Monday, 7 March 2016

Canadian Ale in 1909

Numbers – I can never get enough of them. If only I had more time to harvest them. But for some reason a day only has 24 hours rather than the 60 I’d need to get through everything.

This particular set come from a handy little pamphlet published by the Canadian Department of Inland Revenue’s Laboratory. Who says the taxman is no use for anything?

I‘ve billed this as Canadian Ales, but there are a couple of exceptions. Namely the Pilsener that for some inexplicable reason is included with the Ales. And McEwan and Bass, which are British imports. It’s handy having the latter two, as it gives some sort of context for the Canadian beers.

You’ll note that the Canadian examples are generally weaker than the British ones. Though the imports were both top-class beers. Overall, the average of 1050º for Canadian Pale Ales looks low compared to British beers of the period, which you would expect to be around 1055º.

What does surprise me is the high degree of attenuation amongst the Canadian samples. Though this could be because these are finished, bottled beers. Whereas I usually taken the FG of British beers form brewing records, which gives the racking gravity rather than the true final gravity. As many British Pale Ales were still genuine Stock Ales with a long secondary fermentation, the final gravity would have been a good few points lower.

I was also interested to see just how alcoholic the Ginger Beer and Root Beer is. As strong as a lot of 1920’s British Mild Ale.

No long dissertation this time. I’ll just leave you with the table.

Canadian Ale in 1909
Brewer Town Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Dolan Bros. St. Johns, NB Stone Ginger Beer Ginger Beer 1028.7 1.34
S.H. McKee & Sons St. Johns, NB Stone Ginger Beer Ginger Beer 1010.7 2.93
Simeon Jones St. Johns, NB Red Ball India Pale Ale IPA 1050.6 1007 6.02 86.17%
McEwan Edinburgh India Pale Ale IPA 1060.1 1004.7 7.61 92.18%
Bass Burton Pale Ale IPA 1065.7 1008.7 7.74 86.76%
average IPA 1058.8 1006.8 7.12 88.37%
T.B. Renaud & Co. Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1010.6 1000.3 1.65 97.17%
John Labatt London, Ont. Ale Pale Ale 1037 1014.1 3.42 61.89%
G.E. Amiot Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1047.1 1009.4 5.24 80.04%
G.E. Amiot Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1047.3 1009.8 5.24 79.28%
John Labatt London, Ont. Ale Pale Ale 1049.4 1010.3 5.31 79.15%
Protean & Carignan Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1050.3 1012.2 5.32 75.75%
Boswell Quebec Ale Pale Ale 1052.2 1004.8 6.48 90.80%
Oland & Son Halifax, NS Pale Ale Pale Ale 1053.4 1008.8 6.24 83.52%
Keith Halifax, NS Pale Ale Pale Ale 1055.5 1006.5 6.71 88.29%
James Ready St. Johns, NB Ready's Pale Ale Pale Ale 1059.8 1005.1 7.40 91.47%
James Ready Fairville, NS Ale Pale Ale 1061.5 1007.1 7.48 88.46%
Halifax Breweries Halifax, NS Howard's Ale Pale Ale 1061.7 1006.7 7.57 89.14%
Halifax Brewing Co. Halifax, NS Ale Pale Ale 1065.6 1014.1 7.01 78.51%
average Pale Ale 1050.1 1008.4 5.77 83.34%
Crystal Spring Mineral Waters Co. Halifax, NS Ramey's Pilsener Beer Pilsner 1024.9 1001.4 3.48 94.38%
W.B. Daley St. Johns, NB Root Beer Root Beer 997.7 2.72
"Ale and lager beer" by McGill, A. (Anthony), 1910, pages 4 - 19.


Brandon said...

Alcoholic root beer... Once again proving nothing is new under the sun! Not your fathers root beer, but maybe your great-grandfather?

Mike from Montreal said...

Ronald thanks for the interesting view on historic Canadian beers. Indeed I wonder what the boozy ginger ale and root beers were like.

But of course, posting something like this only raises the natural question about Canadian beers from history… Got any good recipes to share?

Molson has a new legacy line of beers in limited editions. First one is John Molson 1908 Pale Ale at 6.8% ABV. Had one last night. Pretty good. Very much like an English ale, which is very unlike modern Canadian beer.

Here's a blog post about it (not by me) which also references some of your work…