Friday 4 October 2019

A Modern Phase of Brewing

The following passage is taken from what looks like an informercial from the Brewers' Society to coincide with the Brewers' Exhibition of 1908.

I was drawn to it because it covers a topic of great interest to me: the move from drinking draught beer to bottled beer at home. Switching to bottled beer only really became an option around 1900 when chilled and carbonated beer began to be produced in quantity.

The public had never been that impressed by naturally-conditioned bottled beers, which was all that had originally been available. They didn't like the sediment it contained, which either meant drinking cloudy beer or wasting the the last bit of each bottle. It was also time-consuming and expensive to make.

The new type of relatively light, sparkling bottled beer quickly found its fans. And, while bottled beer might have been more expensive than buying a cask, it was also much less trouble. Neither did it need to be consumed quickly to avoid at turning sour. Its little surprise that bottled beer quickly began to replace draught as the preferred form for home consumption.

But it should be pointed out that the practice of fetching draught beer in jugs from the pub continued for another few decades. Meaning there was still some draught beer consumed domestically.

"A Modern Phase of Brewing.
A remarkable feature of the brewing industry to-day is the great expansion of the bottle trade. Enormous business of this kind is done by some the prominent firms. This bottle trade, though has met the conditions which prevail to-day, and is a convenience to section of the public, can hardly be so profitable as the old cask trade, which has practically died out. Time was when nine-gallon casks of beer were delivered regularly to thousands private households. All that has changed; beer in bottle is taken instead. Obviously it must have been far more profitable to run nine gallons beer into a cask, which could be used again and again and never broke, than it is to rack the same quantity into bottles, which have be stoppered and labelled, and of which many get broken. The item of breakages is an expense represented by thousands of pounds a year in the case one firm that does immense bottle trade. The brewer of to-day cannot be making so good a thing out of beer as a certain section the public would have us believe, while the victualler, on his side, has to suffer severe competition from the holders grocers’ licences, who are free from many restrictions placed on the publican.

Economy of Beer in Bottle.
These facts are worth bearing mind in connection with the proposed licensing legislation. The consumer, however, has nothing to complain of. Beer in bottle not only meets the prevalent liking for a bright beverage, but it is furthermore, very economical in use. It is free from sediment, so that the entire contents of the bottle can be drunk, a matter of considerable importance where there is a large family beer drinkers."
London Evening Standard - Monday 19 October 1908, page 12.

Oddly enough, Whitbread, one of the brewers with the largest trade in bottled beer, resisted moving over to the new type and continued to naturally condition all their bottled beers until after WW I.


Mike in NSW said...

In the early 1970s in Cardiff my flat mate and I used to get well rat-arsed on Brains products that were delivered to your door in a proper Brains van. Our favourite was the Brains SA that came in a plastic cask about the size of a home brew pressure barrel.

Robp said...

I was only 10 in 1970 but I remember those too.