Saturday, 15 November 2014

Bottled beer in Egypt

More random stuff from by blind sweep through the newspaper archives.

This is a excerpt from an article about trade in Egypt.

"Bottled Beer.
Outside the Army of Occupation and the British community there is very little demand for the ordinary English beer, which, as has been stated in previous reports, is too heavy to suit the local taste, but a light kind of beer would be likely to find purchasers. The Acting Consul-General quotes the following passage from a report of the British Chamber of Commerce, which seems deserving of the attention of British brewers: "Continental brewers push the consumption of their article in Egypt by financing the owners of the 'brasseries' (bars), thus enabling them to establish these in good localities and in an attractive manner, thereby obtaining a large turn-over." A large brewery, fitted with the latest machinery, has been established on the outskirts of Alexandria by a Belgian Company. Light Pilsener beer is now being actively brewed, and it is probable that the Company will place tbeir beer on the market in two or three months. This will probably compete seriously with European beer.
Morning Post - Friday 30 December 1898, page 2.

First let's look at British beer exports to Egypt. They really weren't that big:

British beer exports to Egypt 1890 - 1930
1890 1900 1910 1913 1919 1920
6,591 18,597 20,600 20,530 10,408 9,796
1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926
11,619 11,305 8,592 8,971 9,840 10,760
1926 1927 1927 1928 1929 1930
10,760 10,510 10,510 10,659 12,571 14,603
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.
Brewers' Journal 1921, page 24
Brewers' Journal 1923, page 26
Brewers' Journal 1925, page 27
Brewers' Journal 1927, page 28
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.
Brewers' Journal 1929, page 30
Brewers' Journal 1931, page 34

To put those numbers into context, in the same period around 20,000 barrels were exported to Malta. I don't need to tell you that Egypt's population is many times that of Malta. The amount is so small that it probably was mostly being drunk by British expats.

That British beer was too heavy for hotter countries is a complaint you often see towards the end of the 19th century when continental Lager brewers started to export their beers outside Europe. The growing popularity of Lager in the tropiocs had a serious impact on sales of British beer. That's one of the reasons Allsopp decided to install a Lager brewery in Burton: to be able to compete with European brewers in tropical markets.

The author clearly wasn't keen on the continental breweries buying their way into the Egyptian market. Even more surprising is a Belgian company building a brewery in Egypt. Especially as it would be brewing Pilsener. I'm not sure if anyone was brewing Pilsener in Belgium itself at the time. The style only really took off after WW I.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Bell said...

Ron you nutter this stuff is brilliant