Thursday 14 November 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1923 Courage Stout

Yeah, I know. These posts almost never appear on a Wednesday. I think they're worth the wait.

I don't know why, but I've never paid the Courage brewing records as much attention as those from Barclay Perkins, Whitbread or Truman. Maybe it's because the cover a shorter period than the others. They start in 1914 and end in 1937. I wonder what happened to the ones between 1937 and the 1980's, when the brewery closed.

The original of this beer was brewed at Courage's Anchor Brewhouse, just opposite the Tower of London and right next to Tower Bridge. It's easy to get it confused with the Anchor Brewery of Barclay Perkins, which is just a little further upstream. Especially as Courage took over Barclay Perkins in the 1950's. They also took over Russian Stout, which was brewed at the Anchor Brewhouse between 1969 and 1982.

Funnily enough, Courage had their own Imperial Stout before WW I. It disappeared sometime after 1915. You know what? Let's have a look at Courage's Stout and Porter up to the 1920's. And before you say: "I thought there were only brewing records from 1914 to 1937", I'll point out that the details from the 19th century don't come from proper brewing records, but from a brewer's notebook. It's just a diary with a few details of a brew scribbled down.

What's significant is that they brewed far fewer different Stouts than the other London Porter brewers. In 1909, Truman brewed this lot: Bottling, Country Runner, Export Stout, Imperial Stout, Keeping Imperial Stout, Keeping Stout, Runner, Runner L & C, Single Stout. In 1910 Barclay Perkins brewed almost as many: Porter, BS, BS Ex, EIP Ex, OMS, RDP. It makes Courage's set look a little thin.

Anyway, here they are:

Courage Porter and Stout 1858 - 1922
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1st Jan 1858 Double Stout 1080.61 11.00 5.18
2nd Jan 1858 Porter 1054.85 9.00 2.06
13th Jan 1858 K Porter 1056.79 14.00 3.77
15th Jan 1858 K Double Stout 1083.10 15.00 6.67
10th Apr 1867 DB Stout 1074.79 8.98 3.62
10th Apr 1867 Stout 1067.03 8.98 3.24
11th Apr 1867 Porter 1054.29 7.96 1.90
21st Oct 1914 Imperial 1094.18 1038.78 7.33 58.82% 7.20 2.78
21st Oct 1914 Double Stout 1078.95 1033.24 6.05 57.89% 7.20 2.33
21st Oct 1914 Porter 1051.25 1018.28 4.36 64.32% 7.20 1.51
14th Nov 1922 Stout 1043.77 1011.63 4.25 73.42% 7.11 1.54
14th Nov 1922 Porter 1032.69 1008.86 3.15 72.88% 7.11 1.15
Courage brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/08/274, ACC/2305/08/275, ACC/2305/08/247 and ACC/2305/08/253.

I'd not noticed before how weak this Stout was. It's more like the strength of a post-WW II Stout than an interwar one. To put it into context, Barclay Perkins BS, their draught Stout had an OG of 1055 in 1922. In the same year Whitbread's LS had an OG of 1053.5. Making Courage's Stout a good bit weaker than some of its main competitors. And considerably weaker than their Porter had been just 8 years earlier.

This beer's grist is a classic London combination of pale, brown and black malts. A combination used from the invention of black malt in 1817 until, well, they stopped brewing Porter and Stout in London.

That's me done. Over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Notes: I feel right now that a lot of you are just sitting there and planning to make a beer. I feel that a lot of you are really trying to make excuses about having enough beer for the holidays. I feel like all you want for Christmahanakwanzaa is a swift kick in the ass as motivation to get some beer brewed. We’ll here you go. If you have the equipment, you can find the little bit of money it costs to make this ‘little’ beer and you sure as hell better damn well spare the few hours it takes to make this tasty bastard for any sort of parties you have coming up. I’m also starting a few little adjuncts to this little ‘version’ write up. One is the sundries that will give a few ideas or overall hints/thoughts/whathavethee. The other is the ‘casking’ section. I’m sick of the punters complaining that it’s so hard to make cask beer. I figure if bars don’t know now how to serve it, Ill at least show you guys how to condition it properly, so if you do do it right, and you make a proper conditioned pint, you can send all the orange-juice-looking-flat-ass-tasting-mouth-of-hop-containing-POS back…expeditiously.

