Saturday, 29 August 2009

Confusing Youngers (part two)

I told you it got worse with Younger's logs. See what fun I have for you today.

The Younger's Stouts tend to be a bit weird. Before WW I they had a couple with the imaginative names of S1 and S2. What was so unusual about them? The hopping. They used few fresh hops. Occasionally none at all. The majority were spent hops from other brews that were boiled for three hours plus. I've absolutely no idea how to record that sort of hopping. What would have been the hopping rate with unused hops?

But after WW I it gets even worse. DBS and XXS were party-gyled. Nothing so odd about that. For one thing, these are the only Younger's beers which weren't dry hopped. But that's not what's confusing me. See what they did after fermentation:

The beers were cocktails, with odds and ends of a several other beers mixed in. There are examples where it looks as if ullage is getting thrown in, too.

It reminds me of what John Keeling told me about the Watney's Cream Stout brewed at Wilson's. I use "brewed" here very loosely. Because most of it was returned beer with loads of caramel and sugar added. He reckoned less than 50% of it was ever freshly-brewed beer.

Mild used to have a bad reputation because of the tale that slops were mixed back into it. The dark colour hiding a multitude of sins. In which case, how much easier must it have been to pull similar tricks with Stout? Clearly, not just at the pub, but in the brewery as well.


Graham Wheeler said...

Mr Barclay himself admitted to a Parliamentary Committee in 1818 that the vatted part of the Barclay's porter blend contained the remnants of everything; slops, slummage, beer returns, soured beer, bottoms of fermenting vessels, residue from pipework and so on. All this stuff was shoved into the vat at the brewery - it might have contained some brown stout if you were lucky.

I guess such adulteration was quite common amongst the larger brewers and probably continued with stouts long after the demise of porter. Mr Barclay didn't seem to regard it as adulteration though.

Barm said...


Gary Gillman said...

The above is, from pp. 64 onwards, a detailed look in the 1870's at the operations of Younger's, written by one Henry Lake. It is from a chapter on beer ("A Drop of Beer") in what appears to be one of those Victorian compendiums of advice.

This gentleman was something of a "beer writer" of his time. First, he reels of a series of taste notes on the main types of Younger's available at the time.

The beers he tastes appear to be a running beer (just one week old), quite hoppy he says, probably an AK or pale ale-type; a matured-in-bottle pale ale or Edinburgh ale (it is not clear to me which), the "colour of straw"; and a top-of-the-line very strong ale, clearly the older Edinburgh style. The latter looks and tasted like "brown sherry". Note the colour, which still characterises certain claimants to the Scotch ale style, I mentioned Scotch de Silly earlier.

Lake also says this strong beer was favoured in the Russian court. Clearly the best Scotch ale had a market in Russia along with (for this purpose) the better known extra double and Imperial stouts.

The "export stores" was yet another arrow in the Younger's quiver, beer stored in cask, dry-hopped and awaiting bottling. Does this term appear in abbreviation in the current brewers' notes extract, one of the beers in a mix?

These old articles are always a treat, not least (for me) due to some startling use of vocabulary. Note his use of the term, "new sensation", which always had a modern ring for me. It turns out it is at least 135 years old.


Gary Gillman said...

Barm, here is a taste note on McEwan's Scotch Ale, 8% ABV (per the label, the LCBO's website has it a shade under at 7.9%): Quite dark, blackish ruby. Pleasant smell of roasted malt. In taste, hints of dark toffee, licorice, chocolate. On the sweet side but not pronouncedly so. Not estery, good malty roundness. Light hops marry well with the taste. Commendably low carbonation.

Wherever it sits in the spectrum of Scotch ale history, it's a worthy beer.