Thursday, 27 February 2014

Huggins Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

Huggins, you may remember, was the brewery with a hugely impractical Soho location.

We'll begin with their chairman moaning about the tax they had to pay:
"Huggins and Co.
The annual general meeting was held on the 3rd inst., in London, Mr. Malcolm H. Huggins presiding.

The Chairman said that the profits had been well maintained, and it was a great pleasure to him to be able to congratulate the shareholders on a successful year's trading. Dealing with the accounts, he stated that the last of the mortgages which were outstanding a year ago had been paid off, and he thought the improved financial position of the company was also a matter for congratulation. The result of the year's trading was a net profit of £34,972. Before arriving at that profit the company had had to pay or provide for payment to the Government for beer duty, income-tax, etc, a sum considerably in excess of £250,000, which  appeared to him to be entirely out of proportion to the amount available for the shareholders who had invested their money in the business. The directors now recommended the payment of a final dividend of 1s. 6d. per share, less tax, making, with the interim dividend already paid, 10 per cent, for the year ; the placing of £10,000 to reserve, making that fund £76,515, and leaving a balance to be carried forward of £32,273. During the year under review they had suffered from the continued and increased unemployment and large reductions in wages, which had reduced the spending power of the working classes, on whom they chiefly relied for the sale of their beers. Whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able in his next Budget to reduce the duty on beer, he was not able to say, but one could not help feeling very strongly that the beer drinker had the first claim to any remission of taxation. The heavy duty might have been a means of collecting revenue from one section of the working classes during the period of high wages, but they certainly had not the ability to pay these prices to-day, and were justly entitled to relief. The consumer was getting the benefit of the reduction in cost of materials in a better article. With regard to the inconsistency of the hours during which licensed premises were now open in London, one could only hope that the Justices, when they had to reconsider this question in February, would study the public convenience and not be influenced by a noisy minority of kill-joys.

The report was unanimously adopted."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", page 18.

He has a point - a quarter of a million in tax and just 30,000 quid profit. The high wages he refers to were a by-product of labour shortages during WW I. Employers had tp pay, if they wanted to find workers. As a result, even though beer prices shot up during the war, demand remained high.

That's handy. The £250,000 paid in tax tells me something. Beer duty was £5 per standard barrel, which worked out to about £4 per barrel for an average strength beer. Which means Huggins had to be producing less than 60,000 barrels a year.

I think you can guess who he means by kill-joys.

Let's look at Huggins Burton. The gravity is at the high end, attenuation about average, leaving a slightly above average ABV of nearly 5.5%.

Huggins Mild took tenth place with a just positive score of 0.20. Room for improvement - will their Burton Ale show it?

Huggins Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1011 1053.8 5.60 79.93% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1009 1053.2 5.74 82.71% not bright unpleasantly bitter -2
1922 KK 1013 1055.4 5.46 75.81% dark good 2
1922 KK 1013 1056.1 5.67 77.54% bright good 2
1923 KK 1013 1054.5 5.40 76.15% bright good 2
1923 KK 1012 1053.8 5.40 77.14% bright fair 1
1923 KK 1014 1054.2 5.20 73.80% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1013 1054.8 5.40 75.73% fairly bright fairly good 1
1923 KK 1014 1052 4.93 73.08% almost bright nasty flavour -3
Average  1013 1054.2 5.42 76.88% 0.67
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Finding a properly clear pint must have been a chore in the 1920's. Once again fewer than half the examples - four out of nine - were bright. Flavour again scores considerably better with seven positive scores, including four twos. This is offset a little by two quite bad examples, but the average score is 0.67. Which isn't too bad.

Looks to me like the odds were in your favour of getting a pretty decent pint of Huggins Burton. It does seem that the Burtons are scoring better than the milds.

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