Saturday, 14 January 2017

Let's Brew - 1917 Thomas Usher 54/- Stout

You can probably guess where I’ve got to with Thomas Usher’s brewing logs. Currently, I’m knee-deep in WW I mud.

1917 was a funny year in British brewing. At its start, gravities hadn’t changed much since the war began. They’d dropped a few points but nothing too significant. Once the unrestricted U-boat campaign started to bite, the government took drastic action and gravities began to tumble. The second half of the year saw changes to strength and recipes almost on a weekly basis.

It’s a nightmare for me when I’m researching. In a normal year, little changes at a brewery.  A dozen or so snaps is sufficient to capture all the beers and recipe variations. The later years of WW II demand far more photos to make sure nothing is missed. It quadruples my work, at least.

For a Scottish beer, this has a very complicated grist. Three types of malt and five types of sugar. As usual, I’ve substituted invert sugars for proprietary sugars. The original contained 2.5 cwt Durax, 2.5 cwt CDM, 2 cwt maltosan. 2.5 cwt DL and 6.5 cwt Penang. The Penang is easy – that’s a type of cane sugar. I know that CDM is a pretty dark proprietary sugar and that DL is a very dark one. The Durax, DCDM and maltosan I replaced with No. 3 invert, DL with No. 4 invert.

The poor attenuation was becoming typical of Scottish Stouts. It rarely poked its head much over the 50% parapet. The resulting ABV – just over 3% in this case – is pretty pathetic for a beer of 1048º.

The hopping has been greatly reduced from the pre-war version, which had roughly three times as many hops. Which, coupled with the poor attenuation, must have left a very sweet, sticky beer. The variety of hops is a pure guess. By the latter stages of the war pretty much only English hops were used. For a beer like this, Fuggles are the obvious choice.

After the war, Scottish Stouts would become even more poorly attenuated, lower in gravity and just about unintoxicating.

1917 Thomas Usher 54/- Stout
pale malt 5.50 lb 57.89%
black malt 0.75 lb 7.89%
crystal malt 60L 0.50 lb 5.26%
cane sugar 1.00 lb 10.53%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.25 lb 13.16%
No. 4 invert sugar 0.50 lb 5.26%
Fuggles 180 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 min 0.50 oz
OG 1048
FG 1024.5
ABV 3.11
Apparent attenuation 48.96%
IBU 19
SRM 34
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 180 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale


Lee said...

Looks quite nasty.
As if a war is not enough! But the poor populace had to put up with horrid non-buzz inducing beer,too.

James said...

Ron, as a homebrewer, I would be hard pressed to achieve such a low attenuation even with an all-malt beer, and all the more so in a beer with so much sugar in it. Do you have any idea how the Scottish achieved such a low rate of attenuation?

Anonymous said...

Use a yeast strain with no maltotriose utilisation, early flocculation, mash high, crash early.