The Price of Beer Yesterday
difficult times in WW I pubs



1917 was a tough year for Britain's drinkers. Lloyd George (a bit of a miserable git at the best of times) had pulled on his steel-toecapped DM's and was down the precinct looking for mister booze. The war was his big chance to piss on drink's chips. And he wasn't going to miss it.

That he was Britain's last Liberal Prime Minister shouldn't come as a great surprise. His government's emergency measures, rushed through in the "national interest", determined the relationship between the Briton and his pub for the rest of the century. Opinions of the man differ, but "twat", "shitbag" and "wanker" are some of the more generous that pubgoers have suggested.

Only the resolute opposition of the working man - who considered a daily pint as his inalienable right - kept total prohibition at bay. "More Beer or we Down Tools" - what could better typify the indomnitable spirit of the British working class?

If you think I'm perhaps a little harsh, consider this: he halved the volume of beer brewed, more than halved its strength, increased excise duty by 600%, doubled the price and slashed pub hours by two-thirds. What a bastard. Though, compared to Hitler (also a teetotaller), his record for maintaining beer strength in wartime ... isn't much better. Both got beer below the intoxicating level - OG under 1030º - three years in. (Ok, in the inhuman monster stakes, Lloyd George isn't a runner, so I suppose comparing him to a carpet-chewing, mass-murdering psycho isn't completely fair. But he IS the bastard responsible for the afternoon closing period that blighted my days as a young layabout. So I'll insult him as much as I like. Bastard.)

Rather than pester you with more of my crap jokes and dodgy hypotheses, I'll let the period speak for itself. Not literally, obviously, but through items which appeared in British newspapers in 1917 and 1918. They evoke the period far better than my clumsy prose.

There's loads of (well, at least some) entertaining stuff. Beer drinkers so upset at price rises, that they picket pubs. Workers threatening to strike if they don't get beer. Landlords and brewers accused of being profiteers and fraudsters. How times have changed.

Things got so bad, the State began to buy up pubs and close breweries. Outright nationalisation was seriously considered.
The Price of Beer Yesterday (Weekly Dispatch, April 8th 1917)
The first article below was published just as new government regulations came into force. You'll see how much discord it aroused.

There are a few snippets of social history in it that amused me. The importance placed on the workman's "the morning pint" may sound odd to us, but it demonstrates just how different British drinking culture was before WW 1. Whereas regular drinking of spirits was recognised as a vice, even by publicans.

We're also given a rare glimpse of what beers London pubs were selling, through the landlord's price fixing agreement. Worth noting is the absence of porter from the draught beers and the presence of lager in the bottled ones. You might have expected three years of bitter fighting with the Germans would have killed the demand for lager. A WW I pub's draught beer choice has genuine variety - Mild, Bitter, Stout, Burton - each has a very different character. Give me that rather than half a dozen bitters with only a few tenths of a per cent alcohol difference between them.

"There is a feeling that the present prices for beer will come down before the end of this month." No sign of it yet. Patience. Maybe next millennium.

Shilling a Pint for Beer To-morrow (Weekly Dispatch, April 1st 1917)
Imagine the horror and anger this headline must have inspired. It would have me running to the pub to drink cheap beer while I could. Which, as The Price of Beer Yesterday so entertainingly records, is exactly what drinkers did in 1917.

Why is Beer so Dear? (Weekly Dispatch, August 26th 1917)
We've all asked ourselves this question. The tiny profit margin of pre-war publicans - making 8s. to 10s. on a barrel of beer that cost 40s. - wouldn't tempt many today. Governement beer -sounds great, but didn't quite work out. I still remember multiroom pubs. Beer is food - there's a slogan that wouldn't get past many comittees now.

Trail of Golden Beer (Weekly Dispatch, September 9th 1917)
Those tricky publicans. What's really in that mild and bitter? Glasses designed to give short measures - I'm getting this terrible sense of deja vu. Porter being sold as Stout.

The Beer Question (News of the World, August 28th 1918)
"The working man must have his beer". A chat with the Food Controller, from 1918. Isn't he in Thomas the Tank Engine? I bet the word "opprobrium" is still as just as popular with News of the World journalists.

The Drink Trade's Future (Weekly Dispatch, June 24th 1917)
MP Robert Toothill's vision of the postwar pub, as published in June1917. His rosy vision of Continental-style cafés, selling low-gravity beer where you could take the safely take the wife, never quite became reality. Except for the weak beer bit. Yet even this advocate of strict control concedes the necessity of beer for the working man. Forget the long pre-war drinking hours: politicians had no intention of letting the pubs open that long ever again. Or beer being as strong. Lloyd George's ghost lives on. Who could have guessed that wartime restrictions would continue for a century after the Armistace?

"More Beer or we Down Tools" (Weekly Dispatch, June 24 1917)
Agricultural workers in Essex have their priorities right.

"Profiteers in Bread and Beer" (Weekly Dispatch, Sept 2nd 1917)
Were some doing well out of beer shortages?

"Still Little Beer" (Weekly Dispatch, Aug 26th 1917)
That must have had them crying into their beer . . .if they had any..

"Workers deprived of Beer" (Weekly Dispatch, June 17 1917)
Sounds like revolution.

"Brewery Dividends" (Weekly Dispatch, Aug 5th 1917)
Life wasn't so bad for the capitalists.

"Heavy Fine for Publican" (Weekly Dispatch Dec 23rd 1917)
Serves him right, watering the beer. What would his £100 fine be in today's money?

"New Malt Restriction" (Weekly Dispatch, Feb 11 1917)
Oh no - old ale and stout are going up.

"Beer Substitutes" (Weekly Dispatch, June 17 1917)
Pint of beer substitute, please barman.


For those of you unused to pre-decimal currenct
d. = penny
s. = shilling
12 pence (pennies) = 1 shilling = 5p (modern money)
20 shillngs = £1

lb = pound = 454 grams
barrel = 36 UK gallons = 163.7 litres
gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 4.546 litres

Wages and Prices:
It's hard for us today to understand the impact of price and wage inflation during WW I. Prices had scarcely increaed since the 1850's, in some cases actually having fallen. In four years of war, they doubled.

Pre-war: " the average weekly wage varied from 26s. 4d. per week to 34s. 4d. Half the women employed were paid from 10s. to 15s. per week."
1917: London bus drivers were earning 60s. per week, even the cleaners were getting 40s.
1918: Even agricultural labourers, the lowest paid manual workers, were earning 60s. to 70s. a week.
Munitions workers earned considerably more - from £6 (120s.) to as much as £10 (200s.) or £20 (400s.) per week.

To put into context the prices, the average price of a pint had been 3d. in 1914. By 1920, the average price had doubled to 6d per pint, while average OG had dropped by 25%. Beers at strengths that would have been considered normal before the war were considerably more expensive.
You'll note that back then, just as now, beer was more expensive in London than elsewhere. For purposes of comparison, here are UK pub beer prices today.

Burton was a type of strong brown ale, one of the standard draught beers in a 1917 London pub. Wahl & Henius, describing the beer in 1902, defined it as being 1064-1069º OG and hopped at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds per American barrel. As a comparison, Burton Pale Ale is also 1064-1069º OG, with a hopping rate of 2.5 to 3 pounds per American barrel. Burton Mild Ale was 1053-1058º OG hopped at 1.25 to 1.5 pounds per American barrel. As Burton's price was the highest per barrel in 1917, we can infer it was the strongest draught beer.
Burton had a long history, being mentioned by Combrune in "Theory and Practice of Brewing" in 1762. Its journey from ubiquity to obscurity is a lesson in the fickle nature of public taste. It finally died out in the 1970's, when Fuller's was replaced by ESB and Youngs renamed theirs Winter Warmer. Though, Youngs did recently brew a seasonal beer called Burton.
Ballantine - the USA's largest ale brewery for decades - also produced a beer called Burton Ale, as documented in this article by Ed Kelley.

