Saturday 31 October 2015

Where was a brewery’s money?

The Brewery Manual handily summarises the financial information of each brewery. I never thought I’d find this sort of thing interesting. But now I do. Sad, what I’ve become.

I realised the figures highlight a particular feature of the British brewing industry: tied houses. A brewery of any size had massive amounts of capital tied up in their pub estate. Much more than in the brewery premises themselves.

I’ve picked three breweries that were to form the core of two of the Big Six, Courage and Bass Charrington. At all three, the pub estate accounted for over 50% of their assets. Though at Barclay Perkins it’s not quite so easy to see because they’ve lumped together the breweries and pubs.

It made British breweries quite odd businesses, with profits that looked rather small compared to the amount of capital invested. When people from outside the brewing industry began to get involved in the business, they weren’t very happy with the return on investment. That in turn prompted a hardening of attitudes towards tenants as breweries tried to squeeze more profit out of their pubs. It destroyed the cosy relationship between brewer and tenant that had served both parties relatively well for decades.

Brewing had been a very insular business until the 1950’s, with few entering management from the outside. As the Big Six began to coalesce in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the new larger companies began to be managed corporate types, who saw tenants merely as a means to earning a profit, not human assets to be nurtured and treasured. The old paternalism went out of the window.

Here are some tables.

Courage assets in 1953
Freehold Breweries £420,348 3.13%
Fixtures and Fittings  £1,058,331 7.89%
Freehold and Leasehold Properties  £7,105,431 52.96%
Premium, Acquisition Sub-Shares   £1,378,633 10.28%
Investments  £1,444,325 10.76%
Stocks  £683,770 5.10%
Sundry Debtors & Loans   £746,633 5.56%
Cash at Bank and in hand  £515,561 3.84%
Deb Stock Sinking Fund (Sub)   £63,847 0.48%
total £13,416,879
profit £388,271 2.89%
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, page 111.

Charrington assets in 1953
Freehold and Leasehold Properties  £13,498,527 69.05%
Brewing & Bottling Plant & Rolling Stock   £1,536,736 7.86%
Casks  £30,000 0.15%
Loans on Mortgage   £92,735 0.47%
Trade Investments  £93,181 0.48%
Govt Securities  £662,801 3.39%
Other Investments  £46 0.00%
Book Debts and Rents receivable   £1,373,283 7.02%
Stock of Beer, etc  £1,726,936 8.83%
Cash   £536,052 2.74%
total £19,550,297
profit £742,246 3.80%
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, page 103.

Barclay Perkins assets in 1953
Properties and Equipment  £9,083,319 72.01%
Investments (Trade) £37,387 0.30%
Cash Invests. (Deb Trustees) £20,795 0.16%
Stocks on hand  £1,487,078 11.79%
Trade Debtors, etc, less Provisions £770,033 6.10%
Government Securities £608,779 4.83%
Cash at Bankers and in hand, ete, £521,339 4.13%
Tax Reserve Certificates £86,000 0.68%
total £12,614,730
profit £301,042 2.39%
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, page 73.

More financial stuff to come, I’m afraid.

Friday 30 October 2015

Bokbier Festival 2015

I remembered this year. Last year I completely forgot about the festival and missed it. That tells you something.

The Bokbier Festival had its 39th edition last weekend, making it one of the oldest beer festivals in Europe. But it’s starting to show its age.

With the name and theme, for one thing. Why a festival just for Bokbier? Because when it started, Boks were about the only interesting beers brewed in Holland. Dutch beer was in a sorry state, with 95% of all beer sold being Pils. The seasonal special Bok was a rare highlight in a dismally dull scene.

But Dutch beer has moved on. The number of breweries has increased from a couple of dozen to well over 100. And there’s a lot more than just Pils being knocked out by them. There’s a wider range of beers brewed – from revived historical Dutch styles to ever so hip IPA and Imperial Stout – than at any time in living memory. None of this is reflected by the Bokbier Festival.

