Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925

We're finally on the final leg of my crawl through the cellars of 1920's London. It's been a fascinating journey. So much so, that it probably deserves a volume of its own. But what to call it? Gravity!? Or maybe Draught! Feel free to throw suggestions at me.

The 1920's was a funny period. Brewers weren't sure legislation the goivernment might throw their way, particularly with regard to pubs. The so-called local option, where inhabitants of a ward could vote for it to go dry was seen by brewers as a great threat. Pubs were their primary outlets. Whole areas becoming pub-free could seriously affect their sales. Eventually, local option legislation was only passed in Scotland and only a small number of areas there ever voted to go dry.

One of the ironies is that the temperance campaigners who argued against the bad influence of the old type of pub were opposed to them being improved. Purely on the grounds that well-run, modern pubs countered many of their crazy arguments. Buty rationality, truth and objectivity are rare companions of teetotallers. Distortions and downright lies are their stock in trade.

Here's an example of the temperance view compared to the rational view. We'll begin with sense:

The best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house, was the opinion put forward Mr E. W. Giffad presiding at the annual meeting of the Barclay, Perkins Brewery Co. in London yesterday.

The American prohibition campaign had been stated in this country, said, but the promotors were not working very much on the surface at present. Their methods were thoroughly unenglish, and they were working the same lines as they did in America. He didn't believe there was any prospect of carrying prohibition in this country, for the working man did not want it. The local option movement was another danger the trade had to face, and it could be put before working men so that they would see that it was as dangerous as prohibition.

Admiral Sir Reginald Hall, M.P., a newcomer to the Board of Directors, said that as a social reformer he had joined the Board because he realised that Barclay, Perkins were pioneers in the movement of improved public-houses. There was no stigma attaching to the presence of ladies and children in an hotel, and pubiic-house ought to be made so that working man could take his women folk and children there without risk of insult to eye or ear."
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 4.

Now the nutcases:

"Public-House Improvements. At the annual meeting of the Barclay Perkins Brewery Company the chairman stated that the best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house. According to this representative of the liquor trade, the Trade can do as well or better than the Government in improving the public-houses. This deliverance is an admission that there is room for improvement of the public-houses and also that the Trade can do something for the ensuring of improvement. As matter of fact, prohibition and local option movements are making progress because the Trade has not succeeded in improving the public-houses or the conditions of the working of the liquor traffic. The Trade lavishing money on opposition to the local option movement, and this means opposition to freedom to the full majorities of citizens declaring for or against the maintenance of unimproved public-houses in their areas."
Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 2.

The distortion? That the trade wasn't trying very hard to improve its pubs. While in many cases breweres were prevented from improving their pubs by teetotallers on licensing committees who refused their applications. The hypocritical bastards.

The prohibition and local option movements weren't really gaining ground. If anything the opposite was true. The impact of a drop in beer strength and the restriction in pub hours had gretly reduced the perception of drunkenness. Partial success had in fact weaked their cause.

Let's look at Barclay Perkins Stout now. I can see which beer it is: BS. Not sure if that still stood for Brown Stout at this point or if it had already become Best Stout. That doesn't really matter. It was their bog standard draught Stout. It terms of strength, it was a typical 9d (after 1923 8d) Stout, with a gravity in the mid-1950's. Here are the numbers in a nice table:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout in the 1920s
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp colour
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 1017.0 5.04 69.15% 9.00 2.34 2

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 1020 4.46 62.79% 6 1.26 2.25 2
61º 340
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 1018 4.67 66.22% 6 1.43 2.25 2 1.75 61º 320
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

Now let's take a look at the grist. There's much more fun here. Take a look:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout grists in the 1920s
Date Year OG brown malt amber malt crystal malt MA malt SA malt roast barley no. 3 sugar caramel oats flaked maize
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 4.35% 47.83% 4.35% 21.74% 17.39% 4.35%

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 5.04% 10.08% 7.56% 35.29% 12.61% 12.29% 10.08% 1.68% 0.32% 5.04%
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 5.49% 10.98% 7.32% 32.93% 10.98% 12.58% 12.20% 1.83% 0.23% 5.49%
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

The example from 1922 isn't typical. There's a note on the brewing record stying that it was a special all-malt brew for the yeast. It's certainly a pretty odd grist, with 50% amber malt. With less than 40% malt with disstatic power - the MA and SA malts - you have to wonder how well it would have converted.

