I have shamelessly lifted this short article from a recent newsletter of the Brewery History Society thinking it worthy of a slightly wider readership.
It describes the preferred headwear for brewers early in the twentieth century.
Nowadays, you are lucky if you find a brewer in a hairnet and a white coat, with perhaps a baseball cap and hoody being the 21st century version of the top hat and frock coat.
Taken from Brewers Guardian published in October 1935
It is said that top hats are coming into vogue again, but very few are seen about the streets at present. In the days of our youth every brewer wore a top hat and frock coat and even the clerks in the brewery offices wore them.
At Courage's brewery the top hat is still de rigeur among the firm's brewing staff, and whenever we have met Mr Le May, their head brewer, he has always worn a top hat and morning coat.
A director of the company explained that formerly all brewers wore silk hats.
"Breweries usually being badly lit and invariably having quantities of pipes at the most inconvenient heights, top hats served the dual purpose of feelers and crash helmets. As the pipes and the bad lighting are still fairly common, I can only suppose that the brewers must now have become too artful at dodging to need any protection."
These top-hatted brewers once had the active support of the directors, but in 1920 even the board deserted silk hats for the bowler. For the same reason the under-brewers at Burton wear straw hats. some of the Birmingham brewers do likewise.
I have pinched the photo used to illustrate this from http://www.antiquemapsandprints.com/ and it shows Mr Samuel Charles Allsop from Burton c1885.