Most beer consumer organisations have a national festival. Like the GBBF or ZBF. Yet for the PINT, Dutch one, the place of a national event is taken by the Bokbier Festival. Which concentrates on what is now just a tiny part of the Dutch beer world.

Nevertheless, I trundled down to the Beurs with Dolores on Saturday. Early doors, obviously. We got in 5 minutes after opening. Yet were still lucky to find a seat. By the toilets. And there’s my biggest problem with the festival: way too few seats. Maybe 30. When attendance is probably over 1,000.

Having so little seating is strange when you look at the event’s demographics. I’d estimate the average age of punters around 45, but many are 60 plus. An age group that likes a sit down. I know I do.

Many years of experience have taught me to treat many of the beers with caution. I’ve ended up with too many glasses of undrinkable muck in the past. I’ve built up sort of mental green and black lists. My usual approach is this: start with some I’m pretty certain won’t leave me gagging, maybe take a gamble on the unknown a couple of time in the middle and finish with a few German ones and SNAB Ijsbok.

I forgot to moan about the price: 20 euros for a glass, programme and three tokens. And 2.75 for extra tokens, which get you 20cl of beer. Not exactly cheap.

As for breweries, many are significant by their absence. So no De Molen or Rooie Dop. Oedipus or Oersoep. Almost none of the Dutch breweries that are making a name for themselves internationally was present.

That said, I enjoyed myself. Had a few very nice beers, chatted with people and managed to leave before I had to use the bog (for which you have to pay 50 cents).

Best beer of the day was at my toilet stop on the way to the tram. Schlenkerla Rauchbock in Wildeman. Lovely, lovely drink. Why wasn’t that at the festival?

Thursday 29 October 2015

Who was branding their beers in 1954? (part one)

I’ve been thinking more about branding. When did it really start? When did it become popular? What was its purpose?

I can identify two types of branding. The first is generic. Toby is a good example. A brand applied not to a specific beer, but to a whole range. This seems to have been the most common type early doors.  It’s still around today, for example Hyde’s Anvil Ales.

Branding individual beers, by giving them their own name, is the second type. Beers used to have generic names. Though these weren’t always the same inside and outside the brewery gates. X Ale/Mild is a good example. As is PA/Bitter or KK/Burton. Or be named by place of origin: London Porter, Edinburgh Ale, Dublin Porter.

Did I mention that I collect the details from 19th-century price lists? My spreadsheet has about 4,500 beers extracted from them.  The first named beer in the set is “Velvet” brewed in 1856  by Bircham & Sons of Reepham, Norfolk. But between then and 1890, I’ve very few examples. This is the full set:

Early branded beers
Year Brewery Town Beer
1856 Bircham & Sons Reepham, Norfolk Velvet
1875 Mew Langton Newport, IOW No. 1 Royal Osborne Ale (as supplied to her majesty)
1875 Mew Langton Newport, IOW Guinea Pale Ale
1881 Lewis & Ridley Leamington Gem Sparkling Dinner Ale
1888 Watkins & Son's Hereford Golden Sunlight Ale
1888 Watkins & Son's Hereford Sunflower India Pale Ale
1890 Nottigham Brewery Nottingham Golden Ray Ale
1890 Cook Brothers Colchester Jubilee Pale Ale
1892 Wm. Whitmarsh & Co. Sheffield Hallamshire Export quality
1892 Lucas, Blackwell & Arkwright Leamington Gem Light Sparkling Dinner Ale
1892 Daniell & Sons Colchester John Bull Bitter Ale
1893 Hull Brewery Hull Champagne Bitter
1893 Major Lucas & Co Northampton VA Victoria Ale
1897 William Stones Sheffield Samson Extra Strong
1897 William Stones Sheffield Sparkling Light Bitter Beer
1897 Ash & Co London Light Tonic Dinner Ale
1897 Ash & Co London Canterbury Ale
1897 Ash & Co London Gold Medal Ale
1898 Waltham Bros. London The Half Guinea Ale
1898 Mew Langton Newport, IOW O.P.A. Osborne Pale Ale (as supplied to Her Majesty's Household)
1902 Brook's Cubley Brook Brwry Sheffield Wearncliffe Extra Strong Mild
1907 Benskins Watford Primrose Ale
1908 Walker & Homfray Salford Comet Ale
1925 Barclay Perkins London Red Label Stout
1930 Richard Clarke Stockport BB Crystal PAle Ale
1930 Hull Brewery Hull Anchor Ale
1930 Benskins Watford Jubilee Ale
1930 Benskins Watford Colne Spring Ale
1931 Hammerton London V.C. Ale
Various brewery price lists

