A Literal Flood Of Beer

I am going to be in the UK pretty soon, and I was thinking of a story I had heard many years before about a brewing catastrophe. I did a little digging around and am still amazed at the story.

Meux’s Brewery was founded in 1764 in London, and persisted until 1961 when I was liquidated. The company had been brewing for 50 years when in 1814, one of the brewers noted that an iron hoop on one of the wooden vats showed signs of damage. The vats at that time were wooden, and made like barrels. There was a series of iron hoops that held the vat together.

These weren’t ordinary vats in this brewery. This particular vat held 3555 barrels. That is 110,205 gallons of beer. The hoops weighed more than 500 pounds each, and there were around 30 hoops holding the vat together. The explosions was heard over five miles away.

Around 6pm on the evening of the 17th of October, 1814, the damaged hooped suddenly broke. The pressure was such that the vat exploded, shattering two other nearby vats. These combined vats held approximately 396,250 gallons of beer, or more than 12,000 barrels of beer. The beer rushed out into the streets and flooded the nearby housing districts. The was in the Totingham Court Road area, and there were lots of poor housing surrounding the brewery. The wall of beer was said to be 15 feet tall when it left the brewery. In all, nine people were drowned or killed by rubble in the disaster. Due to the poor nature of the area, families of some of the victims were said to have set the bodies up in a house in the area, and were charging people to pass through and get a look at the victims. Too many people were allowed into the house at once and the floor collapsed into the basement, which was still half full of beer from the flood. No one was killed in the incident.

As a side note, the beer was a porter.


~ by tardoin on July 16, 2011.

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