Thursday, 21 August 2014

League table of London Porters in the 1920's

If I'd realised how long this series was going to take to complete, I doubt I'd have started it. Andrew was still wearing nappies back then. Now he can legally drink.

I'm not surprised by the overall results. Porter was a drink just slipping over the edge of the cliff and about to plunge to extinction. It's own logical that a lot of it would be dodgy as falling demand had it sitting around in the cellar too long. Seventeen of the 92 samples (18.5%) were described as sour or going off. That certainly makes it sound like old beer was the problem.

The average scores are easily the worst so far. Fewer than half the breweries - five from eleven - finished above zero. The bottom three all performed dreadfully, Cannon the worst of the bunch averaging -2.56 and without a single good sample. Of the 29 samples from the three bottom-placed breweries only three were sound. You deifinitely wouldn't want to drink Porter in a City of London, Cannon or Hoare pub, The irony is that both City of London and Hoare had made their names in the 18th century as Porter breweries. The average for all Porters was negative, the first time that's happened, except for watery MA.

Whitbread and Watney have again scored well. If you take akk the beers so far into account, they're no. 1 and no. 2. Truman and Courage have also acquitted themselves well again, though Mann's performance is somewhat disappointing this time out.

Once again the beer specs are pretty simialr across the different breweries: OG 1034 - 1039, 3 - 3.9% ABV, around 70% apparent attenuation. From the relatively high finishing gravities I'd deduce that they were trying to leave some body in the beer.

Here's the main league table:

League table of 1920s London Porters by score
Brewery FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation score
Watney 1010.0 1035.0 3.24 71.28% 1.44
Whitbread 1011.9 1034.7 2.95 65.87% 1.33
Truman 1010.5 1037.0 3.43 71.62% 0.67
Lion 1009.6 1037.7 3.64 74.35% 0.63
Courage 1010.9 1037.5 3.45 70.88% 0.22
Mann 1009.2 1038.8 3.83 76.23% -0.25
Wenlock 1011.3 1034.3 2.97 66.94% -0.33
Barclay Perkins 1011.6 1037.5 3.35 68.98% -0.63
Hoare 1010.4 1034.0 3.06 69.38% -1.56
City of London 1008.9 1036.1 3.54 75.56% -2
Cannon 1009.6 1034.6 3.25 72.38% -2.56
average 1010.2 1036.1 3.35 71.60% -0.42
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Ordering it by percentage with a good flavour gives pretty much the same result:

League table of 1920s London Porters by good flavour
Brewery No. examples no. good flavour % good flavour score
Watney 9 8 88.89% 1.44
Truman 9 7 77.78% 0.67
Lion 8 6 75.00% 0.63
Whitbread 3 2 66.67% 1.33
Mann 8 5 62.50% -0.25
Courage 9 5 55.56% 0.22
Barclay Perkins 8 4 50.00% -0.63
Wenlock 9 4 44.44% -0.33
Hoare 9 2 22.22% -1.56
City of London 11 1 9.09% -2
Cannon 9 0 0.00% -2.56
average 92 44 47.83% 0.32
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Cannon's 100% bad for flavour score is impressive in a perverse way. It makes me almost want to go out and give it a try. To see if it could really always be in such poor condition.

Comparing all the styles so far, Porter is easily last, quite a way behind even MA and well below the average of 0.32.

Averages per beer type
beer type No. examples no. bright % bright no. good flavour % good flavour average score
Burton Average 138 61 44.20% 92 66.67% 0.72
Mild Average 188 112 59.57% 112 59.57% 0.16
X Average 170 104 61.18% 106 62.35% 0.23
MA Average 18 8 44.44% 6 33.33% -0.18
PA Average 167 85 50.90% 109 65.27% 0.62
8d PA Average 118 62 52.54% 76 64.41% 0.52
9d PA Average 49 23 46.94% 33 67.35% 0.88
Porter 92 44 47.83% -0.42
Average 585 258 44.10% 357 61.03% 0.32
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Once again, I'm struck by the fact that the top six breweries all survived until the 1960's, with the exception of Lion. the bottom three all left brewing in the 1920's. That surely can't be a coincidence?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A day in Nottingham

I warned you that I'd be boring you with more holiday tales. I've got a big backlog of this stuff. Mostly because I've been unusually busy of late. This weekend just gone there was the Kimchi Festival and the first anniversary of Butcher's Tears.

