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21-10-2012, 08:21
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They didn't realise it at the name, but everything would be going downhill for British brewing after 1913.

Take a look at these numbers first. They're for the year ending September 1913. The last full year before the outbreak of war. None of the figures would ever be as large again until after WW II. Except for the amount of beer duty. That kept going up, but only because the rate per barrel kept increasing. It would be 1974 before beer production exceeded the 1913 figure.


"THE YEAR'S OUTPUT OF BEER.
A White Paper published yesterday states that the number barrels of beer produced the United Kingdom by brewers licensed for sale during the year ended September last was 37,078,760, and the amount beer duty charged was £13,771,802. The firms persons licensed numbered 3,846, the licence duty paid being £400,034, and the quantities of materials used were: Malt, 52,287,637 bushels ; unmalted corn, 91,068 bushels; rice, maize, etc., 1,611,366 cwt.; sugar, etc., 3,279,314 cwt. hops, 62,911,376 lbs.; hop substitutes. 18,885 lbs.

In addition there were 4,829 persons licensed as brewers, not for sale, 821 of these private brewers being liable to beer duty. There were 85,936 victuallers licensed, 26,939 persons licensed to sell beer on the premises and 22,217 off licenses. During the year 651,768 barrels of declared value of £2,118.379 were exported, our principal customers being the British East Indies, £453,968; Australia, £310,492; Belgium £289,691; and the United States, £269,986. Germany took £46,927 worth of beer, and France £31,659. Gibraltar accounted for £53,730, and Malta for £38,402, while British beer found its way also to Arabia, Siam, Papua, and Paraguay.
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 17 April 1914, page 12.
Here's a table to show what happened after WW I (I've converted the figures from the newspaper report into hundredweights so all the figures match):




Brewing materials (cwt) 1914 - 1939


year
malt
unmalted corn
rice, maize, etc
sugar
total malt & adjuncts
hops
preparations of hops
hop substitutes
bulk barrels


1913
19,607,864
34,151
1,611,366
3,279,314
24,532,694
561,709

169
37,078,760


1914
19,697,112
34,644
1,566,506
3,279,710
24,577,972
559,423

174
36,162,273


1920
15,759,389
36,129
1,022,748
2,135,591
18,953,857
503,140
132
116
34,776,258


1922
12,420,502
24,180
810,213
1,622,068
14,876,963
398,506
160
34
27,815,249


1924
11,274,964
23,223
846,210
1,699,769
13,844,166
350,428
54
44
25,927,783


1926
10,948,168
23,113
827,393
1,832,914
13,631,588
355,375
79
28
25,987,830


1928
10,525,902
21,794
824,783
1,838,269
13,210,748
330,662
119
38
24,981,731


1930
10,080,120
25,765
762,633
1,835,238
12,703,756
307,289
101
91
24,488,629


1931
9,119,236
22,725
688,850
1,698,163
11,528,974
277,406
91
59
22,561,497


1932
7,115,230
12,586
533,405
1,377,126
9,038,347
219,587
72
38
18,864,711


1933
7,239,776
12,294
521,151
1,379,965
9,153,186
222,868
70
40
18,931,185


1934
7,995,574
11,816
547,865
1,543,228
10,098,483
233,419
107
91
20,378,879


1935
8,444,452
10,956
587,841
1,631,926
10,675,175
248,744
144
170
21,598,179


1936
8,646,322
10,734
592,734
1,705,418
10,955,208
258,300
108
203
22,207,859


1937
9,066,875
10,701
648,679
1,835,886
11,562,141
270,592
146
228
23,608,658


1938
9,378,888
14,194
688,086
1,894,773
11,975,941
277,846
145
29
24,339,360


1939
9,884,803
9,910
734,771
1,986,478
12,615,962
285,715
113
13
25,691,217


Sources:


1913: Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Friday 17 April 1914, page 12.


1914-1939: 1955 Brewers'Almanack, page 62


Notes:


The figures for hops may exclude some hops used for dry-hopping



The effect of the fall in malt usage must have been pretty dramatic on British maltsters. Although much of the grain was imported, all of it was malted in Britain. 37% less malt was used in 1922 than in 1914. And the decline didn't stop there. By 1932 malt usage was down by 57% compared to 1914.

Working out the effect on the hop industry is trickier because a large percentage of the hops used in Britain were imported. But such a big fall in demand for hops must have had an impact on domestic production.

You can see that beer output continued to fall throughout the 1920's before hitting a nadir in 1932. The decline in beer production is even more striking in terms of standard barrels because not only was the amount of beer brewed falling, but also its gravity. In terms of the amount of alcohol produced by brewing, the decrease was much larger. Which is exactly why we'll be looking at that - and some other exciting numbers - next time.

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