What’s interesting  - or perhaps rather, totally predictable – is that naming beers seems to start taking off around the same time as bottled beer, in the 1890’s. And indeed the majority of the beers in the table above were bottled. At a time when pump-clips didn’t exist, branding a draught beer wasn’t easy. Whereas with bottles, you had a colourful label to tempt drinkers.

Flipping forward to the fifties, let’s see who was a branding fan. 

Leading the pack by quite a distance is Flowers, with 16 branded beers. Not much of a shock, as I know Bernard Dixon, the man in charge at Flowers, was a big fan of naming beers. Here’s the set:

Flowers branded beers in 1954
Brewery Beer Type
Flower & Sons Green Label Bottled
Flower & Sons Original Bitter Draught
Flower & Sons Shakespeare Ale Bottled Beer
Flowers Breweries Anchor Brown Ale
Flowers Breweries Brewmaster Bottled
Flowers Breweries Little Imp Bottled
Flowers Breweries Sable Bottled
Flowers Breweries Green Ribbon Bottled
Flowers Breweries Kelly's Eye Bottled
Flowers Breweries Luton Light Ale
Flowers Breweries Lutorian Bottled
Flowers Breweries Old Gold Bottled
Flowers Breweries Poacher Bottled
Flowers Breweries Stingo Bottled
Flowers Breweries Dragon's Blood Old English Ale
Flowers Breweries Ravensburg Bottled
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, pages 382 - 394.

Not sure why they haven’t identified Poacher as the Brown Ale it was. Nor Sable as a Stout. Stingo, obviously, was a Strong Ale. And I’m pretty sure Lutorian should be Lutonian.

Fascinating that some are branded Flower & Sons and others Flowers Breweries. The former are beers from the original Flowers brewery in Stratford-upon-Avon, the latter from J.W. Green in Luton. Flower & Sons, despite being relatively modest in size, had built up a good reputation for some of their beers well outside their core area. Original Bitter, in particular, made inroads outside their tied estate. Doubtless the strong branding of Flowers was why the J.W. Green name was ditched, despite being the senior partner in the new firm.

More branding to come.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1946 Fullers P

I was most surprised when I saw P – the brewhouse name for their Porter – appearing in post-WW II Fullers brewing records. I hadn’t seen any other evidence of London Porter making it past the war. But things weren’t quite what they seemed.

In the early 1930’s, Fullers brewed two black beers: P (Porter) and BS (Brown Stout). Both would have been served on draught, as Stout – and to a lesser extent Porter – were still standard draught beers in London. Porter had an OG of around 1041º and Stout 1056º. Three analyses from 1932 and 1933 in the Truman Gravity Book show that P, when bottled, was being sold as Stout.

Oddly for a London brewer, Fullers seems to have discontinued BS sometime in the 1930’s, leaving just the weaker P. Which seems to have been a mostly, if not exclusively bottled beer. The name it was marketed under, was one of the favourites for lower-gravity, sweet versions: Nourishing Stout.

Turning to the beer itself, the grist is notable for one thing: an absence of brown malt They dropped it sometime between 1921 and 1925. London brewers were remarkably loyal to brown malt, with Whitbread using it at Chiswell Street right up until it closed in the mid-1970’s. The only coloured malt in this grist is black malt.

I’ve made some changes to the sugars employed. A proprietary sugar called PEX I’ve replaced by No. 2 invert. I’ve substituted No. 4 invert for something called Special Dark. Not 100% the same as the original, but about as close as I can get using standard ingredients.

