Thursday 30 November 2017

Less Beer

It seems that late in 1942 wasn’t the first time there had been a ban on Exports of Guinness to the UK. The matter had already occurred at the start of 1942.

First, there was a threat in January to reduce exports from the Republic of Ireland.

Cut in Irish Exports

The fact that beer and stout exports from Eire to Great Britain and Northern Ireland will in 1942 be cut by 25 per cent, by agreement with the British Ministry of Food, will not. the opinion of Leeds licensees, make much immediate difference to supplies in the district.

"Irish stout is already difficult enough obtain," said one Leeds licensee. "The effect this cut will chiefly be felt in that direction. Beer brewed in Eire is, I believe, mainly exported to Northern Ireland rather than to Great Britain. Proportionately, there will be some diminution our supplies. As regards stout, people will have to rely more on British-brewed stout, or do without."

Those in the trade expect that there will be a gradually Increasing shortage of beer.

Many public houses in the West Riding are remaining closed on one or more afternoons in the week, and licensees adopt various measures to conserve their stock. Publicans are reluctant to supply customers with bottled beer to be consumed off the premises.

It is in certain types of bottled beer only that the five per cent. weakening of the gravity, recently announced, has been imposed. Ordinary draught bitter and mild are unaffected.

Most acute shortage of all is of wines and especially of spirits. It is almost impossible to buy whole bottle of whisky in a public house.”
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 05 January 1942, page 4.

If you look back at the numbers, you’ll see that exports from Ireland actually increased by 18% in 1942.

I’m sure that Leeds licensee is wrong. The Guinness sold in Leeds in the 1970’s and 1980’s all came from Dublin. Just looking at the numbers, it’s obvious that  it couldn’t all be going to the North.

Only about 1.3 million people were living in Northern Ireland in 1942, about a third of the number living in the Republic of Ireland. Yet the Irish exported around 1 million bulk barrels to the UK in 1942 while only consuming a little under 700,000 barrels themselves. They’d have need to drink four times as much in the North as in the Republic to get through that much beer. That doesn’t sound very likely to me.

Who on earth would buy w whole bottle of whisky in a pub? It would be interesting to see what the reaction would be if you asked for a whole bottle of spirits in a pub  today?

Wednesday 29 November 2017

More on Ireland in wartime

In case you missed it, here's a link I was passed in a comment:

It gives more background to the haggling between the UK and Ireland over Guinness.

I used to think I was well informed on the events of WW II. I now realise there are whole layers of stuff I was unaware of.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1942 Shepherd Neame BA

A couple of years further into the war and there have been some changes at Shepherd Neame. PA is gone and a new beer, BA, has appeared.

It looks like BA was a replacement for PA, as it seems to be playing the role of Best Bitter. BB, their Ordinary Bitter, as we’ll see later, was even weaker than this. It’s a scene that replayed in brew houses across Britain. Strong Bitters are either discontinued or emasculated.

The biggest change in grists is the appearance of flaked barley. Which I think probably wasn’t voluntary. Flaked maize had been common before the war and the government got brewers to move over to flaked barley instead. It took less energy to produce than malted barley was their thinking.

As ever, I only know for sure that the hops were English. And were from the seasons 1939, 1940, 1941 and 1942 (this beer was brewed in November 1942). Which is why I’ve knocked down the hop quantity.

It’s very lightly hopped for a Pale Ale of any kind. I really don’t get this. The brewery is in hops heartland. It’s odd how few they used.

1942 Shepherd Neame BA
pale malt 7.50 lb 90.25%
flaked barley 0.75 lb 9.03%
malt extract 0.06 lb 0.72%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1035
FG 1007
ABV 3.70
Apparent attenuation 80.00%
IBU 18
SRM 3.5
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Tuesday 28 November 2017

Irish beer exports 1937 - 1949

A very high percentage of Irish beer was exported. Before the war over half of Irish beer was exported, the majority of it going to the UK. After falling in the early years of the war from around 1 million standard barrels to around 750,000 barrels in the early war years, exports almost reached their 1938 level in 1942. After that, they fell off again, dropping to below half a million barrels in 1944.

