Wednesday, 26 September 2007

More Whitbread 1933

The Whitbread fun just won't end. That's a promise. It won't end. I'll be keeping this up for weeks. The material is there. My butterfly brain will doubtless flutter off to another flower before it's exhausted. Expect exhaustion yourself sooner.

Start with the most unfashionable years possible was my first idea, but I forgot to photograph early 1970's logs. The thirties are a good second choice. Weak beers, lots of sugar, three year old hops. Perfect for the extreme beer crowd.

I like the look of the Whitbread beers. What I'm about to say feels like disloyalty. But it needs to be said. Whitbread's seem honest beers. They may use sugar, but they aren't full of rice or maize like some others brewed in London. You know who I'm talking about . . . but I'm not going to spell it out . . . . my fingers won't type the words.

Any of you homebrewers? A couple of the beers described below I would love to try. Not brew, just drink. My attempts at brewing clearly demonstrated which aspect of beer suited me best. It wasn't production. Filling kegs is the highest I can aspire to.

Should you brew one of these beers, I would be delighted. Even more so if you gave me a bottle. I hope there's another Lachlan out there. (Lachlan brewed a killer version of Barclay Perkins 1856 Imperial Brown Stout. I'm lucky enough to still have one bottle.)


hey_kevin said...

This is awesome, Ron!

I think I've got my next brewing session totally lined up. The porter is simply the Extra Stout diluted by a factor of two, and on my brewing setup this will work perfectly as I normally dilute before fermentation to my desired starting gravity. I'll also probably leave some at an OG of 1.036 to see what its like and to test my theory that what currently passes for dark mild owes more to 1930s porter than it does to the old X ales. (Don't worry, I'm not that attached to it...) I only wish I had whitbread yeast laying around. The attenuation numbers are surprising to me.

Ron Pattinson said...

Kevin, glad you like the details of the Whitbread beers. It took the best part of two days to assemble them.

I'd noticed that the Porter was about exactly half the Extra Stout. They didn't brew

Ron Pattinson said...

Whoops. Posted that too early.

Party-gyling: it's a bit more complicated than just brewing one beer then watering it down. In the Porter/Extra Stout brew there were two worts: one at 1069 and one at 1021.1. These were blended to get beers of the desired gravity. So the Porter was made up of 19 barrels of 1069 wort, 81 barrels of 1021.1 wort and 10 barrels of water. The Extra Stout was 115 barrels of 1069 wort and 14 barrels of 1021.1 wort. Which means that the Extra Stout has a much higher proportion of the better-quality first runnings. The calculations to find out how much of each wort to use are in pencil on the log.

That old one about Dark Mikd being descended from Porter. I've never seen a scrap of evidence to support it. At Barclay Perkins Mild and Porter weren't even made in the same brewhouse. And I can trace the development of X Ales from the 1840's to the 1940's. Sure, they changed over time, but step by step. I can see no influence of Porter. What's the defining feature of London Porter? The use of brown malt. Can I find it in Mild? Only in a couple of strange beers brewed during WW I that are really untypical.

The wort at 1036 will give you a beer like a Porter brewed in the 1920's. Quite interesting, but not a Mild.

What's surprising about the attenuation? I'll warn you that the numbers I've used are under the heading "Started". Start in brewing terminology usual means "laying down to mature". In this case, as the Porter wouldn't have been left to mature but sold immediately, it must refer to racking gravity. For the weaker beers, this is probably pretty close to the gravity when sold in the pub. For anything that was matured, the gravity was probably a few degrees lower when consumed. The "started" gravities in the logs are pretty similar to the FG's given in the gravity book.

hey_kevin said...

Ron, with my theory about dark mild replacing porter at the bottom end of the spectrum, is in the more modern period. Do you have any logs from Barclay Perkins in the early 50s? Courage bought them in 1955, correct? I'd really be interested in mild grists from either Barclay Perkins or Whitbread in the early 50s (or later in the case of Whitbread.) Maybe since my experience with dark mild is really barely second hand, as I live in the states. I've always been under the assumption that dark mild was colored by brown and black or chocolate malts, not crystal and caramel coloring. I really have no basis for that. The closest thing I've had to authentic mild would be Moorhouse's Black Cat.

It's too bad I wasn't going to brew these whitbread beers earlier. A good friend of mine went to Bruxellensis and poured beer with Dan Shelton at the High and Mighty/Franconian table. I could have entrusted him in courier duties.

You've drank a hell of a lot more dark mild than I have. Does which beers in the archives to you think most milds have the most in common with? The ones with lots of crystal malt?

Again though, I find this stuff completely fascinating.

Ron Pattinson said...

I'm slowly working my way through the logs, pretty much in chronological order. The latest ones I have are the 1950's Whitbread Porter logs I sent you. The newest Ale logs are Barclay Perkins ones from the 1940's.

Porter had totally disappeared from most of England by the 1930's. Looking at brewery price lists, provincial brewers started dropping it around 1900. It seems to have survived longest in London. Modern Mild, IMO, dates from the 1930's. But, like I said, it had a linear development from a hundres years earlier. I can't see why, when Porter had been such a terminally unfashionable beer and Mild the most popular, breweries would make their Mild more like Porter. It makes no sense to me.

It's difficult to generalise about Mild grists as they vary considerably from brewery to brewery. I was a big Mild fan in my younger days, when most breweries still made one. I reckon I've tried at least 150 different ones. I would say the majority used pale malt, crystal malt and caramel. I doubt very much if any used brown malt as it has a distinctive taste that I never noticed and it was very rare. Some did contain black or chocolate malt, but my guess would be no more than 25% of those brewed.

If I try to think today of Milds which do use darker malts, not many come to mind. Bateman's and Cain's do. Moorhouse's Black Cat does, too (and is a pretty good example of the style). But plenty are coloured with carmel. You also have to bear in mind how British brewers party-gyle. Some party-gyle Bitter and Mild. Which means the Mild will have the same basic grist as the Bitter (pale/crystal malt) and be coloured with caramel.

Milds still cover a very broad spectrum. At one end you have a beer like Cains that is roasty and quite dry, at the other Southern Milds (what few there are left)that are sweeter and more carmelly. looking at the logs and the low degree of attenuation of the London Milds, I guess they fell into the latter category.

I did drink Whitbread Mild a couple of times in the late 1970's in London. From wha I recall, that was sweet and caramelly.