Monday, 9 March 2009

Let's Brew (Whitbread 1950) Mild!

Enough of all those stupidly strong beers. Time to return to a nice watery Mild. The rather inappropriately-named Whitbread Best Ale from 1950.


The main difference between Best Ale and Whitbread's pre-war Mild (apart from the lower gravity) was the amount of crystal malt. In 1939 X Ale, over 13% of the grist was crystal malt. In 1950, it was just about half that. As is typical for mass-produced Milds of the period, the colour comes from dark No.3 invert sugar.

8 comments:

First Stater said...

In the UK when a crystal malt is specified what color would be typical? Crystal is available in several color grades and I've been using the 80 lovibond grade when brewing these historical beers. Am I OK doing this or should a different color be used?

Bill in Oregon said...

Ron, when did the use of crystal malt become common? It seems the beers from the 1950's use some but the beers in the 1920's from Whitbread didn't. Is is a post WWII thing?

Ron Pattinson said...

First Stater, that's a good question. Crystal malt came in a wide variety of colours. Working out which one is meant in the logs isn't easy. Many Whitbread recipes have two lots of crystal malt from different manufacturers.

Sometimes there are details of different malts (like their price and weight per quarter) in the first or last pages of a log. Unfortunately, I've never seen any mention of the colour.

Ron Pattinson said...

Bill, if I remember correctly, crystal malt starts showing up in the 1920's. But it varies from brewery to brewery. I don't think I've ever seen it before 1900.

MentalDental said...

That must have been pretty sweet with an FG of 1009 from an OG of 1031, which you would expect from all that crystal.

And pretty weak too. CAMRA used to take the piss out of ersatz UK lager in the 1970, especially it's strength (or lack of it). But piss weak beers weren't new then apparently!

Kristen England said...

Crystal varies by color according to maltster. I've found the original typical color for crystal was right around 70-80L. 75 to be specific. get as close as you can to this number.

Ron Pattinson said...

The colour of crystal varied a lot. And, as Kristen said, from maltster to maltster. (This is equally true of amber malt in the 18th and 19th century.)

You have to ask yourself with this recipe: why use crystal malt from two different maltsters? With base malt, it was common to have a mix of two or three types. But with darker malts, having ones from more than one supplier is rare.

Whoops. Just took a look at the rest of the 1950 logs. There are a couple of other Best Ales that use all Swannell crystal.

I can't find any reference to the colour of crystal malt in the logs. But . . . I thought of another way of getting some indication of colour.

Some logs give the weight per quarter (a volume measure) of the various malts. In general, the darker the malt, the lighter the weight. Mmmm. I've got the details of Barclay Perkins malts from 1937 . . . . .

Kristen England said...

Its a good theory and I think would work with any malt other than crystal malt. Crystal malt is so different b/c it doesn't need to be mashed. Its basically happy little sugars in a non-candy coated shell. You are comparing apples to oranges. Malt is basically soluble starch where crystal malt are sugars.