Thursday, 31 March 2016

How to make Kulmbacher

More confirmation that illicit fiddling with beer wasn’t limited to the UK.

This is how you turn boring old pale beer into something more exciting (And more expensive.) This happened in Hannover.

“The following the case, which was handled by the courts during the reporting years, is also likely to be of some interest.

A beer merchant and his wife were accused of having added to a pale Herforder beer a so-called Färbebierextrakt and sold this coloured beer as required as a dark Herforder or Kulmbacher beer, at the corresponding prices.

The accused admitted to have sold the coloured Herforder beer as Dunkles Herforder. In contrast, when Kulmbacher was demanded, they  mixed the dark Färbebierextrakt with genuine Munich beer and this then had acquired the dark appearance of the Kulmbacher beer.

Interesting was the praise of the manufacturers of the nature of his Färbebierextrakt. This commendation reads, "My Färbebierextrakte, when added to beer in the correct ratio, imparts the same colour, aroma, taste, mouthfeel, even the character of the desired beers whose name they bear.

To 100 litres of Pilsener you add : for Bayerisches 0.33 to 0.25, Kulmbacher 1, Bock 1 - 1.5, Porter 0.5 litres of extract.

The addition to beer may be performed either warm or cold, either in the brew kettle, the fermenting room, the lagering vat, or in the shipping cask, in which case the extract (as it usually happens) is poured into the empty transport casks and the beer is filled on top of it. I recommend the latter practice. "

The court found against the defendants and fined them each 100 M. or 10 days in prison.
"Übersicht über die Jahresberichte der öffentlichen Anstalten zur technischen Untersuchung von Nahrung und Genussmitteln im Deutschen Reich für das Jahr 1902" by Kaiserliches Gesundheitsamt, 1905, page 103.

Färbebierextrakte sounds remarkably like Sinamar, a Reinheitsgebot compliant, barley-derived caramel substitute. You don’t want to know how many dark German beers use Sinamar but no coloured malts. Pretty sure you can add that hot or cold, too. Adding to the shipping cask sounds just like priming a cask beer with caramel at racking time.

I’m not totally sure what law the couple had broken in the case of the Herforder. It was Herforder beer, just with the colour adjusted. I can see where they were in the wrong with the Kulmbacher. Would it have been OK to use the extract in the brewhouse? It’s all rather unclear.

There’s one dead, dead handy thing about this article. It gives an idea of the relative colours of the different types of beer. It shows just how dark Kulmbacher was: darker than Porter.

Exactly how this extract could magically recreate the characteristics of the different styles I can’t quite see. If it had enough roastiness to simulate a Porter, adding yet more to Pilsner would create an odd kind of Bock.

100 marks fine or 10 days in jail seems a little harsh.

Want to know what real Kulmbacher beer looked like? You’ll need to wait until next time.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday – 1950 Lees “C” Ale

Here’s a classic – and very geographically specific – type of Strong Ale: a Manchester “C” Ale.

I was so pleased when I found this tucked away in the Lees brewing records. I’d come across mentions of “C” Ale a couple of years previously and had wondered what the hell it was. Some sort of stronger bottled beer, but I had no real details. Lees records told me it was very like a London Burton, but bottled rather than draught. So dark, 5%-ish ABV, reasonably hopped, dark in colour.

In the middle decades of the 20th century several Manchester breweries produced a “C” Ale. I’ve seen labels from four different breweries: Lees, Groves & Whitnall, Cornbrook and Openshaw. There may well have been others. As to what the name means and who first brewed it – I’ve no idea. And it seems to have disappeared just as mysteriously as it emerged. I’m not being very informative, am I? I could make something up, but I’ve sort of made a point of not doing that. I’ll leave that to you.

Getting back to cold, hard facts, I am sure of the OG. The FG is a guess because the brewers at Lees couldn’t be bothered to enter it in this period. Which is a bit irritating. At least they filled most of the rest in. Apart from the pitching temperature. That, too, is a reasoned guess.

Lees were quite adventurous for 1950’s British brewers in that they used some dark malts. Unlike most brewers who preferred to use sugar, other than in Stout. This has a touch of black malt and some crystal. The log just says “invert”, but I think the No. 3 variety is a reasonable guess. What I’ve listed as cane sugar was “Barbados syrup” in the original. Sounds like some sort of unrefined sugar to me.

There’s very little detail on the hops in the brewing record, save that they were from the 1949 crop and cost £27 per cwt. I happen to know that the average price of that year’s crop was 26 10s per cwt.* So these are hops of average quality. Fuggles is definitely the way to go. Goldings would probably have cost more. And those two hops made up 90-95% of English hop production back then.

I’ll stop pestering you now and throw the recipe at you.

1951 Lees "C" Ale
pale malt 8.25 lb 75.00%
black malt 0.125 lb 1.14%
crystal malt 0.63 lb 5.68%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 2.27%
glucose 0.50 lb 4.55%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.82%
cane sugar 0.50 lb 4.55%
Fuggles 90 min 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1053
FG 1014
ABV 5.16
Apparent attenuation 73.58%
IBU 28
SRM 28
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

* 1955 Brewers' Almanack, page 63.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

20% off my Lulu print books (again)

until the end of today (29th March).

