Friday, 26 August 2016

Beer in a bad state

I'm trying to get together a list of how state controls have shaped what we drink in Britain. Of the top of my head there was:

  • Tax on malt and hops, which came with a ban on other ingredients and so killed off some beer styles. 
  • The Free Mash Tun act which deristricted ingredients but moved tax to the beer Original Gravity, the higher the gravity the higher the tax. The minimum tax was set at 1.030 so you didn't really get beers weaker than this.
  • The horrors of WWI, which aside from the mass imperialist slaughter, brought in restrictions on pub hours and beer strength.
  • The horrors of WWII, which aside from the mass imperialist slaughter, again had restrictions on beer strength and made the use of oats compulsory for several years.
  • Progresive Beer Duty, which has helped microbreweries boom, but has made some regional breweries cut production.
  • High Strength Beer Duty, which has wiped out beers from 7.5-8.5% ABV as far as I can seen. The corresponding low strenght beer duty relief for beers at 2.8% ABV has made this the strength of choice for bargain beer brands.  
  • The awful cultural vandalism that killed off Black beer by removing its tax ememption.
There are a few from other countries I might work in too, such as the German Reinheitsgebot; prohibition in the US, and their beer tax being on volume not strength; tax on mash tun size in Belgium; and the beer ban in Iceland. If there's anything I've missed please let me know.

14 comments:

  1. PBD hasn't "made" anyone cut production. You might fairly claim that it's created an incentive for some brewers to do so.

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    1. Fair enough, I'll do that then.

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  2. Actually both Carlsberg Special and Tennent's Super have been reformulated at 8% in response to concerns about a single can containing more than the recommended daily guideline, which seems rather self-defeating from a duty point of view.

    Also not sure there's much in the marketplace at 2.8% apart from canned Skol and Sam Smith's keg milds and Alpine Lagers.

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    1. I wonder how long they'll stay at 8% though? Most tramp juices are now 7.5%.

      Not really sure how many 2.8% beers there are as they're not something I normally look for!

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  3. In Czechoslovakia (and Communist countries in general, I guess), the nationalisation of the brewing industry and its subsequent neglect by the state.

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    1. That is pretty big state intervention. What controls did they put on the pubs?

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    2. Price controls, by the most part. Another thing was that most breweries were allowed to sell only within a certain region, and there was little, if any competition, apparently.

      IIRC, breweries that were not able to meet a certain production quota, or that were considered redundant, would be shut down; likewise with those whose infrastructure could not keep up. In that sense, the Communists were not all that different from Capitalists.

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  4. The Carlisle State Management Scheme will fit under your WW1 heading.
    tankard

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    1. Thanks, I'd forgotten that one.

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  5. I've remembered another one. The Franco instituted an Autarky policy that greatly affected breweries. They could not import any raw materials, and the country was not producing enough malting barley to satisfy demand. As result, fodder barley and later adjuncts. I've read there was also a plan to have a single brewing company for the whole country, but it would be dismissed.

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    1. Thanks! Now mentioning that reminded me of similar things that lead to soghum brewing in Nigeria and low/no malt beers in Japan.

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  6. Oooo...and I forgot the beer orders.

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  7. If you want to go back to 1830, the Beer House Act brought in tens of thousands of new small outlets, which led to a boom in "own-brew" beerhouses, particularly in places like the West Midlands, the West Country and parts of the North, such as Preston and Leeds.

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  8. Dissolution of the monasteries was a massive one - it took an established industry and forced it into the private sector.

    On a related note, if the Trappists hadn't been kicked out of France and ended up just outside France in need of income, then we might be talking of Normandy with the same reverence that is now accorded to Belgium. Certainly it was disastrous for French beer.

    The laws setting up the three-tier system of alcohol distribution in the US have had a massive effect on their industry turning out the way it has.

    Official discouragement of gin consumption was a factor in the Victorian rise of beer in the UK.

    Can't help but think elf'n'safety and environmental laws have had their effect on drinking styles - if the water is now safe to drink, then you no longer drink small beer for safety reasons, so beer is more of a luxury/entertainment product.

    The way water rates work in the UK has been a factor for so many breweries ending up on farms.

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