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


Mike said...

So would the measurements in this recipe (lbs of grain) be for a 5 US gallon recipe, or Imperial gallons? I would assume US.

Perhaps for consistency sake Kristen could consider doing a column for 23 litres and another for gallons. Recipes don't always follow a consistent format

Ron Pattinson said...


it's a recipe of mine not Kristen's. And, like all my recipes, is 5 imperial/6 US gallons, or 23 litres.