Sunday, 1 March 2009

Let's brew (1923 Whitbread) Mild

Time for another Mild recipe. This is fun, isn't it. It now really is March. I can get really into the swing of Mild March Month. Not seen much (well, any) mention of it elsewhere yet. Must be the CAMRA beer police suppressing it. Will they stop at nothing to impose May as Mild Month?

This is another pretty standard 1920's London Mild. People have commented in the amount of sugar in some of these old recipes. Here's one with just a little. But a very important ingredient as that provides all the colour. You can find details of No.3 brewing sugar here.

Some more recipe notes. MA = Mild Ale malt. Californian would usually imply 6-row barley. The Thetford was British 2-row.

Here's a word on Oregon hops. The main West Coast hop-growing regions were Sonoma, Russian River and Sacramento in California; the Williamette Valley in Oregon; and the Yakima Valley in Washington State. The commonest variety was the Oregon, also known as Late Cluster. It was thought to be a cross between an English hop and wild American hops. It had a high lupulin content an excellent preservative qualities. The only drawback was the strong blackcurrant flavour that meant it could not be used on its own. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, pages 394-395.)

British Columbian hops. Large amounts of hops were grown in British Columbia in Cananda, mostly in the Fraser River Valley and on the Sumas Prairie. The most important varieties were English Fuggle's and Goldings which had been planted in the the middle of the 19th century. These hops were generally similar in flavour to their English ancestors. Some American Cluster hops were also grown.

In many brews, caramel was added to get the colour to exactly the right shade. The colour is given in the log 6.5 Red 40 Brown. Anyone have any idea how this relates to modern EBC values?


Barm said...

Is the Oregon with the strong blackberry flavour the same hop that is now called Bramling Cross? And is Bramling Cross Road in Burton named after the hop, or the other way round?

Mark (the Brush Valley Brewer) said...

I have two questions:

How would you say your No. 3 brewing sugar compares to something like Lyle's Golden Syrup?

I need some set up for the second question.

Correct me if I have it wrong, but the MK in "Whitbread MK" and "Phillips MK" is for "mid-Kent" so presumably, these are Goldings hops — or at least those are modern hops that might make a reasonable substitute. Also, the modern equivalent for both the Oregon and British Colombian hops seems like Fuggles to me.

The interesting thing for me is the "year" column. The Whitbread MK are the current year's harvest, but all the rest of the hops are from the prior year's harvest. If they were all fresh, 2.8 oz of hops split across two additions at 105 and 45 minutes, respectively will put a lot of IBUs into a 1.042 ale.

So here is the question. Do you have any idea how to scale the alpha acid value of the hops to account for them being a year old? I know it would all depend on how Whitbread stored them, but I have to assume they wanted to knock down the bitterness.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, good question. I'm afraid I don't know the answer.

You can find details of No.3 brewing sugar here:

MK does, indeed, mean Mid Kent and presumably Goldings. A combination of Fuggles and Goldings is classic. Usually Fuggles as kettle hop and Goldings for late additions and dry-hopping. Though sometimes it was done the other way around.

I think someone else posted a comment about degradation of alpha acids. You can assume that the hops were held in a cold store in tightly-packed bales. That was the usual method. They tried to preserve the hops as best they could.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!

I'm finding that the possibilities for substitutions (since it seems one must find equivalent malts/hops for almost every recipe) is endless and for a newbie this is a bit overwhelming.

I would like to make a beer that has a blackcurrant-y hop in it! That sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

When I first started tasting real beers in England in the early 1980's, I sought out examples recommended by the writers of the time including not just Michael Jackson but Conal Gregory and Warren Knock. Their classic, understated small book, Beers of Britain, written about 1974, was a fine early foray into the world of real beer.

(Whatever happened to these gentlemen I wonder? I believe they were from Sheffield or that area).

Some of the beers were pretty bitter including either Hyde's or Holt's (I can't recall which, both were very good), Young's Ordinary and Adnam's but so were some of the milds including some light-coloured ones, or say Whitbread's Gold Label barley wine.

I think we have seen now that hop rates amongst all styles generally were high in the 1800's by today's standards. 1923 surely would - in general - still have shown the taste characteristics familiar around 1890 (since brewers are trained by those above them who have started 30 years back).

I think the high-sounding international bitterness units of the old beers often was real.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't resist using the Internet to check up on the latter day Warren Knock and Conal Gregory. I couldn't find any trace of the former but the latter, if it is the same man, is now a well-known journalist who has specialised in wine writing and consulting, financial journalism and other areas. He also seems to have had an active political career for a time. Good to see he is still out there.

This book is one of the classics of real beer literature in my opinion. It has a classic British understated tone which today seems somewhat remote since of course we all live in a more connected, hyperactive and immediate world. Still, its tone is part of its charm.

Unfortunately its London chapter is missing in my copy. That's because I stupidly tore it out on one of my trips to the Capitol in the early 80's and of course it never got put back in. (Don't know what I was thinking because the book is so slim and light anyway - guess I needed maximum room for the beers I used to lug back from the little beer shop near Old Street tube, Pitfield I think). These guys knew their stuff and also were very fair critics, e.g., while always expressing a preference for true draught beer they occasionally would compliment a brewer's keg beer. They were very good on the details of the different methods of dispense. And (so as not to go off topic too much) they were trenchant on mild and the book really is a record of the good surviving mild beers in Britain in the mid-1970's (when there were still more than a handful left).).

Tonight I will lift one to Messrs. Knock and Gregory. While little heralded I think at the time, their work is a cask beer classic and had a big influence on me when I was a beer tyro.


Jim Johanssen said...

Ron - This is one I would not brew, but Mild is your favorite, so here goes my Guestimate for the Whitbread Mild X 1923.


Oregon Cluster @ 4.2% Alpha
Brit. Col. Fuggles @ 3.8%
Phillips MK @ 1.9%
Whitbread MK @ 5%

IBU is 35
Color is 10 SRM or 19.5 EBC

Nice beer, but why Cluster Hops? At least they are kettle hops that are boiled into blandness.


Ron Pattinson said...

Jim, thanks for the breakdown in the hops.

Why Cluster? BEcause they were cheap and could be kept a long time.

Kristen England said...

Sorry boys Ive been on holiday for a while or I would have jumped in sooner.


Your numbers look a little off. The hops would have been lower BU that that. More along the lines of 25. The EBC would have been about 14.

Also remember that the hop additions were dependent upon the brewery. Most breweries had a standard way of introducing hops to every beer. Meaning 90min, 45min and 15min and a 1/3 of the hops for each dose. Depends on the brewery. Some breweries dry hopped which they indicated.

Jim Johanssen said...

Kristen - The way I read the recipe was :
Half the hops @ start of boil 105 min. and half @ 45 min.
I get 22.8 IBUs from the Kettle hops and 12.3 IBUs from the Finnish hops per the Tinseth calulation method.
Ron lost .03 oz somewhere, but I just lumped together the British Columbian (Fuggles) and the Origon (Cluster), the Two MK together for the Finnish Hops.

.5 oz + 1 oz = 1.5 oz Kettle
.33 oz + 1 oz = 1.33 Finnish
Rough guestimate.

As for color I went with
Californian = 2.5 L
Theford = 3 L
Garton No. 3 =120 L

Your milage may vary on this one, like I said it's a Guestimate.