Thursday, 29 January 2009

More K's

I've already mentioned some of the following in a comment to an earlier post. But I'm worried I'll forget where it is, so I'm converting it to a post of its own. If you see what I mean. Must have left my writing head at home today

Here are the vital statistics of Fuller's X, AK and PA:

You'll note that the hopping rate of the AK (in terms of pounds of hops per quarter of malt) is exactly halfway between the hopping rate of the PA and X.

Barclay Perkins are a good choice for comparing K and X Ales. As you'll see in the table below, the corresponding X and K Ales had the same OG, but the K's were more heavily-hopped.

Last time at the London Metrolpolitan archives I photographed some Ale logs that also demonstrated the relationship between X and K Ales. I think they were Truman's logs. The beers were called X, XX, XXX and KXX, KXXX, KXXXX. You see the same K prefix used with, for example, Porter. It always means a Keeping version. Truman's Porter's were always prefixed by either Runner or Keeping. You had things like Country Runner, Keeping Double Stout, etc.

I must try to get through the relevant logs. I'm sure they will broaden our knowledge.


Anonymous said...

Ron, this suggests to me the letter K was used in different senses. Where it was used as in KXX, KXXX, etc, this must have meant simply an aged, low-hopped ale, of different strengths of course. Or an old porter, etc. Another way the old ads said this was e.g., "XXX (old)". There is one ad showing both "XXX (old)" and "XXX (mild)".

Where however K was used in the term AK, or as K alone, surely it meant, as your explication of the Fuller data shows, merely a lightly hopped, unaged bitter. The ads that I've now read support this by their placement of the K range in relation to pale ales and by pricing.

These ads explain AK or K (in brackets next to the designation) variously as, "mild bitter", "dinner ale", "light bitter". And I found one which states outright that its KK is "mild". Other ads of course suggest their higher K range was aged. That 2 year old KK beer that Barnard commented on as related by Zythophile in his comments on AK was a keeping beer, clearly.

I think K perhaps did mean keeping (for all these usages) originally, i.e., a beer meant to last longer than what we call mild today. And this meaning got obscured with the onset of yet heavier-hopped beers (pale ale, IPA) and with the K beers therefore being offered or viewed sometimes as mild. The term AK though may have an independent history (keut) and have worked itself into listings of K beers due to alphabetical and stylistic familiarity.

But anyway I glean that there were unaged low-hopped beers and aged ones; unaged medium-hopped beers and aged ones; unaged pale ales and aged ones; and unaged porters and aged ones. Of different strengths. Anything aged would generally have been higher in alcohol than the unaged to assist in the preservation. But not always as we see e.g., from a brewery's XXX offered as both aged and unaged in the same ad.

Once again great work Ron and it would be a real advance I think if this thing can be cracked although I don't know that it can ever be solved.


Anonymous said...

Ron permit a clarification please in that when I said KXX, KXXX, etc. were aged and low-hopped, I should have said aged and medium-hopped. Clearly the K beers were more hopped than the corresponding X beer in the range. But again we have K beers (AK and K always, and sometimes KK) that are described as mild beers in the ads - not keeping, therefore. But K may have changed meaning as the 1800's wore on as suggested earlier.

It is AK (that term) that really mystifies me. Why the "A"? If it doesn't mean ankel, what would it signify? I suppose A then might have been a symbol for a lower quality, maybe grading worked that way then. But I've not seen a BK or CK beer.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I'm so stupid. I've forgotten to put a link to my table of beer names taken from price lists. I have several hundred:

There is a CC in there. Other weird ones, too. Godsell & Sons: AK, AKK, AB, A1.

Old and Mild = young and old. Mild Bitter might sound weird today, but you have to remember that it just means a beer sold young, nothing else. Mild Ale, Mild Porter, Mild Bitter. It's the second half of the name that's important.

XXX (old). Other breweries would call that XXXK or KKK.

"A". It turns up quite a bit in the 20th century. At least in the brewing records I've looked at. That's what London brewers called their barely-alcoholic Milds.

It's great that others are applying their minds to this code.

KK Mild throws all my ideas into confusion. It seems an oxymoron.

Have a look at the link I gave and tell me your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Ron, I will read the link and ponder and give some thoughts.

That KK (Mild) I thought meant, median-hopped, just more alcohol than K or AK - and new. Pale ale if mild would be more hops. XX would be similar but with less hops than KK Mild.

In going through further ads I did see some A beers, B and C ones too and some odd variants (one came up under a Burton Ale search showing single letter codes like S and other single letters from all over the alphabet - some of these systems must have been intramural).