Sunday 30 April 2023

Northeastern Bitters in 1978

Thank you the Mirror. Both Daily and Sunday. For analysing beers in the 1970s and publishing the results. At a time when beer strengths were a closely guarded secret.

But, you might say, CAMRA had started publishing gravities in the Good Beer Guide. However, that was all they published. They didn't include the ABV or the price. Information which the Mirror did provide. Using the ABV, I've been able to calculate the FG and the degree of attenuation. The type of stuff I lap up. CAMRA also only concerned themselves with cask beer. So there was nothing about the strength of keg beer.

The first article I'm consulting has 81 analyses. Mostly draught Bitter, but, for some reason, also including Old Peculier. They come from all over the UK. I thought it would be more manageable to split them up by region.

I'm starting with the Northeast, which I've defined as everything East of the Pennines from South Yorkshire to the Scottish border. It's pretty arbitrary, but what the hell.

If you're wondering why the prices are missing for some beers you can blame the newspaper archive. The right-hand edge of one of the pages has been clipped, cutting off the prices.

I almost forgot another handy thing about the Mirror articles. They include some rudimentary tasting notes. Something that wasn't very common in the 1970s. Oh, and there's also a score out of 12. So you can see which beers the two journalists who compiled the report liked best. All useful stuff.

It's interesting how high the rate of attenuation is. It averages a whisker short of 80%. 

The average gravity of 1037.3º is about exactly the same as average UK beer gravity overall. The spread of gravities is quite small, from 1032º to 1042º, but with most between 1036º and 1038º.

I've excluded Old Peculier from averages because, well, it isn't a Bitter. 

Northeastern Bitters in 1978
Brewer Beer Price per pint (p) º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation score Flavour
Theakston Old Peculier       1056.2 1014.8 5.38 73.67% 11 Rich, fine & deceptively mellow.
Timithy Taylor Landlord Bitter       1042 1008 4.42 80.95% 10 Full bodied, hoppy taste.
Cameron Strongarm       1041.2 1011.7 3.82 71.60% 10 Rich flavoured brew. Great value.
Federation Federation Special       1040.9 1009.5 4.08 76.77% 11 A member ot Beer’s yalty. Excellent.
Newcastle Newcastle Exhibition       1040 1007 4.29 82.50% 10 Crisp, nutty flavour, Very good.
Stones Best Bitter 29 1.33 0.14 1038.6 1007.1 4.10 81.61% 8 Fruity & nicely balanced.
Timithy Taylor Best Bitter 32 1.19 0.14 1038.2 1004.8 4.35 87.43% 8 Real “Bitter”. Unusual flavour.
Ward Sheffield Best Bitter 28 1.35 0.14 1037.9 1006.8 4.05 82.06% 10 A beautiful nutty bitter.
Vaux Sunderland Best Bitter 29 1.29 0.13 1037.3 1008.95 3.68 76.01% 8 Nice, smooth and hoppy.
Webster Pennine Bitter 31 1.19 0.13 1036.8 1006.65 3.92 81.93% 10 An excellent beer needing an acquired taste.
Hull Old Traditional Bitter 31 1.17 0.12 1036.2 1007.55 3.72 79.14% 9 Creamy, nicely hepped bitter.
Tetley Cask Bitter 29 1.25 0.13 1036.2 1006.3 3.89 82.60% 11 Real ale. Truly supurb.
Tetley Keg Bitter 31 1.16 0.12 1036.1 1006.95 3.79 80.75% 8 Last survey champion, but not quite my palate.
John Smith Best Bitter 33 1.09 0.11 1036 1007.3 3.73 79.72% 8 Creamy, tasty. Good flavour.
Cameron Best Bitter 27 1.31 0.13 1035.3 1008.7 3.45 75.35% 9 Nice fruity taste. Good head and lively.
Federation Federation Ordinary 23 1.40 0.14 1032.1 1007.35 3.21 77.10% 9 Refreshing. Lacks guts but no complaints at the price.
Newcastle Newcastle Amber 26 1.23 0.13 1032.1 1005.4 3.47 83.18% 6 Party beer. Nice hut you can’t come to any harm.
Average   29.1 1.25 0.13 1037.3 1007.5 3.87 79.92% 9.1  
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 17 September 1978, pages 22 - 23.

