Beer has been carried around the world for centuries to slake the thirsts of British colonials and troops. The clipper ship Catherine Adamson sailed from Aberdeen to Sydney in 1857 with a cargo of 4,000 gallons of brandy, 5,000 gallons of wine, and 156 barrels of beer, but all of her much needed liquid cargo went to waste when she was wrecked off Sydney Heads. The still extant sailing ship Edwin Fox, built in 1853, made six long distance voyages loaded with beer, three of these to New Zealand. She also made a voyage from London when she sailed on 17th March 1869 for Madras with 1,700 hogsheads (85,000 gallons) of beer and arrived safely on 25th July after 137 days. She then sailed for the port of Masulipatnam, 220 miles up the coast from Madras but ran aground a day and a half out of Madras. The much needed beer of 446 hogsheads (200,000 pints) was thrown overboard to lighten the ship and refloat her. Such a waste of good, cool beer in a hot country! Edwin Fox was left to lie as a disintegrating wooden wreck at Picton in the north of the South Island of New Zealand until she was moved to a dry dock for preservation work to begin.
A modern day sailing ship was also nearly lost on 20th May 2019 some 35 miles off the Norfolk and Suffolk coasts. The Norfolk Brewhouse in Hindringham had teamed up with the French brewers Northmaen Brewery to brew Amitie, a special collaborative beer for Norwich City of Ale. Locally malted barley was used to produce it, and it was loaded on a blue and white hulled small sailing ship for transport to Rouen. The vessel was found drifting at the mercy of the waves, and the Harwich RNLI volunteer crew towed the vessel to safety.
THE GUINNESS BREWERY
Guinness was originally called Porter or Porter Stout, and in the 18th and 19th centuries Guinness was transported throughout Ireland via the canals as the cheapest way of moving it to the western parts of the country. Wooden barrels (casks) were used at first, but pilfering was easy, thus metal casks were then used as they were much harder to tap and very much more hygienic. The main markets for the iconic strong stout today are Ireland, the U.K., the U.S.A., and Africa, the Africans having recently acquired a taste for the product.
Arthur Guinness signed a lease on a defunct brewery at St. James Gate in Dublin for an annual rent of £45 in 1759, just about the biggest business bargain of all time considering that today Guinness makes an annual profit of over £2 billion. A shipment of six and one half barrels of the product left the port of Dublin in May 1796 on a sailing vessel bound for England within a few decades of starting brewing. Guinness was shipped to the United States of America for the first time on 16th October 1817 from Dublin to South Carolina by sea in a big order for the time of eight barrels. However, the vagaries of early small sailing ships on the Transatlantic trade were at times unsurmountable, when constant gales were met, with a big loss of barrels. Today, smaller steel kegs are loaded into 40 feet long containers and driven to the Port of Dublin and loaded onto a feeder container ship for Southampton, Felixstowe or Continental container ports. Transit times using the big 20,000 TEU container ships of today are 21 days from brewery to New York, 26 days or more for Charleston, Norfolk (Va), and Houston, and between 33 to 36 or more days to Los Angeles in California.
The production of Guinness at St. James Gate had made it the largest brewery in Ireland in 1838 and the largest in the world with production having reached 1.2 million barrels per year in 1886, and twenty years later the St. James Gate brewery was employing 3,240 men, which with dependants accounted for one in 30 of the Dublin population. Today, ten million glasses of the product are drunk around the world every day in 50 countries and it is sold on to 150 countries. A pint of Guinness accounts for the more than half of all the pints of beer drunk in Ireland today. The Guinness Storehouse is the most popular tourist attraction in Dublin today, and is the Guinness museum, with well over four million visitors since it opened in Millennium year. The St. Patrick Day celebrations around the world on each 17th March results in the consumption of more than 13 million pints of the product on that day. It remains today as the largest brewer of stout in the world, but was taken over in 1997 in a merger with Grand Metropolitan Hotels to form Diageo, a British company.
Liner companies such as the British & Irish Steam Packet Co. Ltd. (B + I) calling at Dublin loaded the product in pre-booked space for transport to England together with rail steamers to Holyhead and Burns & Laird ships to Glasgow, and ships of Palgrave, Murphy, then chartered ships took the product around the world until a thriving export trade had grown up. The nuclear powered ship Savannah loaded a cargo of 6,000 cartons of bottled Guinness stout in 1964 for ports on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States of America.
In 1913, the company bought its first ship, the engines ‘midships steam collier W. M. Barkley, of 569 grt and built in 1898, from James Kelly of Belfast. A further three more ships were purchased between 1913 and 1917, these being the engines aft Kelly colliers Carrowdore of 598 grt, Clareisland of 633 grt and Clarecastle of 627 grt. They worked the Liverpool, Manchester and London routes and were fitted with refrigeration equipment to maintain the stout in perfect condition, with empty casks carried on the return voyage. W. M. Barkley was sunk by torpedo from UC 75 at 1900 hours on 12th October 1917 with the loss of five crew seven miles east of the Kish Lightship on a voyage from Dublin to Liverpool with stout. Capt. E. Gregory from Arklow, First Engineer A. Corry from Dublin, Second Engineer O. F. Murphy from Wexford, Able Seaman A. Kendall from Dalkey, and a fireman were all lost, but nine survived including cook Thomas McGlue and a gunner and were rescued by the collier Dunnet Head.
The three remaining former Kelly colliers of the fleet of Arthur Guinness & Sons Ltd. of Dublin carried on throughout the remaining war years, with all three requisitioned for war duties e.g. as colliers for the battle fleet or carrying hay to the horses in the European conflict. Carrowdore later suffered bomb splinter damage in World War II in July 1941 when a bomb ricocheted off her into the water and exploded causing minor damage. They returned to Guinness stout carriage in 1919 to Liverpool and Manchester, and were joined in May 1931 by the first purpose built beer boat in the twin masted engines aft Guinness of 1,151 grt from the yard of the Ailsa Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. at Troon. Clareisland was now redundant and was sold off to the Antrim Iron Ore Co. Ltd. in 1931.
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