Unless the amber malt was diastatic. The small amount of roast barley doesn't seem to make much sense, either, given the lack of dark sugar and caramel to colour the beer.

The more standard recipe is still unusual. Any amber malt is rare in weaker Stouts of this period. And over 12% roast barley is very high. The otehr oddity is the total lack of pale malt. A combination of MA (Mild Ale) and SA (Strong Ale) malts make up the base grains. But there's still around 35% coloured grains in the grist. I guess that explains the dark colour - over 300 lovibond is pretty much black.

Oh, and note the token few pounds of oats so they could sell some of it as Oatmeal Stout. A massive 42 pounds of it for 150 barrels of beer. Far too little to have any impact at all.

Time to look at the quality of BS down the boozer. You may remember that Barclay Perkins beers have mostly been pretty crap so far. Let's see how they do this time:

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Attenuation Flavour score Price
1922 Stout 1016 1057 5.32 71.93% caramel flavour -1 9
1922 Stout 1017.6 1057.6 5.19 69.44% fair rather thin -1 9
1922 Stout 1013.6 1056.6 5.60 75.97% sour -3 9
1922 Stout 1015.4 1054.9 5.13 71.95% v poor -2 9
1922 Stout 1013.9 1055.4 5.40 74.91% v unpleasant -3 9
1923 Stout 1015.6 1058.1 5.52 73.15% fair 1 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1057.9 5.80 76.86% going off -2 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1053.9 5.27 75.14% going off -2 8
1923 Stout 1016.2 1053.7 4.86 69.83% Poor & thin -2 8
1923 Stout 1015.8 1055.8 5.19 71.68% unpleasant bitter -2 9
1923 Stout 1014.8 1054.3 5.13 72.74% v fair 2 8
1924 Stout 1012.1 1050.4 4.98 75.99% going off -2 8
1924 Stout 1013.4 1055.5 5.48 75.86% v poor -2 8
1925 Stout 1012.8 1054.8 5.47 76.64% good 2 8
Average  1014.6 1055.4 5.31 73.72%
-1.21 8.57
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

That's quite impressive, in  way. It's scored even worse than their Porter. Only three of fourteen smaples had a good flavour. A scary nine examples scored -2 or -3. Based on the descriptions, many had gone bad. Very disappointing. Given Stout was a better seller and higher gravity than Porter, you'd expect it to be in better condition. The overall average score of -1.21 is one of the worst so far.

Time-travelling advice? Stick to bottled Russian Stout in Barclay Perkins pubs.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Barclay Perkins financial results 1917 - 1939

That'a another real click bait title. I don't know how I conjour them up.

It was a wet weekend in Amsterdam. Very wet. Persistent rain with the odd burst of stair-rods and occasional taunting splash of sunshine. Not much to tempt me out of doors, I got stuck into some research. The hands dirty, back-breaking type of work. Looking for financial reports in the newspaper archive.

It's not what you'd call exciting. Not particularly difficult, just time-consuming and tedious. They're not hard to find. Companies issued their annual report on pretty much the same date each year. What's annoying is the inconsistency of the figures they report. Sometime the gross profit, sometimes the net profit. And sometime they'll say it's the net when it's really the gross. Sorting out which is which isn't a barrel of laughs, either.

But I think it's worth it. Because it's told me quite a lot about Barclay Perkins as a company between the wars. The most obvious is that they were financially healthy. That helps me to understand how, despite falling output during the 1920's, they managed to remain an independent company. This might help to explain, too:

"Brewery Share.
The capital of Barclay, Perkins, Co., the London brewers, was originally in Ordinary shares of £100 and Preference shares £10 each. In 1911 a reorganization had to be arranged, and the Ordinary shares were written down in nominal value to £1 and the Preference shares to £4 each. There are 10,200 £1 Ordinary shares in issue, and are mostly held privately. Occasionally a few shares come to the Stock Exchange and at the moment 20 shares are available, for which the market is asking £97 10s. per share. Last year a dividend of £8 per share was paid. This accounts for the high price asked for the shares by the market, but it should be realized that this dividend is equal to 8 per cent, on the original capital."
Western Morning News - Saturday 26 June 1926, page 9.

