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28-11-2017, 08:43
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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?

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