Bitter Beer Cask label circa 1925.

Bitter Beer Cask label circa 1925.
A quantity of these cask labels were found in the caves at Reigate.

Monday, 18 February 2008



Before moving on to further brewing concerns in Reigate, the author would like to deal with miscellaneous other information proper to Mellersh & Neale which it is felt would interest the reader. This information concerns various aspects such as the volume of trade the brewery enjoyed, the extent of its plant throughout the brewery, and details of its various contracts with suppliers. The author gives this information only to convey to the reader some idea of the undertaking it actually was.

At the end of this webpage I have shown some illustrations of beer-bottle labels in an endeavour to convey some idea of the variety of brews Mellersh & Neale had available to offer the discerning drinker. Among other brews, there was produced a patriotic beer during the Great War called Khaki Ale. The label design for which was registered as a trademark on May 5th, 1915 (TM: 367.216). How fitting a tribute to those young men who enlisted in the early years of the conflict, many of whom were destined never to return. The Brewery Trade Review for October 1st, 1914, reported that eleven employees and two horses were enlisted for active service from the ranks of Mellersh & Neale.

The prices of beer rocketed during the war years as duty was ever increasingly levied, and the specific gravity of the beers, by Government order, were reduced. The following chart shows the effect over the period 1914 to 1919. What is not revealed in the chart is that for the year ended December 31st, 1913, the beer duty rate rose to 23/- per barrel. By 1919, "Entire" was no longer brewed. It had become a casualty of the War. By Government order, only light beers were to be brewed. Public Houses were also restricted to only 50% of their pre-war stock and in 1920 at the Brewing Exhibition for the first time ever, there was no brew of "Porter" or "Entire" on show.

Beer duties during the Second World War also took their toll. At the outbreak of hostilities, duty increased 24/- per bulk barrel upon peacetime levels, and a further increase by 17/- at a specific gravity of 1027+ was introduced in April 1940 with an additional 6d per degree above that level.

Despite these restrictions, Mellersh & Neale continued to produce beers of the finest quality. The Company enjoyed several awards for their products. First Prize was awarded to them for their Stout in the 1907 Brewers Exhibition, and their Mild Ale carried away the first prize in 1921. They also boasted the highest award in the Mineral Water, Food & Cooking Exhibition, 1904.

At the time of the Meux acquisition of Mellersh & Neale, a list was drawn up of the various contracts which were extant with regard to raw materials. Among these the most notable facts were as follows:

Brewers & Bottlers Supply Ltd. 100 gross first quality pasturising screw stoppers, lettered Mellersh & Neale, at five shillings and five pence per gross nett, delivered.

Avern, Sons & Barris. For IPA and Brown Ale, 2561 corks at ninepence halfpenny per gross. For Guinness, LBA, No 2 Ale, Stout, and Single Stout, 5622 gross corks at eightpence halfpenny per gross.

Wood, Hanbury, Rhodes & Jackson. 9 pockets of Paine Mid-Kent 240/- 1936, 10cwts. 1 qrs., 0lbs.;
Arthur Morris & Co. 10 bales of 235/- Styrian 1937, of which 5 bales in cold store, 9cwts. 1qr. 14lbs.;
Henry Barrett & Co. 7 pockets of 208/- Podmore Kent 1936, 11cwts. 2qrs. 3lbs.; 3 pockets of 187/- Corke, Sussex 1937, 5cwts. 2qrs. 24lbs; and 5 pockets of 188/- Betts, Mid-Kent 1937, 7cwts. 3qrs. 18lbs.; making a total stock at the brewery of 44cwts. 3qrs. 3lbs.

Gripper, Son & Wightman. 420qrs. Pale "B" at 73/- per qr.; 400qrs of Mild Ale "B" at 67/- per qr; 100qrs Ouchak at 59/- per qr. Total: 920qrs.
R. & W. Paul Ltd. 50qrs Mild Ale at 66/- per qr.; 170qrs Californian "B" at 65/- per qr.; Total: 220qrs.

Albion Sugar Co. Ltd. 43 tons invert sugar. No.1. at £21 per ton; No.2. at £20 per ton; and No,3. at £19 per ton. Delivered to the brewery as required;
J. Travers & Co. 17 and a half cwts Venezuela Panela Raw Cane at 21/3d per cwt.

