Saturday, 3 April 2010

British beer in Belgium

Hey, hey, hey. Easter is here. And what's the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of Easter? That's right: Belgium.

Today we'll be looking at British beers specifically brewed for the Belgian market. Nowadays it works the other way around. Sort of. With Belgian brewers brewing beers only available in the USA. These two phenomenon share one characteristic: though brewed in one country the beers were designed to suit the taste of drinkers elsewhere.


British beers for the Belgian market
Year
Brewer
Beer
Style
package
Acidity
FG
OG
Colour
ABV
Atten-uation
1922
Allsopp
Extra Stout
Stout
bottled

1014.7
1053.7

5.06
72.63%
1922
Barclay Perkins
Brown Stout
Stout
bottled

1015.9
1065.9

6.52
75.87%
1922
Barclay Perkins
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled

1000.4
1054.1

7.07
99.26%
1922
Bass
Imperial Stout
Stout
bottled

1032.3
1092.7

7.85
65.16%
1922
Bass
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled

1010.9
1055.1

5.76
80.22%
1922
Worthington
Double Imperial Stout
Stout
bottled

1014
1070.7

7.42
80.20%
1922
Worthington
IPA
IPA
bottled

1004.7
1055

6.60
91.45%
1948
Allsopp
Burton Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled
0.08
1008.9
1052.8

5.73
83.14%
1948
Allsopp
Burton Pale Ale Export
Pale Ale
bottled
0.07
1007.1
1052.6
18
5.95
86.50%
1949
Watney
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled
0.10
1015.5
1059.8
18 B
5.76
74.08%
1949
Watney
Reids Stout
Stout
bottled
0.09
1019.2
1072.4
1R+12B
6.93
73.48%
1950
Benskins
???? Ale
Strong Ale
bottled
0.09
1011.3
1060.3
18 B
6.40
81.26%
1950
Younger, Geo.
Gordon Highland Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.90
1031.1
1091.2
1 + 40
7.81
65.90%
1950
Younger, Geo.
Gordon Xmas Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.10
1032.3
1090.7
2 + 40
7.58
64.39%
1952
Younger, Geo.
Gordon Highland Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.08
1026.5
1081.8
2.5 + 40
7.19
67.60%
1954
John Smith
Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.06
1022.1
1072.6
95
6.56
69.56%
1954
Younger, Geo.
Gordon Highland Scotch
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.06
1028
1090.9
60
8.20
69.20%
1955
John Smith
Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.08
1022
1072.3
75
6.54
69.57%
1955
McEwan
Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.07
1020.2
1088.2
65
8.92
77.10%
1955
Truman
Scotch Ale
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.08
1025.6
1083.4
80
7.52
69.30%
1955
Younger, Geo.
Gordon Highland Scotch
Scotch Ale
bottled
0.07
1029.9
1090.3
55
7.86
66.89%
1957
Taylor Walker
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled
0.06
1011.2
1048.7
27
4.88
77.00%
1960
Bass, Burton
Pale Ale (Blue Triangle)
Pale Ale
bottle
0.04
1012.7
1061.1
17
6.32
79.21%
1960
John Smith
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled
0.04
1013.7
1055.5
17
5.22
75.32%
1965
Bass, Burton
Blue Label
Pale Ale
bottle
0.04
1014
1068.8
18
7.17
79.65%
1965
John Smith
Pale Ale
Pale Ale
bottled
0.05
1011.8
1056.1
13
5.54
78.97%
1965
Simonds
Martins PA
Pale Ale
bottled
0.05
1019.7
1068
17
6.04
71.03%
Source:
Whitbread Gravity Book

All this information comes from the Whitbread Gravity Book. Whitbread went to the trouble of buying samples of British export beers in Belgium. Why did they do that? Because they were selling beer in the Belgian market, too. And you know what's weird? There are still beers being sold under the Whitbread name in Belgium: Pale Ale and Stout.

On a forum recently someone asked why Scotch Ale was considered a Belgian style.And how come beer called Scotch Ale was brewed in Belgium. Surely it should be brewed in Scotland? As you can see from the table, much of the imported Scotch Ale wasn't brewed in Scotland either, but came from London or Tadcaster.

There's a odd feature of British export beers. Take a look at the gravities. They're much higher than similar beers for the domestic market. In fact, they're very similar to pre-WW I beers. Before 1914, the difference between export and domestic beers was just the level of hopping. After the war, when the gravities had been slashed at home, beers sent abroad remained at their old strength. These export beers give us a glimpse of what British brewing might have been, had the disaster of WW I never happened.

6 comments:

Oblivious said...

Could Scotch Ale be considered a modern version of Burton ale, where a number of brewery's out side of the original breweing area called there beers "Scotch Ale"


Its also interesting that duvel strains come from a heat resistant McEwan multi culture before clean up

Ron Pattinson said...

Well, there are similarities between Burton and Edinburgh Ales. And breweries in both centres numbered their strong ales.

All of the breweries outside Scotland seem to have been brewing Scotch Ale just for the Belgian market.

Barm said...

Didn't Gordon's Scotch Ale come from William Younger/Scottish Brewers in Edinburgh, rather than George Younger in Alloa?

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, not according to the Gravity Book. They clearly differentiated between the Youngers, and the Gordon's is on the George Younger page.

Barm said...

I've seen a memoir in the SBA of ex-employees of M.Y. where it says "Prior to Gordons Scotch ales being made for Belgium after the relationship with Clark Doull McEwans had exported E/2B of 1088 gravity as Scotch Ale." This certainly suggests it was an M.Y. product. Oral reminiscences might not be reliable but I can't see them bringing up an Alloa product.

George Younger of Alloa was taken over by the "other side", Tennent Caledonian/Bass, in the consolidation of Scottish brewing, whereas the Gordon brand was certainly brewed by S&N in recent history before production shifted to Belgium. I don't think that brewers sold brands to each other back then as they do now, but that would be the only explanation for how a George Younger brand became an S&N one.

I'm fairly sure the Gravity Book is wrong here.

dyranian said...

Other breweries in the Belgian market included Aitchisons, Bentleys, Calders, Charrington, Fremlins, Hope & Anchor, Huggins, Tennents & Youngs.
Gordon Highland Scotch was brewed by George Younger in Alloa. I can forward copy of neck labels if required.