Bitter was, as today, part of the standard pub draught range. Wahl & Henius describe London Pale Bitter Ale in 1902 as having an OG of 1055-1058º hopped at a rate of 1.5 to 2 pounds per American barrel. By 1914 the gravity had aleady dropped to around 1050º.

Mild was one of the most popular draught beers. Always cheaper than Bitter, it wasn't necessarily weaker before 1914. Wahl & Henius describe London Four Ale (Mild) in 1902 as having an OG of 1053-1058º hopped at a rate of 1 to 1.25 pounds per American barrel. It dropped from an average OG of 1048º in 1914 to 1032º (about the same as today) in 1919. It bore the brunt of the cuts needed to get the average gravity for all beer down to 1030º. At the height of the wartime restrictions in 1918 it sank to 1024º, 1027º or lower and barely counted as intoxicating. Mild has remained a low-alcohol drink ever since.

Porter long a London favourite, was stumbling uncertainly, even before 1914. The war gave it a final kick in the bollocks when it was already lying in a pool of its own wee. The weakest of the Porter/Stout style beers, it was elbowed out of its strength slot by Stout. Wahl & Henius describe Porter as having an OG of 1050-1061º hopped at a rate of 0.75 to 1.5 pounds per American barrel.

Stout remained a popular draught beer. It was the second-strongest draught, after Burton. Wahl & Henius describe Single Stout as 1064-1075º OG, hopped at a rate of 1.5 to 2 pounds per American barrel. Bottled stouts were stronger, with gravities as high as 1110º pre-war.

Lager is a surprising inclusion in the price fixing agreements. Finding someone who knew how to make it was a major headache for Britain's few lager breweries.
Lager has a surprisingly long history in Britain. The first to try bottom-fermentation was John Muir of Edinburgh in 1835. The legendary Munich brewer Gabriel Sedlmayr had visited Muir's brewery whilst on a study trip to Britain in the early 1830's. Sedlmayr sent some Bavarian yeast to Scotland on Muir's request. Despite being impressed with the results, Muir abandonned his attempts when he was unable to propagate the yeast successfully.
The Wrexham Lager Beer Company was founded in 1878 and, despite a takeover by Ind Coope in 1949, only closed in 2000.
Tennent's of Glasgow first brewed lager in 1885 and built a new dedicated brewhouse for its production in 1891.

Guinness was one of the strongest beers on sale in pubs. On April 1st 1917 Guinness Extra Stout was still 1074º OG (its pre-war strength), dropping in July the same year to 1062º. Guinness did not drop in strength as much as its English rivals because different rules applied in Ireland. By April 1st Guinness Extra Stout was down to 1049º (still higher than today - bottled Extra Stout is currently 1042º), but the average gravity in England by then was just 1030º.

Bass, like Guinness, was widely sold in bottled form, also in pubs tied to other brewers. It's gravity averaged 1062º in the 1800's. By 1919, it had dropped to 1044º. It later recovered a little in strength, getting up to 1046º in the 1950's.

Government Ale was brewed within specified gravity bands (pretty low) and sold at a controlled price. The intention was to ensure more beer was brewed from the same quantity of raw materials and keep down the price to stop unrest amongst the working class. It doesn't seem to have quite worked out as planned, due to resistance from brewers and publicans.
Oct. 1 1917: Prices fixed at 4d. per pint under 1036º, 5d. per pint under 1042º.
April 1 1918: Prices fixed at 4d. per pint below 1030º, and 5d. per pint for 1030º to 1034º.

British beer strengths 1900 - 1920
  1900 1911 1913 1920
Light Ale (bottle)     1038º 4.8% 1033º   1027-33º  
London pale bitter ale 1056º   1047-50º 5.3%-5.8% 1047-50º   1038º  
IPA 1065º 7% 1065º 7% 1065º 7% 1048º  
London four-ale (mild) 1052-56º 5.5% 1055º 5.45% 1048º 4.6% 1032º  
Burton strong ale 1064-68º   1072º 7.1% 1065º      
Burton Pale Ale 1063º 6.5% 1059º 6.1%     1044º 4.4%
London porter 1052-60º   1054º 5% 1040º   1036º  
Single stout 1064-72º   1054º 6% 1055º 6% 1042º  
Double stout 1072-80º   1082º 7.6% 1080º 7.5% 1054º  
Imperial stout 1110º 10% 1110º 10% 1095º 10% 1095º 10%
Guinness Porter 1063º   1058º   1058º   1036º  
Guinness Extra Stout 1074º 7% 1074º 7% 1074º 7% 1054º  

For puposes of comparison, these are the strengths of continental lagers pre- WW I.

Here's a concrete example of the changes in gravities during the war period. Theese are the draught beers (and their prices) of the Mellersh & Neale brewery of Reigate.

Price of beers to the publican and their OG's
Date X (Mild) Pale Ale Stout
OG Price OG Price OG Price
to November 1914 1045º 36 s. 1054º 52 s. 1065º 52 s.
from November 1914 1043º 55 s. 1052º 71 s. 1064º 71 s.
from January 1917 1039º 61 s. 1050º 77 s. 1060º 77 s.
from April 1917 1039º 90 s. 1049º 77 s. 1060º 108 s.
from June 1917 1039º 80 s. 1049º 109 s. 1060º 108 s.
from April 1918 1025º 66 s. 1040º 120 s. 1040º 120 s.
from May 1918 1025º 68 s. 1040º 120 s. 1040º 120 s.
from March 1918 1025º 68 s. 1040º 108 s. 1040º 108 s.
from May 1919 1025º 72 s. 1040º 108 s. 1040º 108 s.
from June 1919 1025º 72 s. 1040º 130 s. 1040º 130 s.
from january 1920 1033º 120 s. 1046º 158 s. 1040º 158 s.
%age change 1914 - 1920* -27% +233% -15% +204% -38% +204%
"A Brewing Heritage: The Story of Brewing in Reigate and Redhill", by Richard Paul Symonds, 2001, p . 55

Prices in shillings per barrel.
* my calculation

You can clearly see the effect of the ruling in April 1918, which specified that theaverage gravity of all beer brewed should not exceed 1030º. Assuming Mellersh & Neale were sticking to this average, the ratio Mild to Pale Ale to Stout was 4:1:1. At the same ratio, the average OG a month earlier was about 1044º. Using the same 4:1:1 ratio, in 1920 the average gravity of the three beers was about 1036º (the average gravity of beer brewed in England and Wales that year was 1038.57º)

It's interesting to note that Pale Ale suffered a far smaller drop in gravity than either Mild or Stout. The latter two must have changed considerably in character. With Stout weaker than pre-war Porter, the latter found itself elbowed out of the last available strength slot. Little wonder it all but disappeared.

In this period, pubs had a multiroom layout. The different bars each had their own charatcter, type of customer and pricing structure. It wasn't unusual for a pub to have 3, 4 or 5 different rooms. All except the Public Bar charged the higher Saloon Bar prices. British pubs maintained this arrangement until the 1960's, when dividing walls were demolished to create a single drinking space.