All you need to do is to use this code when you buy:


Gon on. You know you want to complete the whole Mega Book Series  -   Porter!, Mild! plus, Bitter! and Strong! Be the first in your town with the full set.

Barclay Perkins Bookstore

My last trip

to the US, I mean.

Did lots. Took bugger all notes and not that many photos.

Here are a few of the less crap ones that, if I really, really stretch my imagination, tell the story of my first day.

You know what the worst thing about being a writer is? People always expect words from you. Mostly for free.

You'll have to do with my crap photos for now. See if I can get my word engine fired up later in the week.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the vat house

You may remember the layout of Park Royal. The brew house, fermenting house and vat house really were separate buildings, connected by walkways.

It interesting that they called it a vat house. Hang on. They really did have wooden vats in the vat house. Well blow me. I knew they had in Dublin up until at least WW II. But they brewed Foreign Extra Stout there, a beer which was vatted for a long period. I don’t believe they ever brewed that at Park Royal so it’s interesting that they still had vats there.

“The Vat House.—From the beer refrigerators in the fermenting house the beer is run down by gravity to the storage vats in the storage vat house, which is virtually a storage cellar, and to prevent any undue rise in temperature the building is lined with special insulation bricks of standard brick size. The flat concrete roof is asphalted and covered with white spar chippings in bitumen to reflect the heat of the sun. There are no windows and results have generally been most satisfactory, the temperature of the liquor in vat being practically unaffected in mid summer. The vats are constructed of oak and hooped with copper bearing mild steel, there being 24 large vats, each with a capacity of 1,150 barrels, and eight smaller ones having a capacity of 870 barrels each.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

I make that a total vatting capacity of 34,560 barrels. Remember that daily output was 3,000 barrels. Meaning the vats had enough room for 11 days’ worth of brews. Which implies that beer didn’t stay in the vats for a great length of time. Why didn’t they just use metal tanks? Surely they would have been much cheaper?

It’s an odd idea, basically building a storage cellar above ground. Though it sounds as if they’d insulated it well enough.

It seems the storage vats weren’t the only ones:

“The pipe lines, as in the fermenting house, are of tinned copper and there is nothing of particular interest in this building excepting the large positive displacement pumps which are used for transferring the beer from the storage vat house to the elevated racking vats. The choice of positive displacement pumps was determined by the variation in pumping head arising from the storage vats being 20 ft. deep and the racking vats some 18 ft. deep arranged above them, the transference from full to empty vats involving a difference in head beyond the characteristic curve of the standard centrifugal pump when maintaining the necessary output.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

Note that the first lot of vats are called storage vats rather than maturation or conditioning vats. Clearly their function wasn’t to condition or age the beer but merely to store it until racking time. It sounds as if the racking vats were also wooden. It doesn’t half sound old-fashioned.

Cask cleansing and racking next.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

More Porter Adulteration

How many cases of Porter adulteration have I brought to your attention? Loads, I know that. Because a lot of it went on.

It seems that, in some periods, unadulterated Porter wasn’t so much a rarity as totally non-existent. Except for maybe in the brewery tap of one of the London big boys. Whitbread, Truman, Barclay Perkins. People like that. Ordinary publicans weren’t to be trusted. If you were lucky, they just watered it. If you weren’t . . . . who knows what poisonous potions you’d consume?

But this one is different. Because it’s from Germany. An Altona trader in bottled beer was caught cutting Porter with Braunbier. Obviously something much cheaper. Analysis of his beer and Original-Porter (it’s not clear if that was imported Porter from the UK or locally-brewed stuff) showed around 25% Braunbier had been added. Found guilty, the trader was fined 30 marks. Which I guess was quite a lot of dosh back then.*

Here’s the table in a more readable, English-language format:

confiscated Porter Original Porter
specific gravity 1013.8 1017
ABW 4.05% 5.23%
Extract 5.37% 6.63%
mineral content 0.34% 0.38%
OG (Plato) 13.17% 16.59%
degree of attenuation 59.23% 59.80%
hydrochloric acid undetectable undetectable
artificial sweetener undetectable undetectable

* "Übersicht über die Jahresberichte der öffentlichen Anstalten zur technischen Untersuchung von Nahrung und Genussmitteln im Deutschen Reich für das Jahr 1902" by Kaiserliches Gesundheitsamt, 1905, page 103.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday (Saturday edition) – 1858 William Younger Ex Pale Ale

Here’s something doubtless more in tune with modern tastes: a hoppy Pale Ale.

Is it a Pale Ale or an IPA? No effing idea. It’s not even a sensible question for an 1850’s beer. There wasn’t really much of a consistent demarcation between the two. All I can say is that this looks pretty close to a beer like Bass Pale Ale, the classic English IPA.

Younger’s used pretty much an identical mashing schemes for all their beers, with the exception of their Stouts which had lower mashing temperatures. Their Pale Ales were mashed just the same way as their Scottish Ales.

I’m really struggling for much to say about this beer. Other than that it was pale and hoppy. Very hoppy. Loads of Goldings in the boil and loads more as dry hops. Leaving an impressive IBU count of 142. And that’s using BeerSmith’s default of 5% alpha acid content. Most of the old analyses of Goldings show over 6% alpha.

