Thursday, 16 May 2013

Brewing materials at the start of WW II

The whole back catalogue of the Journal of the Institute of Brewing has recently been put online. Obviously one of the first topics I researched was wartime brewing. I never get bored of that.

There are two articles dedicated to brewing during the war, nicely bookending it. One is from 1940, the other from 1946. The first talks mostly of expected problems, the second discusses what actually happened. It'll be fun to compare and contrast them, especially as they share the same author, Harold Heron. For the sake of chronological coherence, I'm starting with the 1940 article.

Almost immediately following the outbreak of war, there were restrictions on the raw materials available to brewers.

"At the outbreak of war every brewer realised that he would be forced to make drastic alterations in the composition of his grist, for he was forbidden to use flaked maize, future supplies of barley from Central Europe was cut off, while available supplies of Californian malt were materially reduced and in some cases ceased entirely while there was a possibility that sugar would be rationed.

It is probable that flaked maize has been used more from the view of economy than anything else, and its effect on the composition of the wort is hardly of sufficient importance to present any difficulty in replacing it. Flaked rice in limited amount is still available, however, and can easily replace flaked maize although it is quite possible that it may be restricted in the future."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 46, Issue 4, August 1940, page 274.

I love things like this. Do you know why? Because I can check them up so easily.

Usually I'd use Whitbread, as I have their records for just about any year you can name. As luck would have it, Whitbread didn't use adjuncts, just malt and sugar. Which means I'll have to make do with Barclay Perkins. As you can see in the table below, they did indeed replace flaked maize with flaked rice:

Barclay Perkins Ales 1939 - 1940
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl pale malt amber malt crystal malt MA malt SA malt PA malt no. 3 sugar caramel other sugar flaked maize flaked rice
19th Jun 1939 A Mild 1030.8 1007.5 3.08 75.65% 7.00 0.84 18.52% 3.37% 5.05% 31.15% 15.99% 8.98% 0.66% 1.12% 15.15%
19th Jun 1939 X Mild 1034.8 1010.0 3.28 71.26% 7.00 0.95 18.52% 3.37% 5.05% 31.15% 15.99% 8.98% 0.66% 1.12% 15.15%
19th Jun 1939 XX Mild 1042.7 1015.0 3.66 64.87% 7.00 1.14 18.52% 3.37% 5.05% 31.15% 15.99% 8.98% 0.66% 1.12% 15.15%
20th Jun 1939 PA Pale Ale 1052.5 1014.5 5.03 72.38% 7.50 1.54 21.20% 50.02% 17.52% 0.24% 11.02%
20th Jun 1939 XLK (trade) Pale Ale 1045.7 1017.0 3.80 62.80% 7.50 1.37 21.20% 50.02% 17.52% 0.24% 11.02%
20th Jun 1939 XLK (bottling) Pale Ale 1035.8 1011.5 3.21 67.88% 7.50 1.15 21.20% 50.02% 17.52% 0.24% 11.02%
29th Jun 1939 IPA (bottling) IPA 1043.8 1012.5 4.14 71.48% 7.50 1.32 21.48% 49.74% 17.33% 0.14% 11.30%
2nd Aug 1940 A Mild 1028.8 1007.0 2.88 75.65% 6.50 0.74 7.44% 3.72% 5.21% 36.46% 18.60% 0.78% 14.39% 13.39%
3rd Jun 1940 X Mild 1031.8 1006.5 3.35 79.59% 7.00 0.91 8.01% 4.01% 5.34% 34.73% 17.36% 0.72% 17.81% 12.02%
3rd Jun 1940 XX Mild 1038.6 1011.5 3.59 70.24% 7.00 1.10 8.01% 4.01% 5.34% 34.73% 17.36% 0.72% 17.81% 12.02%
11th Jun 1940 PA Pale Ale 1048.8 1014.0 4.60 71.29% 7.50 1.50 12.26% 68.29% 0.19% 10.51% 8.76%
11th Jun 1940 XLK (trade) Pale Ale 1042.8 1012.0 4.07 71.96% 7.50 1.27 12.26% 68.29% 0.19% 10.51% 8.76%
11th Jun 1940 XLK (bottling) Pale Ale 1036.7 1008.5 3.73 76.86% 7.50 1.09 12.26% 68.29% 0.19% 10.51% 8.76%
26th Sep 1940 IPA (bottling) IPA 1038.7 1011.5 3.60 70.31% 7.00 1.10 7.56% 69.25% 0.10% 14.27% 8.81%
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives document number ACC/2305/01/623

