Sunday, 31 January 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part two)

This is so exciting. We’re going to get a really close look at all the lovely kit in the Park Royal brewhouse. I’m hopping from foot to foot, I’m so impatient.

We start with the heart of the brew house: the mash tuns.

“The six malt mills are of the two-high four-roller type, each having a capacity of 30 quarters per hour. Each of the six mash tuns, designed for a mash of 110 quarters, is a circular cast-iron unit 20 ft. in diameter and about 7 ft. deep, the lower portion of the tun being insulated with plastic magnesia 2.5 in. thick. The mash tun covers are of copper with the usual balance-weight lifting gear. The false bottom plates are of gunmetal with 22 s.w.g. slots, i.e. 0.028 in. wide. These plates are regularly cleaned about every four months with a hot caustic soda solution. The liquor space below the false bottom plates is 2.5 in. At present, the bottom of the mash tun is cleaned by lifting all false bottom plates which involves a considerable amount of labour, but the fitting of a pressure nozzle cleaning system is being considered, which will reduce the frequency of the laborious lifting and replacing of the false bottom plates from being a daily routine, to perhaps a weekly one, or longer. Each mash tun has its own independent geared drive unit driven by a 10 h.p. motor and provision is made for coupling up the drive units of adjacent mash tuns by means of an extension shaft should there be a prolonged failure on a driving motor during the mash. The sparge arms are driven through a unit gearbox.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, pages 281 - 282.

That tells me so much. Time for some brew house maths. Remember that I worked out, based on the OG of Guinness at the time, that they could brew around 5.25 barrels per quarter. Giving around 605 barrels per brew per mash tun. Which tallies with the figures we’ve seen for output so far.

Remember each mash tun had its own malt mill. At only 30 quarters ground per hour, it means that it would take almost four hours to grind the malt for one brew. They’d have to have a mill per mash tun because they brewed in parallel. Given the length of time each brew took to get from mash tun to fermenter (20 hours), they had little choice.

Plastic magnesia is magnesium oxychloride cement. Evidently it’s hard, dense and strong. Which sounds like the sort of material you’d want for insulation.

Manual cleaning below the false bottom sounds like a right pain. Though probably no worse than emptying spent grain by hand. I’ve watched others do that. Looks like an excellent way of shedding excess pounds. Far too much like hard work for my taste.

It’s not totally clear what the drive unit was for. Was it to drive the sparge arm or did the mash tuns have internal rakes?

Next the coppers.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Coronation Beers (part six)

I was a bit too hasty in saying that I was done with Coronation Beers. I’ve since stumbled on a few more analyses.

I thought I’d found a ridiculously small number of them. It was only when searching my spreadsheet for King’s Ale that I remembered lots didn’t have the word “coronation” in their name, but some other royal-sounding term. So I made a few more searches. Ones dated 1953 were a bit of a giveaway.

I’ve split the table in two because the beers fall into two very obvious categories: Strong Ales and Stout. That the latter existed tells us something about how British beer culture has changed since the 1950’s. I can’t recall any of the more recent royal commemorative brews being Stouts. The style just wasn’t popular enough after the 1950’s.

Beasley’s Coronation Ale is an outlier. Way weaker than any of the other non-Stouts. Though it too was dark brown like the Strong Ale examples. Well, most of them. Rose’s King’s Ale is a dark amber rather than brown.

Remember how Starkey, Knight and Ford offered an off-the-peg Coronation Beer for other brewers? Offering to ship it in bulk, or even bottle it with the customer’s label. I can’t help wondering if any of the beers in the table were brewed by them. Not the Websters one. We’ve already learned about how that was brewed and why it was called Old Brown. The Raggetts and Masseys versions look remarkably similar to each other. Despite one brewery being in Kent and the other in Lancashire.

Then again, most of the beers look pretty similar: dark brown, 6.5-7% ABV. Though there is a quite a degree of variation in the rate of attenuation.

What else can I say? Bugger all, except that, despite the price, drinkers must have been glad to get a beer with a bit of poke again. I would have been.

Table. End.