Public bar - the most basic room and the exclusive domain of the working-class male. Also called Tap Room or Four Ale Bar. This was the only part of the pub where government price controls applied.

Saloon Bar - had better furnishings than the Public Bar, a more prosperous clientele, higher prices and often waiter service. Landlords were initally free to charge whatever prices they pleased in the saloon and took full advantage of this freedom. By the end of the war a second set of controlled prices had been introduced to cover this part of the pub. Also called the Lounge Bar.

Opening hours - although before the war there had been fixed closing times (first introduced by The Intoxicating Liquor (Licensing) Bill of 1872), pubs opened at dawn. In London, pubs could open between 05:00 and 00:30 on weekdays, 13:00 - 15:00 and 18:00 - 23:00 on Sundays. Elsewhere, pubs could open 16 or 17 hours a day (06:00 - 22:00 weekdays, 13:00 - 15:00 and 18:00 - 23:00 on Sundays). As the war progressed opening times were progressively reduced. Evening closing moved to 11:00 PM, then 10 PM and by the middle of 1915 was as early as 09:00 or 09:30. At the same time afternoon closing was introduced, and outside London, pubs were only opening for 5.5 hours on weekdays, 5 hours on Sunday.
The 1921 Licensing Act allowed pubs to open 8 hours (9 in London) on weekdays, starting no earlier than 11:00 and ending no later than 22:00 (23:00 in London), with a minimum 2-hour break in the afternoon. On Sundays, pubs were only allowed to open for 5 hours. These rules remained little changed until afternoon closing was ended in the 1990's. Only in 2006 were the rules relaxed to allow pubs to open as long as they had in Edwardian times.
From anecdotal evidence (Harry's grandad) it seems the British workman didn't surrender his morning pint quite so easily. In the 1920's some Manchester pubs would open illegally at 6 AM to cater for the going to work trade. I'm sometimes tempted to continue this great tradition, as the pub next to my kids' school is open when I drop them off.

Beerhouse - a pub with a license to sell only beer, not wine or spirits. They were the smallest and most basic type of pub. During the course of the 20th century beerhouses mostly either closed or obtained full licences. I can remember drinking in pubs with beer-only licences as late as the 1980's (The Roscoe in Leeds) and there may still be a couple left.

Beer Supply
Beer production was drastically reduced in April 1 1917, when output was set at a rate equivalent to 11,470,000 standard barrels a year. This was less than one-third of the pre-war level.
1914 : 36,165,000 standard barrels
: 30,292,977 standard barrels.
Year ended March 31 1917 : 26,626,039 standard barrels
But note that these are standard barrels, a convenience for revenue purposes, not the actually volume of beer brewed. The number of bulk barrels (the volume actually produced) was much more, as this table shows:

  Duty Standard barrels Bulk barrels Average OG
England & Wales
Average price
per pint
s. d.
1914 7 9 36,057,913 37,558,767 1051.69 3d.
1915 23 0 33,099,000 34,736,000 1051.16 3d.
1916 23 0 30,292,000 32,110,000 1050.49 3d.
1917 24 0 26,626,000 30,163,000 1047.01 4d
1918 25 0 13,816,000 19,085,000 1038.25 4.5d
1919 50 0 12,925,000 23,264,000 1029.35 5d.
1920 79 0 25,115,000 35,047,000 1038.57 6d.
(Duty is for a standard barrel.)

In the final year of the war, beer production was at about 50% of its pre-war level.

"Beer: The History of the Pint", by Martyn Cornell, 2003, pages 164, 182, 185, 188.
"The Brewers' Almanack 1928", pages 73-74, 100-101.
"American Handy Book of Brewing , Malting and Auxiliary Trades", by Wahl & Henius, Chicago 1902, pages 795, 825.
"Guinness 1886-1939", by Dennison & McDonagh, p. 2, 153, 159
1911 Ecyclopaedia Brittanica: Liquor Licensing, Beer.
Bass Museum website.
"Die Spaten-Brauerei 1397-1997", Wolfgang Behringer, 1997, pages 167-168.
"Century of British Brewers Plus", Norman Barber, 2005, page 13.

The Price of Beer Yesterday.
Threatened Strike of Publicans.
Weekly Dispatch, April 8th 1917
There were some remarkable fluctuations in the price of beer in London yesterday, with a tendency to go back to the old prices.

At the Black Dog in Shoe Lane, London, bitter was only 3d a half pint - 2d. less that the price fixed by the Licensed Victuallers' Central Protection Society London: at the Temple in Tudor Street the charge had also gone down to 3d.; at the Mail Coach in Farringdon Street it was still at 5d.; at Gatti's Restaurant in the Strand itt was 4.5d.; at the Wellington Restaurant, Fleet Street, 5d.

In South London, in Camberwell and Peckham, there has been a battle of the publicans ever since Monday last. At a meeting it was agreed to put up the prices, but when the time came a minority did not do so. The news spread quickly and the old-price houses were beseiged. Another was held and again an agreement to raise the price was reached, but this time a few of the publicans had a vendetta against the men who played the trick on Monday. One man in Peckham Road put outside his house a notice stating that as other publicans in the desitrict had been disloyal the old prices would be charged until further notice. Many others are doing the same.Yersterday in these old-price houses, it was fighting room only. In Manchester a boycott of formidable character is taking place.

In Manchester and Salford yesterday pickets were stationed near many beerhouses in the industrial areas, and the takings of hundreds of licensees decreased by over 50 per cent.

In Liverpool the boycott also continues. There has been a great drop in the trade and, contrary to expectation, the workmen have shown no sign of buying beer at the new price. At Sunderland the premises of one publican who declined to advance the prices and charged 4d. a pint were crowded to the doors, while people intending to enter premises charging 6d. and 7d. were assailed with cries of "Come out, you blacklegs" from pickets.

A strike was threatened by publicans in Chatham and Rochester yesterday. The licensed victuallers and beerhouse keepers there have decided to accept no further supplies of malt liquors from the brewery until they reduce their rates to the prices prevailing in the greater part of the county of Kent. According to present arrangements the public is henceforth to pay 10d. a quart for its mild ales and 1s. 6d. a quart for bitter ales.

"It's prohibition by price - so far as beer is concerned." said a London publican yesterday. He said that his sale had dropped by 50 per cent since the prices were increased in his establishment last Tuesday.

Old walked in and asked for "a pint of bitter," and when told the price had been raised to tenpence walked out without touching the drink - a remarkable example of self-denial but typical of the kind of protest the British workman will always make when he feels, rightly or wrongly, that he is being badly imposed upon.

The new rise in the price of beer in a consequence of the war, which to many men is a more startling fact than the inflation in the prices of foodstuffs or luxuries. Twopence on on tobacco was serious, but as one ounce lasts the average smoker two or three days he did not feel the call on his pocket so much. But tenpence for the morning pint every morning has come as a brutal shock. Mild ale is only 7d., but to a man accustomed to bitter the change is extremely distasteful.


But the consequence of the prohibitive price would not be serious if it simply compelled a man to become a total abstainer.

The truth is that beer drinkers are not becoming total abstainers; they are becoming addicted to spirits.

The other day a man walked into a well-known buffet in Fleet Street and ordered a small bottle of Bass. At the same time the man standing next to him asked for a Scotch whisky. For the Bass the barmaid demanded the new price, 7d.; for the whisky she turned to the other customer and said, "Fourpence, please."

