Sunday, 6 November 2016

Let's Brew - 1954 Tennant’s Gold Label

As promised, here’s a recipe for Gold Label when it was still brewed in Sheffield by Tennant.

Having read a little about this early version, I really wish I’d got to try it. Sounds like it was cracking beer when brewed by the original method. Should you wish to give the recipe – and ageing a go – I’d be happy to drop by and help you drink the result.

As Frank Priestley, a former brewer there, remarked, all the ingredients were pale in colour. Pale malt, flaked maize and No. 1 invert sugar. There’s also a little enzymic malt, but you can leave that out. It wouldn’t have impacted the flavour of the beer at all, just helped the mash.

At three hours, the boil is extremely long for the period. Porter brewers boiled weaker worts for three or four hours in the early 19th century, but by the end of WW II fuel restrictions had reduced most boil times to around 90 minutes.

In the 1950’s very few beers were anything like as strong as Gold Label. Out of 1400-odd beers from 1952 to 1959 in my gravity table, only 11 have an OG over 1090º: Bass No. 1, Barclay’s Russian Stout, Benskins Colne Spring Ale, Lacons Audit Ale, Mitchell & Butler Strong Ale, Tennant Gold Label, Tennant No. 1 Barley Wine, Truman No. 1 Burton Barley Wine, Watney Stingo plus two Scotch Ales which were probably for the Belgian market. Tennant were very unusual in having two beers in this class.

From Priestley’s book, I know that Gold Label was aged in wooden hogsheads for six to twelve months then blended before bottling. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it was bottle conditioned. My guess would be no, but I could be wrong. Brewing this up sounds like a nice little project for me and a brewer. Who wouldn’t want to sample a beer like this?

1954 Tennant's Gold Label
pale malt 15.75 lb 67.74%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 1.08%
flaked maize 4.75 lb 20.43%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.50 lb 10.75%
Fuggles 120 min 2.75 oz
Goldings 90 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 60 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1109
FG 1024
ABV 11.24
Apparent attenuation 77.98%
IBU 63
SRM 17
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 56º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale


J. Karanka said...

Hey Ron!

Are the measures right? When I put this into a calculator I get an OG around 1.080 (maybe I should allow for 3 hours of evaporation and then I get ~4 gallons at 1.100).

Anonymous said...

Are you a little light of the ingredient amounts, or are you indenting the long boil will bring up the gravity?

Bosh said...

So much corn. So very very much corn.

Ron Pattinson said...

Sorry about that. Missed off a 1 for the pale male. Fixed now.

Unknown said...

That's a really low pitch temperature for an ale yeast. I'm guessing a very large active starter, lots of oxygen, and letting it rise quickly will be necessary to finish this one out.

Ron Pattinson said...

Sean West,

it's a pretty typical pitching temperature for a beer this strong. The fermentation would have raised the temperature pretty quickly.

Skypilot said...

I may brew this tomorrow. Would Lyle's Golden be acceptable in lieu of Invert 1?

Ron Pattinson said...


yes, golden syrup is a reasonable substitute.

Skypilot said...

Brewed this up today with homemade invert 1.
It smelled fantastic during the boil even with all that flaked maize.
I achieved 1.110 OG and pitched a slurry of 04 that was collected 5 days ago and pitched at the recommended temp of 56. There is already action in the blow-off.
I can't wait till this one is ready!

Skypilot said...

1110 OG
1029 FG

Kegged into my 2.5 gallon corny. Bottled into 12-375 ml bottles, 6-12 oz bottles and 1-22 oz bottle.

Sample was fruity, booze, orange-like jammy marmalade, thick malt back bone, bitter and dry. Such a nice sample uncarbed. Warming sensation on this -25F degree day.

Bottles will age one year, keg will be drank within a few months.

Ron Pattinson said...


thanks for the report. Sounds like it came out well. The warming sensation sounds bang on.

Do let me know how the bottled and kegged versions drink. You could even add Brettanomyces, as in 1954 it was aged in oak for long periods. I should have mentioned that in the post, really, shouldn't I?

Mr Cat said...

Hi Ron,
just had a bottle after brewing a year ago. Used some LME to bulk up the gravity but otherwise as per above. Aged in 3 gallon fermenter for a year, then transferred and pressure carbonated before counter pressure bottling.

Very smooth for ABV of 11%, very slightly sweet -- nearest description I can give is Mackintosh's Toffee.. (Harrogate(?) version, may be its vanilla)

Ron Pattinson said...

Mr Cat,

it sounds lovely. A year secondary conditioning is about right for this iteration of Gold Label.

Andrew said...

I brewed up this beer back in May 2021. I was intrigued by the use of flaked corn in the recipe. I hit my OG but ended up finishing at 1.040 (16 points high) using the Whitbread Strain (S04). I let the beer age for almost 5 months in secondary with a couple ounces of brandy soaked oak.

Despite the high FG it has turned into an excellent beer after three months in the bottle. I plan to drink half the batch this year and consume the other half over the next 25 years - I fully expect the beer will be excellent with age.

Some tasting notes to share:

Boozy with a bit of overripe fruit character. I get some herbal hop character and maybe some caramel and bready malt - maybe some graham cracker in there. Has some oak character that cuts through as well
Pours with a thin layer of foam that quickly dissipates down to nothing. Dark golden brown in color and fairly clear
Sweet up front with caramel and lightly toasted bread flavors. After that I get a hit of alcohol, some fruitiness (indistinct in character) and then a bit of grassy hop flavor. The finish has a fairly assertive bitterness which almost balances out the sweet malt - bitterness and sweetness linger together for some time after the swallow.
Medium-full bodied and pretty sticky on the palate. Has a bit of astringency to it.
Bold flavors and a lot of different elements to pick out with this beer. Quite sweet and pretty boozy. I like the strong hop presence of this beer and the bitterness - the balance is somewhat to sweetness but the hops provide enough of a counter to make this a beer you feel like drinking rather than sipping.