Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Let's brew Wednesday - 1987 Boddington's Bitter

Now here's a novelty. No, not that this is appearing on a Wedensday for once. More special than even that. here's a beer that some of you might have drunk. The original, I mean.

I was going to call this Manchester IPA. Because the brewhouse name is IP. And it was brewed in Manchester. What makes a beer an IPA? Well, it depends very much on who you ask. I'm sure there are plenty who will give a very self-assured and clear definition. Me, I've looked at too many price lists and brewing logs to be able to clearly define anything. IPA has been different things and different times. And different things at the same time, depending on where you were. I've given up trying to separate Pale Ale and IPA. There's only one objective criterion: what the brewer called it.

Back to Boddie's Bitter. Could you call it an IPA? It's very pale in colour, like an IPA should be. It's a type of Pale Ale, that's for sure. It's hop-accented. There's another box ticked. And top-fermented. Hang on, it sounds like I could also call it a Kölsch. See how futile style pigeon-holing is?

I seem to remember Boddie's losing a lot of its bitterness and character sometime in the late 1970's or early 1980's. This recipe explains why: old hops. very old hops. Cheapskates or subtle flavour profilers?  Who knows. Maybe a bit of both. Many British beers toned down their hops in the 1980's.

Wonder why we picked this beer. "How about something light for the warm weather?" Kristen asked. This is what I gave him. You won't get much lighter. I also thought it would be fun to have something so recent. A beer still, in fact, available. Wherever they may brew it.

The Boddington's records are the dullest I've seen. Page after page of Bitter with an occasional Mild. Just two beers. How excited they must have been in the brewhouse when the Oldham Brewery closed and they got two new beers to brew. The Oldham Mild looks a nice beer. Maybe we should do that next. It'll fit right in with Mild Month, if we're quick.

Kristen time . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

This is the latest beer we’ve every done here and are doing so to give everyone a little taste of how things changed. From all the big nasty hoppy K’s, to the light and fruit AK’s up to the proper IPAs of moderate strength and hop we get this baby. Its wet. Its beer! It’s from the mid-80’s. You lot might have actually had this beer when it was on tap, but it wasn’t called an IPA…not by their marketing, just in the logs. Notes for the recipe? Its basically a blend of many English malts, a touch of American malt and a flys fart of invert syrup. Then we gotta color this baby up with some caramel. The hops were exceedingly old, on average about 3 years old and they were added near the beginning so all you’d get was a bit of bitterness. Very moderate if that word has ever been used before. The best thing about this beer is you can literally drink vast amounts of it without having to worry about cost for a lot of flavor getting in the way. You want a proper pissup pint to drink alongside some whisk(e)y, here you go!


marquis said...

"Many British beers toned down their hops in the 1980's"
Remember Shipstone's?

Fron the 1977 GBG;
"Boddington's Bitter 1035 exceptionally bitter."

Bailey said...

We've been doing some serious consideration of John Smith's Extra Smooth recently (don't ask...) and the moment we read the line in this post about ancient hops, something clicked. JSES is apparently made with pale malt with a spot of black for colour, and then high-alpha hops at the beginning of the boil: bet they're not the freshest hops in the world.

mentaldental said...

Three year old hops? Sounds more like a lambic. No wonder Boddies lost its delightful hoppiness sometimes during the early 80s.

Matt said...

Not just a beer I actually drunk but probably the first cask one too, in the pub where we occasionally spent Sixth Form free periods in the late 80's.

The future of cask Boddies is again in doubt as Hydes won't be contract-brewing it when they move from Moss Side to Salford.

Gary Gillman said...

Quite noteworthy about old hops intentionally being used in a modern commercial beer recipe. It's the first I hear of it outside, a) a couple of well-known cases in Belgium, b) cases during WW II where supplies of hops were allocated or otherwise restricted.


Ron Pattinson said...

Marquis, you can blame bloody Greenall's for that.

hawthorne00 said...

Nice typography gags. When is the "don't they know there's _not_ a war on?" question going to be addressed?

Rob S. said...

It's interesting to see how the more "modern" beers differed from the "traditional" beers. Awesome stuff guys. Cheers!

Tom said...

Boddingtons Bitter:

"one of the strongest brews available in the United Kingdom"

Source: The small beer versus the brewers
Jones, David. The Observer (1901- 2003) [London (UK)] 09 June 1974: 15.

Is he right?

Ron Pattinson said...

Tom, no.