Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Let's brew Wednesday - 1943 Whitbread XXXX

Another wartime beer, on this occasion one from WW II.

XXXX what is that? Well it isn't a Mild, as earlier beers called XXXX were. Really, it's more like a KK. A Burton or Strong Ale, something that still featured on most London bar counters. It being wartime, the gravity has been reduced from a pre-war level of around 1055.

Below Kristen wonders about the high proportion of oats in the grist. There's a simple reason for this: the government made them do it. Brewers were told to use a certain proportion of oats, despite many having serious objections.

Whitbread 1943 XXXX (4X)

For the 2nd beer during the fabulous month of June, alcohol anything month, is Whitbreads 4X. Ohhhhh...ahhhhh...ummmm...what the hell is a 4X. Well its simply 1X better than a 3X and 1X worse than a 5X. In all seriousness, this is definitely different than nearly all the the X beers I've seen. Its much different than the Truman 4X 'imperial milds' that sported +1.100 gravities as we'll see.

Grist and such
Crappy malt. Lots of lower quality malts that aren't used on the really good stuff. As with most Whitbread beers of this age there were numerous types of pale malt used. Each was of second quality so it makes sense that there was a few to dry out as much complexity as possible...or it could have just been the cost. A few things really stand out. At over 24% adjunct, this sucker ranks right up there as being the cheapest to make. Even more interesting is half of the adjuncts are flaked oats...first time I've seen that high a dose anyway. As with other milds, lots of really dark No 3 invert.

Single infusion with a single underletting. Not much of a big deal huh? Pretty standard for the time as with that much invert, there will be a good amount of unfermented dextrins left behind. Well, actually I really think it affected the beer quite a bit. Seeing that the oats make up 12% of the entire mash there is going to be a very large amount of beta-glucans. Beta-glucans are basically sorts of gums that, amongst other things, add that 'texture' that using a good portion of oats give you...I guess its more of a silky sensation than anything. To the point, this thing would have been chewier tasting that the final gravity would indicate. Its also worth mentioning that the amount of water used in the mash is nearly 2x as much as usual. Its most assuredly because of the oats.

This is a conundrum. Low quality malts, very fresh hops and quite a high BU count for the 'style'. The hops are only 1.5 years old at most with a third of them less than 7 months old.

Tasting notes
Deep brown with notes of figs, cherry cordial and dark caramel. Oat reek with a chewy plum filed oat scone finish. Spicy hoppy middle with a good dose of bitterness that drys out the end.

1 comment:

Oblivious said...

That is a lot of oats, looks around the same amount for an oatmeal stout or at least the home brewed versions