Coronation Beers 1953
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint d OG FG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1953 Beasley Coronation Ale 28 1043.1 1008.6 21 + 40 4.49 80.05%
1953 Raggetts Kings Ale 48 1065.1 1010.4 43 + 40 7.17 84.02%
1953 Masseys Kings Ale 37.5 1065.5 1010.8 23 + 40 7.16 83.51%
1953 Rose Kings Ale 45 1070.3 1014.3 39 7.32 79.66%
1953 Catterall & Swarbrick Royal Ale 48 1070.4 1021.4 1 + 40 6.37 69.60%
1959 Websters Old Brown 46.5 1071.4 1023.1 110 6.27 67.65%
1953 Tollemache Tolly Royal 48 1073.3 1023.6 17 + 40 6.45 67.80%
1953 Taylor Walker Coronation Ale 48 1075.1 1029.5 4 + 40 5.89 60.72%
1953 McMullen Coronation Ale 63 1089.1 1034.7 21 + 40 7.04 61.05%
Average 45.8 1069.3 1019.6 6.46 72.67%
1953 Camerons Sovereign Stout 26 1044.3 1009.6 1R + 17B 4.51 78.33%
1953 John Joule Royal Stout 28 1046.3 1018.2 1 + 16 3.63 60.69%
1953 Camerons Sovereign Stout 28 1047.3 1018.6 1 + 15 3.70 60.68%
Average 27.3 1046.0 1015.5 3.95 66.57%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Friday, 29 January 2016

A day in Bodegraven (part two)

Rather than wait for the possible arrival of the stragglers, Kevin gives us a quick rundown of the brewing kit. It's nice and shiny. And quite a decent size, with a 35 hl brew house and fermenters between 50 and 160 hl. But that's just the start. De Molen has recently taken up the other half of the building and plans a big expansion.

Tom Kehoe, owner of Yards brewery in Philadelphia and his wife Linda turns up after not too long.

"We've met before, haven't we?" I say to Tom.

"You're the guy with the book, aren't you?"

"Yep, that's me."

I had a book event at Yards in 2014. The thing I most remember about it is one of the audience trying to take over my talk. Very odd. Only time I've had that happen. Usually I talk so much no-one has chance to jump in. He had to be discretely led away and strangled in a back room.

Kevin is keen to give Tom a hands-on experience of brewing De Molen Style. Or just wants to dodge some work. It's fun to watch Tom play with the hoses. Mostly because it isn't me doing it. It looks like quite heavy work. Past experience (stirring the mash with a paddle) has taught me to be wary of volunteering in a brewery. Unless it's pouring the hops into the kettle. I'm cool with that. Quick, not too strenuous, lovely smell.

"Would you like a coffee or a beer?" Menno asks the new arrivals.

"I'll have a beer, please, Menno." I reply, without really having been asked. He doesn't look surprised. We've known each other for a while. He brings me a bottle of Licht & Lustig.

"Mmmm . . nice hop aroma."

"You've changed your tune. You didn't use to like American hops."

"I've been spending too much time on the other side of the Atlantic."

A little texting reveals that the remainder of the party is still in Amsterdam. So those of us that could be arsed to turn up set off on a tour with Menno.

It's amazing how much the brewery has grown since my first visit. Back when Menno only had the windmill and it was home to brewery, restaurant and shop. The current premises have more than ten times the floor area of the original brewery. Though much hasn't been filled yet. Sure, there is an impressive rack of wooden barrels along one wall. But there remains a lot of empty space. Not for too long. Twelve 150 hl conicals are due to be installed. Along with new bottling equipment and a bar. I'm sure it will be dead impressive, when finished.

Will the remainder of the party make lunch?

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Where in the world?

Barrels, barrels everywhere.

But where are these?

Or these?

And these?

Barrels, barrels everywhere. Where do they all come from? Where do they all belong?

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part five)

You’d love to know how to condition beer in a tank, wouldn’t you? No? Well I’m going to tell you anyway. If I listened to you lot I’d never write anything.

