Friday, 20 March 2009

A special Black and Tan

In addition to pies and sausages, I picked up a few beers in England to bring home. Including a pair of English classics: Mackeson and Gold Label.

Both beers originated in breweries bought up (and closed) by Whitbread. Though neither now bears the Whitbread name. In their time both were innovative beers. Mackeson the first widely-available lactose-laced Milk Stout. Gold Label the first amber-coloured Barley Wine. Once available in pubs acrosss Britain, you're now lucky to find them in anywhere except a forgotten corner of a supermarket shelf. And in a can.

It's a sign of the abandonment by the big brewers of much of the British brewing tradition that beers like these have been left to wither and die. They're not quite dead yet, but how much longer will they survive?

So tonight, in honour of the past glories of British brewing, I'll be drinking a very special Black and Tan. Mackeson and Gold Label. I bet it'll taste great. Or different. Either will do me.

By the way, I've a couple of Mackeson recipes from the 1950's. Anyone interested?


15 comments:

Mark said...

I have a can of each of these in the cupboard so I may join you in that!!

Matt said...

I've never actually tried either, I'll be interested to hear what you think of them (not sure about together though).

At the start of my drinking career as a teenager in Manchester in the late 80's I used to drink in a Whitbread pub that sold both in bottles although I seem to remember they were the preserve of the elderly. This was in my pre-CAMRA days and I'm ashamed to say I drank Whitbread Trophy Bitter.

korev said...

I've made a sweet stout (from JZ book) and compared to a present day Mackeson (in a can)and it is quite different. So I would be interested in when the strength for Mackeson dropped to 3% indeed wa the 1950's recipe stronger?? So yes fro the recipe Cheers

Ed said...

The strength of gold label has also dropped over the years. :-(

Tim said...

Korev,
I suspect that the Jamil recipe that you tried was different to teh real deal is because like most BJCP types - they have never actually tried an example of the style before and have either sampled someones home brewed interpretation or just interpret the style guidelines.

Ron Pattinson said...

Korev, if you look in the table you'll see that after WW II, Mackeson was always between 3 and 3.5% ABV. Unfortunately, I don't have FG's for the pre-war version so I don't know exactly how strong it was.

The beer calles EMS is, I think, Export Mackeson Stout. It looks like the pre-war version. So I would guess before 1939 it was about 4.5% ABV, similar to the XXX version sold in the USA.

Aaron Bennett said...

You know, it kills me that british breweries have done that. I mean, American breweries have also turned their backs on the classics -- you can find Narraganset Lager and the other old shitty american lagers still, but they suck, but then again they always did. But Britain has a history worth keeping alive and it bums me out to see british microbreweries making double IPAs... why celebrate the worst of American craft brewing?

This is largely because I noticed a six pack of Whitbread Pale Ale for sale at a package store. I was excited until I saw on the label, "Brewed under the strict supervision of Interbrew International in Cincinatti, Ohio."

WHAT THE?

Kristen England said...

FYI, I was always taught, that when you make a 'black and tan' with any barleywine, its called a 'peace maker'. That being said, I had one last night that was part Courage Russian Stout and Whitbread KKK recreation. Holy crap was it good...Im just not so sure I needed 20oz.

Oblivious said...

I passed up the opportunely to pick up a four pack of Gold Label, Stage I have ever only seen it sold as a four pack considering its 10% or so?

The title of the thread reminded me of when Ben and Jerry's tried to launch their "Black and Tan" ice cream in Ireland calming it a celebration of Irishness, a google search would have open their eye's

Gary Gillman said...

I have a clear recollection of Gold Label, of the last time I drank it. It was in a pub called Eight Bells and ... (can't recall rest of name), in Chelsea south, facing the river but on the north side of a busy road. We had been visiting the Army Museum not far away. (My late father had been a teenage private in the Black Watch in Canada and I wanted to see weapons he had told me about such as the Bren and Sten). Gold Label was a winy pale-colored brew of excellent flavor, in the bottle at that time. I still recall that Jackson wrote it was centrifuged but not pasteurised. Perhaps in the 20th century it seemed odd by being pale but probably in 1800's terms paleness was normal for a strong London beer that wasn't a porter.

One of the excellent pre-Jackson beer books, Taster's Guide To Beer by Michael Weiner, calls a mix of strong and weaker beer old-and-mild, old-and-bitter, also, "granny" for the former, and, B-B for Burton and Bitter. He's got some great terms in his glossary like "wompo" (East London slang for ale); "nuts and bolts", (East Anglian for mild-and-bitter); "Shanghai" (variant darts game but whence the name I am unclear); "Twos" for a Norfolk mix of mild-and-bitter (Zythophile mentions this too in his first book, a "pint of Twos" in his rendering); "binder" for a last drink; and "Closing Time" (a sad occasion) :)

Gary

David Harris said...

Ron, do you read the comments before you approve them?

It doesn't look like it.

Ron Pattinson said...

David, you should see the ones that don't make it through.

Please play nicely children, or I'll make you all come inside.

Gavin Davis said...

Here! here! Ron, I think we should start a campaign to save these beers, and others like them. You can still get them in bottles actually, though the Gold Label bottle is not as impressive as it once was. Harvey's impresses me with it's range of very retro half pint bottled beers. I often get my landlord to pick up crate of Nut Brown or Sussex Sweet, when he goes to Lewis to collect beer. Mann's Brown, Sweetheart Stout and a few other surviving pub bottles could do with some support as well. Perhaps a campaign to bring back the half pint returnable bottle.

StuartP said...

I actually drink this mix.
And judging by the way the supply of cans goes down in Sainsbury's and the way that they are sat next to each other, I think a few other people do, too.

Ron Pattinson said...

Stuartp, did I mention that I've found Gold Label in the Whitbread brewing records? I've been thinking about how I could get it brewed.