Barclay Perkins spotted a market for Lager during WW I, when supplies from the Continent were interrupted.
They experimented brewing Lager during WW I using their small kit. After the war they took the plunge and installed a shiny new specialist Lager brewhouse, bringing over a Dane to be its head brewer. The very first Lager was brewed 13th May 1921.
Initially they just brewed a Pale and a Dark Lager for bottling, but in 1922 they introduced a draught Lager, too. Draught Lager was the weakest of the three at 1044º. The Pale or Export Lager was 1051º and Dark Lager 1057º.
Lager was a niche market, but quite a profitable one. With only a handful of UK brewers producing Lager there was little competition and drinkers expected to pay a premium price. I’d be interested to know how many of its rivals’ pubs Barclays was able to get its Lager into.
It’s not exactly a complicated beer, with just base malt and a couple of types of hops. What the malt is exactly isn’t very clear. My guess would be pilsner malt, based on the name of the maltster, which was Schwill. It sounds to me like they were importing the malt from either Germany or Austria.
The hops – a mix of Saaz and Hallertau – were definitely imported from the Continent. Both these types of hops were also frequently used in British-style beers.
That’s me done. Over to Kristen . . .
Kristen’s Version: Notes: Man its so cool to start picking apart some of the English lagers! There are a lot of neat little twists put on by some brewers and there’s some that pretty much look like their ales but fermented with lager yeast. So, lager…as in to lager… Here’s the rub. There is middling info about it in the log. The beer was fermented at 48F for about a week when it hits terminal gravity then 2 weeks later its at 34F lageringish temp. There is no record of letting this sucker warm in the least which leads me to believe it had at least a bit of VDK, if not a lot, hanging around. So to the lagering part, it’s a pretty small beer, so you shouldn’t have to do any extensive lagering. Maybe 3 weeks or so after terminal should do it. During that time it should drop bell bright and be ready to carbonate. In this belief, I bunged my fermenter 1.5 plato short of terminal, and crashed after reaching it to 34F and lagered for 3 weeks. In that time it dropped clear and was pretty much carbonated with a minor adjustment. As I wrote in the tasting notes, its got a touch of the ‘dreaded’ VDK but its not overtly so and plays well in the profile very much like a Světlé Výčepní does. Its not a primary flavor, but its there and that’s even too much for a lot of the Blahger lovers out there. If you get to try it in STL, shoot me a message and let me know what you thought. It’s a fun little beer!
Malt: Two malts. Both pale. One young and one old. Pretty much leaves this sucker wide open to interpretation. I went through my pils and pale malts to see what we could see. Turns out that the Floor-malted Czech pils malt is kind close to Maris Otter in ‘sweet malt’ and such so I went with that. Specifically, Criss No19 Maris. Turns out it was a good choice as that is a really great malt that’s not fat in the middle and will leave a bit of sweetness left, even when fermented dry. Most of the major maltsters in the UK have a nice Lager malt you could use also. Or even a continental one, probably Belgian or French would work out nice. Stay away from the German pilsy-type though. Although I’ve indicated a single infusion they doughed in at 120F for 20min, before they put the spurs to it raising to 158F in about 40min, rested 10min or so and then raised to 170F. Pick your poison.
Hops: They used 3 hops, from 2 different years….mostly Saaz and about 1/3 dose of Hallertauer. You can mix it up anyway you like. Heavier on the Saaz or the Haller. Up to you. I chose to add at 90 and 20 min as in the recipe but I split them equally with Saaz and Haller for each addition (eg 90 & 20 got Saaz and Haller). I wanted more of a blend than the specific aromas of each. When I do this again I think Ill change the hopping to about half added at 90 and then half in the whirlpool or at least closer to the end to have a big brighter finish. To me, this is one I wouldn’t really stray far from these hops. Most haven’t done a lager with the combo of UK malt and landrace hops. Give it a go if you haven’t.
Yeast: I’m not sure where the yeast came from in the log but playing it safe, going with the ubiquitous 34/70, you can make a really nice lager…of all types. It does a great job of letting the malt and hop shine without getting all farty and it drops pretty bright without much effort. Plus, you can get it dry, for all the people in the world that don’t have a house lager strain and don’t want to drop a bunch of cashola for a fun little experiment.