The tank conditioning process was quite complex. As the following demonstrates:

“In the following table is given an illustration of the conditioning of a beer of medium gravity (19 lb. = 1053). In some cases a longer period might be given in the conditioning tank.

Description Special Pale Ale (Gyle 11)
Present gravity 3.5 lb. (1010)
Tank No. 2
Date when filled 2nd May.
Hops in tank 4 oz./barrel — 15 lb.
Priming, etc., in tank 1 quart per barrel = 15 gallons.

Date. Time. Temp. of room. Pressure of tank. Temp. of tank. Hours of rousing. Remarks.
May 2nd m 6 60°F. - 59.75° F. - Filled.
e 6 61 1 60.5 - -
   3rd m 6 61 2 60.5 - Blown off to 1.0 lb.
e 6 61.5 4 60.75 4 -
   4th m 5 62 7 61 3 -
e 6 62 9.5 61.5 4 -
May 5th m 6 61.5 11.5 61.5 3 -
e 6 62 12.5 61.75 4.5 -
    6th m 5 62 14.5 61.75 4 -
e 6 62.25 16 62 4 -
    7th m 5 63 17.5 62.5 3 Warm night.
e 6 62.5 18.5 62.5 4 -
    8th m 6 62.25 20 62.5 4 -
e 6 62.5 21 62.5 5 -
   9th m 5 62.75 22 62.75 3 Blown off to 17.0 lb.
e 6 62 18.5 62.5 4 Cooler.
  10th m 6 62.25 20 62.75 4 -
e 6 62 21 62.75 3 -
  11th m 6 62.5 22.5 63 4 Blown off to 20.0 lb.
e 5 62.75 21 63 2 -
„ 12th m 6 63 21.5 63 4 -
e 5.30 62.75 22 63 4 -
„ 13th m 6 63 22.5 63 2 Blown off to 21.0 lb.
e5 62.75 21.5 63 - -
  14th m 6 62 22 63 - Cold night.
e6 62.5 22.5 63 - -
  15th m 5 62.75 22.5 63 - -
e6 63 22.5 63 - -
  16th m 6 63 22.5 63 - -
  17th m 6 63 22.5 63 - Blown over to cold stores.
Final gravity 2.0 lb. (1005.5)
Bottled 27th May.
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 336.

I’m surprised that the beer was so long in the tank – more than two weeks. My guess is that at some point they cut out the conditioning and just filtered and artificially carbonated right at the end of primary fermentation.

You can see how during its first 10 days in the tank the beer was roused to encourage conditioning, but care was taken not to let the pressure in the tank get too high, with some CO2 being let off every so often. You can also see how the beer warmed a little in the tank, eventually rising to the temperature of the room, 63º F.

This is the process for a stronger beer:

“For a strong ale (27 lb. = 1075) a period of 30 to 35 days would be given and the pressure would be allowed to reach perhaps 28 lb. With the stronger beer a somewhat lower temperature of the conditioning room might be advisable to prevent pressure rising too quickly, say from 60 to 61.5. During this period the gravity might drop from 5.5 lb. (1015) to 3.5 lb. (1010). The hop rate might be half a pound per barrel; priming half to one pint per barrel. For a light ale of gravity about 12.5 lb. (= 1035) from 10-14 days would normally be given, although some brewers give periods in excess of this even for the light gravity beers. The hop rate would be probably 2-3 oz. per barrel. Priming one to two pints per barrel. Pressures might not reach those given in the table.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 336.

At a month or more, that’s starting to look like lagering. Except for the much higher temperature. I’d have expected a beer of 1075º to have more dry hops than two or three ounces. In 1946, Barclay Perkins added four ounces to their KK, which only had an OG of 1043º*. Though that was a draught rather than a bottled beer.

Talking of Barclay’s KK, that was primed at a rate of four pints per barrel. While XX, their Mild, had six pints per barrel**.

