Google Books. A resource I’ve only recently discovered, but one I plan on employing many, many times in the future. Lately I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on British brewing history, and through some wonderful resources I’ve learned more about beer in the UK than I would have ever thought to. The depth of it is simply staggering. But all of this reading has prompted me to think about the brewing history of where I come from; New Jersey. There isn’t much of it out there, at least not in the sort of nitpicking, down-to-the-last-freaking-detail sort of way that I prefer. There are obviously well-known New Jersey beer brands that have come and gone: Ballantine of course comes to mind. But Ballantine was hardly the only brewer roaming the region. The middle of the 19th century saw quite a few German immigrants coming to Newark, Hoboken and Jersey City. They wanted good beer, so brewers started to sprout in the area. A man named Christian Feigenspan founded a brewery in Newark in 1875, and originated the “Pride of Newark” beer brand, according to the Encyclopedia of New Jersey printed in 2004 (97). After a little Google Books search, I saw that the Feigenspan brewery got itself into a little bit of trouble with a particular brewer. That brewer was Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton, brewers of Bass Pale Ale, perhaps the most recognizable beer brand in the world at the time.
I found the following in a book called “The Federal Reporter, Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States,” published in 1899 by West Publishing Company (now a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters) in St. Paul, MN. In it, I learned two things that piqued my interest:
1) Bass Must Have Been Pretty Pissed – A court case centered around the well-known Bass trademark, the red triangle, which was the UK’s first registered trademark, and was slapped on Bass products. Bass charged that Feigenspan infringed on its red triangle trademark, and asked for an injunction and an account. In a decision that appears to have come down on August 5, 1899, the details are sorted by District Judge Bradford. Of course, Bass was a well-known brand worldwide, and the judge makes sure to mention that Bass had already been shipping its beer to the United States for 50 years, presumably all branded with the red triangle. The Feigenspan brewery, though, put a triangle of its own on two of its beers; Feigenspan’s Finest India Pale Ale and very interestingly to me, bottled half-and-half, which was a mixture of the IPA and a brown stout (more comments on this in a second). Though the triangles are both depicted in the book, there’s no color, so it’s hard to see all the similarities. But apparently, the Feigenspan triangle was “the combination of a red triangle, a narrow gold border surrounding and binding it, a monogram consisting of the letters “C” and “F” in the middle, and some fine scroll ornamentation in each corner” (209). You can get a look at each triangle here. The judge decided that Feigenspan was indeed attempting to benefit from Bass’ reputation by using a triangle, no matter the differences in logo details, and Bass was entitled to the injunction and account.
2) Brown Stout – Of course that’s all interesting to me enough as it is, but what’s equally as interesting to me on a nerdy level is the mention of “brown stout.” Brown Stout, which was later shortened to simply “Stout”, was the original name for the stronger version of porter. This was 1899 in the United States. I’m quite honestly intrigued by the fact that the term “Brown Stout” was still in use to describe porter’s stronger relative. I’m sure there were instances of it still being used in Britain as well, but it’s still quite interesting to see the term being used at the turn of the century, when lager had started its inevitable takeover in the United States. It makes me wonder how many more times the phrase must have been used over here. AND, let’s think of the product this beer was being used for. Bottled half and half; a mixture of the Feigenspan IPA and the brown stout. Essentially a bottled black and tan. I had no idea that bottled black and tans were being sold back then. I would imagine requesting a black & tan-style blend in a bar was common, but bottling one in 1899? That’s fascinating to me. Suddenly bottled Saranac Black & Tan and Yuengling Black & Tan don’t seem like such recent developments.
On that note, I’ve got more books to nose through.
- “The Federal Reporter, Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States,” 1899. West Publishing Company.
- “Encyclopedia of New Jersey” Maxine N Lurie, Marc Mappen. 2004. Rutgers University Press.
(I haven’t done a Works Cited page in about 50 years, so if any of this is incorrect, do let me know and I’ll happily fix it.)