Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Publicans’ profits

Edd Mather recently sent me a very handy document, listing agreed wholesale prices in 1919.

One of the oddities of the control of beer prices at the end of WW I was that it only dealt with retail prices. There was no control of the wholesale prices brewers charged publicans. Which, in theory, could have left a landlord with no profit margin whatsoever.

It’s possible to see what the markup was for some publicans by comparing the wholesale prices with the controlled retail prices. The letter from the Wigan and District Brewers' Association, dated 31st July 1919, lays out the agreed wholesale price for beers of various price categories. It’s a bit of simple mathematics to calculate what the landlord made per pint sold.

Wigan and District Brewers' Association wholesale prices
retail price per pint (pence) wholesale price per barrel (shillings) retail price per barrel (shillings) profit per pint (pence) % profit
4 72 96 1 25.00%
5 90 120 1.25 25.00%
6 100 144 1.83 30.56%
7 120 168 2 28.57%
Source:
A letter dated 31st July 1919.


Interestingly, the profit on the stronger classes was greater. Though, obviously, due to the restrictions on average OG (which was 1049º as of 1st August 1919), the quantity of stronger beer available was limited.

In the early stages of the war there were accusations of profiteering by publicans. Which is one of the reasons price controls were introduced. But looking at the numbers, it doesn’t look like that was the case in 1919. In 1914, London “Four Ale” (X Ale) retailed for 2d. per pint and cost 36 shillings a barrel. Which also comes out to a gross profit of around 25%.

Monday, 19 February 2018

What's missing

Here's a question for you: what's unusual about this price list?

Hants and Berks Gazette and Middlesex and Surrey Journal - Saturday 09 December 1905, page 1.
I've never seen a price list like this from an English brewery. For this period, at least. Have you spotted what's weird? There's no Mild.

There's a reason I hunted out this price list on the British Newspaper Archive. I was taking my first run through Crowley's brewing records (thanks Perter Symons and Edd Mather who supplied them) and was wondering where the hell the Mild was.

I also wanted to make sure that all the B's really were types of Pale Ale. Because I was all confused, like.

This is what the beers looked like:


Crowley beers in 1914
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
AK Pale Ale 1047.1 1011.1 4.76 76.47% 6.25 1.10
B Pale Ale 1038.8 1007.2 4.18 81.43% 7.17 1.01
BB Pale Ale 1045.7 1009.4 4.80 79.39% 9.82 1.64
BBB Pale Ale 1054.0 1011.6 5.61 78.46% 10.75 2.11
L Pale Ale 1052.6 1014.4 5.06 72.63% 6.25 1.24
Porter Porter 1049.9 1016.6 4.40 66.67% 5.63 1.05
Stout Stout 1067.9 1026.0 5.53 61.63% 5.63 1.43
Source:
Brewing record held at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, document number 37M86-2.

Not found the Old Ale yet, I'm afraid. Judging by the number of brews o it, AK was filling the role of Mild Ale. Though before anyone asks, AK is not a type of Mild. It's a Light Bitter.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Brown Ale in the 1950s

It's hard to imagine now, but Brown Ale was a really big deal in the 1950's.

As the Mann's advert below states: "Brown Ale is cbecoming more and more popular with Britain's beer drinkers".


Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 11 September 1952, page 5.
Thouigh I'm sure that "no finer malts" stuff is guff. It implies that the colour came from the malt, whuich it almost certainly didn't.

Mann's weren't the only brewery to use the adjective "rich" to describe their Brown Ale:

Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 24 June 1954, page 31.
This is one of the few Brown Ales that have survived:

Shields Daily News - Wednesday 20 April 1955, page 9.

Interesting the way the advert emphasise that it's good value for money. As you can see in the table below, it was more expensive than most other Brown Ales. Though it was much stronger than the average of about 3% ABV.