Saturday 29 April 2023

Let's Brew - 1884 Mew Langton Osborne Pale Ale

I'm continuing with my Mew Langton theme. Why? BEcause I've never published any of their recipes before.

The next Pale Ale from Mew Langton is a very special beer. It’s described in their price list thus “as supplied to Her Majesty's Household”. Osborne House being Queen Victoria’s summer residence on the Isle of Wight.

I’ve learnt to be sceptical of the claims of brewery adverts. But this is something I don’t think they could lie about. There would have been repercussions.

Not much to the grist again. There’s a lot more pale malt and a lot less sugar. And the latter is No. 1 rather than No. 2. Which is what you would expect in a classy Pale Ale. And what could be classier than a beer for Queen Victoria?

No underlet, this time. Just a single infusion mash and three sparges.

All Kent hops, most from the 1883 harvest along with a few from 1884. For a Pale Ale of this strength, it’s not that heavily hopped at just 12 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt.

1884 Mew Langton Osborne Pale Ale
pale malt 12.25 lb 90.74%
No. 1 invert sugar 1.25 lb 9.26%
Fuggles 90 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1062
FG 1019
ABV 5.69
Apparent attenuation 69.35%
IBU 64
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 180º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 63º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale


Friday 28 April 2023

Watering beer in 1959 (part three)

From the same court session there were multiple prosecutions for watering.

The next landlord admitted that dilution had taken place. Though, of course, he has no idea how it had occurred.

JOSEPH STARKEY, of the Royal Brew Vaults Charles-street, Manchester. admitted the offence.

Mr. Hill said when a sample was taken at the Royal Brew Vaults, Charles-street. Manchester, on November 21 it was found that the gravity was 31.2 per cent. It was 34.3 per cent when sent from the brewery.

It meant the beer was dilated to the extent of 2.1 gallons every 36-gallon barrel showing a dilution of 5.8 per cent.

Mr. J. S. Oakes, defending, said Starkey was the tenant and was dependent upon the profits.

If he had actively diluted the beer his profits would ultimately have gone down because the house would get the reputation of having “horrible beer.”

Mr. Oakes said Starkey was at the house for three years and left because his wife was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

It was not suggested this had a direct bearing on the reason for the dilution, but being so preoccupied with his wife’s illness Starkey’s supervision might not have been the same.

Mr. Oakes said Starkey had four assistants who had direct access. If an assistant added two gallons of water to the beer the cost of the extra pints could go into their pockets without anyone realising.

The magistrate: Is there any way water can get into the beer without a deliberate attempt?

Mr Oakes: It nas been kept a very great secret if there is.

Starkey, he said, was now a waiter at the Royal George, Knutsford.

Starkey was fined £15.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 21.

Perhaps the reason he pleaded guilty was that he was no longer a landlord and wasn't so worried about damaging his reputation. As for being known for “horrible beer”, given that watering seems to have been rife, his beer was more likely to have stood out if it hadn't been diluted.

It looks as if this was the same brewery and the same beer as in the other case, because the real gravity, 1034.3º, is the same. Again, I calculate the quantity of water to be higher - 3.25 gallons, slightly more than in the first case. Which would mean at extra £1.56 per barrel. I make the dilution 9.04%, not the 5.8% quoted.

The only way this could have worked would have been if Mr. Starkey's "assistant" had watered the beer and then taken the equivalent amount of money out of the till. Quite complicated, but not impossible.

Obviously, there was no way water could "accidentally" get into a cask. Though there were landlords who claimed this. As we'll see next time.

