Sunday, 30 November 2008

Whitbread PA costings 1914 - 1919

Just a short post today. It is the weekend, after all. Time for me to have a bit of a rest.

More Whitbread costing from WW I. I guess you all must find it as fascinating as I do. If you haven't given up on this blog yet. I could talk about WW I all day. Beer during WW I. Not so sure why.

PA is useful for these purposes because it's one of only three beers Whitbread brewed all through the war. It's intriguing how little relationship there was between the cost of production and wholesale price.

You'll see how much the gravity fell in the last couple of years of the war, getting down to as little as 1035º. That version could have had little in common tastewise with the PA of 1914, which was nearly 6% ABV.

Next thing I need to do is to work out how much how Whitbread's total margin was in each year of the war. By multiplying the margin per barrel by the number of barrels brewed. I suspect that that remained fairly constant as the amount of beer they brewed declined.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Prices and wages 1914 - 1919

WW I again. I hope this isn't getting repetitive. Well, not really. You just get what you get. Which is whatever I'm working on at the moment.

I've got some excellent sources for the period. So expect stuff on things like the threatened nationalisation of the brewing industry, restricted pub opening times and government regulation of beer and brewing.

Prices and wages
It's hard for us today to understand the impact of price and wage inflation during WW I. Prices had scarcely increased since the 1850's, in some cases actually having fallen. In four years of war, they doubled.

Pre-war the average weekly wage varied from 26s. 4d. per week to 34s. 4d. Half the women employed were paid from 10s. to 15s. per week. In 1917 London bus drivers were earning 60s. per week, cleaners, never the best paid, were getting 40s. By 1918 even agricultural labourers, the lowest paid manual workers, were earning 60s. to 70s. a week. Munitions workers earned considerably more - from £6 (120s.) to as much as £10 (200s.) or £20 (400s.) per week.

Drinkers had, for the most part, money enough to afford the higher price of beer. After all, their wages had doubled, too. That wasn't the problem. The limited supply of beer meant that many with sufficient cash went thirsty.

The way beer was distributed to pubs was problematic. Pubs were allocated a ration of beer based on their pre-war sales. All very well, but in some areas the population had increased dramatically due to an influx of munitions workers. Unsusprisingly, there wasn't enough beer to go around in such districts.

Lack of beer caused a considerable amount of unrest amongst workers, both in the countryside and in towns. As can be seen from the article below:

The Price of Beer Yesterday.
Threatened Strike of Publicans. ---- BATTLE OF THE BAR.

Weekly Dispatch, April 8th 1917
There were some remarkable fluctuations in the price of beer in London yesterday, with a tendency to go back to the old prices.

At the Black Dog in Shoe Lane, London, bitter was only 3d a half pint - 2d. less that the price fixed by the Licensed Victuallers' Central Protection Society London: at the Temple in Tudor Street the charge had also gone down to 3d.; at the Mail Coach in Farringdon Street it was still at 5d.; at Gatti's Restaurant in the Strand itt was 4.5d.; at the Wellington Restaurant, Fleet Street, 5d.

In South London, in Camberwell and Peckham, there has been a battle of the publicans ever since Monday last. At a meeting it was agreed to put up the prices, but when the time came a minority did not do so. The news spread quickly and the old-price houses were beseiged. Another was held and again an agreement to raise the price was reached, but this time a few of the publicans had a vendetta against the men who played the trick on Monday. One man in Peckham Road put outside his house a notice stating that as other publicans in the district had been disloyal the old prices would be charged until further notice. Many others are doing the same. Yesterday in these old-price houses, it was fighting room only. In Manchester a boycott of formidable character is taking place.

In Manchester and Salford yesterday pickets were stationed near many beerhouses in the industrial areas, and the takings of hundreds of licensees decreased by over 50 per cent.

In Liverpool the boycott also continues. There has been a great drop in the trade and, contrary to expectation, the workmen have shown no sign of buying beer at the new price. At Sunderland the premises of one publican who declined to advance the prices and charged 4d. a pint were crowded to the doors, while people intending to enter premises charging 6d. and 7d. were assailed with cries of "Come out, you blacklegs" from pickets.

A strike was threatened by publicans in Chatham and Rochester yesterday. The licensed victuallers and beerhouse keepers there have decided to accept no further supplies of malt liquors from the brewery until they reduce their rates to the prices prevailing in the greater
part of the county of Kent. According to present arrangements the public is henceforth to pay 10d. a quart for its mild ales and 1s. 6d. a quart for bitter ales.

"It's prohibition by price - so far as beer is concerned." said a London publican yesterday. He said that his sale had dropped by 50 per cent since the prices were increased in his establishment last Tuesday.

Old walked in and asked for "a pint of bitter," and when told the price had been raised to tenpence walked out without touching the drink - a remarkable example of self-denial but typical of the kind of protest the British workman will always make when he feels, rightly or
wrongly, that he is being badly imposed upon.

