Thursday, 8 October 2015

Simonds Pale Ales 1948 – 1960

Another set of Simonds beers, this time of the paler Ale variety.

I hope this is helping to give you some idea of the beers brewed just after the war. Though they don’t look that odd to anyone who, like me, drank in the 1970’s. The traditional British styles didn’t change a great deal between 1960 and 1980.

Where to start? The draught ones, I suppose. I’ve included IPA as well because, well, they’re a kind of Pale Ale, too. Despite what modern geeks might like to think, historically the difference between the two styles was arbitrary. But that’s not what people want to hear. They want nice neat little boxes for each style. Except beer styles don’t – and never have – worked like that.

Certainly Simonds IPA and Best Bitter don’t have the relationship strength-wise most would expect today. The IPA is the weaker of the two. With a gravity in the mid-1030’s, it looks like a Classic Session IPA. If it weren’t for the fact that it predates the term by around 50 years.

Once again keg proves it perennial poor value. Simonds Keg Bitter is 3d a pint more expensive, but has a gravity 5 points lower than Best Bitter. It’s one of the reasons I never even vaguely contemplated becoming a keg or Lager drinker: I couldn’t afford it.

One last point. Most of the draught beers are quite pale. I’d expect a Bitter to be somewhere in the range 22 to 28. Anything under 20 is on the pale side.

Here’s table number one.

Simonds draught Pale Ale 1949 - 1960
Year Beer Style Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1949 E. IPA IPA 18 1039.7 1007 4.26 82.37% 23 B
1960 IPA IPA 14 1035.4 1010.2 3.15 71.19% 18
1950 Pale Ale Pale Ale 14 1031.5 26
1959 Keg Bitter Pale Ale 22 1037.4 1007.3 3.76 80.48% 19
1960 Best Bitter Pale Ale 19 1042.3 1007.5 4.35 82.27% 17
Truman Gravity Book document B/THB/C/252 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

The bottled set is somewhat larger. But appears to contain just four beers: Bulldog, SB and Tavern. Interestingly, the description of SB seems to have changed from Pale Ale to Light Ale in the late 1950’s. Though for a while they also had a beer called “Light Pale Ale”. I assume they changed to Light Ale to fit in with the fashion of the day. With the lowest gravity bottled Pale Ales being generally referred to as Light Ale.

Bulldog was mostly an export beer, I believe. Though as there’s a price in pence for the 1953 example, that must have been purchased in Britain. It’s very strong for a 1950’s Pale Ale. In fact it would have been at the top end of the gravity range in the 19th century. I don’t think I ever had it myself. I know Courage continued to brew it until at least the 1980’s, but don’t believe it’s still made. I know some beer writers rated it very highly.

Tavern is a funny one. I remember it as Courage’s flagship Keg Bitter. Pretty sure I never drank it. If I did have to drink in a Courage pub, I’d have gone for AK or Mild. It seems like another brand Courage picked up from Simonds. Older labels bill it as “India Pale Ale”, but later ones call it “Export Ale” whatever that means.

It’s interesting that the attenuation of the draught beers is, with a couple of exceptions, generally considerably higher than for the bottled beers.

Time for table two:

Simonds bottled Pale Ale 1948 - 1960
Year Beer Style Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1956 Bitter Ale Pale Ale 24 1030.1 1010 2.60 66.78% 25
1953 Bulldog Pale Ale Pale Ale 43.5 1066.4 1019.6 6.08 70.48% 25
1955 Bulldog Pale Ale  Pale Ale 1067 1018 6.38 73.13% 20
1949 Bulldog Pale Ale (imported into Belgium by John Martin, bought in Brussels) Pale Ale 1069.8 1011.9 7.59 82.95% 25
1959 Light Ale Pale Ale 22 1034.4 1012.1 2.88 64.83% 19
1948 Pale Ale Pale Ale 1028.8 1007.8 2.72 72.92% 22.5
1960 SB. Light Ale Light Ale 20 1034.2 1009.5 3.20 72.22%
1947 SB Ale Pale Ale 13 1029.1 1008.2 2.71 71.82% 23.5
1959 SB Light Ale Pale Ale 20 1034.2 1010.3 3.09 69.88% 19
1946 SB Pale Ale Pale Ale 13 1029.4 1005.1 3.16 82.65% 25 B
1950 SB Pale Ale Pale Ale 18 1032.5 1008.5 3.11 73.85% 26
1955 SB Pale Ale Pale Ale 18 1033 1009 3.11 72.73% 21
1956 SB Pale Ale Pale Ale 20 1033.4 1010.3 2.99 69.16% 21
1959 Tavern Export Ale Pale Ale 34 1045.8 1013 4.25 71.62% 18
1953 Tavern Pale Ale Pale Ale 30 1044.9 1012.3 4.23 72.61% 21
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Simonds Stouts to finish.


Ed said...

I picked up a bottle of Courage Bulldog in an Italian supermarket a few years back.

Martyn Cornell said...

Tavern, of course, is yet another of those cases where the premium bottled pale ale became the brewery's keg brand - as in Red Barrel, Double Diamond and Ben Truman – except that Courage itself didn't have a premium bottled pale ale, and had to use one made by a brewery it had taken over …

Tandleman said...

I remember drinking Courage Tavern in South Wales in 1976 (as well as Allbright Bitter in a WMC). The latter was quite nice I thought but can't remember anything about the Tavern.

back in Scotland then I was drinking Younger's Tartan or McEwans Export, two of the most cloying beers known to man, so I probably found the Allbright refreshing in that very hot summer.

Thom Farrell said...

I drank Bulldog just recently. It is still brewed by Heineken UK and is, as then, principally an export beer. One of its major markets is Italy. It is still 6.3% ABV. I believe it is brewed under contract at Burtonwood.

John Clarke said...

I started my drinking career on keg Courage Tavern in the Queens Head in Newark.

J. Karanka said...

Awesome! I always thought that Bulldog was one of those made up high gravity beers for the Italian market rather than a coelacanth of the brewing world!