Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1955 Flowers PX

You may be starting to detect a slight 1950’s theme going on in this series. There’s a reason for that. Though I’m not going to tell you it. I don’t want to ruin the mystery.

This beer comes from another brewery lucky enough to have been bought my Whitbread. Lucky for me, that is. Because they were very good at retaining all sorts of documents from those they took over. Including brewing records.

Let’s begin with the name. I’d probably be scratching my head trying to work out what the hell PX stood for – and coming up with all sorts of wild guesses – if I hadn’t seen adverts and labels for Flowers Palex. Which is obviously this beer. It had a darker sibling, which we’ll be getting to later, called Brownex.

Should you ask what style this was, I’d say Light Ale. Though the label says "Extra Light Mild Ale". And they also had a beer called LA, which I’m guessing stood for Light Ale. The gravity of the two was just a few percentage points different and the recipes identical. Seems like a bit of a waste of time.

I’m not going to claim that the recipe is particularly exciting. Basically, it’s just pale malt and No. 1 invert sugar. With a touch of wheat malt and malt extract. Not quite sure why the latter was so popular after WW II. Was it an attempt to make up for the lack of American malt with its higher diastatic power? I assume the wheat is there to improve head retention. At under 4% of the total grist it couldn’t have impacted the flavour much.

Flowers used the dropping system of fermentation. At least there’s a row called “dropped to” in the records. No more detail, than that, sadly. Not even the date and time of dropping. Though I guess no-one is likely to try to recreate that at home. It seems to have been a common method in the South. While in the Midlands and North Yorkshire squares were popular. Something even harder to recreate in your garage.

The FG is on the high side, leaving the finished beer under 3% ABV. This appears to have been deliberate as it’s similar in both examples I have. And the LA parti-gyled with this one had a longer fermentation and significantly lower FG.

The colour calculated from the ingredients came out slightly lower than the one quoted in the log, meaning there was probably some sort of colour correction with caramel. But the difference is so small – 4 SRM rather than 5.5 – that there doesn’t seem much point bothering with it on a homebrew level. It looks to me as if they deliberately aimed a little low so they could always hit the exact same shade. You can raise the colour easily enough but you try lowering it.

In such a light beer, those 27 IBUs will seem like more. Though the relatively high FG should leave it with a little body.

Time to turn you over to me for the recipe . . . . .

1955 Flowers PX
pale malt 5.25 lb 82.35%
wheat malt 0.25 lb 3.92%
no. 1 invert sugar 0.75 lb 11.76%
malt extract 0.13 lb 1.96%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 min 0.50 oz
Goldings dry hop 0.25 oz
OG 1030.3
FG 1011.5
ABV 2.49
Apparent attenuation 62.05%
IBU 27
SRM 5.5
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP007 Dry English Ale


David said...

The dropping system is quite easy for home brewers to replicate, according to Graham Wheeler's "CAMRA Guide to Home Brewing". As far as I remember, it simply involves transferring vigorously (so as to oxygenate) from one fermentation bucket to another after about 24 hours of initial fermentation, leaving the trub and some of the yeast behind.

A Brew Rat said...

I agree with David. I routinely drop my attempts at homebrewing British beers. I run my wort into a plastic bucket equipped with a spigot, and pitch the yeast. 14 to 24 hours later, I place the bucket on a workbench, then turn the spigot open, and let the fermenting wort fall a few feet into another bucket to finish primary fermentation. Works well with Fuller's yeast and WLP023 Burton.

Dan Klingman said...

Thanks to David and Brew Rat for an interesting technique. What does this do for the finished product?