The new rise in the price of beer in a consequence of the war, which to many men is a more startling fact than the inflation in the prices of foodstuffs or luxuries. Twopence on on tobacco was serious, but as one ounce lasts the average smoker two or three days he did not feel the
call on his pocket so much. But tenpence for the morning pint every morning has come as a brutal shock. Mild ale is only 7d., but to a man accustomed to bitter the change is extremely distasteful.

But the consequence of the prohibitive price would not be serious if it simply compelled a man to become a total abstainer.

The truth is that beer drinkers are not becoming total abstainers; they are becoming addicted to spirits.

The other day a man walked into a well-known buffet in Fleet Street and ordered a small bottle of Bass. At the same time the man standing next to him asked for a Scotch whisky. For the Bass the barmaid demanded the new price, 7d.; for the whisky she turned to the other customer and said, "Fourpence, please."

The beer drinker hesitated, then looking at the whisky, said: "Will you change the Bass for a Scotch?" The barmaid said that she could not do that, and the convert to whisky grunted, "Well, this is the last bottle of beer I'm going to buy. I shall save threepence by drinking spirits." At the same place a customer had two glasses of mixed vermouth and they did not cost him any more than a pint of beer.

A manager who controls many public-houses, both in the City and the East End, said yesterday that there had been a very sharp rise in the consumption of whisky.

"Several men I know," he said' "who for years have had a pint of beer every morning, which was their only intoxicating drink for the day, and never touched spirits, now call for a 'double Scotch.' It costs them twopence less than the beer."

He says that the same habit is also growing among the dockers.

The publican, of course, refuses to condemn these customers for giving way to what is a bad habit merely because the country's food peril makes it imperative that the brewing of beer should be drastically cut down. The publican's attitude is that beer is a very important food to a numerous body of workers, whose constitutions have become so habituated to the drink that they feel ill without it.

A curious situation created by the new prices is that many public-houses which have large cellars and a considerable supply of barrels bought at the old price have not yet raised their charges. The result has been a migration, temporary, of customers from a new-price house to an
old-price house close by.

The new scale of prices as fixed by the Licensed Victuallers' Central Protection Society of London is:

half pint ______Glass
Mild ale ______3.5d. _____-
Bitte ________5d. ______4d.
Stout ________5d. ______5d.
Burton _______6d. ______5d.
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.

It has been pointed out on behalf of the brewers that the existing large stocks of malted barley, sufficient to brew the 10,000,000 barrels of beer authorised for this year, are useless for any other purpose.

This has been denied by Dr. Saleeby, who says that malt cake is an admirable food for cattle, and can be turned directly into meat an milk, and that if the cakes were supplied to farmers they would release for food the unmalted barley, oats, and sedes now being used as food for cattle.

In any case the public have got to make up their mind that, high price or low price, there is not enough beer to supply the old demand, or anything like it, and a good many people have got to do without it.

It is stated that a dozen or more metropolitan brewers have decided to offer their customers (or "tied" houses) the old "four ale" at 90s. a barrel and a trade discount, which will enable the publicans to sell at 3d. a half-pint and make a reasonable profit. These brewers have always maintained that 100s. per barrel, the present price, was more than the circumstances warranted. There is a feeling that the present prices for beer will come down before the end of this month.

Farm labourers were as unhappy about beer supplies as industrial workers. As the next article show,


Angry Farm Labourers Threaten Trouble.


Weekly Dispatch June 17 1917

Much dissatisfaction prevails among the farm labourers of West Lancashire concerning the scarcity of beer, and trouble is anticipated, farmers being unable to obtain the usual harvest supply.

There is trouble about beer that the simplest of measures could put right, says our political correspondent.

The teetotallers have been saying that it is no use preaching economy in food so long as grain is wasted in the manufacture of drink.

Rather is response to the need for husbanding our grain resources than to conversion to extreme temperance principles, the Government have brought down the production of beer to a very low quantity. And here it is that the point of protest is reached - not because there is less beer, but because the smaller barrelage is nor properly divided.

What are the facts? Before the war the output of beer was 36 million barrels. By means of legislation this output was first reduced to 26 million barrels, and then to 10 million barrels, which is the present quantity. In other words, for every 36 barrels of beer produced in 1913-14 only 10 are being produced to-day.

The publican is rationed according to his pre-war orders, but in the case of tied houses, where there is no covenant, the brewer may arrange supplies as he likes. The system works well where the distribution is equitable, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Much the same position as regards sugar has grown up. The publican is rationed according to the 1915 figures, which in many cases bear no relation to the present facts.
Though his customers may have increased tenfold in number he is still only able to obtain a barrelage calculated on the 1915 basis.

