Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Guinness XX Porter in 1861

Remember that analysis of Drogheda Ale? The same book also had one of Guinness XX Porter. I thought you might be interested in seeing that as well.

One point before we start. Which Guinness product were they analysing? In the 19th century Guinness had three main products: Porter, Extra Stout and Foreign Extra Stout. Though the names used weren't always those. Before 1896 Porter was called Single Stout and Extra Stout was called Double Stout. Foreign Extra Stout was also known as Foreign Export Double Stout and West Indies Porter at different dates. Guinness weren't very consistent in their use of the designations Porter and Stout, using both words at different times to describe all three products.

Funnily enough, a name I haven't seen mentioned until now is Guinness XX Porter. Though when I did a bit of digging on the web, the name popped up in various 19th century adverts and texts. Luckily, I've been able to work out the OG of the beer they anaylsed and it's clear which of the Guinness products it is: Porter. I've other analyses for Guinness Porter and Extra Stout from the 1890's. The Porter was 1063º, the Extra Stout 1073º.
"On the Composition of Dublin Porter.

By George W. Jackson, B. A., and William J. Wonfor, Students in the Laboratory of the Museum of Irish Industry.

[Read on Monday Evening, December 17, I860.]

A Want has often been felt by medical men, and others, in Dublin, interested in the composition of such substances, of a reliable and complete analysis of Irish porter; for although the composition of the principal English and foreign beers has been determined by different chemists, no such investigation had hitherto been undertaken in Dublin. At the suggestion of Professor Galloway, Mr. Jackson undertook the analysis of Guinness's XX porter; but at an early stage of the proceedings being obliged by ill health to forego the completion of the research, the task devolved on me to finish it; and we have much pleasure in laying before the Royal Dublin Society the results of our joint investigation. The sample of porter which we employed was obtained from Mr. Edward Burke, of Middle Abbey-street, agent to the Messrs. Guinness; and the analysis was performed in the laboratory of the Museum of Irish Industry, under the direction of Mr. Galloway."
"The Journal of the Royal Dublin society, Volume 3", 1862, page 163.

Amazing, isn't it, that no-one had bothered to analyse beers in Ireland.

Here's the table they produced. With a few extra bits I've worked out, such as ABW, ABV, OG and apparent attenuation.

"The following are the amounts of the various constituents in 1000 parts by measure of the Porter:—

Guinness XX Porter 1861
I II Mean
Total amount of fixed organic matter 67.566 66.426 66.996
Total amount of fixed inorganic matter 4.166 4.27 4.218
71.732 70.696 71.214
Proof spirit* 89.6 92 90.8
ABW 4.41 4.53 4.47
ABV 5.60 5.75 5.68
Acetic acid 3.6 3.6 3.6
Grape Sugar 1.72 1.72 1.72
Albumen 8.272 7.5 7.886
Extractive matter 57.574 57.206 57.39
Silica 0.29 0.29 0.29
Phosphate of Magnesia 0.851 0.851 0.851
Lime 0.085 0.085 0.085
Phosphoric acid 0.69 0.703 0.697
Chloride of sodium 0.448 0.449 0.448
Sulphuric acid 0.277 0.274 0.276
Potash 1.5327 1.5 1.513
Soda 0.082 0.083 0.082
71.816 70.661 71.238
FG 1019.565 1019.2 1019.383
OG 1062.1 1062.8 1062.45
apparent attenuation 68.49% 69.43% 68.96%

"The Journal of the Royal Dublin society, Volume 3", 1862, page 169
* Proof spirit has a sp. gr. of 0.9198 at 60º Fahr. and contains 49.25 per cent, by weight of real alcohol.

First thing that jumps out at me is the attenuation: less than 70%. That's much lower than modern Guinness Extra Stout, where it's 85%. But, as I've pointed out before, very dry and highly-attenuated Guinness is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating from just the 1950's. With an acetic acid content of 0.36%, Guinness's XX porter must have been quite a tart beer. Analyses of Guinness Porter and Stout from 1870 also show quite high levels of acetic acid: 0.24%, 0.20% and 0.26%. In another sample from 1888 the acidity was as high as 0.52%.