The beer drinker hesitated, then looking at the whisky, said: "Will you change the Bass for a Scotch?" The barmaid said that she could not do that, and the convert to whisky grunted, "Well, this is the last bottle of beer I'm going to buy. I shall save threepence by drinking spirits." At the same place a customer had two glasses of mixed vermouth and they did not cost him any more than a pint of beer.

A manager who controls many public-houses, both in the City and the East End, said yesterday that there had been a very sharp rise in the consumption of whisky.

"Several men I know," he said' "who for years have had a pint of beer every morning, which was their only intoxicating drink for the day, and never touched spirits, now call for a 'double Scotch.' It costs them twopence less than the beer."

He says that the same habit is also growing among the dockers.

The publican, of course, refuses to condemn these customers for giving way to what is a bad habit merely because the country's food peril makes it imperative that the brewing of beer should be drastically cut down. The publican's attitude is that beer is a very important food to a numerous body of workers, whose constitutions have become so habituated to the drink that they feel ill without it.

A curious situation created by the new prices is that many public-houses which have large cellars and a considerable supply of barrels bought at the old price have not yet raised their charges. The result has been a migration, temporary, of customers from a new-price house to an old-price house close by.

The new scale of prices as fixed by the Licensed Victuallers' Central Protection Society of London is:

half pint Glass
Mild ale 3.5d. -
Bitter 5d. 4d.
Stout 5d. 5d.
Burton 6d. 5d.
Mild and Bitter 4.5d. 3.5d .
Stout and Mild 5d. 4d.
Mild and Burton 5d. 4d.

Other prices: Small Bass 7d.; Guinness 8d.; London stout (screws) 5d.; pale ale (screws) 5d.; barley wine nips 6d.; lager, light or dark, 8d.

It has been pointed out on behalf of the brewers that the existing large stocks of malted barley, sufficient to brew the 10,000,000 barrels of beer authorised for this year, are useless for any other purpose.

This has been denied by Dr. Saleeby, who says that malt cake is an admirable food for cattle, and can be turned directly into meat an milk, and that if the cakes were supplied to farmers they would release for food the unmalted barley, oats, and sedes now being used as food for cattle.

In any case the public have got to make up their mind that, high price or low price, there is not enough beer to supply the old demand, or anything like it, and a good many people have got to do without it.

It is stated that a dozen or more metropolitan brewers have decided to offer their customers (or "tied" houses) the old "four ale" at 90s. a barrel and a trade discount, which will enable the publicans to sell at 3d. a half-pint and make a reasonable profit. These brewers have always maintained that 100s. per barrel, the present price, was more than the circumstances warranted. There is a feeling that the present prices for beer will come down before the end of this month.

Prices That Will Mean Ruin to Many Licensees.
Weekly Dispatch, April 1st 1917
Beer at a shilling a pint!
Those who smiled incredulously at the prophecies of a few weeks ago conserning tha price of the national beverage will have a rude awakening to-morrow, for although no concerted has yet been taken by the London Licensed victuallers, the higher prices charged by brewers after April 1 will leave them no option but to put the increased cost on the consumer.

Thge circular sent out to publicans by one of the largest brewing houses announces that after April 1 prices would be as follow:

Porter 100s. per barrel
X Ale (Mild) 100s. per barrel
Stout 140s. per barrel
Bitter 120s. per barrel
Burton 150s. per barrel

The circular added further that the minimum retail price for porter and mild ale would be 8d. per pint.

"This means that in order to make a living the licensee must charge a shilling a pint for stout, bitter, and Burton." said a well-known representative of the Trade to a representative of The Weekly Dispatch yesterday, "and the problem is more complex than it seems. In many districts the putting up of prices will cause such a slump in consumption that keeping the doors open will scarcely be worth the while. Thus if the luckless publican puts up prices he won't sell enough to make a living. If he doesn't he will be selling to the public at a heavy loss. Either way, it means ruin for thousands."

"I don't know if there is any truth in the statement that the Government contemplate taking over the drink traffic, but the present great increase in prices would help such a step considerably, as it will mean that the fate of thousands of the smaller houses is sealed and therefore no question of compensation could arise."

As stated above, no standard prices have yet been set for London, nor will they be until after a meeting of licensed victuallers to be held during the week. But already prices are soaring, and in many West End establishments 9d. is being charged for Bass and Guinness, while in sympathy whisky has advanced to a shilling a quartern. Proprietary brands which could formerly be bought at 4s. 6d. a bottle now command 7s. 6d., and even at the latter figure hotel proprietors are not eager to sell.

Telegrams received from all parts of the country last night indicate that higher rates are general, though in many instances the increase is not so great as the London Licence-holders believe to be necessary.

Commencing to-morrow, prices will be increased as follows: Mild Beer 7d. per pint; bitter beer 8d. per pint; and bottled beers and stouts will be advanced by 2d. and 2.5d. per pint and spirits by 6d. per bottle.

Mild beer at 6d. per pint and 2.5d. per glass; bitter, 8d per pint and 3.5d. per glass; stout, 8d per pint and 3.5d. per glass.


Weekly Dispatch, August 26th 1917
Before the war, when Governments began to squeeze the brewing industry, brewers and publicans acclaimed alike from the housetops that "good beer is good food." Some asserted that beer was liquid bread.

Since the war began the output of this "liquid bread" has been decreased at the instance of the Government by two-thirds, and the hours during which it can be sold have been decreased by the same proportions.

The less the brewers brew, the more money they make out of the beer drinker. The brewery tap always taps the pockets of the beer drinker in steadily increasing volume.

You never hear a word of complaint from the brewers because their trade has been cut down by two-thirds. You never hear a growl from the publican because he can only sell beer for five and a half hours instead of eighteen and a half as he did before the war. Both are making bigger profits than they ever have before; both hold monopolies of trading rights, and both have had concessions made to them by the State which grants them their monopolies.

Two big breweries have between them made a profit's on the year's trading of nearly £1,000,000, and all the smaller breweries have done proportionately well. One has actually doubled its dividend within the last seven years. Brewery shares are booming and speculators are making a big profitin the sale of shares, bought by people who see that, unhindered in their vast profiteering monopoly, the brewers' profits next year will be bigger than ever.

The brewer has already more than doubled his price per barrel to the publican. The publican, not to be outdone, has followed his example, and with a bit more. Before the war he paid about 40s. a barrel for mild ale, and was content to make a profit of 8s. to 10s. a barrel. To-day he pays £5 a barrel, and makes a profit of £3 8s. a barrel.

The Bitter Ale upon which he made a profit 36s. a barrel before the war now yields him a profit of from £6 15s. to £9 a barrel.

Some simple people thought that the introduction of Government ale, which needs 9lb. of malt of malt instead of 33lb. , to make a thirty-six-gallon barrel of beer, would save the beer drinker from this plundering which is so rampant in the beer trade. Not at all.

Government ale costs the publican 76s. a barrel, and he is selling it at a profit £4 12s. a barrel.

When this ale was introduced it was stated that the full price would not be more than fivepence a pint. The publican knew better. Within a few days they began to squeeze another twopence a pint out of the beer drinker, knowing that he would pay - and grumble.

He is grumbling. Some of the unrest among the hard manual workers is due to this shameful beer profiteering. But he grumbles in the mild ale bar, and bitterly laments the exactions in the saloon bar.

There is one way in which beer profiteering could be ended. Let the government take the brewers at their word and adopt the view which they largely advertised earlier this year, that beer is food. Very well, then, Lord Rhondda has declared that 25 per cent is a fair maximum profit on food sales. He has power to examine the books of food retailers. Let him look into the books of the brewer and of the publican, and he will straightway see a clear case for reducing the present price of beerto the consumerby more than 50 per cent. and still leave the publicans more than 25 per cent profit.

