I love WW I. It's such a pivotal event in the development of modern British beer. So excuse me if I go into it in ridiculous detail once again. Focus of my attention this time around is Truman's brewery in Burton.
Truman bought a brewery in Burton in 1873 for the express purpose of brewing Pale Ales, which were very much in fashion. The brewery made a wide range of Burton Ales, not just Pale Ale. There was no overlap in products with the original Truman brewery in Brick Lane, which concentrated on Porter and London Ales.
1917 was a cataclysmic year. The German U-boat campaign was at its peak and Britain was down to just a few week's supply of grain. Knowing the background makes the draconian restrictions on brewing imposed in April of that year more understandable. Output was limited to 10 million standard barrels per annum. That was about a third of the pre-war level.
The effect was dramatic. Breweries slashed both their product range and the gravity or their remaining beers. The table below demonstrates this perfectly.
Truman's Burton brewery discontinued all of its beers. The three Pale Ales (P1, P2 and P3) and its number Burton Ales (1 to 9). Hardly any ever returned. P1 was the first to be revived, in early 1919. P2 came back a little later. Most numbered Ales disappeared forever. For two years (march 1917 to March 1919) Truman's Pale Ale brewery produced no Pale Ale whatsoever.
In their place, five new Ales were brewed, though two, S1 and XM, only very occasionally.
XX and XXX continued to be brewed, at 1033.8 and 1047.4 respectively, throughout the 1920's.
Truman’s strongest Pale Ale, P1, suffered a relatively minor drop in gravity across the war. 14% as opposed to an average for all beer of about 25%. It fell from 1064º in 1914 to 1055º in 1921, which is where it remained for the rest of the 1920’s.
British Brewing: Horses and Tweed - Boak and Bailey's Beer Blog - Going on about beer and pubs since 2007 The image above, taken from the 1978 edition of Whitbread’s official history bookle...
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