The development of Pale Ales amongst the London brewers is a fascinating one. Reid briefly dabbled their toes in the Pale Ale pool in the 1830's, then retreated back to the changing room for a few decades. The Porter brewers for a long time brewed only that: Porter. When they did have a go at Ale brewing, it was X and K Ales that they brewed.
Whitbread's first brew of Pale Ale was 1st November 1865. In the 1870's, a younger, weaker sibling was born: FA or Family Ale. In the 1900 a third member of the family arrived, the even lighter IPA.
The story was probably similar at Barclay Perkins. First a PA of around 1060º, then a decade or so later XLK at 1053º. I would be more precise, but I don't have brewing records for the period this would have happened, 1870 to 1885.
By the 1930's, PA was sold as Best Bitter, XLK as just plain old Bitter. There they stood, shoulder to shoulder on the bar, until Hitler came along and ruined everything. The was prompted a cull of Barclay Perkins product range and PA, along with Porter and a couple of Milds, were discontinued.
On the eve of hostilities, XLK still had a pretty respectable gravity: 1046º. In 1940 that dropped to 1043º and in 1942 to 1035º, where it remanined for the rest of the war. And probably the 1950's, too. An OG of the mid-1030's was where most ordinary Bitters hovered after the war.
Time for Kristen to that thing that he does so well, you know, that recipe stuff . . . . . . .
This one is quiet straightforward. Not a whole lot of things to mess about it. A simple little ‘bitter’.
Grist – The low gravity of this beer really begs for malt complexity as there really isn’t a whole lot there. This would not be a place that I substitute out the mild malt. It lends a much more round, fuller malty quality to this beer. I made one batch where I used Maris Otter for the pale malt and Paul’s Mild for the other. Worked beautifully. I made another batch with 100% Optic malt for the pale malts. This was also very nice, just a bit different. 100% Maris Otter would be fine also. Simpson’s medium crystal comes out just a bit but enough to make sure and use good quality crystal. I’ve made this both with flaked and terrified barley and the flaked lends a rounder character that this beer needs as it finishes very dry. This beer looks exactly like later ones to come in time but the flaked barley was usually swapped out for flaked maize. The invert #3 really doesn’t come through very strong but I wouldn’t use anything lighter than golden syrup if you want to swap things out. No2 invert would be fine also it would just have a bit different character. No white or brown sugar for this one. In a pinch raw sugar can be used but you’ll be missing the color.
Hops – A combination of a few different types of Golding’s and Fuggles would do very nicely. I made this as the recipe reads except I swapped out the Kent Goldings dry hop in favor of Whitbread Goldings. Not better, just different. I did split some of the batch and dry hopped it with a combo of Fuggles and Goldings which was also very nice but more resinous than spicy. There’s not a ton of bitterness to this beer but it comes through well because it finishes quite dry.
Yeast – I used the Whitbread dry strain, Nottingham strain and the Courage strain. I like each in their own right but the Courage strain really adds another dimension of flavor. Try to stay away from the White Shield strain on this one as the mineral character will really overpower this beer.
Advanced Mash – Pretty much the same mash as the KK from last week (2011-03-02 – 1942 Barclay Perkins KK). Dough-in, underlet infusion and then a sparge (165F/74C) that was usually quite long. The simple infusion produced an identical beer to this advanced mash in this instance. As always, you are left up to find the hot liquor temperature needed on your system to achieve the temperatures below.