Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1956 Tennant's Best Bitter

The mid-1950’s was a good time for British beer. Production was edging up a little and more stronger beers were available.

Tennant’s Best Bitter is an example of a stronger type of Pale Ale that was introduced around this time by many breweries. Relative to the watery stuff that was around in the immediate post-war period, it’s quite potent stuff. A high degree of attenuation leaves it with 4.3% ABV. Not bad for the time.

There are only two malts in the grist, one of which is a small quantity of enzymic malt, which is really just a special type of pale malt. The original contained four types of sugar, in addition to the No. 2 invert and lactose, there was SBS and CWA. I’ve substituted more No. invert for these.

The lactose is a bit of a surprise. I have seen it used in styles of beer other than Milk Stout -  Scotch Ale, Mild and Brown Ale – but never in a Bitter before. I’m not sure what purpose it’s serving as the quantity is pretty small. And the degree of attenuation is high.

The copper hops were Kent Fuggles (1954), Worcester Fuggles (1954) and Kent Goldings (1955) with Kent Goldings (1954) as dry hops. Tennant are one of the nice breweries that bothered to list the hop varieties. It takes out the guesswork.

It’s odd to think that this is a beer that my dad might have drunk. The pub on our caravan site was tied to Tennant. And he was a Bitter drinker. They had those horizontal measure half pint electric pumps that were popular in the North. Which were probably dispensing bright beer rather than cask when he was drinking there in the mid-1960s.

1956 Tennant's Best Bitter
pale malt 6.00 lb 70.88%
enzymic malt 0.25 lb 2.95%
flaked maize 1.00 lb 11.81%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 11.81%
lactose 0.09 lb 1.06%
malt extract 0.125 lb 1.48%
Fuggles 95 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 40 mins 0.375 oz
Goldings 20 mins 0.375 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.25 oz
OG 1040
FG 1007.5
ABV 4.30
Apparent attenuation 81.25%
IBU 20
SRM 6
Mash at 146º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 95 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

11 comments:

Edd Mather said...

Hi Ron ,
I agree about the Lactose , it did surprise me when I saw it in the records , and Tennant Bros were pretty good on hop varieties, and bizarrely , timings !!.
The bitterness is FAR too low , and should be at least 13 IBU higher and sit in the 33-5 IBU range , even the Lion Pale Ale @ 1.034°-1.006° comes in at 28 ibu.
Regards
Edd

Ron Pattinson said...

Edd,

well that's the IBU number my brewing software spat out. And I didn't even reduce it to take into account the age of some of the hops. At just 0.7 lbs of hops per barrel, it's pretty lightly hopped. Why do you think it should be more bitter?

Edd Mather said...

Hi Ron ,
That IBU level would mean that it would be a Mild , not a Best Bitter , and the theres no need to work out a lbs/qtr or barrel rate when all of the main copper hops are listed with timings.
Regards
Edd

Ron Pattinson said...

Edd,

but it is hopped like a Mild. It has about exactly the same quantity of hops as Whitbread Best Ale from the same year. And that was only 1030º.

I've used quantity per barrel and scaled it down of 5 imperial gallons. I can't see any room for error there. It simply doesn't contain many hops.

Foggy Noggin said...

I'm intrigued with this recipe. I might have to brew up a special batch at Foggy Noggin Brewing (Bothell, WA) to see what aspect the Lactose delivers.

Edd Mather said...

Hi Ron ,
My approach is to convert the whole original brewlength , work out the grist & sugars etc and the IBU level, then scale down , as I've found it to be more accurate in formulating old recipies.
I don't use brewing software , just pen , paper a calculator !!
( I worked the '55 Boddingtons IP out like that which Mike in Australia commented on recently)
Cheers
Edd

ian B said...

Not intending to start an argument. Why is calculating from brewlength more accurate than working out per barrel?

ian B said...

Is the tiny bit of lactose to make up for the 81.2% attenuation? Not sure if 1% lactose would add any noticeable sweetness or body though

Also, is this low hopped bitter marking the start of the divergence of mild generally being dark and bitter being paler?

Ron Pattinson said...

Ian B,

not sure what the point of the lactose is.

Mild started getting darker quite a bit earlier: around 1900.

Edd Mather said...

Hi Ian B ,
It's to do with production volume and efficiency of the ingredients at the respective volumes of a given brew ,
Best Regards,
Edd

Edd Mather said...

Hi Ron ,
I'd say that the Lactose was in there to counteract the 'dryness' that the low pg would give ,even at that small % ,
Regards
Edd