London Streets Flooded with Beer

Published: 03/09/2022 By Allan Fuller

The London Beer Flood was an accident at Meux & Co's Horse Shoe Brewery, London, on 17 October 1814. 

It took place when one of the 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) wooden vats of fermenting porter ( a mild beer) burst. The pressure of the escaping liquid dislodged the valve of another vessel and destroyed several large barrels: between 128,000 and 323,000 imperial gallons (580,000–1,470,000 L; 154,000–388,000 US gal) of beer were released in total. 

The resulting wave of porter destroyed the back wall of the brewery and swept into an area of slum dwellings known as the St Gilesrookery. Tragically eight people were killed, The coroner'sinquest returned a verdict that the eight had lost their lives "casually, accidentally and by misfortune". 

The brewery was nearly bankrupted by the event; it avoided collapse after a rebate from HM Excise on the lost beer. The brewing industry gradually stopped using large wooden vats after the accident. The brewery moved in 1921, and the Dominion Theatre is now where the brewery used to stand. Meux & Co went into liquidation in 1961.