Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Beer output by Scottish region in 1849

Part two of this exciting series, looking at the distribution of beers production around the United Kingdom in 1849. Wow. That was a mouthful. I'd best get onto those tasty tables before you choke.

You'll note that brewing was even more concentrated in Scotland than it was in England. Almost half of Scottish beer was brewed in Edinburgh. Surprising, because Glasgow had about double the population (Edinburgh 160,300, Glasgow 329,100 in 1851). Why was so little beer brewed in Glasgow? Under 30,000 barrels. That's just 27 pints per person per annum. Was it water or tradition that made Edinburgh Scotland's brewing capital?

Also worth remarking upon is the minimal amount of beer brewed in the Highlands. Just in case you needed to be reminded how unrealistic are the claims that Scottish brewers used peat-kilned malt, or peat-infused water. Maybe there was the odd tiny, local brewery where this was true. But no-one was going to hump peat for fuel to the coal-rich lowloads, where the barley was grown and malted. It makes no sense.

Knowing the renown of Edinburgh Ale, I'm shocked how relatively little beer was brewed there. More of that later, when I do some contextualising.

Here are the Scottish figures:


Estimated beer output in Scotland, year ending October 1849
bushels malt consumed by each class estimated output (barrels)
Collections Brewers Victuallers Brewers Victuallers total % of output
Aberdeen 49,587 3,623 24,793.5 1,811.5 26,605.0 6.10%
Argyle, N. 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00%
Argyle, S. 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00%
Ayr 54,447 2,022 27,223.5 1,011.0 28,234.5 6.48%
Caithness 456 2,459 228.0 1,229.5 1,457.5 0.33%
Dumfries 20,087 10,043.5 0.0 10,043.5 2.30%
Elgin 21,510 668 10,755.0 334.0 11,089.0 2.54%
Glasgow 59,451 29,725.5 0.0 29,725.5 6.82%
Hadding'n 62,402 11,773 31,201.0 5,886.5 37,087.5 8.51%
Inverness 3,337 2,423 1,668.5 1,211.5 2,880.0 0.66%
Linlithgow 13,923 7,209 6,961.5 3,604.5 10,566.0 2.42%
Montrose 15,702 35,408 7,851.0 17,704.0 25,555.0 5.86%
Perth 26,744 0.0 13,372.0 13,372.0 3.07%
Stirling 61,099 14,413 30,549.5 7,206.5 37,756.0 8.66%
Edinburgh 402,842 201,421.0 0.0 201,421.0 46.22%
Paisley included in Glasgow returns 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00%
Greenock included in Glasgow returns 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.00%
total 764,843 106,742 382,421.5 53,371.0 435,792.5 100.00%
Source:




"Statistics of British commerce" by Braithwaite Poole, 1852, page 5.

Contextualisation time. Let's look at Britain's major brewing centre of the period: London. In the table below, you'll see that the largest London brewer, Barclay Perkins, produced almost as much beer as the whole of Scotland.


Output of largest London brewers (barrels)
1849
Barclay Perkins 395,820
Whitbread 182,513
Truman, Hanbury 358,997
Reid 205,203
total 1,144,382
Source:
The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980 T. R. Gourvish and R.G. Wilson, pages 610-611

Next it's the turn of Ireland. What do you think we'll find there?

3 comments:

Velky Al said...

I am actually surprised at how small a portion of Scottish brewing happened in Glasgow.

Ron Pattinson said...

Velky Al, me too. Especially when I saw how big the population was at the time. Where was the beer coming from? Or weren't they drinking beer?

Barm said...

Comparable figures from a few decades either side might be illuminating. Could it have something to do with the decline of Porter? Glasgow was a porter city going on what I've read.