Beer strengths...



Based upon Steward & Patteson figures..

Year Average Specific Gravity
1886 1063
1895 1059

1911- 1914

1915 1055
1916 1050
1917 1044
1918 1033
1919 1034
1920 1039
1921 1040
1922 - 1929 1041
1930 - 1936 1039
1937 - 1939 1037
1940 - 1942 1034
1943 - 1949 1031
1950 - 1952 1033
1953 - 1955 1034
1968 1034

S&P Double Brown Stout had a SG of 1073 in 1914
and their K Ale was 1082.
The popular XX was 1047.



On Monday 18th April 1816 during the hearing of a petition from farmers and private Norwich brewers, regarding the War Malt Tax, it was said by Mr. W Ridley said that a great cause of beer being both high-priced and indifferent was owing to the practice of the brewers in their monopoly of the public houses.

Mr. Barclay said that since 1782 the price of a barrel of porter had only risen by 3s, that is one farthing per pot. In that year Malt was 28s 6d and duty 10s 6d. In 1816 it was 65s with duty 35s. Hops in 1782 were 40s per cwt. and had risen to £6 8s, an increase of 300 per cent.

Mr. Curwen hoped an end would be put to the brewers holding public houses and that a fair competition would compel the brewing of liquor of a good quality.

Letter to the Editor of the Norfolk Chronicle - 1st December 1821
In passing through the city a few days since my attention was arrested by the variety of signs displayed from the doors of different tradesmen, and I could not help contemplating their origin - of many I am satisfied that no particular explanation can be given, as its well-known, a century or two ago, almost every shop had its sign, as is now the case with our public-houses. But up to the present time, we see the professors  of Hair Cutting and Chop Shavers (alias Barbers) exhibit their sign of the pole, and at the receiving house of plate and wearing apparel (alias Pawn Brokers) that of the three balls; they appear to have weathered the storm midst many an unpropitious day, and amidst all the ups and downs of fortune kept their respective places. If any of your Correspondents can give the original histories of those two emblems, I shall feel myself, much obliged. A. B.

The Mutiny Bill, passed April 1834, included the clause:-
"If any victualler shall not have sufficient accommodation in the house to which on which a soldier is billeted, then accommodation may be provided in some good and sufficient quarters, to be provided by such victualler in the immediate neighbourhood."

In October 1840 J. H. Wolton, Hop Merchant of 47 London Street, Norwich advertised his available hops.......
Net Prices for Cash £ s d  
New Kent Hops - very inferior 7 7 0 per cwt
New Kent Hops - a little better 8 8 0  
New Kent Hops - Choice
Particularly recommended to mix with Old Hops
15 15 0  
Fine Essex Hops 8 8 0 per cwt
Fine Sussex 8 8 0  
Fine Sussex - Choice 9 0 0  
Kent Hops - Fine from 8 8 0  
to 9 0 0  
Kent Hops - Choice 9 9 0  
Good Sussex 5 12 0  
Choice Kents 6 0 0
1836's and 1837's        
Good, to Fine and Choice, from 70s to 110s  

In May 1854, a Bottled Beer Merchant complained to The Times, that with the introduction of a malt tax of about 2s 6d a barrel, the brewers had increased the price of beer by between 6s and 7s a barrel. Furthermore the increase had been added to that already in stock.

OFF or GROCERS Licenses.

Ordered to be printed at the Meeting of the National Chamber of Trade on February 20th, 1883, and to be sent to Members of Parliament  and Magistrates.

The ``OFF RETAIL" Spirit Licence was first granted in 1861, on the recommendation of a Select Committee reporting that the public were suffering considerable inconvenience from the fact that was was only one channel from which moderate quantities of Spirits could be obtained, namely the Public House.

The Commissioners of Inland Revenue, in their report for the year 1870, in referring to the ``OFF RETAIL"  Spirit Licence, state that it was ` demanded for the sake of public convenience, had been earnestly advocated by us and our predecessors in office, and recommended by Committees of both Houses of Parliament.  The result has, we believe, been very beneficial, if in no other way, in removing constant temptation to the violation of a law opposed alike to the interests of the revenue, the convenience of the public, and the natural custom and direction of trade'

The `` OFF RETAIL" Wine Licence was first granted in 1860, on the completion of the Commercial Treaty with France, the object being to promote the consumption of Light Wines.

