Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Whitbread Pale Ale in 1870

Back to Whitbread Pale Ale again. Don't worry. Something else will distract me again soon.

It's another Whitbread advert. This time from "Street's Indian and Colonial Mercantile Directory for 1870" (page xxiii).Take a look:

These were beers for export. The choice of these particular beers is intriguing. The Stout is no surprise. But the other two. In the brewing year ending July 1871, Whitbread brewed just 1,822 barrels of Pale Ale.I wonder how much of that was exported?

They didn't brew a great deal more XX. Just 5,738 barrels. Even less of the special export version, which is what I assume we're looking at here.

If you remember the 1874 price list of a few days ago, you'll see that the export price is very reasonable.18 gallons of Pale Ale cost 27/-, or 81/- for a hogshead. That's just four bob less than the export price of 84/-. Even allowing for the drawback (the tax refund on exported beer), which would have been 9/4.5 in this case, that still seems cheap. Especially as the the cask was thrown in for free.

Once again, the Pale Ale is crap value. XX Ale, selling for the same price, had an OG of 1081. The PA just 1063. Drink Mild, that's what they're telling us.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, at almost 20% weaker (approximately) than the export XX ale, the pale ale is a lesser value viewed from the standpoint of alcohol content. However, its presumably higher attenuation would have reduced the gap.

Also, would production costs not have been higher for pale ale, represented by the much greater hop bill and any storage time it got? True, the same should apply to the stout, but I gather Whitbread brewed much larger amounts of stout then. So economies of scale would have permitted keeping the price down.

In other words I am wondering if Whitbread could have argued that for that part of the market that wanted a highly hopped beer, the pricing was not unreasonable.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, the XX Xpt contained more hops (5.9 pounds per barrel) than the PA (5.57 pounds per barrel).

Gary Gillman said...

Okay good point, I hadn't realized that.


Kristen England said...

What was the real value though. the lower gravity beer would have been much harder to water by the landlord. The stronger one could be cut by as much as 15% without much notice. From contemporary sources, this was very much uncommon. Anyone have any data as to the types of beers this done to most?

Anonymous said...

Kristen, contemporary commentators accused landlords of cutting the porter with water, even though this was a comparatively weaker beer.

Oblivious said...

Hi zythophile, Ron has an older post showing there was discrepancy between the O.G of porter. in the brewery and at the publicans taps.