Thursday, 7 February 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1923 Fuller's XK

Why have we broken from the series of Eldridge Pope recipes? There's a good reason. In a way we haven't. Because this record comes not from the Fuller's brewery but from the Eldridge Pope archives.

In the old days it was common for the sons of brewing families to serve an apprenticeship in someone else's brewery. That's why I've seen some records from the Evershed Brewery in Burton. One of the Younger family worked there and his personal brewing book is in the Scottish Brewing Archive with the William Younger records.

That's what happened here. One of the Popes worked at Fullers and kept his own personal brewing book. It's bizarre, because they're in exactly the same format as the official Fullers records. I suspect that they're incorrectly identified as Eldridge Pope records in the archive where they reside.

XK was the middle of three Pale Ales Fullers brewed, coming between AK and PA. XK was a fairly common beer name in the 19th century. Analysing its name has given me a reasonable amount of confidence about my interpretation of the name AK. The K signifies that it's a Pale Ale, the X indicates the strength. That is, the same gravity as an X Ale. In the 1890's century that meant 1050-1055º. By the 1920's, it was around 1040º

When I started writing this, I thought: "Let's put together a little table of them." When I did, I was struck by something. A crazy coincidence. Here's the 1925 table:

Fuller's Pale Ales in 1925
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1925 AK Pale Ale 1032.2 1006.9 3.35 78.52% 10.46 1.20
1925 XK Pale Ale 1040.5 1010.8 3.93 73.34% 10.46 1.51
1925 PA Pale Ale 1054.3 1015.0 5.21 72.46% 10.46 2.03
Fuller's brewing records

Those gravities reminded me of something - the current range of three Fullers Pale Ales:

Fuller's Pale Ales in 2004
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation
2004 Chiswick Bitter Pale Ale 1034.5 1007.6 3.5 77.97%
2004 London Pride Pale Ale 1040.5 1009 4.1 77.78%
2004 ESB Pale Ale 1054 1011.8 5.5 78.15%
Good Beer guide 2005

The beers from 1925 are spookily similar to the modern ones. I think I'm going to start calling Chiswick AK

AK and XK were both victims of the downward pressure on gravities in WW II. They disappeared in late 1941 when the gravity of PA was dropped to 1036º.

Take it away Kristen . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Malt: Look at this baby. The vast majority of the malt came from the US. It’s no where near as loverly as the UK stuff but is pretty damn nice. Has more hush and graininess but a very solid malt. Pick something you can get your hands on that’s close. Note, this is not 6-row malt but the standard pale 2-row. There are lots of ‘pale ale’ blends out there. Give those a shot. You can always use a Maris or Golden Promise,  you’ll just have a much more rich character in your beer. The recipe called for glucose but I replaced it with cane sugar. It will do nearly exactly the same job and at under 2%, you won’t notice the difference. The invert 2, even at 2% will make a bit of difference for sure so do it up right.

Mash: Please do note the mash temp is not incorrect. The beers are separated into basically 3 classes. X/Burton types; PA types and the stout/porter types. These Pale ale types were much higher hopped with a much higher mash temp.

Hops: Again, more US ingredients! Tons of cluster hops used here, simply for a good amount of bitterness. EKG are the ones you want for the rest, as long as they are nice. Dry hop with another nice EKG-like hop. Its most important to use the highest quality hops here than exact type of hop.

Yeast: Sexy Fullers yeast or if you are feeling bit more different and If you want to have a bit of fun, the Courage yeast works wonderfully here.


Arctic Alchemy said...

Yes, strip away the name Fuller's from the title, and you have a prohibition era,American pale ale- but probably not what Papazian would call it, since it wasn't developed in the 1970's by US homebrewers, who of course, are responsible for all the beer styles we drink today. Always loved the Fuller's mash routine and blending worts, however it's simply not practical on the smaller scale.Excellent recipe !

dana said...

I like the uncanny 2004 Fullers comparison. Are they using as much corn these days?

Ron Pattinson said...

Dana, Fullers no longer use maize. Their Pale Ales are currently 100% malt.

dana said...

All the American craft beer drinkers approve.

I await the day when American craft brewers embrace corn adjuncts for their historical-ness and get all righteous toward their all-malt brethren. Could happen...

Rob said...


For certain styles, it already happens.

I dont think anyone would dare make a KY Common without using maize.

And lots of homebrewers use corn in their ESB recipes because Fullers used to.

Oblivious said...

Also classic American pilsner uses a good bit of corn

dana said...

Adjuncts, particularly corn and rice, consistently get a bad rap. Brewers herald their brews as containing all malt, as though there were no reasonable alternative, and especially to distinguish themselves from Macros. Even homebrewers making an adjuct beer do so as more of a curiosity than a legitimate option for delicious drinking. I know it's not everyone that feels this way.

Mostly my comment has to do with American (I am one) pro-craft snobbery (which I try to avoid). I think my sarcastic eye rolling got lost along the way and wasn't best for the tone of this post.

Kristen England said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward said...

I brewed this a few weeks ago using canadian pilsner malt, turbinado sugar and safale S04. I overshot the OG at 1.043 and it finished at 1.006 so its stronger and drier than the recipe. The dry hops were added to the keg a week ago and I tapped it tonight. Its VERY hoppy- the flavour and aroma is all EKG with a bong water resiny bitterness I assume is from the cluster. I like it and will brew again unless you post some new recipes. Please post some new recipes.