Thursday 27 April 2023

Watering beer in 1959 (part two)

We're going to start looking at the individual culprits in this large watering case. It seems it wasn't just Customs officials who had identified the wrongdoers.

Mr W S Hill, prosecuting for the Customs and Excise, told the magistrate (Mr F. Bancroft Turner): “The brewers are Particularly concerned by these proceedings. There are four breweries.

“They are concerned as a result of the investigations which were conducted during ten days in November of last year.”

Mr. Hill said since the investigations the breweries had tightened up their systems.

"A considerable number of cases apart from these to-day will come before this court either as a result of offences alleged to have been discovered by breweries themselves or by Customs officers." he added.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 1.

It makes sense that brewers wouldn't be keen on their landlords watering their beer. Their reputation was likely to be damaged to no profit of their own. It's a shame that the article didn't name the breweries involved.

Let's get on with the first case.

JOHN LINDLEY, of the Wagon and Horses Hotel, Sale was summoned for an offence at the Gorton Brook Hotel, Gorton.

He was defended by Mr Kenneth Burke.

Mr. Hill said that Mr. Ward, a Customs officer, took a sample of beer at Lindley's premises. It was found to have an original gravity of 31.3 degrees.

A sample from the brewer showed an original gravity of 34.3. Of 36 gallons in a barre! it was established that there had been a dilution of 2.3 gallons.

Mr Hill said that It was an absolute offence on the part of any licensee to have possession of diluted beer, although he might not be personally responsible for the dilution and if it had been done by someone else.

"In this particular type of case there is no fraud on the revenue, but on the public because the brewer pays the duty before the beer leaves his premises." said Mr Hill.

In this case the dilution represented 20 pints. "This means that a publican puts in his pocket money represented by 20 pints." said Mr Hill.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, pages 1 and 21.

Not sure how they came to that figure of 2.3 gallons or 20 pints. By my calculations, you'd need to add 3.1 gallons to reduce the gravity from 1034.3º to 1031.3º. Which is close on 25 pints. With a pint averaging 6p in 1959*, that's £1.50 extra per barrel that the landlord was pocketing.

To modern ears, that might not sound like a lot of money. But remember that's per barrel. For a pub getting through ten barrels a week, that would add up to £750 over a year. Enough to buy a terraced house. Remember these numbers when we get to Mr. Lindley's fine.

So what was his defence? Another boy did it.

Mr. Kenneth Burke (defending) said: ‘Not necessarily the pubiican, but someone eise." Mr Hill said he agreed with that and he would qualify his remarks.

The magistrate asked: “Is there any possibility of this dilution taking place before it gets to the public houses?”

Mr. Hill said the beer was put in casks at the original gravity and then delivered to licensed premises. "We have evidence in every case that the beer was not tampered with before being delivered to licensed premises.”

Mr Hill said the total dilution in Lindley's case was 6.3.

Mr. Burke, defending, said Lindley had been a licensee for 3.5 years. He had been licensee of three premises under the same brewery and. said Mr. Burke, it was uncommon in such a case for the Licensee to lay the blame elsewhere.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 21.

In the days of tied houses, supply lines were very short. The brewery loaded the beer onto its own drays and delivered it directly to the pub. The only people who could have diluted the beer on its journey were the draymen. Who were usually too drunk to perform any such complicated act.

Do who could the phantom waterer have been?

The excise officer visited the premises an November 20. Lindley was confined to bed from November 8 until November 29 suffering from pleurisy and pneumonia and he had doctor's notes which said he was incapable of work.

Mr. Burke said: “During that Period he was not personally responsible for the stocks of beer."

Lindley had employed a man in his bar during that time and he believed the man did something to the beer.

Mr Burke added: "The breweries are particularly concerned with their duties to the public and their own business interests and when a man commits such an offence he is in danger of losing his livelihood and home."

Mr. Burke added: “Lindley had no control over what was taking place.” Asked by the magistrate when the tested barrel came into operation. Lindley said it was on Nov. 17.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, pages 1 and 21.