This looks like a Stock Pale Ale, meaning a long secondary conditioning is appropriate. Anything from 3 to 12 months. If you’re the patient sort. And the real FG would have been lower. These export beers usually had 80% plus attenuation.

Me done. Recipe. Off for a walk now . . .

1858 William Younger Ex Pale Ale
pale malt 14.75 lb 100.00%
Goldings 90 min 4.00 oz
Goldings 60 min 4.00 oz
Goldings 20 min 4.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 2.50 oz
OG 1063
FG 1016
ABV 6.22
Apparent attenuation 74.60%
IBU 142
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 185º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Friday, 25 March 2016

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

The challenge I always find with these long series is remembering what the hell I was writing about at the beginning.

We’ve got as far as filtering. I thought we’d already done that. Didn’t it come before carbonation? Or am I getting confused?

Let’s start with some interesting points about beer clarity and filtering.

Filtering of Bottled Beers
Experience has revealed the fact that the filter plays a more important part in the subsequent beers than was at first understood. As a result, several improvements have been made in modern filters, and they are still being further developed. The whole idea of the filter is centralized in the production of a brilliant beer which will remain bright for an unlimited time after bring bottled. Up to the present we know of no plant which will invariably produce such a beer, and we rather doubt if one will ever be made. So much depends upon the actual brewing of the beer and the colloidal balance of its constituents. We feel justified in saying that the brilliancy of beer depends first upon the quality of the barley, then upon its correct and careful malting, subsequently upon proper mash tun treatment, and finally upon satisfactory fermentation. When beer has been brewed under these conditions and is given time to mature it should drop bright spontaneously. In such a case the filter merely becomes a polisher. It is impossible, however, always to guarantee that beer has been produced under such favourable conditions, and the bottler has to rely to a far greater extent upon his filter.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 341.

That’s an interesting admission: no method produced a beer that would stay bright indefinitely. I wonder if that’s still the case? If you filtered and pasteurised enough, wouldn’t that be the case? Despite having used isinglasss finings for centuries, British brewers still had a thing about beer spontaneously dropping bright. They reckoned that, given time, a beer brewed properly should become clear. Unfined does not equal murky, despite what some modern charlatans might claim.

So if you’d brewed your beer well, the filter was just adding the final polish. If not, then hopefully it was going to save your bacon.

Now something about filter design:

“Considerable strides have been made in filter design in the past ten years or so. At one time most beer filters used filter pulp, which was supplied in thick cakes by the makers and had to be broken up, soaked and then continually agitated with hot water to give an even mass, then pumped through perforated frames, the pulp being retained by the gauze to form a filter. The breaking up and disintegration of the pulp, and the filling of the frames and their even pressure to form a satisfactory filter bed was a matter of considerable trouble and variations in brilliancy of the filtered beer were difficult to avoid. After use the pulp had to be washed, redispersed and sterlized before using again. The mixture of 3% to 5% of asbestos fibre with the pulp (the cakes as bought were usually treated in this way) was found to assist in giving better packing. Comparatively few bottlers now use pulp filters of this kind. Modern beer filters fall into two main categories. Those winch use prepared sheets of compressed filter material, known as plate or sheet filters, and those which use a bed of kieselguhr (infusorial earth), known as kieselguhr or earth filters.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 341 - 342.

That pulp sounds like a pain the arse. And the presence of asbestos isn’t making me like it any more. It seems like these are still the two main methods of filtering.

“Different mechanisms of filtration can be used:

Sieving or surface filtration in which the particles are trapped in pores in the filter medium and retained in a layer. Filtration quality improves with time but the volume flow decreases continuously.

Depth filtration in which a separation medium, e.g., kieselguhr is used on a support and which causes the particles in the beer to take a very elongated route through a large surface area. The particles are retained by mechanical sieving because of size and will gradually block the pores in the medium and so reduce flow rate and the particles can also be retained by adsorption as a result of electrical charge effects.”
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 575.

Fascinating that nothing has changed much in this area in the last 60 years.

Next we’ll look at the filters themselves in more detail.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Drunken draymen

Random something found in research for something totally unrelated. It's from a French magazine that published translations of English-language articles.

This was first published in Chambers's journal:

"Just because a man is never drunk, it doesn't mean he isn't drinking more than he should. The workers of the large breweries in London, for example, draymen especially, consume a huge amounts of beer. The daily ration from their employer is very large, but it isn't enough. In addition, draymen get a lot of free beer from the customers they deliver barrels to. As a result, it's not unusual for a man to drink 10 to 14 quarts (about 11 to 16 liters); however, they are not drunkards in the ordinary sense of the word. The very nature of their work requires strong men, strength is an essential requiremnt for the trade. But if one of these men is hurt or is forced to go to bed for some other accident, he will almost certainly suffer from delirium tremens; and a head injury is often fatal. Brewery workers are known in hospitals as the worst candidates for operations, as they are predisposed to the most dangerous complications that hinder the success of surgical treatment."
"Revue Britannique, volume 4", 1892, page 115. (Mine and Google's translation.)
Barclay Perkins draymen were renowned for being big bastards.Which you'd need to be if you were delivering hogsheads all day. Just as long as they didn't bang their heads on a cellar roof.

