Friday, 18 July 2014

Whitbread Pale Ale quality 1922

We're finally there. After months of slog across the tundra we've finally arrived at Novosibirsk. Before you know it we'll be in Vladivostok.

Fittingly enough, the last in the list is the brewery responsible for it all, Whitbread. For whose obsessive observation of their rivals' beers I'm eternally grateful. It's given me so much priceless data.

So far Whitbread has been doing pretty well. Did they deliberately seek out pubs where they knew the beer quality was good? Who knows. For that matter, why were they analysing their own beers at all? Were they checking up on their landlords? If that were the case, you'd expect hundreds of samples and that's not the case.

Let's summarise their results so far. Whitbread's Mild came fourth from seventeen with and average score of 0.67. While their Burton Ale came top of fourteen with an average score of 1.33. But there's one huge caveat. There were only three samples of each. Far fewer than for all the other breweries.

On with this beer. It's a 8d/7d Ordinary Bitter and is scarily bang on the average specs of this type. Having access to Whitbread's brewing records, I know a fair bit about it. The recipe is pretty simple: pale malt, PA malt, No. 1 invert sugar, Kent and Oregon hops. Note the lack of crystal malt.

Also worth noting is that Whitbread, unlike many of their London rivals, didn't brew a Best Bitter. This was their strongest Pale Ale. They did have a weaker (1036) bottled beer called IPA, but only one draught Bitter. In fact, their beer range was noticeably narrower than Barclay Perkins'.

Whitbread Pale Ale quality 1922
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation Appearance Flavour score Price
1922 PA 1010.6 1046.1 4.61 77.01% v. grey good 2 8d
1922 PA 1012.3 1046.3 4.41 73.43% bright v. good 3 8d
1922 PA 1012.3 1045.8 4.35 73.14% bright fair 1 8d
1922 PA 1009.8 1045.8 4.68 78.60% bright v good 3 8d
Average  1011.3 1046.0 4.51 75.55% 2.25
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Whitbread have scored pretty well again, albeit with a dangerous small sample size. Three of four were bright and all had a positive flavour score. See how once again there's no correlation between quality and clarity. A very cloudy beer got a good score. The average score of 2.25 puts them top of the eleven Ordinary Bitters. And also top of the fifteen Bitters of both types, Ordinary and Best.

I'll definitely be seeking out Whitbread houses on my next long weekend in 1920s London.

1 comment:

Gary Gillman said...

Great pictures Ron. You must pick up a bottle of the best quality Houlle genever when you return, it is made not far from Lille, on the French side that is, and represents a local variation on the old Flanders gin tradition. Really glorious stuff.

I have heard of the carrier pigeon memorial but never seen it, good to know it is still preserved.

Surely the most beautiful WW I memorial are the twin stellae at Vimy Ridge, built by Canadians in the 1930's from public subscriptions to commemorate the sacrifices at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917:

It was designed by the Torontonian, Walter Allward, a designer and architect.

I have been there and we had the kind of weather you described, but just as I walked closer to take a picture the skies cleared and the sun shone on the white granite, a perfect moment.