Sunday 18 November 2018

Bass Pale Ale in WW II

Splitting apart UK Pale Ale and IPA is problematic, if not impossible. Whatrever style nazis might have you believe. There was little consistency in how brewers used the two terms. At some breweries IPA was the stronger beer. But at others, especially in London, the Pale Ale was the stronger of the two.

This meant that there was a very wide spread in the strength of IPA, ranging from little over 1030º to well over 1050º. The effect of the war was, as with all other styles, to reduce gravities. But not in a very consistent way, as you’ll see in a moment.

One of the few places where something like full-strength 19th-century type IPA continued to be brewed was, unsurprisingly, Burton-on-Trent. Which was home to the most famous IPA breweries, Bass, Worthington and Allsopp, though the latter’s star had considerably faded since the start of the century.

When the war started, there were Pale Ales of 1050º plus, especially in London. But the war soon put paid to that. Not at Bass, though, where bottled Bass Pale Ale continued to be brewed at pre-war strength.

By 1944, Bass had only shed a couple of gravity points. That’s quite unusual. Most beers of a similar strength had either had their gravities slashed or simply been discontinued. I’m not sure how Bass managed this. Probably by curtailing production of some of their other beers.

Another thing that remained constant was the very high degree of attenuation, mostly well over 80%. At around 6% ABV, it must have been one of the strongest beers available during the later war years, when average gravity was in the mid or low 1030ºs.

Bottled Bass Pale Ale during WW II
Year Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1940 15 1055.8 1007 6.39 87.46%
1941 1054.2 1007.8 6.07 85.61%
1941 1056 1008 6.28 85.71% 20 Brown
1941 18 1054.9 1008.6 6.05 84.34%
1942 1054.6 1010.4 5.77 80.95%
1942 1054.3 1010.7 5.68 80.29%
1943 1054.5 1011.2 5.64 79.45% 24
1944 23 1053.3 1007 6.06 86.87% 17
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

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