Monday, 9 May 2016

Mild Ale Preferred

Drink Mild! It’s one of my favourite exclamations. But Chatham Working Men’s Club wasn’t so keen on its member drinking Mild. Because it was affecting their finances.

The problem was that the club made much more money on a pint of Bitter than on a pint of Mild.

But Workmen’s Club Perturbed Over Members’ Choice of Beverage
The Chairman of Chatham Working Men’s Club (Mr. H. N. Tozer), is becoming concerned about the members’ taste of beverage — their partiality for mild ale, which, despite increased bar sales, has resulted in diminished profits. This was one of the main reasons given for deficit for last year’s working of £153/17/0 at the 59th annual meeting of the Club on Friday evening.

In the annual report it was stated that expenditure exceeded income for the year by £153/17/0. The membership totalled 391.

Reference was made to the various activities of the Club — the Library, the Sports’ Ground, Cricket Section, the Social side, the Davies Cup, and the increasing popularity of darts and table tennis.

The winning of the Davies Cup was recalled, and mention was made of the further success of Sergt. A. Cottle, R.E., the Club’s leading billiard player, in the Army championships.

Thanks were again expressed by the Committee to the members for their cooperation in carrying out the objects of the Club, viz., social intercourse, mutual helpfulness and mental and moral improvement and rational recreation.

The Chairman invited questions and comments on the report, and it was pointed out that although there was an adverse balance, substantial cellar stock in hand had to be taken into account among the assets.

Partly explanatory of the year’s deficit were somewhat heavy expenses in repairs to the main building, and the renovation of billiard tables.

The Chairman explained decreased bar profits through a greater demand for mild ale in preference to bitter ale, the latter being twice as profitable a commodity as the former. Mr. Tozer remarked that it was not for him to say what the members should or should not have to drink, but it was becoming a matter of grave concern that the consumption of mild ale was now over three times as much as the other beverage.

Surprise was voiced that comparatively few of the members took advantage of the use of the Club’s sports ground on the Rainham-road.

The Chairman paid tribute to the officers and committees of the Club, and thanked the members for their loyalty and help.

Messrs. A. W. Stevens. W. Mepstead. C. R, Wall. W. J. Beale, E. H. Sutton, and W D. Harris were elected to the General Committee, and Messrs. A. W. Stevens, W. Harris. C. F. Curtis, A. J. Howe, J. Stead H. Cox. N. Harris and D. J. Bradshaw to the Games Committee. Messrs. G. Odder. H. Cox, J. Eccles, and N. Springate were appointed to the Social Committee. Messrs. E. N. Hill and A. P. Bays were re-appointed auditors.”
Chatham News - Friday 03 March 1939, page 7.

Back in the 19th century, Pale Ales always sold at a premium. That is, they were more expensive than beers in other styles of a similar price. The premium was eroded as the century went on, but remained until WW I. I thought it was pretty much dead and buried by the time WW II rolled around.

I was intrigued by the claim there was twice as much profit on Bitter. How could I check? Trusty old Whitbread. Because one of their brewing books has a price list with both wholesale and retail prices in it. This is what it shows:

Whitbread prices in 1934
wholesale price barrel wholesale price pint d retail price pint d mark up d % profit
Porter 94 3.92 5 1.08 27.66%
Stout 134 5.58 7 1.42 25.37%
Light Ale 76 3.17 4 0.83 26.32%
X Ale 94 3.92 5 1.08 27.66%
Pale Ale 134 5.58 7 1.42 25.37%
33 160 6.67 8 1.33 20.00%
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/124.

The profit was indeed greater on a pint of Bitter – 0.34d to be precise. Though the percentage profit on Mild was actually a little higher than for Bitter. But the profit on Bitter is a long way short of being double.

The Chatham Working Men’s Club is still going so perhaps the chairman did manage to persuade more members to switch to Bitter.


Matt said...

I love this bit in Zythophile's latest blogpost: "According to an American writing in 1933, pubs in London would not even serve mild ale in the saloon bar, where the better sort of customer drank: ‘‘Call for ale in the saloon bar of a London pub, and the barmaid will say, ‘Other side, please,’ jerking her wet thumb in the direction of the public, or four-ale bar; for ale in London is a vulgar word. The middle classes drink bitter, a pale, golden beer so sharply hop-flavoured that foreigners find it undrinkable.”"

StringersBeer said...

Crikey, I wonder what publicans nowadays would make of those margins?