Pisshead draymen is a recurring theme. Free beer in every pub being the problem. My mum told me that the ones that delivered beer in Handsworth were always plastered by the end of the day and relied on the horses to take them around their route. But 10 or 14 quarts is a stack of beer. Even if it were just Porter, the cheapest draught beer, it would be at least 5% ABV in the 1890's. Anything else would be stronger.

The article has some good stuff about opium use in late 19th-century Britain, too.

Here's the original French text:

"De ce qu'un homme ne s'est jamais enivré, il ne s'ensuit pas qu'il ne boive pas plus qu'il ne le devrait. Les ouvriers des grandes brasseries de Londres, par exemple, les camionneurs surtout, consomment une quantité de bière énorme. La ration quotidienne que les patrons leur accordent est très forte, mais ils s'en contentent rarement. En outre, les camionneurs en reçoivent beaucoup, ‘a titre gracieux, des clients auxquels ils livrent continuellement des barils. Il en résulte que 10 à 11 quartes (environ 11 à 16 litres) ne sont pas une consommation exceptionnelle pour un homme; cependant, ce ne sont pas des ivrognes dans le sens ordinaire du mot. La nature même de leur travail nécessite l'emploi d'hommes robustes, la force étant une obligation dans le métier. Mais si l'un de ces hommes se casse un membre ou est contraint de s'aliter pour un autre accident quelconque, il est presque sûr d'être atteint de delirium tremens ; et une blessure à la tête est souvent pour lui mortelle. Les ouvriers de brasserie sont connus dans les hôpitaux comme les pires sujets à opérer, prédisposés qu'ils sont aux plus dangereuses complications qui entravent le succès d'un traitement chirurgical."
"Revue Britannique, volume 4", 1892, page 115.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1954 Whitbread Best Ale

We complete this trilogy of Whitbread dark Ales with their standard-strength draught Mild, Best Ale.

It’s a beer with a long history, having its origins in their X Ale of the 1830’s. Though obviously there were a few little changes over the years. Most notably a slow but steady knocking of the stuffing out of it strength-wise. Back in 1836, it was 1077º. By 1854 it was down to 1068º, by 1868 to 1059º. In 1901, it fell to 1052º, where it remained until the start of WW I. After WW I, it stabilised around 1042º, before dropping in 1931 to 1036º. WW II knocked of a few more gravity points leaving the beer you’ll see below.

This is one Whitbread that I know 100% certain that I drank. Though, as it was in the late 1970’s, it probably came from Luton. It was only keg, but I was so desperate to drink Mild, I didn’t let that put me off. What was it like? Dark, a bit watery, a bit sweet and overall rather dull. I’m sure cask conditioning would have improved it considerably.

I think Best Ale has been discontinued. But not all that long ago. Which shows quite some resilience for a beer that’s been as fashionable as a mullet for the last 50 years.

I’m struggling for much else to say. The recipe is basically the same as Forest Brown. Just a little weaker and a little more heavily hopped.

Er, that’s it. Except for this recipe thing . . . .

1954 Whitbread Best Ale
mild malt 5.25 lb 80.77%
crystal malt 0.50 lb 7.69%
no. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 11.54%
Fuggles 60 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 40 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 20 min 0.50 oz
OG 1030.9
FG 1010
ABV 2.76
Apparent attenuation 67.64%
IBU 23
SRM 25
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Community Beer Archive

Just had an idea. Prompted by a question down the pub:

"Have all the brewing records in the London Metropolitan Archives been scanned."

It was well meant, but I couldn't help laughing.

Then realised it wasn't a laughing matter. I've taken a few snapshots, but the vast majority of the pages are unrecorded. There are all sorts of ways they could be damaged or lost. What a waste.

There's a huge resource out there, in a highly flammble, rottable, floodable, wormable form. It needs to be backed up.

No way I can do that by myself.

Here's the idea: a community scanning project. Anyone can take part. Scan brewing records and add them to a freely accessible database.

This is the best bit: get beer as a reward.

That's if brewers are willing to join in. Give beer, save history.

Who's in?

Best beer towns (part two)

Got to get this finished. Almost forgot. Off to the US in a few hours.

Part two of an even for me less than inspiring series. I think it's about run its course with this post. Much as I love the 4-D idea, quite a bit of my past was less than scintillating, beer-wise. Pretty much always found something drinkable, except for that year in Teheran. Just an excuse for more nostalgia, really.

3. Nottingham 1978
Nottingham's pubs were mostly in the hands of three local breweries: Home Ales, Shipstone's and Hardy & Hanson. Their pubs were mostly very traditional, almost all sold cask beer and were cheap. Funny that in an area with healthy competition and few outlets for big brewers that the prices were lower than elsewhere. You only really had 6 draught beers to choose from - Bitter and Mild form each of the three. But they all had there own characteristics and were almost universally in good condition.
Beers: Shippos's Mild, Home Mild, Shippo's Bitter.
Best pubs: Queen's Hotel (very handy for the station), Lincolnshire Poacher, Sir John Borlase Warren.
Today: All three breweries are sadly gone, though Star Bitter is a recreation of Shippo's Bitter and the Shipstone's brand has recently been revived.

