Sunday, 10 January 2016

Bottled beer in the 1950’s – Bright Bottled Beers (part four)

This is so exciting. We’re actually getting to fill the conditioning tank.

This first bit seems pretty obvious:

“When a conditioning tank is filled with beer it is important to see that it is filled to the top. It is essential that no air remains, and in order to make sure that such is the case some of the top pressure should be blown off as soon as it reaches about 2 lb. Hopping-down hops, priming, or any other additional ingredients must, of course, be added to the tank before it is filled.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 334.

Having CO2 in any headspace would cut the risk of infection during maturation. As would the dry hops. Which is what they mean by “hopping-down hops”. Adding dry hops and primings is exactly what would have happened when beer was racked into casks. So up to this point bottled beer was being handled much the same as cask beer. Except rather than in a trade cask, the conditioning was occurring in bulk.

Here’s a little more detail on dry hopping:

“Dry hop rates vary according to the original gravity of the beer. For the lighter pale ales of O.G. 1030-1035 from 2 to 3 ounces per barrel are used and up to about half a pound per barrel for a strong ale. Only the most delicately flavoured hops are used for this purpose; Goldings are the most flavoured. Hop oil can be used as an alternative, being prepared as explained in Chapter 4. It is of particular importance to insure that if hop oil is used it is very thoroughly roused in so that there is no danger of uneven distribution.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 334.

Great. Some numbers that I can check. At least in some cases. Not all brewers could be arsed to note the dry hops in their brewing records. Let’s take a look at low-gravity Pale Ales first:

Dry hopping of low-gravity Pale Ales 1946 - 1959
Date Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation dry hops (oz / barrel)
25th Jan 1946 Barclay Perkins IPA 1031.5 1009.0 2.98 71.43% 4.00
25th Jan 1946 Barclay Perkins XLK 1035.3 1010.0 3.35 71.67% 4.00
20th May 1952 Strong GA 1033.5 1007.5 3.44 77.69% 8
1st Sep 1959 Ushers Trowbridge KK 1036.8 1010.8 3.44 70.68% 0.66
1st Sep 1959 Ushers Trowbridge BPA 1031.9 1008.6 3.08 73.04% 1.50
1st Sep 1959 Ushers Trowbridge LB 1030.7 1009.4 2.82 69.37% 1.54
7th Jun 1949 Wm. Younger Pale XXPS 1037.0 1011.0 3.44 70.27% 2.03
7th Jun 1949 Wm. Younger XXP 1031.5 1011.0 2.71 65.08% 0.99
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/626.
Strong brewing record, document number 79A01-A3-3-27.
Ushers brewing record held at the Wiltshire archives at Chippenham, document number 1075-275-6.
William Younger brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number WY/6/1/2/88.

It’s not the most enormous sample, but you can see that there’s considerable variation between breweries. Barclay Perkins and Strong used more than Jeffery suggests, while Ushers and William Younger used less. Not all of these were necessarily bottled beers, though Barclay Perkins IPA definitely was.

When the type of dry hops is recorded, it’s mostly EK Goldings. Though occasionally Saaz were used. Along with Hallertau they were the only foreign hops to be routinely used for dry hopping.

As promised, more about the rousing process:

“As soon as the tank has been filled it should be subjected to a vigorous rousing for at least an hour. The beer may then be left for 24 hours,  during which time internal pressure should steadily develop. At this stage it becomes necessary to map out a programme of rousing times followed by intervals of rest. This programme will depend mainly for its arrangement upon the aptitude of the beer for developing condition. Other governing factors will be the gravity of the beer and its age.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 334 - 335.

Rousing, i.e. agitating the beer, seems to have been an essential part of the process for getting beer into condition. We’ll see later just how minutely planned conditioning was, especially rousing.

This details how frequent rousing was:

“It will generally be found sufficient for rousing to take place for one hour in every three hours. This procedure should continue until the maximum pressure desired has been attained. If pressure is slow in developing it may be necessary, on the other hand, to rouse the beer every alternate hour. In cases of extreme stubbornness it may be necessary to resort to krausening as well. (Krausening is the addition of a small quantity (not more than 5%) of briskly fermenting wort taken from a fermenting vessel about 24 hours after pitching. This practice is common in lager beer fermentations, but is not much used in top fermentation brewing.) Sometimes the beer proves to be exceptionally lively, and pressure develops rapidly to its full amount. In that case some gas should be blown off and the figure reduced by 5 lb. This release may have to be repeated, because the final maximum of 22 or 23 lb. is sufficiently high for beers of ordinary gravity (16 to 20 lb.). Strong ales may be allowed to run up to 28 lb. We have mentioned that conditioning takes place as a rule in metal tanks. In spite of efforts made to preserve a normal average outside temperature, extremes of temperature in summer and winter are bound to have some effect upon the contents. Constant attention is therefore necessary.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 335.

One hour in three sounds like a lot to me.

Fascinating that kräusening was only employed when all else had failed. It doesn’t ever seem to have been very popular amongst British brewers other than Guinness. In the 19th century and early 20th century all their beers contained three elements: young beer, aged beer and “heading”. The latter being a sort of Kräusen.

This is a point of difference with American Ale-brewing practice. What most intrigued me about the records of Amsdell (of Albany, New York) from around 1900 is how almost all their Ales were kräusened. To me it’s a sure sign of the influence of German brewers.

Next we’ll be looking at a detailed record of tank-conditioning.

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