Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Style League table

The season is finally at an end and the champion can be crowned. Who will it be?

I'll warn you that this isn't the end. There's still a detailed analysis by brewery to come. But I thought I'd put you out of your misery first. I know you've been waiting for these results.

You're going to have to wait a little longer for the brewery rankings. First we're going to compare the different styles. Even before putting together the table I had a pretty good idea of the winners and losers.

Burton comes out on top overall with an average score of 0.72. It's no surprise to me. There are a few things going for it. It was relatively strong and expensive. Plus reasonably popular - it made up around 9% of Whitbread's production in the 1920's. Their PA sold a little better, but not by a huge amount. An impressive two thirds had positive scores for flavour, though fewer than half were bright.

Next is PA. If 9d PA (Best Bitter) is split out, it comes above Burton with an average of 0.88. Though oddly it has the second fewest examples bright, after Burton. It's a clear indication that clarity and quality didn't necessarily go hand in hand. Even with 8d Ordinary Bitter mixed in, PA still comes second with an average of 0.62. And clarity crawls up to just over 50%.

I'm surprised Stout is so far behind in third place. It's another fairly strong one and it was even more popular than Burton. At Whitbread, London Stout and Country Stout accounted for around 18% of output in the 19320, though I don't know what proportion of that was draught. Being very dark, Whitbread didn't bother analysing its degree of clarity. On the other hand, almost three quarters of the samples had positive flavour scores. Which implies a large number of goodish, but few outstanding, examples.

Averages per beer type
beer type No. examples no. bright % bright no. good flavour % good flavour average score
9d PA 49 23 46.94% 33 67.35% 0.88
Burton 138 61 44.20% 92 66.67% 0.72
PA 167 85 50.90% 109 65.27% 0.62
8d PA 118 62 52.54% 76 64.41% 0.52
Stout 110 64 72.35% 0.29
X 170 104 61.18% 106 62.35% 0.23
Mild 188 112 59.57% 112 59.57% 0.16
MA 18 8 44.44% 6 33.33% -0.18
Porter 92 44 47.83% -0.42
Average 695 258 52.33% 421 60.58% 0.27
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001

Mild comes fourth, not that far behind Stout, especially if you strip out watery MA, the 1028º Mild. The stronger Milds may have an average of 0.23 with almost two thirds of examples with positive scores. MA, weak and not produced in huge quantities, does poorly in every respect: clarity, flavour and score.

It's no surprise that the season ends with relegation for Porter. It has a very poor average of -0.42 and fewer than half of the examples were good flavour-wise. It was going out of fashion and sales were collapsing.

On average, the time traveller has a 6 in 10 chance of getting a decent-tasting pint, but only a 1 in 2 chance of a clear one. Is that better or worse than your odds with cask beer in London today? My advice for those headed back to the 1920's is to develop a taste for Burton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Due to the lack of commercial examples in the US, I'm struggling to get a sense of what Burtons were like.

Does this description seem in the ballpark for the 1920ish Burton in your table?


"a sweet, dark, fruity warming beer, just like its few surviving brother beers in the Burton Ale style, which include Young’s Winter Warmer, Marston’s Owd Roger and Theakston’s Old Peculier."