I was bizarrely delighted to find records for Mackeson in the Whitbread archive. It's a beer with an odd fascination.
On the face of it, Mackeson's popularity is baffling. How could a beer combining strong roast, sweetness and minimal amounts of alcohol ever have been one of the biggest sellers in Britain?
Milk Stout. A funny concept, as a style. It experienced a fleeting popularity, riding the last wave of Porter until it petered out on the beach.
Why have a brought this up now? Obvious really. I've been poking around in the archives again. Mackeson presents a particular problem for forensic beerologists like myself. It's all to do with the lactose. And how Whitbread brewed.
I was a bit surprised, to say the least, to discover that Mackeson had been party-gyled with with Whitbread Extra Stout. How would that work? Surely they wouldn't put lactose in Extra Stout? They didn't. Because the lactose wasn't added in the kettle. Or even in the fermenter. It was used as a priming. It isn't mentioned at all in the logs.
It would be dead frustrating, if not for one fact. The Whitbread Gravity Book has plenty of analyses of Mackeson. Analyses performed in the bottling stores. So I can see the beer as bottled. Between 5 and 7 of the gravity points came from the lactose primings. At least the version as bottled had an OG and FG 5 to 7 points higher than it was as brewed.
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