Sunday 28 February 2021

Retail prices

Of Flower's beers in 1949. Pretty random, I know. Just something that ran out in front of my car and I couldn't help knocking down. 

Does it teach us anything? Yes, it does. It may not interest you. Probably won't interest you, if I'm honest. For a few lone weirdoes like me, it'll be fascinating.

Here are the prices:

What does this say to me? For one, that the differential in price between the public bar and the posher rooms was still 1d per pint. Exactly the same as it had been just after WW I, when a pint of Ordinary Mild was 5d per pint and Ordinary Bitter 7d. Meaning, as a percentage, the lounge bar markup was much lower in 1949.

Funnily enough, the difference in price between bottled and draught beer had also been 1d per pint before WW II. Making the reasonable assumption that the Brown Ale was bottled Mild, that's still the case here. It's a bit trickier with IPA, as the bottled version is clearly a different, stronger beer than the draught. It's far more likely that Light Bitter Beer was the same beer as draught IPA. The differential is slightly higher here, being 1.5d per pint.

I wish I knew what the hell Special Brew was. Based on the price, it must have been at least 1060º - incredibly strong for a draught beer in 1949.

Here a a few Flowers beers from a slightly later date:

Flowers beers 1951 - 1956
Year Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1951 Mild Ale Mild 1/3d pint draught 1030.7 1003.9 3.49 87.30% 120
1955 India Pale Ale IPA 1/2d half pint bottled 1045.9 1009.7 4.71 78.87% 25
1956 Light Ale Light Ale 10d half pint bottled 1030.1 1005.3 3.22 82.39% 17
1952 Stout Stout 11d half pint bottled 1044.1 1014.2 3.87 67.80% 300
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Friday 26 February 2021

Let's Brew - 1913 Boddington IP

Pick up an idea like a stray rugby ball and run with. That’s what I tend to do. And keep running even though I’ve run past the opposition try line and out of the ground. (Not what I dd with stray rugby balls in real life. Should the ball ever fall into my hands I’d immediately kick it away, before anyone could jump on me.)
A long-winded way of saying: I’m nowhere near finished with Boddington Bitter. In my chronology-busting fashion, I’m moving ever further into the past. This time jumping back past one of UK beer’s big extinction events, WW I.

Considering how cataclysmic an event that was, the 1913 version is disappointingly similar to that of 1922. The gravity is only 4º higher, making the fall across the war a mere 7.5%. About a third of the average gravity drop.

Other than the lack of flaked maize in 1913, the recipes are very similar. Consisting of just pale malt and an unspecified type of sugar. I’ve guessed No. 2 invert for the latter. The pale malt was half from UK barley and half from “foreign”.

The hopping rate is identical to 1922. Then why are the quantities in this recipe? Because of the age of the hops. Around a third were from the 1909 harvest, 17% from the most recent crop of 1912 and the remainder from 1911. Five of the six types of hops were English and one Californian.

1913 Boddington IP
pale malt 10.50 lb 91.30%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 8.70%
Cluster 150 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 150 mins 0.25 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.67 oz
OG 1052
FG 1015
ABV 4.89
Apparent attenuation 71.15%
IBU 32
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Dry neighbourhoods

Doing a customary very general sweep through the newspaper archives, I found in my dustpan this little gem:

"The Clayton Side
Mr. R Holden said some who had signed the petition against the public house resided in Seabridge-road and Myott-avenue, and they had a public house within a hundreds of their residence. There was a "fair number on the Clayton side who ought to have a say in the matter. As regarded shops, he thought that to-day many would vote in favour of them. The amendment was lost, seven voting in favour of it and 25 against."
Staffordshire Sentinel - Thursday 07 December 1944, page 1.

I was immediately intrigued by this short fragment. Where the hell was this? Why was there a petition against a pub?

The lucky residents of Seabridge Road and Myott Avenue didn't just have one pub within 100 yards, they had two. At least. There might have been more in 1944. Come to think of it, isn't this an odd topic to be wasting time on, knee-deep in WW II?

I'll spare you the whole article. It's pretty confusing and not very informative, despite being overly long. Cut short, residents of Westlands Estate, a posh-looking bit of Newcastle-under-Lyme complained to the council when someone wanted to build a pub. Pointing out they'd had a referendum - not sure exactly when, but at least 10 years previously - about whether to have shops or pubs. And voted against both. Not sure what law that could have been under. I though local vetoes were only allowed in Scotland.

Looking at a map, there still don't seem to be any pubs in what's quite a large area. It must be a real pain in the arse, if you live there. Though, if you voluntarily live there, you couldn't possibly care if there was a pub nearby. Is there still a ban on pubs in Westlands? Let me know if you have the answer.

