Sunday, 4 October 2015

Simonds Dark Ales 1948 – 1960

I seem to have accidentally started writing a history of the Big Six. How on earth did that happen?

Tracing exactly how they formed is fascinating. Like watching the solar system assemble itself. You can see that takeover targets weren’t random, but were chosen carefully. You didn’t want to get too much overlap in pub estates. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t choices.

J W Green and Simonds covered much of the same territory. It’s quite possible that Whitbread could have bought Simonds and Courage J W Green. Would that have made any difference in the long term? Probably not. But it would have made the 1970’s and 1980’s somewhat different. 

I’d love to know if they would have made the same brewery decisions. Meaning, would Courage have built a new brewery in Luton? Would Whitbread have replaced Simonds brewery with one outside Reading? Maybe Courage would have closed J W Green’s Luton brewery and kept open Flowers Stratford one.

Apologies for rather wandering off topic there. I’m supposed to be telling you about the Dark Ales of H & G Simonds. It shouldn’t take too long. It better hadn’t. I’ve things to do, beer to drink, mindless TV to watch.

We’re starting with Brown Ale. The table also has a Strong Ale randomly included. For no reason other than I didn’t know where else to put it. There’s something quite unusual about the first couple of Brown Ales in the table. See if you can spot it.

Simonds Brown Ale and bottled Strong Ale 1948 - 1960
Year Beer Style Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1948 Brown Ale Brown Ale 15 1026.3 1006.7 2.54 74.52% 40 + 8.5
1949 Brown Ale Brown Ale 15 1026.1 1008 2.34 69.35% 23 + 40
1950 Berry Brown Ale Brown Ale 15 1029.5 1007.3 2.88 75.25% 10 + 40
1951 Brown Ale Brown Ale 18 1029.2 1009.6 2.53 67.12% 19 + 40
1952 Berry Brown Ale Brown Ale 19 1032 1005.5 3.44 82.81% 5 + 40
1952 Brown Ale Brown Ale 18 1029.9 1009.7 2.61 67.56% 17 + 40
1956 Berry Brown Ale Brown Ale 16 1031.9 1011.9 2.58 62.70% 85
1960 Berry Brown Ale Brown Ale 20 1035.1 1015.7 2.50 55.27%
1953 Old Berkshire Strong Ale Strong Ale 43.5 1076.7 1033.2 5.61 56.71% 16 + 40
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

What’s odd? They have an OG below 1027º. That’s a very cost-ineffective way to brew. Because a beer under 1027º paid tax as if it were 1027º. Simonds paid more tax than they needed to on those beers. I suspect that they’d aimed for 1027º, but undershot.

I’m pretty sure that they’re all the same Brown Ale, despite the two names. Which makes it odd how variable they are in terms of attenuation and colour. You can see that the gravity rose between 1948 and 1960, but ironically the ABV didn’t. Very strange.

All I’ll say about the Strong Ale is that because of the crap attenuation, it wasn’t really all that strong.

Now it’s the turn of Mild Ale.

Simonds draught Mild Ale 1950 - 1951
Year Beer Style Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1950 Ale Mild 12 1030.4 56
1951 Mild Ale Mild 14 1032 1005.5 3.44 82.81% 80
1951 Mild Dark Sweet Mild 14 1031.5 1005.7 3.35 81.90% 80
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Only three examples this time. The one from 1950 isn’t properly dark. But dark enough to be easily distinguished from Bitter. The other two have quite a high ABV for their gravity, due to the high degree of attenuation. I can’t really see how the last one could be that sweet.

Pale Ales next.


Anonymous said...

I love seeing the layers peeled off the past. Couple of questions if you don't mind.

First, any insight what the Berry in that Berry Brown Ale signifies? Flavor, color, place name, or something else?

Second, during this takeover and consolidation period, do you have any sense how honorable the process was? Was it generally the result of dull negotiation and discussion of finances, or was there a fair share of intrigue and subterfuge, with bribery, political machinations, mysterious fires and the like? I am guessing it is the former, but any hints of the darker process would be interesting.

Ron Pattinson said...


no idea what the berry might mean other than a reference to the colour.

From what I've read so far, many owners were only too happy to sell up and took very little persuading. I think later on in the consolidation process, when the sharks turned on each other, it wasn't quite so civilised.