Friday, 23 February 2018

Me in Sheffield soon




https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/1868-beer-launch-with-ron-pattinson-tickets-43183255279?aff=erellivmlt

Beer profits and prices

I'm back with the economics of WW I. I hope you're as fascinated by it as I am. Because I probably won't be stopping here.

There was a big increase in the tax on beer a couple of months after the war started, rising from 7s 9d per standard barrel to 23s. But after that initial big jump the rises were small: 24s in April 1916 and 25s in April 1917. But that all changed in 1918.

In April that year the tax doubled to 50s. There was a good reason for the huge increase: the amount of money the government was collecting from the tax had fallen dramatically. It was the government's own fault, really. Because they had cut the number of standard barrels that could be brewed to a third of its pre-war level. As the tax was paid on a standard barrel, this restriction had a direct impact on the tax yield.

Because brewers had been cutting gravities, there hadn't been ass big a drop in bulk barrels, as you can see here:


UK beer tax  revenue 1915 - 1919
Year ending April revenue bulk barrels standard barrels
1915 £15,856,412 34,765,780 33,099,411
1916 £33,747,269 32,110,608 30,292,977
1917 £31,567,940 30,163,998 26,626,000
1918 £19,108,663 19,085,043 13,816,173
1919 £25,423,393 23,264,533 12,925,087
Source:
1928 Brewers' Almanack.

As you can see, even doubling the tax didn't fully restore the revenue raised.

This article appeared the day after the doubling of the tax.

"BEER PROFITS AND PRICES.
It is difficult to get a definite idea of what the effect of the increased duty on beer is to be on the trade, either as regards the manufacturers or the retailers. The present prices, in so far as control is exercised, are to be changed in the case of whisky, but so far beer prices remain unchanged, 4d. per pint and 5d. per pint, according to gravity. Whether they are to continue in that position is uncertain but the hope is expressed that the Food Controller will at an early date issue an order on the subject, whichi will clear up a doubtful situation. A popular feeling in both branches of the trade is that not only the manufacturers and the merchants, but the public too should be asked to bear a part in the new taxation, and it has been stated that a fair share of the burden on the consumer would be to ask him to pay a penny more on his beer per pint, making the price for the lower gravity 5d. instead of 4d., and that of the higher gravity 6d. instead of 5d.

One authority, a retail man, expressed the opinion that in Scotland at least, whatever was the case over the Border, the public were getting at the present time a very good article for the money they were paying, that is considering everything, and a brewer confirmed that view. The latter, however, was inclined to think that the manufacturers and the publicans could each manage, out of the profits they have been and are making, to bear the whole burden between them should it be decided that the present controlled prices of beer the consumer is called on to pay must continue. As to that, there are differences of opinion. That handsome profits have been made out of beer, either by the brewers or retailers, or both, is an opinion strongly held by the man in the street, and it will be for Lord Rhondda to consider that point and decide whether or not the controlled price to the public should be raised or should remain as it stands.

THE RETAILER'S POINT OF VIEW.
A retailer expressed the hope that the Food Controller would see fit to control the price the retail traders have to pay to the brewers for their beer — that would only be fair; he said, when the retailers could charge no more than a certain fixed price. Their oncost charges had increased very greatly, and by controlling the price to be charged by the brewers it was felt that they would be more fairly dealt with, and that there would be a chance for them attaining to at least their pre-war profits in regard to beer. As an example of the increased expenses of the retailer, it was stated that a pint glass tumbler now costs nearly one shilling, and that in the case of breakages by customers or the taking away of a tumbler such an outlay became necessary, and in return the retailer would receive no more probably than 5d. for the pint of beer consumed.


CONSUMPTION INDEPENDENT OF PRICE.
The general view seemed to be that by the increase of the duty by 25s. per barrel a heavy additional burden would be placed upon the trade, but there was no disposition to grumble at the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exohequor. As one man put it, "We recognise it as a perfectly legitimate war charge if only the Food Controller sees to it that it is equitably applied, be that it is shared in by the brewers, the retailers, and the public." A brewer's representative doubted the efficacy of the new taxation, holding the belief that it was pretty much a case of handing money over from one hand to another. What was received from direct taxation would be at the expense of what would in ordinary course have come from the excess profits tax. Another view, also from the brewing side, was that the Government were endeavouring to get at the retail people, who were believed to be making considerable profits on recent sales, through the brewers,  who generally paid on excess profits, whereas the retailers, as a rule, did not do so. A large quantity of beer is still being consumed, and the fact that, generally speaking there has been decreased drunkenness is due more to the fact that, on account of the scarcity of materials, beers of a strong gravity are not being made as formerly, and that the public have acquired a taste for the lighter quality, the sort that has been described as "teetotal-beer," the kind that "you could drink a barrelful of without any intoxicating effects. The opinion has been expressed that even if the price of beer wore increased to th public there is little likelihood that the consumhtion would be decreased."
The Scotsman - Wednesday 24 April 1918, page 4.

