Sunday, 3 November 2013

Whitbread Mild Ale 1965 - 1973

It's a sad day, as another series of posts reaches its conclusion. 1973 is the end of the road for Whitbread's Mild. At least for the version brewed at Chiswell Street. I think it's still produced somewhere in the UK.

It probably did live on a couple of years longer, until 1976 when the brewery closed. But the final brewing book is missing. Bit annoying that. It may just be that they've got it catalogued incorrectly. (Well, I know it's miscatalogued, because all their brewing books are. If you order using the LMA's catalogue you'll get a brewing book for a different year than you wanted. That's why I use my own catalogue, which is correct.) So it may be in the archive somewhere.

I'm quite glad that I divided the years for this series. Because, while the last set showed a total stability in the recipe, this time it's all over the shop. But we'll be getting to that later.

The decline of Mild is clear to see in the brewing records. There are fewer batches of Mild and those batches are smaller, mostly 200 to 400 barrels. Which, admittedly, is still quite a lot of beer. I would guess that the vast majority was sold in keg form. I remember that, while in the North and Midlands cask Mild was pretty common, it had virtually disappeared in London by the mid 1970's. Only a few Young's or Fuller's pubs still kept it.


Whitbread Mild Ale 1965 - 1973
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp length of fermentation (days) colour
26th Mar 1965 Best Ale 1030.7 1008.7 2.91 71.66% 5.54 0.68 1 0.75 64º 7 105
24th Mar 1966 Best Ale 1031.1 1009.6 2.84 69.13% 4.75 0.65 1 1.25 64º 7 100
22nd Feb 1967 Best Mild 1030.5 1009.5 2.78 68.85% 5.25 0.64 1 1 64º 6 110
21st Jul 1968 Best Mild 1030.5 1008.5 2.91 72.13% 5.25 0.65 1 1 64º 6 120
22nd May 1970 B. Mild 1030.8 1007.9 3.03 74.35% 3.42 0.43 1 1 64º 7 130
17th Dec 1971 B. Mild 1030.8 1008.4 2.96 72.73% 3.07 0.40 1 1 64º 7 110
17th Feb 1972 B. Mild 1030.9 1007.8 3.06 74.76% 3.22 0.43 1 1 64º 5 115
26th Jan 1973 B. Mild 1030.8 1010.8 2.65 64.94% 3.42 0.44 1 1 64º 6 110
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/132, LMA/4453/D/01/134, LMA/4453/D/01/135, LMA/4453/D/01/137, LMA/4453/D/09/140 and LMA/4453/D/09/141.

The gravity was rock solid at a few points either side of 1031º. Though because the attenuation never quite reached 75%, it was mostly a little under 3% ABV. I sometimes wonder how anyone in the past could get pissed on these piss-weak beers. Maybe they didn't ever get more than a little merry. Or had a double whisky with every pint.

The grists. There's so much to talk about here. So much, I couldn't fit it all in one table. Amazingly, there's only one ingredient common to this set of beers: crystal malt. If you can remember back as far as the last set, every single beer had the same four ingredients in the grist: mild malt, crystal malt, No. 3 invert and the proprietary sugar Hay M.

Whitbread Mild Ale grists 1965 - 1973
Date Year Beer OG hops pale malt choc. Malt crystal malt MA malt flaked barley torrefied barley no. 1 sugar no. 3 sugar other sugar
26th Mar 1965 Best Ale 1030.7 KT and Worcester hops. 5.88% 80.00% 10.98% 3.14%
24th Mar 1966 Best Ale 1031.1 MK and Worcester hops. 7.25% 64.05% 13.60% 15.11%
22nd Feb 1967 Best Mild 1030.5 MK and KT hops. 7.82% 68.46% 13.69% 7.17% 2.85%
21st Jul 1968 Best Mild 1030.5 MK and WGV hops. 68.46% 7.82% 13.69% 7.17% 2.85%
22nd May 1970 B. Mild 1030.8 MK, KT and EK hops. 78.39% 7.65% 5.64% 5.37% 2.95%
17th Dec 1971 B. Mild 1030.8 MK and Hants hops. 65.88% 3.23% 9.04% 9.47% 12.38%
17th Feb 1972 B. Mild 1030.9 MK and Hants hops. 68.81% 3.76% 9.14% 10.04% 8.24%
26th Jan 1973 B. Mild 1030.8 Hallertau and Worcester hops 69.09% 3.64% 9.09% 10.00% 8.18%
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/132, LMA/4453/D/01/134, LMA/4453/D/01/135, LMA/4453/D/01/137, LMA/4453/D/09/140 and LMA/4453/D/09/141.

The biggest change is in the base malt, which changed in 1968 from mild malt to pale malt. Why did they do that? Probably just to standardise across their range. And, as Mild became less important in terms of sales, buying a separate base malt for it probably seemed frivolous.

More surprising than that was the change from No. 3 to No. 1 sugar. With the exception of WW I, it had been a constant in Whitbread's Mild since the 1890's. Not that No. 1 lasted long. It was dropped in 1971, when Whitbread switched to all proprietary sugars. Several of them. LP5, CDM and WSM. I think I know what that last one means: Whitbread Special Mix. Not sure about the others, but I suspect CDM is a dark sugar containing caramel.