OK, Mr. Lindley was ill and an unnamed man had fiddled with his beer.

Just because Mr. Lindley was ill in bed doesn't mean that he didn't request his substitute to water the beer in the usual way. If he hadn't, it was likely the customers would notice the beer was different and wonder what Mr. Lindley had been up to. All this was irrelevant, as merely having diluted beer in his possession was an offence, whether he or someone else had watered it.

Let's see what the magistrate decided.

Mr Burke — This is a serious matter for Lindley.

Magistrate — It is a serious matter all round. It means 1-14th of a glass is unnecessary water.

Answering the magistrate. Mr. Burke said the licensee could not check the gravity of his beer because he did not know the gravity when it left the brewery.

The stipendiary magistrate said: “It is difficult to know what penalty to impose because the licensee does guarantee the quality of wares and the reputation of the brewery is entirely in his hands, and so is the public.

“There is no suggestion that the licensee was in any way personally responsible for the adulteration: in fact everything points the other way.”

Lindley was fined £15 and ordered to pay £5 5s costs.
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 21.

Despite the magistrate being convinced Mr. Lindley wasn't directly responsible, he was still fined. Fair enough, as he had committed an offence. Whether he was aware of the watering or not.

I said to pay attention to the fine. Just £15 and £5 5s costs. As we saw earlier, the level of dilution quoted a pub shifting ten barrels a week would have earned that in less than a fortnight. A fine at that level was hardly much of a disincentive to watering. Which is probably why the practice was so widespread.

* Statistical Handbook of the British Beer & Pub Association 2003, p. 44.

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1884 Mew Langton Guinea Pale Ale

Not sure why this was called Guinea Pale Ale. That’s 21 shillings. But I know from price lists that this cost 42 shillings for a barrel.  Unless that’s the price of a half barrel. Other breweries used the name, too. I guess customers understood what it meant. Or didn’t care.

There’s even less to report about this grist. One malt one sugar. Quite a lot of the latter, Over 25% of the total.

A bit more complexity to the mash. Which went mash, underlet, sparge, sparge, sparge. Sounds like the name of a really bad late 1960s pop band.

Nothing too exciting with the hops. Half Kent and half Mid-Kent. Both from the 1883 season. 

1884 Mew Langton Guinea Pale Ale
pale malt 8.00 lb 72.73%
No. 2 invert sugar 3.00 lb 27.27%
Fuggles 90 mins 1.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.75 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1057
FG 1014
ABV 5.69
Apparent attenuation 75.44%
IBU 58
SRM 11
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale

Tuesday 25 April 2023

Lingering on

It's odd the thoughts that random newspaper articles prompt. When I first looked at the Brewers' and Allied Traders' Exhibition competition categories, they seemed a little odd. Why did they have categories for strengths of Mild which no longer existed?

Probably they were a hangover from the 1930s. When stronger version sid still exist. Though I'm still a bit dubious about ones in the strongest category. Perhaps there was the odd one still. But that got me looking at the gravity bands more closely.

One of the lasting effects of WW I was to set draught beer strengths and prices for the whole of the interwar period. Through the last set of price controls. The only change was that the price per pint fell by 1d across the board when the tax was reduced in 1924.

It looks very much as if the competition categories were based on pre-war beers of 4d, 5d, 6d, 7d and 8d per pint. Which means that these were still being directly influenced by emergency legislation from WW I in the late 1950s. Even when they had an increasingly tenuous connection with the beers usually being brewed. 

Brewer's Exhibition categories and price control
price per pint 1st Apr 1920 categories
5d 1027-1032 1030-1035
6d 1033-1038 1036-1041
7d 1039-1045 1042-1046
8d 1045-1053 1047-1055
9d >1054 1056-
The Brewers’ Almanack 1928 pages 100 – 101.
Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 01 October 1957, page 5.