You can understand why publicans would be alarmed at the tax doubling, yet the retail price remaining the same. At least for the price-controlled categories. Beer under 1030º retailed for 4d. and that of 1030º-1034º for 5d. Though anything with a higher gravity could be sold at any price the landlord wanted. That would change in 1919, when price controls were introduced for beer of any gravity.

I've read in several places that drinkers got used to the lighter beers and as a result cases of drunkenness had fallen. I can't imagine I would have thought that. A 2.5% ABV Government Ale would have been a poor substitute for a 5.5% ABV pre-war X Ale.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Publicans' profits again

Thanks to Edd Mather for sending me a fascinating document showing wholesale beer prices for May 1919.

It shows the prices agreed by regional brewers' associations for the various price-controlled classes, which at the time were 4d., 5d., 6d., 7d., and 8d. It's fascinating because there's considerable variation in the prices.

The problem with the system of price controls was that it only concerned retail prices, not wholesale ones. Brewers could, in theory, charge anything they liked. Though, obviously, they wouldn't want to bankrupt all their tenants.  Despite that, a publican's profit margin was wafer thin.

Some of the prices - the Birmingham non-discounted ones, for example, don't seem to leave anything for the publican. The wholesale price of 4d. beer varied between 68/- in Sussex and 95/- in Birmingham.

PRICES. MAY 31. 1919.
Locality. 4d. 5d. 6d. 7d. 8d.
1 Berkshire 72/- 80/- 105/- 120/-
2 Bedfordshire 72/- 90/- 106/-
3 Burton (for Tied Trade) 77/5 97/3 115/3 126/- 144/-
4 Bucks, 72/- 90/- 102/100 126/- 144/-
5 Birmingham 95/- - 135/- 155/- 175/-
do.      Discount 20% 76/- 108/- 124/- 140/-
do. 25% 71/3 101/3 116/3 131/3
6 Bristol mininum 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/-
7 Blackburn 70/- - 116/-
8 Bolton 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
9 Bradford 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Cambs. 74/- 86/- 108/-
10a. Control Board Carlisle. 71/- 85/-
11 Gloster and Wilts 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
18 Halifax 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
15 Hants 74/- 92/- 112/- 130/-
14 Herts 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Kent 72/- 88/- 106/- 124/- 150/-
16 Leicester (minimum gravities) 80/- 96/- 112/-
17 Liverpool 70/- 84/- 100/- 115/-
18 London 69/6 85/7 110/6 121/9
19 Lancs. 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
20 Manchester 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
21 Norfolk   (prices not unlfonr) 70/- 84/- 120/- 135/-
22 Northants. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
23 Northumberland and Durham 72/- 84/-
24 Notts Maximum Discount 20% 72/- 84/- 104/-
25 Norwich 70/74 86/- 108/-
26 Newcastle 72/- 84/- 108/- -
27 Oxford 72/- 108/-
28 Potteries 72/- 86/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
29 Preston. 70/- 84/- 99/- 117/- 132/-
30 South Wales minimum. 66/- 78/- 95/- 120/- 130/-
31 Shrewsbury 72/- 84/- 105/- 120/-
32 Surrey 72/- 90/- 108/- 130/-
33 Sussex,   also a 3d. at 56/- 68/- 82/- 102/- 118/-
34 Sheffield. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
35 Wiltshire (Minimum) 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
36 Yorkshire do. 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
37 Younger W. 70/- 86/- 102/- 112/-
Average Price about 71/10 86/2 105/4 120/9 141/7

This table should make the marginws easier to see. I includes the cheapest and most expensive wholesale prices for each category:

retail price per pint wholesale price per barrel wholesale price per pint mark up % mark up
4d 68/- 2.83 1.17 29.17%
95/- 3.96 0.04 1.04%
5d 78/- 3.25 1.75 35.00%
92/- 3.83 1.17 23.33%
6d 96/- 4.00 2.00 33.33%
112/- 4.67 1.33 22.22%
7d 108/- 4.50 2.50 35.71%
155/- 6.46 0.54 7.74%
8d 130/- 5.42 2.58 32.29%
175/- 7.29 0.71 8.85%

I can't see how a publican could survive if forced to pay the highest prices.