Bustling Balderton has much to offer, but after a day and a half we're in search of even more excitement, thrill-seekers that we are. Telling Lexie Chesters used to be called the Cock Inn amused him for a minute or two. He almost believed it really had been a gay bar. The choice was Newark or Nottingham. We've settled on the latter. I'm saving Newark for Tuesday. Monday is depressingly quiet in Newark. Not that a wet Tuesday is much fun, either.

Our journey starts with a bus into town. They still run a few during the day. All evening services were discontinued last weekend. There are now no buses after 6 PM. What on earth do people do if they need to travel at night? Drive or take a taxi, I guess. Another reminder of why I live in Amsterdam.

The new, miniature Newark bus station (most of the old one has been replaced by an Asda) is a walk from Castle station that's just long enough to be annoying. Lexie keeps complaining that me and Andrew are walking too fast. I've forgotten that he twisted it or something on the flight over. He's developing quite an impressive limp. If it's genuine. You can never be sure with kids.

Or adults for that matter. I practised limping for a couple of years. Invaluable experience for when I finally broke my ankles. And Dolores told me I was crazy. Who was laughing when I was in plaster?

We're quite early. Which gives Lexie plenty of time to moan about his foot before the train arrives. We've arranged to meet Henry on the train. He's catching it at Collingham, one stop before Newark. I'm surprised to see he has someone with him. A fellow teacher, it turns out. The phrase busman's holiday comes to mind. Were I a teacher, last thing I'd want to do in the summer holidays is hang around with teenagers. Even my charming offspring.

I promised the kids I'd take them to the Trip to Jerusalem. Or was that threatened? I can't remember. Hoped they'd like it, more like. Old, weird, carved out of rock and plenty of weapons to look at. Right down Lexie's street. Not that he'd want to walk down his street. His foot hasn't got any better during our sprint from the station. It's a natural reaction, accelerating the closer you get to a pub. That's what I've been telling Dolores for years. Must be true.

It starts to rain on the way. Guess we won't be sitting in the beer garden.

We settle down in one of the cave rooms until Lexie notices the wifi is rubbish. He goes off in search of decent bandwidth. Being carved out of rock doesn't seem to do wifi many favours. We eventually opt for the haunted snug, a part of the pub that's a conventional building. The haunted shit doesn't worry him. As long as he can get on Youtube. And Andrew's a cynical sceptic. He's no time for any supernatural bollocks.

I go for a Nottingham Extra Pale Ale. We're all drinking it. Well, us adults are. The kids (Andrew has four frustrating days left of being a kid) are on cola. The Extra Pale Ale lives up to its name, colour-wise. It's a Lager-like straw hue. Beautifully hopped, too, with what tastes like a stack of English hops. The first one barely touches the sides. So good I immediately get a second.

Despite having stuffed bacon sandwiches down their cakeholes just a few hours earlier, the kids are hungry. Honestly, they expect several meals a day, the greedy little bastards. They both order hamburgers. I think "What the hell." and order a pulled pork wrap.

What are pubs coming to? Pulled pork in a wrap? Shouldn't be selling anything fancier than a ham bap. And pickled eggs. I blame myself for encouraging them by buying such unnatural pub food. Why didn't I go for a traditional British hamburger?

After a third pint of Extra Pale Ale, we reluctantly leave the Trip. It really is a cracking pint. Henry suggests we try a new pub, the Crafty Crow, which just a little up the hill. Mmmm, that name is a bit worrying. The "C" word. I don't mention it to Lexie. I know exactly what his reponse to "C" word will be. We're in public. I don't want someone to say: "People like you don't deserve to have children." Again.

It's very modern looking inside. Much of the furniture is recycled pallets. Tres chic. At least there's a row of five handpumps on the bar. Even if only four of them bear clips. I get something from the trendier end of modern British brewing. It's not in great nick.

Lexie's foot is now causing him real problems. I rush off to the nearest chemist for painkillers. "Get paracetamol and codeine." Andrew suggests. I'm not going to argue with him. He's the one with the thick medical volumes. I bow to his superior expertise.

