Sunday, 15 March 2009

Truman's Ales (part 3): 1860 - 1861

This is fun, isn't it? Going through Truman's Ales decade by decade. Who needs TV, when you've got entertainment like this?

What's fun about these numbers? Well,you can see that the gravities have dropped. X Ale was 1078 in 1850, but just 1067 in 1860. 40/- Ale fell from 1084 to 1077, XXX from 1106 to 1087. That's quite a sharp decrease. Exactly why and when, I don't know.

What are the usual culprits for gravity drops? War and taxation. Or rising costs.

For once, tax seems to have played no part. The malt tax (there was no tax on beer per se between 1830 and 1880) was steady at 2s 7d a bushel. To give you some idea what that meant, brewing a 36 gallon barrel of Porter of 1056º required two bushels of malt. So about five bob tax per barrel. Whereas before 1830 the excise duty on a barrel of Porter was ten shillings.

The price of malt could be the key. You know me. I have numbers coming out of my ears. Not for the price of bloody malt, though. I need to get myself an older Brewers' Almanack. I only have these figures:

1820 58s per quarter (approx. 336 pounds)
1857 42s
1860 36s

Doesn't look like malt was getting more expensive.

War? There was the Crimean in the 1850's. But no tax increase.

I'm a bit stumped. There's only one last thing I can think of. That the price breweries charged for a barrel of beer fell. Haven't got time to check up on that now. I've already missed my tea and the Simpson's has just started.


Edmund said...

Lower malt prices but a higher fraction of malt being used in the grist maybe?

Ron Pattinson said...

Can't be that - the beers in both periods were all malt.