d. to 1s. 6d. a gallon to produce and lager rather more. The sale price is about 2s. 6d. and the publican as a rule sells a large glass for 6d., yielding him about 100 per cent, profit. No one can carry on business at much lower profit, as the working expenses in every trade are so enormously high. Malt is sometimes sent out in double sacking, the outer one waterproofed, and often in tin-lined cases. The cases are very little dearer, but there is no great demand for the sale of either those or sacks. There is a glut of packing-cases everywhere and the sacks are not a convenient size for local produce.

I used the cases for sending beer by rail at a big saving, but not many breweries have that trade. Occasionally iron tanks are used, but unless one wants to get a few 400-gallon tanks on the cheap I do not advocate it, as the handling and storage present difficulties.

The hops are usually compressed to little more than half their usual size, which of course is a great saving in carriage and ought to assist in their keeping. An extra pocket painted to render it more weather proof is added outside the ordinary one after compression.

Germans and Americans use tin-lined cases as for malt, and I certainly should prefer to see all hopping down hops sent out like this. The climate is an excellent one for storing malt, but very dry for hops, and I consider that in most seasons I should like to buy the bulk of the year’s requirements as soon as the market settled, and store in a cold chamber at the brewery.

Rice and sugar are usually sent out in single sacks, often arriving in inferior condition.

It will I fear be some time before the country will be able to supply local demands.

The barley that does best is the six-rowed, and this of course is inferior for malting. Experiments have been tried with Chevalier and other varieties, and eventually no doubt these will he grown in Natal, the Karoo and the lower veldt.

As far as I am aware malting has never been tried in the Transvaal. While there I strongly advocated it, and collected a considerable amount of data which I shall be pleased to communicate to any Member who is interested in the subject. Of course pneumatic makings would have to be erected and New Zealand and other countries could well supply the barley at moderate cost. The risk in shipping barley is far less than malt, and besides the great saving in cost it would naturally be a distinct advantage to a brewery always to have fresh malt instead of that which has been at least three months off the kiln, shipped and then very probably carelessly stored in the humid climate of Delagoa Bay or Port Natal.

Malting has already been carried on at Cape Town with great success, and possibly on account of the great difference in the cost of labour, coast makings might prove cheaper than anywhere in the Transvaal.

Without doubt, lager is the most popular beer in South Africa, and it is now produced very successfully. The top-fermentation beers are usually mashed low and run up to a very high conversion temperature, and I must say I prefer the flavour of those where a cooker is used.

If I were building a plant now I should certainly substitute a Meura or Crossman filter, and a convertor instead of the mash-tun. The fermentations generally are somewhat rapid, and are particularly healthy, and the yeast as a rule perfect. More than one large brewery is still using a yeast that was brought up country on a bicycle during the war, and in the three years that I had it under observation there was no deterioration or change in character.

The beer drops beautifully bright, and as a rule is stored at a temperature of about 40° on the kräusen for about three weeks. Some brewers advocate conditioning tanks, and I tried them, but greatly prefer to run direct into the chill cellar. At one time I had to chill rapidly with a deckerbach cooler, but often a thin yeasty beer resulted. The beer is filtered a day or so after finings are added and racked under pressure. As will be readily understood, a beer brewed under these conditions, like a lager, requires delicate handling. The deliveries are always twice a day, and if I saw a cask with a customer that had been out two days, I always protested. A short time ago it was customary for the publicans to use an air-pump and ice-box, but I found that generally impure air was pumped into the beer, and the pipes were in a filthy state, so I persuaded most of the customers to use carbonic acid gas and place the cask in the bar under the counter with only a short pipe from the extractor, which could be cleaned without any inconvenience every time it was used. The public are very critical, and the retailers take a great deal of pride in their beer.

I have certainly never seen a better article at home than is issued by the larger breweries, and every year the amount of imported beer gets less. Many publicans a few years ago had notices on their windows, “Only imported beer sold here.” That is a thing of the past, and except nips of Bass and Guinness, and a small amount of lager, one never hears of outside beer at all.

I will conclude by adding a few words about labour. I had under me working together English, Scotch, Irish, a number of Germans and Boers, with a sprinkling from other countries. Like so many of the Colonies, the Scotch and Germans are most satisfactory. The Boer is capital for stable and outside work, and is useful as a ganger, understanding the native, and speaking several languages.

I often had more than 200 natives at a time, and I must put in a good word for them. As long as you are absolutely just with them and they are not educated, you may rely on them. Once punish them unjustly, and they never forgive or forget. Of the tribes, for indoor work I prefer a raw Zulu. He is honest in his work, and though very stupid apparently at first, can absolutely be relied on to do his allotted task thoroughly with very little supervision. When I have been severely pushed during an influenza or other epidemic, I have locked a couple of Zulus in the collar. I left them to lay the filters and fill the casks, and always without a mistake.

I have omitted many subjects of interest such as the industrial question, influence of the mines, Chinese labour, and, in our own line, the system of delivering the beer, and the upkeep of the stables, and many matters; but I shall be pleased to answer any questions to the best of my ability.


