Saturday, 14 March 2009

More beer code fun

I've been having a trawl through old directories looking for price lists again. I know. I should get myself a life. But if I didn't do it, who would?

Sometimes it isn't the beers themselves that grabs my attention. The way a price list is organised can be just as revealing. This is a good example from the Eltham Brewery for the year 1874. The beers are split into two groups "October Brewed Stock Ales & Stout" and "Mild Ale, Stout & Porter". This is a new one for me. I've never seen Stouts split into two different groups before.

It's intriguing that PA and IPA are listed as Stock Ales while AK is in the Mild Ale column. "Bitter Dinner Ale" they describe AK as. So it's a Bitter and a Mild. I suppose I can forgive McMullen for calling their AK a Mild, then.

That's not all that's unusual about this particular price list. KIPA is another new one on me. judging by the price, this must be an early example of a Double IPA. I estimate it had a gravity of at least 1090º. I would guess that the IPA was about 1070º and PA around 1065º. I'm all confused. Eltham is on the outskirts of London. I though London IPA's were weak. Oh well, that's another theory gone up in smoke.


Anonymous said...

Ron: From the link you originally provided a couple of months back, I too had found this one and it is interesting from a number of standpoints.

First, I think it offers excellent support for Zythophile's theory as expressed in his books of the origin of IPA in the October brewing tradition.

Second, it shows that K can mean (evidently from the KXXX) "keeping" but not necessarily when it is part of "AK" at any rate. I still think that Zythophile's further insightful view that AK derives from ankel keut is the best explanation offered so far for the term.

The kitchen ale theory mentioned yesterday is intriguing but kitchen ale probably meant, an ale to use in cooking - what was called cooking bitter in the 1900's. The reference you found to the full term kitchen in a beer desigation is interesting, and it might suggest the K in AK derives from kitchen, but I don't think so.

The existence of AKK in other ads tends to muddy the waters further since this coding suggests a stronger, more bitter AK. But the keeping sense of K may have been grafted to an earlier, unrelated meaning.


Barm said...

I don't understand what's unusual about this. The division is between young and aged beer, as you've written many time was the norm. What have I missed?

Matt said...

I think it helps if you take the adjectives to refer to all the words that follow, i.e. October brewed Stout and Mild Stout and Mild Porter.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, nice to see the division formalised.

Andrew: thanks for moderating the comments.

Zythophile said...

Shepherd Neame in Kent had "AK East India Pale Ale" and "Stock KK India Pale Ale" as the cheapest and dearest respectively of a range of four IPAs in 1890, and Healey's of Watford brewed "KKK IPA" around the same time.

As I've said before, whatever K meant generally, AK seems to have indicated a beer aged for only a little longer than a mild.

Ron Pattinson said...

Zythophile, some interesting other examples there.

Perhaps AK could have tood for 'Alf Keeping.