Houses once "Dying" Now Sold for Thousands.
Weekly Dispatch, September 9th 1917
The high price of beer and stout, whichsprings in the main from their scarcity, is apparently proving a blessing in disguise to certain elements of the community. The brewers are increasing their profits and publicans , particularly in munition areas, are growing rich, in sharp contrast to their circumstances before the war.

In the Woolwich area the fortunate landlords of good houses openly boast that they are going to retire after the war on the wealth they have accumulated. One host is known to have saved £8,000 since August 1914. Public-houses where it was always a difficulty to make ends meet are now gold mines, and free houses change hands at such prices as £8,000.

The publican´s expenses are much lower owing to the reduced labour and lighting which the modified hours of opening permit. His business, instead of being distributed over a long day, is now concentrated in a short space of time, and it is a quick, profitable trade. Prices vary, but usually it is a case of going farther and paying more. The following is typical:-

Glass of beer, 5d.
Half-pint of bitter, 6d.
Bottle of Bass, 8d.
Bottle of Stout, 9d.
Drop of whisky, 5d.

The 5d. glass of beer is not by any means a half-pint. Six of these glasses instead of four go into a quart, and though glass is scarce the publicans have had no difficulty re-stocking themselves with the war-time measure. The supposed half-pint of bitter has what is known in Woolwich as a "cap band", meaning that between the liquid and the top of the tankard there is a considerable margin.

Government ale, which sells at 2.5d., is hard to obtain. In several London munition areas the excuse is offered that they are out of it. On the other hand, a mixture known as mild and bitter is actively pushed, and unscrupulous tavern keepers are suspected of using Government ale for this purpose. As they charge 4d. a glass, naturally it is more profitable to sell Government ale in mild and bitter than by itself. The suspicion of this sharp practice is so widespread that the authorities are morally bound to investigate the matter.

Porter, apparently, is no longer sold as such, but very often there is no difference between the draught stout sold and the porter excepting the price.

There are complaints that when a bottle of stout is ordered the bottle is not opened in the presence of the customer, but that he is brought a small glassful and that the remainder in the bottle is used as a contribution towards the next order. In this way threee bottles are made to serve four customers, although 9d. each is charged.

Bottled beer and stout are so scarce that on a Saturday in Woolwich and elsewhere queues form outside the beerhouses, but less than an hour suffices to dispose of the stock. One or two large public-houses manage to obtain sufficient stock to keep open every day of the week, but the beerhouse keepers have to shut three or four days, during which time they make holiday, motor-car rides being a favourite recreation.

Landlords of fully licensed premises contrive to push as much of their trade as possible into spirits, and 10d. double drops, much less than half a quartern, which is not sold, help to swell their profits and to turn the munition workers from being beer and stout drinkers to whisky drinkers. Furnacemen are very indignant that when they ask for beer they are told that only whisky is obtainable. Rightly or wrongly they consider that beer or stout is, in view of their occupation, a necessity to their health, and teetotal faddists would be surprised at the insistence of well-educated men on the strong character of this point.

there is no drunkenness in Woolwich and the neighbourhood worth speaking about. First of all it is urged that the money will not run to anything like overindulgence with drink at such a price, and secondly it is pointed out that few publicans will supply more than two or three drinks to the same person.

The disparity in prices undoubtedly tends to create resentment. Munition workers who went for a trip to Tonbridge found that the beer for which they were paying 5d. and 6d. in Woolwich was only 2d. there, and they want to know the reason why. The ostentatious wealth of the publicans, their frequent allusions to retiring after the war, and the knowledge that "dead" houses have since the war becone valuable properties cultivate the impression in the minds of munition workers that they are being exploited.

Perhaps the worst feature in the situation in the so-called elusiveness of Governemnt ale. If public-houses in munition areas do not stock it the question may well be asked; Why not? If they do stock it, under what circumstances do they justify withholding it? And what is the answer to the repeated charge that Governement ale, price 2.5d., is the basis of mild and bitter at 4d. the small glass?


Weekly Dispatch, June 24th 1917
Nobody expects the drink trade after the war to resume its old conditions; no-one desires this reversion. Nearly three years' disciplinary experience has taught us that the nation can get on tolerably well on reduced drinking hours, reduced consumption, and liquors of reduced gravity.

There is no reason to think that these reforms, which have proved so beneficial in war time, would not be equally beneficial in peace time, though the publican could with justice ask for some modest extension of hours.

It is a mistake to believe that the publican, as patriotic as any section of the community, is not desirous to contribute his part towards the commonweal, and if we are fair with him after the war he will be fair to the community.

Also it is a mistake to imagine that the publican wishes to encourage drunkenness, This class of trade is always harmful to him, and it is to his interest to suppress it.

The war has revealed that beer in moderation is regarded as a necessity in certain industries where the fatigue and strain caused to the worker are unusually great. I do not suggest that there are not teetotallers in this industry, but those who are not feel that they ought not to be denied a glass of beer.

Who, for instance, would refuse the forgeman a glass of beer or the agricultural labourer, who has for years been accustomed to have an allowance of beer as a perquisite?

Beer in moderation after the war would be a policy commending itself to the majority of the people. The Britisher is a great believer in moderation, and he will be prepared after the war is over for conditions that, while severely discliplined compared with the period before the war, do not err on the side of being too extreme.

But in the main the future of the drink trade will not be determined so much by hours, consumption, or gravity of beers as by the character of the taverns themselves. We have, I feel, got past the stage when we can reconcile ourselves to the public-house that is merely a drinking bar. We want taverns that are places of refreshment in the real sense of the word - taverns where good food is served and good music dispersed, and where there is a vista of something green growing - the best form of Continental café, in fact.

I believe that we shall come to this form of tavern. Public taste will no longer stand for the old type of public-house, nor in my opinion will people engaged in the trade seek to hamper improvement. The war has shown the possibilities of shorter hours and brisker trade, and the war before it has finished will have clearly indicated that these reforms are incomplete without a change of public-house surroundings.

The furture tavern then, as I see it, will be one where the hours of serving are rather longer than to-day, where light ales are a monopoly of the drink served, and where a man without any sense of shame may take his wife for recreation and refreshment.


News of the World, August 28th 1918
"I am most anxious that the supply of beer should be adequate to meet the reasonable demands of the public. The quantity of cereals, however, that can be imported to this country is unavoidably limited by the amount of tonnage available. There is an urgent need for barley as a diluent in the loaf, and at the same time for an increase in the percentage of barley offals to be made available for animal feeding stuff. In these circumstances I can hold out no hope of any increase in the quantity of barley allowed for brewing." Thus Mr. J. E. Clynes, the Food Controller, to a correspondent, and puts the beer position very clearly. It is a most difficult problem, which Mr. Clynes is handling with great sympathy, and utmost earnestness. He realises that the working man must have his beer, and see that he gets it so far as national requirements will permit him. It is altogether a complex problem, which must be fully understood to be fully realised.

Before the war brewers produced per annum 35,500,000 of the specific gravity of 1055, which actually gave consumption about 37,700,000 bulk barrels. Now it is permitted to brew only 12,600,000 barrels of specific gravity 1055, but these twelve million standard barrels are made to produce 22,000,000 bulk barrels, by the average gravity having to average not exceeding 1030. Thus if a brewer produced about 36 standard barrels, that is of 1055 gravity, he can now only produce about 12 barrels of the same strength, but, by reducing the gravity, he can produce many more. It follows that if his specific gravity average 1027.5 he can produce 24 barrels, of if 1011 he can produce 60. An expert explains the system as follows:-

All beer at present sold at an original gravity of over 1034 is uncontrolled as to price.

