Sunday, 29 March 2009

Truman - cracking the codes

You may have wondered (or perhaps not - you might well have better things to do than speculate on my actions) why I've not written more about Truman's 20th century beers. There's a good reason. I can't understand the bloody things.

It's bot the handwriting. Though all Truman's brewers seem to have had scrawly handwriting. Nor how the logs are laid out. They changed very little in format between 1850 and 1964. I got the hang of them ages ago. It's more fundamental than that. I've no idea what the beers are.

The first time I looked at the 1964 logs, I couldn't even spot where the beer name was, let alone what it was. But I think I've cracked the codes.

I can't claim the credit for being especially clever. The notes in the corner of one page (see right) told me what many meant. The names are more expansive than in the log headers. There you just see things like S1, P1, P2, etc.

And the barrelage numbers (the second column) are big clue. It's easy to guess what the biggest sellers were in 1964: Mild, Bitter, Best Bitter.

So here's my overview of Truman beers in 1964. I'm convinced that the logs must be from their Burton brewery, as there are no Stouts. In fact, they used no dark malts at all. Just pale malt and caramel.

Don't ask me why such a strong beer should be called "Runner". I've no clue as to what sort of beer it was, apart from being very strong.

Now I have to start working backwards through the years. Until I get to WW I. Won't that be fun?


Gary Gillman said...

I would think Runner for such a strong beer meant a beer that rose to its strength in one fermentation, much like most strong U.S. micro beers today I imagine, where they keep feeding yeast to the ferment to get the final ABV or use a champagne yeast or some other way. Maybe a XXXX mild in the older English terms?

It is amazing to see such consistency over such a long period. When I first visted London, in 1985, I have a clear collection that the pale ale at the bar of New Berner's Hotel, which was north of Oxford Street westerly of Bloomsbury/Fitzrovia, was a pale ale from Truman. Excellent pale beer which was much better in my opinion than the canned pale ales like John Smith's that you'd find on the off-license.

It would be interesting to compare the hops per quarter for the same beer in different periods going back.


Ron Pattinson said...

Calling a beer like that Runner has me completely stumped. It's definitely not like any of the 19th century Truman Runners.

I can remember drinking Truman's Mild in the Wig and Pen on Fleet Street. A very tasty beer.

The hopping rates look pretty low to me. As I have photos of Truman logs for 1921, 1930, 1953 and 1959 I will be making some comparisons.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, in Stopes' malting text in the bibliography, Amsinck's Practical Brewings is included (no. 19) and the grammar of the title suggests the term running could be applied to IPAs and even Burton ales:,M1

I can't find online a full text of Amsinck.


Kristen England said...

The way the runners break down make them more of a type of 'stout'. Nearly definitely a type of stout I would say. Lots of brown and black malt in the older versions. Terms like Runner, country runner, running stout were all used for the Truman beers before 1900.