Tuesday, 20 September 2011

More where that came from

Some more interesting snippets from the BBPA Statistical Handbook...

2010 average price of a pint of beer in the UK off-trade:

Supermarkets: £1.02 (= £3.16 for 4x440ml)
Off-licences and convenience stores: £1.29 (= £4.00)
Average: £1.08 (= £3.35)

2010 average price of a pint of beer in the UK on-trade: £2.69

Average number of alcohol units consumed per week by social class:

Managerial and professional: 14.6
Intermediate: 13.4
Routine and manual: 10.6
Average: 12.5

(thus giving the lie to the common notion that the poor drink more)

Average strength of beer produced in the UK:

1900: 1054.9 OG
1910: 1053.0 OG
1918: 1030.6 OG (low point during WW1)
1920: 1042.6 OG
1930: 1042.5 OG
1940: 1038.5 OG
1946: 1032.6 OG (1940s low point, actually after the end of the war)
1950: 1037.0 OG
1960: 1037.4 OG
1970: 1036.9 OG
1980: 1037.3 OG
1990: 1037.7 OG
2000: 4.17% ABV
2010: 4.22% ABV

In fact, from 1950 to the end of the original gravity system in 1992, the average OG was always within the range 1036.9-1038.2, although this masked the long-term decline of mild and an offsetting reduction in the strength of bitter.

In 1900, there were 34.3 million barrels of beer produced, as opposed to 28.0 in 2010, at a considerably higher strength, and for a much smaller population.


  1. Do you have any statistics on what the State spent on 'intervention' in 1900?

    What was Alcohol Concern's budget then, during those grim days?

  2. There was an active temperance movement in those days (albeit not funded by the State) and I think bills for a local option on prohibition were more than once brought before Parliament.

    Wales, of course, got universal Sunday closing of pubs until 1961.

  3. I'm originally from Wales and I remember Sunday closing in some areas. The law stated that every ten years, people who wanted a "dry" area to become "wet" on Sundays, or vice versa, had to get a small amount of signatures on a petition and then the local authority had to run a referendum at great expense. My area had been "wet" for years but I recall some fire & brimstone minister getting the requisite number of signatures in 1981 to go "dry", thus triggering a ballot. I was away as a student at the time and got myself a postal vote so I could vote "wet"!
    I seem to recall this nonsense coming to an end in the 1990's when the last round of votes was held, the results of which were to be finally binding. Needless to say, you can get a drink all over Wales on a Sunday now.

  4. Of course it was a complete joke as all the locals just used to drink in social clubs on Sundays. However, it was bad news for the tourist industry, and was criticised as "living in the past" by Field-Marshal Montgomery - who was a teetotaller.

    There was an old joke "I went to Wales on Sunday. It was closed."

  5. Curmudgeon
    Indeed. The movement was also big then in the far away land whence I hail. If you read AE, you'll learn that it's once again turgid.

    The "six o'clock swill" was still going when I was being brought up. On Sundays, you needed to prove you'd travelled 50 miles.

    The cat's-bum-lipped, curtain-peeping, Calvinist puritans - who financed these petty, pettifogging imbeciles in the first place?

    Little Hitlers. Oh Crikey, just Godwinned myself. Bye.

  6. What's OG please?

  7. OG = Original gravity, the specific gravity of the beer before fermentation commences, as compared to that of water.

    An OG of 1040 will be roughly equivalent to a final % alcohol by volume of 4.0%. The more malt you put in the brew, the more there is to ferment into alcohol.

    Until 1992 this was the measure used for the calculation of duty on beer, and it was the only strength figure quoted in early editions of the Good Beer Guide.

  8. Curmudgeon

    Re: 16.10; I lived not far from the border with England, so lots of people simply got in their cars and drove to the fabled land where the pubs were open, thereby increasing the risk of drink-driving. There were places even nearer the border where you could simply walk down the street and be in another country. (This came into play again, briefly, in the few months between the Welsh smoking ban and the English one) Further away from the border, as you say, the Legion clubs, the Miners' Welfares and the Labour Clubs were packed.

  9. The main difference between the
    British pub of 1900 and the pub
    today ,the former were full of MEN the latter, quarter full of pansies and wassocks.

    Vimto Lad

  10. An interesting stat would be the proportion of unit consumed on and off trade by social class.

  11. @Cookie, yes, that would be an interesting stat, but not in the book unfortunately. It does break it down by type of drink, though - the categories where DEs drink more than ABs are spirits and alcopops. The ABs drink more beer and, not surprisingly, twice as much wine.

  12. "The "six o'clock swill" was still going when I was being brought up. On Sundays, you needed to prove you'd travelled 50 miles."

    When I arrived in Melbourne in '71 it was still dry on Sundays - they'd changed the closing time from 6 pm to 10 pm not long before I arrived (thank heavens!). The Sunday tradition, I soon found out, was the "Sunday barrel". A lot of pubs would sell you a barrel and hire you the cooling unit and lines, so it was a regular occurrence to chip in with your mates for a barrel and a barbie on a Sunday. It was usually a (fairly pissed)hoot!


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