Thursday, 2 August 2018

The Consumption of beer in 1891

Some more numbers, you lucky devils.

As I've already told you, the UK brewing industry was booming in the 1890s. Both production and consumption were up. Things were looking good for the future. At least for the moment. Brewers would later look back on these years fondly.

"The Consumption of beer
THE regular quarterly Excise statistics were published last week, and they, together with those for the previous three quarters we noticed in these columns last year, complete the returns for the year 1891, so we are thus enabled to compare the output of beer of last year with that of 1890 and 1889. It is again our pleasing duty to chronicle a very satisfactory increase in the production of beer, and also in the quantity retained for home consumption. In each quarter of last year the total production of beer was far in excess of that of any of the corresponding quarters of the previous year, so that the increase during 1891 has been regular and intermittent. The total production of beer in 1891 was 32,236,970 barrels, which is 389,396 barrels in excess of 1890, and 1,834,672 barrels in excess of 1889. A certain portion of the total production was exported on drawback, and by deducting this we arrive at the actual quantity retained for home consumption. In this way we find that in 1891 31,667,268 barrels paid duty in the United Kingdom for home consumption, which is 418,470 barrels in excess of 1890, and 1,843,495 barrels in excess of 1889. In order that these figures may be clearly and readily understood we have compiled the following tables, which respectively show the total production, export, and home consumption of beer in each quarter of last year, and side by side will be found the figures for the corresponding periods of 1889 and 1890 for comparison ; but when comparing these figures it must be borne in mind that from April 16, 1889, the duty on beer by relation to worts is charged on a specific gravity of 1.058, instead of 1.057 degrees to the barrels, so that the increases of the first quarter and part of the second of 1890 and 1891 over 1889 are in reality slightly less than they appear from the following figures:—


1889 1890 1891
Quarter ending Barrels. Barrels. Barrels.
March 31 7,167,071 7,633,019 7,724,711
June 30 7,268,465 7,680,891 7,706,226
September 30 7,905,388 8,227,469 8,429,146
December 31 8,061,374 8,306,195 8,376,887
Total for Year 30,402,298 31,847,574 32,236,970


1889 1890 1891
Quarter ending Barrels. Barrels. Barrels.
March 31 143,523 165,424 154,111
June 30 151,811 166,655 169,226
September 30 124,687 118,777 121,539
December 31 158,504 147,920 124,826
Total for Year 578,525 598,776 569,702


1889 1890 1891
Quarter ending Barrels. Barrels. Barrels.
March 31 7,023,548 7,467,595 7,570,600
June 30 7,116,654 7,514,236 7,547,000
September 30 7,780,701 8,108,692 8,308,607
December 31 7,902,870 8,158,275 8,242,061
Total for Year 29,823,773 31,248,798 31,667,268

The results, it will be observed, are satisfactory, and we congratulate the brewing trade on their having increased the well-chosen appreciation of the British public for the national beverage. In looking further into the figures in the returns, we notice that whilst England and Ireland have increased their output of beer, Scotland hardly reached last year the quantity made in 1890; but, on the other hand, Scotland exported more beer last year than it did in either 1890 or 1889, whilst both England and Ireland show decreases in this respect.

The quantity of sugar used in brewing has again increased, and last year amounted to 102,276 tons, against 99,738 tons and 93,294 tons in 1890 and 1891 respectively. The quantity used last year is equivalent to 511,380 quarters of malt. England alone shows an increase in the use of sugar for brewing; in Scotland and Ireland it would appear that this raw material is decreasing in favour."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1892", 1892, page 41.
 The only thing that wasn't shiowing growth were exports, which declined a little. Betwwen 1889 and 1891 both production and consumption increased by around 6%.. The good times continued until the end of the century:

UK beer production 1895 - 1901 (standard barrels)
Year production
1895 31,678,486
1896 33,826,354
1897 34,203,049
1898 35,632,629
1899 36,498,390
1900 37,091,123
1901 36,394,827
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 109.
Manchester Evening News - Thursday 28 November 1901, page 3.

That's an increase of 17% between 1895 and 1900. After that, things started to down hill. Increased taxation to pay for the Boer War and an increaseingly hostile licensing environment drove down consumption.

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