The result is that in districts where owing to war work there has been a considerable increase in the population there is an abnormal shortage of beer, and the people, not unjustly, are complaining that they are not getting their fair proportion of the
permitted output.

In many agricultural neighbourhoods where the farmers are making strenuous efforts to increase the acerage under wheat the agricultural labourers are insisting upon their customary allowance of beer and decline to take money instead, knowing that owing to the shortage of
money, will not buy beer.

Faced with such a problem the farmers are at their wits´ ends to know what to do.

In certain eastern counties it is said that owing to scarcity of beer publicans are either compelled to finish their selling week on a Thursday or are seriously thinking of doing so.

Workers in several arduous occupations are protesting that beer to them is more than food and that it is no question of undue indulgence. A large proportion of women workers insist on being able to obtain beer or stout for healthy reasons.

Where the brewer is not hampered by covenants and has his own houses he can exercise the same discretion as to supplies which the owner of multiple shops exercises in the case of sugar - that is to say, he can cut down the quantity supplied to a tavern in a locality with a falling
population and increase the quantity supplied to a tavern in a locality with a rising population.

The free publican, however, can demand his proportion on his 1915 basis irrespective of the change in population.

Tomorrow I should have assembled more examples of Whitrbread's wartime profiteering. As a special treat.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Profiteering Whitbread

I'm knackered. It's the end of the working week and I'm tired. So not much of a post today. Just me bullshitting a bit.

I wish I'd never started looking at Whitbread's costings. They've consumed most of my free time this week. My kids have started asking Dolores "Who's that bloke hogging the computer?"

That's the thing about old documents. There's so much in them. I try to not get trapped in the details. But I do. Very easily distracted, I am. Not much progress on the book this week. But what insights into WW I finances. You have to balance these things out.

Profiteering. The brewers were accused of bumping up their profits in WW I. What bastards. And you know, I think it could well be true. Based on what I've learned from the Whitbread records. In 1917 they whacked up their profit on a barrel of beer totally out of line with their costs. I repeat: the bastards.

In the brewers' defence, the government had restricted beer production to about a third of its 1914 level. In terms of standard barrels. That's not the same as bulk barrels. (If you need an explanation of bulk barrels and standard barrels, look here.)

That's it for today. I'll return to boring you with statistics tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

SA malt question

Quick question for you all.

I suppose I ought to explain the reason asking it first. Menno has hops and is ready to start recreating the past again. Time for me to put a couple of recipes together.

Remember me mentioning 1937 Barclay Perkins Russian Stout? Well, change of plan. Last week in the archives, I found a killer recipe from 1850. It's all malt and hopped crazily. Nine and a half pounds of (all new) hops per barrel. And an OG over 1100. Menno likes the sound of it, so we're going with the 1860 instead of the 1937 version.

But that's not why I need to ask a question. I understand the IBSt grist. Pale, amber, brown, black. A malt in the other one is my problem. The other beer Menno will brew: Whitbread 1910 2KKK. (Great name, eh?) It has loads of something called SA malt in it. PA malt is pale ale malt, MA mild ale malt. It seems logical that SA would be strong ale malt. But what the hell is that?

So anyone know what a modern equivalent of SA malt would be? It was mashed the "SA way".

Whitbread went three ways with their Ales. There was the X way. A "taps" temperature of 143º F. The PA way: 151º F; and SA way: 148º F. If that's any help in working out what SA malt might be.

The first person to point me the right way on SA malt will receive a bottle of both IBSt and 2KKK. Assuming they get brewed. And that you can either pick them up in Amsterdam or live in a country it is legal for me to post them to. Failing that, meeting at the ZBF is a possibility.

Brewers profits 1914 - 1919

Remember I mentioned costs yesterday? It prompted me to take a closer look at Whitbread's production costs during WW I.

But that doesn't mean it'll just be numbers today. I've got some newspaper articles for you, too. What a treat.

There was a widespread belief that certain members of society were making an unfair profit from the war. Publicans and brewers were amongst the groups upon whom suspicion fell. This article sums up the fears of many consumers.


Weekly Dispatch, August 26th 1917

Before the war, when Governments began to squeeze the brewing industry, brewers and publicans acclaimed alike from the housetops that "good beer is good food." Some asserted that beer was liquid bread.

Since the war began the output of this "liquid bread" has been decreased at the instance of the Government by two-thirds, and the hours during which it can be sold have been decreased by the same proportions.

The less the brewers brew, the more money they make out of the beer drinker. The brewery tap always taps the pockets of the beer drinker in steadily increasing volume.

You never hear a word of complaint from the brewers because their trade has been cut down by two-thirds. You never hear a growl from the publican because he can only sell beer for five and a half hours instead of eighteen and a half as he did before the war. Both are making bigger profits than they ever have before; both hold monopolies of trading rights, and both have had concessions made to them by the State which grants them their monopolies.

