Thursday, 2 July 2009

Barclay Perkins 1936 KKKK water treatment & caramel

I've finally got around to looking up the water treatment for yesterday's Let's Brew recipe. The same as KK, it said in the log.

A page at the front of the log lists all the different treatments. There were five different ones in total. Here's the KK entry:

Company's liquor. Treated cold 3 ozs salt & 3 ozs gypsum per barrel in HLB (hot liquor back). Boiled overnight. Half hour before mashing add 1/8 pint per barrel BiSulphate of lime.
Salt in coppers - 1oz per barrel.

Fascinating stuff, eh? If you look at the image you'll see that the treatments varied considerably between the different beers. Looking just now, it struck me that the Brown Ale (DB) had the same water treatment as the Bitters (PA, IPA, XLK). With considerable amounts of gypsum being added.

As for the caramel, I've found details in an earlier brewing book (1925). That gives the caramel as 22,000º Lovibond (one inch cell). 1.5 pounds of caramel was added per 100 barrels to raise the colour of the beer by 1º.

It's from a decade earlier, but I imagine the procedure was much the same in 1936.

I think that's all the outstanding questions answered on KK. Isn't it?


Jeff Renner said...

Assuming that they are actually adding gymsum as stated, dihydrous CaSO4, then this is adding only 16.4 ppm Ca++. (If anhydrous CaSO4, then 23.7 ppm.)

Then by boiling overnight, they will be precipitating out much of the total Ca++, along with much of the alkalinity, as calcium carbonate, CaCO3. It's impossible to tell how much without knowing details about the original liquor.

So they are reducing the alkalinity and keeping some Ca++. If they did not rack off from the precipitate, it may have have got into the mash. Somehow I doubt that they would have gone to the trouble of boiling if they didn't rack, though.

Considering that they are using a fairly high 13.5% of 75L crystal, I would have thought that boiling and racking would be counterproductive, as the original alkalinity would have been balanced by the acidity of the dark crystal. My water is similar to that reported for London, and I find that I don't need much crystal or other dark malt to balance the alkalinity of the water. I'm guessing that they were basing their treatment on empirical experience, but it may have just been voodoo magic.

I leave to someone else to do Kolbach residual alkalinity calculations.

They are also adding 28 ppm Na+ and 43.2 ppm Cl-1, ignoring the concentrating effect of boil off. The effect of this salt addition would probably be to give an enhanced fullness and roundness of palate.

Graham Wheeler said...

One of the more interesting posts to date (for me at least). Full of idiosyncrasies though. The major gob-smacker is that the liquor boil-times seem to be back-to-front.

Pale ale, which should have a long liquor boil to reduce alkalinity (carbonate), gets just a five-minute liquor boil.

Dark beers, which could get away with little or no liquor boil because poor clarity doesn’t show in dark beers, gets thirty minutes.

KKKK which is again a dark beer at 100° of colour, gets an overnight boil.

Medium-colour beers, like the milds, still see-through if held up to the light, get no boil at all.

There is no consistency in it. It goes against all the rules, and the rules were well defined long before 1936.

It might explain why London Brewers in general, and obviously Barclay Perkins in particular, could not brew decent pale ale to save their life.

They are very free with their sulphite additions - they seem to chuck the stuff everywhere.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I've learned from looking at brewing records that each brewery had its own way of doing things. That's what makes looking at them so fascinating.

Why do you think the DB Brown Ale had the same water treatment as the Bitters? That makes no sense to me.

Graham Wheeler said...

Umm... 3oz = 85 grammes. 1 Barrel = 163 litres. 85/163 = 521 mg/litre (ppm) of gypsum. ~= 6 milliequivalents. which = 121 mg/l of calcium + 290 mg/l sulphate. Seems about normal to me.

You would have thought that they would have had one standard liquor treatment for all their beers. Dark malts don't really come into the equation, because they hardly ever use them. They "fake" their dark beers by adding caramel.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, would you like a copy of my book "Numbers!"?

It's got OGs, FGs and sometimes acidity and colour for around 6,000 beers. Most are British, but I've a good few from elsewhere.

If you're interested, just send me an email via the link on my website:

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I'm not sure I'd call using invert sugar and caramel a "fake" way of making dark beers. It's the way the vast majority of dark beers have been in Britain in the last 100 years, apart from Stout, obviously.

Graham Wheeler said...

Sorry, we crossed over in the mail. There is quite a lot of tradition in the brewing industry, so things don't always match the science.

If you look at the DB grist it is basically a bog-standard mild / light bitter grist with a dollop of gravy browning added to pretend that it is a brown. You will observe, though, that the salt levels change to give the chloride mouthfeel that is expected of milds, browns and stouts, but the salt could be added anywhere, even to the cask at racking.

This is roughly the beginning of the fake beer era. By about the second world war it was increasingly common for largish brewers to have one standard grist, liquored down to three standard strengths. From these three basic strengths they would produce a range of (say) thirteen beers. In cask form they would go out as ordinary bitter at (say) 1035, best bitter at 1041 and IPA at 1048. With caramel added they would go out as cask mild, cask old ale and cask strong ale.

In bottle the uncoloured beers would go out as is, but the coloured beers would go out as brown ale, stout and double stout. The thirteenth beer was oatmeal stout; a small and insignificant amount of oatmeal was included in the standard grist to qualify it legally as an oatmeal stout. Oatmeal stout was in fact no different to ordinary stout, or any of the other beers apart from the colouring.

