Sunday, 3 February 2013

Kirkstall Brewery grists in 1885

I may as well extend the randomness a little and tell you details of the grists of the beers from the Kirkstall Brewery. I'm not sure why I hadn't decided to do this straight away, as there are a few points worthy of note.

Do you remember the way I bang on about innovation? Or at least the relative lack of genuine innovation in modern brewing. (I can only think of a couple of real innovations in the last 30 years: ageing beer in spirit barrels, continuous hopping and using peated malt in "Scottish-style" beers.) Pretty much everything else has already been done before. Not only that, there are plenty of practices which have been forgotten. Providing a good opportunity for someone crafty to do a bit of "innovating".

Yorkshire Gazette - Saturday 30 June 1888, page 3

This might be a good one to try. It's to do with the use of black malt. When I mentioned on a forum the Barclay Perkins used to boil some of the black malt with the hops, a few home brewing "experts" told me at great length how this was a terrible thing to do and the brewers must have been idiots. Yeah, right, they got to be the largest brewery in the world by being dumb. I could see the point. I t was obviously a way to extract more colour from the black malt.

It made me smile when I noticed that the Kirkstall Brewery did the same for their Stout.  But they didn't just leave it there. They also added black malt to the hop back. I assume this has also got something to do with the extraction of colour, though I'm not sure I understand the mechanics of it.

For the 7th September X and the 8th September L, all the black malt went in the hop back. The Stout had some in the copper as well. And some in the mash, the conventional way. Come to think of it, I've just thought of one reason for leaving the black malt out of the mash: the value of the spent grains. They fetched a higher price without the presence of black malt.

While we're discussing the Milds, I'd like to talk more about colour. Remember me speculating just a day or two ago that certain beer styles might have started turning darker in London earlier than in the provinces? Well blow me if this doesn't show that I was talking out of my arse. A good demonstration of the dangers of extrapolating too much from small amounts of data.

Look at the Milds. They all contain dark grains. A couple have caramel, too. Irritatingly given in gallons, making it hard for me to work out exactly what impact it would have had on the colour of the finished beer. What is clear, is that they weren't trying to keep them as pale as possible.

Moving on to the grains themselves, they're proving me a liar in another way. I used to believe that brown malt had only appeared in Mild Ales during the chaotic and difficult wartime years of the 20th century. Yet here it is turning up in a 19th-century Mild.

There's something ironic about the Pale Ale being all malt. There's a note that says: "Malt gave rather too much colour." You may remember me mentioning in the past that sugar was used quite deliberately in Pale Ales to keep the colour as light as possible. This shows the danger of using all malt for such a beer.

The column marked saccharine. That isn't saccharine in the modern sense of an artificial sweetener, but a form of sugar. If it were saccharine the amount used would probably be enough to kill you. It might well just ne No. 2 invert noted down a different way.

One last point. The beers called PA and BA in the brewing records seem to have both been marketed as East India Pale Ale. I'll let you decide whether they were really Pale Ales or IPA's.

Kirkstall Brewery grists in 1885
Date Year Beer Style OG pale malt brown malt black malt no. 2 sugar caramel saccharine
7th Sep 1885 X Mild 1052.6 98.77% 1.23% 2 gallons
8th Sep 1885 XXX Mild 1066.2 95.65% 4.35% 1.5 gallons
8th Sep 1885 L Mild 1049.6 80.73% 3.67% 0.92% 14.68%
10th Sep 1885 PA Pale Ale 1060.9 85.71% 14.29%
10th Sep 1885 AK Pale Ale 1049.9 78.46% 21.54%
11th Sep 1885 BA Pale Ale 1055.4 100.00%
15th Sep 1885 KKK Stock Ale 1069.3 90.91% 9.09%
15th Sep 1885 L Mild 1049.3 79.52% 3.61% 16.87% 2 gallons
16th Sep 1885 IS Stout 1071.7 67.02% 9.57% 6.38% 17.02% 4 gallons
Kirkstall Brewery brewing records.

Next it's the turn of the brewery's Australian connection.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, this use of brown malt in malt is one of those indicators of mild turning colour in the late 1800's. Obviously not all of it did, but much of it, in London too and elsewhere. Different ways of achieving it were used including I believe use of dark sugars. The great question is why. One of the unsolved mysteries of brewing history.

One reason perhaps as I've mentioned before is to distinguish it from pale bitter beers in the range market which lost distinctiveness by becoming mild. Yes, attenuation and hopping rates were often different for this class of beer. But given the inevitable variations between brewers in this respect, the industry as a whole may have felt impelled to draw a new bright line between beers which 60 years before were more clearly distinguishable at the public bar.

Perhaps too, or alternatively, it gave an option to those in the market still wanting porter. There is that statement from about the same period, I know you've seen it, that porter is nothing other than coloured mild ale. With porter becoming mild in taste, it became easier to say this albeit not correct technically or historically.

Brewers may have felt that a coloured mild ale (in the literal sense) will satisfy well enough those who want mild porter and we will make at most a small amount of stout (still perhaps vinous-flavoured) or none at all, finally.

Certainly with that amount of brown malt that mild ale in 1885 must have taste a lot like porter. The uses before this time of black malt for mild ale were restricted and surely only to regularize colour, but not (I'd think) to make the beer look or taste different to the regular profile of mild in the mid-1800's. This relatively strong use of brown malt in mild in the 1800's strikes a new path (with other developments such as again putting in dark sugars or the new crystal malt).


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, beer styles don't evove because people "decide" to do something. There were far too many breweries and that just isn't the way things worked.

I think a more likely explanation is that it was useful for publicans to have a cheap dark draught beer they could throw all the slops back into.

Porter did not fucking evolve into Mild Ale. I'm going to scream the next time someone comes up with that shit. If people had wanted Porter, they'd have drunk Porter. I've seen the brewing records, they never even vaguely resembled weach other and were always very distinct brews. In London breweries, they ofter weren't even brewed in the same brew house.

I don't know how anyone has come to believe such a ludicrous idea. It's based on nothing oter than a misunderstanding of the term mild as an adjective when referring to beer and whole load of dodgy conjecture.

That beer wouldn't have tasted like a Porter. Too little coloured malts. look at the difference in percentages between the Mild and the Stout.

If they discontinued draught Porter and I'd wanted a beer something like it, I'd have mixed Stout and Mild. Which is probably what people did. I know that in London they mixed the draught beers in just about every possible combination.

Brown malt is pretty rare in Mild recipes. I've only come across a handful of examples in thousands of brewing records.

Gary Gillman said...

I don't believe that dark mild emerged to replace mild porter, i.e., initially as a conscious decision. I feel it probably occurred to better distinguish mild ales from pale bitter beers which, especially with AK and the dinner ales, were becoming harder to distinguish from mild ale hence such twisty locutions as "mild bitter beer". The dilemma is summed up right there.

Given however that dark mild became established, this did not make it easier for porter to survive. How could it? Porter/stout was dark, everything else wasn't, at one time. Now, two beers were dark and one had to become dominant (arguably). You can argue this quite easily without believing that dark mild was invented to replace porter.

At any rate it makes more sense to me than the slops argument.

I'd like to try a pale beer with 7% brown malt, especially the wood-kilned malt of the era. I believe it would well taste like a weak porter. But anyway there were other ways to impart dark colour and rich taste to mild. Sugars and crystal malt made more sense and were more economic.


Gary Gillman said...

Correction: it's about 4% average for brown malt in those mild ales, not 7%. About half what is in the stout. Still a lot potentially, as a mix of a good stout and a pale beer will show.