The Union Brewery business was established in 1840, and the fact that it survived for many years in the same family is a strong indication of the lines on which it had been conducted. In these days, feverish speculation was not necessary conducive to sound trading and businesses that rapidly change hands had neither the permanency or continuity of management which, in a well-managed company, constitutes the best guarantee and protection for the purchaser.
An old established business like this however, had not only the benefit of all the accumulated experience of over half a century, but has a certain commendable family pride and interest to sustain its credit and reputation, Bate and Son were thoroughly experienced practical business men, with more than the average enterprise and energy but, although they administered the business on the soundest lines of commercial enterprise, it is easy to observe that their personal pride in the Union Brewery is such as to make it a matter of principle to maintain its reputation at all cost and to aim at its permanent prosperity rather than immediate or temporary gain.
The concern, therefore, is managed throughout according to the best traditions of British trading, and the quality of the output is consistently maintained notwithstanding any fluctuations in the markets, the taxes, or any of the numerous other circumstances that affect the trade from time to time. The brewery was well-situated and was provided with an unlimited supply of water which, for purity and adaptability for brewing purposes was unrivalled. The brewery was a compact well-arranged building equipped with good modern plant. Quality, however, was the main object here rather than quantity and the operations were all conducted with a view to that end.
The malt used was made from the best growths of barley carefully selected from the stocks of the leading agriculturists and the grain was germinated under the best conditions in the well-fitted malthouses of the company. There was always a good reserve stock of the best malt and the hop stores contain a large supply, including some especially fine pockets of the choicest growths produced in England.
The mash tuns, coppers, coolers, fermenting tuns, etc., were fitted up with improved modern appliances and the whole of the premises were remarkably well organised, clean and orderly. In 1874, additional steam power was introduced and this, with Steel’s improved mashing machinery, modern arrangements for skimming the head off the fermenting vessels, improved washing and other appliances, had facilitated the work and promoted clean working. There were good cask washing and cooperage arrangements, old casks being repaired and new ones made from the best Memel oak.
The cellars provided storage for about 600 casks and the bottle-washing and bottling were done in a business-like manner. The Union Brewery with its malthouses, yards, stabling and other outbuildings, formed a very compact and well-managed business and with the staff of horses, drays and men employed, every facility was provided for delivering the goods to public and private customers within a wide radius of Wrexham.
As reported in the Wrexham Illustrated 1892:
We had an opportunity of sampling some of the pale ales and stout for which the Union Brewery is noted, and we can only say that we fully and cordially endorse the public taste in this matter, especially after seeing the careful way these liquors are made.
If we were to say that in this matter the vox popui was the vox del some of our readers might imagined we had sampled “not wisely but too well,” or else that we had penned this description of the Union Brewery in the sampling-room. Our sober judgment, however, is that for purity, condition, and flavour, we have not tasted any finer beverages or any that conduce more to good digestion and good health than these productions, and we can fully understand the great popularity they have gained throughout the district. The old brewer at the Union Brewery, we are told, always made a practice of having a glass of his brewing as a tonic and appetiser before meals, pretty good evidence that he knew it to be sound and pure.
The trade was a large and growing one and the firm had an extensive connection in and around Wrexham. Bate and Son personally supervised the whole operation of the business and were highly respected for their enterprise and public spirit.
The company was bought out by the Peter Walker Brewery of Burton on Trent in 1909 (operated by Sir Andrew Walker, brother of Peter Walker of Wrexham’s Walker’s Brewery). In 1927 it was sold to Island Green Brewery.
Source: Wrexham Illustrated 1892. Encyclopaedia of Wrexham p.309.