Sunday 31 May 2015

Brewing in the 1950’s – British barley

I’ve an idea. Let’s look at barley for a while rather than hops. Since my visit to John Innes in January, I’ve become much more interested in barley varieties.

Here’s an overview of the types of malting barley grown around the world:

“As far as barley suitable for malting is concerned, it can be stated that all the varieties grown in the British Isles are two-rowed; two-rowed barleys are also grown in Australia, Ouchak and Chile, while six-rowed varieties are grown in California, Australia, Morocco, Smyrna and Chile, as well as in some other countries. Prior to the 1939 war considerable quantities of foreign six-rowed barleys were used by British brewers, mainly from California and Chile, as well as some Chilean two-rowed. Due to the sunnier and more equable climates of these countries as compared with the British climate these barleys were more uniform in quality and this was of distinct advantage to the maltster. Further, the coarser husk of the six-rowed varieties tended to give a better filtration in the mash tun and to prevent those filtration troubles caused by the too-close packing of the undissolved parts of the malt (known to the brewer as grains'), which form the medium through which the solution containing the extractable materials is filtered off. In fact most brewers used from 30% upwards of Californian or other similar foreign malt and many brewers considered that they could not brew satisfactorily without them. However, experience dining and since the war has shown that present-day beers can be satisfactorily brewed from all British malt.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 129.

British brewers had this thing about Californian malt and got most upset when it was unobtainable during the two world wars. But the last one seems to have weaned them off it.

He’s right in saying loads of six-row barley was imported before WW II. That’s very clear from brewing records. Britain at the time produced way too little barley for its own needs. But that all changed during WW II, when there was a massive increase in barley production. As this table shows:

UK barley production and imports 1938 - 1960
Year ended Dec. 31. Acreage. Estimated Product Quarters (400 lbs.). Average Price per Quarter.  Barley. Imports. % homegrown
1938 988,000 18,080,000 10 2 19,876,000 47.63%
1939 1,013,000 17,840,000 8 10 13,740,000 56.49%
1940 1,339,000 22,080,000 18 2 9,146,000 70.71%
1941 1,475,000 22,880,000 24 0 1,277,000 94.71%
1942 1,528,000 28,920,000 45 8 0 100.00%
1943 1,786,000 32,900,000 31 5 0 100.00%
1944 1,973,000 35,040,000 26 5 0 100.00%
1945 2,215,000 42,160,000 24 5 2,037,000 95.39%
1946 2,211,000 39,260,000 24 3 2,195,000 94.71%
1947 2,060,000 32,380,000 24 0 2,257,000 93.48%
1948 2,082,000 40,540,000 26 10 15,618,000 72.19%
1949 2,060,000 42,580,000 25 10 9,223,000 82.20%
1950 1,778,000 34,220,000 27 11 15,289,000 69.12%
1951 1,908,000 38,780,000 38 10 24,270,000 61.51%
1952 2,281,000 46,680,000 32 7 22,641,000 67.34%
1953 2,226,000 50,420,000 30 1 28,702,000 63.72%
1954 2,063,000 44,880,000 25 9 18,602,000 70.70%
1955 2,295,000 58,720,000 26 0 18,554,000 75.99%
1956 2,323,000 56,000,000 25 8 16,215,000 77.55%
1957 2,622,000 59,140,000 23 2 20,168,000 74.57%
1958 2,755,000 63,400,000 22 11 26,504,000 70.52%
1959 3,057,000 80,320,000 22 7 19,939,000 80.11%
1960 3,372,000 84,820,000 21 3 14,083,000 85.76%
1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 61.

This can’t have all been barley for brewing. Slightly less beer was brewed in 1954 than 1938, while the total amount of barley both home grown and imported had grown significantly, from just under 38 million  quarters to 63.5 million.

It’s clear from this next table that only a small percentage of barley was used in brewing:

Malt use in brewing 1938 - 1959
Year cwt. Malt qtrs. malt bulk barrels
1938 9,378,888 3,126,296 24,339,360
1939 9,884,803 3,294,934 25,691,217
1940 9,857,838 3,285,946 24,925,704
1941 10,988,413 3,662,804 28,170,582
1942 10,918,102 3,639,367 29,584,656
1943 10,287,322 3,429,107 29,811,321
1944 10,621,168 3,540,389 31,380,684
1945 10,435,212 3,478,404 31,990,334
1946 9,976,998 3,325,666 31,066,950
1947 9,454,253 3,151,418 30,103,180
1948 9,499,794 3,166,598 28,813,725
1949 9,087,351 3,029,117 26,744,457
1950 9,094,097 3,031,366 25,339,062
1951 9,282,152 3,094,051 24,870,564
1952 9,312,437 3,104,146 25,285,589
1953 9,085,688 3,028,563 24,789,130
1954 8,629,252 2,876,417 24,153,387
1955 8,635,522 2,878,507 24,324,623
1956 8,630,145 2,876,715 24,187,096
1957 8,872,468 2,957,489 24,839,755
1958 8,642,500 2,880,833 24,129,462
1959 8,885,364 2,961,788 25,023,044
1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 62
1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 54

