Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Labatt beers in 1893 (part two)

There’s nothing I love better than part two of a post. Unless it’s part forty. I love me them long series. How many have I never quite completed?

I had some tables that would have clogged up the first part a little too much. I never thought I’d say this, but sometimes a piece can include too many tables. I don’t want to all confuse your little brain things. If it’s anything like mine, it’ll struggle to cling onto one thought for two minutes, let alone several.

There is some didactic point to what I’m writing here. We’ll be looking at numbers for the output of our two London breweries, Whitbread and Labatt, to see what they tell us about the difference in the beer market in the UK and Canada. Because the big seller was very different.

First let’s take a look at Labatt’s output by style:

Totals year ending 31st Aug 1894
beer style barrels brewed  % of total
Pale Pale Ale 3,863 16.23%
ES Stock Ale 160 0.67%
EIP IPA 17,613 74.00%
total Ale 21,636 90.90%
BS Stout 2,165.50 9.10%
total 23,802
Labatt brewing record document number A08-054-1156

Three-quarters of what Labatt brewed was IPA. There isn’t a single brewery in the UK – not even in Burton-on-Trent – where the percentage would have been anything like that high in that period. I doubt there was a brewery where all the Pale Ales together made up 50% of output.

In the 12 months covered by the records, there was only a single brew of ES. It clearly wasn’t a particularly popular type of beer. Labatt’s other two beer, Pale and Brown Stout, were brewed reasonably regularly.

Now let’s look at Whitbread.

Whitbread output in 1893
Beer barrels brewed % of total
X 247,285 54.06%
XK 3,230 0.71%
KK 4,632 1.01%
KKK 2,050 0.45%
2KKK 1,593 0.35%
PA 11,629 2.54%
2PA 13,250 2.90%
FA 23,105 5.05%
Total Ale 306,774 67.07%
P 80,067 17.50%
C 39,543 8.64%
SS 17,355 3.79%
SSS 13,679 2.99%
Total Porter 150,644 32.93%
Total Ale & Porter 457,418
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/059 and LMA/4453/D/09/087.

Two beers sold far more than the others: standard Mild (X Ale) and Porter (P). If you include Country Porter (C) they come to 80% of the total. While Whitbread brewed many more beers than Labatt, most were only in small quantities. The combined output of all three Stock Ales (KK, 2KKK and KKK) was under 2% of the total. The two Stouts couldn’t manage 7% between them. The three Pale Ales (FA, 2PA and PA) did a little better, with over 10%.

In provincial breweries, the proportion of Porter and Stout would have been lower. A third is very high. But it’s easily explained by Whitbread’s history as a Porter brewer and a continued high demand for Black Beer in the capital.

To summarise, Whitbread brewed large quantities of Mild and Porter, a reasonable amount of Bitter, rather less Stout and bugger all Stock Ale. While Labatt brewed loads of Pale Ale, mostly IPA, some Stout and virtually no Stock Ale. You’ll agree that although both were still brewing British-derived styles, the emphasis on particular types was quite different.

One last table to end. Taken from totals in the brewing log. They don’t quite match mine, but have some other interesting information:

Labatt Totals year ending 31st Aug 1894
Bushels pale malt 40,627
Bushels patent malt 400
total malt 41,027
lbs hops used 48,045.5
barrels ale 21,649.8
barrels Brown Stout & Porter 2,165.5
total barrels 23,815.3
Old Ale and Brown Stout mixed 149.5
total Ale, Brown Stout and Porter brewed 1893-1894 23,665.8
Labatt brewing record document number A08-054-1156

A final point. Note the difference in scale between the two breweries: Whitbread 457,418 barrels, Labatt 23,802 barrels.


Anonymous said...

"How many have I never quite completed?" you ask. Lots probably.

You never did reveal the origins of Whitbread Trophy despite it being "particularly odd, stretching back to 1899, across a couple of name changes. I won't spoil it by giving away the surprise now. But I expect anyone who ever drank Trophy to be shocked."


Ron Pattinson said...


not totally forgotten about that. I may publish it sometime. Not necessarily soon.

Martyn Cornell said...

Canadian readers: Did Bass never have a go at Labatts over that red arrowhead logo, not unlike a red triangle?