Sunday, 28 September 2014

League table of London Stouts in the 1920's

Almost time for a final look back at the overall results. But first it's the final style league table.

As a stronger style - it was usually the strongest draught beer in a pub - you'd expect Stout to score reasonably well. At least better than its sibling Porter, for which only five of the eleven breweries could muster a positive average score.

London seems to have been out of step with the rest of Britain in terms of styles. By the 1920's draught Porter had pretty much disappeared elsewhere and draught Stout was following a similar path to extinction. But in London it was still going strong through WW II and into the 1960's. Why was that? Probably simply because they were styles with their origins in the capital.

The vast majority of the Stouts analysed were of the 9d (8d after 1923) per pint type. The price implied a gravity in the low 1050's, which is where most of these beers are. Wenlock and Courage were the odd men out with a weaker 8d (7d after 1923) per pint Stout. They fared quite differently, though.  Wenlock's was one of the weakest, but scored surprisingly well. While Courage's was crap.

In the Mann and Meux samples, a few of the cheaper Stouts seem to be mixed in, but which were sold for the higher price. I would have been easy enough for a dodgy landlord to pass off a weaker Stout as a more expensive one, if the punters weren't paying too much attention. Some Charrington landlords went one better, passing off Porter as Stout, an old WW I trick. Gravities under 1040º are a dead giveaway.

I think it's time to look at that league table:

League table of 1920s London Stouts by score
Brewery FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation score
Whitbread 1014.8 1055.3 5.27 73.32% 2.00
Wenlock 1016.1 1045.7 3.83 64.56% 1.36
Watney 1013.4 1054.9 5.40 75.55% 1.13
Huggins 1018.5 1062.1 5.67 70.27% 1.09
Truman 1017.6 1053.5 4.66 67.20% 1.00
Mann 1012.0 1054.5 5.54 78.05% 0.43
Meux 1014.7 1054.9 5.23 73.29% 0.18
Hoare 1017.9 1054.2 4.70 67.06% 0.10
Cannon 1014.9 1049.5 4.49 70.05% 0
Charrington 9d only 1013.3 1052.5 5.10 74.70% -1.00
Charrington 1012.9 1049.7 4.78 73.73% -1.09
Barclay Perkins 1014.6 1055.4 5.31 73.72% -1.21
Courage 1011.6 1046.3 4.51 74.98% -1.67
all Stout 1014.8 1053.8 5.06 72.35% 0.29
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

There are a couple of points of interest there. And a least one depressing one.

Only two of the traditional Porter breweries manage a top five finish: Whitbread and Truman. Oddly, the top three all have names beginning with a "W". And the bottom five all begin with  a "B" or a "C". The table is almost in reverse alphabetical order. At least eight breweries managed an average positive score, with one averaging zero and three negative scores.

The top five all did pretty well. Any average over 1 is good. Whitbread came out especially well, but the sample size - three - was very small. Once again, Watney is in the top three. They really do seem to have been one of the top breweries for quality before the war. Where (and when) did it all go wrong?

Charrington, Barclay Perkins and Courage are all dreadful. It saddens me to see how crap Barclay Perkins beer was. No wonder their sales fell off so much in the 1920's. As this table shows:

Barclay Perkins output 1920 - 1929
year barrels
1920 464,033
1921 393,045
1922 348,576
1923 293,728
1924 303,676
1925 329,464
1926 317,628
1927 306,682
1928 306,300
1929 300,569
Document ACC/2305/1/711/1 in the London Metropolitan Archives

Time for one final league table. This time ranked by the percentage with good flavour:

League table of 1920s London Stouts by good flavour
Brewery No. examples no. good flavour % good flavour score
Whitbread 3 3 100.00% 2.00
Huggins 11 9 81.82% 1.09
Wenlock 11 9 81.82% 1.36
Watney 16 13 81.25% 1.13
Truman 4 3 75.00% 1.00
Mann 14 9 64.29% 0.43
Hoare 10 6 60.00% 0.10
Meux 11 6 54.55% 0.18
Cannon 2 1 50.00% 0.00
Barclay Perkins 14 3 21.43% -1.21
Charrington 11 2 18.18% -1.09
Courage 3 0 0.00% -1.67
Total 110 64 58.18%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Not that different from the other league table.

Just a few steps left now in our journey. I'll be finishing with a roundup of all the styles and a final definitive league table. I can't wait.


Anonymous said...

I'm kind of new to this blog. What does the score mean & how is it calculated, etc?

Ron Pattinson said...


this should explain it:

Anonymous said...

that did the trick, thanks