Sunday, 14 April 2013

Lager in WW II again

Time for more random newspaper clippings about Lager in WW II. No, no, don't thank me. It's the least I could do. I know you're sitting at home waiting for more of this stuff.

There is sort of a theme running through them: the attitude to beer and drinking in WW II. Very different to WW I, when officialdom had been very much against both and used any excuse to clamp down on them.

This would have been handled very differently in the earlier war. Admittedly, there wouldn't have been any Dutch airmen in Britain then, but you know what I mean.

"DUTCH AIRMEN'S CELEBRATION ENDS IN FINE
A modified fine of 20s was at St Andrews Burgh Police Court imposed bv Bailie David Fraser on a St Andrews hotelkeeper, who pleaded guilty to a charge of supplying four bottles of beer to Dutch air officers 25 minutes after the permitted hour as they wished to celebrate the award of a decoration.

David Cook Smith Jamieson, hotelkeeper, Cross Keys Hotel. St Andrews, admitted that by the hands of his barman. James McFadyen, he supplied four bottles of lager beer Thursday, January 16, outwith the permitted hours for the sale of liquor.

The burgh prosecutor said that some Dutch officers arrived at St Andrews rather late and asked the proprietor to give them half an hour longer to celebrate. Bailie David Fraser said it was only the special circumstances of the fact that some brave Dutch airmen were celebrating honours that had been conferred upon them that justified him in imposing a modified penalty of £1."
Evening Telegraph - Thursday 27 March 1941, page 3.
The landlord got off pretty lightly, Much more lightly than in WW I. Though it's still ridiculous, when you think about the war situation in 1941. Didn't the authorities have anything better to do than worry about four bottles of Lager being served 25 minutes after closing time?


That's got me wondering about how much after-hours drinking went on during the war. With the blackout, it must have been easy to conceal what was going on inside a pub. But, on the other hand, there were far more officials snooping about, ARP wardens and the like. It's one of those things where, because it was by definition covert, it's hard to find any evidence.

This is about one of the less well-known outposts of the British military, Iceland. Where beer (at lest the full-strength stuff) wasn't legal. Except for the foreign military.

"ICELAND FORCES' BEER
Strong protests have been made by N.A.A.F.I, concerning passages in the booklet The Northern Garrisons" by Eric Linklater, published to-day by the Stationery Office.

The author writes: "The men would be much happier if their diet included a little malt and hops. Icelandic beer is the depressing sort known as near-beer, and though arrangements have been made to produce a stronger and rather more palatable lager, there is not nearly enough to satisfy the thirst of an English garrison. The Iceland force deserves its pint."

A N.A.A.F.I. official said: "Someone is talking through his hat. During the last three months N.A.A.F.I. has sent to Iceland over 1,000,000 pints of English bottled beer, and some 245 kilderkins. 127 hogsheads and 10 barrels of draught beer. All this is in addition to the special beer brewed locally, which is made as near the English character beer as possible." "
Hull Daily Mail - Friday 22 August 1941, page 3.
Beer was clearly considered to be essential for the morale of the troops. As it undoubtedly was. Only no-one would have officially admitted that in WW I. Adding all that bottled and draught beer up, I get 1,093,024 pints. It sounds like a lot, but there were 25,000 British troops on Iceland. So that comes to just 43 and a bit pints each. So, over three months, about a half pint per day.

And finally one of my favourites: a price-fixing agreement.

"Dearer "Nip" in Glasgow
AFTER Monday drinks will cost more in Glasgow "pubs." Glasgow and District Licensed Trade Defence Association have recommended the following retail prices:—
Proprietary whiskies. 1/- per quarter gill, 2/- per half-gill, and 4/- per gill.

Bottled ales — Screwtops, 1/- bottle; Bass, Guinness, lager and strong ale, 10d; dumps and splits of light ales, including lager, 6d.

Prices of bottled ales exclusive of cost of bottles."
Aberdeen Journal - Friday 05 September 1941, page 3.

Interesting how Lager gets lumped in with light Ales. I'm surprised it's that cheap and not on a par with Bass and Guinness. Hang on, there is a Lager in the 10d beers. What's the difference between that and the 6d one?

I've just checked the Barclay Perkins price* list and they were charging 9d a small bottle for their standard Lager and 10d for their de luxe dark Lager in 1941.




* Document ACC/2305/01/521/1 held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

1 comment:

Barm said...

Wild speculation here but the more expensive lager might have been Tennent’s and the cheaper one someone else’s. Tennent’s already had a dominant place in the bottled lager market by the 1940s. So much so that they were quite unhappy about the prospect of wartime "pool brewing", where brewers supply each others’ pubs to save on fuel. This would have disadvantaged T as their lager was such a premium product.