Friday, 23 March 2012

British beer legislation 1802 - 1899

I tripped over this useful summary of the legislation around beer during the 19th century while wandering blindly in the darkened cellars of my book collection. I'd cut it out and keep it, if I were you. Bound to come in handy during some bitter argument.

This isn't a direct quote, just my paraphrasing of the original text.

Summary of Legislation

1st May 1802 - 20th June 1811
No materials other than malt, hops and water allowed.

26th June 1811 - 5th July 1817
Porter brewers were allowed to use a solution of burnt brown sugar to colour Porter only.

6th July 1817
The burnt colouring solution was forbidden and only malt, hops and water were allowed. Brewers, retailers and dealers of beer were not allowed to possess sugar nor certain specified drugs and adulterants.

11th October 1827
The rules from 6th July 1817 also applied to Ireland.

16th July 1830
Beer duties abolished. Brewers prohibited from having raw or unmalted grain on their premises.

18th June 1842
The use of roasted or black malt in brewing first recognised in law.  Strict rules on the manufacture, sale and storage of black malt were introduced. There was further legislation on this topic in 1856 and 1857. All these were repealed in 1880. 

23rd February 1847
The use of sugar (but not molasses or other types of sugar on which the full duties had not been paid) allowed in the brewing of beer and in the preparation of colouring material for beer.

6th July 1851
A duty of 1s 4d per cwt. introduced on sugar used in brewing.

10th July 1854
Duty on sugar used in brewing raised to 6s 6d per cwt.

Duty on sugar used in brewing reduced to 3s 9d per cwt.

5th July 1856 - 15th April 1864
Collection of duty on sugar used in brewing held in abeyance.

16th April 1864
A duty of 3s 4d per cwt. imposed on sugar used in brewing.

30th April 1867
Duty on sugar used in brewing raised to 3s 6d per cwt.

12th April 1870
Duty on sugar used in brewing raised to 7s 6d per cwt.

8th May 1873
Duty on sugar used in brewing raised to 9s 6d per cwt.

30th April 1874
Duty on sugar used in brewing raised to 11s 6d per cwt.

30th September 1880
Duty on sugar used in brewing repealed.

31st July 1865 - 30th April 1874
Brewers prohibited from using a mixture of glucose and treacle.

30th April 1874
The definition of sugar extended to mean any description of sugar, including any saccharine substance or syrup manufactured from any material from which sugar can be manufactured. The use of sugar to make beer colouring also allowed.

14th August 1855 - 30th September 1880
Storage of unmalted grain in a brewery prohibited except for: grain in a malt house; oats or beans for horse food kept in a specific place. Malt only to be crushed by metal rollers with smooth surfaces which were not fluted.

11th October 1862 - 30th September 1880
Brewers of spruce or black beer exempted from new rates of license duty on brewers provided that they used no hops or yeast in making them.

16th September 1862
Duties on hops repealed. Prohibition on hop substitutes removed, also the restrictions on importing extracts, essences and other preparations of hops. This was only extended to Ireland on 25th July 1864.

1st October 1880
"Free mash tun " Act. Duty imposed at 6s 3d per standard barrel of 1057º. All restriction on ingredients removed except those on drugs and harmful substances.

16th May 1888
The use of "saccharin" (a product of coal tar) prohibited.

16th April 1889
A standard barrel changed to 1055º.

17th April 1894
Duty per standard barrel raised to 6s 9d.

1st October 1896

Rice, flaked maize and other similar products, which had been classified as malt or corn with regard to their wort-producing powers reclassified as "sugar".

Source: "Report and minutes of evidence Departmental Committee on Beer Materials", 1899, page 382.

That was fun. Se how most of it was designed either to collect tax or to stop people avoiding tax.

The "Report and minutes of evidence Departmental Committee on Beer Materials" is a great source of information, especially statistics. There are several appendices stuffed full of plump, juicy numbers. I had to tear myself away.


Oblivious said...

Spruce or black beers (but not porter?), thats an interesting one. Any more information?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, Spruce and black beer were a special category. Without the use of hops or yeast, I'm not sure how beery they could have been.

Barm said...

Spruce or black beer is a particular category of very syrupy, very high gravity malt beverages (which may or may not be related to Danzig Mumme). Mather's Black Beer is a surviving example, although since that's 8%, they are getting alcohol into it somehow. Evidently there were also unfermented malt drinks of this type that didn't use yeast.

Matt said...

Black beer lost its tax exemption in this week's Budget.

Jeff Renner said...

Nice summary.

"Malt only to be crushed by metal rollers with smooth surfaces which were not fluted." What could be the reason for this? Presumably it had something to do either with tax collection or wholesomeness of the beer, since those were the aims of other regulations, but I can't imagine how.

Ed said...

Excellent work. I've wondered about pre-1880 sugar and now I know.

Oblivious said...

Jeff I think the smooth roller where to prevent crushing of un malted grain, it much.much tougher to crush