We've now got as far as Porter. If I'm honest, the Porter analyses are the most revealing about what was happening in the London pub trade. It gives some clues as to both the state Porter and why it was in decline. You could call it the Mild Effect.
What's that? Let me explain. In the 1970's, Mild sales were falling. Dramatically falling in some regions. This decline kicked off a vicious circle. A low volume of sales, meant that it was often too old and in bad condition. Which deterred drinkers from buying, leading to even lower sales and even poorer beer quality. Eventually it wasn't worth the landlord's while to sell it any more.
The comments on flavour in the Whitbread Gravity Book tend to confirm this. To put it bluntly: there was a lot of crap Porter about in the 1920's. Why do I think poor sales were to blame? Because I can see the decline that Porter went into after WW I quite clearly in Whitbread's production figures by type.
Here's what happened with their Porter 1910 - 1929:
|Output of Whitbread Porter 1910 - 1929|
|year||barrels brewed||Total Port||Total Ale & Porter||% of Porter/Stout||% of total|
|Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan
Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/075, LMA/4453/D/01/076,
LMA/4453/D/01/077, LMA/4453/D/01/078, LMA/4453/D/01/079, LMA/4453/D/01/080,
LMA/4453/D/01/081 LMA/4453/D/01/082, LMA/4453/D/01/083, LMA/4453/D/01/084,
LMA/4453/D/01/085, LMA/4453/D/01/086, LMA/4453/D/01/087, LMA/4453/D/01/088,
LMA/4453/D/01/089, LMA/4453/D/01/090, LMA/4453/D/01/091, LMA/4453/D/01/092,
LMA/4453/D/01/093, LMA/4453/D/01/094, LMA/4453/D/01/095,
LMA/4453/D/09/104, LMA/4453/D/09/105, LMA/4453/D/09/106, LMA/4453/D/09/107, LMA/4453/D/09/108, LMA/4453/D/09/109, LMA/4453/D/09/110, LMA/4453/D/09/111, LMA/4453/D/09/112, LMA/4453/D/09/113, LMA/4453/D/09/114, LMA/4453/D/09/115, LMA/4453/D/09/116, LMA/4453/D/09/117, LMA/4453/D/09/118, LMA/4453/D/09/119, LMA/4453/D/09/120, LMA/4453/D/09/121, LMA/4453/D/09/122 and LMA/4453/D/09/123.
Whitbread's Porter was in surprisingly good health leading up to WW I, with sales increasing. The war put a stop to that and output of it almost dried up after 1916. It bounced back a little in 1920, then went into a steady decline.
It also seems that many Porter drinkers switched to Stout. During the war, often the Porter and Stout on offer in a pub were the same beer, the only difference being the price. After the war, standard draught Stout was similar in gravity to pre-war Porter, in the range 1052 - 1056. Switching to Stout is exactly what I would have done, if I had been able to afford it.
On with Barclay Perkins' Porter. Remember that they had been one of the great Porter breweries, and had brewed Porter for over 150 years. It's fairly typical in terms of gravity and ABV. Let's take a look at the details:
|Barclay Perkins Porter quality 1922 - 1923|
|1922||Porter||1013.2||1040.2||3.49||67.16%||Poor & thin||-2||6d|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001|
One thing I forgot to mention. For Porter and Stout there's no mention of clarity, presumably because of their dark colour. As you can see, the quality wasn't great. Only half get a positive score and only one of those scores higher than 1.
I can see why drinkers shunned Porter in the 1920's. It was often pretty crap. The lowered gravity wouldn't have helped. If only I had some similar information from before the war to confirm that its quality had declined. Oh well, you can't have everything.