Sunday, 25 September 2011

George Younger beers 1940 - 1961

Bet you've been waiting for this with bated breath. Part two of my investigation of George Younger's beers. What makes it all the more exciting is that a couple of these beers still exist.

Much like William Younger, George Younger, despite leaping feet first into the Pale Ale trade, continued to brew Alloa Ales. The strong beer that was the source of Scotland's beery fame. It seems to have been similar to Edinburgh Ale. Which itself was much like Burton Ale. These strong Alloa Ales were once exported all over the world. After WW II the foreign market had shrunk to Belgium and little else.

Gordon Highland Scotch Ale and Gordon Xmas Ale. They were originally brewed by George Younger. (Note that Alloa, like Edinburgh where it was later brewed, is nowhere near the Highlands.) They were some of the beers that helped define Belgian-style Scotch Ale. Strong, dark Ales of 8% ABV or so. Though you'll notice that Gordon Highland Scotch Ale wasn't all that dark. Colour values of 55 and 60 are just about brown.

Interestingly, the Strong Ale produced for domestic consumption was darker, though at 6% ABV, quite a bit weaker. Now here's a thing. There wasn't much in the way of Strong Ale brewed in England after WW II. There were the odd ones like Bass No. 1, Colne Spring Ale or Gold Label, but they weren't a standard part of every brewery's range. Not so in Scotland. Strong Ale carried on much as it had before the war, except gravities had been pegged back a little.

Heavy Export Ale. There are a few examples of that in the table. What was it - Heavy or Export? Judging by the gravity, I'd say Export. If you can remember - and if you can't I'm going to keep reminding you - "heavy" is Scottish brewing parlance meant nothing more than "strong". I'd love to know when it became so closely associated with a specific type of Pale Ale. From what I've seen so far, definitely after WW II.

I've been saving the best until last. Scottish breweries had never been that enthusiastic about Stout. Yes, they brewed it, but in a fairly desultory way. And they moved from the older dry types to very sweet versions much earlier than English breweries, starting in the 19th century. To most eyes Younger's Extra Stout, with a mere 52% attenuation, would seem pretty damn sweet. Until they'd got a look at Sweetheart Stout with just 30-odd% attenuation. And at around 1.5% ABV, it counts as a low-alcohol beer.

What does it tell us about Scottish tastes that the only beer still to bear the George Younger name is Sweetheart Stout? I'd love to try it. It looks more like a Malzbier than a Stout. Anyone know where I can score a bottle (or a can)?

The more I think about it, the more these Younger beers demonstrate 20th-century trends in Scottish brewing. Pale Ales, Strong Ales and the odd very sweet Stout. Only Lager is missing. That was the speciality of another Alloa brewery - the Alloa Brewery.

Here's the table:

George Younger beers 1940 - 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1940 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1007 1035 3.64 80.00%
1940 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1008.5 1033.5 3.24 74.63%
1941 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1012.5 1037 3.17 66.22%
1946 60/- Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1007.5 1029.5 2.85 74.58%
1947 80/- Ale Pale Ale 16d pint bottled 1009 1039.5 3.96 77.22%
1947 India Pale Ale 120/- IPA 14d half pint bottled 1010 1042 4.16 76.19%
1948 Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale 1/5.5d half pint bottled 0.08 1014 1047.7 23.5 4.37 70.65%
1948 Extra Stout Stout pint bottled 1017.5 1036.5 2.44 52.05%
1948 Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1016 1048.5 4.21 67.01%
1949 Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1016.5 1047 3.94 64.89%
1950 Gordon Highland Scotch Ale Scotch Ale bottled 0.90 1031.1 1091.2 1 + 40 7.81 65.90%
1950 Gordon Xmas Ale (bottled in Antwerp) Scotch Ale bottled 0.10 1032.3 1090.7 2 + 40 7.58 64.39%
1952 Gordon Highland Scotch Ale Scotch Ale bottled 0.08 1026.5 1081.8 2.5 + 40 7.19 67.60%
1953 Strong Ale Strong Ale 14.5d nip bottled 0.06 1021.9 1067.6 13 + 40 5.93 67.60%
1954 Extra Stout Stout 1/2d half pint bottled 0.05 1018 1037.5 1 + 30 2.51 52.00%
1954 Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale bottled 0.06 1011.1 1044.7 19 4.36 75.17%
1954 Gordon Highland Scotch Ale (purchased in Belgium) Scotch Ale bottled 0.06 1028 1090.9 60 8.20 69.20%
1955 Extra Stout Stout 15d half pint bottled 0.05 1015.8 1038.5 575 2.93 58.96%
1955 Strong Ale Strong Ale 15d nip bottled 0.05 1022.3 1067.6 100 5.87 67.01%
1955 Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale 15d half pint bottled 0.06 1012 1043.9 27 4.14 72.67%
1955 Gordon Highland Scotch Ale (purchased in Belgium) Scotch Ale bottled 0.07 1029.9 1090.3 55 7.86 66.89%
1955 Treble Top Ale Pale Ale 21d 16 oz can 0.05 1006.6 1031.2 37.5 3.19 78.85%
1955 Sweetheart Stout Stout 26d 16 oz can 0.04 1024.5 1036.4 225 1.52 32.69%
1956 Sweetheart Stout Stout 1/3d half pint bottled 0.04 1024.6 1037.6 225 1.66 34.57%
1959 Sweetheart Stout Stout 14d halfpint bottled 1024.4 1036.4 275 1.53 32.97%
1959 Sparkling Ale Pale Ale 10d half pint bottled 0.05 1006.6 1026.6 30 2.59 75.19%
1959 Sparkling Ale Pale Ale 12d half pint bottled 0.05 1024.5 1031.8 45 0.93 22.96%
1961 Husky Heavy Export Ale Pale Ale 15d half pint bottled 0.05 1013.8 1042.8 25 3.63 67.76%
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Whitbread Gravity Book document LMA/4453/D/02/002 held at the London Metropolitan Archives


Barm said...

I'd suggest that we go out on the piss in Alloa whenever you're in the area, Ron, but there's not much worth drinking these days. Although you can still go to the bar that must have been the Maclays brewery tap. It sells Sweetheart Stout from the fridge, alongside Heather Ale which at least is brewed in Alloa. This and also the remaining pubs in the town are, er, "characterful".

Yeah, Sweetheart Stout is pretty close to Malzbier. Malzbier with a little bit of cola in it, maybe.

Anonymous said...

i drank SWEET HEART STOUT in the early seventy's it was usually mixed with heavy to give a sweetish Black and Tan rather than drank on its own. cheers john

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, that's very sad. I'd love to visit Alloa just because it was such an important brewing town.

Ron Pattinson said...

John, that's interesting to know. It makes sense you wouldn't drink Sweetheart Stout straight. Well, not if you wanted to get intoxicated.