Young’s branding: Label design

Oatmeal Stout 1923

Oatmeal stout label c1920s

This month’s blog post focuses on the marketing records from the Young’s collection and specifically beer label designs for its beers. When Young & Bainbridge began brewing beer at the Ram Brewery in the 1830s, branded products did not exist in the industry and many brewers produced beers with no marking other than an X. This denoted the strength of a particular beer so, for example, one with three crosses was stronger than beer with two. It was only when the company’s first trade mark was registered in 1893 that the company adopted an official emblem (a Dorset Horn ram) and as the demand for bottled beers grew in the early 20th century, they began to print labels for their beers with the Ram emblem.

RamRod 1970s

Ram Rod label c1970s

By 1923, Young’s began creating label designs for beers such as Strong Ale, Amber Ale and Oatmeal Stout. In 1932, a product called Burton was introduced which was the direct ancestor of the prize-winning Winter Warmer beer and, like the modern-day version; Burton was only brewed in the winter months. Two other popular Young’s brands, Special and Ram Rod were introduced in 1949 and 1971 respectively.

Coronation Ale 1953

Young’s also produced special bottlings to mark national events. A Coronation Ale was bottled in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This beer continued to be available under the name Celebration Ale from 1954 until 1971. Special bottlings were also created to mark the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977 (Silver Sovereign) and to mark the 50th anniversary of VE day (Victory Ale and Victory Pilsener). In addition to special bottlings to mark national events, Young’s also produced special bottlings for long-serving tenants of their pubs and also employees upon their retirement from the business. Special bottlings were even created for events as diverse as the 900th anniversary of Charlwood Village in 1980 and the launch of the Heavy Horses album by rock band Jethro Tull in 1978.

Victory ale 1995

Source – Britain’s Oldest Brewery: The story behind the success of Young’s of Wandsworth, Helen Osborn, 1999

The project is very generously funded by the William Allen Young Charitable Trust, a charity funded and run by Young and Co.’s Brewery, P.L.C.  In the course of the project, records from Young & Co.’s Brewery and subsidiary companies will be appraised, catalogued, conserved, repackaged, and made accessible to researchers.

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