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24-07-2015, 09:11
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Time to return to Georges of Bristol to hear some more from their chairman.

First a little about the brewery’s history. Founded in 1730, it was registered as a limited company in 1888. Courage bought it up in 1961 with 1,459 tied houses. That number of pubs means it must have been one of the largest regional breweries. It closed in 1999, more than a decade and a half after Horsleydown, the original Courage brewery*.

I drank their beer many times when I lived in London. After the closure of Horsleydown it was the source of Courage Best and Directors. They were OK, if nothing special, I recall. I had a few pints of Best a couple of years ago in Folkestone. Presumably brewed by Charles Wells. It was much the same: alright, but unspectacular.

The war years saw breweries starved of investment. Meaning considerable sums needed to be invested after war’s end, if a company wanted to have their brewery up to scratch:


“During the past two years over £261,000 has been expended on additions to fixed assets.

Of this sum £132,000 represents purchases of valuable licensed houses when opportunities arose. The balance consists of expenditure incurred additions to and modernisation of the brewery and plant particularly to deal economically with the very large increase in output of bottled beers.

Substantial further outlay will be necessary over the next few years to complete this programme in respect of which contracts had been placed September 30, 1949, amounting to £90,000 approximately. “
Western Daily Press - Friday 27 January 1950, page 4.
£132,000 would have been a decent number of pubs – several dozen. You need to remember that for most breweries the only realistic way of boosting output was to control more pubs. The vast majority of beer was drunk in pubs and there were very limited free trade opportunities.

And here’s the recurring theme of a surge in bottled beer sales. Bottling requires far more machinery than merely racking into barrels. Investment in new plant would have been needed to keep up with demand.


“Progress in Repairs
Capital expenditure will also be required to meet the cost of building licensed premises on the Corporation new housing estates. We are pleased to report that negotiations with the planning authorities connection with this matter are proceeding on a satisfactory basis, as stockholders will no doubt have noticed In the Press.

Considerable progress has been made in carrying out repairs which had been deferred on account of war conditions. A survey of outstanding repairs of this nature has been made. In the absence of a further rise in costs it is estimated that the provision made in this year's accounts will be sufficient to cover work still to done.”
Western Daily Press - Friday 27 January 1950, page 4.
In an attempt to fill the housing shortage whole new suburbs, or even complete new towns were built after the war. These were a great opportunity for brewers, offering them the chance to build a large, modern pub in an area with little competition.

Civilian building work came to pretty much a complete stop during the war. Ad in addition to routine maintenance work that had been delayed, many pubs were affected by bombing. George, based in a major port would have had more than their share of pubs damage or even destroyed by German bombs.

I’ll finish with some of Georges beers from the 1950’s:



Georges beers 1949 - 1960


Year
Beer
Style
Price per pint d
package
OG
FG
ABV
App. Atten-uation
colour


1949
IPA
IPA
17
draught
1037.1
1008.9
3.66
76.01%
29 B


1952
Home Brew
Home Brewed
22
bottled
1043.3
1009.9
4.34
77.14%
1.5 + 40


1953
Glucose Stout
Stout
28
bottled
1045.5
1017.6
3.60
61.32%
1 + 11


1954
Barley Wine
Barley Wine
40
bottled
1078.2
1026
6.78
66.75%
95


1956
Brown Ale
Brown Ale
24
bottled
1035.2
1010.8
3.16
69.32%
90


1958
Glucose Stout
Stout
30
bottled
1045.3
1019.3
3.25
57.40%
225


1959
Glucose Stout
Stout
28
bottled
1045
1018.7
3.39
58.44%
225


1959
Light Ale
Light Ale
24
bottled
1033
1008.7
3.15
73.64%
18


1960
Export Port Ale
Pale Ale
30
bottled
1043.4
1012.8
3.83
70.51%
18


Source:


Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.




The chairman hasn't finished speaking yet.










* “Century of British Brewers plus” by Norman Barber, 2005, page 118.

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