Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1945 Tetley's Bitter

Apologies for the gap between Let's Brew posts. A lot has been going on.

Here we have the 1945 Bitter to pair with the 1945 Mild. Brew both and you could serve 1945 Tetley's Mixed. I bet people did genuinely do that in pubs. I can remember mixed being fairly popular in Leeds in the 1970's.

A couple of things immediately strike me about this beer. First is the gravity. 1042º is very respectable for an Ordinary Bitter of the period. I haven't a huge number of Bitters from this date, just 15. They have an average OG of 1037.7. And at least one - Barclay Perkins PA - was a Best Bitter. That was just 1038º.  The strongest, Courage PA, was 1043.7º.

That tells me something. Tetley must have sold a lot more Mild than Bitter. How do I know that? Because there was a cap on the average OG of all beer produced in a brewery. And that average was well below 1042º. I don't know the figure it was set at in 1945, but as the average OG of all beer brewed that year was 1034.54º*, it must have been around 1035º.

The second point is the degree of attenuation, which is very high. Which means it has a very high ABV of 5.25%. How typical was that? Post-war, every example I have was over 80%. Take a look:

Tetley's Bitter 1928 - 1989
Year Beer Price size package FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1928 Bitter Ale 9d pint bottled 1014.4 1049.6 4.56 70.97%
1940 Pale Ale 9d pint draught 1045.6
1952 Pale Ale 16d pint draught 1036.3 20
1953 Pale Ale 16d pint draught 1037.3 20
1955 Bitter 12.5d half bottled 1004 1037.1 23 4.32 89.22%
1959 Bitter Ale 10.5d half bottled 1006.1 1039 23 4.11 84.36%
1960 Bitter 16d pint draught 1003.7 1037.9 20 4.28 90.24%
1964 Bitter Ale 12.5d half bottled 1005.6 1040 25 4.30 86.00%
1977 Bitter pint draught 1035.5
1979 Bitter pint draught 1035.5
1981 Bitter pint draught 1035.5
1982 Bitter pint draught 1035.5
1986 Bitter pint draught 1035.5
1989 Bitter pint draught 1035
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

You can see that the OG fell below 1040º in the 1950's, rose a little in the 1960's, then settled in the mid 1030's.

How did Tetley's compare with other Bitters? Why don't we take a look:

Bitter in 1945
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (pence) package FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1945 Barclay Perkins PA 14 draught 1009.3 1038 32.5 3.72 75.53%
1945 Barclay Perkins XLK draught 1012.25 1035.4 29 2.99 65.40%
1945 Charrington P.A. 14 draught 1009.4 1037 18.5 3.58 74.59%
1945 Courage PA 16 draught 1010.4 1043.7 22 4.33 76.20%
1945 Lees B 1038.0
1945 Lees B 1038.0
1945 Mann PA 16 draught 1010.1 1042.5 27 4.21 76.24%
1945 Meux PA 14 draught 1007.4 1032.1 21 3.20 76.95%
1945 Meux PA 14 draught 1006.4 1032.8 21 3.43 80.49%
1945 Taylor Walker PA 14 draught 1011.2 1037 29 3.34 69.73%
1945 Truman PA 15 draught 1005.9 1041.6 24 4.65 85.82%
1945 Watney PA 14 draught 1006.6 1038.3 27 4.12 82.77%
1945 Whitbread PA 14 draught 1009.2 1032.8 27.5 3.06 71.95%
1945 Whitbread PA 1010.0 1039.4 26 3.89 74.62%
1945 Whitbread PA 1012.5 1039.5 26 3.57 68.35%
Average 14.5 1009.28 1037.74 24.5 3.70 75.28%
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/626.
Lees brewing recods
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/112.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002

Tetley's Bitter had a higher OG, greater degree of attenuation and a paler colour than the average. Only one of the other Bitters comes even close in terms of attenuation - Truman PA. Tetley's look pretty atypical, though it should be borne in mind that all the others, with the exception of Lees, were London beers.

Almost forgot the flaked barley. That was a hangover from the war, when the government forced brewers to use it to save the energy used in malting.

I'm all out of crap to tell you, so it's over to Kristen . . . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Notes: Yeah…Tetley’s mild. One of my very favorite ‘drink-theer-piss-outta-eers’. You want to know what invert No2 tastes like, make this. You want to test your metal as a brewer, make this. You want to make a beer that can be done in two weeks, make this. You want me to stop writing, ma…err…yeah…

Malt: The original had a blend of 3 different English pale malts of 29%, 29% and 8%. Choose a blend or just do one. Whatever you fancy. A decent 14% of the doughy flaked barley and then lots of Invert and a touch of caramel which we’ve discussed previously….and can be left out all together.

Invert No2.

Hops: Not hugely hoppy but not nothing either. A decent hop presence so choose whatever you like. Really this time. Go bonkers. Maybe some nice Hallertauer Blanc? Me, I’m using some Brewers Gold, b/c that’s how I feel today, in a golden mood. Goldings of any sort will work just peachy.
Yeast: (Same as before) Any really gang. This bastard is dry as a bone so pick your favorite one that you know how to use. Over pitch. Over oxygenate. Hope and pry she dries out for you.

Sundries: Nothing specific. Make it dry. Use the right sugar. Don’t forget to forget the bleedin caramel.
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.

* Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50.


BrianW said...


I finally got my copy of your book last week and I love it. But there is one thing that really stands out when comparing the recipes in the book to the Let's Brew recipes and that is the almost complete lack of dry hopping information in the book. Only one recipe in the book (1939 Barclay Perkins IPA) has dry hopping, whereas in Let's Brew there are dry hop amounts in many of the recipes.

You do mention in the section on hops that brewing records contain very little info on the hop additions and that your hopping schemes are based on descriptions from brewing manuals and you have to make an educated guess. So I assume Kristen is making an educated guess in the Let's Brew recipes rather than basing this on what is in the brewing logs?

Either way, can you give us some broad style guidelines on dry hopping? And I'm guessing this also changed over time, just like every other aspect of brewing.

Looking forward to the book signing in Boston in March. I have a 1901 Albany XX Ale I'd like to share with you.

Ron Pattinson said...


a couple of the breweries list the dry hops, but they are definitely in the minority. Barclay Perkins are one that does.

As a rule, 4 to 8 oz per barrel for Pale Ales, 8 to 16 oz for Stock Ales, 8 to 16 oz for Stout. If you divide those amounts by 7 you get the right quantity for the recipes, which are 6 US gallons.

Dave Moon said...

Kristen, these seem to be the notes for their mild; do you have a different set for the bitters?

Kristen England said...

Dave Moon,

Sorry. Somehow I cocked it up. I simply said that there is nothing fancy about this beer other than the very low FG.