21 January 2015
A Beer Flood?
Two hundred years ago one of the strangest events in history involving beer occurred. This is known as the London Beer Flood. Inside a predictably safe London brewery on October 17, 1814, a three story high vat of beer exploded, unleashing a tidal wave of porter that killed eight people in the neighboring tenements.
Bainbridge Street Brewery of Messrs was an outstanding brewery that dominated all other breweries. Built to last, the brewery produced more than 100,000 barrels of dark colored nectar each year and held even more. There were numerous three story high vats girdled with heavy iron hoops in which the black beer fermented. Each hoop weighed 700 pounds. Everything was built to hold more than the capacity.
Around 4:30 p.m. on October 17, 1814, storehouse clerk George Crick inspected one of the three-story-tall wooden vats girdled with heavy iron hoops in which the black beer fermented. As he looked down from his perch, the clerk suddenly noticed that a 700-pound hoop had slipped off an enormous cask that stored a 10-month-old batch of beer. Crick, who had been with the company for seventeen years and watched it grow to become the city’s prime porter of brewery, thought nothing of it as it had happened two or three times a year. Soon after he penned the note around 5:30 p.m., Crick heard a massive explosion from inside the storeroom. The compromised vat, which held the equivalency of one million pints of beer, had burst into splinters. The blast broke off the valve of an adjoining cask that also contained thousands of barrels of beer and set off a chain reaction as the weight of the 570 tons of liquid smashed other hogsheads of porter.
The force of the explosion sent bricks raining over the tops of…