4. East Berlin 1987
My second Iron Curtain contender. Many hurtful lies have been told about East German beer. Mostly by those who never actually drank any of the stuff. East Berlin pubs, if you could get a seat, were great fun. The beers most generally available - Berliner Pils and Schultheiss Berliner Weisse - were pretty damn good. The latter especially. It's a beer I still dream about. Plus you could often find bottles of Porter in shops. And a couple of places sold Pisner Urquell and Budvar. That's a good enough selection for me.
Beers: Schultheiss Berliner Weisse, Burgerbräu Berliner Pilsner, any Porter
Best pubs: Feierabend Klause,
Today: Pretty much nothing. All the breweries are gone and the pubs have either disappered or change beyond recognition.

That's me done. Got posts well out past the end of my hols. Finally I can sleep.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part nine)

We’re almost finished with the fermenting arrangements at Park Royal. Just the fascinating matter of yeast collection and processing.

We start with the yeast collection vessels:

“There are two stainless-steel enclosed cylindrical yeast collecting vessels each of 200 cu. ft. capacity, i.e. 400 cu. ft. for three skimmers holding some 1,275 barrels of beer. These collecting vessels are fitted with internal power-driven fob breakers for degassing the yeast by cutting it down as it enters the vessel. Continuous yeast collection can be carried out as one collecting vessel can be blown to the yeast presses while the other is being filled. The capacity of each pair of yeast collecting vessels is sufficient to take about 65 per cent, of the total yeast from three skimmers, as the yeast "broken down" by the fob breakers is about the same density as ordinary liquid yeast.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

Presumably these two cylinders per 3-skimmer bank were being filled from the yeast troughs at the end of each skimmer.

Those fob breakers sounds dead handy. I should get myself one. How often have I thought: what I need now is a good fob breaker.

I’ve been having trouble imagining how these skimmers were arranged. This makes it clearer:

“As there are eight banks of skimmers there are 16 yeast collecting vessels in all, arranged in two aisles one on each side of the house. The vessels are equipped for pressure evacuation by air at 45 Ib. p.s.i.g., the yeast being blown to filter-cloth yeast presses. There are two blowing mains, one for "pitching," i.e. yeast used in the brewing process, and the other for surplus yeast. This ensures that a selected "pitching" crop can be isolated from collection in skimmer to pressing. The yeast-blowing mains are of tinned copper with rubber diaphragm valves and flexible rubber connections for connecting one vessel to either "pitching" or surplus yeast lines. The yeast vessels are scalded out with hot water at 190° F. after each brew.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

Eight banks of skimmers, each consisting of three skimmers vertically spread across three storeys. It’s an odd arrangement. I’ve come across plenty of different cleansing systems, but never one like this. I assume that they had the same in their Dublin brewery. The photo archive on the Guinness website had a picture of one that seems to fit the description. Though only one skimmer is visible so you can’t see if it’s in a bank of three.

The presses were where the yeast was pressed to both remove wort and make the yeast more compact. Interesting to see how carefully they kept the pitching and surplus yeast apart.

More details about the presses and an intriguing mention of bottoms (stop sniggering at the back):

“The yeast presses are of the standard filter-cloth type cooled with chilled water at 45° F., there being one bank of four 9 cwt. presses for store or "pitching" yeast, this quantity being sufficient for two brews, which is necessary to maintain brewing over holiday week-ends. For the surplus yeast, there are seven 16 cwt. presses cooled with chilled water. All the above weights are of pressed yeast. The barm beer from the press is collected in welded mild-steel enclosed collecting vessels. All the bottoms from the fermenting tuns and the fermenting house vessels are collected in stainless-steel enclosed cylindrical-bottomed vessels and blown to the surplus yeast presses.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

Right, so they’re collecting the barm beer from the presses and the bottoms of the fermenting tuns. But what are they doing with it? Is it being re-used or is it being discarded? Remember that Watneys collecting all this sort of crap and blended it into new brews. Did Guinness do the same? Perhaps the author is reluctant to admit it, because he’s a bit vague at this point.

The vat house next.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

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

That’s the second time I’ve forgotten about this series. Never mind, I’ve remembered now. You probably wish I hadn’t.

If you can recall that far back, we’d conditioned our beer in a warm tank before transferring it to a cold tank. The big question is: how long should it stay there?

“Exactly how long beer should remain in a cold room depends upon various circumstances, and is also a matter of opinion. With a heavy rush of orders during the summer it may be possible to give it a few hours only. If a tendency to fob when being bottled, as well as a risk of the filters choking rapidly, is left out of the question, experience has shown that it is possible to obtain quite good results by such a short period of storage. Others, however, maintain that the beer is unmistakably better if kept in the cold room for a fortnight or three weeks. It is claimed that this long period of storage obviates fobbing. We are not in a position to express a definite opinion on this subject, but we do think that the beer should be given a week at least in which to settle down after being transferred from the conditioning tank and being chilled. We do not consider that this procedure would prevent fobbing, because it is our belief that this trouble is due to other causes, as discussed later in this chapter. It must be quite obvious that if the beer is given time to rest a considerable deposit of sediment must take place in the tank. This deposition greatly relieves the filters of the risk of premature choking.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, page 340.