Malt: Same as last week. Choose your favorite three. Or, for brevities sake, choose one…ya lazy bastard. I’d pick Maris if you are so inclined…Oh…no I wouldn’t. I would choose a nice Irish stout malt. Yes, it’s not in the recipe. However, this will give you a chance to mess about with it. Same US pale or 6row. I’d go with the 6 for the husk. Black malt, choose something with good character and standing in the community. Make sure it’s not dehusked. Make sure it’s not 6-row based. Brown malt is an absolute must for this beer. Even at 6% you’ll see a huge difference in the complexity of the beer and mouthfeel. The only reason you should even think about using the Carabrown types is if you are making extract beer…this holds for even free malt. Any sort of ‘white’ sugar will work fine. Can be Turbinado, pure white, partly refined, light brown or whatever. If it’s from Mauritius, that would be the best…as far as the recipe is concerned anyway. Black Invert. Haven’t used that one on #LBW before. Basically it’s a very dark invert, about 2.5x as dark as invert #3. That’s right class, you got it, just use your dilution and plan for 2.5x as much black strap as you normally would for Invert #3. It’s here I should also note, that the color is massively off the scale. They not only use Black Invert in the recipe but they used brewers caramel AND a bloody darker coloring agent. Seriously. This bastard sits around 45 SRM/ 90 EBC even without the mucking about with caramels. My advice, if you don’t have any, leave it out, if you do, add it in.

Hops:  This would have been all Kentish hops. Very fresh. But we did that last week. How about some nice Fuggle, or Bullion. If you want to dry hop, Fuggle it. Dry hop warm (66F or so) at the end of primary ferment and yeast clearing for 3-5 days max. If you are ‘casking’ the beer, no dry hop.
Yeast: Courage yeast. Minerally, drops like a rock. Pretty little beastie.

Sundries: This is for holidays so there are many ways you can completely cockup the deliciousness of this beer by adding stupid things to it. Here are a few that aren’t stupid. Black licorice, star anise, rum (add to taste), vanilla or that left over fruit cake from last year. Just dump it in the boil. I’m sure it will turn out fine. If I did have to choose a way to mess with this beer in a good way, it would be by dumping in a craptonne of lactose during the last 10min of the boil. I’d start with about 20g/L …my personal tastes are much higher though… If you put effing candy canes in this, baby reindeer die…seriously….they up and die.

Cask: Since this is the very first time we are talking about cask, I’ll let you google all about cask beer so you get the skinny. Here is a procedure that is very straightforward that produces a very nice pint as follows:

1) let the beer ferment until finished and then give it another day or so. For me right around 5-7 days.

2) Rack the beer to your vessel of choice (firkin, polypin, cornie, whatever).

3) Add primings at ~3.5g/L

4) Add prepared isinglass at 1ml/L

5) ONLY add dry hops at 0.25g/l – 1g/L.

6) Bung it up and roll it around to mix. Condition at 55F or so for 4-5 days and its ready to go. Spile/vent. Tap. Settle. Serve at 55F.

There are many ways to make cask beer but this is a really easy way to get started. The most important thing, is just to do it. Just serve it. Push, pull, whatever. Teaching and drinking cask beer is about the experience. Save the exact proper serving twattery for later. Add any questions in the comments. Do this.


Stott Noble said...

Is the Courage yeast strain available commercially? Google has failed me in finding it.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the hopping rates, they seem to be all over the place.The 1858 K Double Stout stands out here.
Would the higher hopped ones be using fresh hops?

Kristen England said...

Scott, Wyeast 1469.

Marquis, Define fresh? Do you mean younger hops? Depends on the year. These two Courage we've done in the last two weeks pretty much used only the previous years 'vintages'. That being said, most breweries used a combination of hops from various years.

Martyn Cornell said...

I'm guessing Courage brewed fewer stouts because they were originally an ale brewer, so came to porter/stout brewing late, while BP and Whitbread had always brewed porters and stouts and were used to making a good variety of them.

Gary Gillman said...

Martyn's comment leads me to wonder why Courage's Imperial Russian Stout was selected for the latter-day brand of that name. Is it simply that Courage was the corporate successor to the merger with Barclay Perkins? Given Courage's origins in ale-brewing and the antiquity of BP's and Thrale's gold-plated origins in porter-brewing, why wouldn't Barclay Perkin's Russian Stout - the one of the fabulous art-deco 20's and 30's ads - be selected as the one to continue into the 1990's and indeed, via a successor in title, to this day? Could it be the brewers thought the Courage brand was better?


Ryan said...

For the priming rate, is that grams of sucrose or dextrose?

Ron Pattinson said...


Courage Russian Stout was just renamed Barclay's Russian Stout. The Courage Imperial Stout had disappeared long before, I'm sure.