When I get back, Henry and his mate are regaling the kids with tales of the stupidity and laziness of the children they teach. It seems to amuse the boys. When they should be shocked and disappointed at the cynicism of the teaching profession. Maybe they'll realise that once they stop laughing.

As our beer isn't that great, we move on after one. To the Ned Ludd, another new pub.

"Do you know who Ned Ludd was, Andrew?"

"The bloke who smashed up machines. Though he didn't really exist." I've brought him up well.

It's reassuringly pub-like inside.

"This is reassuringly like a pub, Henry. Did it used to be one?"

"Can't remember. Might have."

He's a mine of useful information.

Less reassuringly, the bar is full of keg fonts, and the four handpumps are crowded into a small section in the middle. I order a Shipstone's Bitter from pure nostalgia. Aagh. They've served it in a dimpled mug. The world's least practical beer glass.

"I hate these glasses, Andrew. They're only useful if you want to club someone to death. That happened my first year at university."

"You have such lovely stories, Dad."

The Shippos is OK. Not sure how much it tastes like the original. We leave after one again.

Henry and his mate are getting hungry, not having eaten in the Trip. They suggest dropping by a trendy burger place. That also sells decent beer. Definitely not things that went together when I were a lad. (Or was that a lady? You forget so many things as you get older. I have always been a bloke, haven't I?)

Despite their earlier meal, the kids are keen, too. It's across the other side of the Market Square, in the Lace Market. The kids are distinctly less keen on the walk uphill. Despite it not being that much uphill. Slight incline, more than anything. Holland has spoilt them. Anything other than dead flat is a mountain in their eyes.

At Annie's Burger Shack - the name of the posh burger place - the hand pulls take pride of place on the bar. As they should do. With the evil keg pumps lurking on the sidelines where they belong. I have a pint of Dancing Duck Dark Drake, a Stout. It looks lovely: inky black with a firm tan collar of foam. It tastes pretty nice, too. And it comes in a proper glass.

It's quite different from most of the Stouts I've had lately. Which are either historical recreations or Amercian/American-influenced jobs with all the bathroom fittings, an old tin bath, the downstairs toilet and the tap in the garden thrown in as well as the kitchen sink, malt-wise. Ingredient guessing is a fools game. But I'll stick my neck out and say Dark Drake has no brown malt in it.

I see they're at the odd jam jar thing here. Next to every handpump, there's a little jam jar with a coloured liquid inside, presumably the beer issuing from that pump. I can't really see the point. I'm just about smart enough to work out that a Stout called Dark Drake isn't likely to be pale.

Handpulls apart, it's very similar in feel to the fancier end of American burger places: wooden floor, bare brick walls. The menu and service are similar to the US, too. Which is handy because it means I don't have to trail over to the bar when I need another pint. The kids both opt for bacon and cheese burgers. Henry and his mate go for a spicy variation. I have something called a James Blackmore. No idea why it's called that. It's a burger topped with pulled pork. I'm going a bit pulled pork crazy today.

The spicy burgers come with a scotch bonnet chili on a skewer. Henry doesn't want his so Andrew volunteers to eat it. They're dead impressed when he chomps the thing down whole. I really am starting to believe I've got most of this parenting stuff right.

Our final port of call is Pitcher & Piano. It's an excellent repurposing of a redundant church. Very attractive, with most of the original features, like stained glass windows, retained. The handpulls are centre stage again. My camera has gone all misty-eyed. Maybe it's trying to recreate the way I'm seeing the world. Can a camera count how many pints you drink? I wouldn't put it past modern technology.

The glasses are those dimpled monstrosities. Are these crap glasses getting trendy? Then they should save them for craft keg.

The castle is looking impressive in the sunlight as we walk back into Newark from the station. I annoy the kids by snapping away like crazy.

There's supposed to be a taxi rank (it's almost 7 PM so the last bus is long gone) opposite the Flying Circus. Not a taxi to be seen. I take the only reasonable option: go into the pub and have a pint. "We can ask the barman to call us a taxi." I say as means of excuse. I don't have a phone, so what else can I do?

It used to be called the Crown & Mitre. And before that, the Exchange Hotel. The current incarnation has a vague Monty Python theme and a garish colour scheme of red, yellow and grey-blue. Must have used a blind decorator, or at least a colour blind one. The bar has the combination of hand pulls and keg fonts I'm getting used to. Can you guess which served my pint?

