Monday, 10 February 2014

Wenlock Mild Ale quality 1922 - 1923

I can guess what you're thinking: thank god we've got to the letter "W". Not far to go now. Until I get started on Burton

Either that or you're saying: "Who knew London had so many breweries in the 1920's?" But I'm sure, if you've stuck the series out this far, relief that it will soon be over is your principal emotion.

The name Wenlock probably rings a bell because there's a famous beer pub which bears its name. Not sure if the pub is named after the street it's on, Wenlock Road, or the brewery which used to be a little to the south. On the map the Wenlock Arms is the pub at the top centre.

The Wenlock Brewery in 1896
I can't find a date for when the brewery was founded, just that in 1887 it was taken over by Glover, Bell & Co. and became the Wenlock Brewery Co. Ltd. in 1893*. According to Barber*, it was bought by Worthington for Bass in 1953, closing in 1962. While Richmond and Turton say it was bought by Bass in 1961, but agree that the year of closure was 1962**. In other cases when these sources have disagreed, Barber has turned out to be the more accurate.

You can see from the map that the Wenlock Brewery wasn't huge. Yet it features quite a bit in the Whitbread Gravity Book. More than you would expect. I can think of only one explanation: because it wasn't far from Chiswell Street (Whitbread's home). The two breweries were about a mile apart.

Once again, all the Milds this time are of the middle type. Ones that cost 6d in 1922, falling to 5d in 1923. The gravity hovers around the mid 1030's, but the high degree of attenuation gives an ABV of up to 4%. I'm left wondering whether this was the only Mild Wenlock brewed, or whether the others just weren't sampled.

Wenlock Mild Ale quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour Score
1922 X 1007 1033.6 3.51 80.36% bright sound 1
1922 X 1006 1037.2 4.09 84.41% v fair 2
1922 X 1008 1031.9 3.14 75.86% cloudy fair 1
1922 X 1006 1032.3 3.39 80.80% not quite bright thin -2
1922 X 1009 1035.5 3.40 73.80% bright v fair 2
1922 X 1009 1034.1 3.31 74.78% bright v fair 2
1922 X 1008 1034.8 3.44 76.15% bright v fair 2
1923 X 1007 1036.4 3.77 79.67% bright v fair 2
1923 X 1007 1037.3 3.97 81.77% bright thin -2
1923 X 1006 1034.7 3.71 82.13% bright v good 3
1923 X 1008 1034.1 3.44 77.71% bright v fair 2
1923 X 1006 1033.7 3.64 83.09% not quite bright fair 1
Average  1.17
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Eight of the twelve samples were bright. Possibly nine, as for one the entry is missing. Not too bad. But look at the flavour scores - only two negative and both for being thin. There's nothing really foul. And lots of pretty good samples, scoring a 2 or better. Leaving one of the best average scores so far: 1.17.

Why was their beer almost always in good condition? Did they train their landlords better? As these were cask beers, the responsibility for the state of them when served was primarily the publican's. An idiot could have made draught Bass taste crap.

* "A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 83.
** "The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records", edited by Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, 1990, page 359.

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