Monday 24 April 2023

Brewers' Exhibition Mild conundrum

Trawling through the newspaper archives looking for "original gravity", I came across loads of hits from the 1950s relating to the Brewers' and Allied Traders' Exhibition competition. These were always local papers, which listed winning breweries from within their area.

Something that struck about the competition's categories. They were split into bottled and draught, subdivided into Pale Ale, Mild Ale and Stout, then further by gravity. I was surprised to see victors in the Mild Ale of 1042º to 1046º category. Who brewed a Mild that strong in the 1950s? Then totally gobsmacked to see medals awarded in the 1047 to 1055 category. I'm certain there were no Milds of such a strength.

For example, in 1957, Walsall Clubs and Hardy & Hanson, won medals for the strongest category of draught Mild.* What the hell were these beers? Were they ever sold in pubs, or were they just competition beers? Or another type of beer, submitted as Mild? I'm dead confused.

In 1954, Drybrough of Edinburgh won a medal for a bottled Mild Ale of an original gravity of 1036 to 1041.** Have their brewing records for that year. Not only did they not brew a Mild of any description, they didn't brew a beer in that gravity range. Take a look. There's nothing between 1032º and 1043º. What the hell was the beer they entered in the competition.

Drybrough beers in 1954
Beer Style OG
B 60/- Pale Ale 1031
60/- Pale Ale 1032
XXP Pale Ale 1043
Export Pale Ale 1045
Burns Strong Ale 1073
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number D/6/1/1/7.

In 1957, Murray, another Edinburgh brewer, won silver in the draught Mild category of 1042º to 1046º.*** I've analyses of quite a few of their beers from this period. This looks like their Export to me. A beer of 1044º. Did they just submit one coloured up with caramel? Scottish brewers did that a lot.

It makes you wonder how many of the beers entered in all of the categories were special "competition" beers.

* Birmingham Daily Post - Tuesday 01 October 1957, page 5.
** Edinburgh Evening News - Thursday 07 October 1954, page 7.
*** Edinburgh Evening News - Monday 30 September 1957, page 8.

Sunday 23 April 2023

Watering beer in 1959

There was a comment on one of my recent posts about beer in the 1970s that they didn't think much watering went on, because many beers were already so weak. How true was this?

It's not easy to know what was going on in pub cellars. Especially when those activities were against the law. The only way of finding out if watering was occurring was for inspectors to take samples in pubs, work out what the original gravity had been and check with brewers if that tallied with the beer as sent out.

So I was dead happy when I bumped into a long article from the Manchester Evening News about prosecutions for diluting beer in the Manchester area. It reports on the prosecution of nine licensees for diluting beer. It seems this was just the tip of the iceberg and that the practice was widespread. With more prosecutions to follow.

Mr. William Hill, who conducted the case for prosecution, said after the hearings, “The Customs and Excise made their swoop after many complaints of poor quality beer from members of the public.

“They found many houses with diluted beer, particularly in the Oldham area. Now the brewers are working in full co-operation with the Customs men.

“Another 25 licensees are soon to appear in court on charges of possessing diluted beer from the Rochdale and Oldham area.”

Mr. H. J. Dunhill, assistant collector for the Customs and Excise in Manchester, said: "A high proportion of the houses visited had diluted beer. We are continuing investigations in spurts in an parts of our area from Rochdale in the north to Altrincham in the south."
Manchester Evening News - Friday 23 October 1959, page 32.

The article does mention the real gravity of one of the beers and that was in the low 1030ºs. Already pretty damn weak. No wonder drinkers complained, if their already watery beer had been diluted even further. As we'll see later, in some cases, the quantity of water added was ludicrously high. We'll also see the ludricous excuses landlords came up with to explain away their nefarious activities.

Saturday 22 April 2023

Let's Brew - 1884 Mew Langton Family Pale Ale

A range of Pale Ales was brewed by Mew Langton. The weakest of which was FA. Which I assume stood for “Family Ale”.

