Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Beers of James Hole in 1892

Remember me telling you about the adverts Holes placed in local newspapers. Here's an example:

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 05 March 1892, page 1.

Chesterfield is about 30 miles Northwest of Newark.

It's an interesting set of beers. As much as for what's missing as what'e there. What is the huge ommission? That's right: Porter. In the latter decades of the 19th century Porter slowly ebbed away from much of the country, though it remained strong in London until after WW I.

Here are the beers in table form:

Holes beers in 1892
Beer price per barrel price (per gallon) OG (my guess)
AK Luncheon Ale 42 14 1050
X Light Mild Ale 36 12 1050
XX Mild Ale 42 14 1060
XXX Mild Ale 48 16 1070
XXXX Strong Ale 54 18 1080
BB Strong Ale 72 24 1100
India Pale Ale 54 18 1065
Double Stout 48 16 1070
Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald - Saturday 05 March 1892, page 1.

So what do we see Holes brewing? Let's go through them in order. First there's AK, the brewery's flagship brand right until its closure. It's a type of Light Bitter or Running Bitter that became very popular in the last half of the 19th century. The had a variety of names and descriptions, AK being quite a common one. Luncheon Ale and Dinner Ale were amongst the descriptions used. The original Pale Ales had been Stock Ales, stored for long periods before sale - sometimes more than 12 months. They were expensive to produce, which was refelcted in a price higher than than you would expect from their gravity, which was usually 1060-1065º. Running Bitters had a lower gravity - 1050-1055º - were sold at a price closer to that of X Ale and were ready for sale after a couple of weeks.

While I'm talking about Stock Pale Ale, that's probably what Holes IPA was, judging by the price.

Now the three Mild Ales. By thuis point the big London brewers were down to just a single Mild, X Ale. Oddly also their biggest seller. Holes we can see still brewed three. Four, probably, as the XXXX was most likely just a stronger version of the Milds. My guess would be that the four were parti-gyled in various combinations. What does "Light Mild Ale" really mean? Does the light refer to colour or strength? It's impossible to know because this is about when some Milds srtarted turning dark.

BB. Now there's a fascinating designation. It looks to me, from the price, like a really strong Burton Ale. I've never seen BB used for a Strong Ale by any other brewery. BB is normally used as shorthand for Bitter Beer. Obviously not the case here. Worthington used all sorts of weird letters for their beers, but their Strong Ales were B, F and G.

As we've already done IPA, there's just Double Stout left. Also significant that there's only one. Many breweries still produced a coiple of different ones. The rise of bottled beer helped brewers keep a larger range of Stouts as some, especially the stronger ones, probably didn't sell well on draught. And talking of bottles, it's significant that no bottled beers appear. While other Newark breweries had been advertising them since the 1880's.

Here, for comparison purposes, are Whitbread's beers from a price list of a few years earlier:

Whitbread price list of 1888
beer price per barrel price (per gallon) price (per doz) pint size
London Porter 38 12.67
London Stout 46 15.33
Family Ale 38 12.67
London Cooper 2s 6d Imperial pint
Family Ale 2s 6d Imperial pint
London Stout 3s Imperial pint
Pale Ale 3s Imperial pint
Extra Stout 3s 6d Imperial pint

And here from the breing records of 1892:

Whitbread Ales and Porters in 1892
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
15th Aug 1892 X Mild 1060.9 1018.0 5.68 70.46% 8.04 2.11
9th Mar 1892 KK Stock Ale 1076.5 1025.0 6.81 67.30% 14.32 5.10
25th Mar 1892 2KKK Stock Ale 1079.8 1027.0 6.98 66.16% 13.74 5.05
2nd Nov 1892 KKK Stock Ale 1088.6 1033.0 7.36 62.77% 14.00 6.00
29th Sep 1892 FA Pale Ale 1051.0 1013.0 5.02 74.49% 10.89 2.53
29th Aug 1892 2PA Pale Ale 1053.2 1016.0 4.92 69.92% 10.97 2.75
15th Aug 1892 PA Pale Ale 1059.0 1018.0 5.42 69.49% 10.90 3.00
7th Apr 1892 P Porter 1057.9 1015.0 5.67 74.09% 7.58 1.63
8th Mar 1892 C Porter 1058.2 1014.0 5.84 75.93% 7.26 1.88
16th Mar 1892 SS Stout 1084.5 1030.0 7.21 64.49% 10.62 4.91
16th Mar 1892 SSS Stout 1093.3 1034.0 7.85 63.58% 10.62 5.42
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/057, LMA/4453/D/01/058 and LMA/4453/D/09/086.

FA - or Family Ale - was Whitbread's Light Bitter. Note that though porter cost the same, it had a significantly higher gravity.

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