MONTPELIER — The sign outside the Three Penny Taproom pays homage to the London Beer Flood of 1814.
10.4.1814 - A storage vat collapses at London's Horse Shoe Brewery. Releasing more than 300,000 gallons of porter. 8 people are killed "by drowning, injury, poisoning by porter fumes or drunkenness." Come drown in ours!
It's true that a giant vat of porter collapsed in October and eight people reportedly died as a result.
However, according to Alamo South Lamar's Head Beer Nerd Jim Hughes, it appears to have been on Oct. 17, 1814 rather than on this day, Oct. 4, 1814, when the beer flood occurred.
Hughes writes that the Meux and Company Horse Shoe Brewery was located in a shanty party of London near the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road, it's apparently an upscale part of town now.
In the early part of the 19th century, porter was a popular beer. It's aged, and breweries at the time were competing to see who could build the biggest vat and age the most tastiest of porters.
When the Horse Shoe Brewery's vat of porter collapsed, it reportedly took out houses and filled the nearby neighborhood with a sea of aged porter.
The number of gallons of beer lost was probably closer to 200,000, according to Hughes, but witnesses said that when the beer burst through the brewery wall, it was a 15-foot wave of porter.
Of the eight people who died as a result of the beer flood, some apparently succumbed to alcohol poisoning from drinking the 10-month aged and uncut porter.
Source: The London Beer Flood of 1814. Jim Hughes.