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Remember this bit from "Beer Knowledge"?

"When the British government imposed restrictions on malting and beer strength during the First World War, the dry Irish style stole a march on its British counterpart and, aided by both canny advertising and the missionary zeal of Irish Diaspora, it's become the benchmark for stouts."
I just found something in one of Whitbread's spreadsheets that throws some light on this assertion. A bucket of cold light. It's a document with incredibly detailed sales records. Both of Whitbread's own beers and ones from other brewers. Like Guinness and Bass.

If that quote is to be believed, a tide of Guinness washed away British Stout after WW I. So in, say, 1943, you'd expect Guinness to be outselling Whitbread's Stouts, right? Let's see if that was the case.

First, Guinness sales:

Whitbread's Guinness sales 1943 Town Guinness barrels Guinness pints 12,399 Guinness half pints 7,991 Total Town Guinness 20,300 Country Guinness
Guinness pints 2,501 Guinness half pints 1,902 Total Country Guinness 4,403 Total Guinness 24,703 Source: document LMA/44503/C/08/063
So a little less than 25,000 barrels. Not bad. But what about Whitbread's Stouts?

Whitbread's own Stout sales 1943 Town Stout (including Kent) barrels London Stout pints 18,484 Special Stout half pints 14,100 London Stout quarts 12,045 Total London Stout 44,629 Oatmeal Stout pints 1,985 Oatmeal Stout half pints 119 Oatmeal Stout quarts 1,396 Total Oatmeal Stout 3,500 Milk Stout pints 9,284 Milk Stout half pints 6,347 Milk Stout quarts 3,980 Total Milk Stout 19,611 Total Town Stout 67,740 Country Stout
London Stout pints 9,460 Special Stout half pints 821 London Stout half pints 547 London Stout quarts 661 Total London Stout 11,489 Oatmeal Stout pints 24,235 Oatmeal Stout half pints 4,812 Oatmeal Stout quarts 2,394 Total Oatmeal Stout 31,441 Milk Stout pints 25,906 Milk Stout half pints 19,041 Milk Stout quarts 1,196 Total Milk Stout 46,143 Total Country Stout 89,073 Total Whitbread Stout 156,813 Source: document LMA/44503/C/08/063
Just a little bit more. And those figures are just bottled Stout. Whitbread still sold a fair bit of draught Stout. And they sold 20,000 barrels of Stout in Scotland that I haven't included.

In 1943 Whitbread sold more than 6 times as much of their own Stouts as they did Guinness. More than 25 years after Guinness was supposed to have swept British Stouts away.

Can we agree that story is bollocks?