Sunday 2 August 2020

Beer of the future

Back with Lloyd Hind's speculative piece on how beer might look in the future.

He spoke at some length about just how short-sighted UK brewers were when it came to exports:

"English brewers have never exploited fully the very large field existing for export bottled beer, to warm climates in particular. At present, of course, that particular trade is severely handicapped, and often made impossible by the rates of exchange, but the possibilities in regard to it for ale and lager should not be overlooked. When strong ales were brewed it was possible to do a great deal with naturally conditioned pale ales, but the tendency is generally for a lighter beer. To ensure constant success with these beers pasteurisation is necessary in the export trade, and pasteurisation of top-fermented bottled beers has not hitherto been so successful as that of lager. Indeed, I think it may be said without hesitation that lager is the better beer for the export pasteurised trade. America at one time had a very large trade of this kind.. Is it not worth while considering who is getting it now, and whether a larger share is not available for this country, particularly if advantage was taken of the possibilities of bonding up to the time of bottling?"
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, pages 321 - 322.

I don't think it was the conditioning or bottling methods which were hampering the UK's export trade. More that consumer tastes had moved on and UK brewers were serving up the wrong types of beer. For the most part, though some brewers like Allsopp did try to keep up, they didn't attempt to switch to Lager for the tropics.

Only problem with Lager was, it was too expensive:

"If these considerations point to the possibility of lager being the beer of the future, there are others which point very strongly in the contrary direction. There are many factors which complicate the issue, and digestibility and less intoxicating properties are not very likely to overcome some of them. The chief of these are economic, based largely on the duty that beer has to carry here, and the greatly increased cost of lager brewing. Every effort must be made to reduce the cost to customers, and it is not very likely that brewers will seriously consider a process which adds materially to the cost of production, through refrigeration or otherwise, if there are other ways of producing the beer that is demanded."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 322.

The answer in the 1960s and 1970s was to convince consumers that Lager was a fancy sophisticated product, worthy of a premium price. At the same time cutting corners in production to make it cheaper to brew.

Next time, Lloyd Hind will explain why British beer was so crap and how it could be fixed.

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