Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1949 Adnams XXXX

This is the last in the set of Adnams beers from 1949/1950 and is the strongest of the lot. Though that isn’t saying all that much.

As a young man, I can remember noticing that breweries in Southeast of England often had a beer called Old Ale of around 4.5%. Beers that looked and tasted suspiciously like a strong Mild. It’s taken a while, but when I finally got to look at brewing records my suspicions were confirmed. Harveys, King & Barnes and Adnams all brewed beers of this type.

I was more used to Northern Old Ales like Old Tom or Owd Roger, beers that were considerably stronger. It obviously confuses the hell out style guideline writers as they only document the stronger type. Personally, I’m a big fan of the weaker type as they resemble pre-1931 Mild Ale. It’s a cheeky way of getting a taste of the past.

So you shouldn’t be surprised that Adnams Old Ale has a grist that is essentially the same as that of XX Mild Ale. Quite an interesting grist it is, too, with a couple of types of dark malts in the form of amber and crystal. As I’ve mentioned several drillion times, these types of dark beer were mostly coloured with sugar and caramel.

Which isn’t to say that XXXX doesn’t contain No. 3 invert and caramel. I suspect drinkers wouldn’t have been impressed had Adnams tried to sell a Mild coloured with chocolate or black malt. Because, as I now realise, No. 3 invert is the signature flavour of Dark Mild. That’s why most American versions, which try to get colour from dark malts, just don’t taste right.

Proper Dark Mild. Give it a try. It might change your life. Mine changed in 1976 when the Cardigan Arms installed handpulls.

1949 Adnams XXXX
mild malt 8.75 lb 80.82%
amber malt 0.50 lb 4.62%
crystal malt 80L 0.50 lb 4.62%
no. 3 invert sugar 1.00 lb 9.24%
caramel 0.08 lb 0.70%
Fuggles 90 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 60 min 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 min 1.00 oz
OG 1051
FG 1015.5
ABV 4.70
Apparent attenuation 69.61%
IBU 37
SRM 20
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold


Marquis said...

I have drunk quite a few pints of Adnam's Old Ale .Would this be the same (or similar) to the one in your recipe?

Ron Pattinson said...


it won't be identical, but probably quite similar. Just checked a brewing record from 1976. Pretty except there'e no amber malt.

Bailey said...

Did you see our post from yesterday with details of a 1933 article on English beer? The author states that Burton, as served in London, was the same as the strong mild sold in the North of England. That would seem to chime with your observation about southern old ales.

Ron Pattinson said...


no, I haven't seen it yet.

Some of the London Burtons - Whitbread and Barclay Perkins, for example - were pretty different to Mild. Totally different grist and hoppier. Though at Fullers their two Burtons were parti-gyled with Hock.

petalia paul said...

if only I could find a source of invert sugars,and yes I know about making my own as per the site

Bosh said...

That looks delicious. Think I can make something in the ballpark of the invert sugar by inverting some raw sugar (no way I can find the actual stuff in Korea). The caramel is for color rather than flavor right? Could sub that for roast malt or just boil the fuck out f soe sugar and make that myself.

Scott said...

I brewed this over the weekend, although I substituted mild malt for Chevallier (Crisp) and used Ridley's yeast. Invert syrup was Brewers No. 2 from Ragus.

Very much looking forward to drinking this one.

Bosh said...

Made a beer inspired by this. Was delicious enough that I'm now drilling down to make as close of a replication as I can. It's nothing fancy but a really nicely balanced flavorful recipe.