Two big breweries have between them made a profit's on the year's trading of nearly £1,000,000, and all the smaller breweries have done proportionately well. One has actually doubled its dividend within the last seven years. Brewery shares are booming and speculators are making a big profit in the sale of shares, bought by people who see that, unhindered in their vast profiteering monopoly, the brewers' profits next year will be bigger than ever.

The brewer has already more than doubled his price per barrel to the publican. The publican, not to be outdone, has followed his example, and with a bit more. Before the war he paid about 40s. a barrel for mild ale, and was content to make a profit of 8s. to 10s. a barrel. To-day he pays £5 a barrel, and makes a profit of £3 8s. a barrel.

The Bitter Ale upon which he made a profit 36s. a barrel before the war now yields him a profit of from £6 15s. to £9 a barrel.

Some simple people thought that the introduction of Government ale, which needs 9lb. of malt of malt instead of 33lb. , to make a thirty-six-gallon barrel of beer, would save the beer drinker from this plundering which is so rampant in the beer trade. Not at all.

Government ale costs the publican 76s. a barrel, and he is selling it at a profit £4 12s. a barrel.

When this ale was introduced it was stated that the full price would not be more than fivepence a pint. The publican knew better. Within a few days they began to squeeze another twopence a pint out of the beer drinker, knowing that he would pay - and grumble.

He is grumbling. Some of the unrest among the hard manual workers is due to this shameful beer profiteering. But he grumbles in the mild ale bar, and bitterly laments the exactions in the saloon bar.

There is one way in which beer profiteering could be ended. Let the government take the brewers at their word and adopt the view which they largely advertised earlier this year, that beer is food. Very well, then, Lord Rhondda has declared that 25 per cent is a fair maximum profit on food sales. He has power to examine the books of food retailers. Let him look into the books of the brewer and of the publican, and he will straightway see a clear case for reducing the present price of beer to the consumer by more than 50 per cent. and still leave the publicans more than 25 per cent profit.

Was it the public's suspicion justified? It just so happens that it's possible to check quite easily. Whitbread included costings on their brewing logs. Let's take a look.

Just before the was broke out, in August 1914, the wholesale price of a barrel of Whitbread Porter was 29 shillings. The materials and duty cost 16.74 shillings, giving Whitbread a margin of 12.26 shillings, or 42%. By the middle of 1917, The wholesale price had increased to 100 shillings, but the cost had only gone up to 39.83 shillings. Which meant that the brewery's margin had increased fivefold, to just over 60 shillings a barrel, 60% of the selling price.

Whitbread's margin remained around 60% until the end of the war, when it dropped back to about the pre-war level of 40%.

Of course, these figures don't include labour or fuel costs, both of which increased significantly during the war. Nor does it take into account the smaller quantity of beer which Whitbread were compelled to brew due to government regulations. But Whitbread certainly made considerably more profit from each barrel of beer they sold in 1917 and 1918 than they had in 1914.

Unease about beer prices was big news in 1917, when restrictions really began to bite:

Prices That Will Mean Ruin to Many Licensees.

Weekly Dispatch, April 1st 1917

Beer at a shilling a pint!
Those who smiled incredulously at the prophecies of a few weeks ago concerning the price of the national beverage will have a rude awakening to-morrow, for although no concerted has yet been taken by the London Licensed victuallers, the higher prices charged by brewers after April 1 will leave them no option but to put the increased cost on the consumer.

The circular sent out to publicans by one of the largest brewing houses announces that after April 1 prices would be as follow:

Porter______100s. per barrel
X Ale (Mild)__100s. per barrel

Stout_______140s. per barrel

Bitter_______120s. per barrel

Burton______150s. per barrel

The circular added further that the minimum retail price for porter and mild ale would be 8d. per pint.

"This means that in order to make a living the licensee must charge a shilling a pint for stout, bitter, and Burton." said a well-known representative of the Trade to a representative of The Weekly Dispatch yesterday, "and the problem is more complex than it seems. In many districts the putting up of prices will cause such a slump in consumption that keeping the doors open will scarcely be worth the while. Thus if the luckless publican puts up prices he won't sell enough to make a living. If he doesn't he will be selling to the public at a heavy loss. Either way, it means ruin for thousands."

"I don't know if there is any truth in the statement that the Government contemplate taking over the drink traffic, but the present great increase in prices would help such a step considerably, as it will mean that the fate of thousands of the smaller houses is sealed and therefore no question of compensation could arise."

As stated above, no standard prices have yet been set for London, nor will they be until after a meeting of licensed victuallers to be held during the week. But already prices are soaring, and in many West End establishments 9d. is being charged for Bass and Guinness, while in sympathy whisky has advanced to a shilling a quartern. Proprietary brands which could formerly be bought at 4s. 6d. a bottle now command 7s. 6d., and even at the latter figure hotel proprietors are not eager to sell.

