Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Branded IPA in 1953

Nope, wasn’t done. How could I have forgotten about IPA, everyone’s current favourite?

It’s not a huge set, then again it wasn’t that common for beers to be labelled IPA. And the term was used very loosely, covering very different beers. I’ll prove that in a moment. Why is that? Because, unlike today, people had no particular expectation about what an IPA would be like, other than being pale and reasonably hoppy. Hard to imagine such vague desires now.

Another problem is that the classic Burton IPAs weren’t always even called IPA. Often they were billed merely as “Pale Ale”, as was the case with Bass. Whose Red Triangle (trademark No. 1 in the UK) brand Pale Ale is a notable omission from the list. As is White Shield. Weird, that. I’d expect them to have been first on the list.

In table number two you can see for yourself how varied IPA was in terms of strength, ranging from 3% to 8% ABV. Pretty difficult to lump such dissimilar beers into a single description. Which is why I’m not going to bother. Most are, indeed, pretty pale. A colour below 20 is at the pale end of British Pale Ale’s colour spectrum. The one exception is from Vaux.

Sadly I only have analyses for two of the beers in the brand table, Brickwood’s Sunshine and Hope & Anchor’s Anchor. The former is a mid-strength example, the latter towards the limp end.

Branded IPA in 1953
Brewery Brand Type
Cheltenham & Hereford Breweries Double Chelt Bottled I.P.A.
Courage Alton I. P. A.
Abington Brewery  Double Ace I.P.A.
Gibbs, Mew Sarum Special I.P.A.
Hope & Anchor Anchor I.P.A.
Vallances Brewery Wessex I.P.A.
Brickwood Sunshine I.P.A., bottled
Campbell, Praed Cromwell Ale I.P.A., bottled
Brewery Manual 1953-1954, pages 382 - 394.

Bottled IPA in the 1950's 
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) Acidity OG FG ABV App. Attenua- tion colour
1956 Barclay Perkins IPA 20 0.04 1030.5 1007.3 3.01 76.07% 19
1959 Usher India Pale Ale 20 0.03 1032.3 1008.4 2.99 73.99% 18
1955 Vaux & Co India Pale Ale 18 0.05 1032.9 1008.2 3.20 75.08% 30
1959 Greene King India Pale Ale 20 0.04 1033.3 1010 3.02 69.97% 25
1956 Hope & Anchor IPA 24 0.04 1036.6 1008 3.71 78.14% 18
1955 Hansons IPA 22 0.04 1043.1 1007.8 4.60 81.90% 19
1955 Eldridge Pope IPA 29 0.05 1044.1 1012.8 4.06 70.98% 20
1960 Brickwoods Sunshine India Pale Ale 28 0.04 1044.7 1011.4 4.16 74.50% 25
1955 Flowers IPA 28 0.05 1045.9 1009.7 4.71 78.87% 25
1957 McEwan Export IPA 32.5 0.05 1046.4 1010.7 4.64 76.94% 22
1954 Courage John Courage IPA 28 0.05 1050.4 1011.2 5.10 77.78% 20
1955 Bass Pale Ale (Red Triangle) 0.04 1063.2 1009.6 7.02 84.81% 19
1955 Worthington India Pale Ale (Green Shield) 0.05 1063.3 1009.4 7.06 85.15% 18
1955 Bass Pale Ale (Blue Triangle) 0.07 1063.5 1003.1 7.96 95.12% 19
1955 Worthington India Pale Ale (White Shield) 0.05 1063.7 1002.9 8.02 95.45% 18
Average 24.5 0.05 1046.3 1008.7 4.88 79.65% 21.0
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
T & J Bernard's brewing records held at the Scottish Brewing Archive

I may still be able to drag some more material from this. I’m sure I’ve not done every beer type yet.


Tommy N said...

What is going in with the Blue Triagle and White Sheild? 95% attenuation, what do you think is causing this, type of yeast, mash schedule, Brett?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any recommendations for good IPAs available in the USA which might fit into to the general family of IPAs described here? Bass is widely available but while it might have fit the bill given the elastic nature of the category, it's pretty dicey these days, but I'd love to have something else in its place.

Ron Pattinson said...

Tommy N,

that level of attenuation was typical for bottled Burton Paler Ale. In earlier times, undoubtedly Brettanomyces played a role. Not sure if that was still the case in the 1950's.

Ron Pattinson said...


I doubt very much any beers like this make it to the US. White Shield is still available in the UK, but that's about the only one left.

A Brew Rat said...

"Does anyone have any recommendations for good IPAs available in the USA which might fit into to the general family of IPAs described here?" The nearest one I have found is Alexander Keith's IPA, which is brewed in Halifax.

Cameron Lewis said...

Alexander Keith's IPA isn't really an IPA by even the loosest definition. Tastes very much like any Canadian macro lager, though it's supposedly an ale.

It'd be lovely to see a brewing log of one of the old Burton-type IPA's that used to be popular in Canada.

Ron Pattinson said...

Camreon Lewis,

funny you should mention that. I've some Labatt's records from 1894 that includes an IPA. Nothing like as heavily hopped as a Burton IPA: 9 lbs per quarter as opposed to 20+ lbs.

Cameron Lewis said...

Other than the hopping, did the recipe look like a Burton IPA? I saw a table of yours here:


I was really interested to see OG and FG numbers of quite a few Canadian beers that looked just like beers from Bass. I know that Burton trained brewers were working in Canada at the time.

Ron Pattinson said...

Cameron Lewis,

there's not a great deal to the Labatt's recipe: just pale malt and hops. Burton Pale Ales would almost certainly have contained some sugar.