“At the time of revision (1956) increasing quantities of Australian Cape barley (6 rowed) are coming into the country again, but even so, beer in Britain is still brewed mainly from malts made from barleys grown in Britain.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 129. 

You can see in the table that barley imports had risen from zero in the final war years to about their pre-war level by the mid-1950’s. But I don’t see foreign barley mentioned in brewing records.

Taking Whitbread as an example, in 1938 all their Ales contained malt made from Californian barley. About a third of malt in the case of Bitter and IPA, 15% for Mild. While their Porter and Stout had about 5% malt from Ouchak barley from Turkey. In 1954, when barley imports were at pre-war levels, there’s no foreign barley in any of their beers.*

After WW II British beer was being brewed mostly from British ingredients for the first time since the mid-19th century. Until the British hop industry collapsed in the 1980’s.

* Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/121, LMA/4453/D/01/121, LMA/4453/D/09/125 and LMA/4453/D/09/133.

Saturday 30 May 2015

Dutton’s of Blackburn

Here’s another brewery celebrating an anniversary back in 1950, Dutton’s of Blackburn. A brewery whose name I recall well, but whose beers I never drank.

It’s another brewery than fell under Whitbread’s spell, being bought along with their 784 pubs in 1964. * The brewery closed in 1978 but, along with most of Whitbread’s northern breweries, had phased out cask several years before.

Owned by Whitbread – it means there’s a good chance some brewing records still exist. Just checked and sure enough they do. Well one does, for 1967. More interestingly I see there’s a gravities book. If that’s what I think it is – analyses of rival breweries beers – it could be a little goldmine. I assume it would contain mostly northern beers, Dutton’s trading region.

I’m pretty sure I own a copy of the book that’s mentioned.

Dutton's of Blackburn
In the book produced by Messrs. Dutton's Blackburn Brewery Ltd., to commemorate their century-and-a-half of business, the present chairman, Mr. Stanley W. Jamieson, aptly observes that to-day a director is no less a servant than the most junior employee. That is true to a marked degree in the brewing industry, which gives place to no other in the extent to which directors are practical men who really run the day-to-day activities of their companies. Mr. Jamieson recalls that when he first joined the Board as a young man in 1908 the company was not in a very happy position, that it had an excessive share issue and a lack of sufficient working capital. That position was put right and he dates the present era of prosperity of the company from 1916. In the years which followed, the Blackburn Brewery Company was acquired, and with five later acquisitions the business was extended not only through a large part of Lancashire, but also widely into Yorkshire, and more recently northward into Westmorland.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 46.

The pubs that Dutton’s had acquired through takeovers of their own were doubtless what attracted Whitbread. 700+ pubs would have made it a large regional concern. Just the type of business the proto-Big Six gulped down on their route to national status.

I’ve mentioned before the crisis in brewing in the years leading up to WW I. A drop in the value of pubs meant many breweries were hugely overcapitalised. A massive marking down in share capital was often the result. Ironically, given all the restrictions that it brought with it, it was WW I that turned the brewing industry around.

“Unlike some other breweries of to-day, this business is able to trace back specifically to its origin in the name by which it still remains known. The business was founded, and the brewery built on land acquired from the Vicar of Blackburn, by Thomas and William Dutton, father and son, in 1799. Although the name is preserved, it appears that the Dutton family disappeared from the record in 1871 with the death of Thomas, junior, son and grandson respectively of the two founders. In 1897 it was incorporated as Dutton & Co. (Blackburn) Ltd., and later in the same year in its present name. During its career it absorbed the Blackburn Brewery Co. already mentioned, along with its subsidiaries, Crabtree's Brewery of Clitheroe and Horsfall's Brewery of Blackburn ; to be followed in turn by John Mercer Ltd., of Adlington, the Kirkstall Brewery Co., of Leeds, and its subsidiaries the Albion Brewery and the Willow Brewery, Richard Seed & Co. Ltd., of Radcliffe, and quite recently Jonas Alexander & Son Ltd., of Kendal.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 46.

