Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Charrington Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923

I guess you realise what I'm up to. I'm going to grind through the styles brewery by brewery, pointing out which breweries were selling the shittiest beer.

But to liven it up a bit I'm throwing in a random newspaper article about the brewery from the 1920's.

There is one other reason for this series. I've a very busy time coming up, what with all my book-promoting events and countless other projects. It's an easy way of rattling off a couple of dozen posts.

Breweries and fires go together like barbecues and petrol. With just as much risk of everything going up in smoke. Often it was the maltings that caught light.  I don't think that was the case here as I'm pretty sure there were none at the Mile End brewery.

It's not clear what was the cause. It sounds as if it started in a fermenting room. Which is a pretty unlikely place for a fire to start.


Shortly after five o'clock yesterday morning an outbreak of fire was discovered at Anchor Brewery Messrs. Charrington and Company, Mile End-road, London, and before was put out considerable damage was done to the stock of malt and to beer in the process of brewing.

A night watchman noticed a smell of smoke, and found it came from the third floor. He promptly raised an alarm, and within a few minutes five fire appliances arrived to find a dense volume of smoke filling the building. The seat of the fire was at the rear of some huge vats, 20 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter. These contained beer partially brewed. The fire had spread upwards to the fourth floor, where a big stock of malt was stored, and from the smouldering malt a dense volume of smoke arose and made the task of the firemen extremely difficult.

One vat of nearly eleven dozen barrels of beer in the final stages of fermentation was ruined. The vat was burned, but the reason the beer was thrown away was that it was too much diluted, water having got into the vat. The beer was almost ready for putting into barrels, and every drop four thousand gallons was turned into the drain."
Western Morning News - Tuesday 15 November 1927, page 3.

The author has a different concept of huge to me when it comes to vats. A 100-odd barrels doesn't sound that big to me. The Porter brewers had vats holding thousands of barrels. And, given the size of Charrington, I'd have expected them to have batch sizes of around 1,000 barrels.

Onto the beer. You may remember that Charrington's Mild was disappointingly poor. All the more so because Ale was their speciality. Let's see how their Burrton fares.

Spec-wise, both the OG and FG are on the high side and the attenuation is consequently a little low: a bit under 75%. Leaving the ABV about standard at 5 and a bit.

Charrington Burton Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score
1922 KK 1016 1053.5 4.86 70.09% cloudy fair 1
1922 KK 1016 1055.9 5.23 72.09% bright American cask -2
1922 KK 1014 1054.4 5.20 73.53% v bright good 2
1922 KK 1015 1055.3 5.26 73.24% bright good but sweet 2
1923 KK 1014 1055.9 5.39 74.24% brilliant v fair 2
1923 KK 1015 1054.6 5.20 73.26% brilliant fair 1
1923 KK 1013 1053.7 5.27 75.42% fairly bright only fair 0
1923 KK 1013 1054 5.33 75.93% fairly bright fairly good 1
1923 KK 1015 1053 4.93 71.70% bright good 2
Average  1015 1054.48 5.19 73.28% 1.00
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Six of the nine samples were bright, and another two almost bright. I'd call that pretty good. But look at the flavour scores - only one negative. And that's only for the flavour from the cask. I think that's a pretty damn good showing. The average score is a very decent 1. That's a big improvement over their Mild.

Next it's the turn of the City of London Brewery.


Anonymous said...

what does "American cask" mean?

Ron Pattinson said...

It means the cask the beer was in had been made of American oak. They didn't like it because it flavoured the beer. Memel oak (from the Baltic) was favourite.

Gary Gillman said...

Anonymous, think of Chardonnay wine from California, that vanillin/coconut taste.

Buy Innis & Gunn's regular beer, you can see the taste there, IMO.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply. When I read "American cask" all I could think of was the warm, cloudy, headless pours of beer flavoured with stupid adjuncts that are too common at craft beer cask nights. definitely a -2!