War and Beer

While I'm sure many people have glanced at a war documentary on the History Channel every now and then, regarding some benign factoid of the world wars of last century - how nylon was rationed with many women rubbing charcoal on their legs in place of wearing stockings, or how useful foodstuffs such as SPAM or margarine were given rise to. But did you ever query, what happened to the booze, mate?
Well let me tell you of some of the beastly things done to the pint during the Great War of 1914-1918 in the United Kingdom...

To start with, the great social exercise of buying drink rounds for friends was banned, known as' treating'. Each person could only purchase one drink at a time.

More interestingly and probably rather logical, having a mid-shift 'afternoon break' (read: let's 'ead off to the pub for a cheeky larger, then finish our batch of tank shell casings) was banned.

Pubs near munitions factories were taken under state control, their hours shortened from 17 per day, to only 5.
Women were employed to roll beer barrels, wash casks and do malting, due to the loss of 40% of the male labour force to the war effort. Sidney Neville of Brandon's pub in Putney, commented that the only problem with the hiring of some surprisingly efficient female workers was that the cellarmen would often complain about their foul language.

Lloyd George, the British PM at the time - for those that didn't pay attention in their history class, insisted that grain should be used as a food supply rather than for alcoholic production, with malting ordered to cease in many months throughout the later part of the war. Many pubs could only get one barrel per week! Worse, when you got any beer, it was terribly weak - with breweries trying to make their grain go as far as possible. A pint in 1917 was 3/4 as strong as a pre-war pint, costing twice as much, this lead to industrial unrest throughout the land and the Government was forced to reverse some of its radical restrictions.

One music hall artist, Ernie Mayne, performed a song called "Lloyd George's Beer" about the 'Government Ale' as the weak brew was nicknamed:

Lloyd George's beer, Lloyd George's beer,
At the brewery there's nothing doing -
All the waterworks are brewing
Lloyd George's beer
Oh they say its a terrible war
And there never was a war like this before
But the worst thing that ever happened in this
Was Lloyd George's beer

A strange note went out from the Ministry of Food in November 1917 to all hoteliers asking them to place prominent notices urging guests 'to refrain from drinking beer, in order that there may be more beer for the working classes'

Fortunately the Government realised by World War II, that keeping up moral, during a war is rather important, and what better way to keep the citizens happy, than to allow them to be boozed into a state of constant ambivalence.
Isn't it fascinating that, while they can take our butter, chocolate and even knickers, they'll think twice before snatching our beer.


    I reckon Brittany Spears is proof of that


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