Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925

We're finally on the final leg of my crawl through the cellars of 1920's London. It's been a fascinating journey. So much so, that it probably deserves a volume of its own. But what to call it? Gravity!? Or maybe Draught! Feel free to throw suggestions at me.

The 1920's was a funny period. Brewers weren't sure legislation the government might throw their way, particularly with regard to pubs. The so-called local option, where inhabitants of a ward could vote for it to go dry was seen by brewers as a great threat. Pubs were their primary outlets. Whole areas becoming pub-free could seriously affect their sales. Eventually, local option legislation was only passed in Scotland and only a small number of areas there ever voted to go dry.

One of the ironies is that the temperance campaigners who argued against the bad influence of the old type of pub were opposed to them being improved. Purely on the grounds that well-run, modern pubs countered many of their crazy arguments. But rationality, truth and objectivity are rare companions of teetotallers. Distortions and downright lies are their stock in trade.

Here's an example of the temperance view compared to the rational view. We'll begin with sense:

The best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house, was the opinion put forward Mr E. W. Giffad presiding at the annual meeting of the Barclay, Perkins Brewery Co. in London yesterday.

The American prohibition campaign had been stated in this country, said, but the promoters were not working very much on the surface at present. Their methods were thoroughly unenglish, and they were working the same lines as they did in America. He didn't believe there was any prospect of carrying prohibition in this country, for the working man did not want it. The local option movement was another danger the trade had to face, and it could be put before working men so that they would see that it was as dangerous as prohibition.

Admiral Sir Reginald Hall, M.P., a newcomer to the Board of Directors, said that as a social reformer he had joined the Board because he realised that Barclay, Perkins were pioneers in the movement of improved public-houses. There was no stigma attaching to the presence of ladies and children in an hotel, and public-house ought to be made so that working man could take his women folk and children there without risk of insult to eye or ear."
Aberdeen Journal - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 4.

Now the nutcases:

"Public-House Improvements. At the annual meeting of the Barclay Perkins Brewery Company the chairman stated that the best way to defeat the prohibition and local option movements was by the improvement of the public-house. According to this representative of the liquor trade, the Trade can do as well or better than the Government in improving the public-houses. This deliverance is an admission that there is room for improvement of the public-houses and also that the Trade can do something for the ensuring of improvement. As matter of fact, prohibition and local option movements are making progress because the Trade has not succeeded in improving the public-houses or the conditions of the working of the liquor traffic. The Trade lavishing money on opposition to the local option movement, and this means opposition to freedom to the full majorities of citizens declaring for or against the maintenance of unimproved public-houses in their areas."
Evening Telegraph - Tuesday 29 June 1920, page 2.

The distortion? That the trade wasn't trying very hard to improve its pubs. While in many cases brewers were prevented from improving their pubs by teetotallers on licensing committees who refused their applications. The hypocritical bastards.

The prohibition and local option movements weren't really gaining ground. If anything the opposite was true. The impact of a drop in beer strength and the restriction in pub hours had greatly reduced the perception of drunkenness. Partial success had in fact weakened their cause.

Let's look at Barclay Perkins Stout now. I can see which beer it is: BS. Not sure if that still stood for Brown Stout at this point or if it had already become Best Stout. That doesn't really matter. It was their bog standard draught Stout. It terms of strength, it was a typical 9d (after 1923 8d) Stout, with a gravity in the mid-1950's. Here are the numbers in a nice table:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout in the 1920s
Date Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp colour
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 1017.0 5.04 69.15% 9.00 2.34 2

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 1020 4.46 62.79% 6 1.26 2.25 2
61º 340
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 1018 4.67 66.22% 6 1.43 2.25 2 1.75 61º 320
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

Now let's take a look at the grist. There's much more fun here. Take a look:

Barclay Perkins BS Stout grists in the 1920s
Date Year OG brown malt amber malt crystal malt MA malt SA malt roast barley no. 3 sugar caramel oats flaked maize
7th Feb 1922 1055.1 4.35% 47.83% 4.35% 21.74% 17.39% 4.35%

21st Jan 1929 1053.8 5.04% 10.08% 7.56% 35.29% 12.61% 12.29% 10.08% 1.68% 0.32% 5.04%
7th Jan 1929 1053.3 5.49% 10.98% 7.32% 32.93% 10.98% 12.58% 12.20% 1.83% 0.23% 5.49%
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608 and ACC/2305/01/614.

The example from 1922 isn't typical. There's a note on the brewing record saying that it was a special all-malt brew for the yeast. It's certainly a pretty odd grist, with 50% amber malt. With less than 40% malt with diastatic power - the MA and SA malts - you have to wonder how well it would have converted.

Unless the amber malt was diastatic. The small amount of roast barley doesn't seem to make much sense, either, given the lack of dark sugar and caramel to colour the beer.

The more standard recipe is still unusual. Any amber malt is rare in weaker Stouts of this period. And over 12% roast barley is very high. The other oddity is the total lack of pale malt. A combination of MA (Mild Ale) and SA (Strong Ale) malts make up the base grains. But there's still around 35% coloured grains in the grist. I guess that explains the dark colour - over 300 lovibond is pretty much black.

Oh, and note the token few pounds of oats so they could sell some of it as Oatmeal Stout. A massive 42 pounds of it for 150 barrels of beer. Far too little to have any impact at all.

Time to look at the quality of BS down the boozer. You may remember that Barclay Perkins beers have mostly been pretty crap so far. Let's see how they do this time:

Barclay Perkins Stout quality 1922 - 1925
Year Beer FG OG ABV App. Attenuation Flavour score Price
1922 Stout 1016 1057 5.32 71.93% caramel flavour -1 9
1922 Stout 1017.6 1057.6 5.19 69.44% fair rather thin -1 9
1922 Stout 1013.6 1056.6 5.60 75.97% sour -3 9
1922 Stout 1015.4 1054.9 5.13 71.95% v poor -2 9
1922 Stout 1013.9 1055.4 5.40 74.91% v unpleasant -3 9
1923 Stout 1015.6 1058.1 5.52 73.15% fair 1 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1057.9 5.80 76.86% going off -2 9
1923 Stout 1013.4 1053.9 5.27 75.14% going off -2 8
1923 Stout 1016.2 1053.7 4.86 69.83% Poor & thin -2 8
1923 Stout 1015.8 1055.8 5.19 71.68% unpleasant bitter -2 9
1923 Stout 1014.8 1054.3 5.13 72.74% v fair 2 8
1924 Stout 1012.1 1050.4 4.98 75.99% going off -2 8
1924 Stout 1013.4 1055.5 5.48 75.86% v poor -2 8
1925 Stout 1012.8 1054.8 5.47 76.64% good 2 8
Average  1014.6 1055.4 5.31 73.72%
-1.21 8.57
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

That's quite impressive, in  way. It's scored even worse than their Porter. Only three of fourteen samples had a good flavour. A scary nine examples scored -2 or -3. Based on the descriptions, many had gone bad. Very disappointing. Given Stout was a better seller and higher gravity than Porter, you'd expect it to be in better condition. The overall average score of -1.21 is one of the worst so far.

Time-travelling advice? Stick to bottled Russian Stout in Barclay Perkins pubs.

1 comment:

Phil said...

But what to call it? Gravity!? Or maybe Draught!

Daught! I call it.