I warned you I was starting on the WW I chapter of my book. I'd been looking forward to it so much. Then I noticed the holes in my notes. I'd forgotten to photograph the Whitbread Ale logs for 1914-18. Bum. I need another archive visit soon. Very soon.
Strange as it may seem, and in direct contrast to malt, there was a glut of hops in 1917 and 1918. It was so serious that the government had to step in and buy the surplus crop to prevent hop farmers from going bankrupt.
Why was this? In 1917 the government limited beer production to half the number of standard barrels brewed in 1914. Gravity cuts meant that the reduction in bulk barrels wasn't so large, but breweries had effectively halved the amount of malt they used. It's no wonder that they required far fewer hops. As there is no other use for hops, suddenly there were far more available than there was need for.
This explains why, although gravities fell during WW I, hopping rates didn't. Postwar the hopping rate of Whitbread beers, in terms of pounds of hops per quarter of malt used - a good method of eliminating differences in the gravity - was higher than it had been in 1914.
You can see the changes in gravity and hopping rates of Whitbread beers pre- and post-WW I:
You'll see that the quantity of hops in Whitbread X Ale remained constant, even though the gravity had dropped a significant amount.
Beers on sale in a London pub in 1917
A price fixing agreement by publicans gives an insight into the types of beer on sale in a London pub in 1917.
The new scale of prices as fixed by the Licensed Victuallers' Central Protection Society of London is:
Mild and Bitter__4.5d_____3.5d.
Stout and Mild__5d_______4d.
Mild and Burton_5d_______4d.
Other prices: Small Bass 7d.; Guinness 8d.; London stout (screws) 5d.; pale ale (screws) 5d.; barley wine nips 6d.; lager, light or dark, 8d.
"The Price of Beer Yesterday" Weekly Dispatch, April 8th 1917
The decline in Porter is apparent by its exclusion from the agreement. It could no longer have been a standard draught beer. Mild, Bitter and Burton would maintain there place on the bar for another forty years. Draught Stout disappeared soon after WW II, but remained important in bottled form.
Seven years - Seven years in the pub trade was enough. It was great fun and very lucrative, but I've done everything I wanted to do. Life's too fleeting to linger in a job...
3 hours ago