At present, beer may not be brewed below 1010, and the average gravity of all brewings of each brewer in each quarter must not exceed the gravity of 1030.

Under a previous order, some brewers brewed beer at a very low gravity and described it as Government ale, a beverage which came in for a great amount of criticism and opprobrium. But the Food Controller was more than equal to the situation. He had determined that the working man should have a reaasonable drink at a reaasonable price, and issued an order that fixed the gravity of Government ale between 1030 and 1034, the price being 5d. per pint - a distinct improvement of the stuff which was then being sent out for consumption.

1034 ----------------------------------------
  (5d. per pint, Government Ale.)
1030 ----------------------------------------
  (4d. per pint, NOT Govt. Ale.)
1010 ----------------------------------------

A brewer with a keen eye to profits will brew as much as he can the of lower gravities, so that he can brew more of the gravity which does not come under the controlled price regulations. Now the matter of putting on the market a lower-priced ale is under consideration, and it is possible that an order may be issued compelling brewers who sell say, between the gravities of 1010 and 1020, to sell at 3d. per pint, which will enable the working man to have his half-pint at 1.5d. The Food Controller is making a very earnest and sincere effort to meet the wishes of the working man, and, so far as the national interests will allow him, this will be done. The price of Government beer is now 5d. per pint and only beer sold between the gravities of 1030 and 1034 may be so designated. The fivepenny Goverment ale can be had on demand in public bars. If a higher price is charged prosecutions will follow. As a Bluejacket said to the writer when he told him of the various gravities. "Hang the gravity, let's have a pint!"


Threat by Thirsty Harvest Workers in Essex.
Weekly Dispatch, June 24 1917
"If we don´t get the beer we down tools next week."

This is the attitude that the farm labourers employed on hay-harvest work at Stisted, near Braintree, Essex, have taken up on the beer question, and it is an attitude reflected in other districts where a "serious situation" is said to be threatened.

Apparently it is not yet generally known among the hay harvesters that the Government have decided to allow an immediate increase in the output of beer. The idea is to provide an ample supply of light, wholesome ale which can be retailed at 4d. a pint.


The farm labourers employed on hay harvest at Stisted, near Braintree, Essex, met yesterday at the village public-house and decided that unless the supply of beer was increased next week they would stop work. The inn has only had beer three days this week, and this the thirsty harvest men strongly resent.

Their leader, a hearty old farm labourer approaching 70 years, said: "The bread is so poor now there is no support in it for such work as harvesting, so we simply must have beer, and good beer at that - not the thin stuff offered in some places. The Stisted labourers have decided if we don´t get the beer we down tools next week."

Cases of Extortion, Dilution and "Fake."


Weekly Dispatch, Sept 2nd 1917
The Weekly Dispatch makes no apology for returning to its exposure of the beer producers. Indeed we welcome the entry of the Daily Express and the Evening Standard into the campaign against the robbery of the public.

While the Food Controller is checking profiteering in meat and bread, and the Tobacco Board of Control is going to put a stop to the rapacity of the match traders, there is no authority dealing with the worst profiteers of all - the drink trade.

Brewers are making higher profits on one-third of the output of beer than they did on the amount brewed in pre-war days. Their balance sheets are conclusive proof. They are doing this by the simple expedient of raising prices to the publican three and four times above those of pre-war days.

The publicans, following suit, have put up their prices so that they get more profit out of the smaller supply than they did on the full supply in 1914.

This is not enough for the publicans, who are robbing the public in almost every article they sell, and who by new tricks are squeezing their customers in every direction.

For instance, the brewers supply bitter beer for which the general price is supposed to be 10d. a pint to the customer. But in various localities the local publicans have made little rings and agreed not to supply bitter beer under 6d. the half pint. Even then they are not content. In many houses they refuse to serve half pints in their saloon bars, but you can have a glass, three to the pint, or perhaps five to the quart, for sixpence.

Another dodge which the publicans have adopted in these "ring" houses, notably in Balham and other parts of London, is to refuse to sell half quarterns of spirits. But you may have a double nip (a "nip" is three, and in some cases four, to the quartern. This is diluted to the full maximum allowed by the Central Board of Control.

The prices of bottled beer - Bass, Worthington and Guinness have been rushed up to extraordinary heights. The price of a half-pint bottle of Guinness is now never less than 8d. or 9d., and in many houses a shilling. The publicans are having the time of their lives, with profits doubled and less than half the work to do in the cellar and in the hours of serving.

The Government beers has only been a qualified success, because the price, 5d. a pint, is just double what it ought to be, after giving both brewer and publican a fair profit. Moreover, many brewers will not brew it, and you cannot get it everywhere and then only in the four-ale bar. If you ask for Government beer in the saloon, you will be charged saloon prices - which means whatever the publican likes to demand.

"The public will stand anything," said a licensed victualler to The Weekly Displatch when tackled on the question. A man who was listening remarked "Yes, during the war. But you wait till the boys come back. At the first election they´ll swamp out all you profiteers and the politicians who allow this robbery."

The Evevning Standard gives the brewers´side of the question through the official of a brewery which has only just begun to pay, because it was over-capitalised, and has had to write down its capital as a million or more. He does not explain, however, why on a smaller output the brewers have this year made fabulous profits. Nor does he explain why the beer which is sold in London at 5d. the half-pint costs the country consumer only 3.5d. He does not explain why the publicans´pre-war profit on a barrel of four ale of 10s. has been increased to 65s. The same applies to bitter and all other drinks.

We want a man of the type of Lord Rhondda to tackle this question. It should be easy to get at the cost of brewing and to allow the brewers a fair profit over and above working expenses - but irrespective of their capital, watered or otherwise. The cost would be plain sailing, and there could be a fixed price list in each public-house according to the price allowed its brewers.

Another reform would be that publicans should use no other glasses for beer than those holding an imperial half-pint, pint, or quart. That would put an end to the present dodgery.

Short Supplies and Prices Much too High.

Weekly Dispatch Aug 26th 1917
An Advisory Committee appointed by the Central Liquor Control Board is now making investigations in various directions with the view of ascertaining the effects on health and industrial efficiency produced by the consumption of alcoholic drinks of various degrees of strength.

So far, however, no practical steps appear to have been taken in the direction of meeting without delay the complaints of war-workers that they cannot get a sufficiency of the refreshment to which thay have been accustomed and at the price at which it is now supposed to be sold.

Special harvest beer can be had ar 3d. a pint, and munition workers should get what they want for 5d. a pint; but in many districts the price is said still to exceed this figure and the quantity supplied is far from satisfying. Besides, there is a serious shortage in several districts; and the onlt repl made to those who have reason to complain is that the Food Controller is "making inquiries" and doing his best to get brewers to supply beer to the workers through the most direct channels.

"This is all very official," says a prominent Labour leader, "but inquiries don´t slake the thirst of men whose arduous work makes beer-drinking essential." Quite obviously something will have to be done speedily if further trouble is to be avoided in the great industrial areas.

So far, Sheffield appears to be the only place in which a serious effort has been made to relieve the pressure. There, enough barley has been allotted to produce 15,000 additional barrels of beer between now and the end of September.

Angry Farm Labourers Threaten Trouble.


