Though I should be careful about saying that. Not every beer in the tables below is a bottled Mild. Or something similar. There are some quite different stylistically. But we’ll get onto that later.
Starting with the Which? samples seems the logical place to start. They aren’t a very alcoholic bunch. Far from it. Only a couple are over 3% ABV and the average is below it. The strongest of the bunch, Double Maxim, wasn’t even classed as a Brown Ale but was lumped with the bottled Pale Ales. Of the ones they considered Brown Ales, only the Carlisle State Management example scrapes past 1040º.
The gravities are mostly in the low 1030’s, much like draught Mild. But the rate of attenuation is much lower, averaging 65% compared to almost 75%. That’s quite a difference considering they’re very similar, or in some cases actually the same, beer. That was certainly the case of Whitbread’s Forest Brown which was the same beer as Best Ale. Only one has attenuation over 70% and that’s the one beer that’s different from the others: Double Maxim.
It looks as if drinkers liked their Brown Ales sweet. Even sweeter than Mild. This is borne out by the bitterness levels, which average to one point lower than Mild. The combination of light hopping and high FG must have left them drinking pretty sweet and quite full for the gravity.
Looking at value for money, Double Maxim is a clear winner. It’s only a little more expensive for its ABV than draught Mild. Surprisingly, Brown Ale is on average worse value than bottled Light Ale and bottled Pale Ale, which both came to about 6.5. I can’t understand why that should be.
Moving on to the Gravity Book examples, you can see that they are a more diverse bunch. The majority are still of the bottled Mild type, but there are also some that are quite different. There’s a stronger type consisting of Bass, Newcastle Brown and Federation. The latter two are intended to be similar, I’m sure. And the Bass one probably filled a similar niche. The all have reasonable to high attenuation.
The real outlier is Websters Old Brown, which you may recall began life as a Coronation Ale. Strong, dark and heavy. I wouldn’t mind a pint of that now. I’d guess that it was parti-gyled with their Sam Brown Ale.
There’s a similar variation in colour, ranging from not really brown at all (Brickwood) to near black (Strong). Though the average is typical in the Dark Mild country of 80 to 90.
Federation comes out as best value for money. Not really much of a shock. Clubs breweries kept prices low. And their Brown Ale is also quite well attenuated, which helps. It even manages to be better value than one of the draught Milds. At the other end of the scale is Atkinson’s Brown Ale, which costs double per 1% ABV.
|Brown Ale in 1960|
|Brewer||Beer||Price per pint d||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||Index of Hop Bitter||price per % ABV|
|Ansells||Nut Brown Ale||17||1032.9||1010.5||2.90||68.09%||20||5.87|
|Friary Meux||Brown Ale||20||1030.2||1011.6||2.40||61.59%||19||8.33|
|Tolly Cobblold||Country Brown Ale||20||1031.5||1012.2||2.50||61.43%||23||8.01|
|Greene King||Burton Ale||20||1033.4||1011.7||2.80||64.97%||16||7.13|
|Truman||Trubrown Brown Ale||20||1034.7||1013.8||2.70||60.23%||27||7.42|
|Truman||Trubrown Brown Ale||20||1035.2||1015.1||2.60||57.24%||25||7.70|
|Simonds||Berry Brown Ale||20||1035.1||1015.7||2.50||55.27%||20||8.00|
|Carlisle State Management||Nut Brown Ale||20||1040.6||1012.8||3.60||68.60%||20||5.55|
|Fremlins||Double Elephant Brown Ale||21||1033.4||1011||2.90||67.07%||17||7.25|
|Courage & Barclay||'Doctor' Brown Ale||21||1034.7||1013||2.80||62.54%||26||7.49|
|Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.|
|Brown Ale 1959 - 1961|
|Brewer||Beer||Price per pint d||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour||price per % ABV|
|Ansell||Bruno Sweet Brown Ale||23||1034.4||1013.6||2.68||60.47%||90||8.57|
|Hammonds||Brown Jack Ale||20||1034.7||1009.3||3.18||73.20%||70||6.30|
|Newcastle Breweries||Brown Ale||32||1052.2||1012.1||5.22||76.82%||50||6.13|
|Tennant Bros.||Lion Brown Ale||23||1035.1||1009.2||3.24||73.79%||75||7.10|
|Tomson & Wotton||Tom Brown Ale||1033.5||1014||2.51||58.21%||110|
|Websters||Sam Brown Ale||18||1036.8||1011.1||3.33||69.84%||95||5.41|
|Hancock, Cardiff||Nut Brown||1033|
|Northern Clubs Federation||Federation Brown Ale||23||1051.4||1010.4||5.13||79.77%||70||4.49|
|Newcastle Breweries||Brown Ale||30||1051.4||1008.2||5.40||84.05%||50||5.56|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.|
|Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/127.|