Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Revival of Brewing In Ireland

I've not worn out my Ireland theme yet. Not by a long way. I'll be annoying you with stuff like this most of the summer.

We've now moved on to the 19th century and the resurgence of Irish brewing.

"The Revival of Brewing In Ireland,

The decline at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the amount of malt upon which duty was paid in Ireland of which mention has been made above, was, no doubt, partly due to the increase in the rate of the duty levied on malt. This duty, which averaged about 2s. per bushel in the ten years immediately following the repeal of the beer tax in 1795. after several fluctuations became settled at 2s. 7d., and the decrease in the amount of malt upon which duty was paid without doubt was due in part to the decrease in lawful distillation, and the increase in illicit distillation which followed upon the sharp increases in taxation to which spirits became subject after 1795, but still it is hard to account for the remarkable decrease in the amount of malt upon which duty was paid. However, as already mentioned, it seems quite certain that the decrease was not due to any decline in the production of beer. Brewing revived in Ireland after the repeal of the beer duty, and porter brewing is said to have received a marked stimulus at the beginning of the nineteenth century from the introduction of the use of roasted malt as a colouring and flavouring material, though it was not until 1850-60 that porter became the really popular drink in Ireland and that the Irish trade became mainly a porter trade. Newenham, in his "View of Ireland," published in 1809, stated that according to official estimates the beer made in Ireland in 1808 exceeded 751,000 barrels or nearly double what the Right Hon. John Foster stated in the speech, already mentioned, to be the annual production about 1790. Newenham attributes the decline in the amount of malt charged with duty to the illicit malting carried on with the collusion of the revenue officers, and declares that the amount of beer brewed in Ireland in 1808 was really far greater than the 751,000 barrels stated "It is obvious to everyone, he wrote, "that the number of breweries in Ireland has been augmented since the year 1792; that the additional ones are on a much more extensive scale than the former ones, and that the proprietors resort to every expedient (the writer hopes with increased success) to induce the people to prefer their liquor to whiskey." In the province of Munster he states that there was an almost universal preference given to malt liquors over spirits, "and the porter brewers of the city of Cork alone almost vie in extent with some of the principal ones in London."

The Rise of the Export Trade.

That the brewing industry was rapidly expanding in Ireland early in the nineteenth century, despite the enormous decrease in the amount of malt which is returned as having paid duty, is shown also by the figures relating to the export and import of beer. We have already seen
that the importation of beer from England averaged over 100,000 barrels a year about 1790, but the importation of beer declined, and Ireland soon began to export beer to England. The first year when the exports of beer exceeded the imports was 1814, when the figures were:—imports from England, 215 barrels; imports from Scotland, 24 barrels; exports to England, 424 barrels; exports to Scotland, 46 barrels.

In 1823 the exports of Irish beer first exceeded the 1,000 barrels mark, and in 1828 Ireland exported 8,035 barrels to England, 48 to Scotland, and 3,180 to foreign countries, whilst the imports from England were but 505 barrels. Most of the beer exported from Ireland has always been shipped from the port of Dublin, and in 1861 the quantity thus exported to Great Britain was 170,384 hogsheads; the exports increased in 1871 to 281,301, in 1881 to 338,690, and in 1891 to 460,985 hogsheads. During the last decade there were considerable fluctuations, the total falling in 1898 to 368,628 hogsheads, but the last few years has witnessed a revival in the export trade, and in 1901 the quantity exported was 459,864 hogsheads.

The temperance movement headed by Father Mathew of course affected the production of beer, though to a less extent than it affected the production of whiskey. The amount of malt upon which duty was paid in Ireland during the decade 1838-47 was 30 per cent, less than the corresponding amount for the previous decade, and the famine years and the subsequent emigration had their effects upon the brewing trade, and numerous breweries were obliged to close. Shortly after the middle of the century, however, the brewing industry began again to expand, and the heavy increases made in the spirit duty, especially in 1858, when the English and Irish rates were equalised, and the rate fixed at 8s. per gallon, treble what it was in Ireland five years previously, tended to increase the use of beer. The amount of beer brewed in Ireland in 1856 was estimated by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue at 926,000 barrels, and in ten years this amount had increased over 50 per cent.

The growth of the brewing industry and the regularity of the increase in Ireland in the last forty years is clearly shown by the following figures:—

Year. Number of Barrels Brewed In the United Kingdom. In Ireland.
1861* 19,534,460 1,437,713
1871** 26,431,760 1,516,656
1882@ 27,687,572 2,044,331
1891@ 31,927,303 2,555,273
1901@ 36,394,565 3,149,142

* Estimated by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue from the amount of licence duty charged
** Estimated by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue from the amount of materials used.
@ Calculated by the Commissioners of Inland Revenue from the amount of beer duty paid.