How did Guinness Porter compare with the London version? Time for another table, I think. here are the details of four London-brewed Porters from the same period:

Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1862 Barclay Perkins TT Porter 1055.1 1017.5 4.98 68.25% 15.29 3.79
1861 Whitbread P Porter 1053.5 1015.8 4.98 70.47% 10.37 2.63
1860 Truman Runner Porter 1057.6 1013.9 5.79 75.96% 8.2 2.36
1858 Courage Porter Porter 1055.12 12.00 2.86
Brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

The London Porters all had a lower OG, averaging around 1055º, compared to the 1062º of Guinness Porter. In terms of attenuation, there wasn't a huge amount of difference. With the exception of Truman's Runner, all were a shade under 70%.

Here's the slightly bizarre conclusion of the scientists:
"Without expressing any opinion as to the medicinal virtues of the porter we examined, we may, perhaps, be permitted to draw attention to the facts which our analysis reveals, that it contains a large quantity of heat and flesh-producing matter, as well as the necessary inorganic constituents required in the formation of bone and flesh.

As we were obliged to limit ourselves to one sample of porter, as it would have required more time than we could give to have examined samples of porter from all the different manufactories, we selected Guinness's as the type of all the rest."
"The Journal of the Royal Dublin society, Volume 3", 1862, page 170.

Anyone an idea as to what "heat and flesh-producing matter" might be? I haven't the foggiest. It's the weird sort of thing 19th century scientists had a habit of saying. I think they just made most of it up.

Lazy bastards, that's all I can say. If only they'd been able to drag themselves away from their laudanum, they might have found the time to analyse all the different types of Dublin Porter. Now that would have been interesting. But no, dilettantes that they were, they only bothered with Guinness.


Oblivious said...

I presume "heat and flesh-producing matter" is organic matter that the Human body can digest and use growth and heat generation

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, food then.

Gary Gillman said...

I'd think caloric values.

Can we get a fix on the acidity taste of these beers? Acetic acid is quite a noticeable, and to me off-putting, taste even in low amounts. What modern drink, even non-beer, would equate to this level? A scrumpy cider? A lambic? Or is that too sour?

How much white vinegar would you need to pour into a modern porter to equate to this taste? I will actually try this if someone will give me the amount to add to 12 ounces, say. I have an 8& craft porter from Florida which tastes as if not attenuated above 70%. How much commercial vinegar should I add, Ron or Kristen (or others good with numbers)?


Craig said...

Both acetic and sulphuric acids are biproducts of Brett Guinness FES has a good bit of tang to it, but I don't know if you'd get the same flavor profile by just adding distilled vinegar to another porter.

Who knows, though? Give it a shot and see how it tastes!

Gary Gillman said...

I understand that "fermented" aceric acid would not taste just like commercial white vinegar, but still it would give an idea, or maybe I should add a wine vinegar. Malt vinegar sounds a natural, but I think it's too "brutish", to quote a late English food writer, I think Jane Grigson.

But how much to add? I get .36 of an ounce using arithmetic and a 12 oz. measure of beer, but isn't all commercial vinegar diluted? So I'd need to add more, I think, to equate to what was in the Guinness XX Porter. Any help here?


Craig said...

.36 of an ounce, is nearly 2-1/4 teaspoons! Yuck!

Gary Gillman said...

Well, I'm not sure I'm right on that, it's probably much less.

If the numbers guys can help, I'll try it with wine vinegar.


Gary Gillman said...

I asked Timothy, a friend on a whisky discussion forum, and he calculates 23 ml table vinegar per 355 ml can. This allows for the vinegar being a 6% solution, a typical commercial amount. I'll report on the taste results.

I'll try to find a 6% ABV porter but I think I have "only' an 8% one, a Florida craft beer, but anyway it should be pretty close. The Florida porter has a sweeter taste than modern Guinness due (I believe) to a lower attenuation, so all in all it's a good porter to do the test by I think.


Andrew Elliott said...

I calculated at the 5% vinegar content on Heinz Malt Vinegar -- came out to 25.5515295 mL = 5.18399999 US teaspoons. Yowza!

May want to factor in the acidity already in the beer; that's still a lot of vinegar!

Malt Vinegar has 5% so we need to dilute to .36%: only use 72mL (.36/5) per Liter of beer, which comes out to 72/33.8 or 2.12929413mL per oz. For a 12 oz bottle it's 25.5515296mL = just over 5 tsp.

Gary Gillman said...

I added 23 ml Italian wine vinegar to a bottle of Jose Marti porter from Cigar City Brewery in Florida. This is a sweetish, rich porter, I would doubt the attenuation is beyond what was typical of Guinness in the 1800's. The ABV (8%) is higher than that of Guinness Porter then, but let's ignore that.

