Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1959 Whitbread PA

It seems like an age since I last did a Whitbread recipe. Probably because it was ages ago.

Whitbread PA, the brewery’s main Bitter, had been around for a long time. It first appeared in 1865 and was brewed continuously until Chiswell Street closed in the mid 1970’s. Though it changed quite a bit over the years. Initially it was 6.5% ABV, though obviously a couple of world wars whittled that down. And there was a name change after WW II, at least at the point of sale, where it became known as Tankard. Or perhaps that was just the keg version.

In the 1950’s, Whitbread brewed two Bitters: PA at 1039º and IPA/WPA at 1035º. So I suppose Best Bitter and Bitter. IPA eventually transformed itself into Trophy. I would tell you more about that, but I’m saving it for when I publish a recipe.

There is a beautiful simplicity to this recipe. It’s just pale malt, crystal malt and No. 1 invert sugar. So simple I’m struggling for something to say. Er, note how Whitbread didn’t use any adjuncts (sugar is a malt substitute, not an adjunct). Which was good of them. Except during WW II, when they were obliged to use flaked barley, flaked rye and flaked oats.

One fact worth noting is that this beer was brewed from 100% British ingredients. British malt and Kent hops. This would have been unusual, other than in wartime, at any point in the previous century. But a huge increase in barley production during the war and a fall in the quantity of hops needed left the UK self-sufficient in brewing materials. Other than the occasional continental hop, it’s rare to see any imported raw materials in the 1950’s.

You’re going to have to make do with that as I’m ausgebollocksed. Just the recipe left.

1959 Whitbread PA
PA malt 6.25 lb 75.76%
crystal malt 60L 0.50 lb 6.06%
no. 1 sugar 1.50 lb 18.18%
Whitbread Golding Varieties 75 min 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 15 min 0.50 oz
OG 1039.3
FG 1011
ABV 3.74
Apparent attenuation 72.01%
IBU 28
SRM 12
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale


Anonymous said...

Once more I'm puzzled by the low hopping rate. I have Dave Line's book "Brewing beers like those you buy" and his recipe for Tankard ( 1.039 OG)uses 2 ounces of Fuggles and one and a half ounces of Bramling Cross in a 5 gallon brew.
He made the point that simply scaling down recipes doesn't work well in many cases on a homebrewing scale.

Oblivious said...

"Initially it was 6.5% ABV"

Ron do you have an idea of when they stopped ageing such pale ales like bass ?

Ron Pattinson said...


Whitbread's Bitters were pretty lightly hopped according to the brewing records.

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm not sure. Pretty sure they still aged some in the 1930's. Maybe in the 1950's, too.

Tony Perkins said...

In a few days I'll brew the 1875 Whitbread PA from your book. A couple of questions, if you don't mind: what pale malt would you use, for authenticity? I can get Fawcett Golden Promise and Maris Otter. GP seems a bit light for the color I want to reach, MO seems a bit too dark. Would you stick with one malt, or blend the two? Second question: your book says the 1875 PA was a stock beer. How long do you believe it was conditioned before being served?

Thanks in advance, and keep up the good work. I'm brewing more or less exclusively from your book these days!

- Tony

Ron Pattinson said...

Tony Perkins,

I'd use a mix of the two.

Stock Pale Ales could be aged for 12 months or more. I'd reckon at least 3 months for the 1875 PA.