Sunday, 17 January 2010

Oat Mild

I'm currently up to my nostrils in Whitbread. Unfortunately, not Whitbread beer but brewing records are lapping my upper lip. It's all part of my current crazy plan. I would tell you about the project. But I'm the secretive type.

1943. That's where I am. 1943 Ale logs. 5th April, to be precise. At least you can't accuse the wartime logs of being boring. (OK, I'm sure the vast majority of the world's population wouldn't share my fascination. But you know what I mean.) Not like early 19th-century brewing records, where you find lists of ingredients like this:

200 quarters malt
800 pounds hops.

No, the wartime logs include all sorts of exciting ingredients like wheat malt, flaked rye, barley meal. And flaked oat. Not all in the same beer, I hasten to add. I'd read in a brewing magazine that the government encouraged brewers to use oats. Bad news for the porridge industry. And brewers. They weren't very keen on oats, for a variety of reasons.

The XX Mild log that caught my eye is reproduced above. Or at least the grist part. Look at all those flaked oats. 34 quarters of them. Or somewhere around 15% of the grist. (I'd tell you more precisely, but I don't have the weight of a quarter of flaked oats to hand.) Is it me, or is that an awful lot of oats?

It looks to me like a new style. Oat Mild. Or has someone already made one? (Just checked. Yes they have.)


Terry said...

Looks as if they were buying the flaked oats from a proper maltster, Paul's, though …

(and Ron will know this, but "French", another source listed in that entry, is the Hertfordshire maltster French and Jupp, rather than those beret-wearing chappies at that stage of the war under the heel of Adolf and his pals, in case anyone wondewred …)

Graham Wheeler said...

Ron said:
"I'd tell you more precisely, but I don't have the weight of a quarter of flaked oats to hand."

I have never been really convinced about your assertion that (within the brewery) there were different "quarters" for different grains. That makes the assumption that brewers measured their grain volumetrically. They would hardly have been measuring grain volumetrically in 1843, leave alone 1943. They were probably not permitted to.

It was a legal requirement that brewers possess a set of scales from the time that the official saccharometer was enshrined in law (1835?)

This is from the Inland Revenue Act 1880:
"Every brewer for sale must provide and maintain sufficient and just scales and weights..."

This is from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue 1885 report:
"In order to check the quantities of worts produced it is assumed by law that 42 pounds weight of malt or corn of any description or 28 pounds weight of sugar, is the equivalent of a bushel of malt; and that every two bushels of malt, or their equivalent, produce 36 gallons of wort at a gravity of 1057 degrees."

Although the Gravity Book (supplied by the Excise) and the the Brewing Book (brewer's journal) are different documents, they are both legal requirements. The Brewing Book had to follow the "Prescribed Form".

The Gravity Book had just one column (box) for total grist (and another for sugar by weight), transcribed from the totals in the Brewing Book. This would have had to have been 336lb quarters for the grain otherwise it would have been meaningless.

It seems certain that the "prescribed form" for the Brewing Book would have expected 336lb quarters too. As the Excise did their calculations using 336lb quarters, it would be pointless for anything else to be permitted in the book.

Of course, in 1943, no brewer of any size or standing is going to rely on anything as approximate as a volumetric quarter measure. The grist would have been weighed. Sugar was always weighed.

It would be nice to see something that describes the "prescribed form". All would be made clear then.

There must have been some sort of Excise indulgence for flaked oats in those quantities because of their poor extract. You can see why, so called, Oatmeal Stouts had about a pound of oats in a 50 quarter mash.

I wonder what the stuff in red was all about.

Ron Pattinson said...

Graham, some of the brewing record give the weights of the different malts. That's what my numbers are based on. You can't really argue with that.

Oblivious said...

Ron where any of them using malted Oats of was it all unmalted?

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, good question. It's not always easy to tell.

Whitbread's Porters and Stouts contained oats all through the 1920's and 1930's. But on the logs all it says is "Oats". I've absolutely no idea what form they were in.

Graham Wheeler said...

Malted oats were rarely used (although not unheard of) because oats are difficult to malt and malting losses are high. Oats have a poor extract as it is.