With a small number of shares, privately held, it would be extremely difficult for an outsider to control of the company

Here are all the figures*:

Barclay Perkins financial results 1917 - 1939
Year operating profit net profit brought in carried forward dividend Ordinary shares to contingency reserve contingency reserve to provident fund barrels brewed net profit per barrel
1917 £150,059 426,170 £0.35
1918 £295,643 247,089 £1.20
1919 £366,484 325,965 £1.12
1920 £395,511 £99,415 6% £250,000 464,033 £0.85
1921 £217,152 £99,415 £56,498 6% 393,045 £0.55
1922 £314,678 £232,003 £56,498 £34,463 8% 348,576 £0.67
1923 £235,691 £34,463 £41,592 10% 293,728 £0.80
1924 £273,327 £161,063 £36,492 £36,795 8% £8,160 303,676 £0.53
1925 £198,194 £36,795 £48,230 8% £8,160 329,464 £0.60
1926 £272,246 £48,230 £58,896 8% 317,628 £0.86
1927 £254,127 £58,896 £52,609 8% £8,160 306,682 £0.83
1928 £292,475 £224,858 £52,609 £68,267 8% £10,200 306,300 £0.73
1929 £279,504 £209,760 11% £10,000 300,569 £0.70
1930 £305,740 £63,190 11% £20,000 £8,064 394,016 £0.78
1931 £407,879 £308,359 £63,190 £66,203 11% £25,000 395,779 £0.78
1932 £303,394 £249,359 £66,297 £66,381 8% £25,000 £5,610 353,736 £0.70
1933 £272,988 £171,327 6% 312,739 £0.55
1934 £327,137 £225,705 £51,836 8% £100,000 £207,108 £5,797 348,267 £0.65
1935 £335,607 £234,640 £52,127 8% £10,000 £5,707 356,832 £0.66
1936 £349,562 £249,109 £52,127 £67,485 8% £15,000 378,084 £0.66
1937 £347,446 £251,200 £67,485 £70,626 8% £20,000 386,700 £0.65
1938 £344,645 £244,200 £70,525 8% £20,000 406,310 £0.60
1939 £213,432 £70,525 £74,580 6% £20,000 404,777 £0.53
Aberdeen Journal - Friday 22 June 1923, page 11.
Aberdeen Journal - Thursday 23 June 1927, page 10.
Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 19 June 1935, page 14.
Derby Daily Telegraph - Saturday 22 June 1929, page 11.
Dundee Courier - Monday 22 June 1936, page 2.
Dundee Courier - Tuesday 23 June 1931, page  2.
Dundee Courier - Wednesday 20 June 1934, page 2.
Dundee Courier - Wednesday 21 June 1933, page 2.
Dundee Courier - Wednesday 23 June 1926, page 2.
Edinburgh Evening News - Friday 17 June 1932, page 3.
Hull Daily Mail - Wednesday 19 June 1935, page 6.
Western Morning News - Thursday 21 June 1934, page 9.
Western Morning News - Wednesday 23 June 1926, page 7.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 22 June 1928, page 17.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 23 June 1922, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 20 June 1921, page 11.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 21 June 1920, page 12.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 23 June 1924, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 23 June 1930, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 20 June 1936, page 23.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 21 June 1934, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Thursday 22 June 1939, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 21 June 1938, page 14.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 28 June 1932, page 16.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 30 June 1931, page 15.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Wednesday 23 June 1937, page 16.
Document ACC/2305/1/711/1 in the London Metropolitan Archives

Intersting that the years where they made the most profit per barrel were during WW I. They'd really struggled before the war, as many brewers had. Even Snowden's 1931 emergency budget doesn't seem to have made much of a dent in Braclay Perkins' profits.

The average dividend between 1920 and 1939 was 8.2%. At a time when there wasn't really any inflation, that's a pretty good return. If you could get hold them, Barclay Perkins' shares were a good investment, with a steady, reliable return.

* After the writing down of the Ordinary share value from £100 to £1 in 1911, up until 1928 the dividends mostly look crazily high - 800 or 1,000%. I'm giving them as a %age of the original share capital as it gives a more realistic picture.

