Saturday, 26 July 2014

City of London Porter quality 1922 - 1923

We're back in the cesspit of 1920's Porter. And ignoring the stench, it's proving very informative.

One significant point I had mentioned yet. Whitbread continued making analyses of draught beers with comments on their flavour until 1925, but the last for Porter was in 1923. It seems to me that, realising Porter was a niche product in decline, they didn't think it was worth keeping an eye on. Either that or the pubs where they obtained their samples didn't sell it. Given the way Whitbread's Porter output had fallen, the latter is a distinct possibility.

City of London Brewery from the air in 1928

City of London Brewery, in the guise of Calvert Co., had been one of the large Porter brewers in the 18th century. Though the business was much, much older, having its origins in the 15th century. At the time of its closure in 1922, it was one of the oldest enterprises in London.

Let's take a look back at how City of London is doing so far. Their Mild Ale was a distinctly unimpressive last of seventeen with a rubbish average score of -1.25. They were last by quite a way, the next worst score being 0.70. They fared slightly better with Burton Ale, placing twelfth of fourteen with at least a positive score - even if it was just 0.09. Surprisingly, their Pale Ale did quite well, coming 5th of fifteen with an average of 1.

That's quite strange. Why was their Pale Ale so much better than their other beers? It makes you wonder whether they brewed it themselves.

You'll notice that, in terms of basic specs, all these Porters are very similar. An OG in the mid-1030's, 3.5% ABV, 75% apparent attenuation. Now I think of it, they look much like modern Milds.

Let's take a look at the scores:

City of London Porter quality 1922 - 1923
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Flavour score Price
1922 Porter 1008.8 1037.3 3.70 76.41% poor -1 6d
1922 Porter 1009.6 1035.1 3.30 72.65% quite sour -2 6d
1922 Porter 1007 1035.3 3.68 80.17% sour -3 6d
1922 Porter 1007 1034.5 3.57 79.71% sour -3 6d
1923 Porter 1012.4 1038.4 3.36 67.71% moderate 1 6d
1923 Porter 1009.6 1037.6 3.63 74.47% poor -1 6d
1923 Porter 1009.6 1037.6 3.63 74.47% poor -1 6d
1923 Porter 1009.4 1035.4 3.37 73.45% sour -3 5d
1923 Porter 1006.8 1034.8 3.64 80.46% sour -3 6d
1923 Porter 1007.8 1035.8 3.64 78.21% sour -3 6d
1923 Porter 1009.4 1035.4 3.37 73.45% sour -3 5d
Average  1008.9 1036.1 3.54 75.56% -2
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Not quite as dreadful as Cannon's Porter is about the nicest thing I can say. Seven of eleven sour is still pretty awful. It definitely sounds as if  their Porter was sitting around in the cellar too long with no-one drinking it. At least this time not all the scores are negative. There is a single positive one. But also six with the maximum negative score. The resulting average of -2 is very disappointing, as a teacher might say on a report card.

Stay away from Porter is likely to be very prominent in my pub guide to 1920's London.

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