Thursday, 7 July 2016

Britain’s best bottled beer

We’re back with more claims to be the best.  Not just best Brown Ale, but best bottled beer.

You may have heard of this beer:

Britain's best bottled beer.

Newcastle Brown Ale was first brewed in 1927. The following year, at the Brewers’ Exhibition, it won The Brewing Trade Review Challenge Cup for THE BEST BOTTLED BEER IN THE SHOW. Strong, rich and full-flavoured, it has maintained its proud position and remains unchallenged in its field.

We welcome parties of visitors at our Tyne Brewery in Corporation Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. Application should he made beforehand to our Head Office in the Haymarket, Telephone: Newcastle 28605.
Morpeth Herald - Friday 11 April 1952, page 5.

For 100% accuracy they should have said: Britain’s best bottled beer in 1927. A lot can change in 25 years, especially with a WW II inbetween. “Strong, rich and full-flavoured” ? They certainly couldn’t make that claim in advertising today. Full-flavoured would be OK, but strong definitely not.

Note that they mention brewery tours. These are nothing new. Barclay Perkins, for example, was big tourist attraction in the 19th century as one of the wonders of London, especially during the period when it was the largest brewery in the world.

Meanwhile Drybrough did at least boast of a contemporary award:

FIRST PRIZE in Bottled Beer Competition (Class 6) BREWERS' EXHIBITION, OLYMPIA October 4th-8th, 1954
Brewed Matured and Bottled by
Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 15 October 1954, page 10.

You know what’s funny about that? Drybrough didn’t brew a Brown Ale. Not even a Mild, really. They only had one recipe, which they parti-gyled at different strengths to make various beers. My guess is that their Brown Ale was a coloured up version of their B 60/- (bottling 60/-) with added caramel. Lovely. No wonder it won a prize.

Here are their beers:

Drybrough beers in 1954
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
B 60/- Pale Ale 1031.0 1011.0 2.65 64.52% 4.48 0.57
60/- Pale Ale 1032.0 1011.0 2.78 65.63% 4.42 0.59
XXP Pale Ale 1043.0 1011.5 4.17 73.26% 4.42 0.79
Export Pale Ale 1045.0 1013.5 4.17 70.00% 4.48 0.83
Burns Strong Ale 1073.0 1032.5 5.36 55.48% 4.67 1.40
Drybrough brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number D/6/1/1/7.

Here are some more dodgy claims for a brewery’s Brown Ale:

GRAND... to relax with Double Maxim! It’s so satisfying, this special brown ale with the very special flavour, so full of strength and goodness. How much it adds to your evening’s pleasure... and at home to the pleasure of your guests as well! For Double Maxim is the Vaux brown ale with the distinctive flavour that everyone likes. Get some today — at any Vaux house or off-licence.
It's VAUX special-flavour Brown Ale”
Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - Thursday 21 October 1954, page 15.

Claiming a beer is “full of strength and goodness” is a definite no-no today. Pretty sure the pleasure stuff might be problematic, too. What might that “distinctive flavour” be? Had it mean Watney or Drybrough, I might cynically have suggested ullage.

Let’s finish with Newcastle Brown and Double Maxim analyses:

Newcastle Brown Ale 1949 - 1959
Year Style Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1949 Brown Ale 22d 1051.6 1012.2 5.12 76.36% 1.5 + 40
1950 Brown Ale 22d 1053.2 1008.9 5.78 83.27% 40 B
1951 Brown Ale 22d 1052.5 1011.8 5.30 77.52% 40 + 1
1952 Brown Ale 26d 1052 1009.9 5.49 80.96% 1.5 + 40
1954 Brown Ale 26d 1048.9 1010 5.06 79.55% 51
1959 Brown Ale 32d 1052.2 1012.1 5.22 76.82% 50
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Vaux Double Maxim 1950 - 1955
Year Beer Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1950 Double Maxim 19d 1048.7 1011.2 4.88 77.00% 1.5 + 40
1952 Double Maxim 23d 1049 1009.8 5.10 80.00% 2 + 40
1955 Double Maxim 24d 1048.5 1012.8 4.63 73.61% 110
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Both were a good bit stronger than the majority of Brown Ales, which usually had an OG of around 1030º and were around 3% ABV. Newcastle Brown was the slightly stronger of the two and this is reflected in the price. Double Maxim seems to have got darker after 1952. The earlier two colours are in the low 50’s EBC, similar to Newcastle Brown. Much lower than the 110 of the 1955 sample.

1 comment:

StuartP said...

Booze and machine guns.
A winning combination.