The 100 shillings wholesale price for Porter in 1917 tallies with Whitbread's records. If, as stated in the article, it retailed for 8d a pint, then the retail price of a barrel was 192 shillings. Which seems a pretty fair return for the publican. Especially seeing as the reduced pub opening hours considerably reduced a landlord's working day.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Porter 1914-1919

Porter. When will I get tired of discussing Porter? Not in the near future, that's for sure. Probably never.
Today I've more numbers. Lots of them. All relating to Whitbread Porter. You'll have to bear with me. I post my research immediately. As I'm currently going through the logs I photographed in archives, that's what you get. Loads of very specific details about individual beers.

You don't get to see everything, though. That would be too confusing. I collect details other than the ones I publish here. Mashing stuff, that sort of thing. Not of great general interest. Unless you've got a Steel's masher and an underlet at home.

It's a time-consuming business. Copying stuff out of brewing logs. That's why my posts are becoming repetitive. No time to do anything else.

One thing I haven't bothered with when trawling through the Whitbread WW I logs this week. The costings. In the top righthand corner. To the right you can see this bit from the Porter brewed on August 1st 1914.

It says that it cost 16.73 shillings per barrel in materials and that it sold for just 28 shillings a barrel. That seems very cheap. Oh, and that the tax was 6.92 shillings per barrel. About 25% of the selling price. That's before the war budgets.

Now I think about it, I should have a closer look at this. Brewers were acccused of profiteering during the war. I wonder if they really did make excessive profits?

Like other cheap, standard-strength beers such as Mild, Porter was badly hit by wartime restrictions. By 1919, gravities were below 1040º. Whitbread's Porter, still a respectable 1052º in 1914, was down to 1039 by April 1918. When the dust settled, Porter gravities in the 1920's were 1036-1039º.

It's been claimed that Porter died out during WW I due to restrictions on making dark malts. Let's see what the records tell us. Whitbread brewed their Porter all through the war. Though they discontinued all of their pre-war Stouts and even X Ale, they continued to brew Porter. Porter was, along with PA and IPA, one of only three beers Whitbread made throughout the whole of the war.

In August 1914, just before the outbreak of war, Whitbread's Porter had a grist of 79% pale malt, 7% brown malt, 5% black malt and 8% sugar. Did a shortage of dark malts make them use less as the war progressed? Not at all. In 1917, their Porter had 10% brown and 9% black malt. In 1918, it was up to 14% brown and 9% black malt. Doesn't look to me like Porter was being driven to extinction by a lack of dark malt.

Here are the details of Whitbread Porter at different stages of the war:

The biggest change in Whitbread Porter grists was an increase in the percentage of sugar, which rose from 8% in 1914 to 16% in 1918.

The hopping rate of Whitbread Porter rose during the war. In 1914 it had 5.59 pounds of hops per quarter of malt. By the end of 1917 that had risen to 7.27 pounds per quarter and in 1918 it hit 8.65 pounds per quarter. Though in the latter case 50% of the hops were from the 1910 crop, and their bittering properties would have considerably reduced.

Porter gradually faded away between the wars, finally expiring in the 1950's. Except in Ireland, where Guinness Porter hung on until the 1970's.

Guinness Porter. Now there's a fascinating topic.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

British beer 1940-1949

More stuff about WW II today. Tax, average gravity. That sort of thing.

Sorry about all the numbers in recent posts. It's just what I happen to be working on at the moment.

War and austerity
As during WW I, beer gravities fell during WW II. This was the result of tax increases and government restrictions on brewing. Average gravity eventually settled in the early 1950's to 1037º, where it remained for several decades. Which means longterm gravities fell by about 10% from the pre-war average of about 1041º The nadir was reached in 1947, when it was down to just 1032.59º. Though, to put it into perspective, that's still higher than the 1030.55º of 1919, the absolute lowpoint in British beer strength.

In both absolute and percentage terms, the reduction in gravity was much greater as a result of WW I. Then average gravity dropped from 1053º to 1043º, or about 19%.

Tax on beer continued to rise after war's end, peaking in 1949 at 364s 4.5d per standard barrel. That's more than quadruple the pre-war level of 80s per standard barrel. Given the amount of revenue the tax generated, it's no surprise postwar governements were reluctant to lower it.

Increased taxation meant, while gravities didn't fall as low, the price of a pint doubled between 1940 and 1949. Just as in WW I, strengths hit their nadir after the end of hostilities. The table below will give you some idea of what you might have found on draught in a London and how much a pint would have cost.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Bitter 1920 - 1939

Yup, I'm still stuck before WW II. Today it's the turn of PA, or Bitter as it was usually called in the pub.