For a dark beer of such modest strength, it’s reasonably heavily hopped, only slightly less so than their Pale Ales. Surprisingly heavily hopped, I should say, given it’s clearly intended to be a sweet beer.

This type of Stout was very popular in the immediate post-war years, but gradually faded from view as its drinkers aged and died. By the time I started drinking in pubs in the early 1970’s, sweet, bottled Stout was only drunk by the granny or grandad in the corner. You’d never see anyone south of 50 drinking it.

How many beers of this type are still brewed? Mackeson and Sweetheart Stout are the only two I can think of. Maybe this could be a new frontier for innovative brewers: weak and sweet. There’s only so far you can innovate by throwing in more hops.

Over to me for the recipe . . . . .

1946 Fullers P
pale malt 4.25 lb 62.96%
black malt 0.75 lb 11.11%
flaked barley 0.50 lb 7.41%
No. 2 invert 0.25 lb 3.70%
No. 3 invert 0.75 lb 11.11%
No. 4 invert 0.25 lb 3.70%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1030.7
FG 1011.1
ABV 2.59
Apparent attenuation 63.84%
IBU 28
SRM 29
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 176º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Branded Mild in 1953

Boak and Bailey reminded me of a source I’d neglected with a recent tweet. The Brewery Manual, a trade publication full of factual information. Right down my street.

Luckily, I could recall where I’d stashed my copies. Even better, one was from the 1950’s, the current focus of my obsession. I quickly got scanning. In particular a section I hadn’t noticed until Boak and Bailey pointed it out: a list of beer brand names.

Having spent a decade or more picking through analyses and looking at labels, most names aren’t new to me. A couple I’ve even drunk. Amongst the draught beers there are a few unfamiliar ones. And even amongst those I knew, there are those I would struggle to pin a style on.

I was slightly surprised to see so many branded Mild ales. Brewers often gave their Bitter a fancy name like London Pride, while imaginatively marketing their Mild as Mild. I will add one caveat: some of the classifications are rather, well, eccentric. Trubrown – Truman’s Brown Ale – is called a “Dark Ale” for some reason.

The beers come from all over the country. I was particularly surprised to see some from areas not traditionally that strong on Mild, such as South Yorkshire. Other points? Interesting to see Heavy used as a term for Mild. Plymouth Heavy is the only example I’d ever come across before.

I’d always considered Old Harry a Strong Brown Ale. Though it was parti-gyled with Mild. And there were several other beers called Amber Ale in the table, but only this one is classed as  Mild. Not the most consistent system they employed.

Anyway, here’s the table:

Branded Mild in 1953
Brewery Beer Type
Everards Brewery Old Bill's Brew Best Mild
Higson's Brewery Trojan Best mild and draught
W. Butler & Co. Molineux Bottled Mild Ale
S. A. Brain & Co. Red Dragon Dark Mild
Fuller, Smith & Turner Hock Draught Mild
B. Cunningham Golden Malt Mild
H. & G. Simonds Heavy Mild
H. & G. Simonds London Heavy Mild
Tennant Brothers Fltzalan Mild
Thomas Ramsden & Son  Stone Trough  Mild
Ind Coope & Allsopp John Bull Mild Ale
Nottingham Brewery Rock Mild Ale
Richard Whitaker & Sons Strong Shire Mild Ale
W. Butler & Co. Amber Ale Mild Ale
Fuller, Smith & Turner Old Harry Mild Ale, bottled
Norman & Pring City Special Mild Ale, bottled
Taylor, Walker & Co. Main Line Mild Ale, Cask
Buckley's Brewery Stradey Ale Mild, bottled
Duncan, Gilmour & Co. Crown Ale Mild, bottled
Timothy Taylor & Co. Northerner No. 1 Mild Ale
Wolverhampton & Dudley Fox Strong Mild Ale
Duncan Gilmour & Co. Hallamshlre Strong Mild draught
Duncan Gilmour & Co. Balaclava Strong mild, bottled
G. Ruddle & Co. Old Bob Strong Mild, bottled
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, pages 382 - 394.

Any guesse whjich is the one I've drunk?

Plenty more still where this came from.

