Saturday, 22 April 2017

Let's Brew - July 1917 Magee Marshall Government Ale

What joy! I’m able to bring you another luverly, watery Government Ale. Courtesy of Edd Mather, who has taken a look at the Magee Marshall brewing records.

It got me dead excited when I learned about that. Because Magee Marshall was a prominent brewery in Bolton and is mentioned by name in The Pub and the People, the brilliant Mass Observation book about working-class pub culture in the North of England.

July 1917 is a very significant date because that’s when the first restrictions on beer gravity were introduced. Half of the beer a brewery produced had to be below 1036º. But, on the other hand, the price of this beer was controlled. It retailed for a maximum of 4d per pint in the public bar. Brewers and drinkers alike took to calling such beer Government Ale. Which didn’t go down well with the government, which eventually banned the use of the name.

Most brewers produced a (for the day) low-gravity Mild as their Government Ale. It made sense, as Mild was the biggest seller for most breweries. Initially, these beers were much like modern Mild Ales. But as the UK’s grain supply became more and more stretched, new restrictions turned it into a non-intoxicating drink. Some were as weak as 1.1% ABV. Not really beer at all.

Magee’s Government Ale wasn’t a complicated beer. Just pale malt and sugar. Which begs the question: what colour was it? Probably not that dark, though it’s hard to know for sure. It could have been coloured with caramel.

Unsurprisingly, the hops are all English. By this phase of the war pretty much no foreign hops were being used.

Edd sent me the recipe in a rather different format from the one I usually use. So I’ve included both his and my formats.

July 1917 Magee`s Government Ale
pale malt 7.00 lb 93.33%
cane sugar 0.50 lb 6.67%
Fuggles105 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.125 oz
OG 1034.5
FG 1009.5
ABV 3.31
Apparent attenuation 72.46%
IBU 32
Mash at 147º F
Sparge at 163º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

July 1917 Magee`s Government Ale
OG 1034.5
FG 1009.5
ABV  3.40%
Malt ;
Maris Otter 93%
Cane Sugar 7%
Hops ; IBU
East Kents 17
Bramling X 14
Dry Hop (east kents) 1 oz per barrel
Boil :  1.75 Hours
Mash Directions
Strike Temp: 73º C
Mash Temp: 64º C
Mash Length: 1.75 Hours
Sparge Temp (START AT 1.75 HRS): 73º C
fermentation temperature 16-18º C


Lee said...

With your version being 30+ibu, it does not look all that crappy at all.

Anonymous said...

It's the sort of beer I could imagine drinking and enjoying

Unknown said...

Hi Ron ,
Walker's of Warrington & Burton were doing an 'A'at their Dallam Lane Brewery during the Great War , it's about 1.6%abv!!