A Flood Of Ale

200 years to this day—October 17, 1814—a strange calamity befell London.

A broken beer vat at the Horse Shoe Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, in London, exploded, spilling more than a million liters of porter—a dark ale native to the capital—in a 15-feet-high frothy tidal wave.

It killed people and demolished a “pair of homes.” It also inundated the nearby slum of St. Giles Rookery–which was the setting of William Hogarth’s painting, “Gin Lane”—flooding its cellars, where  families lived.

One might think that hoards of looters would have converged to collect the free beer in pots and pans. But the crowds kept their composure.



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