Monday, 25 August 2014

It's official

I'll be in the Northwest this November:

7th – 8th November Seattle
9th – 10th November Denver
11th – 12th November Portland
13th – 14th November Vancouver
15th November Seattle

I'll be pushing my brilliant book, obviouly. And other stuff. It's not all 100% worked out. More like 0.0015%.

Er, buy my book:

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Imperial Stout

That's not really what this article is about. Just the title of a random advert. The one you can see below.

Why am I writing this article? Because I need to write one quickly, if I'm honest. I've been so busy felling trees in the newspaper archive forest that I've little time for writing. At least that's my excuse. A renascent social life isn't helping.

But there are other reasons. Partly it's providing evidence for the non-dominance of Guinnes Stout after WW I. I can never resist plugging away at that one.Which has just reminded me of something else I noticed. The difference in strength between post WW II British and Irish beer.

Remember the summary of WW I gravity restrictions I published a few days ago? In May 1919 average gravity in Great Britain was 1044º and 1051º in Ireland. It struck me that more recently there had been a similar difference in the average strengths. In the 1950's,average gravity in the Irish Republic was about 1046* while in the UK it was 1037º**. So an 8 ppoint difference as aopposed to a 7 point difference.

Getting back to my original motivation, I also want to show how Guinness was a very different beer in 1925. And that there were plenty of British Stouts with similar specs.

First, the price list that inspired all this:

Evening Telegraph - Thursday 29 January 1925, page 4.

Slightly confusing the way both "pints" and "Imperial pints" are specified. It implies some are reputed rather than Imperial pints, though I thought they'd dropped that nonsense by this period.

Now here are the specifications of those same beers:

Some Stouts of the 1920's
Year Brewer Beer Style package OG FG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1925 Barclay Perkins Stout Stout bottled 1053.9 1015.4 5.00 71.43%
1925 Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout Stout bottled 1060.3 1016.1 5.75 73.30%
1925 Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout Stout draught 1060.3 1020.6 5.14 65.84%
1925 Barclay Perkins Stout Stout draught 1054.8 1012.8 5.47 76.64%
1925 Barclay Perkins BS Ex Stout 1072.2 1025.5 300 6.18 64.68%
1925 Barclay Perkins BBS Ex Stout 1079.7 1029.5 230 6.64 62.99%
1925 Barclay Perkins OMS for bottling Stout 1050.9 1017.5 260 4.41 65.59%
1923 Guinness Extra Stout Stout bottled 1054.2 1016.2 4.93 70.11%
1921 Guinness Extra Stout Stout bottled 1059 1020 5.05 66.10%
1922 Guinness Extra Stout Stout bottled 1054.7 1021.5 4.28 60.69%
1923 Guinness Extra Stout Stout bottled 1054.2 1016.2 4.93 70.11%
1921 Bass No. 1 Barley Wine bottled 1094 1032 8.06 65.96%
1927 Bass No. 1 Barley Wine Barley Wine bottled 1105 1035 70 9.13 66.67%
1925 Whitbread LS Stout 1057.0 1020.0 4.89 64.88%
1925 Whitbread CS Stout 1050.9 1017.0 4.49 66.63%
1925 Whitbread S Stout 1058.1 1019.0 5.17 67.27%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11
Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/118.
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/611.

What I specifically wanted to point out was the low degree of attenuation of Guinness Extra Stout and how it's very similar to that of British Stouts of the same general type. The average attenuation of the Guinness samples is 66.75% and of the British ones 67.66%. After 1950, when Guinness Extra Stout in its modern form appeared, that shot up to around 85%, giving birth to Dry Stout.

There may be some more of this type of stuff. Depending on how rushed I am.

*1971 Brewers' Almanack, pages 102 - 103.
** 1971 Brewers' Almanack, page 45.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Whitbread bottled beer in the run up to WW I

Bottled beer was big business for Whitbread, even before WW I.

Which explains why I keep coming across adverts for their bottled beer from all over the country. Like this one:

Morpeth Herald - Friday 17 March 1911, page 11.

Morpeth in North of Newcastle - about as far away as you can get from London and still be in England. It imples that Whitbread's bottled beers had just about mational distribution.

I can't help wondering what Nourishing Ale was. There are only two beers that fit the bill gravity-wise: 2PA (a slightly weaker version of their PA) and X Ale. I'd be inclined toi go for the latter.

