Thursday, 21 November 2013

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1923 Courage X

A day late, but I'm sure you don't mind. Because we've got an example of the world's most exciting style: Mild.

And not just any Mild, but a properly watery one. I'm surprised it's called X, to be honest. Milds of this strength - a hangover from WW I - were usually called LA, Ale or Ale 4d. Because that's how much a pint of them cost: 4d. For a while in the 1930's, Barclay Perkins had three strengths of Mild:

Barclay Perkins Milds in 1939
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
19th Jun 1939 A 1030.8 1007.5 3.08 75.65% 7.00 0.84
19th Jun 1939 X 1034.8 1010.0 3.28 71.26% 7.00 0.95
19th Jun 1939 XX 1042.7 1015.0 3.66 64.87% 7.00 1.14
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/623.

They cost 4d, 5d and 6d.

In the early 1920's X Ale was usually 1040-1045º and cost 6d a pint. A few years later, in 1926, Courage had another Mild, which was parti-gyled with X. With the enigmatic brewhouse name MC, it had a gravity of 1042º.

This is a fairly typical Mild Ale recipe from between the wars: pale malt, crystal malt, No. 3 invert sugar and flaked maize. Though Whitbread, for example, didn't use maize. X was brewed in huge quantities. Some batches in 1923 were as large as 1200 barrels.

Of course, back then, Mild was the favourite beer in the public bar. It's odd for me, thinking of a time when Mild was the most popular beer in London. By the time I first drank there in the mid-1970's, it was a rarity, especially in cask form. First Young's and then Fuller's discontinued cask Mild. For a while in the 1980's, I believe Truman were the only London brewery to regularly brew cask Mild. And a very nice drop it was. I remember drinking it in the Wig and Pen on Fleet Street.. Happy days. Well, not really. I hated living in London. Odd that I now love the place. I guess because I don't have to live there.

On that happy note, it's over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:
Notes: I got a ton of great feedback last week but most of it was admonishing me raw for the cavernous gap between them. We are back on track so everyone can just settle down a bit. I was also asked to do another quick fast recipe they could have done in time for the family visits and such and such. We’ll, here we go.

Malt: Same as last week. Choose your favorite three. If you haven’t used Optic for a beer in a while/ever give this one a go as the single source. For those of you that are always trying to tweak things without ever making the recipe, you can swap out all the pale malt for mild malt. Just make sure its not the crappy kind…get yourself a really nice English one like Paul’s or Fawcett. You’ll notice the darker crystal malt than the usual. I originally chose 75L as my ‘standard’ go to crystal malt for these recipes after consulting numerous sources including old timers in the industry. Turns out, the crystal was usually pretty dark although some did use 75L. I find that in the recipes I’ve done, they come out much better with the darker stuff. We’ll switch back and forth as needed or indicated but for now, here we are. Choose your favorite crystal of around 120L. British crystal. Not Special B. Not US C120. Anywhere between 105 and 150 even will be fine. The beer will change quite a lot over that range so if you want more of the deep fruit and dark sugars go higher, less, lower. Make your own No3 invert. Use caramel if you can get it, if not, you still have a pretty dark beer which is what we really want out of this sucker.

How to invert:

Hops: I chose Goldings. You can do whatever really. Just keep the BU. This beer is all about the malt so chose something you need to use up. No dry hop.

Yeast: Courage yeast. Minerally, drops like a rock. Pretty little beastie. This one should have no problem of drying out.

Sundries: Remember gang, this is the place where I give you random advice and thoughts on tweaking the recipe. This is the holiday season where common sense and moderation go out the window. Inasmuch, keep spices out of this beer. Its dry enough without you dumping a bunch of old cinnamon into it. If you want to mess around and make it more Holiday-y, here are some stupid/amazeballs ideas that you can blame on me. All amounts are grams/L of beer. Add all to secondary, feel free to wiz up any of the dried fruits:

Brandied Christmas cake  - Sultanas (40g/L), raisins (30g/L), Glace cherries (20g/L) orange peel (2g/L), lemon peel (2g/L), Black treacle (15g/L), Brandy (20-40ml/L)

Christmas Pud – Prunes (20-60g/L), Currants (15-30g/L), Sultanas (10-20g/L), Dark rum (40ml/L), Walnuts, crush, pan toasted (8g/L)
Figgy pudding – Molasses (15-25g/L), figs (60g/L)

Borracho Navidad en Sevilla – Amaretto (20-40ml/L), Clementine zest (4g/L) steep in Amaretto.

Nan’s trifle – Cream sherry (40-60ml/L), cognac (10-20ml/L), lactose (20g/L), Black currant syrup (20-75ml/L)

Nigellas Nickers – Dark & Milk Chocolate (mix: 6-12 g/L total), Brazil nuts, crushed, pan toasted (6g/L)

Kristen’s Krackers – Lactose (30g/L), Rye whiskey (20ml/L), 10ml/L each = Cherry Heering, Luxardo, Cointreau; Orange bitters (1-3ml/L)

Cask: Standard procedure: 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.


Ryan said...

Holy crap, if those weren't coming from you I'd call shenanigans. I'll probably do something closer to 1.040 and split the batch between krackers and cake.

Phil said...

I wonder if this would be the fourpenny ale which was sold in the downmarket "four-ale bar", and by implication not in the saloon? The OED suggests that "four ale" was beer sold at 4d a quart, but it also has a "four-ale bar" quote from 1930, by which time presumably you wouldn't get anything that cheaply.

Ron Pattinson said...


the phrase "four-ale bar" seems to have to used well after the price of Mild had increased from 4d. per quart.

Most breweries made pretty small amounts of 4d Ale. In 1924, Whitbread brewed 21,844 barrels of LA, their 4d Ale and 101,201 of X Ale. By 1936 they were brewing fewer than 3,000 barrels of LA and around 200,000 barrels of X Ale.

Kristen England said...

Re all the booze editions. You can add them right at bottling/kegging to your own tastes. I've given a range for a few. If you haven't done something like this before, start with a little. You don't want to do the, '...more...more...more...ok, too much.'

Re Nigellas...1) it should be knickers, 2) chuck the chocolate in the last 10min of the boil


Exactly. Have some fun, but have a standard one just for drinking in case of the cockery turns into something you don't like.

Edward said...

This recipe is so close to last week's. If it wasn't for the maize in the X and the brown malt in the Stout, I'd be tempted to brew them both together and steep the crystal and black malt separately. Would I complete change the character of these beers if I dropped them or put them both in?

...and although I'm generally opposed to this sort of thing, toasted coconut goes really nice in dark milds.

Kristen England said...


You do realize that you just said that if you took out everything that made it a stout, it wouldn't be a stout anymore?? You can always steep the roast malt separate and add the sugars directly to the fermenter.

As for coconut, it belongs in lotion, which then gets applied to strippers.

Edward said...

...but isn't roasted barley what makes a stout a stout? Joking aside, what I'm asking is:

Could I make the X without the maize and the stout without the brown?


Could I make the X with brown and the stout with the flaked maize?

I would mash the "must-mash" grains from both recipes together and boil separately, adding the sugars and steepable crystal and black malt.

Would this result in anything like the 2 beers or would it be defiling the recipes worse than putting coconut in beer?

Kristen England said...


There are plenty of stouts that only have black malt but no miles I can think of that originally had brown malt. You can use the maize if you want. It's such a low percent it's not a huge player.

Ron Pattinson said...

Though it's by no means typical, I've seen Milds that included brown malt.