Mild sometimes received special treatment:

“As soon as it is considered that sufficient maturation time has been given the beer is blown from the tank through a chiller to the cold storage tanks. In some breweries where a sweet mild ale is desired priming is added at this stage instead of, or in addition to, that added in the conditioning tanks and is injected into the beer as it passes through the chiller. A sweet luscious priming will be used for this purpose. Up to a total of four quarts per barrel is sometimes used. For mild ale of this kind it is desirable to pasteurize, as the large amount of sugar would give vigorous growth of any trace of infecting organisms. Nevertheless, if a quick trade is expected sterile filtration and care in bottling is often sufficient.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 336 - 337.

That was probably how most breweries produced their Brown Ale: by sweetening and bottling their Mild.

The perils of oxidation next.

* Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/627.
** Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/627.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1958 Whitbread KKKK

Time for another 1950’s Whitbread recipe. One that’s a little stronger.

You may remember that back in the 18th century, London had ranges of X and K Ales. The K’s, or Keeping Ales, usually went:  KK, KKK and KKKK. The last being a mighty beer of over 1100º. After WW I, the stronger varieties mostly disappeared, but KK kept going strong and, called Burton, it was one of the standard draught beers in a London pub.

Barclay Perkins did brew a KKKK between the wars, but only as a winter seasonal. It was still a strong beer, with a gravity of around 1080º. From adverts, it appears this was a draught beer, dispensed from a pin on the bar. That sort of thing still went on in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Marston’s Owd Rodger would appear in a pin when the weather got cold.

Whitbread did a fair bit of messing around with their Burton. Before WW I, they brewed three K Ales: KK at 1071º, 2KKK at 1077º and KKK at 1082º. By the middle of 1917, all three had been dropped. KK reappeared in 1921 at the reduced gravity of 1055º. In 1931, no doubt prompted by the big tax increase that year, it was replaced by a beer called XXX at just 1045º. When the tax dropped again in 1933, they introduced another new beer called 33 at an impressive 1060º. That lasted until 1940, when it was in turn replaced by XXXX at 1053º, falling to 1043º by 1945. Between 1947 and 1958, surprisingly, Whitbread didn’t brew a Burton. Then they introduced KKKK.

There’s an elegant simplicity about Whitbread’s beers of this period. Mostly pale malt, sugar and English hops. Daringly, this recipe includes a little chocolate malt, something they only normally used in their Stouts. There was a proprietary sugar called Hays M, but only a relatively small amount. I’ve just upped the No. 3 quantity.

It doesn’t actually give the hop varieties, just their origin. I’ve assumed the Mid Kents were Fuggles and the East Kents Goldings. It seems a fair enough guess, given that those two varieties made up the vast majority of hops grown in England.

Almost forgot. To get the right colour you’ll need to add caramel.

Over to me for the recipe . . . .

1958 Whitbread KKKK
pale malt 8.50 lb 81.93%
chocolate malt 0.13 lb 1.20%
no. 3 sugar 1.75 lb 16.87%
Fuggles 75 min 2.00 oz
Goldings 20 min 1.75 oz
OG 1050.5
FG 1011.5
ABV 5.16
Apparent attenuation 77.23%
IBU 44
SRM 30
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house

This is what you’ve been waiting for. A peek inside the room where the alchemy occurs. The brew house.

It sounds like a pretty grand affair:

The Brew House.—The brew house, designed for a nominal output of 3,000 barrels per day, is arranged on the infusion method of mashing, the main plant consisting of six mash tuns arranged in line on the south side of the brew house, with four boiling coppers in line on the north side. Each brew requires about 20 hours to complete from the commencement of the mash to the running of the last worts to the fermenting house, which permits of only one brew per day.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

20 hours is long time for a brew in Britain. There were plenty of breweries that could get more than one brew a day through their kit. Guinness were known for having large mash tuns and 500 barrels certainly counts as large. Interesting that they had six mash tuns, but only four coppers. Which means that they couldn’t have been brewing at exactly the same time in all the mash tuns.

I believe something similar to this was true of many breweries:

“Normally, the six mash tuns are worked five days out seven, leaving two days for maintenance and adjustments, although during the war, they were worked 13 days out of 14 over long periods. This resulted in a heavy deferred maintenance programme to be dealt with after the war and which is only now nearing completion.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

A combination of heavy use and delayed maintenance and upgrades, left many breweries in urgent need of investment by the late 1940’s. It’s one of the reasons many breweries sold up in the 1950’s: getting the plant back into good order was too expensive. Easier to sell up and cash in.