Irish beer statistics 1937 - 1949
Year Production std. barrels Production bulk barrels Imports std. barrels Exports std. barrels Imports bulk barrels Exports bulk barrels average OG
1937 1,800,322 1,908,761 61,344 1,219,923 65,033 1,293,288 1051.9
1938 1,652,844 1,755,761 32,669 1,066,094 34,701 1,132,390 1051.8
1939 1,368,661 1,472,678 42,756 770,562 46,001 829,048 1051.1
1940 1,401,188 1,494,036 42,459 789,864 45,274 842,236 1051.6
1941 1,335,171 1,465,569 38,616 767,209 42,384 842,077 1050.1
1942 1,451,782 1,750,140 19,926 905,165 24,023 1,091,277 1045.6
1943 1,293,862 1,631,009 15,282 691,275 19,264 871,422 1043.6
1944 1,242,754 1,534,040 11,777 483,031 14,404 590,765 1045
1945 1,458,419 1,798,450 2,405 661,674 2,966 815,966 1044.6
1946 1,665,815 2,063,093 250 802,122 310 993,396 1044.4
1947 1,480,769 1,952,583 734 676,485 968 892,032 1041.7
1948 1,490,218 1,988,580 3,427 700,291 4,541 927,873 1041.5
1949 1,608,606 2,119,583 11,847 759,846 15,603 1,000,755 1041.8
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p.107-110.
Import and Export bulk barrels calculated from standard barrels and average OG.

This fall meant that in 1944 and 1945 more than 50% of Irish beer was consumed domestically. The figures for Irish domestic beer consumption got me thinking. Especially after reading recently about the inner Irish border. These figures are derived from the ones in the other table.

Irish domestic beer consumption 1937 - 1949
Year std. barrels bulk barrels
1937 641,743 680,506
1938 619,419 658,071
1939 640,855 689,632
1940 653,783 697,074
1941 606,578 665,876
1942 566,543 682,886
1943 617,869 778,852
1944 771,500 957,679
1945 799,150 985,450
1946 863,943 1,070,007
1947 805,018 1,061,518
1948 793,354 1,065,248
1949 860,607 1,134,431

I’m concentrating on the bulk barrels figure, because that’s how much people were actually drinking. After pootling along a little under 700,000 barrels a year, it suddenly jumps up to almost 1 million barrels in 1945. That’s an increase of almost 50% on the pre-war level. Did the Irish really suddenly start drinking that much more in the middle of the war?

The border between the two parts of Ireland is notoriously difficult to control. It’s fairly random, never having been intended to be an international border and has dozens of tiny roads that cross it. Was that beer really being drunk in the South, or was some being smuggled into Northern Ireland?

Monday 27 November 2017

UK exports to Europe 1965 - 1974

I'm not quite yet done with squeezing the last few drops of fun from this muddy mop of numbers.

Taking a closer look at the export figures has been very informative. Especially seeing the longterm changes. There's been a huge shift in the destinations of UK beer exports. It's particularly obvious in this set.

In the late 1960's, there was as much beer going to tiny Cyprus and Gibraltar combined than was going to Germany. If you see the figues for outside Europe, the trend is even more obvious: Almost all the exports were going to former of current British territories. Th only exception to this is Belgium.

It's clear that British brewers were still relying on colonial markets in the 1960's. But that was going to change. As we've already seen, there's been a big increase in exports to North America. In 1965 the US was only importing 5,000-odd barrels a year from the UK. By the mid-1990's that was up to half a million barrels, and in 2000 it hit a million barrels, though it has fallen back a little since then.

You can really call this perion the end of empire. Except for Belgium.

Note that exports to Ireland were just a tiny fraction of what they are now. More than 800,000 barrels were exported to Ireland in 2016. Will UK brewers be returning to their old export markets in the Far East and the West Indies?  We'll see. Not so sure that their chances are very good.

UK exports to Europe 1965 - 1974 (thousands of barrels)
Destination 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974
Belgium & Luxembourg 215.9 189.4 181.0 161.1 152.1 144.7 154.2 170.1 186.7 194.4
Cyprus 11.0 11.1 10.5 10.1 11.4 10.9 8.7 7.6 6.6 7.8
Denmark 0.8 0.6 2.4 1.0 1.4 0.8
France 6.0 5.6 3.0 2.8 4.0 2.6 4.1 4.9 5.3 8.8
Germany 10.3 10.3 14.3 21.3 32.3 29.7 36.6 22.9 20.2 26.4
Greece 0.7 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Ireland 25.4 30.0 12.7 12.2 14.6 10.4 10.2 14.4 15.1 14.8
Italy 1.9 1.9 0.5 1.4 1.1 1.1 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.5
Netherlands 5.9 7.0 9.4 29.3 30.6 26.9
Spain 0.6 1.2 0.9 1.0 1.2 1.6
Sweden 69.4 15.4 5.8 3.3 2.3 1.9
Gibraltar 8.7 7.6 9.3 10.8 12.8 12.9 13.1 11.7 10.9 10.3
Norway 0.01 0.6 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.6 1.0 0.8 1.3 1.3
Switzerland 1.0 2.0 1.7 1.0 1.0 1.1
Total 279.9 256.6 231.6 220.2 306.7 239.2 249.9 270.0 284.8 299.0
“1971 Brewers' Almanack”, pages 53-54.
Statistical Handbook 1978, page 13.

