1043º looks like a reasonable gravity for a Lager today. But what about in the 1930's? Before the war, British Lager was usually brewed to about Continental strength. I've analyses of 15 British Lagers for the inter-war years. The average OG is 1046º. Only two a weaker than the Tennent's Lager. At 78%, its apparent attenuation is a touch higher than the average of 1076º. But not much. All in all, a fairly typical beer of its type and time.
I've only 5 pre-was British Pilsener analyses. So not much to compare the Tennent's beer to. The average OG is 1050º and the apparent attenuation 80%. Tennent's Pilsener, at 1051.2º and 79% attenuation, is about dead on average.
How does that compare with the modern versions? According to RateBeer, Tennent's Lager is 4% ABV and Tennent's Pilsner3.4%. Fascinating, eh? The Lager isn't far away from the pre-war version in terms of strength. While the Pilsener has lost both one of the E's from its name and about a third of its ABV. Odd that the Pilsner is now the weaker of the two. I wonder when the change happened?
Once again, a majority of the beers are Pale Ales. They fall into three strength groups: 1027º - 1032º, 1035º - 1039º, and 1050. The latter is a single Export PA. All of these strengths are pretty low compared to London beers. A typical Best Bitter in London was 1048º - 1050º, and an ordinary Bitter around 1040º. Beers around 1030º only existed as Light bottled Pale Ales. Though in the English provinces Pale Ales were more commonly in the low to mid 1030ºs.
The most striking difference - and one that must have struck drinkers, too - is the colour. Quite a few of the samples are over 40º Lovibond. That's pretty dark. London Pale Ales were 20º to 25º Lovibond. Only a couple of Tennent's beers are that colour. The variation in colour, from 25º to 48º is very large. It leads me to suspect that Tennent, like other Scottish breweries, had colour variations of the same basic beer.
The changes in Tennent's Nourishing Stout are revealing of the trends within Scotland. The FG remains fairly constant while the OG plummets. Changing the attenuation from a fairly normal 70% to only around 50% or less. When the change started, 1932, is no surprise. There was a big rise in beer duty in 1931 that led many brewers to cut their gravities so they could keep the same retail price. It's a ph3enomenon which has repeated itself several times over the years. By the end of the 1930's, it looks like a typical sweet Scottish Stout.
The one Strong Ale doesn't tell us much. The gravity is a bit low. Closer to 1080º was more typical.
Here's the table. If you're lucky there will be a second part tomorrow.
|J & R Tennent Beers 1923 – 1939|
|1923||Carbonated Beer||Pale Ale||4d||half pint||bottled||1007||1038||44||4.03||81.58%|
|1923||Carbonated Beer||Pale Ale||4d||half pint||bottled||1005.5||1039.61||45||4.44||86.04%|
|1923||PA 90/-||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1006||1039||4.30||84.62%|
|1924||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||4d||half pint||bottled||1009.8||1037.3||48||3.57||73.73%|
|1928||Export PA||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1009||1050||25||5.35||82.00%|
|1929||90/- Glasgow Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1008||1039.25||No. 9 Same as our standard.||4.06||79.62%|
|1929||90/- Glasgow Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1008.5||1039.5||Between 9 - 10.||4.03||78.48%|
|1931||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1008||1031||31||2.98||74.19%|
|1932||Light Beer||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1006||1047||5.36||87.23%|
|1933||3d Pale Ale||Pale Ale||3d||half pint||bottled||1008||1027.5||2.52||70.91%|
|1933||Pale Ale||Pale Ale||3d||half pint||bottled||1007||1024||25||2.20||70.83%|
|1938||90/- Pale Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1005||1031.5||9 – 10||3.45||84.13%|
|1939||60/- Ale||Pale Ale||pint||bottled||1007.8||1037.75||13 – 14||3.90||79.47%|
|1924||Strong Ale||Strong Ale||pint||bottled||1022||1063.3||74||5.35||65.24%|
|Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001|