Monday 26 October 2015

Big Debenture Scheme by Hammonds

Takeovers can have a downside. They can make a company’s financial structure very complicated.

Because a company that has been purchased by another doesn’t immediately cease to exist. It will stick around until it’s wound up in the proper way. This could often be years after the purchase. Which was the case at Hammonds. For many years the companies they had absorbed continued on, often retaining their own directors and holding their own board meetings, even though power lay elsewhere.

It made sense to tidy things up. Which is what happened in 1951 at Hammonds.

Big Debenture Scheme by Hammonds Breweries
Notes from Our City Correspondent— Friday Evening
A £1,250,000 Debenture issue and conversion scheme announced by Hammonds United Breweries of Bradford has as its main object the simplification and further co-ordination of the administration of the group.

Three subsidiaries are to be liquidated, entailing the repayment of five issues Debenture stocks. The concerns affected are the Ilkley Brewery and Aerated Water Company, the Springwell Brewery Company and Seth Senior and Sons. Holders of the Debenture stocks will be repaid par, with the exception of the 4.5 per cent. "A" stock of the Springwell Brewery, which has to be redeemed at 105 per cent.

As alternative to repayment, Debenture holders may convert into a new 4 per cent. Debenture stock, 1981, created by the parent company. At the same time the holders of Hammonds 4 per cent. Perpetual Debenture stock are to be invited to exchange into the new issue, on the basis £102 nominal for every £100 of existing stock.

The directors intend to issue £1,260,000 of the new 4 per cent, stock, of which £782,550 is being reserved to meet conversion acceptances. The balance of £457,450 and any stock not required for conversion purposes will be offered for subscription at par by all Debenture and shareholders within the group. The proceeds of the cash issue will be applied buying further licensed premises, the repayment of mortgages and loans and the provision of further working capital.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 23 June 1951, page 6.

Liquidating a company was complicated, as various Debenture stockholders needed to be bought out. The money had to come from somewhere – so why not issue new Debentures to pay off the old ones? Hammonds gave stockholders the choice of cash or new Debentures. It wouldn’t surprise me if most went for the dosh.

It’s significant to see the first item mentioned in use for the cash is buying more pubs. Expanding their tied estate was most breweries’ obsession. The extra cash knocking around Hammonds would also have been useful for further takeovers.

They didn’t have much trouble shifting the Debentures:

Hammonds' issue success
Hammonds United Breweries announce the issue of 4 per cent. Mortgage Debenture Stock 1981 has been fully subscribed and that the underwriters have consequently been relieved.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 14 July 1951, page 6.

1981, eh? Presumably the stock never reached maturity, whet with Hammonds having disappeared into the corporate soup a couple of decades earlier.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Why tied houses existed

I’m weirdly fascinated by the Britain’s tied house system. Mostly because no other country had anything quite the same. Not even all of the UK had it – Scotland and Ireland were never as dominated as England and Wales were by brewery-owned pubs.

Which begs the question: why did the tied house system come into existence? Clearly it must the result of specific circumstances which prevailed in England and Wales.

I would try to piece all the details together myself. But someone has already done the work for me. May as well use that. It’s slightly more complicated than I had assumed. These are some interesting points about the technical aspects:

“Very early in commercial brewing history, brewers found advantages in controlling their retailers. There were some technical reasons why brewers found reliable exclusive retail outlets economical. Beer was perishable and had to be handled carefully because bad handling and slow turnover could ruin the reputation of the product. Public houses with small sales could not economically stock the supplies of more than one brewer if the beer was to be sold in good condition. Above all, draught beer, because it was unbranded, was a product on which reputations could easily be lost by misrepresentation. The relative security of sale in exclusive outlets enabled the brewer to estimate demand more closely and so to avoid the waste of over-brewing his perishable product. The resources and advice of the brewer also helped the publican in his sales policy. More important, the capital resources of the brewer were available to the publican.”
"Effects of Mergers" edited by P. Lesley Cook, article written by J. E. Vaizey, 1958, page 400.

