Friday, 16 December 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1894 Usher's PA

My apologies. I've been so distracted by Scotland that I neglected to publish this recipe on time. Sorry about that.

Just to change things up a bit, this is  . . . another Scottish recipe. Sorry about that, too. My mind is totally concentrated on Scotland. I've starting talking like Rab C. Nesbitt.

This is our second PA from Usher and, despite being just a few years later, quite a different beast.

What hits me immediately about this beer is its low gravity. In the same year, Whitbread were brewing three Pale Ales, all stronger than Usher's. Here's a selection of English Pale Ales from around the same period:

Year Brewer Beer OG
1887 Truman (Burton) P1 S  1068
1887 Truman (Burton) P2  1062
1887 Truman (Burton) P2 R  1059
1892 Barclay Perkins PA 1063
1894 Whitbread FA  1052
1894 Whitbread 2PA  1052
1894 Whitbread PA  1058
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/060
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/588
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/BUR/11

Compare those with the three Pale Ales Usher brewed:

Year Brewer Beer OG
1894 Usher IP 1044
1894 Usher PA 1048
1894 Usher PA 60/- 1055
Usher brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number TU/6/1/2

It's clear that Usher's Pale Ales were significantly weaker than their English counterparts.

One point about the malt. Kristen's not quite right when he calls it Czech malt. It was malt made in Britain from Czech barley. Britain didn't import malt but did import large quantities of barley from all over the world. Barley of varying quality, depending on the source. Lowest-quality were Middle-Eastern barleys (called Smyrna usually). American barley was middling, with Czech barley at the top of the pile.

At this time many brewers still made at least some of their own malt. When they bought malt in, they wanted it made to a certain standard. And, well, to be malted the British way. You have to remember that for much of the 19th century British malting techniques were superior to those elsewhere. So when Britain was no longer able to grow sufficient barley to meet its own needs, it made sense that it would be barley not malt that was imported.

Kristen time . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:


Whats all this then!? That’s right, the ‘exactly’ same PA that we did just a few weeks ago. Why am I doing this one again? Well, frankly, because is so massively different that the previous edition. Rather than go through them line by line, go over them yourselves and see what you can pick out.

 It was the Usher’s 1885 PA.


Grist – This one was pretty straightforward with a bunch of different pale malts. First time we’ve seen Czech malts in these logs. Grab a really nice Czech pale malt if you can find it. If not, go with the Czech pils. It’s a little darker and a little more malty than the standard pils or pale. I really like the Bohemian Floor Malted Pils from Weyermann. Very good stuff. The continental pale is really up to you. I like my MFB pale. Wonderful stuff. Dingemans and Castle both make really good ones. Barring those, swap them for UK or Scots pales. The invert No2 bought or made (

Hops – Back to the Goldings lots. Use them 100% if you’d like. For this one I worked out of the box a bit. I love me some Goldings but I wanted to try a few new ones I haven’t yet. I used some Styrian Bobek’s. Man these are nice and have an amazing aroma. They, along with their sister Celeia have two of the highest amounts of oil of any hop. I also used some Styrian Aurora in another batch. All really really nice, each a bit different but very very Styrian Goldingsy with a twist. That said, Willamette work beautifully as well as some of the smaller hedgerow varieties that are popping up here and there.

Yeast – Nottingham or Fullers. These two yeasts do such a nice job I figured I’d stay with them. That being said, this beer has a definitely Whiteshield character to it so maybe Wyeast 1028…that would do well also.


Oblivious said...

Since the malt was malted under British methods, I suspect it would be more of a pale malt kilning than a pils?

Would it not be better to to substitute 50% of the malt bill with with some standard pale malt?

Kristen England said...

So I've found that when making Czech stuff the variety of barley is much more important than the type of malt, eg pils vs pale. The Czech Hanka is very different from a Maris Otter, Golden Promise, Cocktail, etc.

Pie-eyed said...

Hurrah for the 23 litre column!!!
Saves me scribbling all over print-outs and ordering the wrong grist.