The introduction of these ``OFF RETAIL" Licenses was attended with a considerable amount of success, they having met a public want, inasmuch as by them small quantities of Wines & Spirits could conveniently obtained by the public, at reasonable prices, the trade being free.

These innovations, however, naturally gave rise to great trade jealousies, the Publicans,  in addition to the monopoly enjoyed by them in selling for consumption `On ' the premises, having hitherto possessed another monopoly in the `Bottle' trade in both Wines & Spirits.

Thus originated the agitation against `Off' or `Grocers' Licenses, and the circulation of all unsubstantial charges of `secret drinking'  and ` female drinking,' &c., in which the Temperance party naturally joined, being of course totally opposed to the Liquor Trade in any and every way.

`Off ' Licenses are only granted to respectable tradesmen - all applicants for Certificates having to produce evidence before the Magistrates as to their respectability.

Moreover, the cost of `Off' Licenses - namely nearly £30 per annum for the privilege of retailing Wines, Spirits and Beer - is in itself a guarantee that this trade is in the hands of a respectable and responsible persons.

Traders under `Off' Licenses after a time feeling aggrieved at the persistent manner in which they were assailed by the Publican interest and the Temperance party, suggested an enquiry as to the method in which their businesses were conducted. 

This led to a Committee of the House Of Lords being appointed to consider the whole subject in the connection of Intemperance.

In the report of their Lordships (printed in 1879), after an enquiry extending over two sessions, and after hearing evidence from, and listening to the opinions of, all classes of society, their Lordships state -

`As the object of instituting these licenses was to enable respectable persons to obtain small quantities of spirits without having to go to public houses, it might be naturally expected that, out of the whole number of persons supplying themselves with spirits from grocers' shops, some individuals would indulge in them to excess; but in all cases where opportunities are given for obtaining alcoholic liquors those opportunities are liable to be abused, and the question that the Committee have had to consider is, not whether some cases of intemperance may be traced to the purchase of spirits at grocers' shops, but whether any general increase in intemperance can be attributed to grocers' licenses.
After examination of many witnesses on the point, and after the best enquiries they could make, the Committee have obtained very little direct evidence in support of this view, and the conclusion they have come to is, that upon the whole there have been no sufficient grounds shown for specially connecting intemperance with the retail of spirits at shops as contrasted with their retail at other licensed houses'

`No evidence has been given that the retail of wine under the Refreshment-house and Wine Licence Acts has increased intemperance; on the contrary, it has been urged, with a considerable show of reason, that the operation of those Acts besides affording much convenience to the public, has had a beneficial effect in encouraging the use of light wines instead of stronger beverages.'

According to the Inland Revenue Commissioners' Report, dated March, 1882, the total number of traders in England and Wales selling Spirits by retail under `Off' Licenses (Including Grocers) was only 6,023, as against 92,493 licenses in the hands of publicans. 

Publicans can sell Wines and Spirits for consumption either `on' or `off' the premises, and in any quantity.

Holders of `Off Retail' Licenses can only sell Wines and Spirits in sealed bottles, for home consumption, and in quantities of not less than one reputed quart bottle of Spirits and one reputed pint bottle of Wine.

The Licenses under which Grocers trade are precisely the same as those held by Wine and Spirit Merchants. There are no special Licenses issued to Grocers, indeed the term Grocers' Licenses is a misnomer.


A Portable Smoking Room, well adapted for a Publican's Garden, dimensions 12ft 6in square. Slate roof with the inside divided into Boxes with Tables and Benches, handsomely painted. The floor boarded. Available at less than half the original cost.
Apply Mr. James Green, next the Turnpike Road to Dereham, Heigham.

