Thursday, 7 January 2010

Barley Wine

It's funny what you stumble across when looking for something else. This is something I found with a search for Whitbread's Porter.

19th century chemistry reference books are wonderful sources. If you're after analyses of beers. See if you can see what's noteworthy in these:


Various British beers
Year
Brewer
Country
Beer
Style
Acidity
FG
OG
ABV
attenuation
1870
Allsopp
UK
Burton Ale
Strong Ale
0.32
1040.38
1121.6
10.64
66.80%
1870
Bass
UK
Barley Wine
Barley Wine
0.23
1032.31
1114.8
10.84
71.85%
1870
Unknown, Edinburgh
UK
Edinburgh Ale
Scotch Ale
0.19
1006.63
1048.4
5.45
86.30%
1870
Guinness
Ireland
Extra Stout
Stout
0.24
1015.51
1078.1
8.20
80.13%
1870
Truman
UK
Porter
Porter
0.24
1013.16
1051.3
4.96
74.36%
1870
Whitbread
UK
Porter
Porter
0.18
1014.04
1054.1
5.21
74.05%
1870
Hoare
UK
Porter
Porter
0.18
1012.99
1052.4
5.13
75.22%
1870
Perry
Ireland
Ale
Ale
0.14
1006.48
1045.8
5.13
85.86%
Source:
"A dictionary of chemistry and the allied branches of other sciences, Volume 6" by Henry Watts, 1872, page 256


You must have spotted it. Barley Wine. The normal story is Bass first used the term around 1900 to describe its No. 1 Ale. Well, "A dictionary of chemistry and the allied branches of other sciences" was published in 1872. Significantly earlier.

Take a look yourself if you don't believe me. It clearly states "Bass's barley wine"

Do I win a prize?

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quick question - Guinness Extra Stout at 8.2% ABV? I know beer strengths were generally higher 130 years ago, but would that have been the standard strength brew for the time?

Ron Pattinson said...

Darren, Guinness Extra Stout was over 7% ABV until 1917.

X Mild and Porter (standaard strength beers) would have been about 5.5% ABV at the time, Pale Ale 6 to 6.5% ABV.

The Beer Nut said...

Make sure the UK's National Brewery Centre know, Ron. Some exhibit labels in the museum might need changing :)

That's the first statistical data on a dead Irish brewery -- Perry's of Co. Laois -- I've seen. Brilliant!

Matt said...

I think I've mentioned this before but have you found any distinction between Old Ale and Barley Wine or are they what different brewers call the same thing?

CAMRA claims that old ale can be session strength while a barley wine is always over 7% abv but I suspect they're engaging in some 'imaginative' rewriting of history here as they do with IPA/pale ale/bitter, porter/stout and brown ale/mild.

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, I thought you'd like the Perry's beer. It's the only analysis I've seen of a 19th-century Irish Ale.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, Old Ale, Barley Wine, Strong Ale were used pretty randomly by brewers.

CAMRA isn't far wrong in saying Old Ale come in a wider range of strengths than Barley Wine. Other than that, I can't pick the two apart.

Gary Gillman said...

I have always wondered what it meant to say that Bass first used the term barley wine to market its beer around 1903 or 1900 (different dates are given). I have always assumed this meant that a label or placard or other advertising first appeared at this time for No. 1 using that term.

In the 1870's, was Bass beer labelled with paper labels? The history of the Bass triangle trade mark would suggest some bottles were labelled. I do not recall when that trade mark was first obtained.

Also, with different bottlers bottling Bass's beer, perhaps different ones (not Bass as such) used different terms to describe the Burton style as opposed to pale ale. Maybe one bottler used the term, it caught on and Bass acquired the trade mark ultimately. Maybe customers informally used the term to describe No.1 Burton ale and Bass finally put its imprimatur on it.

This early mention of barley wine in connection with Bass is certainly significant but a number of questions remain unanswered as to how and by whom exactly it was used at this early period and what occurred exactly in 1903.

Gary

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, Bass beers were bottled and labelled in the 1870's. To try to combat other beers being passed off as Bass, they supplied the labels to the bottler. They had standard designs for the labels: red triangle for

I've seen a 19th-century Bass No. 1 label. That says "Bass & Co's No. 1 Strong Ale". And "brewed 16 th Decr. 1869". On a Bass price list I've seen it's described as a Strong Burton Ale.

It wouldn't surprise me if the name Barley Wine came from drinkers rather than the brewer.

mrbowenz said...

"It wouldn't surprise me if the name Barley Wine came from drinkers rather than the brewer."

Great thought , I also wonder if IPA , if it wasn't exactly brewed for export to India first , wasn't simply a misunderstanding by the drinker as # 1 PA soon to be IPA after it was first exported.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ron, you win a prize - that's certainly the earliest mention I've seen of the phrase barley wine in its modern sense. Graham: yes, the generally given date comes from early Edwardian ads, 1903 or so appears to be when Bass was calling its No 1 Burton Ale "barley wine". Here's an ad (in an American medical journal) from 1903 showing a "Bass Barley Wine" bottle label - the diamond trademark shows it's a Burton ale, almost certainly the No 1, and I've not been able to discover anything earlier than that mentioning barley wine in any official sense as the recognised name of a specific brewer's product.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - for "Graham" read "Gary". Sorry!

Barm said...

Later than 1872, but also well before 1900, is this reference in an article from 1888: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=AF8xAQAAMAAJ&q=dishers+ten+guinea+ale&dq=dishers+ten+guinea+ale&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eZ-ST9vyHYPs8QPxlKXODA&ved=0CEkQ6AEwAg – where Disher’s 10 Guinea Ale and Bass’s Barley Wine are grouped together as well-known very strong beers.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, thanks for that. I like the preceding bit about people thinking Lager was virtually non-alcoholc.