History of the Institute
Some idea of the scale of the Brewing Industry in Great Britain and Ireland in 1886, the fiftieth year in the reign of Queen Victoria, can be gleaned from the photographs taken around this time of Camerons Hartlepool, Watkins Hereford and Style and Winch Maidstone.
Some 28 million barrels (46 million hectolitres) of ales and stouts were produced and there were no less than 30 breweries operating in Burton-on-Trent alone, employing 17,000 people. Best ale was sold at 36 shillings per kilderkin, or less than two pence per pint!
In terms of historical perspective, 1886 was the year when Gladstone the Prime Minister was forced to resign over "Home Rule for Ireland", when France presented the Statue of Liberty to the United States of America and when, in Germany, the first motor cars were being separately produced by Herr Benz and Herr Daimler.
That same year an Italian scientific expedition was massacred in Somalia, Vancouver in Canada was largely destroyed by fire and Franz Liszt, the composer, died. On a lighter note, in London, Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado was enjoying its inaugural record-breaking run and in the United States of America, Dr. John Pemberton invented the secret formula for Coca Cola.
It was the nineteenth century, the century when science and its potent technologies, exploded on the world to revolutionise so much of industry and in no small measure the brewing scene. This was due to the almost extraordinary endeavours of many talented researchers who were the first to realise the immense possibilities that the field offered especially in areas of chemistry and biology to the trained scientific mind.
The Laboratory Club, which was the precursor of the Institute of Brewing, evolved quite naturally from the desire of several such scientists with malting and brewing interests to meet and discuss the burning questions that beset them in their daily work.