Sunday, 18 November 2012

Edinburgh beers in Glasgow pubs, 1916

A while back, as the crude timestamp shows, I took some pictures of a brewery sales ledger in the Scottish Brewing Archive. Lorimer & Clark (today’s Caledonian Brewery), despite being an Edinburgh operation, but in common with other Scottish brewers, had quite a bit of trade in the West of Scotland.

 Ron has been wondering about the standard draught beer in Scotland during the First World War. This document gives a clue. We’re in 1916 and the brewery is delivering beer to Glasgow pubs. And although I shouldn’t generalise from one document, I’m tempted to do that precisely because it is so unambiguous. From this, it doesn’t look like the commonly drunk beer was Mild as it was in England.

I was mainly interested in this because I like to see whether any of the pubs mentioned still exists (as far as I can see, none do in this case, sadly), and the handwriting is nice.

But it gets more useful on later pages where they start to note how much duty was payable on the amount of beer delivered to each pub.

Now I confess I have no idea why the brewery would record this information in a delivery ledger. Perhaps as some sort of cross-check to compare the total notional duty on beer delivered with what they actually paid on the beer they brewed.

Be that as it may, they did record it, and that enables us to calculate the gravity of the beer. We know the quantity delivered and the amount of duty, and we know the rate of beer duty at the time – 24 shillings per standard barrel.

Certainly this brewery’s big sellers were XP and XXP, which going by their names were probably Pale Ales. They don’t just appear more often, the quantities are bigger. Stupendous amounts by today’s standards. Who can imagine a pub today taking nine hogsheads as the Public House Trust in Stevenson did?

Lorimer & Clark beers in 1916
Beer QualityDuty per barrelCalculated OG
XXXX 75/–25/–1.057
IP 42/–14/–1.032
TB 42/–14/31.032

Source: Daybook LC 9/5/9 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.


  1. The Public House Trust was presumably one of the Gothenburg Public Houses set up in Scotland to try to control excessive drinking: England had a similar organisation which eventually evolved into what became Trust House Forte. I keep meaning to write up a history of the Trust House operation: one day ...

  2. A quick Google confirms you are right, Martyn, and throws up one interesting snippet: Apparently Willie Gallacher, as a teetotaller, refused to campaign for the ILP in one election because the candidate was a director of this Trust.