I transcribed them all into a spreadsheet. One with over 5,000 entries. That work compiling it was one of the reasons it took so long. Dead handy to have it now. As it enables me to quickly find dozens of examples of AK. 46, to be precise.
They come from a broad swathe of England. From Exeter in the Southwest across the South coast to Maidstone in Kent. Also the rest of London and the South, East Anglia, the Midlands and Yorkshire. Pretty much the whole of England except for the Northeast and the Northwest. (Including my hometown of Newark, obviously.) None come from either Wales or Scotland.
What did Victorians think AK was.? Going by the descriptions that accompany AK in price lists, most thought it was a Bitter. More than half the descriptions (25) include that word. Light crops almost as many times (21 plus one Crystal). Often in conjunction with Bitter (18). Looks like back in the day drinkers, in general, thought AK was a Light Bitter.
Multiple occurrences of Family and Dinner (there's also one Luncheon) clearly illustrate that AK was considered a beer to be drunk at home with meals.
Put that all together and you have a beer that's light in three senses - colour, body and alcoholic strength - that will slip down nicely with food.
|AK Bitter Ale||8|
|AK Light Bitter||3|
|AK Light Bitter Ale||10|
Mild turns up just twice, once in a phrase which sounds an oxymoron to moderns ears: Mild Bitter. Mild here is clearly being used in the sens unaged, rather than to Mild Ale.
The relatively low alcoholic strength of AK is easily demonstrated by its price. One of the wonderful things about studying the period 1880 to 1914 is that beer prices were totally stable. A beer that was 36 shillings a barrel in 1880 was still 36 bob in 1914. So you can directly compare, as I do in my next table, a beer from 1877 and another from 1913.
To put prices into context, here's a full set for one brewery, coincidentally, from Newark.
|Brewery||Place||year||beer||price per barrel|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||Light Mild Ale||36|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||X Mild Ale||36|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||XX Mild Ale||42|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||XXX Mild Ale||48|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||XXXX Strong Ale||54|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||XXXXX Strong Ale||60|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||Extra Strong||72|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||AK Bitter Ale||36|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||PA Bitter Ale||42|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||IPA Bitter Ale||54|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||Double Stout||48|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||Extra Stout||54|
Not a bad range of beers.
36 shillings a barrel was the cheapest beer at most breweries.You can see that they go up in increments of six shillings, which is 2d per gallon, or a farthing (a quarter of a penny) per pint. AA farthing being the smallest coin. Most didn't go as high as a 72 shilling beer. A beer that expensive would have been well North of 1100º.
Despite costing the same, AK and X Mild Ale most likely weren't the same strength. Pale Ales sold at a premium compared to Mild Ale or Porter. Usually around 2d per pint, though that was eroded over time. As I showed in an earlier post, AK had a gravity in the range 1045º-1050º. X Mild Ale was more likely 1050º-1055º.
Two-thirds of the AKs I'm rummaging around in cost 36 shillings a barrel, 31 out of 46 examples. Eight were cheaper and seven more expensive. Six were in one price class up - 42 shillings - which implies to me a slightly stronger beer, 1050º-1055º. While the five that were one class weaker, at 30 shillings a barrel, were likely just 1040-1045º. Though there were always regional variations in the relation between gravity and price.
Here's yet another table:
|Price of AK|
And to end, the full table.
|AK 1877 - 1913|
|Brewery||Place||year||beer||price per barrel||Source|
|A. Stannard||Portsmouth||1880||AK Light Family Bitter||36||Hampshire Telegraph - Saturday 18 December 1880, page 7|
|A.E. Keyes (Isherwood, Foster & Stacey Ltd.)||Maidstone||1890||AK Family Tonic Ale||36||Maidenhead Advertiser - Wednesday 17 December 1890 page 3.|
|Adey and White||St. Albans||1884||AK Bitter Beer||36||Gibbs' illustrated handbook to St. Albans, 1884|