The Chairman said they had to thank Mr. Hodson for a very interesting paper, which showed how many difficulties there were to overcome in brewing in a country like South Africa. He should like to ask him with regard to the chilling of the beers in the tanks, whether he found quick chilling in the tanks was equally successful as a slow chilling? It was rather a moot question whether it was better to allow the beers to chill for a considerable time in the tanks, or chill them quickly through refrigerators, or with coils. He should like a little more information as to the treatment of the beers during the chilling process; with regard to their stability afterwards, and whether they threw down a deposit.

Sir John Brickwood was surprised to hear that imported English beers were not in demand. The Transvaal was a comparatively new country, and he was told that in the United States, where brewing certainly had been practised much longer, the sale of English beers was growing, and the American, when he was sure that he was getting the honest English article, eagerly bought it. If that was so in America it would be expected that the same thing would obtain in the Transvaal. Of course, living a long way off one might make silly mistakes about labour, but he understood that the most satisfactory labour to be found anywhere in South Africa was amongst the Kaffirs.

The author did not refer to them, but chiefly to Zulu labour. He understood the Kaffir was very reliable when treated honestly and straightforwardly, though with extreme severity. If you were kind to him he mistook it for a sign of weakness, and took advantage of it.

Mr. Bedo Hobbs said Mr. Hodson stated that beer was preferred not carbonated, but at the same time he said that beer was bottled under pressure. He imagined that meant bottled under pressure of carbonic acid gas, and he should like to know what was the difference between bottling beer under pressure in that way and carbonating it.

Mr. Hodson, in reply, said he understood the Chairman to ask whether it was better to chill the beer rapidly from the fermenting tank and run it into the storage tank, and then keep it at the temperature you chilled it to. He had tried that method, and found that the beer lost character, It never seemed to him to have such a full flavor when treated in that way. He, therefore, gave it up, running the beer into the cellar, and keeping it at a temperature of about 40o. The beer would take some days to get down to the temperature of the cellar. Ordinary beers he always kept in the cellar hopped and kräusened for at least three weeks; bottled beers he stored longer, trying, if possible, to keep them for six weeks, and he certainly found a better resulting beer from slow chilling. With fast chilling he sometimes got a yeast bite, which he always attributed to rapid chilling. With regard to bottling under pressure, the usual way of bottling followed in the Transvaal was to fill straight from the chip casks. Attached to the bunging apparatus he had an air compressor pump, and, by changing the valves, forced filtered air into the tanks, not carbonic acid gas, and so pushed the beer with its natural gas from the tank under pressure. It would be continually blowing-off at a pressure of about 3½ lbs. during storage, absorbing a considerable quantity of gas. Then the valve was closed. The air was forced into the tank from the top, and the beer slowly and steadily forced through the filter to the back-pressure machine. There was no carbonic acid gas used at all. With reference to imported beer, they would not have a beer out there with any deposit whatever. This made it rather difficult, even with them, supplying beer as they did 100 miles or so up the country, because if the beer lay about in the sun and got the slightest deposit, or was a little cloudy in the glass, they would not touch it, and the imported English beers were always more or less like that. The publicans had not the proper means of storing cask beer. They used to do so, but now they had a habit of taking the cask in, rolling it into position, tapping it, and the beer would be drunk the same day. They had got out of the way of keeping it, and really could not store it. The bars in Johannesburg were so small that there was hardly room to roll a cask in. With regard to labour, when he referred to the Zulu, that was only one of the Kaffir races. All the black races were Kaffirs, but they differed very considerably, and the Zulu was undoubtedly the highest type. In physique, and certainly morally, he was probably equal to any race on the face of the earth. If you got a good Zulu straight from his tribe, and he did not go back once in two years, you knew that he was afraid to go home, and that he was not to be trusted. They were bound to go home to report themselves. Certainly, for honesty, he did not think he ever came across his equal anywhere. Other tribes were good for certain classes of work, for instance, Basutos were excellent for driving, managing horses, and so on, but when you came to give them any inside job, whether on the mines, cooking, or brewery work, they were no good. The Zulu was very proud, and considered it infra dig. to go down the mines.

Mr. John Heron asked if Mr. Hodson could tell them the condition in which the malt and hops arrived at their destination in South Africa; He understood that sometimes they were in a very inferior condition. In fact, a South African brewer told him that many times, when the malt arrived at the Cape, and had to be taken round to other places along the coast, he had known it to be lying in barges half full of bilge water for some weeks, and, when it arrived at the brewery, it was practically almost saturated with moisture, and he assured him that was not an exceptional case by any means; the same thing occurred with hops. He was connected with a company formed for the purpose of mashing under rather peculiar circumstances in this country, and then condensing the wort, tinning it and sending it out to South Africa and other Colonies for brewery purposes. When it arrived, it had simply to be dissolved in water, boiled up again, and put through its fermentation. He should like to ask Mr. Hodson if he came across any of that concentrate, and had had any experience of it. He was told that people out there had made brewings of it, which turned out very well. It was thought it would be a good idea to send it there to save heavy freight, and with the idea of getting a wort which would prove probably better than that which could be brewed on the spot. He had been told that, during the time of the war, soldiers said the beer they got. there was practically puddle, and he was surprised to hear Mr. Hodson speak of the high character of the beers which had been brewed there. In fact, until that evening, he was under the impression that such a thing as an absolutely good beer was not to be found in the interior of the country. He thanked Mr. Hodson very much for his paper, which had given him a great deal of information, and he should look forward eagerly to seeing it in print.

