Saturday, 12 March 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday (Saturday edition) – 1885 Thomas Usher PA 60/-

This is so much fun. Banging out another recipe that’s already in the vaults. And a banging the drum opportunity about styles.

60/- Ale. If you aren’t over 50, Scottish, or weirdly obsessed, you’ve no fucking idea what it is or was. Sorry to be so blunt, but them’s just the facts. That said, this recipe is nothing like the sort of 60 bob I (very occasionally) drank in the blurry days some call my youth. Pre middle age is my preferred term. Or pre gut.

Having started off aggressively asserting this beer has no connection with the more modern 60/-, I’m going to completely turn around and say how it does. Because 60/-, despite its clever masquerade as Mild, was really just a type of Scottish Pale Ale. Eventually a pretty weak one, coloured up with caramel and filling the Mild Ale slot in Scotland.

60/- in those oldie Victorian times, designated a beer a bit over standard strength. 54/- was the baseline beer, the equivalent of an English Light Bitter. 60 bob was one step up. But still a beer for the masses.

Wars, taxes and other bollocks bolloxed up British beer categorisations. Pre-WW I classifications, cemented in an unchanging retail price for beer, became meaningless. Between the wars, shilling classifications were used with a random disregard for consistency. Which has not a grillocks’ grallocks to do with the recipe below.

Usher’s 60/- looks much like the Pale Ales brewed by the likes of Whitbread in London. Though if they really sold the Usher’s for 3 quid a hogshead, it was a bargain compared to London Pale Ales.

The recipe? Note all foreign hops. And the exciting malt bill.

Detail time, I suppose . . . .

1885 Thomas Usher PA 60/-
pale malt 14.00 lb 100.00%
Cluster 90 min 2.25 oz
Spalt 30 min 2.25 oz
OG 1060
FG 1017
ABV 5.69
Apparent attenuation 71.67%
IBU 68
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale


Anonymous said...

I went to the Edinburgh museum where the scottish brewing heritage had their display set up. You probably already know this but I was a bit surprised when I saw on the wall the shilling system and how it went up to something like 160/- for a beer with an OG of 1111+ (off the top of my head). Insane strength.

Good series!

Ron Pattinson said...


in the 19th century, William Younger had 6 or 7 beers with OG's north of 1100. Crazy guys, those Scots. I've their 140/- queued up for next Wednesday. It's not quite top of the range - just 1129.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's going to be interesting, you've sent me down the rabbit hole of looking at the previous Usher/Younger posts! I wonder if the next recipe you are posting is under attenuated as it is such a high gravity, I'd love to read how they dealt with those conditions. Maybe other wild yeasts helped out?

I've never been to Usher's in Edinburgh but I've heard it's pretty big, perhaps they'd be open to brewing up some of their historic recipes.

Ron Pattinson said...


sadly Usher's have been closed for decades. The only Edinburgh brewery to survive is Caledonian.

StuartP said...

A decent amount of malt, hops, yeast.
You can't go really wrong with that.