I manage to get down a couple of pints before the kids complain enough for me to say:

"Call me a cab."*

Not bad going, really, as we've been out for 9.5 hours, most of it spent in pubs. Another sign of my excellent parenting skills, managing a full day of pub-crawling without serious whinging or physical injury requiring hospital treatment.

Interesting to note that the best beer was served in the most old-fashioned pub, the Trip. The second best was served in the least pub-like, Annies's Burger Shack. What does that tell us?

* I was deeply disappointed by the barman's reply of "Certainly, sir." A barman in a comedy-themed pub should surely have come up with better.

Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem
Brewhouse Yard,
NG1 6AD.

Crafty Crow
102 Friar Lane,
NG1 6EB.
Tel: 01158371992

The Ned Ludd
27 Friar Lane,
NG1 6DA.

Annie's Burger Shack
5 Broadway,
Lace Market,
NG1 1PR.

Pitcher & Piano
The Unitarian Church,
High Pavement,
NG1 1HN.
Tel: 0115 958 6081

The Flying Circus
53 Castlegate,
NG24 1BE
Tel: 01636 302 444

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Trouble at Whitbread

1866 was an eventful year at Whitbread. Two incidents at the Chiswell Street brewery hit the papers within a few months.

The first wasn't that unusual. Breweries were always catching fire. There probably wasn't a brewery which didn't have a fire at some point in their history. That's why so many of them had their own fire engines. Maybe this is what prompted Whitbread to get theirs:

On Thursday morning, between three and four o'clock, a fire was discovered to have broken out in Chiswell-street, Finsbury, in the premises belonging to Messrs. Whitbread, the brewers. The discovery was made by a watchman, who noticed smoke issuing from the ale tun room and the boiling back room, a building about 45 by 30 teet, in the highest part of the brewery. Underneath were the stables, and at one time it was feared that the fire would extend to them. The escape conductors and others got about 30 horses out, and by the time this was accomplished, the flames shot through the roof and illuminated the whole district. Nine land steam fire-engines and one manual power machine attended, and the mains of the New River Company affording a bountiful supply of water, three land steamers and one manual power were set to work. Some thousands of gallons of water were thrown upon and into the burning premises, and in about hour and half the fire was extinguished, but not until the ale tun room, the boiling back room, and the roof were nearly destroyed, and a considerable quantity of ale the coolers seriously damaged by water. The misfortune will not interfere with tbe business of the firm."
West Middlesex Advertiser and Family Journal - Saturday 28 July 1866, page 3.

This image shows why having your own fire engine was a good idea:

Whitbread's Chiswell Street brewery in 1953

The brewery is in the centre forground with steam coming out of it. Note the total destruction around it. Because they had their own fire engine, Whitbread could protect their brewery from the icendiaries that caused most of the damage.

The next is much odder. Though it does involve a regular killer in breweries: CO2. Usually the deaths were accidents. But not this time.

On Thursday forenoon inquiry was held by Mr Richards, deputy coroner, at the Green Gate Tavern, City Road, London, relative to the death of Wm. Ward, aged 30 years, who committed suicide. The deceased was employed as a labourer at Whitbread's brewery, in Chiswell Street, St Luke's. He was of a gloomy and morose temper. Within the last few days he was suspended for using violent language to a foreman — but on his promising better behaviour he was placed on again. He appeared to converse with his brother, with whom he lived at 20 Rose Street, St Luke's, principally upon the best way of getting rid of oneself. He frequently said to him that he would like to know the best way to get rid of himself, for he was tired of life — but he did not know what to do. His brother and his landlady tried to joke him out of his state of mind. The manner of his suicide was deposed to by Daniel Freeman, a 'leather holder,' a person whose duty it was fill casks with beer from the vats by means of leather pipes. On Tuesday morning at nine o'clock he was underneath vat No. 19, which was empty of beer, but was filled with carbonic acid gas. He heard a lucifer match struck at the top of the vat, which was 27 feet high, and called out twice, but received no answer. He ran up to the top of the vat, and there he found a light burning, and the name 'W. Ward' chalked on the beam over the vat in large letters. He raised alarm, and the deceased was seen lying the bottom of the vat quite dead. No one dared enter the vat, and drags had to be employed to get deceased out. Dr Yarrow said that was called in to the deceased, and found him quite dead. His face was distorted and the body swollen. He had been killed by carbonic acid gas, and death must have been instantaneous. A light was instantly extinguished when lowered into the vat, which was 27 feet deep, and was filled with the deadly gas to within foot or two of the top. It was stated that the deceased, who had been long employed at the brewery, was perfectly acquainted with the nature of the gas, and that, without doubt, he knew well what he was doing when he jumped into the vat. Latterly he had complained of not feeling as he ought, and said he wished to end his life. The coroner having summed up, the jury returned a verdict 'That deceased committed suicide by leaping into vat filled with carbonic acid gas at Whitbread's Brewery, whilst in state of unsound mind.'
Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser - Saturday 03 November 1866, page 3.

