Monday, 19 January 2009

London Porter in the 1930's

I wonder how much more mileage I'll be able to get from Porter? Tell me when you start getting bored. I only finished compiling "Brown Beer" three weeks ago and I've already got another 20 pages of material to add. I blame myself for writing so bloody much.

We've moved on a decade from my last Porter post and are now looking at the 1930's. From the small number of samples analysed and the shrinking output at Whitbread and Barclay Perkins, it's clear that Porter had become a marginal product.

A surprising number of London breweries were still brewing Porter in the late 1930's. Their gravities were mostly in the mid-1030's and, at 5d a pint, they were one of the cheapest beers on sale in pubs. Blow are a few eamples of London Porter, with Guinness Porter from Ireland and Ballantine's from the USA for comparison purposes. Ballantine's had a profile closer to 19th century British versions of the style.

Where do I go from here? The 1940's, perhaps.


Oblivious said...

Hi Ron

Was the Guinness Porter the one that died out in the 70's or similar to the stout available to day?

An was there any real difference in recipe between Guinness Porter and stout or was it just all branding?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, well, Guinness Porter and Stout had pretty similar recipes. But Guinness grists have changed a fair bit since the early 1970's. Basically their Porter was a weaker version of the Stout.

At some times and in some locations Guinness Porter was marketed as Single Stout.

Oblivious said...

Hi Ron

Would the change in Guinness grist be the move from Black malt to roasted barely? did the porter have a stating gravity lower the 1.042?

Anonymous said...

Good to see that the American Ballantine porter was still hanging in there for 1800's gravities or thereabouts.

I can say with absolute certitude that a beer branded as Ballantine porter was sold into the 1970's. It isn't mentioned in Jim Robertson's 1978 The Great American Beer Book (the IPA and XXX were, as was a Ballantine Bock), but I remember buying it in New England in about 1975, in a small stubby plastic composition bottle, I think.

It tasted similar to the surviving Pennsylvania porters, e.g., Yuengling porter of today, goodish but fairly mild.

Some of the extant North American porters in the 1970's had a faint taste of licorice - Labatt's Champlain porter in Quebec did - but at this distance I cannot recall if Ballantine porter did.

Just last night I was reading Byrn's very detailed account of porter manufacture in the mid-1800's and he advises to add licorice to the finished porter and a small amount of "orange powder" - probably coriander. Byrn was addressing a U.S. audience and I think was approving an older English practice by then discontinued due to legal changes.


Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, the excellent book "Brown Beer" would answer your questions. If it had been printed and if there were copies for sale.

This post should help:

The gravity of Guinness Porter varied over time. If I remember correctly, 1061 in the first half of the 19th century, 1056 until 1917.

More than 130 pages of Porter pretension. What a book Brown Beer is.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, you could almost have sold that Whitbread porter to children, it was so weak ...

In its final early 1970s guise Guinness porter was 1036 OG, according to Michael Jackson ...

Oblivious said...

Thank you for the information Ron.

Would you ever consider published the Brown Beer as an e-publication?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, I hadn't really considered that. My current plan is to get 10 copies printed. Slightly complicated by the fact that I keep adding to it.

I'll have to have a think about an e-version. Both "Brown Beer" and "Mild!" do have a lot of handy historical stuff in them.