Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1969 Truman LL

I was so pleased to find this beer. Because it’s an example of a short-lived type of beer: a regional brewery’s own brand of Lager.

The first British Lagers were mostly brewed in specialist breweries. Either standalone enterprises like the Wrexham Lager Brewery and the Red Tower Lager Brewery. Or a specialist plant within a larger brewery – examples being Tennent in Glasgow and Barclay Perkins in London. There were only a handful of such specialist plants in the first half of the 20th century.

When Lager started to take off in the late 1950’s, just about everyone wanted to get in on the act and market their own brand of Lager. These were usually just brewed on the standard kit and weren’t even necessarily bottom fermented. As the 1960’s and 1970’s progressed, most of these regional Lagers disappeared, replaced by national or international brands. Only weird breweries like Sam Smiths have persisted.

Truman’s London Lager – which is what I assume LL stands for – was such a beer. And true to tradition, it was replaced by an international brand, Tuborg, which Truman’s brewed under licence.

Here’s a selection of the Lagers from regional breweries in the 1950’s and 1960’s:

British regional Lagers 1954 - 1962
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint d OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1954 Steel Coulson Lager Beer 30 1032 1004.3 3.60 86.56% 11
1955 Tennent Lager 30 1036.1 1007.7 3.69 78.67% 9
1957 McEwan & Younger "MY" Export Lager 1035.2 1007.3 3.62 79.26% 13
1960 Greene King Lager 1034.9 1006.4 3.56 81.66% 9.5
1960 Lees Lager 1037.0
1960 Mitchell & Butler Export Lager 32 1039.7 1010 3.71 74.81% 7.5
1960 Tennant Bros. Lager 31.875 1035.2 1006.8 3.55 80.68% 8.5
1960 Tollemache Kroner Lager 1033.4 1007.5 3.24 77.54% 7
1961 Flowers Lager 30 1044 1011.3 4.09 74.32% 12
1961 Greene King Lager 36 1036 1005.8 3.78 83.89% 7.5
1961 Hall & Woodhouse Brock Lager 36 1033.9 1004.1 3.73 87.91% 10
1961 Lacons Lager 34 1034.9 1007.1 3.48 79.66% 8
1961 Phipps Stein Lager 36 1034.8 1005.5 3.66 84.20% 7.5
1961 Tennant Bros. Lager 33 1036 1007.6 3.55 78.89% 7.5
1961 Tollemache & Cobbold Kroner Lager 36 1033.1 1005.7 3.42 82.78% 9.5
1961 Charrington Pilsner Lager 32 1036.3 1008.1 3.66 77.69% 8
1961 Eldridge Pope König Pilsener 36 1038.6 1007.3 3.91 81.09% 8
1961 McEwan MY Export Lager 42 1032.9 1010.1 2.85 69.30% 10
1962 Flowers Lager 48 1044.9 1011.6 4.16 74.16% 8
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Lees brewing records held at the brewery.

Tennent’s Lager is the only one to still exist. M & B and Charrington, which both ended up in Bass Charrington, had their Lagers replaced by Carling Black Label and Tennent’s. Flowers, which ended up in Whitbread, had their Lager replaced by Heineken. Not sure what happened at the smaller regionals, but I’d be very surprised if any still brewed their own Lager.

Back to Truman’s Lager. It’s not a very complicated grist, just lager malt, sugar and flaked barley. Unlike all their other beers of the time, it doesn’t use English hops, but ones described as “Styrian”, which I presume means Styrian Goldings. The level of hopping is extremely low. So more of a Helles than a Pilsner.

I’m not sure about the mashing. It looks like a step mash, with strike heats of 125º F and 170º F. Not sure what that equates to in terms of initial heats. The fermentation, though cooler than for their other beers, still hit a maximum temperature of 60º F, which looks too warm for a true Lager. Though it was crashed down to 41º F just before racking.

Looks like a great example of a pseudo-Lager. Or semi-Lager. Though I’m not sure why exactly you’d want to brew one, other than for academic purposes.

1969 Truman LL
lager malt 6.25 lb 83.33%
flaked barley 0.75 lb 10.00%
cane sugar 0.50 lb 6.67%
Styrian Goldings 90 min 0.25 oz
Styrian Goldings 60 min 0.25 oz
Styrian Goldings 30 min 0.25 oz
OG 1034.6
FG 1008.9
ABV 3.40
Apparent attenuation 74.28%
IBU 11.5
Mash at 125º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 53º F
Yeast Wyeast 2042 Danish lager


Anonymous said...

60f diacetyl rest?

The grist reminds me of something someone might use as a base for a modern hoppy ale.

Bailey said...

I wonder how close this might be to the original recipe for Hop Back Summer Lightning which was conceived by a former Grand Met brewer as an ale-lager hybrid.

Or, to put that another way, should we look at golden ales as the culmination of this trend as much as the start of a new one?

Anonymous said...

There have been a lot of home brewers doing fairly rigorous experiments with blind taste tests of lagers made faster at warmer temps compared to lagers made more slowly at traditional lager temperatures. There are a bunch at

The general consensus is that the differences range from slight to none. They haven't exhaustively gone through every possible variable and every variation of malt and hops and yeast, of course. Still, I think it's certainly possible that Truman did enough playing around with their process back in the 1960s to decide that fermenting at 60F didn't have much significant impact for their recipe compared to a more traditional method.

J. Karanka said...

Anonymous: The other thing is that British consumers might have had little exposure to other lagers and not really tell a small difference

David Boshko said...

I even brewed experimentally with lager yeasts at around 80 Fahrenheit. After I aged it for a while a bunch of experienced brewers said it tasted like English ale (in a good way). Not a lager taste at all but delicious. Lager can handle a lot higher temps than most people think. I suspect that traditionally a big part of the original reason for low temp lager ferment was to make any wild yeast or whatever that snuck into the beer inactive.