Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bass answers Allsopp

I love these public spats. Both Bass and Allsopp appear to have been very keen to preserve the reputation of their beer.

The detail with which they described the fate of a few odd hogsheads seems odd. But I suppose both breweries were keen to show themselves as kings of the Indian Pale Ale trade. In a word, a form of vanity.


MESSRS. BASS and Co., with every wish to avoid whatever may serve to prolonga dispute, of which they are fully sensible of the indignity, conceive that they are called on to make a brief reply to Messrs. Allsopp's advertisement of the 29th ult., as far only as is necessary to vindicate the accuracy of their own statements.

It will have been observed that, with the exception of their returns of the shipments of the current season, Messrs. Allsopp have not attempted to contradict a single statement advanced by Messrs. Bass and Co., neither do they deny that their references are of the highest authority. They resort for quotations favourable to themselves to nameless prices, current and to the letters of their own agents, and they go back to dates extending over October, November, December, and January, while the quotations of Messrs. Bass and Co. referred specifically to the latest reports of prices in December, which reached here by the Overland Mail in February. Messrs. Bass and Co. quoted an actual sale of that date la Calcutta at 80 rupees. A plain account of this transaction will shew in what manner Messrs. Allsopp, who had learnt its true nature from the documents Messrs. Bass and Co. placed within their reach, have perverted the facts relating to it. On the 22nd of December, Messrs. I. Mackey and Co. sold ten butts, equal to twenty hhds. of beer, daily expected to arrive per "Tecumseh," half at 75 and half at 89 rupees. On the arrival of the vessel, it was found that, having fallen short of provisions, the troops on board had consumed sixteen hhds. In the mean time the market had advanced, and the sixteen Hhds. were charged and paid for at the current market price, 90 rupees; two hhds. were delivered at the origina1 price, and two, being ullaged (not full;, 70 rupees; yet Messrs. Allsopp, notwithtstanding they had seen the letters of advice, of the sale of the twenty hhds., have represented this as a sale of two casks only. Messrs. Allsopp insist that Messrs. Bass and Co.'s returns of shipments for the present season are "grossly untrue." Those returns were collected from the customary public sources of information—to which, indeed, Messrs. Allsopp refer when it suits their purpose—and, as far as relates to their own shipments, Messrs. Base and Co. know them to be accurate, while Messrs. Allsopp's contradiction rests upon their own unsupported assertion. Their home trade for Pale Ale having quadrupled within the last four years, Messrs. Bass and Co. have been compelled to limit their foreign trade, and to decline large orders from their most valued correspondents; but a recent addition to their Brewery, though not fully in work until January, and still incomplete, has enabled them to ship within the last six months, as may be seen by the excise entries and subsequent clearances,

To the three Presidencies of India 9,080
To other settlements east of the Cape 1,750
Total 10,830 hhds

It will also have been remarked that this dispute originated in Messrs. Allsopp publishing returns of shipments for 1841-43 in such a manner has led to the inference that they were those of last year. In endeavouring to excuse themselves for producing an erroneous impression by means of the quivocal words  "for one year past," they now assert that the exports of the two houses last yeare "were nearly as possible in the same proportion" as those of 1841-43, which they published; whereas the truth is, that the excise returns, which are obviously of equal authority for both years, shew that, so far from being in the same proportion, the exports of Messrs. Allsopp fell off last year 611 hhds., while those of Messrs. Bass and Co. increased 2,177 hhds. Bass and Co. are content to leave the fact just stated to bear its own comment; and, in retiring from this unseemly altercation, they trust it will be apparent to all who have made themselves acquainted with its character from the beginning, that they have been forced reluctantly to intrude on the public attention in a manner which they are quite sensible would, under other circumstances, have been altogether without excuse."
Burton-upon-Trent, 10th April, 1944.
"The Indian mail, vol 1, 1843-1844", 1844, page 415.

Let's pull the plums out of that pudding.

"Their home trade for Pale Ale having quadrupled within the last four years, Messrs. Bass and Co. have been compelled to limit their foreign trade". This implies that the export trade to India had become of secondary importance to Bass. This is the period when Pale Ale' was first becoming popular in Britain.

I liked the tale of the Tecumseh. Where troops on the ship drank 16 of 20 hogsheads of Bass. And partly consumed two others. Must have been one long party, that voyage.

Unsurprisingly, Bass claim to have sold more beer in India than Allsopp had calculated. Almost double the amount. But it's still only 9,000 hogshead (13,500 barrels). Not a huge quantity of beer. Or money, for that matter. Even at 80 rupees (eight quid) a hogshead, that's only £72,000.


Barm said...

The other day you said a rupee was equal to two shillings, which would make the 80 rupee hogshead worth eight quid — so £72,000 rather than £36,000. Still not a vast amount.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, well spotted. I'll change it.