There are worse ways to top yourself. You'd be unconscious pretty quickly.

That aside, the article does tell us something of the workings of the brewery. Like that a "leather holder" racked beer from vats to casks. I knew leather pipes were used - bet they were fun to keep hygienic - but was unaware of that particular trade. Sounds awfyully specialised.

A 27 foot high vat - that's almost 9 metres - was in all probability used for maturing Porter. That's a pretty large size. Just as well Ward did himself in in the 1860's. If hed waited a few more years the vats would have been gone. Whitbread, like most London brewers, dropped Keeping Porter in the eaarly 1870's and ripped out all their large vats.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Whitbread Porter quality 1922

The day has finally arrived. I'm at the end of the Porter analyses. When did I start this? Was it 1984 or 1985?

I'm going to structure things slightly differently this time. Because I have the relevant brewing records of Whitbread Porter from 1922. Funnily enough, they make things more rather than less confusing. A quick comparison of the gravities in the two tables will explain what I mean.

Clearly Whitbread's Porter wasn't being sold as brewed. The gravity of the pub sample is six points higher than when it went into the fermenter. There are two possible explanations. Either it was primed like hell at racking time, or it was blended with another beer. The jump in gravity seems far too high for primings to be the explanation. I'd be inclined to go for the blending option. And there is an obvious candidate: CS, Country Stout, which had a gravity of 1046. A 50 - 50 blend of the two would get you aroungd the gravity of the pub sample.

There's just one slight problem with that theory. As the Porter was already being parti-gyled with CS, why not just get the gravity right before fermentation? The only reason I can think of not to do this is if the weaker version was being sold straight somewhere. I'm really a bit stumped with this one.

As you can see, this is an Oatmeal Porter. Though with the laughably small amount of oats typical of London brewers. At less than 1% of the grist, its flavour contribution must have been nil. Not that it was marketed as Oatmeal Porter. The oats are in there for COS, Country Oatmeal Stout, one of the beers in the parti-gyle. It was, in fact, exactly the same as Country Stout.

Whitbread Porter 1922
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp colour
18th May 1922 1027.9 1007.0 2.77 74.95% 6.99 0.85 1.5 1.83 64º 14.5 brown 1 red
7th Apr 1922 1028.1 1008.0 2.66 71.52% 6.93 0.84 1.5 1.75 64º 14 brown 1 red
7th Jul 1922 1027.8 1007.0 2.75 74.78% 7.39 0.88 ? 1.75 64º 14 brown 1 red
17th Jul 1922 1028.0 1007.0 2.78 75.00% 7.42 0.93 1.5 1.75 64º 13 brown 1 red
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/115 and LMA/4453/D/09/116.

Whitbread Porter 1922
Date Year OG FG pale malt brown malt black malt no. 3 sugar oats
18th May 1922 1027.9 1007.0 63.96% 13.58% 13.58% 8.30% 0.57%
7th Apr 1922 1028.1 1008.0 63.12% 14.11% 14.11% 7.92% 0.74%
7th Jul 1922 1027.8 1007.0 63.96% 14.15% 13.02% 8.30% 0.57%
17th Jul 1922 1028.0 1007.0 63.96% 14.15% 13.02% 8.30% 0.57%
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/115 and LMA/4453/D/09/116.

The grist is pretty simple and quite like a late 19th-century one: pale, brown and black malt plus No. 3 invert sugar. About the only unusual feature is the high percentage of black malt. It's odd to see as much black as brown malt. Typically, the quantity of brown malt would be considerably greater than that of black malt. That was certainly the case at Whitbread before WW I.

Time to review Whitbread's performance so far. Whitbread had two Milds in the ring, full-strength X Ale and watery MA. Surprisingly their MA scored quite well, finishing fourth of seventeen with an average of 0.67. While X Ale was a disappointing twelfth, averaging -0.2. Their Burton performed very well finishing first of fourteen and averaging 1.33. Their Pale Ale did even better, coming first of fifteen with an average of 2.25. Though it should be noted that the sample sizes were much smaller for Whitbread's beers.

Let's take a look at how their Porter did:

Whitbread Porter quality 1922
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Flavour score Price
1922 Porter 1012.2 1034.7 2.91 64.84% exceptionally good 3 6d
1922 Porter 1010.2 1033.7 3.04 69.73% thin, sound -1 6d
1922 Porter 1013.2 1035.7 2.91 63.03% v . fair 2 6d
Average  1011.9 1034.7 2.95 65.87% 1.33
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

They got the only perfect three score of any of the Porters. Only one of the samples was a bit duff and got a negative score, leaving a good average of 1.33. But there were only three samples, leaving plenty of room for distortion.

Next time I'll be rounding up Porter with a look at the full league table. That'll be fun. Well, probably not, but I have to remain upbeat, no matter how achingly dull my posts are.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Still 25% off my Lulu books

until the end of  tomorrow (18th August) with this code:


It's a great deal than the last one. And a great deal of words (or numbers) is what you'll get if you buy Porter! or Numbers!

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

Austrian beer output per head per province in 1888

Another nifty title, don't you think?

I've managed to spin yet more thread from that tangled clump of numbers. This time adding population figures to come up with figures for beer output per head of population. I've found it very instructive.

I'm going to repeat the map of Autro-Hungarian provinces as otherwise the table won't much sense to most of you. Me, I'm becoming pointlessly familiar with the administrative divisions of the Empire.

Now the numbers:

Austrian beer output per head per province in 1888
Province population beer output litres/head
Salzburg 169,500 299,968 176.97
Upper Austria 773,700 946,991 122.40
Lower Austria 2,552,400 2,609,744 102.25
Bohemia 5,757,800 5,487,030 95.30
Styria 1,261,000 660,141 52.35
Silesia 590,500 306,074 51.83
Moravia 2,212,000 1,085,076 49.05
Carinthia 357,300 141,212 39.52
Tirol und Vorarlberg 916,200 266,871 29.13
Galicia 6,370,800 708,373 11.12
Carniola 498,000 49,225 9.88
Bukovina 627,900 58,806 9.37
Hungary and Siebenbergen 14,715,900 490,831 3.34
Croatia and Slavonia 2,065,900 10,962 0.53
Kustenland 680,200 1,054 0.15
total Austria 41,466,600 13,142,429 31.69

Salzburg is the unexpected winner. Not because its beer output was huge, but because its population was small. The converse was true of Bohemia: it produced easily the most beer, but also had one of the largest populations. Something I noticed: the population of the Czech Republic is now scarcely great than in 1888. Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia come to about 8.5 million. The current population is about 10 million.

You can see beer production was ridiculously concentrated in the top left hand corner of the Empire. Basically the areas with a majority Czech- or German-speaking population. Not a shock, really, but it's always nice to have hard evidence.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Beer output in the UK and Germany in the late 19th century

I've really had my title writing hat on this week. Today's is another classic. I'm continuing my Summer of Statistics with a comparison of German and UK beer production. I think it's instructive, But numbers are lego for me. I can happily play with them all day.

The numbers cover a really crucial period. That is when Germany first passed the UK to become the largest producer of beer in Europe. The odd war year excepted, I'm sure that's been the case ever since.It's symbolic of the emergence of Germany as both an economic and political force in the last decades of the 19th century. This is also when German industrial production outstripped Britain's.

There's one really weird feature of 19th-century British beer statistics. And it explains why the figures for UK output only begin in 1881. It also demonstrates the usual source of these numbers. Between 1830 and 1880 there are no accurate figures on British beer production, just guesses. The reason is simple: because there was no tax on beer in that period. As the government wasn't recording it for tax purposes, the number wasn't recorded. It's a bit of a bummer for me as it leaves a big hole in my tables. The best you can do is make an estimate from the quantity of malt used in brewing. You see that was recorded as malt was taxed. Number of quarters times 4 is the usual formula.