Here’s a quick overview if their kit:

“Before dealing with the plant in detail, perhaps a brief description of the operations in the brewhouse will be of interest. Malt is transferred from the malt store by belt and delivered into a chain-link conveyor running above the six mash tuns. Each mash tun is a unit complete with its own weighing machine, whole malt hopper, malt mill, grist hopper and Steele's masher. The chain-link conveyor delivers the malt to the automatic weighing machine, the malt passing over a magnetic separator for removing pieces of iron and steel. From the automatic weigher, the malt is fed into a malt hopper large enough to take the requirements for one day's brew for one mash tun. Below the malt hopper is arranged the malt mill delivering the ground malt into the grist hopper below. The grist is fed into a Steele's masher, where it is mixed with the mashing liquor before being fed into the mash tun.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

Steele’s mashers are still popular in British breweries. It must be one of the oldest bits of specialist kit still in use, originally being developed in the 1850’s. Fullers have one on both of their mash tuns, for example. It’s a very efficient way of thoroughly mixing the grain and water on their way into the mash tun. I’m amazed when I go to shiny, modern breweries and see they have internal paddles churning away inside their mash tun. Or, even worse, manually do the mixing with a wooden paddle (as Stone Liberty Station does). It seems like a step or two backwards.

Ah, this is how they got around having fewer coppers than mash tuns:

“The worts are run off from the mash tun from underneath the false bottom plate and delivered to the underback from where wort pumps deliver it either to the coppers, or if no copper is available, to the upperbacks. After the addition of hops and the usual boiling off in the copper, it is struck off into the hop back from where the worts are pumped up to wort coolers arranged at the top of the building. After the usual standing time, the worts are run down to the fermenting house.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 281.

Upperback is as new term to me. Come across plenty of underbacks. And isn’t that interesting? They were still using open coolers. (Note the use of the correct term for cooler rather than the ridiculous coolship translation.)

Next we start looking at the same kit in ridiculous detail.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Writing shit

Cold weather, loads of other shit to do and general lethargy.

"You've always got excuses, Ronald."

"They're called reasons, Dolores."

"Keep telling yourself that."

Those were my - highly valid reasons - for not having got on with this. Not totally sure what that is "this". "Some writing crap." Dolores would call it. Followed by "Are they paying you?"

She's much more together than me. Then again, a jigsaw puzzle dropped from the 39th floor is more together than me.

"Sheena is a punk rocker." The Ramones are telling me. But is she still? What's Sheena doing now? Probably a thrice-married mother of three, living in a former local authority house in Grantham*.

There's some stuff I should be writing. But there's Ramones to listen to. Arms to wave crazily. And a whole load of bollocks I can forget while crazily waving my arms about.

* The centre of evil in the universe.

The 1952 hop crop (part two)

If the 1952 hop crop was disappointing in the UK, it was disastrous in much of continental Europe.

Almost no-one had produced enough Hops:

Continental Districts
The position of continental brewers has been aptly summarised by a spokesman who commented : "It seems that England and the United States of America will have to make up the  deficit in European hop production this season."

In the countries West of the iron curtain 1952 production of brewing-type hops is substantially down on the previous year, and quality has suffered as well as quantity apart from England and Yugoslavia. The latter country's crop is calculated to be something like 20 per cent lower than 1951, but on the other hand, the quality is exceptionally high.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February pages 11 - 12.

Interesting that the author placed Yugoslavia West of the iron curtain. Not sure what Stalin would have thought of that. Though lacking a border with Yugoslavia, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

Let’s go through all of Europe’s hop regions.

“In Belgium growers in the middle of the season were highly confident but in the result found quantity down and quality of the major portion below that of the previous year. French hops from the Alsace region are much on a par with the Belgian produce.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

Belgian hops were considered to be some of the lowest quality foreign hops by British brewers. Who only ever used them for one reason: they were cheap.  If the quality was below even the normal level, they must have pretty crap.

