Friday 10 January 2020

Hops in WW II

Britain was in a far less vulnerable position in regard to hop supply in WW II than it had been in WW I, for the simple fact that the UK was far less dependent on imports.

In 1914, the UK was far from self-sufficient in hops. Large quantities of hops were imported, the biggest source by far being the USA. Hops were still travelling East across the Atlantic in 1939, but in nothing like the quantities they had been before WW I.

The main other sources of hop imports were central Europe, which provided classy one like Hallertau and Saaz, and Belgium which provided cheap and cheerful Poperinge.

Due to shortages, the government compelled brewers to reduce their hopping rates:

"Consumption of hops by brewers was cut in June, 1941, under instructions of the Ministry of Food, by 20% of the rate used per standard barrel."
1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 64.

Problems with hop supply began early in the war:

"The reduction in hop supplies has been serious. In June, 1941, a 20 per cent cut was imposed in the gross amount available to the trade. The actual quantity which passed through the Hops Marketing Board (which controls hops and their distribution) was 75 per cent of the total brewers' nominations. These nominations would have been the same in 1941 as the consumption during the datum year, if as many standard barrels had been brewed as in that year. But in 1942 the nominations, themselves, had to be cut by 20 per cent, and then only 80 per cent of the nominations were available, i.e., 64 per cent of the prewar quantities. In the present year hop rates in practice are about 1 to 1.2 lb per standard barrel, i.e., about 0.3 per cent, whereas in normal times this would have been almost double.

Hops are obtainable only under license, and a brewer who runs short may apply to the Brewers' Society for permission to secure a further allowance from his nominated merchants. Brewers usually carry a stock of hops over from one season to the next, new hops rarely being used. By now all reserves of this kind have been used up and brewers are living from hand to mouth; in many cases they have to use the new season's hops as soon as these are delivered. Matters were not helped during the London blitz back in late 1940, when some 50,000 pockets of hops were burnt. It was also on this occasion that the historic building, Brewers' Hall — the home of the Institute of Brewing — was completely destroyed."
"Wallenstein Laboratories Communications, December 1943, Volume VI, number 19" pages 156 - 157.
 This is an excerpt from, if all goes well, will be my 2020 book. Can you guess what the subject is?

Hop and hop product imports 1938 - 1949
Year ended 31st March Hops Hop Oil Hop Extracts. Essences, and similar Preparations Net Receipts from Duty
Cwt. Oz. Oz. £
1938 45,336 125 487 177,660
1939 44,056 101 170,930
1940 2,024 72 7,860
1941 11,055 32 42,009
1942 171 161 24,392 883
1943 3,254 684 7,712 13,669
1944 134 100 209,152 1,479
1945 30 967,061 4,413
1946 563 3,558,892 18,118
1947 26,928 1,424,748 113,937
1948 7,766 30,710
1949 §174 738
§ Excess of Drawbacks.
1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 64.

1 comment:

Martyn Cornell said...

The situation wasn't helped, of course, by Kent being effectively in the front line from 1940 to 1945: it was difficult, for example, to get pickers for the harvest of 1944 because Doodlebugs were flying overhead, and occasionally dropping down and going "Bang!"