On with the tables. First ones showing the number of hectolitres brewed and the percentage change from the previous year:

Change in German beer production 1872 - 1900 (hl)
year production % change year production % change
1872 32,945,000 1887 47,100,000 4.51%
1873 36,989,000 12.28% 1888 47,696,000 1.27%
1874 38,194,000 3.26% 1889 54,420,000 14.10%
1875 38,936,000 1.94% 1890 52,830,000 -2.92%
1876 38,857,000 -0.20% 1891 53,205,000 0.71%
1877 38,269,000 -1.51% 1892 54,780,000 2.96%
1878 37,425,000 -2.21% 1893 55,623,000 1.54%
1879 37,184,000 -0.64% 1894 55,369,000 -0.46%
1880 38,497,000 3.53% 1895 60,695,000 9.62%
1881 39,109,000 1.59% 1896 61,621,000 1.53%
1882 39,324,000 0.55% 1897 66,378,000 7.72%
1883 40,873,000 3.94% 1898 67,968,000 2.40%
1884 42,374,000 3.67% 1899 69,500,000 2.25%
1885 41,857,000 -1.22% 1900 70,857,000 1.95%
1886 45,068,000 7.67% 1881 - 1899 77.71%
"European Statistics 1750-1970" by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, pages 283 and 285.

Change in UK beer production 1872 - 1900 (hl)
year production % change year production % change
1881 44,955,000 1891 52,757,000 1.26%
1882 45,057,000 0.23% 1892 52,470,000 -0.54%
1883 44,784,000 -0.61% 1893 52,520,000 0.10%
1884 46,036,000 2.80% 1894 52,743,000 0.42%
1885 45,176,000 -1.87% 1895 53,574,000 1.58%
1886 45,239,000 0.14% 1896 56,284,000 5.06%
1887 46,216,000 2.16% 1897 57,791,000 2.68%
1888 46,507,000 0.63% 1898 59,218,000 2.47%
1889 49,755,000 6.98% 1899 61,214,000 3.37%
1890 52,100,000 4.71% 1881 - 1899 36.17%
"European Statistics 1750-1970" by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, page 284.

1887. That's the year German beer production outstripped the UK's. It's nice to pinpoint that. In the period 1881 to 1899 German production increased by more than double the amount of the UK's. There are some other fascinating points. Like 1885 being a year of negative growth in both countries. And 1889 being a particularly good year in both. Also there were only three years between 1881 and 1899 in both countries when beer output fell.

Here's a graph of the same information:

The next set of tables show beer production per head of population:

German beer output per head 1872 - 1900
year population output (hl) litres per head
1872 41,058,800 32,945,000 80.24
1874 42,000,000 38,194,000 90.94
1877 43,610,000 38,269,000 87.75
c1880 45,234,100 38,497,000 85.11
c1885 46,840,600 41,857,000 89.36
1888 48,170,000 47,696,000 99.02
1890 49,428,100 52,830,000 106.88
1893 50,760,000 55,623,000 109.58
1896 52,750,000 61,621,000 116.82
1900 56,356,200 70,857,000 125.73
2000 82,797,400 110,429,000 133.37
European Statistics 1750-1970 by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, pages 283 and 285.
Deutscher Brauer-Bund Bonn

UK beer output per head 1881 - 1900
year population output (hl) litres per head
1881 34,934,476 44,955,000 128.68
1885 36,015,601 45,176,000 125.43
1891 37,802,381 52,757,000 139.56
1895 39,220,114 53,574,000 136.60
1900 41,154,646 60,726,112 147.56
2000 59,511,500 55,279,000 92.89
Brewers' Almanack 1928, p. 110
European Statistics 1750-1970 by B. R. Mitchell, 1978, page 284.
Statistical Handbook of the British Beer & Pub Association 2005, p. 7

The UK figure was about 50% higher in 1881, but by 1900 Germany was closing in fast.  It's interesting to see that Germany's output per head was higher in 2000 than 1900, while the UK's was lower.

I've just about squeezed the last dropd of fun juice out of these numbers. I'll have to find some new ones.