|Arnol, Perret & Co||Wickwar, Gloucs||1895||AK Bitter Ale||36|
|Aylesbury Brewery||Aylesbury||1900||AK||30||Bucks Herald - Saturday 03 November 1900, page 1.|
|Baddow Brewery||Great Baddow||1905||AK Light Dinner Ale||36||Essex Newsman - Saturday 19 August 1905, page 1.|
|Byles & Co||Henley||1876||AK Light Pale Ale||36||Harrod & Co.'s Directory of Beds, Bucks ..., 1876|
|C. & J. Attlee||Tooting||1885||AK Bitter Ale||32|
|Charrington Nicholl & Co||Colchester||1885||AK Bitter Ale||36|
|Crowley & Co.||Alton||1905||AK Family Ale||36||Hants and Berks Gazette and Middlesex and Surrey Journal - Saturday 09 December 1905, page 1.|
|Daniell & Son||Colchester||1894||AK Pale Ale||36||Kelly's Directory of Essex, Herts & Middx, 1894|
|Dunnell||Banbury||1890||AK Light Bitter||30||Banbury Guardian - Thursday 30 January 1890, page 1.|
|E. Greene & Son||Bury St Edmonds||1887||AK Light Bitter Ale|
|Eldridge Pope||Dorchester||1890||AK Bitter Ale||36||Hampshire Chronicle - Saturday 25 January 1890, page 2.|
|Epping Brewery||Epping||1898||AK Light Bitter||36|
|F.R. Sutton||Brigg||1894||AK Light Bitter Ale||42||Lincolnshire Chronicle - Friday 03 August 1894, page 4.|
|Flower & Sons||Stratford-on-Avon||1890||AK Family Ale||30|
|Frank Higgens||Buckingham||1890||AK Specially recommended||42||Buckingham Advertiser and Free Press - Saturday 04 January 1890, page 6.|
|Fullers||Chiswick||1893||AK Light Bitter Ale||36||Kelly's Directory for Ealing, Acton, 1893-94|
|Gardner||near Sandwich||1882||AK Mild Beer||30||Hastings and St Leonards Observer - Saturday 25 November 1882, page 1|
|Godsell & Sons||Stroud, Gloucs||1902||AK Light Dinner Ale||36||Kelly's Directory of Somerset, 1902|
|Goodwin Bros.||Newark||1885||AK Bitter Ale||36|
|Henry Lovibond||Fulham||1889||AK Mild Bitter||38|
|Hodges and Ritchie||Brighton||1884||AK Bitter Ale||42||Pike's Weald of Kent & Romney Marsh Directory, 1884-85|
|Holes||Newark||1901||AK Luncheon Ale||36||Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 11 May 1901|
|Humby & Baillie||Stafford||1896||AK Light Dinner Ale||36||Kelly's Directory of Warwickshire 1896|
|Ind Coope||Romford||1890||AK Light Bitter||42||Eyre's Post Office Plymouth & District Directory, 1890|
|Ind Coope||Romford||1890||AK Light Bitter Beer||36||East Anglian Daily Times - Monday 31 March 1890, page 4.|
|Kidd & Co.||Donnington (near Newbury, Berks)||1877||AK Light Bitter Ale||36||Newbury Weekly News and General Advertiser - Thursday 27 September 1877, page 7.|
|Kirkstall Brewery||Leeds||1888||AK Light Bitter Ale||36||Yorkshire Gazette - Saturday 30 June 1888, page 3|
|Leney||Wateringbury||1884||AK Pale Ale||42||Pike's Weald of Kent & Romney Marsh Directory, 1884-85|
|Major Lucas||Northampton||1893||AK Light Amber Ale||36||Northampton Directory, 1893-94|
|Northampton Brewery||Northampton||1880||AK Family Pale Ale, a sparkling and agreeable Tonic||36||Spencers' Illustrated Leicester Almanac, 1880|
|Reffell's Brewery||Bexley, Kent||1888||AK Light Bitter||36|
|Rigden||Faversham||1913||AK Light Bitter Ale||34||William Whiteley General Price List October, 1913, Volume 2, page 1197.|
|Roger's||Bristol||1889||AK Bitter Ale||36|
|Stansfeld & Co.||Fulham||1903||AK Crystal Ale||36||Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 24 January 1903, page 9.|
|Thomas Gundry||Redhill, Surrey||1878||AK Family Ale||42||Post Office Directory of Sussex, 1878|
|Tomson & Wotton||Ramsgate||1899||AK Light Bitter Ale||30||Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 07 October 1899, page 4|
|Tomson & Wotton||Ramsgate||1899||AK Light Bitter Ale||36||Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 07 October 1899, page 4|
|Vincent & Co.||Bracknell||1883||AK Family Pale Ale||36||Reading Mercury - Saturday 03 November 1883, page 7.|
|W.E. & J. Rigden||Faversham||1902||AK Light Bitter Ale||36||Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 06 December 1902, page 1|
|Walcot Brewery||Bath||1884||AK Bitter Ale||36||Post Office Bath Directory, 1884-85|
|Waltham Abbey Brewery||Waltham Abbey||1882||AK Stock Bitter Ale||36||Kelly's Directory of Essex, 1882|
|Waltham Bros.||London||1898||AK Light Biitter Ale||36|
|Watney, Combe, Reid||London||1913||AK Ale, Bitter Ale (Dinner Bitter)||36||William Whiteley General Price List October, 1913, Volume 2, page 1197.|
|Wimbeldon Brewery||Wimbledon||1889||AK Dinner Ale||32||advertisement in Surrey Independent|