One of the more controversial UK lager myths is who brewed the first lager. Some maintain it was the Anglo Bavarian brewing company in Shepton Mallett, a company that specially imported a Bavarian brewmaster to do the necessary for them.
Whether he did or not is still uncertain, but by January 1870 an advertisement in the Gloucester Journal read:
Anglo-Bavarian Ales – The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Company are now prepared to deliver these ales which possess all the essential properties of the highest class ales of Bavaria and Burton on Trent. Prices: India Pale Ale 1s.6d. per gallon. Mild Ales 1s.2d. 1s.4d 1s.6d per gallon. Strong Ales 1s.8d. 2s. per gallon. The Amber Ale. Brewed especially for family use and supplied in kilderkins 18 gallons 21s. and firkins 9 gallons 11s. Agent C.F. Cooksey, 12 Eastgate Street, Gloucester.
There has been some suggestion that the Amber Ale was the recipient of the Bavarian influence, but apart from newspaper cuttings, little is known about the beer. What little is known is tucked away in the official history of the brewery “The Anglo” by local Somerset author Fred Davis, which I was lucky enough to find in the local Martins’ Newsagent (thanks to a tip from local historian Alan Stone). I was on a flying visit to Shepton Mallett to pick up the book so I only had a quick look at the brewery itself – still an impressive building though.
Whether the brewery brewed lager or just used Bavarian know how to produce a better quality beer is unknown. The brewery did become known as a technical innovator and in 1873 won a medal at the Vienna World Fair for the quality of its bottled Amber Ale – one of only two English beers that survived the trip. (Compare that with Carlsberg’s beer that was sent half way around the world before arriving in Vienna, to be pronounced excellent).