A visitor to the brewery in 1933 was invited by Mellersh & Neale to write up his visit, which he agreed to do, and the result was produced as a publication issued by the brewery later that same year. The charm of the tour lies in the writer's style, and since it gives an excellent insight to the workings of the brewery, the author reproduces it here without alteration:

"The pleasant smell of grain tells us we are with the malt, which is taken from the sacks and thrown into the mill to be electrically crushed. Before passing to the actual rollers it encounters a row of electric magnets which pick out any fragments of metal which may have found their way into the barley.
"A neat little lift of a chain of scoops, called Jacobs Ladder, cart the crushed malt away to the hopper, where a happy union with the water takes place, and a porridge-like mixture plops itself over the slotted false bottom of the colossal copper mashing tuns. Heated by steam, and indulging in the luxury of a revolving shower of hot water, the resulting liquor known as Sweet Wort is drawn off, and conveyed by pipes to the great boiling coppers, each holding 2,300 gallons, and is boiled for one and a half hours. The remaining malt in the mash tuns is termed Brewer's Grain and sold to farmers for cattle.
"Now a visit is paid to the Hop Pockets, each holding a hundredweight and a half. Only English hops are used at Mellersh & Neale's, and if you want to test good hops, rub a flower between your fingers, and the greater the degree of stickiness left on your fingers, the more valuable the hops. It is resin the beer wants, for flavour and quality.
"These hops are now added to the boiling wort and the mixture is strained and filtered into the Hopback. The remaining hops are drawn off and add to their usefulness as hop manure.
"The wort now does a little climbing to the cooling department, and trickles happily down a series of horizontal bronze pipes, which are filled with cold water, passing from a temperature of 190 to 60 degrees.
"Now back to the wort which is on its way to the great fermenting tanks. Here the yeast is added, and fermentation takes place. For a whole week it remains in these tanks, and every three hours it has its temperature taken so that no accident shall befall. The check is applied by cold copper pipes in the fermenting tank. During this process a gas is being manufactured, and, in an industry where nothing is wasted, it is controlled and transferred to the bottling department for future use.
"Take a gentle sniff at this fermenting liquor, 3600 gallons of it. If you have a cold in the head it will do you good. Sniff too hard, and we'll deschend to the nexsh - hic - floor! You may find it somewhat overpowering.
"At the end of the week the yeast, which has formed a solid mass over the beer, is removed and the racking into barrels or bottles is carried out.
"It descends by copper tubes into a narrow glass gulley, then by more piping into the casks. A handful of hops are thrown into the cask before bunging up, to add to the flavour, and then, according to the strength required, the barrels stand in cellars to cool, some a week and some much longer.
"Before bottling another system of refrigeration is carried out to ensure clear, sparkling liquid, free from deposit. With the aid of modern machinery bottling is a magical art, and in a flash of time, bottles are washed and scrubbed with caustic soda, filled, stoppered and labelled.
"Now before we follow the beer to the inn let us see something of the cleanliness of the industry. Not a speck of dust or dirt to be seen, the copper vessels shine inside and out, every metal part in the brewery is shining like the sun, even the air is filtered, and as an even better illustration, watch the interesting modern process of cleaning a cask. A job that in old times was labour indeed. Today the empty cask is fitted on a circular rest, with a metal jet with a slit nozzle forced into the bung hole. This jet ejects water at 212 degrees farenheit and a pressire of 200 lbs. into the cask, which is slowly revolving, and continues for thirty seconds. To illustrate the force the cask was removed for my benefit, and though standing several yards away, I was forced to run to escape a drenching.
"Clean, healthy and wholesome, and yet there are people with warped lives and addled brains, who would decry the mellow drink which has helped to put Britain on the map. Viciousness would have to fight hard for a footing in such pleasant surroundings, and if these cheery, honest fellows, who ply the trade of their forefathers, are agents of the "Old Gentleman" then the Geographical side of my theology is badly at fault.
"Now to the inn, perhaps there is just a touch of Disappointment at the replacement of horses by motor vans, spick and span as they are. What fine animals they were, those sturdy old horses of the brewer's drays, but still, one cannot afford to be too sentimental these days. So by the sweet lanes of Surrey to the village inn, and in cool cellars the barrels will await "The Call to Tankards".
"Better pens than mine have extolled the beauty of the inn, the sanded floors and well scrubbed furniture, the cooling row of pewter tankards, the clean white cloth of the dining table, the cheery gossip and good fellowship gathered beneath the swinging sign of hospitality. Raise yor tankards - Gentlemen, the beer has arrived and its journey ended - a beautiful trip."

Mellersh & Neale Drip Mat c1935

Mellersh & Neale Drip Mat c1935
I am currently offering £150+ for these.

Mellersh & Neale's Trade Fair stand

Mellersh & Neale's Trade Fair stand
1939 Brewers' Exhibition

The Hop Store 1933

The Hop Store 1933
Pockets of C E Pope Cranbrook, Kent, 1932 hops

The Malt Store 1933

The Malt Store 1933
Pockets of Grippers & Wightman of Hertford Malt