This table shows just how important:

Whitbread Draught and Bottled sales 1901 – 1938
total draught Bottling Burton
Year barrels % barrels % barrels % Total
1901 538,097 73.63% 188,525 25.80% 4,153 0.57% 730,775
1902 546,043 72.92% 198,812 26.55% 3,975 0.53% 748,830
1903 552,383 71.00% 221,651 28.49% 3,998 0.51% 778,032
1904 546,402 69.40% 237,522 30.17% 3,379 0.43% 787,303
1905 538,584 67.67% 254,373 31.96% 2,983 0.37% 795,940
1906 526,766 64.32% 289,898 35.40% 2,361 0.29% 819,025
1907 513,881 61.49% 320,140 38.30% 1,749 0.21% 835,770
1908 477,470 58.97% 330,767 40.85% 1,459 0.18% 809,696
1909 456,638 56.14% 355,212 43.67% 1,481 0.18% 813,331
1910 446,477 55.72% 353,534 44.12% 1,325 0.17% 801,336
1911 459,908 53.81% 392,899 45.97% 1,564 0.18% 854,371
1912 464,539 49.95% 463,938 49.88% 1,548 0.17% 930,025
1913 436,095 51.17% 414,661 48.66% 1,415 0.17% 852,171
1914 418,402 49.38% 427,455 50.45% 1,415 0.17% 847,272
Whitbread archive document number LMA/4453/D/02/16

By the outbreak of WW I, 50% of Whitbread's sales were in bottled form. That's a huge proportion, far, far more than the average. Which makes it all the odder that Whitbread insisted on bottle-conditioning its beers.

All that bottled beer meant that there were loads of empty bottles knocking around. Which other bottlers were only too happy to use.


An interesting case under the Merchandise Marks Act was heard before the Stipendiary (Lord Ilkeston) at the Birmingham Police Court to-day.

John Bailey, trading as Barrett’s Country Bottling Company, 240, St. Vincent-etreet, Ladywood, was summoned for selling four bottles of ale on 12 September to which a false trade description had been applied.

Mr. P. Sandlands (instructed by Messrs. Duggan and Elton) prosecuted, and the defendant was represented Mr. Simmons.

Mr. Sandlands stated that the prosecution wae taken at the instance of the Birmingham and District Mineral Water Manufacturers’ and Bottlers’ Association. On 12 September the defendant's carter delivered to Mr. Q. S. Grubb. Icknield-street, four dozen bottles of ale, and of that number no fewer than four of the bottles belonged to Whitbread and Co., brewers and bottlers. The bottles bore a special label of Barrett’s Country bottling Company, but they also had the trade mark and name of Whitbread’s impressed upon them, and stoppers bearing different brewers’ names. There was no excuse for the defendant using the bottles belonging to other people. Messrs. Whitbread spent no less than £12,000 every year renewing their stock of bottles.

Mr. Simmons admitted that a technical offence had been committed the defendant, but contended that there was no intention to defraud.

Mr. Bailey gave evidence, and said when he took over the business in 1912 he had 1,234 gross of bottles in stock, more than sufficient to carry on the business. He had given instructions to his men not to take or use bottles belonging to other firms. The label he put on the bottles did not bear the name the brewer of the beer he sold.

Another summons was heard against Mr. Bailey for selling three bottles on the same day bearing the name of R. White and Sons, mineral water manufacturer, who it was stated, spent £20,000 on renewing bottles.

A third summons was also heard in respect of the use by the defendant of stoppers belonging to R. White and Sons in bottles containing his beer. This it stated. was the first case the the kind in Birmingham.

The Stipendiary fined defendant £5 and costs on the first summons, £2 and costs on each the other two summonses, and £5 5s special costs.

Three other summonses were withdrawn on the payment of costs."
Evening Despatch - Wednesday 30 September 1914, page 4.

It must have been annoying to spend all that dosh on bottles and have someone else use them. Although there was a deposit charged, it was often less than the value of the bottle. Which means the brewer lost out if the bottle wasn't returned.

With the resurgence of proprietary bottles, it's a problem that could reapper. Except those bottles aren't usually returnable. I can only think of one returnable bottle that bears a brand: Westmalle. And that does get re-used, without complaint, by other brewers, notablt Westvleteren.