Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Prices of Beer and Stout in Aberdeen

I just couldn't resist this article. It combined three of my obsessions: Scotland, WW I and bottled beer. There are even mentions of Barclay Perkins and Lager. It's as if they'd written it especially for me.

First a bit of context. Look at the date: April 1917. April is traditionally buget month in the UK. 1917 was the year the Germans began their unrestricted U-Boot campaign which initially had a big impact on world trade and Britain's food supplies. The government's reaction was to limit beer production. Which prompted brewers to raise their prices. Happy days.


A meeting of the directors of the Aberdeen Excise Licenceholders' Association was held yesterday in the office of the secretary, Mr George Mackenzie (of Messrs Mackenzie and Wilson advocates, 77 Crown Street). Mr G. M Thomson presided. The directors had under consideration the advanced prices to be charged for beer and stout for both "on" and "off" consumption, in view the increased prices now charged by brewers and bottlers.

The meeting unanimously agreed that minimum prices should be charged in accordance with the following list:—

Sales for "on" consumption— (in hotels and public-houses):

  Reputed Pint.  Splits. 
Bass, Allsopp, and Worthington beers  7d 4d
No. 1. Bass  9d 5d
Barclay, Perkins, and Co.'s Imperial stout 9d 6d
Do. Brown stout  7d 4.5d
Combe's Imperial stout 9d 6d
Do. Brown stout  7d 4.5d
Do. Oatmeal stout and porter 6d 4d
Guinness' stout 8d 5d
Lager beer 6d -
Scotch beer and stouts 5d 3.5d
Draught beer and stout—per pint 7d   
Do. per schooner — according to size of glass 4.5d and 5d  
Do. per glass 3.5d  
Table beer — per quart 6d  
Do. per pint 4d  

Sales by licensed grocers and others for consumption "off" the premises:—

  Per doz. Reputed Pints. Per doz. Splits.
Bass, Allsopp, and Worthingrton beers  6/- 3/9
No. 1. Bass  8/- 5/9
Barclay, Perkins, and Co.'s Imperial stout 8/6 6/9
Do. Brown stout 6/6 4/-
Combe's Imperial stout 8/6 5/9
Do. Brown stout 6/6 4/-
Do. Oatmeal stout and porter 5/6 3/6
Guinness' stout 7/- 4/6
Scotch pale ale 4/6 3/3
Scotch stouts 4/6 3/3
Table beer and stout—quarts, per dozen 4/6  
Do. Reputed pints — per dozen 3/-  
Lager—reputed pints — per dozen 5/6  

The new prices, which represent an increase about 2d par bottle in most cases, will come into operation on Monday first. Licenceholders are now entitled receive only a third of their former supplies of ale and stout, based on their quarterly supplies for the year from 1st April, 1915, to 3lst March, 1916. As the supplies have been so much reduced, it was pointed out at the meeting, prices must naturally rise according to supply and demand.

A meeting of the Executive Committee of the Aberdeenshire and Kincardineshire Licenseholders Association was also held the office of Messrs Mackenzie and Wilson — Mr.G. A. Wilson, advocate, secretary. Provost Hay, Alford, presided. The following prices were fixed for whisky, etc.; _

Off sales. 

  Per nip Per noggin. Per glass. Per. bottle. 
Ordinary whisky 4d 6d 8d 6/-
Special and proprietary whisky 5d - 10d 7/-
Rum and gin 4d 6d 8d 7/6
Brandy (ordinary) 6d - 1/- 7/6

The prices fixed for beer and stout were the same those agreed upon at the meeting of the city licenceholders, except that for Scotch

beers and stouts the charge for on-consumption will be 6d per pint, and that in Kincardineshire the price per dozen quarts of table beer will be 5s 6d.

The Glasgow Licensed Trade Defence Association yesterday adopted new scale of charges for liquor owing the restriction of supplies enforced by the Food Controller.

Spirits will be raised from 1s 4d to 1s 6d per gill; draught beer and stout from 5d to 8d per pint; bottled beer and stout from 5d to 7d and large bottles from 6d to 8d. There is no change in brandy and wines. The new prices come into force on Monday."
Aberdeen Journal - Friday 06 April 1917, page 2.
The important thing to remember is that this is for Aberdeen. Right up in the north of Scotland. Which makes it a little surprising that two London Porter brewers, Barclay Perkins and Combe, both have multiple beers in the list. The other named brewers - Bass, Allsopp, Worthington and Guinness are less of a shock, with the exception perhaps or Worthington. The other three had been established national brands for more than half a century. Worthington was the rising star, bucking the trend of declining output amongst Burton brewers.

The sight of schooners and glasses in the draught price list has me confused. Wasn't draught beer only supposed to be sold in multiples of one third and half imperial pints?

You see that license-holders were only alliwed a third of the beer they had had in 1915. That's a pretty drastic reduction. You can see why brewers had to increase prices to stay in business. Longer term, they also slashed gravities so they could produce a greater volume of beer with the same materials.

1 comment:

Phil said...

"prices must naturally rise according to supply and demand"

Nothing natural about it! Licensees would "naturally" need to cover their overheads on a smaller volume of beer, that's fair enough. They might even want to put some prices up to deterrent levels, to stop the good stuff running out. But putting pre-emptive price increases down to 'supply and demand' is nonsense - it's not as if drinkers were roaming from pub to pub, willing to pay any price for the last few drops of beer.