Friday, 21 September 2018

The Liquor Trade of Australasia

I found this fascinating overview if booze in Australasia.

Kicking off with some general stuff.

THE Australian Trading World gives the following summary of the
resent position of the beer, wine, and spirit trade of Australasia:—

Of the various sections of business between Great Britain and her Australian Colonies, one of the most important is that which comes under the above designation. Alcoholic liquors are, in most countries, made to bear a greater relative amount of taxation than other commodities, and the duties placed upon these goods in Australia and New Zealand are extremely heavy. The trade, however, make no serious complaint on this score, and it would seem that the volume of business has not been seriously affected by the duties levied. The trade is a very large and important one, and for those interested in it a few general remarks may be of some value. In the first place we may consider the population to be supplied. This is in round figures 3,200,000 people, say about three-fourths of the population of the metropolis; but it will be readily admitted, in the first placethat the population of the Colonies is more adult in its character than that of London and its immediate suburbs. It will further be allowed that the number of males in the colonial population is larger; whilst the third consideration is that the average prosperity of people in the colonies is certainly greater than the condition of the population of greater London. These circumstances being considered, we think that we may obtain a general view of the consumptive power of our southern colonies by saying, roundly, that the liquor trade there is of equal volume to that of metropolitan London. We think that this estimate gives an appreciative view of the case that is useful to bear in mind."
"The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 39.
I assume that 3.2 million is both Australia and New Zealand combined. Well done antipodeans, is what I say, matching London for boozing. Very high tax on beer? Drinkers in the UK would get used to that 30 or so years later.
"The liquor trade of Australasia may be looked at in its three sections — beer, wine, and spirits. Now, first as regards beer, this liquor has a very large consumption, and it is being gradually supplied, so far as ordinary draught liquor is concerned, by colonial brewmgs. But excepting from one or two breweries in New Zealand, no ale or stout has been produced that will bear any comparison in point of quality to the best Burton and Scotch ales or to Dublin or London stouts. It is no discredit to colonial brewers to state this fact; they have not got water of that peculiar quality that will permit the manufacture of beers equal to those made in Britain, nor, we may add, have they a climate which, with all its beauties for other purposes, will compare with this for the business of brewing. Some months ago we commented on the purity of British export beers, as evidenced by a very severe critical examination, made at the instance of the New South Wales Government. But let colonial brewings go on increasing, there will always be a large business in the imported article for the best of the trade. Bass s India pale ale, Robert Younger’s Edinburgh ale, “Boar’s Head" brand, James Aitken & Co.’s Falkirk ale, Guinness’s Dublin stout (that bottled under the “Boar’s Head" brand holds a premier position), Whitbread's London stout, and beers of this class in hogshead, will always command a market, whilst the trade in bottled beers is hardly interfered with at all by the colonial brewings. The bottled beer trade is a very heavy one, and its volume is likely to increase rather than to diminish. Malt liquor will always be the standard drink of the Anglo-Saxon until some constitutional infirmity or luxurious fashion puts him on to wine or spirits."
 "The Brewers' Guardian 1889", 1889, page 39.
Interesting that there were breweries producing good beer in New Zealand bit not Australia. Could it have been the water? Or the climate?

I know from a later Australian price lists of imported UK beer that Burton Pale Ale, Scotch and Pale Ales from Scotland and Dublin and London Stouts were, indeed, the most popular UK beers. The top-class stuff, basically.

The expectation that those classy British beers would continue to be imported turned out to be false. After Confederation in 1901 Australia introduced large import duties on imported beer to encourage the local industry. British imports gradually dried up to a trickle.

As this table shows:

UK beer exports to Australia 1890 - 1920
1890 1900 1910 1920
147,014 96,785 90,416 18,176
Brewers' Almanack 1928, page 115.
Brewers' Journal 1921, page 24

1 comment:

cardassian said...

Interesting post here. Good t know us kiwis were brewing good beer back then. Shame it went downhill post ww1. Was watching an interesting documentary on YouTube about the history of beer in New Zealand. Seems the quality was affected by the war and the temperance movement.