Tuesday, 4 September 2012

First draught British Lager?

It's certainly the earlist one I've found. 1881 is right at the beginning of British Lager brewing.

As so often, the non-intoxicating character of Lager is highlighted. Considering it was probably at least 5% ABV, that's a little misleading. That's enough alcohol to get anyone pissed, if they drink enough.

 Anyway, here's the ad:

 And here's the text:
THE modern requirement of a light, agreeable, and comparatively non-intoxicating Beverage is supplied by the


Orders may be sent through Agents; or direct to

   13/6                     27/-

These prices are at least one-third less than Foreign Lager Beer. The above Beer was shown the recent National Brewers' Exhibition, Agricultural Hall, Islington, and  received flattering Notices in the London Press. "
Western Times - Wednesday 26 October 1881, page 2.
First thing I noticed was the small cask sizes. Only firkin (9 gallons) and kilderkin (18 gallons). At a time when most beer was sold in either barrels (36 gallon) or hogshead (54 gallon) casks. It's a sure sign that Lager wasn't a huge seller.

Then there's the price. "At least one third less than Foreign Lager Beer." As St. Anne's Well Lager was 54/- a barrel, that would make foreign Lager at least 81/- per barrel. That's a good bit less than the 106s 6d quoted in 1869 as the price of imported Vienna Beer. Presumably the price had come down.

You can see the attraction of Lager for an ambitious British brewery. Lager was no stronger than X Ale (standard Mild), yet sold for 50% more (X Ale was 36/- a barrel). I'm sure that Lager didn't cost 50% more to brew than X Ale, so the profit margin was higher.

I'm not quite done with St. Anne's Lager Beer yet. One more report to go.

1 comment:

Andrew Elliott said...

I'm curious about the cost perspective... in that time, how much would it cost to cool the fermenters and the lagering tanks? Nevermind having the beer take that much longer in the tanks using up space which in an ale brewery could be used for several batches within that time frame.

Our local micro's cash cow is the Kölsch -- light, refreshing, and very drinkable, while it can be fermented out nearly as quickly as the ales (see what i did there... i won't call a Kölsch an ale). Granted, they are skipping the proper lagering time a true Kölsch brewer would probably include.

One other interesting thing... a Kilderkin is approximately a Hectolitre; though I guess not close enough so this would be mere coincidence. Ah nevermind, did the conversion to Imperial Gallons, and came out to 22Gal = 1HL.