Courage, as the overtaking party, just rebranded all the beers as Courage. They duid the same with Hole's AK, turning it into Courage AK. The bastards.

Talking of Newark breweries, just found some great stuff from the 1890's about the brewing in Newark.

So much information, so few hours in the day.

Gary Gillman said...

Ah, so it's the other way around then. Thanks Ron.


Edward said...

The yeast strain, where are you getting the information on the origin? I'd love to read more about this stuff. I've seen your list on MrMalty. Any chance of an update?

...and invert. How different is belgian candi sugar? Is that a decent sub? What about the clear invert, is that suitable for diluting with blackstrap?

...and did I mention how happy I am that Let's Brew is back?

Kristen England said...


I exclusively use sucrose. The diff between dextrose and sucrose is about 10% more of dex. I've found no difference using either though.


I need to update the yeast thing ASAP for sure. Dark Invert, very different from Belgian syrup. Its much more expensive and frankly its not hard making Invert doing dilution method. As for the clear stuff, sure, but you are wasting a ton of money. Its so easy to make regular stuff. You can always use Lyle's Golden syrup (or any golden syrup.

Recently I've been playing around with using high fructose corn syrup in the place of invert as its easier to get in bulk. I've seen no real difference but its a beast to find it without stupid vanilla...

Lady Luck Brewing said...

My wort turned out to be about 45 SRM prior to adding caramel colorant. I have some of the Blue Mountain Burnt sugar you recommended in earlier posts.
Any idea the srm of this colorant?
Does it have any fermentables in the colorant?
How much colorant do I need to add to take the 45 srm wort to 171?

Lady Luck Brewing said...

Any chance you can post your log with each recipe that Kristen posts?
I'd be interested in seeing the differences. For instance, I noticed different sugar percentages for the same beer.

Ron Pattinson said...

Lady Luck,

Kristen's recipe doesn't include the primings.

Lady Luck Brewing said...

Ok, makes sense.

How can I tell the sugars in your chart are for priming and not for the copper? They show up in the grist percentage as "Intense 1.07%" and "BP 4.06%".

Ron Pattinson said...

Lady Luck,

many breweries didn't bother listing the primings. It's only really Fullers and barclay Perkins that did.

I haven't differentiated the copper and priming sugard in my recipes, which I guess I should have.

Lady Luck Brewing said...

As for the caramel, I didn't hear from Kristen.
We'll see if the boss of my estimates,
I went with 175 grams of Blue Mountain Burnt Sugar as the caramel addition. I added this to a little boiled water and added it to the fermenter once it cooled.

I estimated the SRM of the sugar was 900 and the potential was 1.020.

Let me know if Ron or Kristen wants a picture of the finished product.


Lady Luck Brewing said...

Based on my estimates and calculations I need to add 2896grams of Blue Mountain Black Sugar to get the proper SRM. That's close to 6.5 lbs of that caramel.
Does that sound right or am I a mathtard?

blom said...

Great recipe, held back on carbonation and it is really smooth.

Skypilot said...

Brewed this up last month and am drinking the hell outta this beer.
A great beer, Kristen's description is spot on!

Unknown said...

I'm curious why English Pale malt is listed 3 times (2.93 lb 36%; 1,16 lb 14.4%; 1.16 lb 14.4%) in the recipe. Did they use 3 different malts, or is there something else I should know about Courage's recipes. Most of the recipes in your book are pretty easy to understand, but this has me stumped!


Ron Pattinson said...


this isn't my recipe. It's Kristen England's. And there were three different English pale malts in the original. Which is pretty standard. They'd use multiple pale malts to even out the differences. When they replaced one, the impact on flavour would be less than if they'd replaced 100% of the base malt.

Unknown said...

Thanks, that answers my question, and makes sense, since many of the malts may have come out different each year or so. Since I'm not that technical, don't enter my brews in contests, drink for my own pleasure, etc., I'll just use Maris Otter and combine the weights to one. I like your book, BTW, still muddling thru some recipes, but it's easy to get to on the book shelf - as well, I like to check the blog every so often to see what's new (and sometimes confusing to me ;>)!
Sorry about the 'unknown' but I thought it would insert my gmail name.

JD said...


Have brewed this twice. It's my favorite session-strength stout. I told a friend the other day that it is everything you ever imagined you might get from a Guinness, but that wasn't really there. So much more interesting and layered, yet utterly quaffable. Have even used Courage yeast to make it, thanks to a pro brewer friend.


Jason in Utica, NY