Whitbread Mild Ale other sugars 1965 - 1973
Date Year Beer OG Duttson Hay M raw cane syrup WSM LP5 CDM
26th Mar 1965 Best Ale 1030.7 3.14%
24th Mar 1966 Best Ale 1031.1 3.02% 12.09%
22nd Feb 1967 Best Mild 1030.5 2.85%
21st Jul 1968 Best Mild 1030.5 2.85%
22nd May 1970 B. Mild 1030.8 2.95%
17th Dec 1971 B. Mild 1030.8 10.76% 1.61%
17th Feb 1972 B. Mild 1030.9 6.45% 1.79%
26th Jan 1973 B. Mild 1030.8 6.67% 1.52%
Sources:
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/132, LMA/4453/D/01/134, LMA/4453/D/01/135, LMA/4453/D/01/137, LMA/4453/D/09/140 and LMA/4453/D/09/141.


Another big change in the 1970's was the addition of chocolate malt. I think that might well be the first time they'd ever used a dark grain in their Dark Mild. That's one of the things that cracks me up when I see homebrew Dark Mild recipes that use black or chocolate malt. Few of the Dark Milds I've come across in brewing records got all their colour from dark malt. And a majority got all of it from sugar and caramel.

In the previous set, the crystal malt content was around 6%. You can seet that increased to almost 8% in 1966 and 9% in 1971. That would presumably have added body and sweetness to the beer.

I've just been thinking about one of the things missing from Whitbread logs: priming sugars. I know that Whitbread primed their beers from the 1920's onwards, because Sydney Nevile mentions suggesting it his book "Seventy Rolling Years". Which means the gravity of the Mild would have been a little higher than the brewing records indicate. Hang on. LP5 . . . . could the LP stand for Liquid Primings?

For me, one of the most striking features of post WW II brewing records is the almost total absence of American hops. Very few foreign hops at all make an appearance. Usually in the form of fancy Continental hops like, in this case, Hallertau, or Saaz. You'll know why if you were paying attention during my series on hops. After WW II Britain was pretty much self-sufficient in hops for the first time in almost 100 years. Until the collapse of the British hops industry which, funnily enough, started in 1974, just after the period I'm covering here.

I just took the trouble to look at the hopping rate. It dropped by about 50% in 1970. Less than half a pound a barrel really is bugger all.

Right. That's Mild done. What should I do next? There's PA, IPA, a couple of Brown Ales, Strong Ales, Stouts and my personal fave, Gold Label. Suggest away. No guarantee I'll pay any attention, mind. Or do you want me to reveal the origins of Whitbread Trophy first?

13 comments:

Matt said...

Please Ron, I'd love to know what my teenage drink of choice started life as.

Rod said...

Yes, definitely.

Gary Gillman said...

You forgot pasteurization!

Gary

Rob said...

"That's one of the things that cracks me up when I see homebrew Dark Mild recipes that use black or chocolate malt. Few of the Dark Milds I've come across in brewing records got all their colour from dark malt. And a majority got all of it from sugar and caramel."

Not that surprising. For years I brewed a schwarzbier with a small touch (1-2 oz in a 5 gallon batch) of roast barley. It helped the color without giving (much) roast flavor. Horribly inauthentic, but it was making use of what ingredients I had available from my homebrew shop at the time. And it tasted damn fine.

Selection has since improved (due to a 2nd homebrew shop opening) and there are more authentic ways to do it now.

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt,

patience, patience.

StuartP said...

I wouldn't knock the advice to use choc malt or roast in a homebrewed mild. It might not be an authentic representation of what industrial brewers were doing in the 1960s but it probably makes a nicer beer than dumping in a load of caramel or gravy browning.
And that is the point of brewing your own.

Gary Gillman said...

Fully agree with StuartP. And it might be noted that for years and probably now for the surviving commercial Scotch ales, roast barley has been used clearly to address colour and, IMO, flavour. Modern Scotch ale is kind of an 1800's mild, or late 1800's when the colour changed. High alcohol, low hops. Dextrinous taste.

Gary

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary,

I've not found one example of Scotch Ale in the brewing records that was coloured with roast barley. Caramel every time.

Ron Pattinson said...

Gary,

I can't remember handpulls in McSorley's. Then again, I've not been there in a couple of decades.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron: They are there (the handpumps). Look on the backbar, the dust partly obscures them.

Roast barley has been used in numerous recipes for Scotch ale since the 1970's at least Ron, I don't think you checked this era.

Gary

Gary Gillman said...

http://stillcrapulent.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/new-mcsorleys.jpg

Here you see the handpumps.

Gary

liam said...

Thinking about Whitbread, and when the brewery shut down in Luton, I cast my mind back to a beer called Dragon's Blood that was made by JW Green and then Flowers. Did Whitbread ever make that and is there any way of finding out about it as I've always wanted to recreate some of the beers that were made in Luton.

My better half's father worked at Flower's/Whitbread and mentioned it, but he is no longer with us..

Ron Pattinson said...

Liam,

not seen that beer at Whitbread's Chiswell Street brewery, but . . .

Whitbread were really good at archiving the brewing records of the companies they took over. My guess would be that there's a good chance records from Green still exist.