This is starting to sound more and more like lagering. OK, in the 1950’s central European breweries were probably lagering Pilsner for at least 8 weeks. But their beers were stronger than most British bottled stuff so would have need longer. Working on the old one week lagering per degree Plato, a British Brown Ale of 1032º (8º Plato) would need 8 weeks. But that’s the 19th-century standard. After WW II you could probably halve that. Meaning a British Brown Ale could have been receiving a similar conditioning to a Lager of the same strength. Weird.

I think I can understand why. Non-deposit bottling was imported into Britain from the US, where Lager-brewing techniques had greatly influenced even Ale breweries. They had a roughly similar process for bottling both Ales and Lagers. British brewers copied the Americans and unwittingly ended up using some techniques similar to Lager brewers.

I can’t imagine for a second anyone goes to all this trouble now in the UK. It’s a long process. Remember that the beer had 2 weeks in the warm tank. Another 2 or 3 in the cold tank and it’s starting to add up. You’re looking at 6 weeks from mashing to bottling.

Why don’t I just check? I’ve got a shiny new brewing text book.

"Now many types of ale are brewery conditioned and filtered and sold in kegs (Chapter 23). Ale fermentations are rapid and vigorous and usually completed in 48 to 60 hours (Chapter 12) at temperatures of up to 24ºC (75ºF) before being cooled to < 10 ºC (50ºF) as rapidly as possible to encourage yeast separation. A period of warm conditioning for a brewery conditioned beer can take place in the fermenting vessel at around 15ºC (59ºF) before cooling and transfer to the maturation vessel. Diacetyl reduction is not a problem and low levels of diacetyl (0.1 mg/l) are a constituent of some ale flavours. Brewery conditioning of ales focuses on cold treatment to `fix' the flavour of primary fermentation and to ensure the elimination of haze precursors. Yeast is removed by skimming from the top of the fermenter at the end of primary fermentation and the beer is conditioned at -1ºC (30ºF) for 48 to 120 hours."
"Brewing Science and Practice" by Dennis E. Briggs, Chris A. Boulton, Peter A. Brookes and Roger Stevens, 2000, page 548.

That indeed sounds much shorter. And with fewer vessels. A short warm conditioning in the fermenting vessel then a couple of days in the cold tank. Sounds like no more than around a week conditioning.

Should you bottle straight from the filter? Not according to Jeffery:

“Many bottlers fill direct from the filters, but we are not in favour of this method. It is difficult to synchronize the flows of filter and filler, especially as the build-up of deposit on the plates gradually slows down the filtering process. Moreover, we think this procedure may be one of the causes of fobbing. It is preferable to filter the beer into a supplementary tank. The beer should, if possible, be allowed to remain for two days under top pressure in this tank, which must, of course, be situated in the cold room, and bottling should then take place. In this way an even pressure can be maintained until the last drop of beer has been bottled. Although the beer has probably passed already through two filters a further deposit may take place in this additional tank. This fact contributes towards extreme brilliancy of a lasting nature and a lessened tendency towards the formation of haze. In many cases, however, it is necessary, because of lack of tank space, only to leave the beer in it overnight.”
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E. J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 340 - 341.

So ideally you need yet another specialist vessel, a pressure tank in the cold room. It makes sense that bottling would be easier if the pressure were constant. But I can understand why many wouldn’t want to go to the extra expense of yet another tank.

Filtering next.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday (Saturday edition) – 1851 William Younger 140/-

Finally, a beer of the type that made Scottish brewing famous: Scotch ale. And one that's really that, not some modern geek's guess at what it should be.

A characteristic of Scotch Ale (or Edinburgh Ale) that is often mentioned is it's lovely pale color. Not what people expect of a strong Scotch Ale nowadays, which would invariably be dark. But the dark colour is a much more recent development, achieved by the simple means of caramel. I don't think I've ever seen any dark malts in a real Scotch Ale, i.e. one actually brewed in Scotland.

It took me a long while to work out what Scotch Ale was. The strength distracted me. But its now clear: most is a sort of Mild Ale. A very strong Mild Ale, but one nonetheless. Why am I so confident of that? Because of its secondary conditioning. Strong Shilling Ales were filled into hogsheads and half hogsheads and immediately delivered to customers, who after a short period bottled it and it was ready for consumption. An Ale that was sold young? That's Mild Ale in my book*.

It's not the world's most complicated recipe: pale malt and Goldings. But that's the recipe of some of my favourite recreations, like 1832 Truman XXXX. You might be surprised at the IBU level. I am, too. I'd have expected it to be higher. "Didn't Scottish brewers use very few hops?" I hear you ask. No, they didn't. The often used several imperial shitloads. And whatever you do, don't put any fucking smoked malt in this. Not unless you want me coming around your house and putting all the windows in.

That's all I have to say. Here's the recipe. And remember what I said about smoked malt . . . . .

