I’ll explain how this came about. I was visiting the Wimbledon Brewery on Saturday to chat with my old mate Derek Prentice. I was especially interested in the two Truman’s brewing books he keeps in his office. One covers most of WW I and it was fun pointing out what GA meant (Government Ale) and why it appeared at a specific time in 1917. The other is from 1969 and that contained the biggest shock: a beer called FB.
“That’s Forest Brown,” Derek said, ”we used to brew it for Whitbread.”
That was news to me. And quite a surprise as Whitbread owned more than a dozen breweries at the time. It seems odd that they’d get a London rival to brew one of their core products for them. Were they that short of capacity? Anyway, the beer was fermented at Truman then picked up by a Whitbread tanker and taken off for bottling. They were brewing a fair amount of it a Truman, going by the number of entries in the brewing book. And 500 barrels at a time.
I immediately realised this was a great opportunity. A chance to compare the beer brewed in two different places.
My first guess, having looked at the Truman version, was that it was pretty close to the original. For a start, unlike the other Truman beers it contained no adjuncts, just malt and sugar. And it was fermented with the Whitbread yeast. How wrong I was.
I’d forgotten that Whitbread started using adjuncts in 1963. At first just in their Pale Ales, but later in just about everything. Including Forest Brown. Which got me wondering about when exactly Truman started brewing Forest Brown. Because looking back through the Whitbread brewing books, their recipe appears remarkably similar to the Whitbread one from early 1964. Looks to me like Whitbread changed the recipe, but never told Truman.
See for yourself:
|1964 Whitbread FB||1968 Truman FB||1968 Whitbread FB|
|no. 3 invert sugar||10.91%||9.87%|
|no. 1 invert sugar||7.17%|
That Truman were using an old recipe might also explain the colour difference, as Whitbread also darkened the colour in 1965.
Talking of colour, Duttson CDM must be pretty dark. Because when spun through BeerSmith using No. 3 for all the sugar, both the Truman and Whitbread versions come out way too pale. Which is why I’ve substituted No. 4 invert for CDM. I suspect the letters stand for something like “Caramel Dark Mix”
As usual, the hop varieties are a bit of a guess. The 1968 Whitbread version has WGV and some that are just listed as MK. The Truman version only list the grower, though one is Whitbread so I guess it’s probably WGV. Even though the hopping and boil times differ, BeerSmith calculates both to be 19 IBUs.
Believe it or not, this is actually on the strong side for a 1960’s Brown Ale. 1027º – 1030º is a more typical gravity range. Interestingly, Truman always achieved better attenuation than Whitbread. The lowest OG for Whitbread’s version in the 1960’s (in the photos I have) is 1008.3º. The highest Truman’s is 1007.3º. Not sure what that tells us.
Bet you’re just gasping for the recipes. Or maybe not. Geek beers they certainly aren’t. Just easy drinkers.
|1968 Whitbread Forest Brown|
|pale malt||5.00 lb||68.97%|
|crystal malt 80 L||0.50 lb||6.90%|
|flaked barley||1.00 lb||13.79%|
|no. 1 sugar||0.50 lb||6.90%|
|no. 4 sugar||0.25 lb||3.45%|
|Fuggles 60 mins||0.25 oz|
|Goldings 60 mins||0.25 oz|
|Goldings 40 mins||0.50 oz|
|Goldings 20 mins||0.50 oz|
|Mash at||150º F|
|Sparge at||170º F|
|Boil time||60 minutes|
|pitching temp||64º F|
|Yeast||Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale|
|1968 Truman Whitbread Forest Brown|
|pale malt||5.75 lb||80.42%|
|crystal malt 80 L||0.50 lb||6.99%|
|no. 3 invert sugar||0.75 lb||10.49%|
|no. 4 invert sugar||0.15 lb||2.10%|
|Fuggles 75 mins||0.50 oz|
|Fuggles 60 mins||0.50 oz|
|Goldings 30 mins||0.50 oz|
|Mash at||144º F|
|Sparge at||180º F|
|Boil time||75 minutes|
|pitching temp||62º F|
|Yeast||Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale|