In c.1679 Joseph Truman acquired the Black Eagle Brewery in east London. The brewery grew steadily in the 18th century, driven by the demand for Porter, a heavily hopped beer produced from dark brown malts. Porter was the first beer that could be mass produced and by 1760 Truman’s brewery was the third biggest in London, brewing 60,000 barrels of beer a year.
In 1789 Sampson Hanbury took over the brewery. He would become one of the most important figures in Truman’s history, responsible for bringing in new levels of professionalism and efficiency. Under his control Truman’s expansion continued and Porter production was increased to 200,000 barrels a year by the 1820s.
In 1811 Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, became a partner and the company was styled Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co.
Buxton was handed control of the ledgers, later taking on responsibility for reorganising the brewery to improve efficiency, which he achieved with great success and by 1850 the brewery was the largest in London.
During the second half of the 19th century Pale Ale became more popular than Porter. Truman’s acquired and redeveloped a brewey in Buxton, Derbyshire (the source of the best Pale Ale) which made the company the biggest brewer in the world.
The brewery continued to grow during the first half of the 20th century, increasing its pub estate and buying up suppliers. However, as the century progressed, Truman’s began to struggle in the face of competition from imported lagers.
During the 1960s the business was restructured, however in 1971 it was acquired by Metropolitan Hotels Ltd. Brewing at Buxton ceased in 1971 but the Black Eagle Brewery continued to operate until 1989 when it was shut down.
In 2010 the Truman brand name was revived by two London businessmen. A new brewery in Hackney Wick was opened in September 2013, and Truman’s beer is currently stocked by a number of London pubs.