Sunday 26 November 2017

Yule Logs!!!!

It's that time of year again. When I release my Christmas book.

It's the same format as every year: no words, just photos of brewing records. I can'y say that it's ever been a big seller. I'm not really sure why I bother. Other than that it's a tradition now.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Feel free to prove me wrong by buying a copy:

Or to buy one of my other books, for example the award-winning Scotland! Vol. II:

Guinness Supplies

It’s getting towards the end of November and still there are no supplies of Guinness leaving the  Republic of Ireland.

It sounds like some in the Irish parliament were getting restless.

In the Eire Chamber of Deputies to-day, the Minister for Supplies will be asked when he will permit the resumption of supplies of stout and beer to Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 23 November 1943, page 3.

It wasn’t just Northern Ireland that was having to do without Guinness. Although Guinness had a brewery in London, it didn’t supply the whole of the mainland UK. The north of England and Scotland got their Guinness from Dublin. It was still like that in the 1970s and 1980s.

The reply of the Irish Minister for Supplies reveals what this was all really about:

Irish Stout and Beer: Mr. Lemass, Minister for Supplies, said in the Dail yesterday that the export of stout and ale to Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be resumed as soon as the cereal position permits.”
Birmingham Daily Post - Wednesday 24 November 1943, page 4.

Namely, the Irish government wanted more grain from the UK and were using Guinness as a bargaining chip. As soon as the UK government gave in, Guinness began to flow across the border once again. Supplies had been interrupted for about a month.

Supplies for Ulster Next Week
THE ban on the export of beer and stout from Eire to Northern Ireland is to be lifted from Monday next by the renewal of the export licence. The embargo was enforced a month ago.

Messrs. Guinness have intimated that the quota to publicans will be increased from 60 to 75 per cent. of the basic supply for the period, July to September, 1941.

While porter may sold in most public-houses in Belfast on Monday or Tuesday, it is expected that bottled stout will not be available until the end of the week.

The suspension of supplies last month meant the dismissal of about 300 barmen in Northern Ireland.

The Eire Minister of Agriculture stated in Dublin last night that the export of beer and stout was to be resumed under licence, since it had been found possible to arrange for the importation of barley.”
Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 02 December 1943, page 3.

You can see that publicans couldn’t get as much Guinness as they wanted, but were rationed to a proportion of what they had bought in 1941. Those 300 barmen must have been happy to get their jobs back.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Let's Brew - 1943 Shepherd Neame SXX

I’m still confused over exactly what SXX is. But I’m tending to go for Strong Ale rather than pale Ale.

Why? Because of the black malt present in this grist, which leaves SXX with a light brown colour, considerably darker than you’d expect from a Pale Ale. Unless they added the black malt to just one of the coppers and did something clever with the gyling. It was parti-gyled with BB, by the way. Another beer whose style I’m struggling to identify.

The drop in gravity has been even greater than for the rest of the range, down from 1055º to 1042º. Though an increase in attenuation means that the ABV hasn’t fallen quite equivalently, just from 5.2% to 4.2%. Given the wateriness of the rest of their range at this point, I think SXX would have been my choice down the pub.

The flaked barley was presumably dictated by government policy. Shepherd Neame weren’t adjunct users, when left with the choice.

The hops are guesses again. Shuffle them around as you please.

1943 Shepherd Neame SXX
pale malt 8.25 lb 83.42%
black malt 0.33 lb 3.34%
flaked barley 1.25 lb 12.64%
malt extract 0.06 lb 0.61%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1042
FG 1010
ABV 4.23
Apparent attenuation 76.19%
IBU 20
SRM 15
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Friday 24 November 2017

Eire’s beer export ban

The position of the Republic of Ireland was a weird one. It was neutral but, due to its proximity to the UK, couldn’t avoid the impact of the war.

On the one hand, international maritime trade was severely, making it hard to import raw materials or food. On the other, the UK was easily Ireland’s biggest trading partner. Exports to the UK were hugely important for the country’s finances. There’s one pretty obvious Irish export to Britain: Guinness.