7th September 1861 - The Early Closing Movement on Thursdays seems to be gaining ground. Draper's, almost without exception, now regularly close at four o'clock. The solicitor's clerks, accordingly, have memorialized their employers to follow the example set by the drapers, and we presume the assistants of other trades will also take the question up. Of this we are certain, however, that widespread as the movement may eventually become, barmaids and other publican's servants will never be befitted by it, although their masters may.
According to the One Wine Company of Canon Street, London, advertising in February 1868, they were the sole bottlers of wine in Imperial Measure. Their agent was Charles Edward Rix of Lower Goat Lane and Pottergate Street, Norwich.
The Imperial Pint bottle was bound by law to hold one-eighth part of a gallon and an Imperial Quart one-fourth of a gallon. However wine sold in Reputed Pint bottles could be any measure from 6 to 8 to the gallon and were not subject to any law. Both the Reputed Pint and Reputed Quart bottles could be made according to the will of the wine merchant. The Reputed Quart bottle was generally understood to hold the equivalent of 6 pints to the gallon.
The One Wine Company also sold Gin, Brandy, Whisky and Rum in Imperial measure.
They advised that gin sold at very reduced prices was that very much reduced in strength and if anything was added to deceive the palate, then it was not only reduced but adulterated. Any good housewife could reduce the gin equally as well, and in most cases better, than any wine merchant, for she could add as much water and so much white sugar as experience tells her, is agreeable to her lord, and the company had no wish to infringe upon, unless the consumer wished to be deluded with his eyes open, or to be saved the trouble of mixing his own spirits.
In December 1866 Diver & Son of Great Yarmouth advertised Epernay Champagne, delivered Free by Rail, in One and Three Dozen Cases. A dozen AY IMPERIAL bottles would cost 28/- (Cash price). GRAND EPERNAY at 36/-, GOLD LAC at 48/- and FLEUR DE SILLERY at 54/- a dozen.
According to 54 shillings a dozen equates in 2013 to £205 which is approximately £17 per bottle today. However that £17 is equal to £130 based upon the average wage in 1866.
The same company advertised cases of mixed wines and spirits.
A One Pound case would contain one bottle each of Port, Sherry, Whisky, Rum, Hollands and Cordial Gin.
The Two Pound case containing Two bottles of each, Champagne, Sherry, Port, Brandy, Rum and Gin.
The Three Pound case containing Two bottles of each, Moselle, Champagne, Marsala, Claret, Port, Sherry, Pale Brandy, Kinahan's l. L. Whisky and Old Tom Gin.
The above included free carriage to any part of the Kingdom by direct conveyance.

Before the magistrates on Friday 22nd June 1866, Edward March, of St. Julian's, Norwich, was charged with being drunk and incapable in Rose Yard, Back of the Inns on the day previous. When asked what he had drunk he replied "three glasses of best ale and a glass of velvet". When asked what constituted `velvet' he replied, "a glass of best ale with a quarter pint of brandy in it". He was advised to stay away from `velvet'.


From 1st October 1871 the excise payable on licenses for the sale of intoxicating liquors was set at:-
    Publicans, Inn, Eating House & Theatre Licences :-    
    if the premises had an annual valuation of £10 or under £5  
    £20 or under £10  
    £30 or under £11  
    £40 or under £14  
    Over £40 £17  

    Limited Publicans Licence :- Beer Wine Beer & Wine
    if the premises were valued at £10 or under £3 £2 £4
    £20 or under £4 £3 £6
    £40 or under £5 £4 £8
    Over £40 £6 £5 £10

    Refreshment House Licence:- Wine  
    if the premises were valued at £50 or under £3 3s  
    Over £50 £5 5s  
    Limited Licence    
    if the premises were valued at £30 or under £2 15s 8d  
    £50 or under £3  
    Over £50 £4 4s  

    Railway Refreshment Room Licence:-    
    if 3 rooms for different class of passenger £17  
    if 2 rooms for different class of passenger £12  
    if only 1 room £5  

    Beerhouse Licence:-    
    if the premises were valued at £20 or under £1 1s  
    over £20 £2 2s  

    Spirit Dealers Retail Licence:- £3 3s  
    Beer Dealers Retail Licence:- £1 2s  

    Wine Dealers Retail Licence:-    
    if the premises were valued at £50 or under £2 2s  
    over £50 £3 3s  


In May 1888, Bullard & Sons advertised Light Bitter Ale, specially adapted for Family use at 9s per Firkin.
(At a price per pint of 1d)

At a meeting of the Norfolk and Norwich Victuallers' Protection and Benevolent Association, held at the PRINCE OF DENMARK, Sprowston Road, on Tuesday 18th 1905, it was confirmed that the proposed extra £4, to be paid on their Excise licences for compensation purposes, could be deducted from their rents.