I'm now wondering: How many other places in England were businesses banned? And when, if ever, did the practice end? No shops and no pubs - that's effectively dry. Or even just pubs not allowed, that's bad enough. I know it happened in Scotland. I think in Wales, too, but I'm not sure. (Someone better informed, please fill me in.)

Covenants on land sold for development forbidding pubs, I know that occurred. A big chunk of Leeds 6 originally was pub-less for that very reason. But I think as long ago as the 1930s that particular one had been dropped.

Let me know if you have any current or past examples. Not just restricted to England, or even the UK. 

A lot of questions and not many answers. Which is usually a sign that I'm standing on a precipice. About to dive off.

Thursday 25 February 2021

The post-war pub

While WW II was still raging, plans were already being made for post-war reconstruction.  Mostly, this was concerned with planning. For housing, industry and also pubs.

The following quotes come from the chairman's (Mr. Arthur Mitchell) report and Mitchell & Butler's annual general meeting. Much of it is spent discussing the future of pubs in peacetime. There's a reason the company would have a deep interest in this topic. M & B had been very active in the "improved public house" movement between the wars. Building many so-called "roadhouses" - large pubs usually located on main roads, often in a mock Tudor style.

This is an example:

A great fear of brewers was nationalisation of their industry. A policy which had been kicked around by the Labour party.

"Nationalisation is in the air. I have given this matter very careful consideration with regard our own trade. Through the courtesy the Home Secretary, to whom I am very grateful, I was allowed to visit Carlisle, together with members of my Board and others. I congratulate the State Management Districts Council on the efforts they have made under favourable conditions put that small part of England in order as far public houses are concerned, and want to say at once that the system appears to us to very well managed. At the same time justice to ourselves I must say I found nothing that we had not already accomplished, and in several cases very much improved upon with regard to construction of the houses, catering facilities and above all the amenities on offer to our customers. 

For this reason I am definitely opposed to nationalisation of the brewing trade. Private enterprise can give customers much better service in every way by the policy which we have pursued for a number of years."
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 09 December 1944, page 8.

Carlisle's pubs and breweries had been nationalised during WW I. It's relative success was of great concern to brewers, as it could have been used as a blueprint for the whole country. To their relief, nothing ever came of it. 

There had been a government report considering what should happen to pubs after the war.

"A most important happening this year for the Trade was the publication the Morris Committee's Report, or to give it its official title, the Report of the Committee on War Damaged Licensed Premises and Reconstruction. 

This Committee was appointed to consider how the provision of licensed houses in place of those damaged or destroyed by enemy action should planned with due regard to requirements and with proposals for redevelopment and reconstruction. 

The brewing trade as a whole warmly welcomed the Report, feeling that if the recommendations were implemented they would be the means of licences being redistributed simply and easily according as the needs arose in connection with new development or reconstruction. 

The Bill designed to give effect to its recommendations was recently introduced in the House by the Home Secretary and is called the Licensing Planning  (Temporary Provisions) Bill. This Bill appears to be an honest attempt to carry out the recommendations of the Morris report. I do not desire at this stage to attempt any detailed comment on it, but there are several points on which the language of the Bill is not so clear as we would wish, and I hope they may be satisfactorily cleared up before it becomes law."
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 09 December 1944, page 8.

What was it, then, in the report that the chairman didn't like? The first was to do with the Compensation Fund. This was financed by a levy on pubs and its purpose was to compensate owners when a licence was extinguished.

"The clause which effects this change is more equitable than one contained in the recent Town and Country Planning Act which allows, in certain circumstances, the Compensation Fund provided by the Trade itself, to be raided for the purpose of public improvement."

You can see why that would piss off a pub owner.

The other was about unwanted competition from "clubs and "bottle shops" which are not subject to the same supervision and control as public houses". This a recurring theme. Brewers hated clubs, viewing them as unfair competition. They weren't keen on off-licences, either. Unless they owned them themselves.

Finally, something on the nature of post-war pubs. 

"I have heard it said that customers of licensed houses liked the small, inconvenient, "hole and corner" places of the past. In my experience of the Licensed Trade, and having been in close touch with cur customers through the Company's managerial system of trading, I can honestly say this is ail "stuff and nonsense," as far as the younger generation is concerned. 

The Morris Report dealt fairly exhaustively with the size of public houses of the future, and finally recommended that in general the needs of the public would be better met by a reasonable number of moderate sized, well built, well equipped houses, than by a small number of establishments of excessive dimensions, though they recognised that there is also scope for some large premises catering especially for recreation and social functions."
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 09 December 1944, page 8. 

Not keen on small, cosy pubs then?

