Monday, 8 September 2014

British brewing industry structure in the 1860's

Sorry about the title. I really couldn't think of anything better.

This comes from possibly the most frustrating digitised book ever, "Statistics relating to the Brewing Trade". Why frustrating? Because it contains really useful tables which you can't see. Most tables are too big for the pages and are on pullout sheets. WHoever scanned the book didn't bother pulling out these sheets and alll you can see are their blank banks. Fortunately a couple of the tables are readable.

In particular, there's a table of the number of brewing licences issued in 1864, grouped by size of output. Using it, you can get a good impression of the structure of the industry at the time. The first thing that strikes is the sheer number of brewers: 34,679. That's probably more than there are in the whole world today.

Obviously, most of those breweries were very small. The majority were pub breweries, which were still extremely common in many parts of England. In 1857, there were 25,026* "brewing victuallers", as they were quaintly known. Only 20 breweries were brewing more than 100,000 barrels a year. At least five, and probably more, of those were in London. Guinness, Bass and Allsopp are three others in this category. Maybe Beamish, too. Only 40 breweries were making more than 50,000 barrels and 316,000 more than 10,000 barrels. It's clear that there were few breweries operating on truly industrial scale, just a few hundred in the whole country.

London brewers in 1864 (barrels)
Barclay Perkins  415,721
Whitbread  204,154
Truman  520,945
Reid  273,069
Mann 187,587
Source:
The British Brewing Industry, 1830-1980 T. R. Gourvish & R.G. Wilson, pages 610-611

As late as 1857, publican brewers were producing almost a quarter of Britain's beer:

Malt usage in 1857
bushels malt est. barrels %
Brewers 25,965,217 12,982,609 77.74%
Publicans 7,434,561 3,717,281 22.26%
total 33,399,778 16,699,889
Source:
"Annals of British Legislation, vol. V" 1859, pages 333 and 334

Here's the table as presented by Amsinck:

Common Brewers in the United Kingdom Paying for Licenses in October 1864.
Exceeding Not Exceeding number amount charged on each class The supplementary charge on the Licenses expiring 10th October 1864 The supplementary diminution on the Licenses expiring 10th October 1864
No. barrels barrels £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
1 0 1,000 31,017 91,848 15 0 17,503 12 0 7,125 0 6
2 1,000 10,000 1,647 78,449 18 0 12,630 4 0 2,502  5 8
3 10,000 20,000 178 34,368 18 0 3,496 12 0 1,024 16 0
4 20,000 30,000 64 22,125 0 0 3,045 3 0 287 13 0
5 30,000 50,000 34 17,525 15 0 2,142 18 6 411 2 6
6 50,000 100,000 20 18,428 2 6 2,573 15 6 241 17 6
7 100,000 150,000 7 10,907 7 6 1,020 0 0 0
8 150,000 200,000 1 2,172 15 0 108 15 0 0
9 200,000 450,000 4 11,543 10 0 274 7 6| 770 0 0
10 250,000 300,000 3 11,186 7 6 219 7 6 28 2 6
11 300,000 350,000 0 0 0
12 350,000 400,000 1 4,645 5 0 560 0 0
13 400,000 450,000 1 5,262 15 0 22 10 0
14 450,000 500,000 1 5,997 2 6 332 17 6
15 500,000 2 14,593 0 0 1,208 15 0
Beginners at 12s 6d 1,699 1,061 17 6
34,679 330,266 9 6 45,138 17 6 12,391 3 8
12,391 3 8
Net supplementary Charge 32,747 13 10 32,747 13 10
Total Amount paiti by all Classes 363,014 3 4
Source:
Statistics relating to the Brewing Trade, compiled by G. S. Amsinck, 1865, page 3.

To get a better idea of at what scale most beer was being produced, I decided to play with Amsinck's numbers a bit. By estimating how much each brewery in the different bands brewed, I'm able to calculate the total output from each band. For the higher bands it's pretty simple, I've just used the middle point. That doesn't work for the bottom two bands. I know that many pub breweries produced tiny amounts, fewer than 100 barrels a year. And in the second band, many brewers would have been at the bottom end of the range.

Here's the result:

Estimated output per size of brewer
from barrels to barrels no. brewers average barrels per brewer total barrels % of total
0 1,000 31,017 200 6,203,400 27.44%
1,000 10,000 1,647 2,200 3,623,400 16.03%
10,000 20,000 178 15,000 2,670,000 11.81%
20,000 30,000 64 25,000 1,600,000 7.08%
30,000 50,000 34 40,000 1,360,000 6.02%
50,000 100,000 20 75,000 1,500,000 6.64%
100,000 150,000 7 125,000 875,000 3.87%
150,000 200,000 1 175,000 175,000 0.77%
200,000 450,000 4 325,000 1,300,000 5.75%
250,000 300,000 3 275,000 825,000 3.65%
300,000 350,000 0 325,000 0 0.00%
350,000 400,000 1 375,000 375,000 1.66%
400,000 450,000 1 425,000 425,000 1.88%
450,000 500,000 1 475,000 475,000 2.10%
500,000 2 600,000 1,200,000 5.31%
Total 22,606,800

My estimates are a bit out, because in 1865 20,276,623** were estimated to have been brewed in the UK (there is no exact figure), a bit less than the 22.6 million barrels from my guesstimates. But I'm not too far off. You can see that probably a quarter of all beer was brewed by those in the smalklest band. 43% was made by brewers with an output of fewer than 10,000 barrels. 68% came from breweries under 50,000 barrels.

What am I trying to say? That despite having been heavily industrialised and concentrated in some places - london, for example - for a century, most British beer was still being produced on a pretty small scale in the 1860's.

Of course the next 100 years would see the numbers of breweries in Britain forever shrinking and their scale forever growing. Until CAMRA came along.






* "Annals of British Legislation, vol. V" 1859, pages 333 and 334.
** Brewers' Almanack 1865.

2 comments:

marquis said...

Ron, presumably the barrelage would be presumptive based on malt tax figures.
Would it be standard or actual barrels the figures relate to, and how ould one compare with the other?

Ron Pattinson said...

Marquis,

I don't know how the barrelage for the brewing licence was calculated.

The standard barrel didn't exist before 1880.