I suppose much of this doesn’t apply if you’re selling keg beer. It isn’t so perishable. It’s struck me before that the tied house system is one of the factors in the survival of cask beer in Britain. In the parts of the UK where cask disappeared, Northern Ireland and Scotland, there were few tied houses. And in British colonies like Australia and Canada cask soon vanished.

Similarly, when the close tie between brewer and pub for the most part disappeared as a result of the Beer Orders, I thought the quality of cask beer suffered. When brewers owned their retail outlets, it was much easier for them to keep an eye on beer quality. And the supply chain was much shorter and more direct.

I hadn’t realised most pubs were tied quite so early:

“For these reasons the tied house system was an early feature of commercial brewing, and by 1800 over half the ordinary publicans and, for some types of beer, publican-brewers were tied to some kind of commercial brewer. The tie became more important as the century progressed and it was by means of loans and mortgages that the big brewers came to acquire the exclusive right to deal at certain outlets. The tie was thus in part a result of the characteristics of the trade but its strength lay fundamentally in the licensing system. The sale of alcohol has been, broadly speaking, under the control of the licensing justices for some centuries. At times the number of licences has been severely restricted, as in the period 1780 to 1800. The more stringent licensing justices became in granting licences, the more valuable an exclusive dealing arrangement with an existing licensee became. The advantages of the tie were increased by the restriction of freedom of entry. In the period 1830 to 1869 there was 'free trade in beer', and the number of beer licences was unrestricted. The tie remained important; probably over half the houses were tied to brewers in 1830, and a not significantly lower proportion in 1869, when restrictive licensing was reintroduced. The tie from 1830 to 1869 was accompanied, however, by freedom of entry of new firms, and a number of existing brewers date from that period. The restriction of this freedom of entry gave the tie its contemporary importance, dating from the period after 1870, to which we now turn.”
"Effects of Mergers" edited by P. Lesley Cook, article written by J. E. Vaizey, 1958, page 401.

Though it’s significant that the author says “for some types of beer”. London Porter brewers didn’t usually tie pubs for Ales. Probably because before 1830, most didn’t brew any. That changed after there was a surge in the popularity of Ale after the 1830 Beer Act.

From what he’s saying, there probably would have been fewer brewery companies founded in the middle of the 19th century, had the Beer Act not been in effect.

In the last few decades of the 19th century, several factors combined to make tied houses increasingly important to brewers.

“The importance of the tie increased as the population rose and the number of licences was reduced, a reduction reinforced by the movement of people from abundantly licensed town centres to suburbs where few licences were given. The licensing system reinforced the natural imperfection of the retail market which arose both from the spatial competition between public houses on different sites and from consumer loyalty. Loyalty seems to rest mainly on affection for the publican rather than on a positive preference for the products he sells.”
"Effects of Mergers" edited by P. Lesley Cook, article written by J. E. Vaizey, 1958, page 401.

Customers’ loyalty to the landlord rather than the brewery would explain why brewers were so keen on attracting and keeping good tenants.

As an ever increasing proportion of pubs were tied, it became very difficult for breweries to expand in an organic way. There was only really one option left:

“The tied-house system, therefore, has been extensive since the earliest days of commercial brewing and as commercial brewing expanded so the importance of the tie increased. While there were numbers of free houses available the commercial breweries could expand by selling more at wholesale, attracting more trade to their houses and by obtaining more tied houses. As the number of these dwindled after 1869 a competitive rush arose for the remainder. Between 1886 and 1900 the proportion of tied houses rose by one-third from about 70 per cent to more than 90 per cent. When the supply of free houses had practically gone, the main means of expanding sales for most firms was by merger and acquisition of other firms.”
"Effects of Mergers" edited by P. Lesley Cook, article written by J. E. Vaizey, 1958, pages 401 - 402.

I think 90% tied is the high water mark. That short period 1886 to 1900 when brewers were trying to mop up the last available outlets saw pub prices rise to silly levels. Once virtually all pubs were tied, buying rivals and their tied estate was the only route to expansion.