There's nothing earth-shattering about what I'm posting today. It is a little surprising how strong Barclay Perkins PA was right up until 1939. But that's about it for excitement. And perhaps the fact that they sometimes dry-hopped their PA with Saaz. Though you won't see that in tables below. I didn't have room to fit that in.

Bitter, or Pale Ale as it was called within breweries, suffered the smallest reduction in gravity of any style as a result of WW I. Typical pre-war gravities were in the range 1060-1065º. In the 1920's Bitters retailing at 8d a pint, were 1050-1054º. Weaker versions, selling for 7d a pint, were 1044-1048º.

There was a big difference in price between Bitter and Mild: 2d a pint. The expense of Bitter probably explains its limited popularity during the interwar years. The most popular draught beer was still Mild, which outsold Bitter by about four to one.

Whitbread's PA changed little over the interwar period.

Whitbread PA had a prettty simple grist, mostly pale malt. A mix of pale malt from Californian 6-row barley and pale ale malt made from British-grown 2-row barley. After 1930, there was also a small amount of crystal malt used. The proportion of sugar, varying between 15 and 24% was quite high. The hopping rate fell from 9 pounds per quarter to 7,33 pounds per quarter between 1923 and 1939, despite the fact that the OG increased slightly. That's less than Whitbread X Mild, which was hopped at 8.27 pounds per quarter in 1939.

Barclay Perkins brewed two draught Bitters, PA and XLK, selling for respectively 8d and 7d per pint.

The main differences with the Whitbread PA grist is the use of 8-15% maize and the absence of any crystal malt. The Barclay Perkins PA, despite its higher OG, probably tasted thinner than Whitbread PA. You'll note that there was little change in either PA or XLK between 1926 and 1939.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Stout 1920 - 1939

You may have noticed that I'm very busy with the period 1920-1950. It's a fascinating time. No, it really is. Well it's fascinating for me.

Do you think I'm going into too great detail? I worry that I'm serving up indigestible platefuls of numbers. What do you reckon? I find myself sucked into the minutiae of the past all too easily. Will I know when to stop? I've already written more than 90,000 words. And there's much, much more I haven't got to yet.

It's numbers and chips for tea again today. Just without the chips.

Though its popularity was on the wane, draught Stout was still relatively common, especially in London. It was one of the strongest draught beers found in a pub. Like all British beers, its gravity had dropped around 25% during the war years. Standard Stouts were around 1050-1055º, though there were some cheaper, weaker versions at 1045-1050º.

Here are some examples of draught Stouts.

Bottled Stout was very popular and many breweries produced several at different strengths. No, it wasn't just sweet Stout. Many were just as highly attenuated as the Guinness of the period. There were sweet Stouts and these relatively weak beers were gaining popularity, but they were by no means the commonest. Some breweries, such as Barclay Perkins, were still making very strong Stouts of up to 10% ABV.

Below are details of some typical bottled Stouts.

In London, a considerable portion of output was Porter and Stout. In 1933, these accounted for 26% of the beer brewed by Whitbread. A far cry from the glory days a century earlier, but still a significant proportion of their sales. From Whitbread price lists, we can see that in addition to the Stouts they brewed themselves, they also sold Guinness and Mackeson in their pubs.

Below is an overview of the Porter and Stouts brewed by Whitbread in the interwar period.

These are the details Whitbread's main Stouts (and Porter) in the 1932:

It's interesting that grist contains no roasted malt or barley, the only dark malts being brown and chocolate. This is probably atypical of the Stouts of the period.

The situation was different at Barclay Perkins. They were producing so little Stout, that the Porter brewhouse was also being used for other short brewlength beers such as KKKK and DB. In 1936, only 4.5% of their production was Porter or Stout.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

British brewing in WW I and WW II

It's your lucky day. If you like numbers like me. You're getting little else.

I've an incredible amount of British beer statistics. Courtesy of The Brewers' Almanack. As I've told you several times, my favourite book. These ones turned up during the work I've been doing this week on the WW II chapter of my book.

This is what I want to share with you. An overview of British beer during the two World Wars.

You'll see that in both case average gravities bottomed out after war's end. The fall in gravities was much quicker in WW I, as was their recovery. Five years after the end of WW II, average OG was still below its wartime level.

Taxation was considerable during both wars and was never rolled back to its pre-war levels. Typical, eh?

I'm still thinking about Brown Ale, in case you were wondering. I haven't forgotten my promise to pass on what I'd discovered. Just need to fiddle with some tables.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Mild Ale 1940 1949

Back to another subject dear to my heart. Mild.

What happened to Mild during WW II and its aftermath? Funny you should ask that. I've been looking at just. It's much what you would expect. Gravity cuts and price increases. War, as they say, is hell.

Today it's time for another overload of facts. Many more than you need to know. But telling you much more than you will ever need to know is my speciality. That and OG tables.

