Sunday, 28 February 2021

Retail prices

Of Flower's beers in 1949. Pretty random, I know. Just something that ran out in front of my car and I couldn't help knocking down. 

Does it teach us anything? Yes, it does. It may not interest you. Probably won't interest you, if I'm honest. For a few lone weirdoes like me, it'll be fascinating.

Here are the prices:

What does this say to me? For one, that the differential in price between the public bar and the posher rooms was still 1d per pint. Exactly the same as it had been just after WW I, when a pint of Ordinary Mild was 5d per pint and Ordinary Bitter 7d. Meaning, as a percentage, the lounge bar markup was much lower in 1949.

Funnily enough, the difference in price between bottled and draught beer had also been 1d per pint before WW II. Making the reasonable assumption that the Brown Ale was bottled Mild, that's still the case here. It's a bit trickier with IPA, as the bottled version is clearly a different, stronger beer than the draught. It's far more likely that Light Bitter Beer was the same beer as draught IPA. The differential is slightly higher here, being 1.5d per pint.

I wish I knew what the hell Special Brew was. Based on the price, it must have been at least 1060º - incredibly strong for a draught beer in 1949.

Here a a few Flowers beers from a slightly later date:

Flowers beers 1951 - 1956
Year Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1951 Mild Ale Mild 1/3d pint draught 1030.7 1003.9 3.49 87.30% 120
1955 India Pale Ale IPA 1/2d half pint bottled 1045.9 1009.7 4.71 78.87% 25
1956 Light Ale Light Ale 10d half pint bottled 1030.1 1005.3 3.22 82.39% 17
1952 Stout Stout 11d half pint bottled 1044.1 1014.2 3.87 67.80% 300
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.


Marquis said...

Prices do not seem to have changed much in those times. As a schoolboy in 1963 I drank Shipstone's in the Wolds in West Bridgford. I had a Sunday paper round which earned me 7/6, this exactly paid for a pint every lunchtime. 1s 6d seemed a lot of money in those days :)

John Lester said...

This is certainly interesting stuff – especially that Special Brew was available on draught. Flowers were pushing sales of the bottled version by mail order – probably in the early 1950s (I can send a scan of what was apparently a newspaper advertisement if it's of interest).

It’s interesting as well that Flowers were offering only three draught beers in 1949. I have seen enamel pump clips (probably dating from the 1950s) advertising EIBA Bitter, Original Bitter, and Bitter, as well as XXX Mild, IPA and IPA Bitter. By 1960 (after the merger with J W Green), the Stratford brewery was supplying Keg Bitter, Original Bitter, Bitter, Mild and Shakespeare Ale. Special Brew seems to have disappeared after the merger – but I wonder whether it might have become Shakespeare Ale, which was available both on draught and in bottle (and described on the label as “this excellent ale”).

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know someday how prices compared to older beers of a similar gravity. Obviously in 1949 brewers were paying less for raw materials due to lower gravities, but surely costs like labor, fuel and transportation were up.

A Brew Rat said...

Well, after reading this blog for several years you finally motivated me enough to look up British currency units pre-1970. I feel I have learned my one new thing for the day.

Thank the lord in 1776 our founding fathers had the intelligence to go straight to a decimal-based currency system (now if we'd only for metric).

Ron Pattinson said...


a Mild of 1030º would have cost 4d per pint pre-war. A Bitter at 1046º 7d. The price increases were mostly due to tax, which increased from 89 shillings per standard barrel in 1939 to 364 shillings 4.5d in 1949. In 1949 the tax on an average strength beer (1033.5º) was 9d per pint.

Rob said...

Brew Rat,

Switching to metric only makes sense if the French had been smart enough to also switch to a Base 12 number system at the same time. All the advantages of the metric system, PLUS, better factorization. Also it aligns better with time without trying to switch to the crazy revolutionary time system.

Korev said...

Guile Brews has the details about Special Brew p221-222 Available from Lulu Cheers Peter