Saturday 24 October 2015

1950 – a mixed year for Hammonds

British brewing entered the 1950’s with a good deal of trepidation. The signs weren’t good. Beer sales were falling and costs were rising. Maintaining profits wasn’t easy.

Hammonds seem to have coped well, despite the tricky conditions:

Dividend maintained in difficult year

The 61st ordinary general meeting was held Monday, January 16, the Empress Hotel, Bradford, Mr. H. L. Bradfer-Lawrence, Chairman and Managing Director, presiding.

Group trading profits for the year ended September 30 declined by £46,000 to £558,000, but the net profit of £234,033 left good cover for the distribution of an unchanged dividend of 15 per cent. and a bonus of 5 per cent. The group balance sheet covering figure of £6,846,000 disclosed reserves amounting to £1,738,000 and net working capital £474,000.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 January 1951, page 5.

A 20% dividend sounds pretty good to me. That they could still pay that out despite a fall in profits must have been reassuring to shareholders. From what we’ve already learned, the family owners were happy to let Bradfer-Lawrence run the company as he generated a nice income for them.

The reserves and working capital look pretty healthy. I wonder if the reserves declined as Hammonds embarked on their takeover spree in the following years? The money to finance them had to come from somewhere.

Bradfer-Lawrence had a somewhat dewy-eyed view of the tied house system, and seemed to consider it a natural development.

“As I have said, the present tied house system has been evolved over 200 years of effort. It Is true the greatest fillip was given In the last 100 years. On the other hand, for many of the first 100 years it was an unconscious development which had to stand the trials and errors which always go hand in hand with development. The improvement achieved between the wars is the mark of success so noticeably attained and which was possible in no other way. Out of the "tied house system" has grown, however unconsciously, the Co-operative movement, and still later the multiple stores development. Between the first and the last there is little or no difference in distributive methods whatsoever.

All the national brewers except one have tied houses. Between them they own some 12 per cent, the total number and command about the same percentage of the total trade. The point has almost been reached when any further considerable amalgamation or absorption from the capacity point of view must a very gradual process from the physical point of view.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 January 1951, page 5.

Who were these national brewers? Guinness, for sure (they were the publess one). Bass and Whitbread, probably. Maybe some of the other large London brewers. I’m surprised by how large a percentage of pubs national brewers owned. Though I suppose it depends on how many brewers were considered “national”.

I know exactly which brewers were national in 1974. And by then they owned more than half of Britain’s pubs:

Tied House ownership in 1974
Brewery No.Tied houses % of total
Courage 5,921 8.18%
Grand Metropolitan 5,946 8.21%
Scottish & Newcastle 1,678 2.32%
Allied 7,665 10.59%
Bass 9,256 12.78%
Whitbread 7,865 10.86%
Total Big 6 38,331 52.94%
Other brewers 13,800 19.06%
All brewers 52,131 72.00%
Free houses 20,273 28.00%
Total Full on-licences 72,404
Monopolies and Mergers Commission

It’s strange to think that Bass used to own 1 in 8 pubs. Or is it scary?

Comparing tied houses to the Co-operative movement is just  . . . weird. Other than both being examples of organisations running multiple retail outlets, I can’t see the connection.

Now something about bottled beer. Which seems to have been the only chink of daylight for beleaguered brewers.

More bottled beer sold
Trading conditions during the year have been somewhat patchy although over the whole of your combine we have reason to feel satisfied. Cask barrelage output, in spite of a substantial decline experienced by one important subsidiary, is very little below that for the previous year, end the percentile fall is much less than the national figure. There has been, however, a welcome increase in bottled beer sales; whilst wines and spirits sales have increased considerably.

The general trend from draught beer to bottled beer is in an upward direction, but still very slow. In 1939 the respective figures were for 75% draught and 25% for bottled beer sales. Today, after 12 years including 6 years of war, the figures are 70% and 30% respectively.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 January 1951, page 5.

I’d be interested to know what the draught/bottled split was in 1945. Because the proportion of bottled beer produced fell during the war, for a variety of causes. But mostly because making it used more resources than draught beer. 1939 to 1950 isn’t a great comparison for that reason.

