Monday, 17 October 2016

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947

I’ve worked my way through all Shepherd Neame’s beers in 1947. I suppose I should share the details with you.

The six beers are an exciting bunch. Unless you feel like getting tipsy, in which case they wouldn’t be a great deal of use. The strongest is just 3.74% ABV. In fact all of them qualify as genuine session beers, being below 4% ABV.

Having four beers at 1027º is something I’ve not seen before. And all are different styles: Mild, Stout, Light Ale and Light Bitter. I’m particularly impressed by a Stout of that gravity. How the world had changed since the 18th century.

Given the low OG, it’s surprising how high the rate of attenuation is. Quite often you’ll see the FG of low-gravity beers being left quite high, presumably to leave a little body. The AK, at just about 85% attenuation must have been pretty thin. But at least it was just about strong enough to get you intoxicated.

Other defining features: quite high pitching temperatures, though the low OGs partially explain that; quite longs boils at 2 hours; quite a low level of hopping.

To expand on the latter point, Whitbread PA, which had a gravity the same as BA, contained 50% more hops. While their XX Mild, also with an OG of 1027º, contained double the weight of hops that MB did. Whitbread’s beers had between 6 and 9 lbs of hops per quarter, while Shepherd Neame’s were all under 5 lbs.

Shepherd Neame beers in 1947
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermen-tation temp
6th Jan MB Mild 1027.1 1005.5 2.86 79.74% 3.84 0.44 2 2 63º F 68º F
16th Jan LDA Pale Ale 1027.1 1007.2 2.64 73.47% 4.47 0.52 2 2 62.75º F 68º F
15th Jul AK Pale Ale 1027.1 1004.2 3.04 84.69% 4.80 0.53 2 2 2 62.5º F 68º F
6th Jan BB Pale Ale 1031.3 1006.6 3.26 78.76% 4.75 0.61 2 2 62.75º F 68º F
16th Jan BA Pale Ale 1034.3 1006.1 3.74 82.26% 4.70 0.65 2 2 63º F 70º F
10th Jan SS Stout 1027.1 1006.1 2.79 77.55% 4.09 0.49 2 1.83 62.75º F 68.25º F
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

Next we’ll move on to grists.

Shepherd Neame grists in 1947
Beer Style OG pale malt black malt flaked barley malted oats no. 3 sugar WCCS sugar CD JC malt extract hops
MB Mild 1027.1 68.70% 9.16% 9.16% 3.05% 9.92% English, Kent
LDA Pale Ale 1027.1 74.42% 9.30% 15.50% 0.78% English, Kent
AK Pale Ale 1027.1 92.31% 6.29% 1.40% English, Kent
BB Pale Ale 1031.3 85.04% 14.17% 0.79% English, Kent
BA Pale Ale 1034.3 86.90% 12.41% 0.69% English, Kent
SS Stout 1027.1 60.94% 9.38% 9.38% 9.38% 7.81% 3.13% English, Kent, 3lbs hopulon
Shepherd Neame brewing record held at the brewery.

They aren’t the most complicated of recipes. The Pale Ales, with the exception of LDA, were mostly pale malt with some flaked barley and a little malt extract. The other beers all included sugar, some No. 3 invert and some proprietary sugars.

The most complicated grist belongs to the Stout, which has two different types of sugar, the only coloured malt and malted oats replacing flaked barley.

It’s interesting that Shepherd Neame used no crystal malt. I’m not so surprised in the case of their Pale Ales, as it’s only really in the 1950’s that crystal became common in Bitters. But it’s definitely strange that there’s none in their Mild. Whitbread in this period used crystal malt in all of their Ales with the exception of Double Brown.

No surprise that the hops are all English. Shepherd Neame is located in the middle of hop country. Also the UK was self-sufficient in hops in this period. And short of foreign exchange which would have been needed to buy US hops.

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