In case you weere wondering, these are the gravity bands for each price category:


Price control categories February to July 1919 
price per pint gravity range
3d below 1022
4d 1023-1028
5d 1029-1034
6d 1035-1041
7d 1042-1049
8d above 1050
Source:
“The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980” by T.R. Gourvish and R.G Wilson, 1994, Cambridge University Press, page 323.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1971 Boddington IP

A recent Twitter discussion about Boddington’s Bitter prompted me to dive into some of the records I harvested last year in Manchester.

I’ve still got hundreds of photos of brewing records – not just Boddington’s – that I haven’t processed yet. It’s a time consuming process. And I have finite amounts of time. I usually have some other motive, such as writing a book, for delving into them.

Note that the brew house name wasn’t Bitter, but IP. Which, undoubtedly, originally stood for IPA. Though I guess this beer isn’t very much like a style Nazi’s idea of an IPA, with its OG of well under 1040º.

The recipe is surprisingly complicated, containing three or possibly four types of malt. I’m not sure about the wheat, as the description is pretty vague.  That, along with the lager malt, is responsible for the very pale colour of the finished beer. There are three proprietary sugars in the original: DMS, Fla. and Br. I’ve no idea what any of them are and have replaced then with No. 2 invert.

I’m not sure if you can still get enzymic malt. If you don’t have it, just bump up the pale malt.

The hops are barely described in the record, only listing the growers name. There’s no clue as to where they were grown, what variety they were or even which year they’re from. Meaning the hopping as an almost total guess.

If anyone is interested, I can also publish recipes for this beer from the 1950’s. 1960s and 1980s. It would be interesting to see any changes to the recipe.

1971 Boddington IP
pale malt 5.00 lb 67.39%
lager malt 1.00 lb 13.48%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 3.37%
wheat 0.25 lb 3.37%
flaked maize 0.25 lb 3.37%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.67 lb 9.03%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1035.5
FG 1003
ABV 4.30
Apparent attenuation 91.55%
IBU 28
SRM 5
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Publicans’ profits

Edd Mather recently sent me a very handy document, listing agreed wholesale prices in 1919.

One of the oddities of the control of beer prices at the end of WW I was that it only dealt with retail prices. There was no control of the wholesale prices brewers charged publicans. Which, in theory, could have left a landlord with no profit margin whatsoever.

It’s possible to see what the markup was for some publicans by comparing the wholesale prices with the controlled retail prices. The letter from the Wigan and District Brewers' Association, dated 31st July 1919, lays out the agreed wholesale price for beers of various price categories. It’s a bit of simple mathematics to calculate what the landlord made per pint sold.

Wigan and District Brewers' Association wholesale prices
retail price per pint (pence) wholesale price per barrel (shillings) retail price per barrel (shillings) profit per pint (pence) % profit
4 72 96 1 25.00%
5 90 120 1.25 25.00%
6 100 144 1.83 30.56%
7 120 168 2 28.57%
Source:
A letter dated 31st July 1919.


Interestingly, the profit on the stronger classes was greater. Though, obviously, due to the restrictions on average OG (which was 1049º as of 1st August 1919), the quantity of stronger beer available was limited.

In the early stages of the war there were accusations of profiteering by publicans. Which is one of the reasons price controls were introduced. But looking at the numbers, it doesn’t look like that was the case in 1919. In 1914, London “Four Ale” (X Ale) retailed for 2d. per pint and cost 36 shillings a barrel. Which also comes out to a gross profit of around 25%.

Monday, 19 February 2018

What's missing

Here's a question for you: what's unusual about this price list?

Hants and Berks Gazette and Middlesex and Surrey Journal - Saturday 09 December 1905, page 1.
I've never seen a price list like this from an English brewery. For this period, at least. Have you spotted what's weird? There's no Mild.

There's a reason I hunted out this price list on the British Newspaper Archive. I was taking my first run through Crowley's brewing records (thanks Perter Symons and Edd Mather who supplied them) and was wondering where the hell the Mild was.

I also wanted to make sure that all the B's really were types of Pale Ale. Because I was all confused, like.