Weekly Dispatch June 17 1917
Much dissatisfaction prevails among the farm labourers of West Lancashire concerning the scarcity of beer, and trouble is anticipated, farmers being unable to obtain the usual harvest supply.

There is trouble about beer that the simplest of measures could put right, says our political correspondent.

The teetotallers have been saying that it is no use preaching economy in food so long as grain is wasted in the manufacture of drink.

Rather is response to the need for husbanding our grain resources than to conversion to extreme temperance principles, the Government have brought down the production of beer to a very low quantity. And here it is that the point of protest is reached - not because there is less beer, but because the smaller barrelage is nor properly divided.

What are the facts? Before the war the output of beer was 36 million barrels. By means of legislation this output was first reduced to 26 million barrels, and then to 10 million barrels, which is the present quantity. In other words, for every 36 barrels of beer produced in 1913-14 only 10 are being produced to-day.

The publican is rationed according to his pre-war orders, but in the case of tied houses, where there is no covenant, the brewer may arrange supplies as he likes. The system works well where the distribution is equitable, but this is the exception rather than the rule.

Much the same position as regards sugar has grown up. The publican is rationed according to the 1915 figures, which in many cases bear no relation to the present facts. Though his customers may have increased tenfold in number he is still only able to obtain a barrelage calculated on the 1915 basis.

The result is that in districts where owing to war work there has been a considerable increase in the population there is an abnormal shortage of beer, and the people, not uunjustly, are complaining that they are not getting their fair proportion of the permitted output.

In many agricultural neighbourhoods where the farmers are making strenuous efforts to increase the acerage under wheat the agricultural labourers are insisting upon their customary allowance of beer and decline to take money instead, knowing that owing to the shortage of money, will not buy beer.

Faced with such a problem the farmers are at their wits´ ends to know what to do.

In certain eastern counties it is said that owing to scarcity of beer publicans are either compelled to finish their selling week on a Thursdsay or are seriously thinking of doing so.

Workers in several arduous occupations are protesting that beer to them is more than food and that it is no question of undue indulgence. A large proportion of women workers insist on being able to obtain beer or stout for heaqlthy reasons.

Where the brewer is not hampered by covenants and has his own houses he can exercise the same discretion as to supplies which the owner of multiple shops exercises in the case of sugar - that is to say, he can cut down the quantity supplied to a tavern in a locality with a falling population and increase the quantity supplied to a tavern in a locality with a rising population.

The free publican, however, can demand his proportion on his 1915 basis irrespective of the change in population.

Remarkable Increase in Past Year´s Profits.

Weekly Dispatch, Aug 5th 1917
A good deal of excitement was caused iin the Stock Exchange during the week by the exceptionally good dividend announcement by the Watney-Combe Brewery. The most that had been expected was 7 per cent on the Deferred, but with the declaration of 8 per cent and other good dividend announcements by similar concerns the brewery market sprang into renewed activity, which is a striking contrast with the comatose condition of the past months. Watney Combe Deferred itself spurted to 50, which compares with 12.5 earlier in the year.

An indication of how the brewery companies are faring is shown in the following table:-

. Latest Per cent Preceding Yr.
Per cent
Barclay Perkins Pref. 10 nil
Hoare 6 4
Holt 5 (interim) nil
Guinness 16 16
Mitchell´s & Butler´s 15 15
Parker´s Burslem 10 8
Threlfall´s 15 9
Seagar Evans 2s. 6d. 1s.
Watney Combe Def 8 nil
Watney D 6 5

The Watney Combe Deferred dividend is the first it has received since 3 per cent. was paid in 1907. Last year only 2.5 per cent was paid on the Preferred, so that by making up the 1.5 per cent on that as well the present distribution involves an extra £111,500.

Threlfall´s had an increase of £85,877 in trading profits, and although Mitchell´s and Butler´s dividend is at the same rate as last year it is paid on an increased capital. Arthur Guinness, whose dividend is at the same rate as last year, reports profits of £1,994,886, an increase of £413,334.


The Best Year Known.

Daily News, Aug 2nd 1918
Presiding yesterday at the annual general meeting of Threlfall´s Brewery Co. Ltd., Mr. Charles Threlfall, the chairman of the company, in moving the adoption of the report, said: We are able tpo place before you the most satisfactory balance-sheet that the directors have ever had the pleasure of presenting to shareholders. The gross trading profit for the last year amounted to £605,330 4s. 10d., against £304,774 8s. 3d. last year, being an increase of £300,555 16s. 7d.

Excess Profits Duty for the half-year to the 30th June 1918, the amount of which has not yet been ascertained, will, we beleive, be about £130,000. You will naturally look for reasons. Briefly stated, we have been rewarded for our customary foresight in making large purchases of the finest qualities of wines and spirits, as well as substantial stocks of brewing materials obtained in the best markets. By this means we have been gained the confidence of the general public, and the result has been a very large increase in the receipts of our houses. Therefore, althoughut the Government will benefit very substantially by the increase in Excess Profits Duty - to which increase we have much pleasure in contributing - nevertheless, it is highly gratifying to the directors to announce to their shareholders a record dividend and bonus of 30 per cent.

The report was adopted.

£100 Penalty for Diluting Beer and Overcharging.

Weekly Dispatch Dec 23rd 1917
For diluting beer and selling it at a price exceeding the maximum Henry B. Arnold, a publican of Abbey Road, Barking, at Stratford yessterday was fined £50 for each offence and ordered to pay £25 costs.

Arnold pleaded for leniency, but the magistrate said it was a serious matter and questionable whether Arnold should go to prison or not.


Weekly Dispatch Feb 11 1917
The new Order of the Food Controller forbidding the sale of barley for malting without a special permit in each case had the usual result - the raising of the price and the paralysis of the market.

On all the provincial corn exchanges yesterday barley hardened, the average quotations being from 71s. to 72s. English wheat was steady at about 80s. to 81s., and flour at 61s. to 62s.

An indirect result of the malt restriction Order was a rise in the price of stout and old ale in London in some houses from 7d. to 8d. a pint.

Brewers´Letter of Protest to the Ministry of food.

Daily News, Sep 7 1918
In a letter addressed by the chairman of the Brewers´Society to the Ministry of Food, it is pointed out that a suggestion made by the society in June last - to the effect that nothing under 24 degrees original gravity should be offered for sale as beer - not having been adopted, consequently a liquid of gravity as low as 10 degrees (which brewers do consider beer at all) may be sold at 4d. per pint.

The letter suggests taht any beverage under 24 degrees, to the sale of which as a substitute brewers have no objection, though they strongly deprecate it being sold as beer, should only be offered under a name or description which would make it clear to the public that they are not buying a genuine beer, ale, or stout.

The opinion is also expressed that beer substitutes below 24 degrees gravity should not be sold at 4d. per pint, which is the controlled price for beers of 24 to 30 degrees.


News of The World., May 5 1918.
The report of the English, Scotch and Irish Committees on State purchase and control of the liquor trade has now appeared. All three propose definite terms for the purchase of the interests affected, and the main features of the report are as follows:-

Cost:- The gross total so far as calculable appears to be somewhat more than £400,000,000, but substantially less than £500,000,000.

Purchase on Pre-War Profits:- The English Committee holds that the trade should be bought out on the basis of the profit which it was capable of earning before the war, capitalised initially at the rate of capitalisation which it could have commanded before the war.

Period of Purchase:- Breweries:- The English committee recommends with regard to breweries 15 years´ purchase of net profits in four years 1910-13, the Scottish committee recommends eight years´purchase, based on the present conditions, of net profits over the three yeaars the three years 1911-1913. and the Irish committee 13 yeaars´ purchase of net profits over the five years before the war.