1851 William Younger 140/-
pale malt 30.00 lb 100.00%
Goldings 70 min 5.00 oz
Goldings 50 min 3.00 oz
Goldings 20 min 3.00 oz
OG 1129
FG 1054
ABV 9.92
Apparent attenuation 58.14%
IBU 84
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 184º F
Boil time 70 minutes
pitching temp 55º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

* The Home Brewers Guide to Vintage Beer

Friday, 18 March 2016

Canadian Ale in 1909 (part two)

Back with beer in pre-WW I Canada again. It’ll take a while, because I’m just doing one pair of pages at a time. Why? I’m lazy and I need to spin this out a bit.

This set has a few more of the real beer names. Most being IPA. I can’t say that surprises me after looking at Labatt’s brewing records from the 1890’s. IPA was about three-quarters of what they brewed. Obviously, IPA was a very popular style in Canada around the turn of the century.

I was cheered to spot an XXX Ale in this set. They were very common in Ale breweries in the USA. There a typical Ale range would be XXX Ale, Stock Ale, IPA, Porter and Stout. Though in the US, XXX Ale seems to be a local development of English X Ales, that is basically a sort of Mild Ale. Though the term was rarely used in the US, Present Use being preferred.

Right. On with this set. Comparing the IPA’s and Pale Ales is revealing. For a start, it shows no significant variation in gravity between the two types. In the Labatt records, Pale Ale is 1050º and IPA 1055º. But the conclusion that IPA is always the stronger of the two doesn’t appear to be borne out by the analyses. True, the IPA’s have on average a slightly higher OG, but the Pale Ales are skewed by a couple of unusually weak ones. And the four strongest are all Pale Ales. Though we should be a little cautious as many of the Pale Ales don’t give the brand name. Some could have been marketed as IPA.

Once again, the level of attenuation is very high, averaging around 85% for both types. In general, these Canadian Ales have lower OGs than similar British beers of the period, but are more highly attenuated, leaving beers of an equal or even slightly greater ABV.

I’m not sure what the reason for the difference in the rate of attenuation is. Possibly the manufacturing process. Or perhaps because these are beers as sold, and I’m looking at brewing records. The racking gravity, which is what I see, would be higher than the final FG. Most of the British beers were sold in cask form so needed some residual sugars for secondary fermentation.

Looks like Labatt had dropped the gravity of their Stock Ale. In 1893, it was 1064º. Or maybe they’d stopped it being a separate brew and made just a tweaked version of their IPA.

More to come, obviously.

Canadian Ale in 1909 (part two)
Brewer Town Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Beauport Brewing Beauport India Pale Ale IPA 1046.9 1009.1 5.24 80.60%
The National Breweries Montreal Ecker's Indian Pale Ale IPA 1050 1009.4 5.63 81.20%
Dawes & co. Lachine, PQ Black Horse India Pale Ale IPA 1050.8 1005.4 6.24 89.37%
Jno.H.R. Molson & Bros Montreal India Pale Ale IPA 1051.4 1006.1 6.24 88.13%
John Labatt Ottawa India Pale Ale IPA 1053.4 1009.7 6.10 81.84%
Dawes & co. Ottawa Dawes India Pale Ale IPA 1055 1007.3 6.63 86.73%
average IPA 1051.3 1007.8 6.01 84.64%
Reinhardt & Sons Montreal XXX Pale Ale Pale Ale 1036.5 1003.6 4.63 90.14%
Silver Springs Brewery Sherbrooke Ale Pale Ale 1043.4 1007.4 5.00 82.95%
Rock Springs Brewery Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1046.3 1009.6 5.16 79.27%
Silver Springs Brewery Sherbrooke Ale Pale Ale 1046.3 1007 5.24 84.88%
L. Davis Ottawa O'Keefe's Amber Ale Pale Ale 1047.6 1010.1 5.24 78.78%
Capital Brewing Co. Ottawa Capital Ale Pale Ale 1049.4 1006.1 6.02 87.65%
James Roy Belleville Ale Pale Ale 1049.5 1006.1 6.02 87.68%
Jno.H.R. Molson & Bros Montreal Ale Pale Ale 1049.7 1004.3 6.24 91.35%
John Labatt London, Ont. Ale Pale Ale 1051.7 1008 6.02 84.53%
Carling Brewing & Malting Ottawa Pale Bitter Ale Pale Ale 1055.8 1009.7 6.32 82.62%
Port Hope Brewing & Malting Port Hope Ale Pale Ale 1056.2 1008.1 6.63 85.59%
John Fisher Portsmouth Ale Pale Ale 1057.9 1006.6 7.01 88.60%
J. McCarthy & Sons Prescott Ale Pale Ale 1059.3 1007.9 7.01 86.68%
average PA 1050.0 1007.3 5.89 85.44%
John Labatt Ottawa Extra Stock Stock Ale 1055.6 1009.7 6.32 82.55%
"Ale and lager beer" by McGill, A. (Anthony), 1910, pages 4 - 19.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Guinness’s Park Royal Brewery in 1949 – the brew house (part eight)

We start actually inside Guinness’s Park Royal fermenters. Taking a close look at the rousers. Very important kit, rousers are.

