Thursday, 22 February 2018

Publicans' profits again

Thanks to Edd Mather for sending me a fascinating document showing wholesale beer prices for May 1919.

It shows the prices agreed by regional brewers' associations for the various price-controlled classes, which at the time were 4d., 5d., 6d., 7d., and 8d. It's fascinating because there's considerable variation in the prices.

The problem with the system of price controls was that it only concerned retail prices, not wholesale ones. Brewers could, in theory, charge anything they liked. Though, obviously, they wouldn't want to bankrupt all their tenants.  Despite that, a publican's profit margin was wafer thin.

Some of the prices - the Birmingham non-discounted ones, for example, don't seem to leave anything for the publican. The wholesale price of 4d. beer varied between 68/- in Sussex and 95/- in Birmingham.

PRICES. MAY 31. 1919.
Locality. 4d. 5d. 6d. 7d. 8d.
1 Berkshire 72/- 80/- 105/- 120/-
2 Bedfordshire 72/- 90/- 106/-
3 Burton (for Tied Trade) 77/5 97/3 115/3 126/- 144/-
4 Bucks, 72/- 90/- 102/100 126/- 144/-
5 Birmingham 95/- - 135/- 155/- 175/-
do.      Discount 20% 76/- 108/- 124/- 140/-
do. 25% 71/3 101/3 116/3 131/3
6 Bristol mininum 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/-
7 Blackburn 70/- - 116/-
8 Bolton 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
9 Bradford 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Cambs. 74/- 86/- 108/-
10a. Control Board Carlisle. 71/- 85/-
11 Gloster and Wilts 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
18 Halifax 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
15 Hants 74/- 92/- 112/- 130/-
14 Herts 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Kent 72/- 88/- 106/- 124/- 150/-
16 Leicester (minimum gravities) 80/- 96/- 112/-
17 Liverpool 70/- 84/- 100/- 115/-
18 London 69/6 85/7 110/6 121/9
19 Lancs. 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
20 Manchester 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
21 Norfolk   (prices not unlfonr) 70/- 84/- 120/- 135/-
22 Northants. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
23 Northumberland and Durham 72/- 84/-
24 Notts Maximum Discount 20% 72/- 84/- 104/-
25 Norwich 70/74 86/- 108/-
26 Newcastle 72/- 84/- 108/- -
27 Oxford 72/- 108/-
28 Potteries 72/- 86/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
29 Preston. 70/- 84/- 99/- 117/- 132/-
30 South Wales minimum. 66/- 78/- 95/- 120/- 130/-
31 Shrewsbury 72/- 84/- 105/- 120/-
32 Surrey 72/- 90/- 108/- 130/-
33 Sussex,   also a 3d. at 56/- 68/- 82/- 102/- 118/-
34 Sheffield. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
35 Wiltshire (Minimum) 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
36 Yorkshire do. 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
37 Younger W. 70/- 86/- 102/- 112/-
Average Price about 71/10 86/2 105/4 120/9 141/7

This table should make the marginws easier to see. I includes the cheapest and most expensive wholesale prices for each category:

retail price per pint wholesale price per barrel wholesale price per pint mark up % mark up
4d 68/- 2.83 1.17 29.17%
95/- 3.96 0.04 1.04%
5d 78/- 3.25 1.75 35.00%
92/- 3.83 1.17 23.33%
6d 96/- 4.00 2.00 33.33%
112/- 4.67 1.33 22.22%
7d 108/- 4.50 2.50 35.71%
155/- 6.46 0.54 7.74%
8d 130/- 5.42 2.58 32.29%
175/- 7.29 0.71 8.85%

I can't see how a publican could survive if forced to pay the highest prices.

In case you weere wondering, these are the gravity bands for each price category:


Price control categories February to July 1919 
price per pint gravity range
3d below 1022
4d 1023-1028
5d 1029-1034
6d 1035-1041
7d 1042-1049
8d above 1050
Source:
“The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980” by T.R. Gourvish and R.G Wilson, 1994, Cambridge University Press, page 323.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1971 Boddington IP

A recent Twitter discussion about Boddington’s Bitter prompted me to dive into some of the records I harvested last year in Manchester.

I’ve still got hundreds of photos of brewing records – not just Boddington’s – that I haven’t processed yet. It’s a time consuming process. And I have finite amounts of time. I usually have some other motive, such as writing a book, for delving into them.

Note that the brew house name wasn’t Bitter, but IP. Which, undoubtedly, originally stood for IPA. Though I guess this beer isn’t very much like a style Nazi’s idea of an IPA, with its OG of well under 1040º.

The recipe is surprisingly complicated, containing three or possibly four types of malt. I’m not sure about the wheat, as the description is pretty vague.  That, along with the lager malt, is responsible for the very pale colour of the finished beer. There are three proprietary sugars in the original: DMS, Fla. and Br. I’ve no idea what any of them are and have replaced then with No. 2 invert.

I’m not sure if you can still get enzymic malt. If you don’t have it, just bump up the pale malt.

The hops are barely described in the record, only listing the growers name. There’s no clue as to where they were grown, what variety they were or even which year they’re from. Meaning the hopping as an almost total guess.

If anyone is interested, I can also publish recipes for this beer from the 1950’s. 1960s and 1980s. It would be interesting to see any changes to the recipe.

1971 Boddington IP
pale malt 5.00 lb 67.39%
lager malt 1.00 lb 13.48%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 3.37%
wheat 0.25 lb 3.37%
flaked maize 0.25 lb 3.37%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.67 lb 9.03%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1035.5
FG 1003
ABV 4.30
Apparent attenuation 91.55%
IBU 28
SRM 5
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

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