Standard Mild remained 1034-1038º until 1940, when new wartime shortages and restrictions gradually began to chip away at gravities. By 1942 it was in the range 1027-1030º, where it stayed until 1949. Few Milds were above 1030º. The price rose from 6d in pre-war to 8d in 1940, 10d in 1942, 11d in 1943, peaking at 1/2d in 1948 before falling back to 1/- in 1949. That was still double the price of 10 years earlier, for a beer around 20% weaker.

Almost all the beers listed in the table were brown in colour. Anything below 30 is about the colour of Bitter, 30-40 is a darkish amber, 40+ is brown. Knock off 3 or 4 and you get the approximate EBC colour. 16 + 40 is around 100 EBC.

Some breweries introduced "Best Mild" after the end of the war, but this was only a few degrees stronger than ordinary Mild, in the range 1032-1035º. With such a small difference, it's no wonder most breweries eventually rationalised to just one.

Let's take a closer look at a couple specific examples, Whitbread's X Mild from September 1939 and their XX Mild from 1947.

Though the gravities may be pretty low, the grists have a decent percentage of malt, 90%, and just 10% sugar. With no dark malts used, the colour came from the dark No.3 brewing sugar. The biggest change in the grists is a move from a pale malt/ Californian 6-row malt combination in 1939, to mild ale malt, listed above as MA. I'm not sure what BS means. Another brew of X from April 1940 has a base of Californian 6-row malt, pale malt and mild ale malt but also includes 2% wheat.

The hopping rate of 1947 XX, at under a pound per barrel, may look pretty puny, but you have to take into account the low gravity. Pounds of hops per quarter is the best way of comparing hopping rates for beers of different gravities. By this measure, 1947 XX is more heavily hopped than Whitbread 1910 X Mild, which had just 5.38 pounds per quarter. The seemingly greater amount of hops in 1939 X, 8.27 pounds per quarter, might well not be all it seems. A quarter of the hops were 4 years old. Ironically enough, German Hallertauers.

With a higher finishing gravity, lower degree of attenuation and greater percentage of crystal malt in the grist, 1939 X must have had considerably more body than 1947 XX. Getting plastered on XX, with well under 3% ABV, must have been quite a challenge.

After the war, Whitbread usually used a base of mild ale malt for their Milds and Stouts. All their other beers had a pale ale malt base.

Barclay Perkins were still brewing three Milds in 1939, all party-gyled with each other.

The biggest difference with Whitbread is the 15% maize in the Barclay Perkins grist. Though, to be fair, they did use some amber malt, too. The Barclay Perkins Milds were not brown, but dark amber. The X also came in a darker version, obtained by adding caramel.

The XX is an example of a type of stronger Mild that disappeared forever a short way into the war. By 1943, the gravities of the three Barclay Perkins Milds had concertined together. XX was 1031.4º, x 1028.7º and A 1027.1º. It makes you wonder why they bothered making such marginally different beers. By 1945, just XX and X remained, at the same gravities as in 1943.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

October Beer 1752

I'm still working away like crazy on the logs I photographed at the archive this week. So quite a short post today. I should have something more substantial tomorrow. About Brown Ale, probably. Or maybe Porter and Stout. Have to see how the fancy takes me.

These instructions on how to brew Wiltshire October beer, in the form of a letter from a reader, appeared in the "Gentleman's Magazine" in 1752.
"Mash twelve bushels of the finest pale malt with water, almost but not quite boiling hot, and let it stand three hours, then begin to draw of the wort, sprinkling on, at the same time, boiling water, till your full quantity of strong wort be run out. Supposing your copper sufficient to to boil a hogshead of water, the first copper serves for the first mash, and in the three hours the mash is standing you may boil two coppers more, the first to be set aside for small beer, the last for sprinkling, to make up the quantity of strong wort, and if a hogshead is not enough for the small beer, you may sprinkle on cold water for the last running. As soon as the third copper is emptied, boil the strong wort (which should be done as quick as possible) with six or seven pounds of the brightest Farnham hops, for half an hour, then strain it immediately into coolers, no more than three inches deep, that it may cool the sooner, which adds greatly to the flavour of the drink, especially if it be kept well stirred in the [illegible line in the original] . . . of the coolers to put it into the working tun, be sure to stir it well to the bottom. When it has cooled to about blood warm, take out five gallons, and put to it a quart of good yeast in a pail, and let it ferment till quite cold, then put it and all the wort into the working tun. In 24 hours it ought to have a good thick head, not a frothy one, as in case of too violent a ferment, which is the most material thing to be avoided, both at the time of brewing and afterwards. The head of the yeast must be taken off, and the wort put into a clean sweet dry cask, which has been well scalded, and it is to be filled up with the same wort two or three times a day, till the ferment is over. Let it stand 3 weeks or a week before you bung it up, only put something over the bung hole to keep rats and mice from pissing or dunging in it, which they are very apt to do, and would infallibly spoil your drink. In a month you may bung it up close, but always let there be a peg near the bung, which should be opened once a week. If you find it still to ferment, leave out the peg, and if that will not stop it, open the bung for a day or two. But what we call the second fermentation, and usually happens in the spring, if the beer was brewed in October, or November before, requires your utmost care. Good beer will always then be foul, after which crisis it never will be so again. You must therefore visit the peg hole often, and give vent if the ferment be too strong, which yet should be held up until the drink falls fine again, but it should be gentle, else the drink will be weak and sour, when it is quite fine, you may drink or bottle it, but the long 'tis kept, the better. It will be in high perfection in two years. I would advise to brew as much the first year as you shall want in two years, for without a good stock you never can be sure to keep your cellar in order; and as some casks will prove better than others, you will by that means have it in your power to cure what proves bad, and make it as good as the best; but this is an art, which I may communicate at some other time.
Yours &c, Sarisburiensis.