I've included this advert, just because it's weird:
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 20 December 1952, page 7.
Here's what 1950's Brown Ale was really like. Actually quite diverse:

Brown Ale 1952 - 1954
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1954 Barclay Perkins Doctor Brown Ale 19 1032.6 1010.6 2.85 67.48% 110
1954 Charrington Brown Ale 19 1033.1 1009.1 3.11 72.51% 120
1954 Courage Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.1 1008 3.12 75.08% 110
1953 Duttons Nut Brown Ale 18 1031 1006.1 3.23 80.32% 52
1954 Gibbs Mew Moonraker Brown Ale 16 1034.8 1009.5 3.28 72.70% 135
1954 Ind Coope Nut Brown Ale 19 1030.7 1009.7 2.72 68.40% 80
1956 Mann Brown Ale 22 1035.5 1013.2 2.88 62.82% 115
1955 Mitchell & Butler Sam Brown 23 1036.9 1011.2 3.33 69.65% 85
1954 Newcastle Breweries Brown Ale 26 1048.9 1010 5.06 79.55% 51
1952 Samuel Smith Taddy Ale 15.5 1034.5 1008.5 3.37 75.36% 90
1952 Shipstone Nut Brown Ale 15 1033.3 1006.7 3.45 79.88% 60
1952 Simonds Berry Brown Ale 19 1032 1005.5 3.44 82.81% 60
1952 St. Anne's Well Brown Ale 19 1034.1 1005.1 3.77 85.04% 100
1952 Steward & Patteson Brown Ale 23 1032.5 1010.3 2.87 68.31% 67
1952 Tamplin No.1 Ale 20 1034.1 1009.7 3.16 71.55% 80
1952 Taylor Walker Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.6 1011.7 2.70 64.11% 80
1952 Tennant Bros. Brown Ale 20 1032.5 1012.2 2.62 62.46% 100
1952 Tetley Family Ale 15 1035.5 1009 3.44 74.65% 53
1954 Tollemache Country Brown Ale 19 1032.5 1011.2 2.75 65.54% 90
1954 Truman Trubrown 19 1034.7 1011.9 2.95 65.71% 110
1952 Ushers Trowbridge Brown Ale 17 1033.6 1007.7 3.36 77.08% 80
1953 Ushers Trowbridge Triple Brown 36 1063.4 1013.6 6.50 78.55% 85
1953 Vale of Neath ???? Brown Ale 30 1070.6 1019.3 6.68 72.66% 34
1952 Vaux Double Maxim Ale 23 1049 1009.8 5.10 80.00% 48
1954 Watney Brown Ale 30 1032.8 1010.2 2.92 68.90% 120
1952 Wenlock Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.5 1012.5 2.58 61.54% 80
1954 Whitbread Forest Brown 21 1034.8 1012.2 2.92 64.94% 95
1953 Young & Son Chestnut Brown Ale 26 1055.1 1016.5 5.01 70.05% 250
Source:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Let's Brew - 1947 Barclay Perkins Victory Stout

1947 wasn’t a great year for British brewing. Gravities were still falling, despite the war being over.

Which explains why Barclay Perkins had a Stout that was under 3% ABV. How ironic that such a feeble beer was called Victory Stout. Though the primings would have raised the effective OG to 1037º

Though, with all dark malts it probably drank heavier than it really was. The grist is anything but simple, with five different grains. I’m slightly disturbed by the low percentage of base malt, not much more than a third of the grist. In the original, it’s three-quarters SA malt, a quarter mild malt. As I doubt you’ll be able to buy SA malt, I’ve specified all mild malt. It’s probably about the closest equivalent.

The hops were all from Kent, Mid-Kent Fuggles (1946), East Kent Tolhursts (1946), Mid-Kent BG (1946) and Kent Fuggles (1945). All pretty fresh then, leaving quite a bitter beer. All that roast barley would have made it taste even more bitter.

I’m really intrigued as to how this beer would taste. Loads of dark malt, quite heavily hopped, but with quite a lot of residual sugar, too. Weak and bitter. Probably how a lot of Britons were feeling in 1947.


