Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Draught IPA in the 1950’s

As not promised, we’re looking at IPA in the 1950’s. For no good reason other than idleness. There are rather a lot of Mild analyses. And I’m not sure what the most instructive way to organise them is.

So I’ve gone for IPA instead. I’ve only a handful of analyses of those. So I can be done quickly.

First an advert that tells us something about the effect of the war on brewing. And IPA:

The Bristol United Breweries, Ltd.
announce that deliveries of their celebrated I.P.A. on Draught (suspended during the war) begin to-day. Public Bar price 1/4 d per pint

A complete range of the Company products is given below -

I.P.A. ON DRAUGHT 1/4 d per pint
HOME BREWED IN BOTTLE 10d small; 1/6d large
AMBER ALE IN BOTTLE 7d small; 1/1 d large; 2/1 d flagons
OAKHILL STOUT IN BOTTLE ... 1/- small; 1/10 d large

All brewed from the finest materials, of course.”
Western Daily Press - Tuesday 19 September 1950, page 5.

What’s revealing is how long after the war – more than five years – before IPA was brought back. Though why it was out of the picture quite so long, I’m not sure. At 16d a pint it couldn’t have had a gravity of much more than 1035º. While their Bitter probably didn’t scrape past 1030º.

Let’s have that table now:

Draught IPA in the 1950's
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) Acidity OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1954 Charrington  IPA 19 0.06 1046 1008.8 4.84 80.87% 32
1954 Charrington  IPA 19 0.04 1046.7 1008 5.04 82.87% 27
1957 Charrington  Best IPA 19 0.05 1044.7 1011.3 4.34 74.72% 27
1954 Mann Crossman IPA 20 0.10 1044 1009.8 4.45 77.73% 25
1954 Mann Crossman IPA 20 0.04 1044 1011.6 4.20 73.64% 26
1957 Mann Crossman IPA 20 0.12 1041.7 1006.1 4.64 85.37% 23
1956 Wenlock IPA 16 0.04 1035.7 1010.8 3.22 69.75% 27
Average 19.0 0.06 1043.3 1009.5 4.39 77.85% 26.7
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Only three different beers there, so quite a limited set. Even so, there are clearly two types: a strong one, with a gravity at the top end of Best Bitter; and a weak one. Confused? Wait until I show you the bottled examples. They’re all over the shop.

The stronger ones would have been some of the strongest beers available on draught. Only things like KKKK, not usually available all year, would have been stronger.

Average attenuation is similar to the Bitters we saw earlier. The colour though is quite a bit darker – the Bitters averaged 21-22. As they are at the strong end, that’s not so surprising. Except to modern geeks.

I’ve no idea of the bitterness levels. Though I’d be surprised if they were much different from Bitters of a similar strength. The term IPA wasn’t used with any precision. A brewers could just as easily have called these beers Best Bitter or Special Bitter.

Almost forgot to mention. I drank that Charrington IPA in the 1970's. A not that interesting Best Bitter is how I would class it.

Maybe I really will do Mild next.


Bailey said...

Interesting that you don't have fond memories of Charrington IPA. We exchanged a couple of emails about it with Roger Protz who, I guess partly because he's from East London, has rather a nostalgic affection for it.

Ron Pattinson said...


it wasn't a particularly inspiring beer, but nothing wrong with it. The biggest problem was how it was looked after. Which often wasn't very well.

Rod said...

I'm with Ron on this one - a not-very-interesting Best Bitter sums it up. I'm comparing it with, for example, Eldridge Pope's Royal Oak, which I drank plenty of, or Strong's Bitter, ditto.

Paul Bailey said...

From the label it would appear that Courage were still brewing in Maidstone at the time.

This would have been the old Style & Winch brewery, which they acquired via Barclay Perkins.

Ron Pattinson said...


well spotted. I hadn't noticed that.