Tracy S. Morris

Quirky Mysteries, Screwball Fantasy and Sassy History

I Am Not Making This Up: Beer Tidal Waves Aren’t As Fun As You Might Think

Written By: Tracy - Feb• 10•15

The Super Bowl has just passed, which made me think of today’s topic: the London Beer Flood of 1814. (And if Super Bowl commercials don’t make you think of beer tidal waves, you and I don’t watch the same sport).

On October 17, 1814 George Crick, a storehouse clerk at Meux and Co. brewery (sometimes called the Horseshoe brewery) noticed that a 700 pound iron hoop had slipped off of a three-story tall vat of porter (a type of beer that the brewery specialized in. ). Although the vat was completely filled with the fermenting beverage, Crick wasn’t alarmed. The hoop slipped at least three times yearly.

On the advice of his boss, Crick left a note for another brewery employee who could fix the vat.

At 5:30 pm, crick heard an explosion as the vat splintered under the pressure of 1 million pints of beer.

Like a twisted game of dominoes, the flood of beer knocked the taps off of surrounding vats, causing them to empty their contents and growing the tidal wave.

An estimated 570 tons of beer smashed it’s way through the streets of St. Giles Rookery, the poor tenement neighborhood where the brewery stood. Since the streets had no drainage system in place, the beer had nowhere to go but straight into the homes.

Under the pressure of the wall of beer, Two houses collapsed, and eight women and children either drowned or were crushed by debris.

In the wake of the tragedy, a jury ruled the accident an “Act of God,” and refunded the brewery for taxes that it had already paid on the beer. The brewery closed in 1921 and was torn down a year later. The Dominion Theatre was built there immediately after.

Ironically, a Hillsong Church London holds services there each Sunday.


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