Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1962 Barclay Perkins Sparkling Beer

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends.I'm sticking with my current Lager theme even for the Let's Brews.

As Kristen said to me, this is a weird one. What the hell was this beer? It was brewed in Barclay Perkins Lager brewery, but it wasn't one of their standard pub Lagers. And it wasn't even called a Lager, just "Sparkling Beer". The colour is odd, too. Quite dark.

Things became a little clearer when I did an internet search.

Mostly what I found were can collector sites. Sparkling Beer appears to have been a beer for export markets, often, but not always, packaged in cans. It seems to have been part of ships' stores too:

Now Pete the second cook sweats like a pig
As he bakes pies and bread and other gear.
He pauses from his work to take a swig
At lukewarm cans of "Barclays Sparkling Beer".
Poem written by an Assistant Steward on the Esso "Lucky Star" in August 1956.
Why were they bottom-fermenting it? They could have produced a top-fermenting beer and canned it. Why go to all the trouble of brewing a Lager? It looks like it was a beer intended to be kept for long periods. Perhaps they though a bottom-fermented beer would be more stable.

It looks like this beer replaced London Lager in export markets, while Harp replaced it back home. What's interesting is that it was clearly branded as Barclays, even though by this time most of their labels said Courage Barclay on them. It sounds like the Barclays name still meant something abroad.

It reminds me of Long Life, an Ind Coope beer. I can remember them advertising it when I was a kid. I now know what it was - a mixture of normal Harp, export Harp and caramel. Mmm, sounds lovely. Presumably then pasteurised to death so it would last forever.

What else do I know about Barclay's Sparkling Beer? That it was trademarked in 1968 and the trademark expired in 2003. That's probably why I've not seen it in the shops recently.

It's time to let Kristen take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, or at least Park Street . . . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Notes: When you look at this beer, just the grist, you’d think it was some sort of bitter little beer. Then you see all the caramel. Now the beer doesn’t really fit anywhere. Now throw in all those sexy hops, what the hell was this thing? Well, some sort of English lager.

The malts and hops are straightforward. Pick your favorite. The yeast, any simple lager yeast will do very well. Just make sure its not Czech. Dry 34/70 would be my very favorite choice.

The mash its pretty complex. Its your typically English infusion but there are many more rests, this looks like a proper lager see below. The fermentation was done at 49F for about a week, dropped to 36F for a day and then lagered at 47F for a few weeks. Don’t spend a lot of time lagering this one as its really not going to help too much.

Advanced mash:

Rest 1
Rest 2
Rest 3
Mash Out


The Beer Nut said...

Presumably Cooper's Sparkling Ale is a surviving cousin.

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, pretty sure they're unconnected.

Tandleman said...

"It reminds me of Long Life, an Ind Coope beer. I can remember them advertising it when I was a kid. I now know what it was - a mixture of normal Harp, export Harp and caramel."

I didn't know that. So "specially brewed for the can" would been more right is "specially mixed for the can?"

cswest said...

I'm thinking about making this one.

1. What's English Lager Malt and can I just use a Germain Pilsner Malt?

2. Carbonation, should I shoot for the low side like an English mild or a bit higher?


Ron Pattinson said...


yes. I felt cheated, too.

Ron Pattinson said...

cswest, Germain Pilsner Malt should be fine. The carbonation should be like a lager, not a British Ale.

cswest said...

I finally got to taste my version of this beer last night. It didn't turn out as dark as I thought it would but I also did a soft boil for only 90 minutes. Next time I might crank up the heat and actually go the full two hours. The hops are very perfumey, It's good but I'm hoping they will back off a little with time. I might consider prematurely aging the hops a bit if I make this again. When the beer warms up the pale and crystal flavors really open up. Overall it's a great sessionable lager with a fair amount of unique flavors.

Thanks for the recipe!

Ron Pattinson said...

cswest, thanks for the feedback. I often wonder who - if anyone - brews the less-fashionable beers like this one.

Perversely, stuff like this is what I'd most like to try myself. Glad it worked out well.