Thursday, 6 November 2014

What was a Beer House?

What was a Beer House
as against a pub, inn, tavern?

Anyone who has searched Trade Directories will probably have wondered what distinguished a beer house from a pub, other than one only sold beer and the other also stocked wines and spirits

Beer houses existed in large numbers from 1830 with the passing of The Beerhouse Act and diminished in 1869 when the Magistrates were given back their powers to control them.
(No doubt if a beer house was set up during 1830-69 and ran without problem the Magistrates would be likely to let them continue. Indeed if a Beer House was successful it could well become a full blown pub. If you come across a pub in the middle of a terrace it likely started out as a Beer House.)
The Act was to promote beer, rather than spirits, particularly gin.

Gin, cursed fiend, with fury fraught,
Makes human race a prey.
 It enters by a deadly draught
And steals our life away. 

It was also hoped to drive down beer prices for the working being safer to drink than water, back then. It was relatively cheap to set up through an Excise Officer and it kept the local justices out of the process. Many beerhouses were set up in the self-brewers' own houses and that's why you keep coming across so many in the Trade Directories of that era, and beyond. Home brew..and local Real Ale Pubs...what goes around, comes around

If you want more info there's three or four separate Wikipedia pages on the topic

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