That is unusual for a brewery to have kept the same name for all its history. Before the 1890’s, when most breweries, even the largest, were still partnerships, a brewery’s name might change when the partners did.

“War years held up the projected development and the work of reconstructing and re-equipping the breweries at Blackburn and Leeds, but the company is now able to record that at the Kirkstall Brewery at Leeds the work has been accomplished and the brewery is now fully equipped with modern plant and machinery which enables an increase of output and more economical production. At Blackburn the work is in progress, refusal of permits has been a grave handicap, but a part of the former Swan brewery premises has been converted into a first-class bottling store.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 47.

The Kirkstall brewery was bought in 1936 and, ironically, survived longer than Dutton’s, only closing in 1983.**  Now there’s a brewery whose beer I did try, when Whitbread belatedly re-introduced cask in the early 1980’s.

The war placed huge restrictions on construction work. And there were more urgent uses for metals like copper in wartime. This is one of the factors that pushed breweries to sell up – knackered equipment meaning a large investment of capital was required. Many owners simply didn’t have the cash.

Let’s finish with some of Dutton’s beers from the 1950’s, taken from Whitbread’s own industrial espionage document, the Gravity Book:

Duttons Bottled Beers 1952 - 1959
Year Beer Style Price per pint d Acidity OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1952 Nut Brown Ale Brown Ale 20 0.05 1029.9 1005.8 3.13 80.60% 4 + 40
1953 Nut Brown Ale Brown Ale 18 0.06 1031 1006.1 3.23 80.32% 3 + 40
1953 Green Label Light Ale Light Ale 18 0.06 1032 1006.8 3.27 78.75% 24 B
1953 O.B.J. Old English Ale Old Ale 32 0.07 1060.9 1013.7 6.15 77.50% 11 + 40
1959 Pale Ale Pale Ale 24 0.04 1035.9 1009.4 3.31 73.82% 17
1953 Special Pale Ale 28 0.06 1045 1007.2 4.93 84.00% 28 B
1953 DPA Pale Ale Pale Ale 24 0.06 1038.9 1005.2 4.39 86.63% 20 B
1952 Mercers Stout Stout 26 0.06 1045.3 1014.1 4.04 68.87% 1 + 21
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

The Pale Ale and Nut Brown Ale were doubtless bottled versions of their standard Bitter and Mild.

* “The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, page 131.
** “The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, page 131.

Friday 29 May 2015

Hops yesterday, today and tomorrow (part two)

We’re back with hops in the 1950’s. I thought you’d be pleased. We’ll be finishing this article today. But luckily I’ve others. Ones about new hop varieties being tried out in the 1950’s. It’s really fun stuff.

But the first the future of hops as envisaged 60 years ago.

“To summarize then, for the future, progressive growers will plant gardens with disease-free stocks, tolerant of Verticillium wilt, true to type, of New Variety hops, high cropping, high in a acids, possibly triploid, with a range of ripening times, good for machine picking and acceptable to brewers as substitutes for Fuggles or Goldings. They will grow them with high wirework, to give crops easy to pick by machine, use modern machinery for cultivation, soil systemic insecticides and low volume sprays for fungicide control, will pick by machine and dry on continuous or high-efficiency batch driers, and will finally pack into high density ballots.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 470.

Has all that come about? Pretty sure there are still lots of Goldings and Fuggles grown. And rather than growing hops taller, the recent trend has been for dwarf varieties. And, of course, the area where hops are grown has shrunk dramatically.

Now here’s the problem with growing hops – they’ve only really one use:

These two are so bound up that they must be considered together. The tragedy of the hop is that it has but one application—Beer. There appears to be no other substantial use for hops (there are small outlets for bakery, and pharmaceutical purposes and for insomnia), and the vast bulk of all hops in the world is used for beer. There is no use for the stripped bine except as fertilizer, which is also the fate, with the deep-litter hen house, of surplus or low-quality unmarketable hops. It is this lack of alternative uses which has always made the hop market so very sensitive. If there is only a slight shortage, as in 1956 and 1957, world prices soar, while with heavy crops, as in 1958, prices slump. Usage is, therefore, governed partly by availability and price and partly by public taste.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, page 470.

