Monday, 8 February 2021

Boddington Bitter malts and adjuncts 1945 - 1970

More ludicrous detail about Boddington Bitter. Another factor in the evolution of a beer is highlighted: fashion.

Remember how the colour suddenly became much paler in the late 1960s. Dropping from 18 in 1966 to 12 in 1968. The change is e easily explained by what happened in the grist. Where a fair chunk of the pale malt was replaced by lager malt. A clear statement of intent there.

Probably related to the change is fashion, when it came to beer. You know, the popularity of the new-fangled Lagers.

How popular was Lager in the 1960s? You should know me by now. Obviously, I have some numbers.

UK Beer consumption by type 1965 - 1971 (%)
Beer type 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971
Ale & stout 98.0 98.0 97.0 96.0 94.0 93.0 90.1
Lager 2.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 6.0 7.0 9.9
“The Brewers' Society Statistical Handbook 1988” page 17
“The Brewers' Society Statistical Handbook 1990” page 17

Lager very much on the up, but enough to mess around with your Bitter in 1967 or so?

Which brings me back to Boddington's grists:

Boddington Bitter malts and adjuncts 1945 - 1970
Date Year pale malt lager malt enzymic malt wheat malt flaked maize flaked barley
9th Apr 1945 83.48%   2.61%     5.22%
15th Apr 1946 83.08%   2.31%     4.62%
3rd Jan 1947 80.20%   2.97%     5.94%
5th Apr 1948 87.27%   2.73%      
1st Apr 1949 85.71%   2.68%      
6th Apr 1950 84.91%   2.83%      
24th Dec 1951 86.44%   2.54%      
6th Jan 1966 80.37%   2.77% 2.77% 2.08%  
9th Jan 1968 63.48% 15.11% 3.02% 3.02% 2.27%  
20th Apr 1970 63.48% 15.11% 3.02% 3.02% 2.27%  
Boddington brewing records held at Manchester Central Library, document numbers M693/405/129, M693/405/130 and M693/405/133.

Definitely seems like they were going for a paler look with the lager malt, wheat  malt and flaked maize. Was it in response to Lager, though?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for continuing to hack away at this Ron. Two comments :

At a national level Lager had already doubled and was in the middle of doubling again, albeit from a low base so a trend spotter could already see something was happening that might be really significant on a 10-year timescale.

And those numbers are national, which disguise what's happening in local markets. Don't forget that Manchester was the initial focus of Eddie Taylor's efforts to bring Carling to the UK. The clue is in the original name of his company - Northern Breweries, before it became United Breweries and then Charrington United. I imagine the announcement of the merger to create Bass Charrington in July 1967 must have been terrifying, Carling now had access to >10,000 pubs.

We may laugh at Einhorn and Grunhalle now, but it's perhaps no coincidence that it was Robbies and Greenalls that were some of the first regional brewers to attempt a response to Carling. You don't see Harveys and Wadworth attempting lager then.

The merger would have take a while to complete - Bass Charrington was incorporated on 17 August 1967 and it would have taken longer than that to integrate things at an operational level. So the fact that Boddies is adding pilsner malt by January 1968 (is that the earliest date for it?) suggests that it was a response to Bass merging with "Carling UK".

Michael Foster said...

Was lager malt perhaps suddenly much cheaper in 68?

Mike in NSW said...

As I commented on another of Ron's posts, Boddies wouldn't have been unique in turning their bitters into a paler coloured beer.

A great example being Stones of Sheffield who not only perceived the the lager trend but also reacted against neighbouring Theakston who had lager coloured bitters, so rode into the game with two available products.

Being a Bass subsidiary at the time they came out with both guns blazing (Black Label and Stones Best Bitter) as seen in this advertisement, scroll down about six items in this forum post to see the picture.

qq said...

Your timing is all out Mike. Stones were one of the later acquisitions in the acquisition spree I mentioned above, being absorbed into the Carling-Bass empire in 1968.

The advert you mention is from a generation later, 1993 was the year after Whitbread started the famous Mel Sykes adverts which really "made" Boddies at a national level. Stones had gone through its own cycle of changes, including a particularly unhappy period of being brewed in Runcorn, but by that stage was effectively positioned as Bass' answer to Boddies, not lager. (they already had the best-selling lager in the UK in Carling)

The decline of Stones is a case-study in itself - it would be interesting to know how pale it really was when introduced just after WWII. There is a history of beers sold as golden ales in Yorkshire/Lancashire that goes back to the late 19th century - presumably branding that was connected to Victoria's Golden Jubilee even if the idea of just-pale-malt beer goes back much earlier.