Friday, 7 April 2023

Looking back (part six): draught Mild prices in 1972

You seemed to like my post on beer prices in the 1970s. And how they increased scarily. Time for a deeper dive into prices in a single year. Starting with my drink of choice in the 1970s, Mild Ale.

The numbers are taken from an article in the Daily Mirror. I was really happy to come across this set of analyses, as they fill in a gap between the last entries in the Whitbread Gravity Book (late 1960s) and the Good Beer Guide (late 1970s). Especially handy as they include the price as well as the gravity. Perfect for my purposes today.

On a personal note, I drank most of these beers. All except Truman, Youngs and Youngers. The quality varied quite a bit. I never cared for Greenall Whitley or Wilsons Mild. Even cask versions never tasted any good to me. I remember on my first visit to Manchester struggling to find anything other than Greenalls and Wilsons pubs. Very frustrating.

Most of the examples cost the same: 11p. But, as there were quite large differences in gravity and ABV, there was considerable variation in value for money.

Best value, and also the strongest, was Batham's Mild. Also a cracking beer. A year or two later, I drank quite a bit of it in the Swan in n Chaddesley Corbett. Note that most of the stronger examples were from the West Midlands. Batham, Banks, Ansell, M & B. No real surprise, as the region was a stronghold of Mild.

Of the five worst value beers, four were from Big Six breweries: Wilsons, Younger, Whitbread and Truman. No shock there, either. Despite brewing on a larger scale, their beer was more expensive than that from smaller operations. Why was that? Logically, they should have been able to produce beer more cheaply. Where was the extra money going?

The alcohol content varies from 2.5% to 3.7% ABV. Almost half the examples - seven of fifteen - were below 3% ABV. Not beer that was going to get you drunk very quickly. If at all. Not that drinkers were aware of this. Only one brewery - Federation - printed the gravity of their beer on labels. Otherwise, the strength of beer was very much a mystery. All drinkers could go on was the type of beer and the price. 

Draught Mild prices in 1972
Brewer Beer Price per pint (p) º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Batham Mild 11 3.24 0.34 1035.6 1007.1 3.70 80.06%
Three Tuns Mild 10 3.21 0.34 1032.1 1006 3.40 81.31%
Banks Mild 11 3.21 0.33 1035.3 1008.3 3.60 76.49%
Ansell Mild 11 3.08 0.27 1033.9 1010.7 3.00 68.44%
Jennings Mild 11 2.97 0.29 1032.7 1008 3.20 75.54%
Mitchell & Butler Mild 12 2.88 0.27 1034.5 1009.8 3.20 71.59%
Courage Mild 11 2.84 0.26 1031.2 1008.8 2.90 71.79%
Adnams Mild 11 2.81 0.23 1030.9 1011.6 2.50 62.46%
Greenall Whitley Mild 11 2.76 0.26 1030.4 1008 2.90 73.68%
Theakston Mild 11 2.75 0.25 1030.2 1008.6 2.80 71.52%
Wilsons Mild 11 2.74 0.28 1030.1 1006.2 3.10 79.40%
Young & Co Best Malt Ale 11 2.74 0.25 1030.1 1008.5 2.80 71.76%
Younger, Wm. Tartan Mild 11 2.69 0.25 1029.6 1008 2.80 72.97%
Whitbread Best Mild 12 2.56 0.22 1030.7 1010.6 2.60 65.47%
Truman Mild 13 2.38 0.23 1031 1007.9 3.00 74.52%
Average   11.2 2.86 0.27 1031.9 1008.5 3.03 73.13%
Daily Mirror July 10th 1972, page 15


Matt said...

I had a pint of keg Wilson's mild in a pub near Manchester in the late eighties, just after the brewery closed and production moved to Webster's in Halifax. I quite enjoyed it, but the overwhelming taste was that of caramel. I think by then they were basically darkening and sweetening the bitter to make the mild.

Anonymous said...

Bathams mild is one I would like to try

Iain said...

I'm intrigued by the beer label at the top of this article. Was the ‘Imperial’ moniker something Banks applied regardless of strength, i.e., was it a marketing plot to denote quality? I've seen the same thing used for Banks's pale and strong ales on labels from around the 1940s/50s. Or did Banks make an XXXX ale?

Ron Pattinson said...


they seem to have used Imperial to describe all their bottled beers at one point after WW II.

Christoph Riedel said...

'Pulling a fast one' states that while the Big Six saved a bit on ingredients and manufacture, they spent outrageous amount on marketing. So in total they were much less efficient than smaller breweries.

Anonymous said...

Very little has changed