Though if you look at British hop production and prices after 1934 they show a remarkable stability. Presumably because of the action of the Joint Brewers-Growers Committee, which fixed prices.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century there was a steady fall in average hopping rates:

Fig. 3.—Hop rates in U.S.A., United Kingdom and the World, 1902-1958.

“The graph. (Fig. 3) shows the steady downward trend in hop rates, conditioned by taxation and public taste. The United Kingdom hop rate is still well in the lead, and it seems to have steadied at around 1 lb. per brl. American rates are low and falling steadily by about 4% per annum. Fluctuations within the general trend have been caused by real shortages—as in the war—or by a desire to conserve stocks as in 1956-57. Traditionally, most brewers like to hold 6 months' stock or more - before the war some held up to 2 years! - and would reduce their hopping if there appeared any likelihood of having to use new hops before Christmas. It is probable with the present cost of money and storage we should all aim to carry lower stocks down to 2-3 months at the end of September. The hops will suffer much less deterioration of resins or oils, and any fears of rank flavour should be overcome by adjusting the hop rate to take account of the humulone content.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Vol. 65, 1959, pages 470 - 471.

British brewers had this thing about not using the season’s hops immediately. Not sure why that was. They were a funny bunch brewers. They had their own ideas about how to do stuff. Two years’ worth of hops is a lot. Understandable when the price of hops could vary so much from year to year. But that was no longer the case after 1934, when prices were fixed.

My guess is that US hopping levels continued to fall at a similar rate until very recently. Hang on, I’ve no reason to guess, as I have the numbers.

Here you go:

Hopping rate in the USA 1945 - 2012
1945 86,604,080 37,085,950 0.43 0.60
1946 84,977,700 37,555,031 0.44 0.61
1947 87,856,902 40,506,913 0.46 0.64
1948 91,291,219 41,576,128 0.46 0.64
1949 89,735,647 39,629,621 0.44 0.61
1950 88,807,075 37,889,576 0.43 0.60
1951 88,976,226 36,231,622 0.41 0.57
1952 89,600,916 35,233,507 0.39 0.54
1953 90,433,832 34,944,509 0.39 0.54
1954 92,561,067 35,127,350 0.38 0.53
1955 89,791,154 33,736,717 0.38 0.53
1956 90,697,911 32,938,442 0.36 0.50
1957 89,881,935 31,732,968 0.35 0.49
1958 89,010,812 30,419,008 0.34 0.47
1959 90,973,768 29,642,566 0.33 0.46
1960 94,547,867 30,825,243 0.33 0.46
1961 93,496,452 29,473,204 0.32 0.45
1962 96,417,543 29,896,445 0.31 0.43
1963 97,961,421 30,343,524 0.31 0.43
1964 103,017,915 30,446,822 0.3 0.42
1965 108,015,217 31,562,258 0.29 0.40
1966 109,736,341 31,054,401 0.28 0.39
1967 116,564,350 30,744,728 0.26 0.36
1968 117,523,511 29,231,847 0.25 0.35
1969 122,657,497 28,719,722 0.23 0.32
1970 134,653,881 38,195,191 0.23 0.32
1971 134,091,661 32,135,040 0.24 0.33
1972 140,326,680 33,467,886 0.24 0.33
1973 143,013,573 34,523,123 0.24 0.33
1974 153,053,027 36,777,733 0.24 0.33
1975 157,870,017 35,532,533 0.21 0.29
1976 160,663,276 33,033,645 0.21 0.29
1977 172,228,595 34,554,633 0.20 0.28
1978 171,639,479 36,208,645 0.21 0.29
1979 183,515,187 39,453,588 0.21 0.29
1980 188,373,657 42,212,542 0.22 0.31
1981 194,542,022 43,648,980 0.22 0.31
1982 193,984,371 41,952,844 0.22 0.31
1983 195,664,107 40,534,178 0.21 0.29
1984 193,416,051 44,053,897 0.23 0.32
1985 193,794,790 41,256,105 0.21 0.29
1986 193,988,955 40,313,730 0.21 0.29
1987 196,168,815 44,500,607 0.23 0.32
1988 197,381,834 46,328,359 0.23 0.32
1989 197,480,115 42,751,104 0.22 0.31
1990 201,690,728 44,215,816 0.22 0.31
1991 203,706,789 46,098,849 0.23 0.32
1992 201,394,757 44,347,197 0.22 0.31
1993r 202,276,650 43,323,569 0.21 0.29
1994 202,803,972 43,378,074 0.21 0.29
1995 199,215,197 33,962,792 0.17 0.24
1996 201,050,049 37,997,546 0.19 0.26
1997 198,904,373 31,570,175 0.16 0.22
1998 198,130,339 25,760,469 0.13 0.18
1999 198,251,742 29,226,416 0.15 0.21
2000 199,173,709 25,688,783 0.13 0.18
2001 199,332,251 26,009,711 0.13 0.18
2002 198,089,983 27,670,437 0.14 0.19
2003 194,812,010 23,996,000 0.12 0.17
2004 198,114,650 24,429,671 0.12 0.17
2005 197,252,016 26,634,298 0.14 0.19
2006 197,696,158 37,935,414 0.19 0.27
2007 198,464,270 53,708,315 0.27 0.38
2008 196,538,396 54,977,994 0.28 0.39
2009 196,810,099 61,836,364 0.31 0.44
2010 195,143,831 90,902,672 0.47 0.65
2011 192,718,037 107,726,628 0.56 0.78
2012 195,739,089 119,240,171 0.61 0.85
Various editions of the "The Brewers Almanac"

