Friday, 24 June 2016

William Younger hop usage in May 1885

This is a short piece inspired by something in a brewing record that stuck out its leg and tripped me up. One of the little monthly summaries that you quite often see.

This is it:

Notice something strange? Almost three-quarters of the hops came from outside the UK. It’s more obvious in table form:

William Younger hop usage in May 1885
year hop lbs % of total
1884 Kent 2,070 24.64%
1884 California 990 11.79%
1884 Alsace 190 2.26%
1884 Wurtemberg 1,190 14.17%
1884 Spalt 1,410 16.79%
1884 American 1,960 23.33%
1883 American 350 4.17%
1883 East Kent 240 2.86%
Total 8,400
barrels brewed 5,670
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/31.

Here’s a table with percentages per country of origin:

Germany 33.21%
USA 39.29%
UK 27.50%

Do you know what surprised me? The amount of German hops. Note that it’s greater than the quantity of UK hops. I’d have expected more US hops, to be honest. 50% of the total, at least. The UK was totally dependent on hop imports at this time, UK production nothing like covering demand. London brewer, close to the hop gardens of Kent, tended to use more British hops.

It didn’t really matter that hops weren’t grown in Scotland. All UK brewers had to use imported hops. As most Scottish breweries were in places like Edinburgh or Alloa, close to the sea, importing them from abroad wasn’t a problem. Doubtless easier than for some English country brewers.

You can see that I calculated the quantity of hops per barrel. Just under 1.5 lbs. How did that compare with English practice? Here’s the hop usage from Whitbread for the year ending July 1885:

Whitbread hop usage in 1885
barrels lbs hops lbs/barrel
Ale 199,849 498,097 2.49
Porter 122,291 336,297 2.75
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/050 and LMA/4453/D/09/079.

You can see that Whitbread, on average, used significantly more hops than William Younger. Which hadn’t been the case earlier in the century. Hopping rates seem to have diverged between England and Scotland towards the end of the 19th century, particularly when it came to Pale Ales and Porter and Stout. Fascinating, eh? I must look into it more closely sometime.

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