P.S. I look upon November to be the best month for brewing keeping beer, the hop and malt being then in their perfection. It will be some advantage to grind your malt a week or ten days before you brew."
I particularly like the bit about covering the bung hole to stop vermin pissing in your beer. Very good advice. Other points of interest are the use of 100% pale malt and the very short boil of just 30 minutes. As well as all the necessary equipment, a good bit of patience was required, if you were to wait the two years until it reached perfection.

I suspect that the name Sarisburiensis means it was some nob (or should that be knob?) who wrote the letter. I'm sure Zythophile will know.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

A day at the archives.

Yesterday I had a daytrip to London. Visiting the London Metropolitan Archives. Fun, but totally knackering.

I still had a pile of request forms, unused last time when my camera battery ran dry. Which was handy, because it meant I could put then into the box as soon as I arrived. I like to keep up a fast pace. I only get there a few times a year and I have to get through as much as possible.

Unfortunately, they got my first order mixed up. They brought up Middlesex court records for some reason. While I was waiting for the right ones to appear, I flicked through "The Brewing Industry, A Guide to Historical Records". It lists all the documents from the brewing industry kept in archives. A very handy. I would have bought a copy, but I've never found it for less than 170 quid. That's a bit steep, even for me. Disappointingly, it doesn't seem any of Mann's brewing records have survived. Though it seems some of Meux's have.

My choice of records to peruse was pretty eclectic: Whitbread Potrter logs for 1880, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1962; Whitbread Ale logs for WW I, 1947, 1950, 1955, 1960 and 1965; Barclay Perkins logs for 1848, 1868, 1891, 1899 and 1906; Truman gyle books for 1921, 1930, 1953, 1959 and 1964; Truman square books for 1890, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1925.

It total 30 items, in about three hours. I blame the weird postwar Truman's logs for slowing me down. They're so confusuing, I spent nearly an hour on them. Initially, I had trouble even working out which bit was the beer name. The weirdest names I've seen: P1, P2, P1B, R4, No. 7, S1 and S2 (not Stouts). And what crap handwriting their brewers had. Even worse than mine. I'll just take a picture so you can see how illegible mine is . . . .

See what I mean.

I'm not wearing black as a fashion statement. A couple of hours handling old manuals is like a shift at the coal face. I'll not make the mistake of wearing a white shirt again.

45 minutes. That's all I have left in Stonch's. His pub is very conveniently situated between the archives and Farringdon Road tube. 45 minutes max. That's if I sprint around the Tesco at Liverpool Street.

I'm glad Stonch has invested in a few beermats. Really smartens the place up. My first pint goes down in four gulps. Here's the proof:

Nice to see the barmaid doesn't recognise me. One you hit 50 you become invisible to girls under 25. I should have brought the kids with me. No-one ever forgets Lexie. And it's not just his two-tone hair they remember.

London prices seem quite cheap now a pound costs less than 1.20 euros. Three pound twenty a pint is just 3.85 euros. And that's for Old Puke, which is nearly 6%.

I love London pubs in the hole between frantic lunchtime drinking and frantic after-work drinking. The only sound is me scrunching my pork scratchings. Mmmm . . . deep fried pig skin. The food of the gods. At least the fat ones.

Why do I like drinking cask beer? Because it goes down so much quicker. I knocked back five pints of Puke in an hour. And still had room for a surprisingly spectacular pint of Landlord in a random pub by Liverpool Street station.

John Keeling (in charge of brewing at Fuller's) told me something great about drinakabolity. How do you measure it? Easy. Have a free bar and let your test subjects drink as much as they want. Under these conditions, drinkers will always knock back more cask than keg. Cask is intrinsically more drinkable.

Almost forgot, I found out something very revealing about Brown Ale from the postwar Whitbread logs. More about that later.