I’d expected hopping rates to have bounced back a bit in recent years, but not by that much. Between 2006 and 2012 the rate trebled. If that trend continues there could be a real shortage of hops in a few years.

There’s still a fair bit more of this to come.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Beer, scientifically and socially considered (part five)

We’re still looking at the muck put into beer in the 1870’s.

Not just that: we’ll also be finding out why beer was so full of crap and why the British were drunkards.

The author seems to be a big fan of Allsopp. I suspect he would have been enraged by the way Watney used returned beer in the 1950’s:

“The necessity for all this doctoring has already been touched upon, but it may well explain its cause more fully. At Allsopps’ and other large Burton breweries (and no doubt in many smaller respectable country breweries) the capital embarked in the trade is large enough to admit of the beer being perfectly fermented and freed from impurities or substances likely to cause acetification ; the beautiful system employed by Messrs. Allsopp for that purpose has been described. But many brewers really sell their beer, not at the brewery, but in their own public-houses, and they have not sufficient capital (or it may be they are too anxious to make money) to give their products sufficient time become fit for consumption. The beer is sometimes drawn off from the fermenting vats into the barrels in which it is to be sent out, with the bung holes open for the escape of superfluous yeast; as little time as possible is given for it to “fine,” and it is sent out to the public-house with orders to return any that is unconsumed when it begins to turn sour. I do not pretend to be initiated into the mysteries of “brewers’ druggists' laboratories,” nor the secrets of those who employ their fraudulent compounds ; but certain it is, that carbonate of soda is used to neutralise the acidity of the spoiled beer, and various drugs and chemicals are then added to impart to it artificial flavour and counteract the alkaline taste, until, Mr. Tate remarks, it is “difficult to imagine how any persons can be found to drink such vile stuff.” But when we remember that three-fourths of the persons who do drink it are drunk already, the mystery is solved. Not only are the lower kinds of beer thus doctored, but they are often mixed with Allsopps’, Bass's, and other fine ales, so that it is in the interest of those firms not only to suppress adulteration, but to do their best to assist in providing the humbler classes with a cheap pure beverage, which it will not pay the vendors to sophisticate. So far, repressive legislation has been a dead letter; we hear now and then of the Act of Victoria 23 and 24 c. 84, being put in force to prevent the sale of grossly adulterated food, or tea; but although brewers will tell us that the Excise would punish adulteration severely, I do not recollect ever having noticed a prosecution. Public analysts may be appointed under this Act and it is to hoped that the time is not far distant when this course will be adopted, and the doctoring of what is really the staple beverage of our people may be reduced to a minimum, if not entirely prevented.”
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

Sounds like breweries were sending out beer without properly cleansing it. Did that really go on? And if it did, how common was it? The author implies breweries like Allsopp were the exception rather than the rule. Though what I’ve seen in London brewing records tells me the large brewers in the capital were finishing their fermentations properly.

Taking back beer that was going off, then doctoring up for sale again – isn’t that exactly what Watney did with all the returns they used in their bottled beer? Seems like they were continuing a long and ignoble tradition.

That’s a great explanation of why people would drink vile doctored beer: they were already drunk. Does that mean that they started off on decent beer and switched to crap after a gallon or so?

I’ve seen details of prosecutions for adulteration from earlier in the century, so prosecutions did occur. Though admittedly the prosecutions were motivated by the excise worrying about brewers and publicans dodging tax rather than poisoning their customers. I believe public analysts were eventually appointed who working wonders in cleaning up food in the last couple of decades of the 19th century.

