Barclay’s Lager, 1926

It’s been a strange kind of summer in a strange kind of year. The approach of September usually gives me a feeling of normality being restored – working for a university I still feel tied to the academic calendar, and September always feels more like new year to me than January ever does. After the uproar of the Brexit result, the weird hiatus while our new Prime Minister promptly went on holiday for five weeks has made the referendum result seem like a strange dream while real life was on hold. With the government reconvening (and why was the referendum decided to coincide with that political period when it feels like no one is in charge?) Brexit’s on the real life agenda again and normality is very much not restored in September this year.

I’ve been having a bit of a holiday from the blog too – a huge queue of scanning materials have been building up and I hope to actually get on with it shortly. In the meantime, here’s an advert for Barclay’s British Lager from 1926. Averse as I currently feel to anything overtly flying the flag for British nationalism, I like this advert.

Hartlepool Mail, 21st May 1926

Hartlepool Mail, 21st May 1926

A seaman’s thirst is quenched by British Lager, Barclay’s being one of the British pioneers in brewing lager. They took advantage of world events – Germany and Austria were the prime source of lager prior to the First World War, but such imports became impossible during the war and Barclay’s set to experimenting with their own brews. They brewed it at 5%, stronger than most beers at the time. After the war they developed a successful export trade in it too – Germany and Austria’s trade being incapacitated and the other big lager producer, the USA, being hobbled by the era of prohibition.

In 1921, the Brewer’s Journal reported on Barclay’s lager in this way (from this link):

“Doubtless they do not imagine that any large trade in this type of beer can at present be looked for from the working classes. The potentiality of trade lies with the middle and upper classes, and with that floating population from the ends of the earth which the Metropolis always embraces.”

Turns out they were wrong about the popularity of lager with the working classes. And the reference to London accepting, “embracing“, people from all “ends of the earth” brings me depressingly back to a time when it feels like the march of history has got a bit lost and is going back on itself, in well-trodden footsteps that lead to nowhere you really want to go.

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