Sunday, 18 March 2012

England vs Scotland, part 3f: early 1850's Pale Ale

It's with a tear in my eye that I wave goodbye to the Milds. Now it's the turn of the 1850's most stylish and fashionable style: Pale Ale. Probably a type of beer you feel more comfortable with.

As you'll see, the number of examples is pretty limited. That's because of the London brewers whose brewing records I have, only Truman brewed a Pale Ale in this period. It's still very early days for the style. That Younger did brew Pale Ale is an indication of how they were ahead of the game in spotting its potential. And that Scotland was out of phase with England, style-wise. While London brewers were transitioning from Porter to Mild Ale as their bread and butter, their Scots colleagues were moving straight to Bitter.

XXP looks very different from Younger's other beers. For a start, the degree of attenuation is much higher, averaging 75%. Most of their other beers, especially the Shilling Ales, struggled top reach 65% and were often below 60%.

Early Pale Ales from different breweries have very similar specifications. That's not so surprising. Initially, they were trying to imitate the beers of Burton and modelled their Pale Ales closely on them. As the century progressed versions brewed in different parts of Britain gradually diverged. Most outside Burton dropped gravities a little from the classic 1065º. In London after 1860 Pale Ales were usually about 1060º. Younger's were a little weaker than that, with IPA at 1054º and Export Pale Ale at 1060º.

Let's press on with the table.

England vs Scotland early 1850's Pale Ale
Date Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fer-ment-ation temp length of fer-ment-ation (days)
20th Mar 1851 Truman Pale Ale 1067.0 22 6.88
7th Mar 1851 Truman Pale Ale 1067.6 22 6.67
Average 1067.3 22.00 6.77
16th Dec 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1065 1018 6.22 72.31% 24.00 8.10 1.25 1.33 57 68 7
10th Dec 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1067 1017 6.61 74.63% 24.00 7.90 1.25 1.25 57 67 8
1st Mar 1852 Younger, Wm. XXP 1067 1017 6.61 74.63% 24.00 8.20 1 1.17 56 67 8
14th Oct 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1068 1019 6.48 72.06% 25.43 8.09 1.25 57 67 8
10th Nov 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1068 1014 7.14 79.41% 24.00 8.20 1.25 1.25 57 69 8
1st Dec 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1070 1017 7.01 75.71% 24.00 7.90 1.25 1.33 58 67 8
9th Oct 1851 Younger, Wm. XXP 1072 1018 7.14 75.00% 24.00 8.18 1.25 58 67 7
Average 1068.1 1017.1 6.75 74.82% 24.20 8.08 1.21 1.27 57.1 67.4 7.7
difference 0.8 1017.1 6.75 74.82% 2.20 1.31 1.21 1.27 57.1 67.4 7.7
William Younger brewing record document number WY/6/1/2/5 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Truman brewing record document number B/THB/C/132 held at the London Metropolitan Archives

So much information is missing from the Truman's beers, that there are only two elements I can compare: OG and hopping rate.

Gravity is a piece of urine. The Truman's and Younger's gravities are very similar.

Hopping rates are much less confusing this time around. All the beers in the table are very heavily hopped, but Younger's slightly more so. By about 1.25 lbs per barrel, on average. This set is too small for a really meaningful comparison. But, once again, there's no evidence to support the claim that Scottish brewers used far fewer hops.

Porter next. I've a much bigger set for that. I wonder what it will tell us?


Barm said...

Might be clearer to say the Younger's beers were more heavily hopped BY about 1.25lb a barrel. For those who skipped the table.

8lb a barrel is a staggering hopping rate. A few months ago I recall a regional brewer saying proudly that their revivalist IPA was very heavily hopped at two pounds a barrel.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, good suggestion.

No-one today hops like they did in the old days. OK, the alpha acid content is often much higher today, but the effect of masses of low-alpha hops is very distinctive. I've had several discussions with Dann of Pretty Things about that.

Tom said...

Hi Ron,

Stones Bitter was first produced in 1948. The Yorkshire Post claims that it's straw colour made it unique for the time, and this individuality helped to make it an immediate success. My question is this: were straw coloured bitters really rare at this time? Or this fallacy?


Ron Pattinson said...

Tom, I can find several lower-gravity Pale Ales from before WW II with EBC colours of less than 20.

To help you calibrate, Boddingtons Bitter was 18, Pale Lagers are 5 to 10.

I believe Stones was 15-16 EBC. The very short-lived Whitbread AK (only brewed in 1930) was 17.

So straw-coloured beers like Stone's had existed, but weren't that common.

Tom said...

Do you know when Boddingtons' IP was first brewed?

Ron Pattinson said...

Tom, I don't. But there's no guarantee that it didn't change colour at some point.