1947 Barclay Perkins Victory Stout
mild malt 2.75 lb 37.52%
brown malt 0.75 lb 10.23%
amber malt 0.50 lb 6.82%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 6.82%
roast barley 1.00 lb 13.64%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 20.46%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.33 lb 4.50%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1034
FG 1014
ABV 2.65
Apparent attenuation 58.82%
IBU 43
SRM 39
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 16 February 2018

Lager thumb dummy



















Boddington CC 1914 - 1921

I've never quite got my head around Boddington's naming convention. What makes CC a Strong Ale?

And does it have connection to the enigmatic "C" Ale, that type of Strong Ale only found in the Manchester area? I've no idea, to be honest.

The biggest surprise is that CC was only briefly dropped during WW I, for about a year between October 1917 and November 1918.  Brewing strong beers became virtually impossible after April 1st 1918, when the average gravity of all the beer a brewery produced couldn't be more than 1030º. Pretty difficult to brew a beer of 1060º and stick to that rule.

Brewers had to be careul. The average was totted up every quarter and brewers who exceeded the permitted average faced fines. Boddington took this so seriously that they kept track of the weekly average in their brewing book:


Like all of Boddington's beers, CC wasn't very heavily hopped in comparison to London beers. A London-brewed Burton Ale was hopped at around 12 lbs per quarter of malt - about treble the rate of CC.

It's surprising how well the OG bounced back after the war. The average drop in gravity between 1914 and the early 1920's when things stabilised again was about 19%. CC's fall was just 4%. Barely even significant. Its gravity did fall a little more between the wars, but in 1939 was still a very respectable 1056º.

Boddington CC 1914 - 1921
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
9th Jul 1914 1062.0 1020.0 5.56 67.74% 3.53 1.18
7th May 1915 1059.0 1019.0 5.29 67.80% 3.75 1.20
27th Oct 1915 1058.0 1018.0 5.29 68.97% 3.64 1.17
18th May 1916 1062.0 1017.0 5.95 72.58% 3.87 1.33
20th Dec 1916 1062.0 1017.0 5.95 72.58% 3.53 1.23
31st Jan 1917 1059.0 1018.0 5.42 69.49% 3.53 1.46
11th Oct 1917 1056.0 1018.0 5.03 67.86% 4.41 1.32
12th Nov 1918 1058.0 1020.0 5.03 65.52% 3.97 1.27
24th Dec 1918 1061.0 1021.0 5.29 65.57% 3.97 1.31
10th Feb 1919 1059.0 1020.0 5.16 66.10% 3.97 1.26
24th Mar 1919 1060.0 1020.0 5.29 66.67% 3.97 1.29
17th Jun 1919 1061.0 1019.0 5.56 68.85% 4.22 1.35
13th Oct 1919 1060.0 1020.0 5.29 66.67% 3.82 1.29
30th Mar 1920 1058.0 1016.0 5.56 72.41% 4.06 1.18
7th Oct 1920 1057.0 1020.0 4.89 64.91% 3.82 1.20
5th Oct 1921 1059.5 1019.0 5.36 68.07% 3.53 1.16
Sources:
Boddington brewing records held at Manchester Central Library, document numbers M693/405/126 and M693/405/126.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Divided action by Edinburgh retailers

On 1st April, 1917, the amount of beer breweries were allowed to produce was severely limited, with UK production fixed at 11,470,000 standard barrel, around a third of the pre-war level. The tax was also raised from 24s to 25s per standard barrel.

Of sourse, that doesn't mean the number of bulk barrels was limited to that figure. A standard bareel was 36 gallons with an OG of 1055º. So if you brewed beer at just 1027.5º,  you could brew twice as much. Theere was going to be less beer at it was going to be dearer.

Those were different days. It was common for publicans' associations in a town to fix prices. Something that I'm sure would be illegal today. In Edinburgh and neighbouring Leith a different policy of the trade associations led to a disparity in prices.