Those breweries that used oats (outside of the war) only used them in token amounts, usually less than 1% of the grist, if they produced an oatmeal stout. This was to meet food standard / patent medicine legislation of the day (any, so called, food stout had to meet certain legislation). Such a small amount of oats achieved nothing.

Those brewers that brewed their whole range of beers from an identical grist, that being many of the regionals, had a token few pounds of oats in the grist of every brew.

Crosswells of Cardiff produced a range of thirteen beers pre-war, from an identical grist, half of them bottled, and the only difference between them was the strength and the amount of caramel added. They produced three copper-worts of different strengths from the same mash, as was typical for the day. These went out 'as is' and also coloured under different names giving six draught beers. The same six beers went out bottled under yet more different names. The thirteenth was oatmeal stout.

Of wartime oats... Brewing Theory And Practice by E.J. Jeffery, third 1956 edition. says:
"In the early part of the 1939 war, when maize and rice were not available, sugar was scarce and rationed and barley rather restricted in supply, oat flakes were used extensively... ...Their oil content was high and they were prone to become rancid and musty, particularly if the moisture was more than 10-12%. As a wartime expedient they served their purpose, but when the supply of barley increased barley flakes superseded them."

Incidentally, in Jeffery 1956 all the lab extracts for the grain are given in "standard" quarters of 336lb and the sugars per 2cwt. He doesn't quote an extract for flaked oats though.

The 1891 test methods to determine extract are almost identical to the IoB methods used today. They were actually done in metric, 50 grammes of malt mashed in 515ml of water, just the same as today. This gave an extract in litres-degree /kilogramme, which again is what we use today. This was then converted mathematically to lbs per quarter using 336lb quarters as the default.

The 336lb figure could be adjusted afterwards for those brewers who still measured their malt volumetrically, and they give the method for doing so. It seems that it was the brewer's responsibility to do this, although that is not entirely clear. Nevertheless, the default, even in 1891, was in "Excise standard" 336lb quarters.

What is surprising, or it surprised me when I came across it, is that by 1891, and by inference from 1880, the game was already afoot to standardise and move towards the method we use today. The measurement was already in kilogramme degrees/litre. The only major difference today is that the conversion to brewers' lbs/ quarter has gone. We still use the specially made 515ml flask, although there is a slight correction of 1.3% to compensate for the smaller husk size of modern barley (the extra 15ml was supposed to account for the water absorbed by the husk).

Remarkable indeed.

Barm said...

It seems to my naive mind that the government was using a theoretical extract to calculate the duty, and the brewers would just have to pay the duty and calculate in the difference between the real extract and theoretical extract as a cost of doing business. Though if that were the case, I'd expect the trade press to grumble about it from time to time.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, no that's not what happened. Brewers paid duty based on the gravity of the wort in the fermenter, before fermentation began.

The reason text books give details based on a 336 pound quarter is so that a valid comparison can be made for the extract from each different type of malt. It's just a convenience for brewing chemists. Brewers continued to measure their malt by volume.

Graham Wheeler said...

Barm said...
"It seems to my naive mind that the government was using a theoretical extract to calculate the duty"

Excise were not using theoretical extract, they were using true extract based on weight, which is the only accurate way of doing things. The Government, even in 1880, were not prepared to mess around with customary, but arbitrary, volumetric measurements in bucketfuls.

If brewers did not meet 80 lbs per barrel (at 1.055 for a standard barrel) per 336lb of grist, or 2cwt of sugar, they then paid duty effectively on the amount of malt and sugar used, not the original gravity of the wort. It was an anti-fraud measure, but it forced brewers to deal in 336lb quarters, at least for the Excise Book.

Brewers did complain. In 1880 when the free mash tun act came into force the gravity of the standard barrel was 1.055, but brewers complained that they were paying more duty than they did on malt tax prior to 1880, so the standard barrel was raised to O.G 1.057. This would have disadvantaged brewers who found it difficult to meet 82lbs per standard quarter - more correctly eight standard bushels.

Turned out that the Government's calculation was right all the time, and the standard barrel went down to 1.055 again sometime later. Some small brewers still had trouble meeting even the 80lbs per quarter, and always paid duty on the malt used.