Saturday, 19 September 2009

Largest UK breweries in 1884

Time for another random statistical post. Based on a document I found on my last archive visit.

I say document. It's just a sheet of paper with a load of handwritten numbers. But I find them interesting. Here they are:


There are 11 breweries listed, with a combined output of around 6 million barrels. That's out of a total of 48 millions barrels for all breweries in the UK. Or 12.5%. Interestingly, the 11 were located in just three cities. Dublin, Burton and London. Eight in London alone.

It's a chilling reminder of London's demise as a major brewing centre. What's left today? Fuller's.

Come to think of it, all but the top two - Guinness and Bass - have closed. (Though Bass isn't really Bass any more.) Courage, Charrington and Truman were all still open when I began boozing.

Ok. I've got 10 minutes to finish this off. Have to be quick. Use of sugar. The Londoners were hooked on it. Guinness used none and the Burton boys just a little. (Just been looking through records of Truman's Burton brewery for this period. They didn't use as much as the Brick Lane parent brewery.) I wonder if that had any connection with the type of beer being brewed. Hang on, though. Whitbread used more in their Pale Ales than in anything else.

A decade or so after this, the first mega-merger took place. When Watney, Combe and Reid combined to form . . . . Watney, Combe, Reid. Their pooled output was over 1 million barrels. It was the beginning of consolidation of the brewing industry. A process, lasting 70 years, which led to the formation of the Big Six. (Should have been Big Seven, really, but for some reason CAMRA left Guinness out.)

There. I'm done. And with two minutes to spare.

7 comments:

Matt said...

Any idea who the biggest UK brewer by volume is now Ron? If I was guessing, I'd go for Fullers, Greene King or Marstons.

Ron Pattinson said...

Do you mean UK-owned or just biggest beer producer?

Don't have the actual facts, but I'm pretty sure the biggest brewer overall would be Heineken, Carlsberg, Inbev or Coors. Biggest Uk-owned would be Marstons or Greene King.

Anyone have any real numbers?

Matt said...

I meant UK-based brewers, not breweries in the UK owned by the global corporations you mention.

rod said...

"It's a chilling reminder of London's demise as a major brewing centre. What's left today? Fuller's."

Well, there's also Meantime.....

Curmudgeon said...

I would expect either Bury St Edmunds or Wolverhampton to be the biggest British-owned brewery in volume terms.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, Meantime isn't really on the sort of scale I'm talking about. Industrial scale.

rod said...

I don't know whether you know, or are even interested, but Meantime will be moving to a new, larger brewery site within the next twelve months. The brewhouse will be considerably bigger, so production etc will be expanded by quite a bit.
(Meantime currently brew 350 hectalitres per week, 50 weeks a year.)
This is quite apart from the 5 hectalitre-per-brew microbrewery that will be opening in the Spring in the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich, on the site of the 18th Century brewery that served the naval pensioners when it was Greenwich Hospital.