Thursday, 13 October 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1868 Younger 60/-

Just back from a couple of days in London. That's my excuse for being a day late again. As if I really needed one.

Sixty shilling. We've all heard of that before, haven't we? Just to make this totally clear: this is not the same type of beer as modern 60/-. Get that? This is a differnt kind of 60/-.

60/- is a slippery little bugger. My personal experience of drinking the stuff in the 1970's (definitely Maclay's, probably Belhaven, too) tells me the modern version is Dark Mild. It looks like it, tastes like it and by golly it does you like it. Case closed, I used to think.

Now I've had chance to plunge my arms up to the oxter into the muddy pool of Scottish beer, I'm more confused. Before WW II 60/- seems to have been a weak Pale Ale, in the range 1035º-1039º. So similar to modern Heavy, or 70/-. But Scottish brewers were a funny bunch. They liked darkening up their Pale Ales, often for specific towns or regions. Leaving some of their "Pale Ales" a similar colour to Dark Mild. You can see why this gets confusing.

After WW II, there were still plenty of 60/- beers around. Sometimes called 60/- Pale Ale, others 60/- Ale. They were pretty weak, at 1030º-1032º. Whether they were like the ones I drank 30 years later is a matter of conjecture. I won't pretend to know the answer or to explain the evolution of 60/-. Further research is required.

One thing I do know for certain: this 1868 60/- is neither a Pale Ale nor a Dark Mild. It's an Ale. Aaaah. Revelation time. I've just been looking more closely at the records. And remembered some hints from Kristen. I think I've sussed what the Shilling Ales were. And why Younger produced so many beers of similar gravities.

Younger's logs stretch across two pages. The type of beer is at the far left of the first page and the far right of the second. Sometimes the two don't match. On the left it'll say XXX and on the right 80/-; 140/- and XXS. I can see a pattern. The beers are brewed the same. The only difference seems to be how they are packaged.

The Shilling Ales are always racked into hogsheads, half hogsheads and quarter hogsheads. X, XX and XXX are racked into mostly barrels and sometimes half barrels, too. XS and XXS sometimes go into butts and hogsheads. It's all starting to make sense.

It looks to me as if X, XX and XXX are meant to be drunk on draught. That 60/-, 80/-, 100/-, 120/-, 140/- and 160/- are meant to be bottled. The XS, XXS and XXXS put into butts were being aged and would be re-racked into barrels for sale on draught.

So 60/- is the equivalent of X (or sometimes XX). And I know what X and XX are from a price list of the 1880's: Edinburgh Mild Ales. I'm so happy. Today's beer is an Edinburgh Mild Ale.

I think we've all learnt something today. I certainly have.

One last thing, the sugar. Very unusual in this period William Younger's beers.

Seems a good time to mosey on over to Kristen . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Same deal as the previous Younger logs. Very simple stuff. Lots of repeats from last week. That will happen when we are doing the shilling stuff.


Grist – Two malts. I wanted the happy, sexy, tasty time that Maris Otter gives but I thought it would be too heavy if I used another complex malt so I went with the Canadian pale I’ve talked about before. The No2 was freshly made as discussed previously.

Hops – I used Willamete because I accidently grabbed them instead of the Fuggles and the garage is 30 feet away and it was raining…so here we are.  Any similar low alpha hop will really suffice here.

Yeast – This is for all the emails I got this last week yelling at me for not using Scottish yeast. We’ll, here you go. Now if you get butter in your beer or it smells like bananas, its on you guys. The rest of you lot, the Wyeast London III is very nice as is the WLP Bedfort (its in season).


CarlT said...

Regarding the possible problems with the Wyeast 1728 yeast, the trick is to follow a fermentation process similar to the ones described in the old texts we saw earlier. Pitching should be done at a slightly lower temp (13-15C/56-59F wort temperature) and then allowed to slowly rise during fermentation to around 19-21C/66-70F. In a large fermentation volume this temperature rise will be automatic (and might even have to be atemperated), but in a homebrew sized batch, the ambient temperature will have to be regulated, starting low and going warmer (or the vessel moved to a warmer place).
The cold start will supress ester and fusel production (no banana), and the warmer temp at the end will prevent buildup of diacetyl (butter)and gives proper attenuation. Following this procedure has always given me rich malty beers with a balanced fruitiness going towards pears and plums rather than banana.
I think the recurring notes of scottish brews being pitched cold (but not necessarily fermented cold all the way)are significant and makes sense(assuming the nineteenth century yeasts were similar to the Wyeast1728, albeit it obviously has a more "modern" pedigree)

Andrew Elliott said...

That kind if find really is fantastic, Ron. Does a better job of explaining the lower hopping for Scottish ales than the usual "hops are expensive" argument -- they were Milds! A counter to that usual argument could be the recent hops shortage -- prices went through the roof as supplies dwindled, but brewers didn't all of a sudden start brewing beers with lower hopping; they continued brewing their intensely hopped Double-Imperial-Wanktastic-IPA.

Looks like another recipe to add to my to-do list; thanks!

Kristen England said...


Yes, that will help to a point. however the two Scottish yeasts most people use adn that are the most readily available put out a lot of butter and banana inherent unto themselves. It kicks higher amounts of diacetyl and almost 2x the threshold amount of banana. Chris white really loves his 028 and calls it 'clean like california ale'. In my experience, I find it to be estery and fusely and not near california.

That being said, I do find that if I use 2x as much as I usually would and oxygen the hell out of the wort, this yeast works great. That can be said for pretty much all yeast treated this way.

I very much do not like fusels in my stronger ales at all which is why I do not like this yeast. There are many many people that love that fusely aroma. Each their own.

If people are going to use it, CarlT gives very good advice.

Anonymous said...

How does the flavour of Invert No 2 compare to the flavour of kettle caramelisation?

Andrew Elliott said...


The invert no. 2 will provide a lot more fruity complexity; kettle caramelization is nigh-on myth for a 90 minute boil. You'd really need a 3-4 hour boil to get anything similar to the sort.

Anonymous said...


Sorry i should have been more specific. By kettle caramelisation I ment drawing off a portion of the wort and boiling it down.
As both are a form of caramelised sugar i wondered how the two would compare.

Kristen England said...


There really is no precedent for this from what I've seen rather than people trying to recreate the long boils (which aren't correct to begin with).

Oblivious said...

"As both are a form of caramelised sugar i wondered how the two would compare."

kettle caramelisation is a wrong term as the wort contains both proteins and lipids, Proteins will react with the free carbohydrates in the boil to from melanoidins,

unlike inverted sugar, that is primarily just pure carbohydrates

Anonymous said...

Right, Thanks for the help. I've been meaning to take the plunge into using invert sugar for a while. This beer seems like a good place to start.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned about the canadian pale and invert "as discussed previously". I'm new here, where was this discussed? Is this explained in the beer styles book? Thanks!

Ron Pattinson said...

Anonymous, it's been discussed in previous Let's Brew posts:

Kristen England said...

Sorry boys. I'll specifically link references from now on.