Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Scottish brewing industry in the 1860's

It's about time I started working my way through all the texts about Scottish beer I've unearthed. This one is small, but perfectly formed. It gives an overview of the developments in Scottish brewing in the first half of the 19th century.

Scottish beer production more than doubled between 1850 and 1870, as we'll see in a table later. But let's start with the text.
"Like other branches of trade which had long been conducted on a small scale in the ordinary dwellings of the people, brewing was about two centuries ago developed into a wholesale manufacture, and carried on in buildings specially fitted up. There are no statistics to show what the extent of the trade was in those early days; but for many years the production was limited to home requirements. In the beginning of last century ale and beer were exported from Leith to several continental countries. Since that time the export trade has gone on extending, and a marked increase has taken place within the past eight or ten years. The brewing trade is becoming concentrated into fewer hands, and operations are in some cases conducted on a gigantic scale. In the year 1835 there were 640 persons licensed to brew beer in Scotland. By 1863 these were reduced to 225, and in 1866 the number was 217, of whom 98 were brewers, and 119 victuallers who brewed their own beer. In 1836 the Scotch brewers consumed 1,137,176 bushels of malt; in 1863, 1,780,919 bushels; and in 1866, 2,499,019 bushels. The exports of ale and beer in 1863 amounted to 47,415 barrels of 36 gallons each, the declared value of which was £172,140; in 1866 the quantity sent out was 61,723 barrels, valued at £230,109. In order to show the wide connection which the brewers have established, the places to which the last mentioned quantity of beer was sent may be stated:— 1370 barrels went to Hamburg, 1250 to Mauritius, 13,975 to the continental territories of British India, 1564 to Singapore, 4337 to Victoria, 455 to New South Wales, 557 to Queensland, 1420 to New Zealand, 1904 to British North America, 8797 to the British West Indies, 5161 to Foreign West Indies, 3346 to the United States, 956 to Chili, 2715 to Brazil, 3636 to Uraguay, and 5965 to the Argentine Republic. In 1867 there were 66,909 barrels exported.

The Edinburgh brewers have long been famous for the superior quality of their ales and beers, and their trade forms one of the most important branches of manufacturing industry in the city. The names of Younger, Jeffrey, Drybrough, Campbell, Usher, and others, are familiar wherever Scotch ale is consumed, and that signifies, as shown above, that they are known in every quarter of the world."
"The industries of Scotland: their rise, progress, and present condition" by David Bremner, 1869, pages 437 - 438.

Those numbers for brewers are very revealing. Only 119 pubs were still brewing their own beer in 1866. In England there were more than 20,000. The Scottish brewing industry seems to have skipped some of the intermediary phases that occurred in England and gone virtually directly from small-scale domestic brewing to large-scale industrial brewing. It concentrated itself into a few large firms much more quickly than in England, where there were still a more than 2,000 brewers producing less than 1,000 barrels a year in 1914.

Here's the table of beer production I promised earlier. You'll see that although there was a big increase in Scotland, it was still a drop in the ocean compare to England's output, which was almost 20 times that of Scotland. Between them the largest three or four London brewers made more beer than the whole of Scotland.

UK beer production 1850 - 1870
 Year Production (bulk barrels) Consumption (bulk barrels) Exports (bulk barrels) Imports (bulk barrels) Production England & Wales (bulk barrels) Production Scotland (bulk barrels) Production Ireland (bulk barrels)
1850 15,478,569 15,342,681 135,888 14,420,069 476,000 582,500
1851 182,519 534,000 634,000
1852 564,000 633,000
1853 686,000 654,000
1854 686,000 657,500
1855 460,000 688,000
1856 539,000 771,000
1857 17,984,773 17,552,562 435,334 3,123 16,470,221 588,552 926,000
1858 324,015 673,000 959,000
1859 774,000 1,186,500
1860 20,340,096 19,808,861 534,827 3,592 18,316,062 810,727 1,213,307
1861 767,000 1,437,713
1862 464,827 802,000 1,218,000
1863 20,081,408 491,631 18,005,908 893,000 1,182,500
1864 21,360,461 490,486 19,106,461 986,000 1,268,000
1865 22,546,889 20,276,623 1,207,595 1,242,671
1866 25,388,600 22,634,100 1,254,000 1,500,500
1867 1,205,000 1,502,500
1868 1,171,000 1,436,000
1869 1,089,000 1,500,500
1870 471,684 5,058 1,026,000 1,701,500
"Statistics of British commerce" by Braithwaite Poole, 1852, page 6.
“A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland”  by IanDonnachie, 1998, pages 147-148.
"The Dynamics of the international brewing industry since 1800" by Richard George Wilson, Terence Richard Gourvish, 1998, pages 121 - 122, estimated from malt used
Brewers' Almanack 1928
“Bericht über der Welt_Ausstellung zu Paris im Jahre 1867, volume 7”, 1868, page 119.
Annals of British Legislation, vol. V 1859, page 333.
Sessional Papers, House of Lords, Vol. VII, Accounts and Papers, 1864, pages 20-21
Accounts and Papers: Trade and Navigation; Trade, etc, Imports and Exports; Customs and Coast Guard, session 4 February to 8 August 1851, 1821, page 9.

I'm very grateful for the figures on Scottish exports. I've put them in a table to make them more readable:

Scottish beer exports in 1866 (barrels)
Hamburg 1,370 2.05%
Mauritius 1,250 1.87%
the continental territories of British India 13,975 20.89%
Singapore 1,564 2.34%
Victoria 4,337 6.48%
New South Wales 455 0.68%
Queensland 557 0.83%
New Zealand 1,420 2.12%
British North America 1,904 2.85%
the British West Indies 8,797 13.15%
Foreign West Indies 5,161 7.71%
the United States 3,346 5.00%
Chili 956 1.43%
Brazil 2,715 4.06%
Uraguay  3,636 5.43%
Argentine Republic. In 1867 there were  5,965 8.92%
Others 9,501 14.20%
total 66,909 100.00%
The industries of Scotland: their rise, progress, and present condition by David Bremner, 1869, pages 437 - 438,

As you can see the most important export markets were the West Indies and India. I suspect different beers were sent to these markets: Pale Ale to India and Scotch Ale to the West Indies. Scotch Ale never quite disappeared from the West Indies. I have, almost within reach, a bottle of McEwan's Strong Ale brewed in Jamaica.

Lots of thirsty miners and not many local breweries. That's how I explain the uneven spread of exports to Australia, which were mostly to Victoria. It was still early days for that colony. After gold was found in 1851 around half a million people flooded in over ten years. Obviously a good market for Scots brewers.

There's a lot more from this source. I'll probably continue with its description of Jeffrey's Heriot Brewery in Edinburgh.

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