Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Wenlock Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

We're nearly there. Just two breweries left to go. Then we can all breathe a sigh of relief before I embark on yet another monster series about London beers of the 1920's. What do you fancy next - Stout or Pale Ale?

First a word from the chairman of the Wenlock Brewery, Mr. John C. Duffus. As usual, he took the opportunity to make some political points:

"Wenlock Brewery Co., Ltd.
The annual general meeting was held in London, Mr. John C. Duffus (chairman) presiding.

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report (vide last issue), after dealing with the accounts, said: When I addressed you last year I was rather pessimistic as to the course our trade was likely to take, in view of the great depression that prevailed all over tho country, but I am happy to state these fears did not materialise and our trade was well maintained throughout the year; but, doubtless, you will want to know what the prospects are for the current year. Well, at the moment the position is far from bright, and from what I can gather, consumption generally is on the decline, caused to a large extent by the present, almost unbearable, high beer duty, a form of prohibition which presses unduly on the wage-earners of this country, who to-day have less money to spend owing to the existing state of trade and large amount of unemployment in our midst. In this respect it may interest you to know that this company has provided towards the revenue of the nation during the past year, for beer duty, income tax and corporation tax, the large sum of £340,000. Let us hope the present Government will use the "Geddes axe" more freely and with greater promptitude than their predecessors in alleviating the heavy burden of taxation which our industries have borne so long. I am hopeful that our new Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he gets fairly seated in the saddle, will see his way, in budgeting for next year's estimates, to make a substantial reduction in the beer duty to enable us to pass it on to the consumer. Such relief, in my humble opinion, would be greatly appreciated by all classes of the community, and add not only to more employment, but also to the revenue of the country. With trade slowly on the mend and private enterprise freed from all Government restrictions and interference, I look forward with confidence to more prosperous times in the near future.

Mr. Henry G. Glover (deputy chairman and managing director), who seconded the resolution, remarked that he had just completed thirty-nine years at the Wenlock Brewery, established by his father fifty years ago.

The report was adopted."
"The Brewers' journal, 1923", page 18.
The government had a big problem with war debt and needed to get its finances in order. Which is why the very high level of taxation on beer, originally seen as a temporary wartime measure continued through the 1920's. The only change was a 20 shilling per barrel rebate from the 100 shilling a standard barrel tax in 1923. It didn't satisfy brewers, and I can see why. Before the outbreak of war, the tax had been just 7s. 9d. per standard barrel.

In 1922, of the 7d. per pint retail average price of beer  3.37d. was beer duty* - very nearly 50% of the total cost.

On with the beer itself. My discussion if the vital statistics of these Burtons has got very dull. I blame the beer - they're all so bloody similar. This one probably even more so than the rest. (Does that make any sense?)

Next it's the scores:

Wenlock Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1010 1054 5.74 81.48% cloudy poor -1
1922 KK 1015 1053.1 5.00 72.50% almost bright fair 1
1922 KK 1012 1052.7 5.27 76.85% bright good 2
1922 KK 1013 1053.5 5.27 75.70% bright good 2
1923 KK 1010 1053.7 5.67 81.01% slightly hazy good 2
1923 KK 1012 1050.6 5.07 77.08% brilliant v fair 2
1923 KK 1008 1052.9 5.81 84.12% bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1011 1050.6 5.21 79.05% fairly bright v fair 2
1923 KK 1010 1051 5.34 80.39% not bright sour -3
Average  1011 1052.46 5.38 78.69% 1.00
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

This is getting pretty predictable, too. Less than 50% properly bright, just four from Nine. While again the flavour is much better: only two negative scores, though one of them is a -3. Most of the rest are twos, which is reassuring. As is the average score of exactly one.

Another Burton that's pretty safe to drink

Just Whitbread to go, then I'll do a roundup.

* My calculation from figures in the 1928 Brewers' Almanack.

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