Hundreds Under Supervision: Breweries Closed.

Weekly Dispatch, May 13 1917
The Central Control Board, for which the ministry of Munitions is responsible, has acquired permanently 175 licensed houses, and in 50 cases it has acquired the licence without taking over the property.

Some of the houses acquired have been shut up as unnecessary; but the Board is now carrying on business under the Defence of the Realm (Liquor Control) Regulations in 156 houses, including eight occupied under lease or tenancy and three constructed on its own initiative.

The Board has made its greatest experiment in Carlisle and the surrounding district, and there, out of 201 licensed houses, 72 have been closed. Two breweries have also been shut down. The trade is being strictly regulated to meet local requirements, and it is becoming increasingly apparent taht where private interest in public-houses is extinguished, and food and recreation as well as liquor are provided, the temptation to excessive drinking is being steadily reduced.

Besides managing its 156 licensed houses the Central Control Board is now giving much attention to canteens in connection with munition works. Of these canteens 630 are now in operation, and in most of them no intoxicants are supplied. Where beer is sold for consumption with a meal it is stipulated that not more than one pint can be served to each person. This restriction is in no way felt to be irksome, and the canteens as a whole continue to give the greatest satisfaction to the workers.

Bits from diffferent articles

Weekly Dispatch, Dec 30 1917

Just before the war broke out a Governement return on wages repoorted that the average weekly wage varied from 26s. 4d. per week to 34s. 4d. Half the women employed were paid from 10s. to 15s. per week.
Daily News, Aug 7th 1918

At a special meeting at Hull yesterday of the National Farmers´ Union for Holderness a communication was read from the Agricultural Labourers´ Union threatening to strike on Saturday if the following wages are not conceded: £4 per week for men living out and £3 per week for men living in. The farmers decided to adhere to their decision to pay £3 10s. and £2 10s. per week respectively, and only a few favoured a conference.
Weekly Dispatch, Aug 19 1917

Wanted, immediately, steel framework erectors for (topmen) for Government job in Scotland; 3 months´s job; wages 10.5d. per ghour plus 5/- week war bonus, and 5/- per week lodging allowance; average minimum wages per week, including overtime and allowances, £3 15s. - Apply to Topham, Jones and Railton, 11 Gt. George St., Westminster S.W.1.

Weekly Dispatch, May 13 1917

London General Omnibus Company.. "The rates of pay have been very materially increased since the war, and the average wages for six days´ work are:

Drivers, £3 per week; conductors, 44s. to 48s. 6d. per week; washers and cleaners, 40s. per week."

Daily News, Aug 23 1918

James Tindall, munition worker, aged 73, whose weekly wages averaged over £4 4s. last year, was fined £25 for making a false declaration to retain his old age pension.
Daily News, Aug 3 1918

"a munitions war volunteer" at a West London firm "his average wages were £6 a week" between April 1917 and April 1918.

Amazing Wages Earned by Young Munition Workers

Weekly Dispatch, Sep 2nd 1917

Amazing war-time wages are being earned by boys, but the latest story eclipses all records.

During the hearing a Sheffield Police Court of some cases against workmen who had failed to pay their income tax the case was mentioned of a munition worker aged 16 whose assessed income for the half-year was £146, equivalent to a weekly wage of £5 10s.

Our Sheffield correspondent writes that while there are assessments that show men employees earning fro £500 to £1,000 a year, some girls are actually paying income tax, and young boys are paying on from £120 to £200 a year.
The German View

Daily News, Aug 15 1918

Discussing the German chemical industry: "The average yearly income of workers was £63 14s. in 1914, £74 13s. in 1916, and £97 10s. in 1917 - a rise of 52 per cent during the war."
The German View


Daily News, Aug 13 1918

Quoting items in German newpapers. The Metal Workers´ Union in Germany says that of its approx. 500,000 male members and 250,000 female members, "Over 350,000 men make up the three almost equal classes of those whose earnings range between £3 10s. and £5. Only 2.6 per cent exceed £5. In Silesia the percentage of men with less than £2 10s. is 66.6. Of women, only 2.3 per cent make over £2 10s., 30.8 per cent receive between £1 10s. and £2, and 30.9 per cent between £2 and £2 10s."

Weekly Dispatch, April 1 1917

We are nearer to State Purchaes in the Liquor Trade. The wholesale reduction of output which the war has brought about has simplified this form of solution. Teetotalism has had little or nothing to do with the reduction of the Liquor Traffic. The vital need for conserving food supplies has been the all-compelling factor. The nation has had to decide whether it is betterto have food or beer, and it has decided that its choice must be on the side of food.

The tremendous interference with the Drink Traffic is not an evanescent phase noe one from the point of output likely to show any improvement. As food supplies become tighter so the production of the breweries must automatically decrease.

Peace will not restore normal conditions. There will be a markede food shortage. The seas will be free from the destructive operations of the U-boats, but there will be the competition of the starved Central Empires in the world´s food market to meet, and that competition postulates severe competition for neutral shipping. For thr first four years of peace, at any rate, the brewery interests must expect to be under the iron discipline of heavy restrictions.

Assume that this is the correct diagnosis of the situation, will the public opinion at the end of theat time freely tolerate a return to the old conditions? Obviously not. The brewers, then, must see that their own as well as the national interests are most likely to be served by State Purchase, which will safeguard brewery shareholders while adjusting the conditions of the trade to suit the public welfare.

Most of the brewers are quite agreeable to State Purchase; the dissenting minority belong to the school which has always been badly advised by its political counsellors, men of short-sighted political vision and of indifferent capacity.

The State, if it pays a fair price for the Liqour Traffic interests can improve on its bargain by drastic economies. It can shut down three-quarters of the breweries, which are really superfluous and by working the remaining breweries full time satisfy all legitimate needs. The absurdity of beer being brought tremendous distances will be abolished by local breweries being appointed to cater to local requirements, instead of as now in many cases tied houses being required to order their beer from breweries 150 miles distant.

State Purchase will evolve out of wasteful chaos and undoubtedly remove most of the objections that are now levelled against the Drink Traffic.

News of The World, Oct 6 1918

Mass meetings of miners have been held in various parts of the Warwickshire to discuss the question of the shortage and inferior quality of the beer available. The men having threatened serious trouble unless there is some improvement quickly, the Union officials were instructed to send a resolution of protest to the Ministry of Food demanding more beer of one uniform, wholesome quality at 6d. a pint. One speaker declared that beer was now brewed from the finest chemicals in the world.

Curious Decision of the Central Tribunal

Weekly Dispatch, Feb 11 1917

The battle which has raged between the military authorities and the Wrexham Lager Beer Company for the the services of Jostus Wilhelm Kolb, amltster and brewer, has at last reached its final stage.

Kolb, a naturalised British subject, born in Germany, was formerly a corporal in the Kaiser´s Army. On two occasions an exemption was refused by the Wrexham Tribunal, but an appeal to the County Tribunal was successful, the last decdision exempting him until April.

Eighteen employers contended that he was entirely indispensible to them in the manufacture of lager beer, and that there was no other man in the country with the necessary qualifications for the position.

On the other hand, the military authorities submitted that it was surely possible to train a substitute, particularly as one of the employers was a trained brewer.

An appeal was made to the Central Tribunal, from whom a communication has now been received intimating that the military appeal has been upheld

Kolb will now immediately join a military unit reserved for soldiers of alien birth.

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