"BEER AND WHISKY PRICES
DIVIDED ACTION BY EDINBURGH RETAILERS

The public-houses in Edinburgh last evening did a steady business, notwithstanding the snowstorm and the phenomenally high prices fixed to come into operation yesterday — a minimum of 9d. per pint of beer and 9d. per glass of whisky. This experience was common to both the shops in the poorer localities and the bettor known establishments in the city. The accustomed patronage was due, to a considerable extent, to the fact that in the majority of cases the minimum rates recommended by the Trade Association were not adopted by the traders. A charge of 8d. was substituted for the pint of beer, and the same price for a glass of whisky. In some bars where the Association's prices were introduced it was stated that little business was done, and that in one case a number of customers declined to purchase beer at 9d. per pint when they discovered that they could get the same article at a neighbouring shop at 8d. After this experience the shopkeeper came into line with his neighbours who were charging 8d., In some cases even 8d. charges were not made, the licence-holder having decided to charge the old prices and make the change to the new list simultaneously with Leith to-morrow.

It was stated by the manager of one establishment that the effect of the alteration bad been to reduce considerably the consumption of beer, many customers having economised by taking instead small glasses of whisky and such wines as port and sherry. The action of the "trade" in Leith in fixing lower prices than in Edinburgh contributed to the development yesterday, as dealers saw the possibility of custom being lost to a considerable extent by the competition of Leith licence-holders. It is understood that while the 60 per cent. advance by the brewers will necessitate a corresponding advance on the part of the retailers, nevertheless the latter in many cases have had considerable stocks on hand, and are apparently willing to give their customers the advantage of these stocks without charging the full increase in the meantime. On the other hand, it has been recognised that the retail prices for whisky have been in excess of the actual economic necessities of the case, the increased prices having been, to some extent, anticipatory of the supply of potable spirits being exhausted in the near future. There is a belief, possibly well founded, that with the large reduction in the strength of spirits allowed by the Government below the prewar standard  licence-holders might almost have sold whisky at the old prices and still have made a profit, and while the sales have fallen off during the past year in the aggregate, the large increase in the prices which they have charged has more than made up any deficiency in their profits. Another meeting of the Edinburgh Wine, Spirit, and Beer Trade Association is to be hold to-day, when the situation will be further considered  and it is possible that the list of prices decided upon last week will be revised."
The Scotsman - Tuesday 03 April 1917, page 4.

I'm not sure why the price brewers charged for beer was increasing by 60% when the tax increase had only been around 4%. Perhaps it was the brewers compensating for the lesser amount of beer they were allowed to brew.

9d. a pint might not sound much today, but at the start of the war a pint of Mild would have only set you back 2d. To be honest, a minimum price of 9d. per pint seems awfully high. Even in 1918 the average price of a pint was 4.5d. Admittedly, that was for beer probably half the strength it was in 1914.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1946 Barclay Perkins IPA

Bored of watery Milds? Here’s a watery IPA to balance things out.

Not that Barclay’s IPA had ever been that strong. Even in the 1920’s it only had an OG of around 1045º, which, at the time, was only very slightly above average OG.

The effect of the war is clear to see in the grist. Like most UK breweries, Barclays had used flaked maize in their beers after this became legal in 1880. The only times they didn’t, was when it wasn’t possible. Basically, at certain points during the two World Wars.

Maize wasn’t available for most of WW II and breweries were instructed to replace it with flaked barley. In addition to that, there’s pale malt and crystal malt, as you might expect, but also No. 3 invert sugar. That’s usually reserved for dark beers. Things like Mild Ale and Stout. Pale Ales usually contained either No. 1 or No. 2 invert.

There are four different copper hops: Mid-Kent Fuggles (1943, 1944 CS), Mid-Kent Goldings (1945), Mid-Kent Colgates (1944), plus East Kent Goldings (1945) dry hops. Though the Colgates are a guess. It just says “C’s” in the brewing record. One of the things I really like about Barclays brewing records is that they can be bothered to say what the hop variety was, not just where they were grown.

As with Whitbread’s, this IPA was an exclusively bottled beer.