It’s weaker than their Mild Ale, which was pretty typical for a Light Bitter, which is what this is. Despite its fairly modest gravity, a very high degree of attenuation leaves it not far short of 6% ABV.

There’s not a lot going on in the grist, which consists of just base malt and sugar. Two types of the latter, though there was only a tiny amount of No. 1 invert. The vast majority being in the form of No. 2 invert. I’m not sure what the point was in using such a small amount of No. 1. Especially as it cost quite a bit more than No. 2 – 17 shillings a hundredweight compared to 15 shillings.

A fairly simple mashing scheme was employed: a single infusion, followed by three sparges, all at 175º F.

The hops were mostly Kent, with rather smaller quantities of American and Bavarian. All coming from the 1883 crop.

1884 Mew Langton Family Pale Ale
pale malt 9.25 lb 87.06%
No. 1 invert sugar 0.125 lb 1.18%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.25 lb 11.76%
Cluster 90 mins 0.75 oz
Hallertau 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1050
FG 1005.5
ABV 5.89
Apparent attenuation 89.00%
IBU 53
SRM 7.5
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley ale



Friday 21 April 2023

"Watered" beers in 1954

Some tables to go with yesterday's text heavy post.

Mr. Shaw, notably an official of the Brewers' Society claimed that: "average strength of beer was three degrees higher than three years ago and was only 10 per cent, below pre-war strength."

Was Mr. Shaw correct about average strength? Let's take a look:

UK Average gravity
Year OG
1938 1041.02
1939 1040.93
1940 1040.62
1941 1038.51
1942 1035.53
1943 1034.34
1944 1034.63
1945 1034.54
1946 1034.72
1947 1032.59
1948 1032.66
1949 1033.43
1950 1033.88
1951 1036.99
1952 1037.07
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50

Yes: average gravity had increased by 3º in the previous three years and it was 9.6% lower than in 1938. I'll forgive him for rounding the latter figure up to 10%.

Thanks to the Whitbread Gravity Book, I think I have details of the five beers purchased by Mr. Bing.

They all look like Light Ales to me. A bit over 3% ABV is what you would expect for such beers. Charrington's beer is rather an outlier, with a gravity a good bit higher than the other beers. Though it sold for the same price as the Barclay Perkins and Taylor Walker examples, while selling for the same price. Making it far bettwe value for money.

Of course, brewers paid excise duty based on the gravity of their beers. So, while they would be paying less tax on a beer below the average gravity, this was in no way cheating the revenue out of money. 

"Watered" beers in 1954
Brewer Beer Style Price size OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
Barclay Perkins IPA IPA 9.5d half pint 1031.2 1007.5 3.07 75.96% 19
Charrington Pale Ale Pale Ale 9.5d half pint 1038.2 1008.5 3.86 77.75% 21
Meux PA Pale Ale 1/5d pint 1033.7 1007.3 3.43 78.34% 24
Taylor Walker Pale Ale Pale Ale 9.5d half pint 1031.2 1007.3 3.10 76.60% 21
Watney Pale Ale Pale Ale 10d nip 1033.7 1010.2 3.04 69.73% 26
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Thursday 20 April 2023

Wrong end of the stick

We're back with Labour MP Mr. Bing. And he's banging on about beer gravity again.

It's a couple of years earlier than his private members bill intended to force breweries to reveal the gravity of their beers. This time he was complaining about the gravity of beers being too low. Though he seems to have completely got the wrong end of the stick about average gravity.

"Yorkshire Observer" Parliamentary Correspondent Westminster, Tuesday.
BREWERS and the tied-house system came under attack from Socialists when M.P.s returned to Westminster today. Beer was watered and sold in short measure by some of the most famous breweries in the country, declared Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Lab., Hornchurch).

He alleged that brewers were not only "selling water" and cheating the public, but also "pocketing money," which should go to the Inland Revenue.

His allegations brought the first clash between Government and Opposition, and were the only bitter element in what was an otherwise mild debate on public houses in the new towns.