While selling Guinness to the UK might have been important financially, it couldn’t come at the expense of Ireland starving. Or going thirsty. A shortage of grain at the end of 1943 prompted the Irish government to ban all beer exports:

Dublin-brewed stout and porter will shortly be unobtainable in Northern Ireland, Scotland  and the North of England  Eire, faced with the need for self-sufficiency in wheat production, will have only enough barley from the present crop for brewing for home consumption, and exports have been banned.”
The Scotsman - Saturday 30 October 1943, page 6. 

While the drying up of Guinness would be annoying in England and Scotland, it was a far more serious matter in Northern Ireland, which was far more dependent on supplies from Dublin. So serious, that it threatened to close most of the region’s pubs.

Ulster Public-Houses May Close
The ban on the export of Guinness's stout from Eire may result in the closing of most of the public-houses in Northern Ireland, which have already suffered badly from the shortage of whisky and wines.

Mr. M. O'Kane, secretary of the Licensed Vintners' Association, said on Saturday that the small traders, who constituted 50 per cent, or more of the trade, would be hit particularly hard, and the posts of a large number of barmen would be placed in jeopardy.

Speaking of the possibility of increased supplies of beer coming from England, he pointed out that most Irishmen disliked beer, or, at least, preferred Guinness’s porter.

The Ministry of Commerce has denied that it has asked the Ministry of Food to release cereals for export to Eire so that more porter can be produced.”
Belfast News-Letter - Monday 01 November 1943, page 5.

Most Irishmen dislike beer? What an odd thing to say. He really means that they preferred Beer to Ale. Because as we all know, Porter and Stout are Beers.

I think the last paragraph explains what was really going on here. The Irish government wanted to get more grain from the UK. To pressurise the British, they threatened to cut off beer supplies, which they knew would cause unrest in Northern Ireland. It certainly got the workers riled up.

Workers want Guinness
FOLLOWING the ban the export of stout and porter from Eire, Belfast workers have appealed to their unions to urge the Government take action to ease the situation. They contend that they have to shoulder heavier burden than workers in England, who still have ample supplies of beer.

Ulster licensees, who meet to-day discuss the situation, visualise a "dry" Ulster in which most public-houses will have to close.

As a result of the ban 220 temporary Guinness employees have been paid off in Dublin.”
Northern Whig - Monday 01 November 1943, page 3.

Irish pressure was clearly starting to have at effect:

M.P. Suggests Manufacture in Ulster
In the Northern Ireland House of Commons yesterday Mr. Henderson (Ind., Shankill) referred again to the ban on the export Guinness's stout and beer from Eire. He asked the Prime Minister if it would not be possible to secure imports from Great Britain or to make an effort to arrange for manufacture in Northern Ireland so that workers could not held to ransom "every time it suits certain people.” Many small publicans would have to close if something was not done.

Mr. Fred Thompson (U., Ballynafeigh) pointed out that many small traders - grocers, hardware merchants, and drapers - had been compelled to close their shops because they could not get supplies of goods.

Sir Basil Brooke, the Prime Minister, replied that he was not in a position to say whether anything could be done in regard to Guinness supplies, but immediately he was in a position to say anything he would do so.”
Belfast News-Letter - Wednesday 10 November 1943, page 5.

Would this political pressure have an effect? We’ll see.

Thursday 23 November 2017

Random Dutch beers (part 53)

Time to finally drink some of those Bokbiers cluttering up my living room floor.

The people behind this Bok, are based close to here. Not sure where it's brewed, mind.

Two Chefs Brewing Billy Biscuit, 7.2% ABV, 46 EBC, 38 IBU)
A fairly pale red--brown, smells like caramel. bittersweet in the gob. Quite malty. Bitter at the end. Sorry for the brevity. At that beer competition in Chile we had to write loads. I'm all worded out when it comes to describing beer.

Let's see if Andrew can do any better.

"Do you want to try my beer, Andrew?"

"Let me finish this email first."

It's something to do with his course. The university seems very poorly organised.

"It isn't bad. It isn't something you'd want to drink pint after pint, but it's OK."

Praise indeed. Nice reference to session drinking of pints. I've raised him well.

"Do you want to try my beer, Dolores?"

"I'm busy. . . . . I'll try it later."

After Dolores has finished cooking Andrew's tea. Andrew, the 21-year-old who's supposedly moved out. She's a mug when it comes to the kids.

"Mm, it's OK-ish, I suppose."

It is a bit medicinally bitter, now I come to think about it.

Alexei has just come in.

"I've got dogshit on my shoe, Mama."


