Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Irish beer exports 1937 - 1949

A very high percentage of Irish beer was exported. Before the war over half of Irish beer was exported, the majority of it going to the UK. After falling in the early years of the war from around 1 million standard barrels to around 750,000 barrels in the early war years, exports almost reached their 1938 level in 1942. After that, they fell off again, dropping to below half a million barrels in 1944.

Irish beer statistics 1937 - 1949
Year Production std. barrels Production bulk barrels Imports std. barrels Exports std. barrels Imports bulk barrels Exports bulk barrels average OG
1937 1,800,322 1,908,761 61,344 1,219,923 65,033 1,293,288 1051.9
1938 1,652,844 1,755,761 32,669 1,066,094 34,701 1,132,390 1051.8
1939 1,368,661 1,472,678 42,756 770,562 46,001 829,048 1051.1
1940 1,401,188 1,494,036 42,459 789,864 45,274 842,236 1051.6
1941 1,335,171 1,465,569 38,616 767,209 42,384 842,077 1050.1
1942 1,451,782 1,750,140 19,926 905,165 24,023 1,091,277 1045.6
1943 1,293,862 1,631,009 15,282 691,275 19,264 871,422 1043.6
1944 1,242,754 1,534,040 11,777 483,031 14,404 590,765 1045
1945 1,458,419 1,798,450 2,405 661,674 2,966 815,966 1044.6
1946 1,665,815 2,063,093 250 802,122 310 993,396 1044.4
1947 1,480,769 1,952,583 734 676,485 968 892,032 1041.7
1948 1,490,218 1,988,580 3,427 700,291 4,541 927,873 1041.5
1949 1,608,606 2,119,583 11,847 759,846 15,603 1,000,755 1041.8
Source:
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p.107-110.
Note:
Import and Export bulk barrels calculated from standard barrels and average OG.

This fall meant that in 1944 and 1945 more than 50% of Irish beer was consumed domestically. The figures for Irish domestic beer consumption got me thinking. Especially after reading recently about the inner Irish border. These figures are derived from the ones in the other table.

Irish domestic beer consumption 1937 - 1949
Year std. barrels bulk barrels
1937 641,743 680,506
1938 619,419 658,071
1939 640,855 689,632
1940 653,783 697,074
1941 606,578 665,876
1942 566,543 682,886
1943 617,869 778,852
1944 771,500 957,679
1945 799,150 985,450
1946 863,943 1,070,007
1947 805,018 1,061,518
1948 793,354 1,065,248
1949 860,607 1,134,431

I’m concentrating on the bulk barrels figure, because that’s how much people were actually drinking. After pootling along a little under 700,000 barrels a year, it suddenly jumps up to almost 1 million barrels in 1945. That’s an increase of almost 50% on the pre-war level. Did the Irish really suddenly start drinking that much more in the middle of the war?

The border between the two parts of Ireland is notoriously difficult to control. It’s fairly random, never having been intended to be an international border and has dozens of tiny roads that cross it. Was that beer really being drunk in the South, or was some being smuggled into Northern Ireland?

3 comments:

John Smith said...

Perhaps there is something that can be gleaned from this article....sounds like a rather large number of thirsty troops were garrisoned in the north in 1944. https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/how-guinness-saved-ireland-in-world-war-ii

Michael Stein said...

Interestingly enough, a complete aside, E. J. Bourke opens what becomes the first US Guinness brewery in the 1930s and in 1943 Guinness purchased it. The first batch is out in March, 1948, but by 1954 all Guinness beers for the US market were being brewed in Dublin. The uptick is really interesting and it's an interesting thread you're picking up here...

John Smith said...

Hello Ronald,

I admit to being a sometime thrasher of dead horses, so here are two more tidbits that may be worth exploring if you are still looking into the matter.

1) If you google "tens of thousands of thirsty American and British troops" you should get a hit on an e-book "A Taste of Progress: Food at International and World Exhibitions..." where it mentions the halting of Guinness exports.

2) The following link takes you to (hopefully) a scholarly piece written by Bryce Evans, Senior Lecturer in History, Liverpool Hope University & 2014 Winston Churchill Fellow:

https://drbryceevans.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/guinness-saved-ireland/

Here is a bit from it "This is a complex question which, admittedly, bleeds into the high political; and there is no short answer. A clue, however, lies in the communiqués back to London from the Dublin-based British press attaché and future British poet laureate John Betjeman. In these letters, Betjeman regularly spelt out the Irish supply situation. A typical report ran ‘No coal. No petrol. No gas. No electric. No paraffin’ but conceded ‘Guinness good’. Guinness, therefore, was arguably the most important economic weapon that the Irish possessed."

Cheers