Thursday, 24 November 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1885 Usher's 40/-

We've another very special Scottish beer for you. Highlighting that odd feature of Scottish brewing: a penchant for the extreme ends of the strength spectrum.

Yes, this beer is piss weak. I'm sure it wouldn't have been treated as a full-strength beer back in Victorian days. When men were men and children were alcoholics. It's a Table Beer, really. Or perhaps it's Twopenny. Hang on, wasn't 60/- supposed to have been about 1030º? How come this 40/- is that strength. Oh yes, I remember. Horst was talking out of his arse.

Usher was keen on parti-gyling. One of the keenest I've seen. This particular baby was the youngest of five brothers: 100/-, 54/- M, 80/-, 60/- B and 40/- B. With gravities of 1078º, 1064º, 1058º, 1041.5º and 1030º respectively. One thing that's fascinating about this family of beers is their level of attenuation. It averages about 60%. That's quite low. I'm starting to think that low attenuation might be one of the genuine features of Scottish beer. At least certain types of it.

40/- wasn't a particularly popular beer. None of the Shilling Ales were, for that matter. The bulk of Usher's brews were various strengths of Pale Ale and X Ales. 40/- seems to have been brewed the least often of any Shilling Ale. By 1885 London brewers had pretty much given up on Table Beer. I can't think of any London beer that even vaguely resembles this.

Sugar. Scots brewers appear to have been much less keen on it that their English colleagues. Maybe because they liked their finishing gravities high. This beer does include some, which is unusual. The vast majority of the beers in this brewing book were pure malt.

And black malt in the copper again. Usher did that a lot, though not every time with their Shilling Ales. No idea why that is. Maybe they were brewing different-coloured versions. We know that in the 20th century Scottish brewers did that a lot.

Not much to say today.  Time to pass you over to the man with the mashing stick, Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

NOTE: This is the first log that we’ll be using the 23L mark for the non-US home brewed versions. I’ve highlighted and bolded this so you guys that use it won’t miss it. From now on, we’ll be doing 23L.


Grist – Since I have numerous sacks of Golden Promise, we’ll be using that for the better part of this series. It’s a wonderful malt and fully Scottish. Any other top UK pale malt will work wonderfully also, just not Mild malt. That’s different. Again you can see the Usher’s up to their old shenanigans chucking more black malt into the kettle. Same rules apply as discussed previously. Just a bit…for luck and whatnot I’m sure. You’ll also notice this is one of the only times we’ve show the use of sugar in these Scot’s beers. A decent amount at 11%. Definitely mandatory. Adds the happy dark fruit and keeps it clean and dry.

Hops – This was really interesting to me in that there is a pretty good hit of hops. Nearly equal BU:OG. Puts these right about were ordinary bitters are doesn’t it. So much for the ‘no hop’ shillings…but we’ve covered this before. What’s neat is seeing this amount of hops in such a light, gravity not flavo(u)r, beer. Usher’s really liked their American and Alsace hops. Use them again if you’d like. I kept the cluster for the bitter and but this time I used Liberty hops. Man they are pretty nice. I can get them much fresher than the German Hallertauer and I’ll take that over the ‘right’ hop any day of the week. You should too…That being said, use what you’d like that are Hallertauer-y…yes, that’s a word.

Yeast – Nottingham or Fullers. Works really well for this set of beers. This one is pretty dry so be mindful of the attenuation of the yeast you chose. That being said, I’m pretty sure any yeast will chew the butt out of a 1.030 beer anyway. Choose what you like. It’s nice to have a set of beers for which you can continually reuse the yeast.


iain_m said...

Hi guys - many thanks for swapping to 23 Litres!



Kristen England said...

Very welcome!! Anything that makes it easier for people to make these recipes!