Saturday, 18 February 2017

Let's Brew - 1909 Maclay Mild 56/-

As I slowly assemble recipes for my new Scottish book, I realise how small a percentage of the brewing records I own I’ve ever turned into recipes.

The Mild Ales from Maclay are a case in point. Before WW I, like most Scottish breweries, Maclay still brewed genuine Mild Ales. At least things that were called Mild Ale in the brewery.  I’m inclined to believe that they were for one good reason: their grists differ from Maclay’s Pale Ales. After WW I, the Scots mostly abandoned Mild Ale. The few that were still produced I suspect were destined for the English market.

Talking of grists, the one from this beer tells a story. The tale of the gradual darkening of Mild Ale around 1900. It’s a process that I’ve observed in England, too. I’ve no real evidence as to what drove this change, only wild guesses. Which I won’t bore you with here. We may never know the real reason.

Neither of the two Milds Maclay brewed, 56/- and 42/-, was equivalent to London AX Ale. 56/- had a gravity around 10 points higher, while 42/-, at just 1035º, was far weaker than anything brewed in the capital. Around 1900 Scottish gravities began to diverge from those in England, with beers being brewed that were far weaker than anything seen in England until the latter phase of WW I. In 1914 the average OG in England was 1051.69º, but four points lower in Scotland at 1047.67º*.

Maclay’s Pale Ale grists also contain amber malt, though a smaller percentage at just 1.5% of the grist. Only their Milds included black malt. The purpose of the black malt  was surely to darken the wort. I suspect that Maclay were already colour-correcting with caramel because there’s a section in the brewing records with the title “colourings”. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an example where this was filled in.

As most of Maclay’s beers of this period, there’s a fair dose of grits, around 20% of the grist. The only exception were the Stouts, which instead contained 30% oats.

I’m not sure exactly what the sugar was. In the record it’s described as “inversion”. It’s obviously some sort of invert sugar. Possible one that Maclay had made themselves. No. 2 is me just playing it safe. It could also have been more like another invert, for example No. 1 or No. 3. Feel free to use one of those if it suits you.

Maclay used the same combination of hops in all their beers: Hallertau of three different ages (1905, 1906 and 1907 harvests), Californian hops from 1907 and two sets of English hops from 1905 and 1908. Because of the age of some of the hops I’ve reduced the hopping.

* Brewers' Journal 1921, page 246.

1909 Maclay Mild 56/-
pale malt 8.75 lb 66.67%
amber malt 0.50 lb 3.81%
black malt 0.125 lb 0.95%
grits 2.50 lb 19.05%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.25 lb 9.52%
Cluster 120 min 0.75 oz
Hallertau 60 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 30 min 1.50 oz
OG 1061
FG 1025
ABV 4.76
Apparent attenuation 59.02%
IBU 36
SRM 12
Mash at 146º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale


Unknown said...

Hi Ron ,
I'd plump for No1 invert and correct colour with either med caramel or dk caramel as required.

Mike Austin said...

You must have read the David Satula book on mild. No doubt you have subsequently calmed down.
He has a recipe for "Mclay 56/- mild 1909." Its similar, but the grits are replaced by wheat malt.
Would that be a plausible variation, or is someone replacing historical fact with the modern sensibilities of some home brew circles?

Ron Pattinson said...

Mike Austin,

flaked maize would be a better substitue.

Mike Austin said...

Indeed. Perhaps I'm being unfair to him, but I read it as an attempt to rewrite reality to suit a disapproval of the use of adjuncts.
Did Mclays use wheat malt at this time?
This happens frequently. CAMRA publications often have changes from formulations recorded by yourself, usually substituting black malt for caramel. Maybe that's why so much modern mild taste`s like weak stout.

Ron Pattinson said...

Mike Austin,

to be honest, wheat malt is a weird substitution.

It's sad that people will fiddle with recipes to suit their own prejudices.

Unknown said...

Spot on comment there Ron, If a brew calls for flaked Barley /Maize, it's in there for a good reason!.

RHB2 said...

Any advice on how to get WLP-028 to attenuate under 60%?