There’s a very simple explanation for why the British were pissheads: their beer was stronger than elsewhere:

“But we have another question consider in connection with the effects of beer upon our population, and that is its real or reputed strength. For this purpose I have compiled the following table, partly from the Dictionary articles referred to, and partly from analyses made for me by chemical friends ;

percentage of
Name of Beer Alcohol. Malt Extract Carbonic Acid. Water.
Strong Scotch Ale 8.5 10.9 0.15 80.45
Burton Ale 5.9 14.5 .. 79.6
Barclay's London Porter 5.4 6 0.16 88.44
Dreher’s Vienna Beer*** 4.62 ..  ..  .. 
Low Brussels Beer (Faro) 4.9 2.9 0.2 92.9
Bavarian Draught Beer 3.8 5.8 0.14 90.26
Sweet Bohemian Beer (Prague) 3.9 10.9 .. 85.2
Liverpool Doctored Beer (Mr. Tate’s test) 2.2 .. .. ..
Berlin White Beer  1.9 5.7 0.6 91.8
Sweet Brunswick Beer (Mum) 1.9 45 ..  53.1

A glance this table and moment's reflection will show why English beer-drinkers are often drunkards, whilst Germans, who indulge in a similar beverage to the same extent, are comparatively sober. It may be safely said that the percentage of alcohol in German beer is on the average half as great as in the English, so that where an Englishman drinks a pint, a German may partake of a quart; but when we look at the character of the beer drunk by the intemperate classes in England, and compare it with that of the poorer people abroad, we may unhesitatingly assert that less injury would arise from drinking half a-gallon of German beer than from a pint of English ale. And again, when we compare the Berlin “Weissbier,” which contains 1.9 per cent. of alcohol, with the lowest Liverpool beer, which Mr. Tate found to contain only 2.2 per cent., and consider that whilst the Prussian artisan may imbibe his beverage all day long from quart tankards with impunity, an English labourer will succumb to a few glasses of the public-house trash ; what other inference can be drawn than that it is not the beer but the drugs it contains which affect the brain? I have been told that English labourers will not take kindly to German beer; it is not strong enough for them. This is quite true of the present generation ; how should it be otherwise, when their taste has been corrupted by cocculus indicus, tobacco, and salt? But unless the advocates of temperance strenuously support the introduction of mild, pure, cheap drink (for the Englishman not alone buys bad beer, but pays three or four, aye some cases five or six times as much for it as the German does for his unadulterated beverage), unless, I say, vigorous effort is made to change the taste of the next generation as it grows up, the same difficulty will still remain to be overcome by posterity.
*** For this test I am indebted, through the kindness of Dr. Frankland, to Mr. W. Valentin, of the Royal College of Chemistry. ”
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

My big question is this: is that ABW or ABV? From the Continental beers I’d guess ABW. But I have Barclay Perkins brewing records from the late 1860’s and they show their Porter as being around 5.4% ABV. What the author forgets to mention is that the Weissbier drinker of Berlin may well have been knocking back spirits along with his beer.

But the main point is certainly true: British beer was on average a good bit stronger than that brewed elsewhere.

The author’s answer to Britain’s drunkenness? Drink Mild! (Sort of.)

“Couple this experience with the fact that the Germans drink certainly as much, if not more beer than we do, and are sober, whilst we are, perhaps, the most drunken nation on the earth, and I conceive no one will dispute the proposition so often advanced by me, that claret and light Continental wines are slowly reforming our middle classes, so will it be necessary to introduce mild, pure beer as staple drink, in order to attain the same end amongst the labouring population. Until that is done, I am convinced that not all the efforts of temperance advocates (whose self-denial every one must admire and respect), neither lectures, tea-meetings, denunciation, nor repressive legislation, will avail anything beyond saving here and there a drowning wretch from the flood poisoned liquor with which our large towns are deluged ; but such change as I have suggested being accomplished, I believe that, with the spread of education, and the introduction of more rational amusements than those now offered to the humbler classes, repressive legislation will be no longer needed ; the ranks of our criminals, paupers, and lunatics will be thinned, and is to be hoped the foulest blot will in time be removed from our national escutcheon.”
Liverpool Daily Post - Tuesday 05 July 1870, page 6.

Rational amusements. What would they be? Footie? Criminals, paupers, and lunatics – which of those groups is the most aspirational, do you think? I’d go for criminal, I reckon. Lunacy and poverty don’t look that attractive.

And with that we’re finally done. Now there’s a relief.