The poor harvest in Germany was compounded by another factor:

“Though of good quality, the crop in West Germany failed to produce more than 90 per cent of the lowest estimated yield—a position which, for the home brewer, was aggravated by freely allowing all export orders in the early stages before the actual extent of the harvest had been realised.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

Not too bright, that, exporting hops before you know whether you’ve enough to fill domestic needs.

It all added up to a shortage of hops on the continent. One which couldn’t be remedied by UK supplies. There was one obvious source – the USA. But that presented another problem:

“Continental brewers therefore looked westwards for the supplies necessary to supplement local products to fulfil their demands. A reduced crop in England forced attention even across the Atlantic for hops which most of these brewers could not enthuse over— and for which invaluable dollars would have to be expended. !”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

It’s hard nowadays to remember the problem that foreign currencies used to present. You needed US dollars to buy goods from the US. Unlike today, most European currencies weren’t freely convertible.

“Attention at first turned to Czechoslovakia—where Switzerland returned for the first time since pre-war days as a customer but there also the growers had suffered the same diminution in crops as the neighbouring German areas, being at least 10 per cent down in quantity on 1951. The trend of that country's selling policy may be seen in its offer to Belgium to exchange on the basis of one ton Hallertau type hops for 2 tons Belgian hops. In other words, in order to obtain a footing again in the international market Czechoslovakia was prepared to let other countries have her best produce, her own consumers having to  accept a drink prepared from materials  below the standard of her own produce — perhaps a very enlightening reflection upon that country's regime!”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

According to my figures, the Czech harvest was closer to 20% down on 1951. Those naughty communists swapping good hops for crap ones. Like lots of other European countries (including the UK) they were pretty broke and desperate.

You can see how yields were down everywhere in 1952:

World Production of hops 1951 - 1957
Country 1951 1952 1953 1955 1956 1957

cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts. cwts.
USA 564,634 546,991 372,786 329,233 342,705 358,349
United Kingdom 321,821 282,348 266,000 256,821 184,170 267,670
Czechoslovakia 98,420§ 80,705§ 98,420§ 120,428 96,304 73,813
Germany 252,795 206,187 280,500 253,358 277,027 283,473
France 41,330 34,446 48,223 41,214 33,071 33,696
Belgium 19,366 17,062 19,179 26,571 16,027 23,821
Yugoslavia 24,652 23,652 25,589 36,616 45,866 52,848
total Europe 659,964 563,695 639,491 735,008 652,465 735,321
Total Europe + USA 1,224,598 1,110,686 1,012,277 1,064,241 995,170 1,093,670
§ estimate
1951, 1952, 1953: 1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 65.
average 1950-54, 1955, 1956, 1957: 1962 Brewers' Almanack, page 63.

You can see that European hop production recovered in 1953, while in the USA it plummeted. Though 1956 was another poor year in most of Europe.

The Czechs provided only temporary relief. Once all their hops had been sold, there was only one option on this side of the Atlantic:

“However, even this source proved short-lived,  and  by   the middle of January it was stated that practically all hops on the continent had been sold. Economic considerations — the eternal dollar   problem — may influence the European market in the direction of seeking English hops, but even here there is only a limited quantity available. On the economic side, it would appear preferable to trade within the E.P.U. confines and so lessen the strain on dollar reserves implicit in obtaining supplies from the other side of the Atlantic; but the rapidly improving position of this country, at least in trading within the Union, is making its effect felt in an unexpected direction — sterling is becoming short in E.P.U. countries which wish to buy from us!”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

The EPU was the European Payments Union. It existed between 1950 and 1958 and was basically a way of getting around Europe’s lack of hard currency after WW II. It seems to have been very successful in boosting inter-European trade.