From the Government Front Bench Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, Home Secretary rebuked Mr. Bing for making "serious accusations without producing evidence." 

He dismissed Mr. Bing's report on five bottles of beer as inadequate, accused him of hatred end malice toward the brewers, and said that without evidence of successful criminal prosecution for the offences alleged. Mr. Bing's case against the brewers could not be accepted.

The House then divided on an Opposition clause which sought on the Report stage of the Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill to prohibit tied houses in the new towns. The clause was defeated by 268 votes to 249. a Government majority of 19.

Mr. Bing, who, as chief architect of the clause, was pursuing a long campaign against tied houses, declared that the system was evil, and led to all the abuses he had mentioned.

He described how he bought five half pint bottles of beer in London — Watney's, Meux, Charringtons, Barclays and Taylor Walker.

They had been analysed and only one - Taylor Walker — gave the public full measure. All of them, except Charringtons, were below the average original gravity.

The beers had been watered to a fantastic degree, continued Mr. Bing, and to the extent that they were sold below the original gravity — the brewers were defrauding the Revenue.

There was a roar of laughter when Mr. Bing added, "Barclays India Pale Ale only exceeds by 0.6 of 1 Per cent of alcohol the strength of beer which was permitted in the United States during prohibition.”

There was more laughter when Mr. Leslie Hale (Lab., West Oldham) remarked that Mr. Bing had proved conclusively not only “That the nightingale does not sing in 'Barclays’ Square, but in point of fact that there is not even a good swallow there!"

An Opposition amendment to exclude Scotland from a clause in the Bill repealing State management of the liquor trade in the new towns was defeated by 263 votes to 239, a Government majority of 24.

When the guillotine fell on the Report stage at 9.30 p.m„ a number of amendments had not been discussed.

The Third Reading of the Bill, which will be taken tomorrow, is also subject to the operation of the guillotine, and will end at 7.30.

“No complaints from public”
Replying to Mr. Bing's accusations last night. Capt. A. J. Dyer, chairman of the Licensed Victuallers Defence League, said retailers had nothing at all to do with the gravity of beer, adding. "We have no knowledge of beer being weakened since the promise given to Sir Stafford Cripps.”

He said that most licensees sold bottled beers in glasses which held more than the half pint, so that all the contents could be poured out. The public accepted the quality and gravity of bottled beers and had made no complaints.

Mr. C. L. Shaw, an official of the Brewers’ Society, said the average strength of beer was three degrees higher than three years ago and was only 10 per cent, below pre-war strength.
Bradford Observer - Wednesday 15 October 1952, page 3.

Mr. Bing seems to have thought that average gravity was the minimum strength beer could be brewed to. Which is obvious nonsense. If any beer was brewed above average gravity, then obviously some also had to be brewed below it. Claiming that brewers were defrauding the revenue by brewing beer below average gravity is such obvious bollocks if you have even the slightest knowledge of how excise duty was levied on beer.

This quote from another article makes it clear that Mr. Bing was confusing standard gravity and average gravity:

He alleged that all the five beers except Charrington’s were below the average original gravity of 33 degrees. This compared with the Brewer’s Almanack pre-war figure of 55 degrees.

"It is a serious fraud on the Revenue,” declared Mr. Bing. “It is selling the public water and charging them the duty, and not paying it back to the State.”
Daily News (London) - Wednesday 15 October 1952, page 1.

1055 wasn't average gravity before WW II. That was the gravity of a standard barrel, a nominal 36 gallons of beer with an OG of 1055, which was used for the purposes of charging excise duty. Average OG before the war was actually 1041º.*

Though Captain Dyer isn't much better with assertions that the public wasn't complaining, so everything must be wonderful. In this period, consumers were happy to be able to get hold of anything and hence weren't all that fussy.

That's enough for today. Want some more details on those "watered" beers? Well, you're going to get them whether you want them or not. 

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50.