I suppose I should get things rolling with an explanation of exactly what Table Beer was. First though, I'll explain what it wasn't. It wasn't a specific style. As the example from Barclay Perkins wonderfully illustrates.
What Table Beer was, at least initially was a tax class. In the 18th century there were three tax classes. Which class a beer fell into was decide by its wholesale price per barrel. Here's the information in a handy table:
|Excise duty on beer|
|1782||8s||3s||1s 4d||Beer above 11s a barrel strong, below 6s small beer, inbetween table beer|
|1802||10s||2s||Beer above 16s a barrel strong, below 16s table beer|
|The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830 Peter Mathias, p.369|
The classification Small Beer was abolished in 1802. The whole system disappeared in 1830, when the Beer Act moved all the tax onto malt and hops and beer itself was untaxed.
Its disappearance as a tax category didn't lead to the immediate disappearance of Table Beer. It continued to be brewers, no doubt because there was a demand for a cheap, low-alcohol beer. In the early 19th century, beer was a much safer drink than water, which could often be infected with all sorts of nastiness, including cholera bacteria. Table Beer probably was, as the name suggests, drunk to accompany meals.
Improvements in water supply are probably one of the reasons Table Beer faded away, That and the rise of tea-drinking, couple with the rise of modern, bottled low-alcohol beers such as Dinner Ale.
There's one very important point which is invisible in the table below. After 1860 the character of Barclay Perkins' Table Beer changed completely. Before that date it was a low-gravity Porter, after a low-gravity Pale Mild Ale. That could be a good indicator of when Porter fell from ascendancy in London, replaced by the new favourite Mild Ale.
Wondering why some examples appear to contain no hops? That's because none are recorded on the log. I assume that spent hops from another brew were used.
Barclay Perkins' Table Beer had about 55-60% of the gravity of TT, their full-strength Porter. As this table shows:
|Barclay Perkins Table and Standard Porter|
|year||TT||T||T's % of TT's gravity|
|Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives document numbers ACC/2305/1/525, ACC/2305/1/526, ACC/2305/1/547, ACC/2305/1/550, ACC/2305/1/541, ACC/2305/1/553|
Here's the same comparing the Mild-like Table Beer with X Ale:
|Barclay Perkins Table and X Ale|
|year||X Ale||T||T's % of X's gravity|
|Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives document numbers ACC/2305/1/541, ACC/2305/1/553, ACC/2305/1/546, ACC/2305/1/572, ACC/2305/1/579/1, ACC/2305/1/573|
You can see that there was a much smaller difference in gravity between these two. Another point worth making is that while the Porter Table Beer was always single-gyle, the Mild-like version was often parti-gyled with X Ale. The later versions were pretty heavily hopped, in contrast to the Porter-like one.
Note also the very high fermentation temperature of the 1863 and 1866 versions. I've no idea why those particular beers were fermented so hot.
In the next instalment, we'll be looking at the grists.
|Barclay Perkins Table Beer 1804 - 1869|
|Date||Year||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||lbs hops/ qtr||hops lb/brl||boil time (hours)||boil time (hours)||boil time (hours)||Pitch temp||max. fermen-tation temp||length of fermen-tation (days)|
|20th Apr||1836||1033.0||1008.0||3.30||75.73%||0.00||0.00||63º||72.5º||3 + ?|
|16th May||1845||1036.0||1009.0||3.57||75.01%||0.00||0.00||64º||76.5º||3 + ?|
|21st May||1849||1035.5||1010.0||3.37||71.80%||0.00||0.00||66.5º||75º||3 + ?|
|15th Apr||1850||1038.7||1009.0||3.93||76.76%||0.00||0.00||65º||73º||3 + ?|
|13th Jul||1857||1037.1||1009.0||3.72||75.75%||0.00||0.00||67º||78.25º||3 + ?|
|9th Jul||1858||1036.6||1009.0||3.65||75.39%||0.00||0.00||66º||77º||3 + ?|
|2nd Jul||1863||1049.3||1000.5||6.46||98.99%||0.00||0.00||72º||90º||5 + ?|
|12th Apr||1864||1036.3||1007.0||3.87||80.71%||0.00||0.00||66º||76º||3 + ?|
|10th May||1866||1044.0||1006.5||4.97||85.24%||0.00||0.00||71º||85º||3 + ?|
|12th Apr||1866||1036.3||1007.0||3.87||80.71%||0.00||0.00||66º||76º||3 + ?|
|30th Apr||1867||1041.0||1026.9||1.87||34.46%||0.00||1.5||1.5||3||º||º||4 + 2|
|3rd May||1867||1058.4||1016.6||5.53||71.56%||15.50||3.97||1.25||1.5||2.5||65º||74.5º||3 + 2|
|30th Aug||1869||1056.8||1016.1||5.39||71.71%||20.00||5.00||1.5||1.75||3||61º||75º||3 + 2|
|23nd Sep||1869||1056.2||1015.0||5.46||73.40%||20.00||4.98||1.5||1.75||3||61º||75.5º||3 + 3|
|16th Dec||1869||1056.8||1016.1||5.39||71.71%||15.80||3.99||1.25||1.5||3||61º||74.5º||3 + ?|
|Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives document numbers ACC/2305/1/525, ACC/2305/1/526, ACC/2305/1/547, ACC/2305/1/550, ACC/2305/1/541, ACC/2305/1/553, ACC/2305/1/546, ACC/2305/1/572, ACC/2305/1/579/1, ACC/2305/1/573|