Based on my own personal knowledge of post-war pubs, medium-sized is what was decided on. I can't think of an example even half the size of the roadhouse above. The right decision, I believe. I'm guessing brewers had to turn in three or four licences to be permitted to build a big roadhouse.

M & B were unusual in mostly having managers run pubs rather than tenants. That's what he means by "managerial system".

A large percentage of post-war builds were what is usually referred to as estate pubs. Pubs located in new housing developments. These could be in newly-built districts, but also regenerated inner-city areas.

They're getting to be quite rare, with many converted to shops, or simply demolished.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1947 Shepherd Neame SS

Cause for celebration - this is the 501st recipe I've written for my upcoming book on beer in WW II. Hurrah!

Luckily, for my purposes of not boring the pants off you, there have been some changes to Shepherd Neame’s Single Stout. Still pathetically weak in terms of gravity, mind.

You may remember me mentioning that the presence of oats in the 1943 version had nothing to do with it being marketed as Oatmeal Stout. That’s not the case here. Brewed at a time when brewers didn’t have an obligation to use oats. In confirmation, there are post-war labels for Shepherd Neame Oatmeal Stout.

The rest of the grist is much the same as before. Though there’s a bit more sugar. Which remains CB (or CD) and JC. Not the slightest idea what either might be. My substitutions of No. 3 and No. 4 invert sugars are pure guesswork.

Three types of hops: unspecified English from the 1943 harvest, supplemented by ones from their own hop gardens Kent from 1945 and 1946. In addition, there was a hop concentrate called hopulon. Something which crops up quite a bit around the end of the war, being the only form of hops being imported for a while.

1947 Shepherd Neame SS
pale malt 3.25 lb 55.32%
black malt 0.50 lb 8.51%
oat malt 0.50 lb 8.51%
flaked barley 0.50 lb 8.51%
malt extract 0.125 lb 2.13%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.50 lb 8.51%
No. 4 invert sugar 0.50 lb 8.51%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.33 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.33 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.33 oz
OG 1027
FG 1006
ABV 2.78
Apparent attenuation 77.78%
IBU 14
SRM 26
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast

Tuesday 23 February 2021

Boddington Bitter sugars 1920 - 1938

Back to looking at Boddington Bitter in ridiculous detail. It's interwar sugars in focus today.

You can see one of the typical features of Boddington recipes: the same for quite long periods, then sudden dramatic changes. In this case, that happened in 1933, when the sugars were totally changed.

Unfortunately, I've no idea what type (or even types) of sugar were used before 1929 as it's only described as "saccharum". Your guess is as good as mine as to what that signifies. If you held a knife to my throat, I'd guess some type of invert sugar.

At least the sugars are named from 1933 on. Not that it helps a huge amount. DMS is Diastatic Malt Syrup, as the name implies, a type of diastatic malt extract. Flavex is another type of malt extract produced by EDME. As for "B", the only possibility I can come up with is Barbadus, i.e. raw cane sugar.

The total percentage of sugar, averaging around 5-6%, is on the low side. More usual was around 10%.

The 1935 example used Tadcaster yeast. Which is also the yeast they started off with when the brewery reopened in 1941. Was this their backup yeast or was it the source of their own yeast?

Boddington Bitter sugars 1920 - 1938
Year DMS BME Flavex B other sugar total sugar
1920         6.56% 6.56%
1921         4.47% 4.47%
1922         7.69% 7.69%
1923         4.00% 4.00%
1924         4.00% 4.00%
1925         3.88% 3.88%
1926         5.56% 5.56%
1927         3.88% 3.88%
1928         4.00% 4.00%
1929   1.51%     2.01% 3.52%
1930   2.06%     2.06% 4.12%
1932   2.27%     2.27% 4.55%
1933 1.64%   1.09% 2.19%   4.92%
1934 1.54%   1.03% 2.05%   4.62%
1935 2.73%   1.37% 2.73%   6.83%
1936 2.66%   1.33% 2.66%   6.66%
1937 2.65%   1.32% 2.65%   6.62%
1938 2.65%   1.32% 2.65%   6.62%
Boddington brewing records held at Manchester Central Library, document numbers M693/405/127 and M693/405/128.

Monday 22 February 2021

Friary Holroyd and Friary Meux beers 1926 - 1967

Another technical, Meux-related post. This time of Friary Holroyd and Friary Meux. And for Joe Tindall of the Fateful Glass of Beer blog.

This set runs almost up to the closure of the Guildford brewery (originally Friary Holroyd)  in 1969. Including exciting stuff like Keg Mild. But also genuinely unusual things, such as Audit Ale.

I'm done with this now and it'll be back to WW II and Boddington Bitter for the rest of the week. Apologies for the interruption to normal service.

