Friday, 3 April 2015

Draught Strong Ale in the 1950’s

I still can’t quite face going through all the Milds. There are so many of them and there aren’t really subtypes. Not unless I really force things. So I’m dodging the problem and looking at Strong Ales instead.

It’s another very London-heavy set. But at least that tells me what precisely most of these beers were: Burton. A couple are even specifically called KK, the usual brewhouse name for Burton in the capital. One exception is the Barclay Perkins beers with a gravity of 1077.2. That’s KKKK, a beer only sold in the winter. That was called Old Burton.

These were some of the strongest beers regularly available on draught. Which isn’t that impressive, what with them averaging a bit under 5% ABV. But British beer, especially on draught, was generally pretty weak after WW II. In fact, it’s only in the last decade or two that more strong draught beers have appeared. It’s weird to think that beers like Old Peculiar, Fuller’s ESB and Rutland County were for a long time the strongest around.

The two different methods of colour notation make it difficult to do any averaging. What I can say is that they’re all dark brown, starting at the colour of Dark Mild and ending close to Stout.

Once again, attenuation is all over the place. As far as I can see, there is no real pattern.

Draught Strong Ale in the 1950's
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) Acidity OG FG ABV App. Attenua-tion colour
1954 Charrington KK 19 0.08 1048.1 1010.7 4.86 77.75% 21R+40B
1953 Barclay Perkins Strong Ale 37 1077.15 120
1954 Barclay Perkins KK 21 0.06 1043 1011.1 4.14 74.19% 19+40
1953 Charrington Strong Ale 19 1039.85 144
1954 Courage XXX 20 0.08 1046.2 1013.8 4.20 70.13% 31R+40B
1955 Hancock Five Five 1055
1953 Ind Coope Strong Ale 19 1042.98 112
1953 Lacons Strong Ale 21 1046.8
1953 Mann Strong Ale 24 1050.21 168
1954 Mann Dragon Ale 24 0.07 1051.2 1019.1 4.15 62.70% 25R+40B
1953 Meux Strong Ale 20 1045.79 152
1954 Taylor Walker KKK 21 0.05 1049.1 1017 4.15 65.38% 17R+40B
1953 Truman Strong Ale 22 1045.59
1954 Truman SA 22 0.05 1049.1 1009.3 5.19 81.06% 17+40
1954 Watney KKKK 24 0.10 1055.2 1013.5 5.42 75.54% 23R+40B
1953 Wenlock Strong Ale 20 1043.36 176
1953 Whitbread Strong Ale 23 1052.06 104
1954 Whitbread KKKK 23 0.06 1051.2 1011.9 5.11 76.76% 15R+40B
Average 22.3 0.07 1049.5 1013.3 4.65 72.94%
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
“Cardiff Pubs and Breweries” by Brian Glover, 2005. pages 97-101

It’s interesting that the average price isn’t much more than for Keg Bitter. Take out Barclay Perkins much more expensive beer and it’s about exactly the same. While the average gravity of Strong Ales was much higher. Another example of keg’s poor value for money. Which is still the case.

I really can’t understand why people are happy to pay five quid for a murky pint of keg when you can get a top-class cask beer for half the price. More money than sense, as my mum used to say.

Not sure where we’ll be going next. I could chicken out on Mild again and opt for bottled beers. Depends on my arsing situation.


John Clarke said...

Ron - where are the supporting numbers? It doesn't seem right without the numbers.

Phil said...

It’s weird to think that beers like Old Peculiar, Fuller’s ESB and Rutland County were for a long time the strongest around.

Weird, or else utterly normal - in the way that things you grew up with seem normal even when they've long since been replaced by something new and strange.

Ron Pattinson said...


slight mistake there. I've now added the table.