Tuesday 25 November 2008

British beer 1940-1949

More stuff about WW II today. Tax, average gravity. That sort of thing.

Sorry about all the numbers in recent posts. It's just what I happen to be working on at the moment.

War and austerity
As during WW I, beer gravities fell during WW II. This was the result of tax increases and government restrictions on brewing. Average gravity eventually settled in the early 1950's to 1037º, where it remained for several decades. Which means longterm gravities fell by about 10% from the pre-war average of about 1041º The nadir was reached in 1947, when it was down to just 1032.59º. Though, to put it into perspective, that's still higher than the 1030.55º of 1919, the absolute lowpoint in British beer strength.

In both absolute and percentage terms, the reduction in gravity was much greater as a result of WW I. Then average gravity dropped from 1053º to 1043º, or about 19%.

Tax on beer continued to rise after war's end, peaking in 1949 at 364s 4.5d per standard barrel. That's more than quadruple the pre-war level of 80s per standard barrel. Given the amount of revenue the tax generated, it's no surprise postwar governements were reluctant to lower it.

Increased taxation meant, while gravities didn't fall as low, the price of a pint doubled between 1940 and 1949. Just as in WW I, strengths hit their nadir after the end of hostilities. The table below will give you some idea of what you might have found on draught in a London and how much a pint would have cost.


AndybCole said...

I'm putting together an event for the formation of Solihull Round Table in 1949, are there any beers you know of that were around or introduced in 1949 that are still available now in the UK?

Any recommendation gratefully received!

Ron Pattinson said...

Adnams Bitter, Tetley Bitter, Lees Bitter, Mann's Brown Ale, Newwcastel Brown, Vaux Double Maxim, Draught Bass, White Shield, Guinness Extra Stout, Mackeson.

Though they might have changed a fair bit in the intervening years.