Sunday, 3 December 2017

Shortage of Stout

What was Belfast going to do without supplies of Guinness? Would there be anything to drink in the city?

When the Irish government forbade the export of Guinness, it exposed Northern Ireland’s almost total dependence on a single brewery.


THE question of the shortage of supplies of stout and beer in Ulster, as the result of the ban on the export of Guinness from Eire was raised by members of the Opposition at Stormont yesterday.

Mr. Beattie (Soc., Pottinger) asked if the Ministry of Commerce was doing anything to remedy the serious situation which had arisen in consequence of the stoppage of supplies from Eire. Messrs. Guinness, he said, had supplied 80 per cent. of the brewed beverages consumed in Northern Ireland. It was possible that the firm could send some supplies from their London brewery, but they would not be sufficient.

The situation, he suggested, could be partially met by putting the only brewery in Northern Ireland in a position to increase its output. It could not do so at present because of the shortage of brewing materials, and it was up to the representatives of the Food Controller to see that the firm got its requirements so that workers could have their beverages.

It was very necessary that production workers should have facilities for obtaining beverages. It would be worthwhile for the Government to come to the assistance of the Northern Ireland brewery so that it could raise its output by at least 25 per cent.

Mr. Campbell (Nat., Belfast Central) suggested that if workers could not get beverages, it would result in a depreciation and diminution of their work.

Mr. Henderson (Ind., Shankill) pointed out that large numbers of workers would be thrown idle. It was terrible that a decision of the Eire Government should prevent workers in Northern Ireland from getting their beverages. If the Government came to the assistance the Northern Ireland firm it would encourage industry and create more employment.

Sir Wilson Hungerford, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce, recalled that Sir Basil Brooke had already heard representation's from members of the trade. It was entirely matter for the Minister of Food, and Sir Basil had conveyed the views of the trade to him.

Stocks of grain, he said, were very low, and allocations had been made to the various brewery firms. The local firm, he thought, was getting its full quota. He would convey the points raised to the Minister, who was fully alive to the position as it affected the workers. Sir Basil was anxious that nothing should happen that would retard production.

Licences will be required to export all kinds of beer to any destination, the Board of Trade announces.”
Belfast News-Letter - Wednesday 11 March 1942, page 5.

Unusually for the UK at the time, there was only one brewery in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Brewery. Which was in the final days of its existence responsible for Caffrey’s. Before it closed in 2004. Most parts of the UK had far more breweries than that. But the domination if Guinness in Ireland made life difficult for rival breweries.

There’s also a question of scale. Guinness was a far larger than the Ulster Brewery. Absolutely no way that the Belfast firm could replace all the beer Guinness had supplied, even had the raw materials been available.

The authorities were clearly worried that a lack of beer would damage the morale of key workers. It definitely wouldn’t help my enthusiasm if I couldn’t have a pint at the end of the day

I’m a bit confused by the last sentence. Was that the Irish or UK Board of Trade?

1 comment:

The Beer Nut said...

Has to have been the UK Board of Trade since the Irish Department of Industry and Commerce wasn't called the Board of Trade; and it's the Belfast News-Letter which wouldn't be casually referring to the Dublin government without specifying who it meant. I think the point is just that the beer shortage is not down to British beer leaving the UK.