The following passage explains the system of beer tokens at Meux & Co. of Tottenham Court Road in London:
"The making of beer is thirsty work, and as a consequence all brewers' employés are allowed a certain amount of free liquor. Some have half a dozen pots a week, some a dozen—the quantity depends on how dusty their individual occupation happens to be. But only the mash-tun men obtain beer from the brewery. The others get their liquor from certain public-houses with which the brewer does business. On Monday morning each man receives an order—similar to the one reproduced on page 120—for the measure of beer to which he is entitled. This order he presents to the publican, who gives him in exchange a number of metal discs of varying denominations. There are penny discs, threehalfpenny discs, twopenny discs, threepenny discs, and fourpenny discs. Consequently for his drinks during the week the thirsty worker does not pay in coin of the realm, but in discs. If it pleases him to have twopenny worth of beer he places a twopenny disc on the counter ; if fourpennyworth, a fourpenny disc. A point also worth noting is that in return for these discs the publican is strictly enjoined only to supply ale, porter, or stout— never spirits. The discs are available for any length of time, and are generously transferable."
"Living London" edited by George Robert Sims, 1903, page 122.
That wasn't the system in Hole's Castle Brewery when I worked there in 1975. We had our breaks in a cellar where there was a keg each of AK and Mild from which we could help ourselves. You'd be amazed how much some of the old hands could knock back in 15 minutes. Then go back to operating heavy machinery. Happy days.