Thursday, 25 October 2007

The birth of pissy British lager

A change of pace today as I return to the Whitbread gravity book. Brillarific, I hear you say. (All except Matt, of course.)

One thing struck me about the British-brewed lagers I found: they don't have fake Germanic names. They are called things like Graham's Golden Lager (later relaunched as Skol), Red Tower Lager, Wrexham. Perhaps in the immediate postwar years teutonic branding wouldn't have gone down too well.

In the 1930's, British lagers like Barclay Perkins London Lager had very respectable gravities - in the high 1040's or even low 1050's (in the case of their dark lager). Postwar the decline to Mild-like gravities was soon underway. Imported lagers followed suit. Carlsberg bought in Singapore had an OG of 1049.9, in the UK just 1031.8. There's also a lower gravity version of Pilsner Urquell, at 1038.9. Belgian-bought Stella was 1052.4, the one sold in Britain just 1043.7. The Zuid Hollands Brouwerij (ZHB) lager was, at 1032-1034, also obviously made specially for the British market.

In effect, what you can see is the start of a distinct British lager culture, with strengths far lower than on the continent.

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