1946 Barclay Perkins IPA
pale malt 5.55 lb 78.72%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 7.09%
flaked barley 0.25 lb 3.55%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 10.64%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1031.5
FG 1009
ABV 2.98
Apparent attenuation 71.43%
IBU 31
SRM 9
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Another reminder

That I published an award-winning book recently, what I'm sure will prove to be the definitive book on Scottish beer 1850 - 1970.

Mostly, because I can't imagine anyone else being arsed to put in the thousands of hours of reasearch entailed. Unless they rip off my work. Which wouldn't surprise me. If a few more of you buy it, I may think it wasn't a total waste of time.

There's loads of cool stuff, Including almost 400 historic recipes.




http://www.lulu.com/shop/ronald-pattinson/scotland-vol-2/paperback/product-23090497.html 

I won't say that the money will help me buy Alexei vodka. He's moved on. Gin is his tipple now. Hope he's not turning into a hipster.


Brewery profits in WW I

The decade before WW I had been a difficult one. The Liberal government had used increased licence duties for pubs and breweries to partially finance social programmes, such as an old age pension.

The increased licence fees suppressed pub prices, which left many breweries overcapitalised as the value of their assets shrank dramatically. Several brewery companies revalued their shares at 10% of their original value.

Massively increased licence fees for breweries, who were charged according to the size of their output, decreased margins at a time when it was difficult to raise the price of beer. Few breweries were doing well in 1914. But the war helped turn that around.

Whitbread is a good example. Despite doing relatively well compared to many of their peers, they weren’t exactly raking money in.

Whitbread Brewery profits and dividends 1912 - 1925
Year net profit brought in carried forward dividend Ordinary shares barrels brewed net profit per barrel
1912 £17,491 £15,828 £12,054 0.5% 988,981 £0.02
1913 £125,792 £12,054 £46,653 1% 901,807 £0.14
1914 £51,256 £46,653 £46,419 0.5% 900,636 £0.06
1915 £72,997 £46,420 £53,649 2% 762,438 £0.10
1916 £45,078 £53,649 £79,379 2% 777,127 £0.06
1917 £198,349 £79,379 £92,404 7% 578,502 £0.34
1918 £204,806 £92,404 £123,057 7% 413,112 £0.50
1919 £232,866 £123,057 £165,136 7% 565,624 £0.41
1920 £242,432 £160,138 £213,124 10%
1921 £209,520 £213,125 £257,639 7% 675,647 £0.31
1922 £226,270 £257,639 £289,580 10% 576,118 £0.39
1923 £222,749 £289,580 £319,531 10% 505,097 £0.44
1924 £217,277 £319,532 £342,489 10% 551,616 £0.39
1925 £246,499 £342,489 £394,076 10% 527,977 £0.47
Sources:
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 05 August 1912, page 10.
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 01 August 1913, page 5.
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 31 July 1914, page 4.
Dundee Courier - Friday 06 August 1915, page 2.
Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 04 August 1916, page 7.
Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 04 August 1917, page 6.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 06 August 1918, page 7.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 11 August 1919, page 11.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 07 August 1920, page 17.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 06 August 1921, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 05 August 1922, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 04 August 1923, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 07 August 1924, page 13.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 07 August 1925, page 15.


In 1912, Whitbread made a mere £17,491 net profit. Given that they brewed just shy of a million barrels that year, it works out to a feeble 4.5d per barrel. Ironically, when their output shrank considerably in 1917, their profits increased considerably from under £50,000 to around £200,000. The profit per barrel shot up even more, to 82d per barrel. Whitbread brewed only around half of their 1914 output in 1917 and 1918, but made for times as much net profit.

At the same time, the dividend paid out on Ordinary shares increased from 2% to 7%. Clearly Whitbread was doing well. It’s ironic that exactly when restrictions on brewing started to be ever more sever that breweries started making much more money.

The profits brewers were making led to them being denounced as profiteers in some quarters, notably temperance campaigners.