"When the British government imposed restrictions on malting and beer strength during the First World War, the dry Irish style stole a march on its British counterpart and, aided by both canny advertising and the missionary zeal of Irish Diaspora, it's become the benchmark for stouts."
I just found something in one of Whitbread's spreadsheets that throws some light on this assertion. A bucket of cold light. It's a document with incredibly detailed sales records. Both of Whitbread's own beers and ones from other brewers. Like Guinness and Bass.
If that quote is to be believed, a tide of Guinness washed away British Stout after WW I. So in, say, 1943, you'd expect Guinness to be outselling Whitbread's Stouts, right? Let's see if that was the case.
First, Guinness sales:
|Whitbread's Guinness sales 1943|
|Guinness half pints||7,991|
|Total Town Guinness||20,300|
|Guinness half pints||1,902|
|Total Country Guinness||4,403|
So a little less than 25,000 barrels. Not bad. But what about Whitbread's Stouts?
|Whitbread's own Stout sales 1943|
|Town Stout (including Kent)||barrels|
|London Stout pints||18,484|
|Special Stout half pints||14,100|
|London Stout quarts||12,045|
|Total London Stout||44,629|
|Oatmeal Stout pints||1,985|
|Oatmeal Stout half pints||119|
|Oatmeal Stout quarts||1,396|
|Total Oatmeal Stout||3,500|
|Milk Stout pints||9,284|
|Milk Stout half pints||6,347|
|Milk Stout quarts||3,980|
|Total Milk Stout||19,611|
|Total Town Stout||67,740|
|London Stout pints||9,460|
|Special Stout half pints||821|
|London Stout half pints||547|
|London Stout quarts||661|
|Total London Stout||11,489|
|Oatmeal Stout pints||24,235|
|Oatmeal Stout half pints||4,812|
|Oatmeal Stout quarts||2,394|
|Total Oatmeal Stout||31,441|
|Milk Stout pints||25,906|
|Milk Stout half pints||19,041|
|Milk Stout quarts||1,196|
|Total Milk Stout||46,143|
|Total Country Stout||89,073|
|Total Whitbread Stout||156,813|
Just a little bit more. And those figures are just bottled Stout. Whitbread still sold a fair bit of draught Stout. And they sold 20,000 barrels of Stout in Scotland that I haven't included.
In 1943 Whitbread sold more than 6 times as much of their own Stouts as they did Guinness. More than 25 years after Guinness was supposed to have swept British Stouts away.
Can we agree that story is bollocks?