Friday, 13 March 2009

A collection of AK's

AK, as I've already explained, obsesses me for several reasons. That's why I collect them. It's a slow day here at Barclay Perkins so I thought that I'd share a few of them with you.

There are almost as many descriptions of what AK is as there are examples. The table above has fourteen: Mild Bitter Ale, Ale, Bitter, Bitter Ale, Bitter Dinner Ale, Family Ale, Light Amber Ale, Light Bitter, Light Bitter Ale, Light Dinner Ale, Light Pale Ale, Luncheon Ale, Pale Ale, Stock Bitter Ale. Light and Bitter are the two words that crop up the most. So I guess AK was both light and bitter. Light and Bitter? Isn't that what cockneys drank in the 1960's?

The price is much more consistent than the nomenclature. All but three were a shilling a gallon wholesale. A shilling a gallon was the price for standard-strength beer for most of Victoria's reign. It's hard to imagine nowadays, isn't it? Beer staying the same price for 50 years.


Matt said...

But are we any nearer discovering what AK stood for or is it destined to be forever unknown? I tend towards the ankel koyt/keut (or whatever the Flemish word is) theory myself because it has the ring of historical accuracy and is the only one that hasn't been disproved unlike Ale for Keeping/Arthur King/Asquith's Knockout.

Gavin said...

There used to be a reproduction Bentley and Shaw price list in the Grove in Huddersfield featuring AK Light Ale. It was from late 19th Century I think. Talking to a member of the Huddersfield branch, he mentioned a Manchester brewer who produced an AK, sorry forgot the name. Apparently someone from Marble Brewery has done a lot of studying into AK also. According to the guy I was talking to he reckons that AK stands for Amber Kitchen. Sounds like a bit of folk etymology to me but who knows. He reckons it was meant to replicate the style of "kitchen" home brewed ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Gavin, funny you should mention Kitchen ale. I found this one yesterday:

Lion Stem Brewery, Princes Risborough, Bucks., 1883, X Kitchen Ale, 28s. a barrel, 9.33d per gallon.

Mark Oliver said...

Could AK be an "amber stock ale," of low OG?