Sure enough, Barclay Perkins changed from flaked maize to flaked rice at the start of the war.  Funnily enough, when Barclay Perkins first experimented with adjuncts in the 1880's, it was rice that they'd chosen. They only moved over to flaked maize at the end of the 1890's.

Rice aside, the recipes are pretty much the same otherwise. I wouldn't read too much into the apparent disappearance of No. 3 invert sugar. I'm pretty sure that the 1940 beers did contain it. They just hadn't bothered noting down No. 3 in the logs, not going into any more detail than "sugar". Whereas on the earlier logs they had.

"The lack of Californian and Central European malts are, however, likely to prove a rather more difficult problem. The view that Californian malt is of value simply because it gives good drainage in the mash tun no longer obtains. It possesses other qualities besides this. Practical experience has shown that the use of Californian malt improves the brilliancy of beers and assists in obtaining polish in bottled beers. It is evident that it must be effective, therefore, in adjusting the balance of the nitrogen constituents in the wort and effecting a stable equilibrium. When Californian barley is malted only about 28 per cent, of the original nitrogen is rendered permanently soluble as compared with 36 to 38 per cent. in English barley, and although no comparison has yet been made between the several types of break down products in English and Californian malts, it is reasonable to surmise that Californian malts contain a smaller proportion of those of a troublesome or unstable type.

The Central European barleys malted in this country have been of a very high grade and have been characterised by a high degree of maturity and ripeness combined with a higher nitrogen content than our English barley. They have produced high quality malts which possessed not only good yeast feeding properties but stable types of nitrogen constituents. These malts have usually been employed during the summer months to improve the stability of the beers."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 46, Issue 4, August 1940, page 274.

In the early 20th century British brewers had an obsession with using a proportion of Californian malt in their beers. They were sure that they couldn't get the clarity they wanted in the finished beer without it. It was all to do with the permanently soluble nitrogen content, or so they claimed. I'm not enough of a scientist to be able to judge.

Brewers liked Central European not just because of its nitrogen content. It was also very good quality and attractively priced.


Tom said...

What was the effect of flaked maize and rice in the beer?

Ron Pattinson said...


providing fermentable material.

Edd Draper said...

They can change the flavour too. We use from 3 to 6% flaked maize in certain English ales and it adds a noticeable lagery flavour. That sounds bad, but it's actually subtle and delicious, and of course quite commonly used by certain breweries. We've even made some historical American colonial era ales where it (along with molasses) was the primary ingredient. Those beers taste dramatically different than what we think beer should be today. A long lingering corny sweetness that hops have a hard time ironing out.

Martyn Cornell said...

Edd - what did you hop your American colonial ales with? History suggests the hops used in colonial times would have been very influenced by interbreeding with wild American hops, which would have made them both bitterer and stronger-tasting.

Edd Draper said...

Martyn, I hadn't heard what you say about colonial hops before. I thought I remember Ron saying that he thought most hops in Europe were less bitter long ago than the improved varieties we have now, which makes it hard to gauge or reproduce 18th century beers accurately. At Old Wharf we're obviously limited to commercially available hop varieties (plus what we can grow round the back!). We usually use the famous Cluster in our historic American ales, along with perhaps Goldings. Certainly the modern citrusy varieties would be very inappropriate. One of my favourite hops though is Bramling Cross. It's not particularly bitter ,but its unusual berry/currant flavour was obtained from cross-breeding Goldings with a wild Manitoban variety back in the 1920's.

Ron Pattinson said...

Edd, tomorrow's post has some stuff about the interbreeding of British and North American hops.