Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1877 Whitbread XPS

It's Wedenesday so it must be recipe time, right? What was the series again? Export beers, that's it, export beers. I knew it was something exciting.

XPS, also known as  expt S and S expt, is an odd one in Whitbread's collection of Stouts and Porters. It was berwed for extensive periods -  1842 to 1886, 1911 to 1915, 1919 to 1920 - been never produced in great quantity. It rarely accounted for more than 5% of their total output, peaking at around 12,000 barrels in 1867.

What I don't know, frustratingly, is the beer's destination. All over the place, would be my guess. North America, Europe, Far East. But I could be wrong.

For once this is a 19th century export beer that's stronger than its domestic equivalent. XPS, with a gravity of 1072º,  fitted neatly between S at 1068º and SS at 1080º. The grists, however, did differ. None of the three were party-gyled with each other. The proportion of brown malt was rather lower, and the percenrtage of black higher, in XPS. As you can see from this nice, neat table:

Whitbread Stout grists in 1877
quarters %
pale malt brown malt black malt pale malt brown malt black malt
S 177 70 13 73.28% 22.54% 4.19%
SS 125 65 10 68.18% 27.58% 4.24%
XPS 52 18 6 73.58% 19.81% 6.60%
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives.  
Document number LMA/4453/D/09/071

Unsurprisingly, XPS was the nmost heaviily hopped of the three at 5.41 lbs per barrel. That's quite a bit, even by modern West Coast standards. SS had 5.17 lbs, S just 3.69 lbs.

I'm now thinking: "Wouldn't it be great to have all three of these Stouts and compare them?" I'm particularly intrigued by the effect of 50% more black malt in the XPS. I guess it must have been pretty damn black.

Not much to say today, so over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
So we’ve done a lot of export-y things over the Let’s Brew series. This one here is a very good example of a ‘before’ that we don’t get so often. It’s just 3 years shy of the ‘Free Mash tun’ act that allowed brewers the use of sugars in their beers. As you can see it’s 100% malt. More enlightening is the fact that they specify three different types of hops one of them being American. Pretty neat.


Grist – Its unique in this recipe that they use just a single type of pale malt. Its usually a combination of Whitbread particularly seems to have more of the single malt beers than the blends other breweries did. I used two different ‘brands’ of Maris Otter for this one as it seems I didn’t plan well enough ahead. I was going to use Optic but I’ve found that when used with a good percent of brown malt it really gets to toasty. I used Fawcett Brown and  Baird Black as they are my favorite of these malts and I just got some in new. Really makes a difference in the finished product. Not so much the quality, as most brown and black UK are good, its in the color that’s important. The Baird is very dark indeed.
Hops –  The Cluster are the big bittering addition here. They have a harshness to their bitterness so go something along the lines of a Nugget or Target if you can’t find them. I used Willamette for the Fuggle as the Fuggle crop I can get right now seems pretty blasé. A nice batch of Goldings were added in the secondary and let sit for two weeks.
Yeast – I’m not a big fan of the Whitbread strain but it does produce a unique product. If you like it, use it. If not, the dry Nottingham is a brilliant replacement. For all you that want to spend the extra money on ‘wet’ yeast for this one, go ahead. This beer you’ll want a yeast that attenuates well and kicks a good amount of fruit. Nottingham is cheap and good. Give it a shot. Actually, but a few more and keep them in the freezer


Advanced Mash – You will definitely find a difference if you use the advanced mash for this one. There is a very good Beta rest at 144 (distillers rest) for the conversion of most of the sugars. Its gets bumped to about 155 to finish up the larger dextrins. All in all, the beer ferments out a little lower (~0.003-0.005pts) when using this mash. I wouldn’t say its ‘better’ but I would definitely say its different.

Dough in


marquis said...

Sugar was one of the ingredients permitted before 1880 .

Bob in Georgia, USA said...

I could be wrong...but it appeared that this was a 1hr boil, with a 90min Cluster hop addition??

Unless I missed something, is the boil supposed to be 90mins or the Cluster hop supposed to be 60min?

Will said...

This recipe looks too good to not brew. I'll probably make up a batch this weekend.

Also, would it have been common for the brewery to age this beer on premise before sending it out, as they did with porter? Just wondering how fast a turn around they would have with these big beers.

Graeme said...

I was going to ask about the yeast - any reason behind suggesting US-05 over S-04 beyond simply avoiding the Whitbread taste if you don't like it?

Nice recipe though - I brewed the Durden Park Whitbread 1850 Porter recipe, which I still have a third of a keg left 8 months down the line. And I've got a pile of brown left over that needs using, and a coupla packs of S-04, so maybe I'll give this a whirl - the hopping looks to be more interesting here.

Craig said...


Kristen's comment about American hops is interesting. I know that British brewrs had been bringing in German hops for a while, any info on when exactly the UK started to seriously import and use US hop varieties?

Ron Pattinson said...

Craig, 1850's or 1860's is when Britain began importing American hops on a large scale. The local hop industry couldn't meet demand.

By the 1890's Britain was importing a huge proportion of the American hop harvest - something like about a third, if I remember correctly.

Kristen England said...


Really? I don't think I've see a log pre-1880 that had sugar in it. I have seen primings but not in the beer.

Re boil and yeast, Sorry for the confusion. 90min boil,not 60min. SO4 yeast, not US05.

Re the black malt, this one is definitely darker and more roasty than the ones with 50% less. It cleans up the finish much better than the less roasty ones.

marquis said...

I Googled "sugar permitted in brewing" and found an article from which I take the following extract;I couldn't verify it but it seems plausible to me.Perhaps the high sugar tax mitigated against its widespread use?
"It was not until 1847 that the use of sugar in brewing was permitted, and in 1850 the first sugar tax, amounting to Is. 4d. per cwt., was imposed. It varied from this figure up to 6s. 6d. in 1854, and in 1874, when the general duty on sugar was repealed, it was raised to 11 s. 6d., at which rate it remained until 1880, when it was repealed simultaneously with the malt duty."

Ron Pattinson said...

Whitbread flirted briefly with sugar in 1847, right after it was allowed again.

In 1866, they started using sugar again in most of their Porters and Stouts, Except XPS. Then later in that, too. Then sometimes not. Didn't I do a whole series of posts on Whitbread Porter grists?