I bought a pie in Amstelveen this afternoon. From a place that sells these little coconut things. Where suddenly a heated display of pies has appeared. South African themed. I don't care. They look like pies. I went for steak. Seemed a safe bet.

"Dad, it's not bad." says Alexei.

Dolores: "The pastry is good and there's proper meat."

Andrew: "How much was it, Dad?"

"Four euros fifty"

Andrew and Dolores: "What!" Steak and pastry fly across the room as they gasp in horror

Dolores: "That wouldn't cost more than two quid in Britain."

Alexei: "About 1.75 in euros, then."

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1940 Shepherd Neame DS

As most other breweries of the time, Shepherd Neame brewed Stout. Two Stouts, in fact.

This is the stronger of the two. Not that it’s that strong, though it is about the same strength as a draught London Stout of the period. I’m pretty sure this was exclusively a bottled beer. Outside of London and Ireland there wasn’t a great deal of draught Stout.

The grist is pretty simple. There’s just one coloured malt, black malt. This was fairly typical of provincial English Stouts. In London they stuck with brown malt, but elsewhere it had mostly been dropped in the 19th century. The presence of oats – rolled in this case – tells me that it was sometimes marketed as Oatmeal Stout, which was popular at the time. It’s not a huge amount, but more than London brewers used. No more than 1% of their grist was oats.

The invert sugars are substitutes for proprietary sugars called CS and FC. The combination of No. 3 and No. 4 invert does at least get it to about the right colour.

The hops are a guess again. All I know for sure is that they were English, presumably from Kent. I’ve reduced the quantity because they were from the 1937, 1938 and 1939 seasons.

1940 Shepherd Neame DS
pale malt 5.75 lb 62.16%
black malt 1.00 lb 10.81%
oats 0.50 lb 5.41%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 8.11%
No. 4 invert sugar 1.25 lb 13.51%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1045
FG 1016
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 64.44%
IBU 43
SRM 25
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62.5º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Tuesday 21 November 2017

UK exports to the European Union 1975 - 1984

I'm enjoying this series so much, that I'm moving even further into the past.

And before you say anything, yes I know that not all of the countries I've listed were in the EU at the time. And that the EU didn't exist until 1993.

In 1975 the vast majority of British beer exports were headed for Belgium. at the time several British brewers, Whitbread, for example, had a considerable presence in Belgium. Whitbread even had a bottling store in Brussels.

But exports to Belgium suddenly fall off a cliff at the beginning og the 1980's and have never recovered. Why was that? Did some British brewers pull out of the Belgian market? Or were the beers being brewed locally? I believe production of things like Watney's Scotch Ale was moved to Belgium.

The only two other counties to which significant amounts of British beer weere being exported were Germany and France. A note at the bottom of the table reveals the probable destination of much of the beer bound for Germany:

"The figures do not include Ship's Stores for use on the exporting vessel, but stores for NAAFI and similar organisations abroad are included."
The NAAFI runs shops and bars for British servicemen. At this time there were still large numbers of British troops stationed in West Germany.

UK exports to the European Union 1975 - 1984 (thousands of barrels)
Destination 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Belgium & Luxembourg 226.2 212.9 179.1 182.0 193.8 166.4 130.9 92.6 85.3 87.3
Cyprus 2.0 3.4 3.2 1.7 1.6 1.0 0.3 1.2 2.6 7.0
Denmark 0.7 0.8 0.9 0.7 0.8 3.4 0.6 0.4 0.3 0.2
France 8.0 9.8 13.9 11.4 14.2 14.6 11.9 12.9 11.9 9
W. Germany 23.9 25.3 27.5 30.9 25.1 19.2 23.5 24.5 22.3 22.3
Greece 0.3 1.6 1.1 0.8 0.5 0.1 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.3
Ireland 6.5 9.8 14.8 10.9 9.8 19.6 13.2 28.7 42 68
Italy 4.2 5.2 8.1 10.0 12.8 16.3 25.0 23.6 43.1 50.5
Netherlands 30.0 24.8 29.0 30.3 26.0 24.5 15.4 12.3 9.9 8.4
Portugal 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.7 0.4
Spain 2.1 2.2 3.7 2.8 4.6 2.5 6.6 2.3 4 1.7
Sweden 1.7 1.5 1.9 1.6 2.0 2.0 0.9 4.7 3.4 2.2
Total 305.6 297.4 283.4 283.2 291.3 269.9 228.8 204.0 226.0 257.3
Statistical Handbook 1978, page 13.
Statistical Handbook 1985, page 10.
Statistical Handbook 1988, page 9.