I'm starting to make a habit of this. Giving recipes for beers that still exist. Though I must admit to being a little surprised that Courage Light Ale was still around. Light Ale - the one beer that gives Mild a good run for its money in the cloth cap/old man stakes.
Bottled Light Ale, once a popular mixer with ordinary Bitter in London, seemed on its last legs even when I started drinking. It was one of those types of carbonated bottled beer that sprang up between the wars and started to fade away in the 1960's. Most pubs still sold it in my young days, but no youth would have drunk it.
Never sold on draught, Light Ale is often considered as bottled ordinary Bitter. Yet it might be more accurate to call it bottled Light Mild. What with the modest hopping and use of mild ale malt.
Whitbread brewed something called Light Ale in the 1920's and 1930's which was in a completely different style. For one thing it was dark in colour. It was basically a watered-down version of Dark Mild, with a gravity of just 1028 and less than 3% ABV. Its origins probably lie in the low-gravity Milds produced towards the end of WW I. They never brewed huge quantities of it and, when their standard Mild's gravity dropped to around the 1030 mark at the beginning of WW II, it was discontinued.
The example here wasn't, as you might expect, brewed at Courage's Horsleydown brewery by Tower Bridge. No, this one was brewed at the former Beasley brewery at Plumstead in London. Courage had bought it in 1963 and seemed to have run it as a bottled beer brewery. In addition to Courage Light Ale it also produced Brown Ale, IPA and 3 Star. Not that Courage kept it open long. Beasley's final brew was on Wednesday 3rd March 1965.
One last little point. For those who think every style of beer is currently brewed in the USA, who makes a Light Ale?
Time for Kirsten to take the reins . . . . .
1965 Courage Light Ale
Today you are in for a treat...nah, not really. However you are in for a beer that a lot of you older gents have tried. Courage's light ale. This one beer has a lot of stuff in it that I haven't seen before in a beer which we'll get to. My wondering is how close this recipe, 1965, is true to the one that's brewed today.
Grist and such
Here is where I start to see a lot of different things in a single beer that I either haven't seen or in numerous separate beers. The grist isn't all that different. A couple of pale malts, mild, crystal and flaked maize. Then we get to the 'sugar' additions. This is the first large scale commercial brewery that I've seen actually use enzymatic malt extract. This is also the first 'pale' beer that I've seen use the CDM or Caramelized Dextro-maltose. It was basically used in porters and stouts to lend fullness and mouthfeel to that and added a good bit of dark. The most 'shocking' I would say is the use of No3 invert sugar. For 'lighter' beers I've never seen No3 used and at such a high quantity even (~11%). Would definitely had those lovely dark fruits coming through.
Nothing fancy here. Very simple mash that they sparged the hell out of. For this recipe I don't think it really matters so I'd just do a simple mash around 153F and split the difference.
These hops were all that fresh but weren't that old either. Half being over a year and the other being over 2 years.
Notes of corn, dark fruits and toasted biscuits. Sparklingly bright copper with a hint of fruity sweetness in the middle followed immediately by the drying finish. The hops don't over power by any means but add a rustic, herbal complexity.
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