Sunday, 27 May 2018

UK beer imports 1961 -1969

I've collected beer statistics long before I started writing seriously. That's just the number-obsessed idiot that I am.

When throwing together a chapter of my latest wonderful book, Austerity, yesterday, I was shocked to realise that I'd never properly harvested the figures for beer imports into the UK. A shocking omission.

Something I promptly corrected. Spending an hour of my free day on Brewers' Almanack data extractions. Well worth it. Every number collected will come in useful someday. That's proived true so far.

Only the second half of the table is worth attention. The top half is clearly just Guinness Extra Stout. Technically an import. But not necessarily in drinkers' perception. That's not even all the Guinness sold in the UK. Their Park Royal brewery in London served the bottom half of the country.

Other than Guinness, the imports all look like Lager. Mostly from Denmark. So Carlsberg and Tuborg.With Dutch beer rising at the end. Which seems to correspond with Allied Breweries' purchase of Oranjeboom in 1967. Coincidence?

Those Dutch imports can't be Heineken, as you might expect. At this point, Heineken Pils, very unusually, was brewed under licence in the UK.

Weird how imports from Czechoslovakia collapse in 1968. I wonder why that was? And that beer being imported from Norway - what was that? I can't remember seeing Norwegian beer in the UK.

In case you get excited about the Belgian beer available back then, from what I see in the Whitbread Gravity Book, it was Stella, Lamot Pils and Ekla Pils.

UK beer imports 1961 -1969
Country of origin 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969
Irish Republic 1,329,752 1,245,451 1,215,539 1,281,126 1,215,168 1,240,440 1,277,257 1,313,038 1,252,844
Commonwealth Countries 1,740 2,303 3,793 3,007 3,344 2,226 2,738 2,890 2,730
Total Commonwealth Countries 1,331,492 1,247,758 1,219,332 1,284,133 1,218,512 1,248,066 1,279,995 1,315,928 1,255,574
Denmark 178,975 148,018 149,974 159,164 143,189 156,147 178,892 195,370 215,136
W. Germany 8,926 7,601 9,805 13,925 12,485 18,254 20,487 28,247 36,382
Netherlands 28,077 21,212 23,321 28,245 28,363 28,836 37,734 63,375 81,745
Belgium 8,907 8,391 5,303 5,803 5,053 5,287 5,752 4,993 4,770
Norway 2,390 2.308 3,887 4,491 6,081 5,344 5,945 5,109 6,327
Czechoslovakia 1,083 1,038 922 1,391 1,276 529 400 601 999
Sweden 670 578 1,112 459 460 863 226 112 591
Other Foreign Countries 655 589 853 1,392 1,166 3,352 1,607 2,866 5,332
Total Foreign Countries 229,689 189,795 195,177 214,870 198,073 218,612 251,013 300,673 351,284
Total bulk barrels 1,561,181 1,437,553 1,414,509 1,499,003 1,416,585 1,467,278 1,531,038 1,616,001 1,606,858
“1971 Brewers' Almanack”, page 55.


dyranian said...

I remember drinking Ringnes beer from Norway on draught in London in early 1970s, still surprised Norwegian beer imports exceeded those from Czechsolovakia.

Thom Farrell said...

The Norwegian lager was probably Rignes. By 1960 William Stones of Sheffield had the bottling rights for its region (Source:"William Stones Limited". Financial Times. 25 November 1960). Presumably other regional breweries had similar licences.

Mike in NSW said...

1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Of course you knew that didn't you, keeping the young ones on their toes ;-)

Early 1970s Lamot started to appear on tap in pubs when I lived in Cardiff, it was a real headbanger.. I was always under the impression that it was a Bass-Charrington / Welsh Brewers product BUL, cashing in on popularity of Stella from Whitbread?

Anonymous said...

What was so appealing to British drinkers about Danish lagers?

Jeff Renner said...

The last few tables have been too wide to display, including this one, which is cut off at 1967. Please post an image. I’ll be awaiting all breathlessly.

Ron Pattinson said...


now fixed.

sudo drive said...

Any lager really not just Danish.

As I recall it was all about temperature control during our erratic summer months. Stumbling off a beach on a hot summers day and a cold pint of lager will seem most appealing ,bit like the film made a decade or so before "Ice cold in Alex"

Perhaps the fact that traditional beers of the time were to coin a phrase were "double ungood" when served from a warm cellar, or worse still the shed outside, particularly when those temperatures were approaching, Saison fermentation.

The plight of many landlords of that era was all too evident, desperately trying to cool bitter & mild with wet towels whilst the chilled lager tap was constantly open.

Like most things money pushes the politics, and it appears the decision had been made, for the next 40 years or so.

Barm said...

See how imports from West Germany double between 1966 and 1969 and Dutch imports almost treble – showing lager consumption was increasing dramatically well before the "hot summers of 1974 & 1974" usually cited.