"Ireland Industrial and Agricultural", 1902, pages 456 - 458.

Such a goldmine, this article on brewing in "Ireland Industrial and Agricultural". It's taught me loads.

Porter only became popular in Ireland in the middle of the 19th century. That's exactly when its popularity began to fade in England. Odd, then, that during this period in decline in demand, Irish breweries, most notably Guinness, had so much success selling Porter in England. It seems illogical. Or is it? As brewing Proter and Stout became less attractive to English brewers trying to keep up with the demand for Mild Ale, buying in Guinness to plug the bottled Stout hole probably made sense. And, of course, Guinness was a heavily-advertised, national brand.

I'm not sure I understand how using roasted malt for colour gave Porter production such a boost. I suppose, because it reduced the need for brown malt and allowed more cheaper (in terms of extract) pale malt to be used, it dropped the raw material costs for brewing Porter.

That's quite a turnaround in the movement of beer between England and Ireland. From importing 100,000 barrels of English beer in 1790 to exporting 255,576 barrels (170,384 hogsheads) in 1861. Most of that beer was Guinness. Not just Guinness, but specifically Guinness Extra Stout. As this table demonstrates:

Guinness sales 1840 - 1900
Extra Stout Porter total
Year Britain Ireland total Britain Ireland total Britain Ireland total
1840 42,209 25,021 67,230 0 12,573 12,573 42,209 37,594 79,803
1850 44,410 26,979 71,389 1,848 26,873 28,721 46,258 53,852 100,110
1860 82,690 52,594 135,284 925 62,299 63,224 83,615 114,893 198,508
1870 178,556 93,854 272,410 3,752 145,912 149,664 182,308 239,766 422,074
1880 207,695 201,348 409,043 2,208 435,127 437,335 209,903 636,475 846,378
1890 352,109 261,359 613,468 1,257 686,491 687,748 353,366 947,850 1,301,216
1900 458,630 437,613 896,243 961 795,346 796,307 459,591 1,232,959 1,692,550

"A Bottle of Guinness please" by David Hughes, pages 276-278

This table shows how Guinness came to totally dominate the Irish brewing industry in the final decades of the 19th century:

Irish Beer output 1840 - 1890
total Guinness % Guinness
1840 639,500 79,803 12.48%
1850 582,500 100,110 17.19%
1860 1,213,307 198,508 16.36%
1870 1,701,500 422,074 24.81%
1880 2,066,269 915,064 44.29%
1890 2,460,645 1,388,283 56.42%
1900 2,669,225 1,786,098 66.91%
"A Bottle of Guinness please" by David Hughes, pages 276-278
Brewers' Almanack 1928, p. 110
The Dynamics of the international brewing industry since 1800 by Richard George Wilson, Terence Richard Gourvish, 1998, pages 121 - 122, estimated from malt used

Whiskey is a recurring theme. There seems to be a see-saw relationship between whiskey and beer in Ireland. Every time taxation or regulation increased on distilling, the brewing industry profitted. I've never heard of Father Matthew's temperance movement. But I imagine it was similar to those in England and Scotland in the same period.


The Beer Nut said...

Theobold Mathew -- The Apostle of Temperance -- had a massive impact on Irish culture, not least our really unhealthy attitude to drink. There are still statues of him right on the main streets of both Dublin and Cork.

Wikipedia notes that many of his more resourceful devotees turned to drinking ether so they could get hammered without breaking their pledge.

Martyn Cornell said...

I'm surprised you've not come across Father Mathew (one t) before - his was a HUGE movement in Ireland, supposedly signing up 3 million people to take the pledge to abstain from alcohol, and there are statues to him in Cork and Dublin.

I confess I find myself dubious about the statement that "Porter only became popular in Ireland in the middle of the 19th century" - why did Guinness give up ale brewing 50 years earlier, then? I can believe that, outside the large cities, as in England, ale continued to be the main product of smaller brewers, and I'm sure that whiskey was extremely popular in the west, but I'd need to see more evidence before accepting a claim that porter's popularity in Ireland only dated from after the Potato Famine.

Oblivious said...

The grand canal was opened from 1779 and the final section to the Shannon was opened in 1804, so the was a fast transport for porter shipping into the country side