One reason that the percentage dividend seemed so high was that the company’s assets were undervalued:

“A dividend of 15 per cent, and a bonus of 5 per cent. on the Ordinary capital may at first seem high. It must however be remembered that the fixed assets have in most cases remained at the figure at which they were acquired (in some cases as long as 60 years ago). Whereas annual figures the accounts reflect from year to year the steady (in wartime rapid) depreciation in the value of money. If the fixed assets, which form such a great part of the balance sheet total, were revalued at current prices they would reveal substantial hidden values bringing the capital employed into true perspective with the greatly increased annual operating costs and so properly reducing the interest rate yield to shareholders to a much lower percentage. This would accord more with the present fractional value the pound (as compared with 60 years ago, when most of such fixed assets were last valued).”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 January 1951, page 5.

Using 60-year-old valuations seems totally crazy. Why hadn’t they revalued their assets?

Finally this little paragraph, which doesn’t quite mean what you might think:

“During the year, pensions schemes (cum life assurance) for staff and working directors have been entered into with the Guardian Assurance Company which will amplify and/or incorporate similar and more limited schemes already in operation in certain subsidiaries.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 16 January 1951, page 5.

By “staff” they don’t mean all employees, just salaried ones. That is, those employees paid monthly rather than weekly. Basically those with office jobs and the like. During the 1950’s employers started to use pension schemes as a way of retaining staff during a time of full employment.

Friday 23 October 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1946 Fullers PA

I thought I’d go for a full-on austerity Bitter. And what better beer than Fullers PA. Because it demonstrates nicely the arc of Pale Ales.

Let’s go back in time a little. To 1887. When Fullers PA was still called IPA. Then it was the strongest of Fullers Pale Ales at 1060º. They brewed four Pale Ales is in all, with quite small differences in gravity between them, just 10 points between the strongest and weakest. A bit like some cask breweries today, it looks.

By the 1950’s, PA and X Ale were the only Fullers beers still around that had been brewed in the 19th century. But PA paid a price for its longevity. Its gravity was greatly reduced. As its gravity dropped, it gradually squeezed out all the Pale Ales below it.

But when gravity restrictions were relaxed in the early 1950’s, some breweries grasped the chance to brew a stronger Bitter again. Fullers was one. But instead of restoring some of PA’s strength they introduced a new Bitter, SPA (presumably standing for “Special Pale Ale”). A beer whose name was later changed to something more familiar: London Pride.

PA had been downgraded from top dog to second fiddle. When An even stronger Bitter, ESB, was introduced, poor old PA was down to third in the pecking order.

Here are the 19th-century Pale Ales:

Fullers Pale Ales in 1887 - 1888
Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation hops lb/brl
IPA 1059.6 1018.0 5.50 69.77% 3.28
XK 1057.1 1016.1 5.42 71.84% 2.84
AK 1053.5 1014.7 5.13 72.54% 2.66
AKK 1049.9 1014.7 4.65 70.56% 2.53
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery,

And the 1950’s ones.

Fullers Pale Ales in 1959
Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation hops lb/brl
LP 1043.2 1011.6 4.17 73.06% 1.10
PA 1032.2 1008.9 3.09 72.48% 0.82
Fullers brewing records held at the brewery,

You’ve probably already noticed the simplicity of post-war recipes. This is no exception. Just pale malt, sugar and flaked barley. In normal times the latter would have been replaced by flaked maize. But that was unavailable during the war. And in a wartime attempt to save some of the energy used in malting, brewers had been ordered to use flaked barley. It turns up in pretty much every recipe in this period. Even those of brewers like Whitbread who used no adjuncts pre-war.

That’s about all I have to say. So here’s the recipe:

1946 Fullers PA
pale malt 6.00 lb 77.42%
flaked barley 1.25 lb 16.13%
no. 2 sugar 0.25 lb 3.23%
glucose 0.25 lb 3.23%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 min 0.75 oz
OG 1034.6
FG 1010.8
ABV 3.15
Apparent attenuation 68.79%
IBU 32
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale