Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Let’s Brew Wednesday – 1952 Strong Golden Ale

I long ago learned that there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to brewing. No matter what today’s “innovators” might claim, pretty much everything has already been done.

So you shouldn’t be surprised to discover that Golden Ale dates back much further than the 1980’s. And not just as far back as the 1950’s. A quick search in the newspaper archive popped up a beer called Golden Ale from almost a century earlier than that.

Bristol Times and Mirror - Thursday 07 May 1868, page 4.

A quick look at the colour confirms that it wasn’t just a fancy name for a bottled Pale Ale, but a significantly paler beer. It’s about the same colour as Pilsner Urquell. Though my guess is that if you’d asked for a Light Ale in a Strong’s pub, this is what you would have been served.

It’s another very simple recipe: pale malt and sugar. That’s it. Oh, and a tiny dash of malt extract. I’ve picked Goldings as the hops because it contained Kent and Farnham hops, according to the brewing record. And it’s pretty hop-accented, so you’d expect good quality hops to have been used. For its gravity, it has the heaviest hopping of any of Strong’s beers.

What else can I tell you? How much it cost down the pub. That’s always handy to know. This was Strong’s range of bottled beers:

Strong bottled beer prices 1955
beer style OG price per half pint price per pint
Golden Ale Light Ale 1033.5 10d 19d
Brown Ale Brown Ale 1033.5 10d 19d
Black Bess Stout Stout 1036.6 10d 19d
SPA Pale Ale 1045.4 12d
SSB Strong Ale 1045.4 12d
Strong brewing record, document number 79A01-A3-3-27
A Strong & Co, price list dated 4th July 1955.

As you can see, they kept the pricing structure simple.

Not sure I’ve much else to tell you. I think I’ll leave it there.

Over to me for the recipe . . . .

1952 Strong Golden Ale
PA malt 5.50 lb 78.57%
no. 1 sugar 0.75 lb 10.71%
glucose 0.375 lb 5.36%
candy sugar 0.125 lb 1.79%
malt extract 0.25 lb 3.57%
Goldings 90 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 60 min 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1033.5
FG 1007.5
ABV 3.44
Apparent attenuation 77.61%
IBU 37
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP007 Dry English Ale


Bailey said...

I think the question of whether golden ale was something new in the 1980s is a fascinating one. I've no doubt that John Gilbert at Hop Back and the chaps at Exmoor genuinely believed they were doing something new inspired by lager -- they weren't historians after all. So, no, not new, as you say, but I don't believe it was inspired by or a conscious continuation of this earlier tradition either.

DaveS said...

Did anyone else skip straight to the recipe and spend a few minutes wondering how 3.44% could be considered "strong"?

Ron Pattinson said...


Strong is the name of the brewery.

J. Karanka said...

I think I'll call my brewery Imperial

DaveS said...

Ron - I got that in the end! It confused me for a minute or two, though. :-)

That'll teach me for not reading the article properly...

Michael+ said...

I see the Golden and Brown ales have identical OGs. Were they substantively different or was the Brown just the Golden with caramel? You can see that I've been reading your stuff enough that I know that such jiggery pokery wouldn't be unusual!

Ron Pattinson said...


the recipes are very different. The Brown Ale is identical to the Mild, except that it was dry hopped in the tank before bottling.