Friday, 12 February 2010

Russian Stout in WW II

Following on from yesterday's wartime Barclay Perkins Russian Stout recipe I've some letters for you. Circular letters sent out by Barclay Perkins to their customers. About Russian Stout. Like much else, it was rationed.

Shortages, price increases, begging for the empties back. Life was so simple back then.



Just realised there are too many of these for one post. More tomorrow then.


  1. I notice in one they are advising that they will cease supplying lager. Obviously were still brewing it then.

  2. Tandleman, you've lost me there. Where does it say they are stopping Lager?

    BP brewed Lager all through the war.

  3. Ron this is fascinating, where did you get them, was it true that beer declined in strength during WW2 and if so I wonder what strength the India Pale Ale was?

  4. Tandleman, Ron: BP is saying in the second letter that it will no longer supply large bottles of lager, so presumably it’s still supplying small bottles.

    Ron: by my reckoning the Budget increases on draught beer in the second letter are in the range 20% to 30% (I guess the bottled increases are in the same area). Were there any reactions from the retailers or customers? Did the increases have an effect on consumption? The suggested mark-ups on Russian Stout are 33% in both the first and last letters. What would be a typical mark-up nowadays?

    By the way, it’s interesting to see the HOP telephone exchange on a brewer’s letterhead. Before 1968, London telephone exchanges had three-letter names rather than numbers. While many of them were geographical names (e.g. GER for the exchange in Gerrard Street in Soho), the Southwark exchange was named HOP in recognition of the Hop Exchange in Southwark Street (just south of Barclay Perkins) and the many hop merchants in the area.

  5. Yes, I see it now. They supplied bottled and draught Lager all through WW II.

    But I can't believe I missed the start of that sentence. Where they announce the end of their Porter.

  6. Chap, I think people were just glad to be able to get beer at any price. Output was restricted and sometimes pubs had no beer at all. So no, the price increases had no impact on consumption.

    No idea what the current markup is in the pub trade. Probably more than 33%.

  7. Adrian, there's a box full of Barcly Perkins circular letters in the London Metropolitan Archives.

    Yes, beer strengths fell in WW II. I can tell you exactly how strong that IPA was:

    OG: 1031.3
    FG: 1007.0
    ABV: 3.21%

    A year earlier it had been 1036.9. Just before the war started, it was 1043.9.

    I know such useful stuff.

  8. Many telephone subscribers in Southwark still have numbers containing the dial code 7467, which translates as 7HOP. They include the Anchor, the old Barclays brewery tap.

    Interesting that they were still brewing porter up to 1942 - Whitbread IIRC, had stopped brewing porter the year before.

  9. Ah my bad. I made the wrong leap of logic there. What strength was the lager during the war?

  10. Chap. Those with money had little to spend it on during the war. I don't imagine it made that much difference to consumption at all.

  11. Tandleman, I've not got around to the wartime Lager records yet.

    Pre-WW II OG's:

    draught 1043.2
    Export 1049.4
    Dark 1057.4

  12. Zythophile, the last brew of Whitbread's Porter was 9th September 1940.