This is what the beers looked like:


Crowley beers in 1914
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
AK Pale Ale 1047.1 1011.1 4.76 76.47% 6.25 1.10
B Pale Ale 1038.8 1007.2 4.18 81.43% 7.17 1.01
BB Pale Ale 1045.7 1009.4 4.80 79.39% 9.82 1.64
BBB Pale Ale 1054.0 1011.6 5.61 78.46% 10.75 2.11
L Pale Ale 1052.6 1014.4 5.06 72.63% 6.25 1.24
Porter Porter 1049.9 1016.6 4.40 66.67% 5.63 1.05
Stout Stout 1067.9 1026.0 5.53 61.63% 5.63 1.43
Source:
Brewing record held at Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, document number 37M86-2.

Not found the Old Ale yet, I'm afraid. Judging by the number of brews o it, AK was filling the role of Mild Ale. Though before anyone asks, AK is not a type of Mild. It's a Light Bitter.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Brown Ale in the 1950s

It's hard to imagine now, but Brown Ale was a really big deal in the 1950's.

As the Mann's advert below states: "Brown Ale is cbecoming more and more popular with Britain's beer drinkers".


Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 11 September 1952, page 5.
Thouigh I'm sure that "no finer malts" stuff is guff. It implies that the colour came from the malt, whuich it almost certainly didn't.

Mann's weren't the only brewery to use the adjective "rich" to describe their Brown Ale:

Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 24 June 1954, page 31.
This is one of the few Brown Ales that have survived:

Shields Daily News - Wednesday 20 April 1955, page 9.

Interesting the way the advert emphasise that it's good value for money. As you can see in the table below, it was more expensive than most other Brown Ales. Though it was much stronger than the average of about 3% ABV.

I've included this advert, just because it's weird:
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 20 December 1952, page 7.
Here's what 1950's Brown Ale was really like. Actually quite diverse:

Brown Ale 1952 - 1954
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1954 Barclay Perkins Doctor Brown Ale 19 1032.6 1010.6 2.85 67.48% 110
1954 Charrington Brown Ale 19 1033.1 1009.1 3.11 72.51% 120
1954 Courage Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.1 1008 3.12 75.08% 110
1953 Duttons Nut Brown Ale 18 1031 1006.1 3.23 80.32% 52
1954 Gibbs Mew Moonraker Brown Ale 16 1034.8 1009.5 3.28 72.70% 135
1954 Ind Coope Nut Brown Ale 19 1030.7 1009.7 2.72 68.40% 80
1956 Mann Brown Ale 22 1035.5 1013.2 2.88 62.82% 115
1955 Mitchell & Butler Sam Brown 23 1036.9 1011.2 3.33 69.65% 85
1954 Newcastle Breweries Brown Ale 26 1048.9 1010 5.06 79.55% 51
1952 Samuel Smith Taddy Ale 15.5 1034.5 1008.5 3.37 75.36% 90
1952 Shipstone Nut Brown Ale 15 1033.3 1006.7 3.45 79.88% 60
1952 Simonds Berry Brown Ale 19 1032 1005.5 3.44 82.81% 60
1952 St. Anne's Well Brown Ale 19 1034.1 1005.1 3.77 85.04% 100
1952 Steward & Patteson Brown Ale 23 1032.5 1010.3 2.87 68.31% 67
1952 Tamplin No.1 Ale 20 1034.1 1009.7 3.16 71.55% 80
1952 Taylor Walker Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.6 1011.7 2.70 64.11% 80
1952 Tennant Bros. Brown Ale 20 1032.5 1012.2 2.62 62.46% 100
1952 Tetley Family Ale 15 1035.5 1009 3.44 74.65% 53
1954 Tollemache Country Brown Ale 19 1032.5 1011.2 2.75 65.54% 90
1954 Truman Trubrown 19 1034.7 1011.9 2.95 65.71% 110
1952 Ushers Trowbridge Brown Ale 17 1033.6 1007.7 3.36 77.08% 80
1953 Ushers Trowbridge Triple Brown 36 1063.4 1013.6 6.50 78.55% 85
1953 Vale of Neath ???? Brown Ale 30 1070.6 1019.3 6.68 72.66% 34
1952 Vaux Double Maxim Ale 23 1049 1009.8 5.10 80.00% 48
1954 Watney Brown Ale 30 1032.8 1010.2 2.92 68.90% 120
1952 Wenlock Nut Brown Ale 19 1032.5 1012.5 2.58 61.54% 80
1954 Whitbread Forest Brown 21 1034.8 1012.2 2.92 64.94% 95
1953 Young & Son Chestnut Brown Ale 26 1055.1 1016.5 5.01 70.05% 250
Source:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.