This, in my view, marked the beginning of the end of the popularity of milds, browns and stouts, because the public were not really fooled. It took several decades before they disappeared completely, but unfaked beers, such as Guinness (although it should never have been called a stout), Mackeson and (beleive it or not) Manns brown ale outlasted the fakes.

Indeed, until relatively recently, mild ales and brown ales were just light ale with gravy browning added.

I see we've crossed over in the post again.

Most caramels do not add significant flavour, but of those that do, the flavour is usually harsh, acrid, burnt. The low colour rating of the caramels used in KKKK and DB indicates that they could be there to add flavour rather than colour. It would uneconomic and pointless to use such light caramel for colour. Colour adjustment would probably have been done post-fermentation in the racking-back, using 22,000° caramel as per the second document in today's post.

The flavour contributed by dark invert sugar is a much more pleasant molasses-type of flavour, but the four different colours of standard dark invert is produced by adding caramel. Even so, excessive use of sugar is frowned upon generally, particularly if its inclusion is purely for economy.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, I'll answer properly tomorrow. I'm a bit knacked.

I can only report what I've seen. For a time in the 19th century, Whitbread had a single recipe for all their Porters/Stouts. Party-gyling was standard practice. It didn't start in the 1930's.

The idea that using caramel or dark invert sugar to colour Mild or Brown Ale as being "fake" I totally disagree with. Looking through brewing records, that's all that I see.

I wanted to find Mild coloured with dark malts. But that's not how it worked, mostly. You occasionally see a bit of black or brown malt, but far more common is some form of sugar.

When did Dark Mild appear? Just when sugar was allowed towards the end of the 19th century.

Sugar is not bad. Few Dark Milds have ever been coloured with dark malt.

Thanks for joining in the discussion. We may often disagree, but I appreciate your input. Any help deciphering brewing logs is very welcome.

Send me an email. I think you'd find "Numbers!" useful.

Barm said...

I was just wondering about liquor treatment. Did the treatment used for London 'Burton' beer resemble Burton water at all, at least more so than the treatment used for other beers?

Jeff Renner said...

Graham - Thanks for being gentle in correcting the numbers I posted for the gypsum addition.

I discarded my work sheet, but I think I was off by a power of ten on the number of liters in a barrel. I should have paid more attention because I thought the numbers looked low, but I was in a rush, having spent too much time away from work as it was.

But this would also mean that the NaCl additions were really high.

Graham Wheeler said...

Jeff: Glad I did not offend. I have a bad habit of getting my grams and milligrams mixed up, and I've been metricated for 35 years.

Barm: Yes, even the Barclay Perkins treatment given above indicates that.

5oz of gypsum (CaSO4) will provide about 200ppm of calcium and 480ppm of sulphate - a good "Burton" water. The magnesium sulphate (MgSO4) is added to imitate Burton water too. Pale Ale has more gypsum added to its liquor than any other beer and it is the only beer that has MgSO4 added to its liquor. The big let down is the five-minute boil. Not only will the alkalinity (carbonate - chalk) be far too high, but also the gypsum is unlikely to go into solution with such a short boil. It doesn't make sense.

Now to analyse the wording in that log:
Company's liquor - Treated cold. That will make it even harder to get the gypsum into solution.

"5oz CaSO4 + 1oz MgSO4 in the HLB" [Hot Liquor Back] Hang on a minute - the hot liquor back is downstream of the liquor copper. What actually gets boiled then?

Treated Cold? So cold water in the hot liquor back (wrong place for it), add the gypsum cold and then pump it to the liquor copper, probably on the floor above, to boil it. Not on your nellie matey!

Why add gypsum to the HLB when it is more efficient to shove it in the copper. I am sure that Barclays would have had more than one copper and would have had dedicated liquor coppers - the jiggling of resources would not be necessary in a big brewery.

The description in the log does not make chronological sense either, unless...

Now let us assume that Company's liquor - Treated cold. means an entirely different treatment that takes place prior to what follows, and that the treatment is the addition of sulphuric acid to the liquor. Then it begins to make sense.

It is wise to add acid to cold liquor. The acid will neutralise the alkalinity. The short boil will sterilise the company's (well) liquor, ensure even distribution of the acid, and drive off the CO2 generated by the acid addition.

Then it is dropped into the HLB where the gypsum and Epsom salts are added. I assume that they had some secret way of getting gypsum to go into solution without boiling. Did they have high-speed vortexing mixers in 1936? Attached to their HLB at that? Umph!

By 1936 they would have been using acid for alkalinity reduction I would have thought.

So, problem solved - until one begins to wonder why the thirty-minute and overnight boils for other beers, which if Treated Cold means what I think it does, is quite unnecessary.

It has been puzzling me all day. I nearly got run over by a bloody bus because my mind was in Southwark when it should have been in Wycombe.

Either Barclay Perkins were bad, amateurish brewers, or I am missing something here.

Gary Gillman said...

I can't contribute anything to the technical discussion, which is most interesting. I do have a clear recollection of drinking Barclay's light ale in about 1985 in London, it was served at an old hotel called Berner's on the street of the same name north of Oxford Street over from Soho.

I think it had a blue label. This was excellent pale ale, better than Bass's I thought and much better than most of the bottled beers which went by that description in the English pub.