Sunday, 6 February 2011

The FG of Pale Ale

I promised you some more details about attenuation. It seems like just yesterday. Oh, it was yesterday. That explains things.

The following is taken from the report of the Analytical Sanitary Commission set up to investigate allegations of strychnine in Pale Ale. It was published in The Lancet. Of course they didn't find any strychnine in Bass or Allsopp beer. They did uncover some rather more useful information about the constituents of Pale Ale.


"Analyses Showing The Composition And Strength Of Messrs. Allsopp And Sons, And Messrs. Bass And Co.'s Bitter Beers.

No. 1.
Analysis of Beer brewed March, 1851, by Messrs. Allsopp and Sons, for Exportation to India. Selected from the Stores at Blackwall of Messrs. Friend and Co.
(Contents of Imperial Gallon.)


grains
Sugar 200
Gum 2,080
Bitter extract 810
Total solid exrtract 3,090
Alcohol, of spec.grav .794 3540
Water 63,370

70,000
Per-centage of alcohol, 5.05



No. 2.
Analysis of Beer brewed March 20th, 1851, by Messrs. Allsopp and Sons, for Exportation, selected from the Stores at Blackwall of Messrs. Byass and Co.
(Contents of Imperial Gallon.)

Sugar 320 grains
Gum 2,110
Bitter extract 750
Total solid extract 3,180
Alcohol, of spec.grav .794 3820
Water 63,000

70,000
Per-centage of alcohol, 5 46.



No. 3.
Analysis of Beer brewed March 3rd, 1852, by Messrs. Bass and Co., for home consumption. From the Stores at Blackwall.
(Contents of Imperial Gallon.)


 grains
Sugar  390
Gum  3,930
Bitter extract 760
Total solid extract 5,080
Alcohol, of spec. grav. .794 3,983
Water 60,937

70,000
Per-centage of alcohol, 5.69.


No. 4.
Analysis of Beer brewed November 25th, 1851, by Messrs.Bass and Co., for home consumption. From the Stores at Blackwall.
(Contents of Imperial Gallon.)


 grains
Sugar  420
Gum  2,660
Bitter extract 800
Total solid extract 3,880
Alcohol, of spec. grav. .794 3,744
Water 62,376

70,000
Per-centage of alcohol, 5.34


The different ages of the beers sufficiently explain the slight variations in the results of the preceding analyses. The above general analyses are important. They show—

1st.—That the bitter beers of Messrs. Allsopp and Sons, and of Messrs. Bass and Co., contain only a moderate amount of alcohol; and

2nd.—That they contain an unusually large quantity of bitter extract, consisting of the extract of hops.

In estimating the quality and condition of beer, it is of great importance to ascertain its specific gravity, since this indicates to a considerable extent the amount of solid contents or extractive matter in the beer, which, as a rule, is in the newest and strongest beers.

It should be remembered, however, that alcohol, lighter than water, conceals in some measure the extract as estimated by the hydrometer, rendering the beer by so much the less dense as the proportion of alcohol is greatest.

It should also be borne in mind that the sugar, as the beer ages, gradually becomes converted into alcohol, and this again into acetic acid, and hence old beers usually possess a low specific gravity.

The effect of age in diminishing the density of beer is clearly shown in the following tables of specific gravities:—

Table showing the Specific Gravities of different Samples of Beer of various ages brewed by Messrs. Allsopp and Sons.

    Specific grav.

1. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed March 23rd, 1852     1020
2. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed Dec. 1851     1017
3. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for exportation, brewed February 27th, 1852     1019
4. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for exportation, brewed March, 1852     1019
5.—From the Stock of Messrs. Wallis and Co., agents for home trade, brewed October, 1851     1019
6. —From the Stock of Messrs. Child and Co., agents for home trade     1015
7. —From the Stock of Messrs. Findlater, Mackie, and Co., agents for home trade     1016
8. —From the Stock of Messrs. Daukes and Rodick, agents for home trade     1015
9. —From the Stock of Messrs. Foster and Sons, agents for home trade     1014
10. —From the Stock of Mr. Bovill, agent, brewed Nov. 1851     1015
11. —From the Stock of Mr. Bovill, agent, brewed Jan. 1851     1009
12. —From the Stock of Mr. Bovill, agent, brewed Dec. 23, 1850     1006
13. —From the Stock of Messrs. Hibbert, agents for exportation     1007
14. —From the Stock of Messrs. Friend and Co., at Blackwall, agents for exportation, brewed March, 1851     1008
15. —From the Stores of Messrs. Byass and Co., at Blackwall, agents for exportation, brewed March 1851    1009


Table showing the Specific Gravities of different Samples of Beer of various ages, brewed by Messrs. Bass and Co.

1. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed April 27th, 1852    1024
2. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed April 28th, 1852    1024
3.—From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed March 3rd, 1852    1019
4.—From the Stores at Blackwall, for home trade, brewed November 25th, 1851    1013
5. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for exportation, brewed February 18th, 1852    1021
6. —From the Stores at Blackwall, for exportation, brewed February 19th, 1852    1021
7.—From the Stores at Blackwall, for exportation, brewed March 25th, 1852    1022
8. —From the Stock of Messrs. Saunders and Cameron, agents for home trade    1015
9. —From the Stock of Messrs. Daukes and Rodick, agents for home trade    1016
10. —From the Stock of Mr. Favenc, agent for home trade    1015
11.—From the Stock of Messrs. Kinahan, agents for home trade    1012
12.—From the Stock of Messrs. Crimp and Ward, export agents, brewed January, 1852    1015
13. —From the Stock of Messrs. Crimp and Ward, agents for exportation, brewed December, 1851    1009
14. —From the Stock of Mr. Dalston, agent, brewed 1850    1006


The above tables prove that the density of beers differs remarkably with age."
"The Lancet 1852, vol.1", 1852, pages 474 - 475.

To begin, I'll emphasise that the chemists analysing Pale Ale didn't consider it strong: "the bitter beers of Messrs. Allsopp and Sons, and of Messrs. Bass and Co., contain only a moderate amount of alcohol". You know what's coming now. IPA was not a strong beer. The percentages given are by weight, but after converting them to ABV, the strongest is still only just over 7%. And that wasn't for export, but home consumption.

The analyses also confirm the large quantity of hops used. Not a real surprise, but nice to see numbers to back it up.

Finally lets get to the point of this post. Final gravities. Examples 3 and 4 from Allsopp, brewed in February and March 1852 have a significantly higher gravity than examples 14 and 15, brewed a year earlier. All were meant for export. The younger beers are both 1019, the older beers 1008 and 1009.

There's the same pattern with the Bass samples. The two oldest, examples 4 and 14, have the lowest gravity. The two youngest, examples 1 and 2, the highest gravity.

That looks like proof to me that during the extended storage of Pale Ale before sale a secondary fermentation took place. One that approximately halved the gravity of the beer.

6 comments:

marquis said...

Am I misreading the analyses or is there only a slight difference in the bittering between the beer intended for home consumption and that destined for India?

Gary Gillman said...

Is there any way to compare their figures for bitter "extract" with the known equivalent today? That may offer right there an apt comparison with modern pale ales.

Recent tastings of IPAs, or pale ales in that style, from England I consider authentic, e.g., Wells IPA, Marstons Pedigree, and Bass Ale (keg), suggest to me the drink was pretty dry on arrival in India. These beers are fairly lean in body, probably this was valued as a refresher and they wouldn't have satiated in the same way as a beer with more extract.

But I find after one I want something else - the missing malt sweetness is the factor I think.

The need to ship a well-attenuated product to avoid spoilage did to a degree I think take away from one of the characteristics of ale in particular or even beer, if we should speak technically. One might say there was a taste for it, but as the story of porter shows, it seems not to have been longlasting.

This explains why Michael Jackson wrote that a number of respected bitters have a sweet palate: the domestication so to speak of pale ale returned the drink to its roots, or so one could argue.

Gary

Barbarrick said...

Looking at the various specific gravities, there's nothing to suggest that the beers for export were stronger, or, had begun with a higher O.G., than the ones marked from home consumption. In other words, it seems to indicate that Bass (and I assume Allsopp) were brewing just one quality of pale ale at the time.

Off at a slight tangent, the Bass label you show confuses me Ron. Bass, in the 1950s specifically produced press ads for both Red and Blue triangle pale ales. The body copy for the filtered Blue Triangle pale ale said "you can serve this one off the ice". As the Blue Triangle was itself created to indicate a filtered, brewery conditioned pale ale (as opposed to the Red Triangle which, to me, always indicated bottle conditioned Bass pale ale), what was in the bottle that label came from? It's a contradiction that's bothered me for a while.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barbarrick, I would expect Bass to have brewed basically the same beer for home and export, but hopped the export beer more heavily. Without having looked at their records that's just a guess, but it's a pattern I've seen in other beers.

I suspect that's an export label and pre-war. I'm not sure when Blue Triangle first appeared.

Ron Pattinson said...

Marquis, unfortunately they didn't analyse a domestic and export version from the same brewery. It could just be that Allsopp hopped at a lower rate than Bass.

marquis said...

Ron, though not comparing like with like it doesn't look like Allsop's pale ale for export to India seems that much more (if significantly at all) highly hopped than the domestic beer brewed by Bass.The reputation of IPA as an extra heavily hopped beer couldn't rest on these figures.