Saturday, 29 October 2016

Let's Brew - 1956 Shepherd Neame SXX

We’ll be looking at a typical a new beer of the 1950’s: a stronger Bitter.

Around 1950 Shepherd Neame added two new Bitters, SXX and PA, with higher gravities than their existing Pale Ales BA and BB, at the same time dropping the weakest of their old range, AK. BA, the strongest of the old set, had an OG of just 1034º.

It was a pattern followed by many breweries. With the gravities of their pre-war flagship Pale Ales seriously eroded, they took the opportunity provided by a loosening of restrictions to launch something stronger. It must have been a joy for drinkers who had spent a decade having to put up with ever weaker beer sold at an ever higher price.

SXX was the stronger of the two new Bitters and, at 4% ABV, had a decent amount of oomph. Of course, all of the Bitters were parti-gyled together in various combinations. That’s just the way everyone brewed back then. The technique really was a key feature of British brewing in the 19th and 20th centuries. And it’s still practised by many older breweries. Including Shepherd Neame, I believe.

It’s another very simple recipe. All pale malt, except for a touch of malt extract. The latter was quite popular in the 1950’s. Not sure what its function was. In this case it was diastatic malt extract, which leads me to believe that its function is to aid the mashing process. Perhaps it was to compensate for the loss of malt made from Californian barley.

The hops were all their own. No idea what varieties, but Fuggles and Goldings seem a good bet. Note that at two hours the boil is quite long. 90 minutes was more typical by this period.

1956 Shepherd Neame SXX
pale malt 9.00 lb 97.93%
malt extract 0.19 lb 2.07%
Fuggles 120 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 60 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1039.3
FG 1009.4
ABV 3.96
Apparent attenuation 76.08%
IBU 30
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61.5º F
Yeast a Southern English Ale yeast


Anonymous said...

Excuse the ignorance, but were all of the names such as SXX, PA, BA, BB etc. ever used as names by customers? Or were they strictly designations for the business side of things? In other words, in the same way you might look at a tub of pickles today and call them Kosher Dills, but the pickle company might refer to them as 9230s?

Ron Pattinson said...


they're brewhouse names and don't necessarily have any connection with the name the beer was marketed under. They're the designations used in the brewhouse and were also marked onto barrels.