Spot the difference #58; Clarkson’s Old Brewery, Barnsley

Two things have prompted this post. First the comment from ‘Fascinated by beer labels’ yesterday. Who is this? And secondly a discussion with Des, the Society’s esteemed treasurer, during the excellent meeting yesterday at Sadler’s Brewery, Lye. This pair from Clarkson’s Old Brewery is almost a competition entry. See if you can spot the crucial difference.



  • Alastair W

    The labels show how beers have been devalued in strengths through the years. Even poor old Clarksons did it with their Pale Ale – going from XXXX to XXX. Was the XXXX possibly pre-1916 and the XXX post that date when the Government Beer Strength Orders came into force requiring gravity reductions, or is it when the “Suits” and accountants started running breweries and reduced gravities but kept the same “Brand” names to make more money for shareholders whilst reducing quality for drinkers.

  • Alastair W

    196 is now “1916”

  • Fascinated by beer labels

    This is what I meant when I said ‘keep up the good work’ and is part of the reason why I am fascinated by beer labels. I probably wouldn’t have spotted the change in the second label and Alastair’s explanation of a possible reason is reasonable. Did the number of XXXs really reflect the beer’s actual strength, or was it a comparative strength?
    By the way, we have met. A brewery visit in 1996.

  • Michael

    The earlier label designs from Clarkson’s used XXXX. I would suggest that when the design was first changed they simply carried on using XXXX and when it subsequently changed again to emphasise its provenance (see the larger lettering on the bottom half of the right hand label) it became XXX either by accident. or to be neater. It really has nothing to do with the ‘suits’ or the strength of the beer – merely a question of design.

  • Fascinated by beer labels

    Two people, both of whom have a reputation for their knowledge and experience, have completely different explanations of what we see here. Love it! I wonder what others think.

  • Pete S

    OK now the mystery deepens. Who is FbBL & which brewery was it in 1996? Has Peter D sussed out the ID of the person in the shadows? What will be revealed in the next episode? Oh by the way I think either supposition may be right re the Clarkson labels.

  • Pete S

    With all the discussion re 4X & 3X, no one has mentioned that the girth strap on the 3x version is considerably narrower or that the ellie’s tail is much shorter. Was this another money saving exercise? Or was the artist just not bothered about continuity.

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