I'll admit it upfront: I'm not sure what to make of this beer. It's a bit of a riddle. Why? let me explain.
Whitbread started brewing IPA around 1900. With a gravity of 1050, it was the weakest beer in their lineup. By the 1920's, it was just 1037. It remained at that strength until 1941, when something weird happened. They made a few much stronger brews with almost double the OG of the normal version. What were they up to?
It's even more bizarre because this is just when WW II was starting to eat away at beer gravities. All the other beers in Whitbread's range were getting weaker. Why suddenly double the strength of IPA? I'm at a loss to explain it. Any suggestions are welcome. Maybe they'd read the style guidelines and wanted to brew an "authentic" IPA.
Now over to Kristen . . . .
1941 Whitbread Strong IPA
Ok guys, back to WWII for a bit shall we. The tremendous changes in 'war' grists and overall beer profile is very interesting to me. All the changes that needed to be made to the recipes in order to brew something similar to what people were used to. A massive increase in the use of older malts, especially non-domestic, has been a theme in all the logs I've seen over every brewery. Hops are similar but not until towards the end of the war did you really see any striking difference.
Today's beer is an IPA brewed by Whitbread in 1941. One of the most interesting things to me about this beer is that its is quite strong for the time. When IPAs were clocking in around the mid to high 1040s this beer is nearly 1070. Not to mention a very liberal hand with the hops. Next week I'll do that beer right next to this one in the log. Whitbread's weaker IPA. Very neat stuff. Two IPA's of different strength, grist and hopping levels so you'll be able to compare.
Grist and such
Every single line in the log indicates that all the base malts were old and of 'number 2' quality. Nothing really fresh went in to this beer. Quite a good dose of crystal malt went in which would have added a definitely caramel/ toffee character. The nearly 10% invert sugar would have gone a good way in drying this beer out. Don't go messing about trying to find old grains. Just make sure and use a few different ones. As always, the 6-row isn't mandatory so do pull your hair out if you can't source any. Your best bet would be to switch to a pils type malt. Invert your own sugar or simple white table sugar, beet or cane work the same, is fine.
The mash wasn't entirely typical for the time. Rarely have I seen a mash with this many infusions for this period. That's not saying there they don't happen, a simple single infusion is more the norm. Whereas a few years prior, the boil would have been 2-3 hours it gets dropped down to just over an hour. Lots of ways breweries were trying to save money and this is an easy one. A simple mash of around 150-2F would have a similar effect.
The hops are quite old on the whole but the average alpha acid percent wasn't to low. There was a bunch of different Golding-type varieties. East Kent, Mid-Kent and some Worcester Goldings all mixed of different ages. At nearly 3# of hops a bbl, this was quite a strongly hopped IPA. Definitely would have had a lot of the tannic, strong tea character and lots of spice. A good portion of dry hops would have definitely been added at around 14-15oz per bbl. Most important thing in this recipe is that you use hops that are of lower AA% in order to get the effect of all the 'green stuffs' in this recipe.
Right around 65F will do just fine. Keep it cool and the choice of yeast is up to you. Whitbreads two strains are readily available and will give a more characteristic' flavor. However you can use whatever you like. I would suggest that you stay English as the yeast has more character than the bland US ones.
Herbal spice, resiny floral hops. Caramelized apples and pear. Biscuits and bread crush. Hints of husky grain. Crisp and drying finish with a mouth drying astringency.
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