Friday 8 March 2024

Cask vs Keg Ordinary Bitter in 1976

Just a short numbery post today. One I wrote a couple of weeks ago to cover now, when I'm in Brazil. Having fun, I hope.

Lots of numbers and not much analysis. Just a quick comparison of typical cask and keg Ordinary Bitters.

What you're seeing here is keg beer move into the mainstream. The beers here aren't the first generation of specifically keg beers. Which were mostly Best Bitters. Or, at least, claiming to be. Some of the beers here, such as Tetley, are just a brewery-conditioned version of their cask Bitter.

That might explain why there's so little difference in price between the two. On average, about half a p. Not much at all, really.

Enough burbling on for today. I've important trip preparations to get on with. 

Cask Ordinary Bitter in 1976
Brewer Beer Price per pint (p) º gravity per p OG
Hardy & Hanson Best Bitter 20 1.95 1039
Banks Bitter 22 1.77 1039
Charles Wells Draught IPA 23 1.57 1036
Tetley Bitter 23 1.54 1035.5
Wem Best Bitter 24 1.54 1037
Burtonwood Best Bitter 23 1.52 1035
Jennings Best Bitter 23 1.52 1035
Whitbread (Fremlins) Trophy 25 1.46 1036.5
  Average 22.9 1.61 1036.6
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 01 August 1976, page 17.

Keg Ordinary Bitter in 1976
Brewer Beer Price º gravity per p OG
Fullers Bitter 21 1.67 1035
Matthew Brown Heritage 24 1.63 1039
Border Bitter 22 1.59 1035
Courage (Reading) Tavern 24 1.58 1038
Tetley Drum Bitter 23 1.54 1035.5
St. Austell Extra 24 1.54 1037
Whitbread (London) Trophy 24 1.48 1035.5
Alloa Diamond Heavy 25 1.45 1036.2
  Average 23.4 1.56 1036.4
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 01 August 1976, page 17.


Matt said...

When I started drinking in pubs as a teenager in the late eighties, I pretty much indiscriminately ordered bitter and it wasn't so much the conditioning and serving method that determined the price as where you were and who had brewed the beer in your glass, so the keg Greenall Whitley in the Labour club was around 70p a pint, the cask in the basic Holt's boozer 80p and the keg Trophy in the slightly more upmarket Whitbread house 90p.

Anonymous said...

So like digital watches vs analogue mechanical watches the price difference was nearly on par by then.

Anonymous said...

When I see the amount of cask beer being wasted (pulled through first thing and discarded , not sold before deterioration, some beer remaining in an " empty" cask ) i am at a loss to understand why keg cost more in the pub.

Anonymous said...

Same here Matt - as a 16 year old in '87 I'd be able to drink bitter locally but switched to mild in town as it was the same price. I wonder if any 16 year olds are drinking mild on a night out these days? Or even if they go on nights out?

Ron Pattinson said...


easy: because people were prepared to pay more for what was marketed as a premium product.

Chris Pickles said...

Back in the years 1971 to 1974, when I was a student in Durham the nearest pub to our digs was a Whitbread pub, the Dun Cow, and the nearest pub to our college (the Castle) was another Whitbread pub whose name escapes me. Anyway Most of our out of college bar drinking took place in Whitbread pubs.

So the choice was Trophy or Tankard (aka Titbread Wankard). I liked Trophy. I didn't know then that it came from the former Nimmo's brewery at Castle Eden, and was still brewed to the same recipe. Neither do I know if it was cask, tank or keg. But any which way it was a far superior product to Tankard.

I had had the advantage of reading the famous Sunday Mirror survey of beer strengths and prices, and thus knew that with the big breweries, the more expensive beers were unlikely to be the better ones. But some of my friends took the view that Tankard was the more expensive, and therefore must be the best, and they were able to convince themselves that Tankard tasted better. Well there's no accounting for taste and maybe they did like it better.

Incidentally lager was available to be drunk, but we rarely bothered with it. Most of us had been abroad and knew that the GB version was rubbish.

Anonymous said...

Given the clamp down on underage drinking I say unlikely. Would not discount the possibility of young men drinking mild. I know of a fella my age whose tipple is Smithwicks and my regular tipple is Sullivans red.