Friary Holroyd and Friary Meux beers 1926 - 1967
Year Brewer Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1926 Friary Holroyd Stout Stout 8d pint bottled 1039.3        
1926 Friary Holroyd Oatmeal Stout Stout 11d quart bottled 1041        
1928 Friary Holroyd Stout Stout 8d pint bottled 1042.6        
1929 Friary Holroyd Brown Ale Brown Ale   pint bottled 1045 1012.2 4.25 72.89%  
1929 Friary Holroyd Ale Mild   pint bottled 1039 1010.6 3.68 72.82%  
1931 Friary Holroyd Ale Pale Ale     bottled 1037.5 1007.6 3.89 79.73%  
1931 Friary Holroyd Brown Ale Brown Ale     bottled 1044.9 1010.4 4.48 76.84%  
1931 Friary Holroyd Double Stout Stout     bottled 1046.1 1018.2 3.60 60.52%  
1934 Friary Holroyd Ale Mild 11d quart bottled 1039 1007.4 4.11 81.03%  
1935 Friary Holroyd Friary Ale Pale Ale     bottled 1038 1008.6 3.82 77.37% 24
1935 Friary Holroyd Brown Ale Brown Ale     bottled 1046 1012.4 4.36 73.04%  
1935 Friary Holroyd Double Stout Stout 7d pint bottled 1043 1017.2 3.33 60.00%  
1936 Friary Holroyd Friary Ale Pale Ale 7d pint bottled 1038 1008.1 3.88 78.68%  
1936 Friary Holroyd Friary Brown Brown Ale   pint bottled 1040 1009.3 3.99 76.75%  
1936 Friary Holroyd Friary Brown Brown Ale 7d pint bottled 1040.3 1010 3.93 75.19%  
1936 Friary Holroyd Friary Brown Brown Ale 8d pint bottled 1044.7 1018 3.44 59.73% 1 + 26
1938 Friary Holroyd Pale Ale Pale Ale 7d pint bottled 1038 1009.6 3.68 74.74% 24 Brown
1940 Friary Holroyd PA Pale Ale 9d pint bottled 1033.4 1010.2 3.00 69.46% 25 brown
1950 Friary Holroyd X Mild 12d pint draught 1033.5       82
1950 Friary Holroyd Pale Ale Pale Ale 14d pint draught 1036.6       29
1951 Friary Holroyd Mild Ale Mild 1/2d pint draught 1029.9 1004.5 3.30 84.95% 85
1951 Friary Holroyd Audit Strong Ale Strong Ale 1/3.5d nip bottled 1084.6 1022.1 8.17 73.88% 40 + 3
1953 Friary Holroyd Double Stout Stout 10d half pint bottled 1034.7 1014.6 2.59 57.93% 1 + 18
1953 Friary Holroyd Audit Ale Strong Ale 1/3d nip bottled 1084 1025.1 7.67 70.12% 3 + 40
1957 Friary Meux Malt Stout Stout 1/- half pint bottled 1036.1 1017.5 2.39 51.52% 300
1959 Friary Meux Friary Ale Pale Ale 10d halfpint bottled 1031.5 1007.9 3.06 74.92% 18
1960 Friary Meux Bitter Pale Ale 14d pint draught 1033.8 1005.2 3.57 84.62% 20
1960 Friary Meux Treble Gold Pale Ale 18d pint draught 1042.3 1008.9 4.18 78.96% 23
1960 Friary Meux Bitter Pale Ale 6.5d half pint draught 1034.9 1007.2 3.60 79.37%  
1960 Friary Meux Mild Mild 6d half pint draught 1031.1 1006.45 3.20 79.26%  
1960 Friary Meux Brown Ale Brown Ale 10d half pint bottled 1030.2 1011.6 2.40 61.59%  
1960 Friary Meux Friary Ale Light Ale 10d half pint bottled 1030.6 1009.7 2.70 68.30%  
1961 Friary Meux Drum Treble Gold Pale Ale 22d pint draught 1041.5 1006 4.44 85.54% 26
1962 Friary Meux Drum Mild Mild 14d pint draught 1029.1 1006.3 2.85 78.35% 120
1963 Friary Meux Keg Mild Ale Mild 20d pint draught 1030.1 1008.8 2.66 70.76% 110
1963 Friary Meux Drum Treble Gold Pale Ale 26d pint draught 1043.1 1008.2 4.36 80.97% 27
1965 Friary Meux Pipkin 4 Pale Ale 7/8d 4 pints can 1029.5 1007.6 2.84 74.24% 16
1966 Friary Meux Treble Gold Pale Ale 17d half pint bottled 1039.2 1009 3.78 77.04% 23
1967 Friary Meux Drum Mild Mild 21d pint draught 1028.5 1006.3 2.78 77.89% 105
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.