Mr. M. J. Cannon said he always understood that the practical difficulties of brewing them were very great, but after listening to Mr. Hodson it seemed to him that the chief difficulties lay in the enormous cost of the materials and the equipment of the breweries, for, as he told them, the beers he turned out were very much appreciated, more so than those sent from home. No doubt the fact that Mr. Hodson had been concerned with a certain class of beers had something to do with the high quality, but it came to him as a surprise that the beers were of the character indicated. His brother, who was in the Transvaal, had given him quite a different opinion of the beers. The beers to be had were not worth drinking, and the only ones that could be drunk with any degree of pleasure were, those obtained in bottles, at a very high price. The great desire in the Transvaal was for a cool drink, and no doubt a brewery which attempted to satisfy this demand would secure greater appreciation. He should like to have heard a little more of the actual brewing difficulties.

Mr. Strouts asked how the brewers in the Transvaal managed about yeast, and if they required a change at any time.

Mr. Hodson said during the war, and before the war, when the Dutch had everything their own way, the difficulties occasioned by the material lying at the coast were very serious. Now, fortunately, things were considerably changed, because they were so hard up at the coast that they must send the stuff on at once in order to get payment, and they sent it up as quickly as possible. When he first went out the material they had to brew with was simply disgraceful.

Malt was so absorbent that anything coining in contact with it would be very apt to communicate its flavour or smell. A large portion of one shipload had to be condemned because it was impregnated with a disinfectant containing carbolic acid. He had known more than one brewing absolutely spoilt by that. The beer had a peculiar smoky flavour which they could not account for, until they traced it back to the malt and found that the sacks had been stored in contact with some of this fluid. They found they could imitate it exactly by putting about one-tenth of a drop of a disinfectant fluid into a gallon of beer. The malt, which had been sent out before the war and stored at some of the breweries, was very indifferent, a mass of weevil; but, curiously enough, it did not seem to much affect the beer, though it certainly affected the extract. With regard to the concentrated beer, he only tasted it once, and that was some made at Kimberley. He met an agent who produced a bottle, but he had been travelling about with it some time, and probably he did not taste it at its best. He had heard that in many up-country districts they found it very successful, but he could not speak from personal experience. With regard to Mr. Cannon’s remarks about the character of the beer, there was no doubt that until about three years ago it was very bad indeed. Many of the earlier brewers failed. One brewer failed over and over again. Then he came home to Europe, went out again, and brewed on modern lines, and was so successful that he founded the brewery mentioned in the paper where £250,000 had been laid out this year in rebuilding. The others did much the same thing. Big firms which could afford to lay out much money bought up the small breweries, and spent large sums of money in entirely changing the system, and now the boors were absolutely different from what they were a few years ago. The large firms which made these improvements did very well, but the others had to go to the wall. At one little brewery he visited he was told that they understood that they should chill their beer, and they had a 4-ton Hall machine, but they did not know at all how to work it. They had all the pipes wrong, and they had not insulated the floor. There were about 4 inches of slush on the floor, which was sunk below ground level, and, in fact, they were trying with this 4-ton machine to refrigerate the whole neighbourhood. They had now taken out that machine and put in a 12-ton Hercules, but had forgotten to insulate the place, and so they were still helping to cool the neighbourhood. That was how many of the small brewers carried on their business, and one after another they were either bought up by the bigger firms or went to the wall. The big firms were paying enormous dividends, as much as 20 and 25 per cent, and that could not be paid unless the beer was good. With regard to the actual brewing difficulties, they were not very great. The yeast kept splendidly, and there was never the slightest trouble with it. Of course they washed it occasionally, and fed it occasionally, and that sort of thing, but with regard to the change in yeast since the war, hardly a single brewery in the Transvaal had had a change, unless it was since he came home. They tried changing from one to another once or twice to see if it made any improvement, but it seemed to make no difference. The lager yeast mostly came from America, and that was changed fairly frequently, two or three times in the season, but the ale yeast was what came originally from a Natal brewery, first by rail as far as Bloemfontein, and then, as they were not allowed to bring it up by rail to Johannesburg, they brought it up on a bicycle several hundred miles, and that was the origin of the ale yeast used throughout the Transvaal now.

Sir John Brickwood asked if Mr. Hodson could tell them what was the proportion of lager beer now drunk as compared with ordinary ale and beer.

Mr. Hodson said the principal breweries he was connected with when he left were doing two-thirds ale to one-third lager. That was six months ago. Now the ale was very little in excess of the lager, and in all probability in 12 months’ time it would be pretty well nine-tenths lager. It was coming in very rapidly. It seemed to suit the climate better, and the public taste. Most of the brewers were gradually altering their plant, and rebuilding, when he came away, almost all of them with that view.

On the motion of the Chairman a hearty vote of thanks was passed to Mr. Hodson.

%d bloggers like this: