Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What WW II did to beer

Nothing complicated today. Just a couple of Barclay Perkins price lists.

The one on the left is from August 1942, the one on the right from August 1946. Spot the differences:

In case you've already forgotten, these were the draught beer prices in November 1940:

In six years Barclay Perkins reduced the range of draught beers from 11 to just three. Being a drinker must have been so much fun.

I suppose you want more details of the actual beers, don't you? Oh, go on then:

I've still got my head buried in archive documents. It may be some time before I come up for air.


Matt said...

A 20% increase in the price of a pint of bitter in a little under two years! Do we know whether it was increased production costs because of the shortage of raw materials or wartime taxation pushing up prices?

I can imagine the response the disgruntled drinker got: "It's the war ain't it, what d'you expect?"

No such defence was available to my Dad working in a Manchester pub in the early 60s when bitter went up to 2/- or the staff in my local in the early 90s when Holts hit £1 a pint.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, having started my drinking in the early 1970's, a 20% rise over two years doesn't look like much.

I've answered your question in a new post. I needed a table to explain it.

Gary Gillman said...

Next to the X you can just see "special dark", and next to XX, "light", that were hastily covered over. XX probably is the 1800's version of mild.

X perhaps, in the use of the term "special", was an echo of dark mild being a later (oops) innovation.

These are very evocative lists. They have a plain elegance which is characteristic of English graphic design of this period. You notice it in trade ads and signage starting about 1850, but I think it is different today.

Everything is different today. What would they tell me if I walked into a pub in Deptford, say, and asked for a nip of BP Russian Stout?

On the other hand, last night I had a half-pint of an Ontario-made Russian Stout - on cask - at a local pub. Those chaps in the English breweries, who saw Russian Stout going out in the later 1900's and finally disappearing, would have been amazed. And it was good, too.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, ah, Barclay Berkins Milds of the 1930's.

Before WW I they just brewed an X. After the war, they continued with a variation on their Government Ale called just A. As brewed, they were 40 to 45 EBC, so a dark amber. There was a version of X colured with caramel to about 90 EBC. This was called "Special Dark". X was about 1042, A 1029.

Later they dropped the gravity of X to 1035 and introduced a "new" beer called XX with a gravity of 1042. Both were about 40 EBC in colour, but were also avialbale in dark versions.

If you look at the typed price list from 1940 you can see all five Milds.

Gary Gillman said...

Excellent detail there (as always), Ron.

I meant that the light XX was probably closest to their pre-WW I standard mild, but I guess it is difficult to say..


Mike said...

Geez it makes me feel really old. I bought my first pint for 1/3d, Wilson's mild.
I remember the day before decimalisation I paid 1/11d for a pint of bitter, the next day it cost 10p.
Now I pay $6 for a 16oz pint of craft beer.