I figured the wine vinegar would get closer to acetic acid produced during a beer ferment than your usual white vinegar, but anyway they smelled quite similar. The vinegar was a 6% solution, so exactly on the mark in terms of Timothy's calculations.

It actually wasn't bad at all: the acetic hit delivers a racy edge that complemented the rich malt. The Jose Marti probably would need an extra hit of hops to get closer to the Guinness Porter of the 1800's, but it's still a pretty good rendition of an 1800's porter I think. Sour-sweet, as a lot of old tasting notes say for porter.

It would be interesting to do a blind taste test amongst porter fans, one with and one without the acid, and see which they prefer. It's pretty sour but I still like it.

Now, if I can only find some heading.


Andrew Elliott said...

Ah, but also the acid content is by weight, not by volume.

Put your glass on a scale and zero it out, then pour the beer into the glass, and check its weight (I suggest going metric, thence all references to weight should be mass).


M_acid = Mass_beer * .0036

To figure out how much vinegar to add:

M_vinegar = M_acid/vinegar%

Measure this out and dump into the beer, and hope it tastes great. Don't forget there are plenty of other things in that vinegar that will contribute to the flavor profile other than the acetic acid...

Have fun gents!

Gary Gillman said...

Andrew, thanks, I'm impressed by the math, which I can't fully understand. Does this throw off the calculation of 25 ml per 355? I doubt there is much acid in any modern porter, but if I allow for some, the next time, I'll add 20 ml, say.

But the weight vs. volume thing concerns me now. What if I used a standard 12 oz (355 ml). aluminum can in which to add the vinegar? The metal hardly weighs anything at all. Do I still add 20 ml? I am thinking of doing it next with a can of Fuller porter. Thx again for the interest.


Andrew Elliott said...

I guess we can neglect the mass of the can:

355mL of beer at 1.019FG = 355g*1.019 = 361.745g of beer

using the equations from my previous post, I come up with 21.7 g using your 6% acid wine vinegar.

The density of vinegar is approximately 0.96g/mL

We can use this to get a more exact volume: 21.7g / 0.96g/mL = 22.6mL of vinegar

20mL is in the ballpark, and you're a braver man than I!


Gary Gillman said...

Thanks very much! I will try this with a 6% acid white vinegar this time, adding 20 ml to 355 ml of Fuller's London Porter!


Adrian Avgerinos said...

As a side note, it appears that certain strains of Brettanomyces can make acetic acid when exposed to enough air. I've got a 3 year old "vat" of Porter that's been aging in a bucket. Lots of vinegar character from that beer. According to the fine folks at White Labs, it's entirely possible that's due to the WLP645 strain of yeast I added 3 years ago.

What I found more interesting was adding a little of this sour Porter (which doesn't taste good on its own and I do like sour beers), to a glass of my "running" Porter I have on tap. Wow! It really brightens up the flavors of the beer without making it taste like salad dressing.

Gary Gillman said...

Well, what's interesting about that is whether some of the acetic character in the Guinness Porter developed in the bottle, as it would have in the vats. Did Guinness consumed on draft have such a marked acid taste? Perhaps not. This was the mixture of running beer, old beer and heading that Frank Faulkner referred to. We must await analyses of such beers before being definitive.

Remember that comment of the London swell said he preferred a "balmy" local porter to Guinness...?

I definitely agree regarding the "brightening". I've made my own blends for years on these principles. The problem was to get the entire or stale beer; I think I know how to do that now. :)

My problem now remains the heading. :)


Rod said...

Adrian -
"As a side note, it appears that certain strains of Brettanomyces can make acetic acid when exposed to enough air.......... it's entirely possible that's due to the WLP645 strain of yeast I added 3 years ago."

It's equally possible that your beer has simply been oxidised and infected with acetobactors, which have turned part of the ethanol into acetic acid.

Adrian Avgerinos said...

"It's equally possible that your beer has simply been oxidised and infected with acetobactors, which have turned part of the ethanol into acetic acid."

I agree which makes me half tempted to get the batch tested to see if I do have an acetobactor infection or just acetic acid.

Gary Gillman said...

Some of the old books note that porter gets less strong with age: this must be then the result of acetification due to acetobacter bacteria. This comment seems the exception though, and therefore some of the acetic content must have been a known empirical result of brettanomyces without adverse impact on the final alcohol content.