Finally, something about hop prices in Germany. If you could find any, that is:

“The ban on exports by the West German Federal Government is not a general ban. Countries having a clearing arrangement with Germany can still take supplies, in certain circumstances; but it is understood that all available supplies have been disposed of. Local prices have ceased their upward spiral, but remain firm: Hallertau. 790 marks per zentner (.984 cwt.); Hersbrucker Gebirge 720; Spalt, 820; and Tettnang, 835.”
"Brewer's Guardian 1953", 1953, February page 12.

It’s amazing how close a metric Zentner is to an Imperial hundredweight. In 1953 I happen to know there were 11.7 DM to the pound. Which allows me to compile this table:

Hop prices per cwt. In 1953
Hop DM £
Hallertau 790 68.62
Hersbrucker Gebirge 720 62.54
Spalt 820 71.23
Tettnang 835 72.53
Goldings 386.1 33
Goldings Varieties 359.8 30.75
Fuggles 348.1 29.75
Brewer's Gold C9A 351.0 30
Bullion Q43 353.9 30.25
Early Promise X35 310.1 26.5
Key worth's Midseason OR55 339.3 29
Brewer's Guardian 1953, 1953, February pages 11 - 12.

The English hops are all grade 1, the top quality. Yet they were still less than half the price of the German hops.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

UK beer imports 1950 – 1952

I chanced upon a table in the Brewer’s Guardian which sheds some light on the British beer market in the 1950’s.

I say an interesting table. Actually, there were two of them.

UK beer imports 1950 - 1952
Month ended December Twelve Months ended December
1950 1951 1952 1950 1951 1952
Bulk- Barrels 92,432 110,068 114,488 1,053,293 1,056,240 1,064,788
Value £439,952 £533,341 £657,494 £4,941,434 £5,168,840 £6,138,665
Brewer's Guardian 1953, 1953, February page 80.

Looking at the bare figures, it seems that the UK was importing a considerable amount of beer – around four times as much as it exported. But the figures aren’t what they at first appear. That becomes obvious when you see the imports broken down by country of origin.

UK beer imports in November 1952
Country whence consigned Quantity Bulk Barrels Value £
Australia 6
Canada 3
Irish Republic 80,473 454,488
Germany (Western) 125 1,818
Sweden 5 85
Denmark 1,873 22,398
Netherlands 666 6,478
Belgium 107 1,931
Czechoslovakia 51 383
Total  83,300 487,590
Brewer's Guardian 1953, 1953, February page 83.

The overwhelming majority of the imports came from the Republic of Ireland, presumably almost all in the form of Guinness Extra Stout. Multiplying the November figure by 12, gives a rough idea of the figures on an annual basis. You’ll see that the total is pretty close to the real figure for 1952:

UK beer imports in 1952
Country bulk barrels %
Irish Republic 965,676 96.61%
Germany (Western) 1,500 0.15%
Sweden 60 0.01%
Denmark 22,476 2.25%
Netherlands 7,992 0.80%
Belgium 1,284 0.13%
Czechoslovakia 612 0.06%
Total  999,600
Brewer's Guardian 1953, 1953, February page 83.

The only countries that were exporting any sort of volume to the UK, other than Ireland, were Denmark and the Netherlands. This time in the form of Carlsberg, Tuborg and Heineken Pils. The total of European imports I get to be just under 34,000 annually. Presumably pretty much 100% Lager.

That gives you some idea of the small size of the UK Lager market at the time. Only a handful of British breweries produced Lager at this date: Wrexham, Tennent, Red Tower, Barclay Perkins and the Alloa Brewery. Total sales couldn’t have been more than a couple of hundred thousand barrels a year. At a time when consumption totalled almost 26 million barrels:

UK beer production 1950 - 1952 (bulk barrels)
UK 1950 1951 1952
Production 26,513,997 24,891,746 25,156,489
Consumption 27,311,390 25,597,793 25,850,381
Exports 221,210 275,433 267,390
Imports 1,018,603 981,480 961,282
Production Irish Republic 2,304,668 2,279,655 2,339,224
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 57
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p.107-110

You can see that getting on for 40% if the Republic of Ireland’s output of beer was exported to the UK. Impressive. Especially as Guinness had a brewery in London churning out almost 1 million barrels a year.