They were very concerned about costs during WW I. That's great for me, because the price of each ingredient is right there in the brewing logs.
That's how I noticed something counterintuitive. That sugar was sometimes more expensive than malt. Brewers weren't necessarily being cheapskates when they used a proportion of sugar in their grists.
Here's an example. This is a PA brewed by Whitbread on February 2nd 1917:
72 quarters malt total cost 4,574/-, cost per quarter 65.34/-
20 quarters No. 1 invert sugar cost 1,496/-, cost per quarter* 68/-
This Mild brewed June 7th 1918 is more extreme:
140 quarters malt total cost 12,250/-, cost per quarter 87.5/-
33 quarters No. 3 invert sugar cost 4,059/-, cost per quarter 123/-
Caramel was an even crazier price: 140/- per quarter
I've got a question for you home brewers. Do any of you ever use sugar in British-style beers? And if so, what type of sugar? Is it possible to buy proper brewing invert sugar?
I ask this because it seems that sugar was a vital part of all the recipes from 1880 to 1960 that I've seen. Especially darker beers. Mild was always coloured by No. 3 invert sugar and/or caramel. It's rare to see any dark malts in the the grist. I'm wondering how possible it is to make certain styles authentically without the right sugar.
*I'm taking 224 pounds of sugar as being the equivalent of a quarter of malt.
Gasthaus Tschigg - *A tavern on the mountainside above Marling/Marlengo in the Südtirol/Alto Adige. *The photos tell you all you need to know. It was my lunch stop on a hike ...
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