“Originally, the tuns were roused with mechanical power-driven paddles arranged on the floor of the tun, but it was almost impossible to keep these even reasonably clean and they are now being replaced by compressed-air rousers, which consist of a venturi tube in aluminium in the throat of which is arranged a 0.75-in. nozzle. The potential energy of the compressed air is converted to kinetic energy in the venturi, thus inducing movement of the liquor mass. The unit is small and compact and readily removable for cleaning and is arranged on the floor of the tun. The air rouser gives excellent results, promoting vigorous circulation which can be easily controlled by the air valve, the operating pressure of the air being about 15 lb. p.s.i.g.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 284.

I had to look up what a venturi tube is. Partly to make sure it wasn’t in OCR error. Turns out it’s a tube that gets narrower in the middle of its length. As a liquid passes through the narrow section. Its velocity increases and its fluid pressure falls. Still not totally sure how this makes the wort circulate. One thing I do know: a tube sounds a lot easier to clean than a mechanical paddle.

We now move on to the skimmers. Which are really a sort of cleansing vessel, that is somewhere primarily concerned with yeast removal.

“As the top fermentation process is used, means are provided for the mechanical removal of yeast from the beer surface. This is done in skimmer, of which there are 24 arranged on the three top floors of the fermenting house. The skimmers are large shallow cast-iron vessels each of 425 barrels holding capacity and are 57 ft. 8 in. long by 12 ft. wide and 4 ft. 3.5 in. deep. When the gravity in the fermenting tun has reached the pre-determined figure above primary gravity, the beer is pumped to the overhead skimmers. Yeast is collected by the dropping system, the skimmers being worked in vertical banks of three vessels.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 284.

I make the total capacity of the skimmers 10,200 barrels. Or around three days’ worth of brews. The dimensions of the skimmers are very different from the fermenters. They were 28 ft. long and 20 ft. deep. The skimmers were less than a quarter of the fermenters depth but more than twice as long. 

I’m about confused by mention of the dropping system. That usually meant starting fermentation in a deep cylindrical vessel than dropping to a shallow square one. From the mention of them being used in a vertical bank of three – presumably one on each floor – I assume that they dropped beer from the top skimmer to lower ones.

“Of the eight skimmers occupied by a brew, one is a balance vessel fitted with the orthodox parachute or movable yeast hopper. Ordinary skimmers have a yeast trough on the end of the vessel, and the yeast is manually skimmed to the trough and dropped into the yeast collecting vessels below each bank of three skimmers. Each skimmer yeast trough is fitted with two outlet chutes and a portable plug which allows the yeast from the skimmers to be passed down selected chutes to the yeast collecting vessels below. In this way a yeast crop for pitching can be kept isolated.”
Journal of the Institute of Brewing Volume 55, Issue 5, 1949, page 285.

A parachute, in this context, is an inverted cone that floated just beneath the surface of the wort. The ordinary skimmer was just a plank that was moved across the surface of the wort skimming off the top of the yeast head. They’d want to keep the pitching yeast isolated as this would have been collected at very specific times to ensure that it was healthy and suitable for repitching.

As it took eight skimmers to hold, they must be a whole day’s output by “brew”. Eight skimmers could hold 3,400 barrels.

Yeast collecting vessels next. Surely the most exciting part of any brewery.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1954 Whitbread Forest Brown

The next Whitbread Brown Ale is much more typical of the 1950’s. Weak, sweet and spun out of a Mild recipe. Every brewery in the country had a beer along these general lines.

And very popular beers they were, too. Mostly off the back of poor draught beer quality rather than on their own merits. Falling gravities had left many landlords struggling to keep their draught beer in decent condition. Bottled beer was more reliable, but also quite a bit more expensive. The answer? Mix bottled Brown Ale and draught Mild. Not as dodgy as pure draught, but cheaper than a pint of bottled beer.

Forest Brown wasn’t originally a Whitbread brand. It came from the Forest Hill Brewery, which Whitbread bought in the 1920’s. Bottling was the reason of the purchase. Because Whitbread had insisted on sticking with bottle conditioning past WW II, which was quite unusual. Especially as Whitbread had an unusually large trade in bottled beer. When they finally decided to move into artificially carbonated beer, they brought in the expertise by buying the Forest Hill Brewery, which were quite big in that type of beer.

Forest Brown long outlived the brewery that spawned it. It was still Whitbread’s principal Brown Ale when I was drinking in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Not that I ever tried it. Mostly because I rarely drank in Whitbread pubs, as they had pretty much eradicated cask in their pubs in the Midlands and the North. And I didn’t drink Brown Ale.

You’ll see that the grist is quite different from Double Brown. Both beers have a similar amount of No. 3 invert, but the malts are completely different, Forest Brown having a base of mild malt with a fair whack of crystal, while Double Brown is PA malt with just a touch of chocolate. Unsurprisingly, given its far lower gravity, the hopping in Forest Brown is much lighter.

I’ll not detain you any longer having nothing further sensible to say . . . .

1954 Whitbread Forest Brown
mild malt 5.50 lb 80.00%
crystal malt 0.38 lb 5.45%
no. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 14.55%
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 40 min 0.50 oz
Goldings 20 min 0.50 oz
OG 1032.4
FG 1009.5
ABV 3.03
Apparent attenuation 70.68%
IBU 18
SRM 25
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale