Thursday 15 November 2018

Joining the dots

A lot of my research is about pulling information together from different sources. Nailing together two sets of information to produce something more useful than either of its constituent parts.

I sometimes wonder what I would have done had I not discovered the Whitbread Gravity Book. It's so packed full of information on other company's beers. Truly a wonderful resource. But there are other Gravity Books, too. Truman, William Younger and Thomas Usher all had ones of their own. Albeit not on quite as grand a scale as Whitbread's. They do provide extra information. Especially in the case of the latter two on Scottish beer.

I came across this price list from the Northampton Brewing Company while performing one of my regular trawls through the newspaper archive looking for "Mild Ale". A strange hobby, but a harmless one.

It's unusual in that in features a bottled Mild Ale, something that wasn't very common. Mild was rarely available in bottled form, though often because it was sold under a different name such as Family Ale or Brown Ale. Though that can't be the case here, as the Brown Ale costs 1d more a pint.

Now this is where I'd be stumped without the Whitbread Gravity Book. What were the relative strengths of Northampton Brewery's Mild Ale and Brown Ale? No problem.

Northampton Brewery, Bass and Worthington 1932 - 1940
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1932 Northampton Brewery Brown Ale 1038 1009.8 3.66 74.21%
1935 Northampton Brewery Pale Ale 1032 1008.2 3.08 74.37%
1935 Northampton Brewery Mild Ale 1032 1008.9 2.99 72.19%
1935 Northampton Brewery Jumbo Stout 1043 1024 2.43 44.19%
1950 Northampton Brewery IPA 1046.2 1012.4 4.39 73.16%
1940 Bass Pale Ale 9d 1051.6
1940 Worthington Pale Ale 9d 1055.1
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

The Brown Ale was quite a bit stronger than the mild Ale, as you can see. What of their other beers? Jumbo Stout is easy, as I have an analysis from about the right date. For IPA, though, I only have one from after the war. But, by looking at that and the BAss and Worthington analyses, I reckon I can make a good guess: low 1050ºs.

I'd expect it to be about the same strength as the Burton versions, as it's just a hlfpenny cheaper for a half pint. Bass and Worthington always sold at a premium price. If you're wondering why the ones in the table are so much cheaper than the ones in the price list, there's a simple explanation. The table has draught versions.

Jumbo Stout, despite it's reasonable OG looks like awful value for money due to the crap degree of attenuation. Which leaves it not really intoxicating.


StuartP said...

No wonder bottles of White Shield were always available from a shelf behind the bar. In a world of OG 1030 beers, that was a little bit of IPA heaven.

Dan Klingman said...

"Jumbo Stout" must have been referring to the elephant (maybe it was his preferred drink?) and not the ABV of the beer!

Bill in Oregon said...

Any idea what the Star Ale was? Same prices as the Brown, so I would think it would be similar strength (1.038) but curious what it was.

Barker said...

I must have missed it in an earlier post, but why did companies like Whitbread keep so much data on beers from other companies?