Sunday 2 December 2018

Bottled Scotch Ale before WW II

The First World War had a cleansing effect on Scottish beer, especially amongst the stronger Ales, which were transformed in character.

Before WW I, Scotch Ale mostly consisted of the top-end Shilling Ales. Things like 100/-, 120/-, 140/- and 160/-. These were characterised by a low degree of attenuation and a low level of hopping. Usually, except at William Younger, they were parti-gyled with weaker Shilling Ales. Younger brewed almost exclusively single-gyle.

In the interwar period, most breweries in Scotland heavily rationalised their beer ranges. Shilling Ales mostly disappeared and breweries constructed most of their beers from a Pale Ale parti-gyle. Including Strong Ales, which were just the strongest of the bunch. Much the same way as Golden Pride is the strongest beer from Fullers Pale Ale parti-gyle.

William Younger ploughed a different furrow. Before WW I, they had two parallel ranges of Strong Ales, 120/-, 140/- and 160/- was one, the other the Burton-inspired No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. Only the latter survived the war, in the form of No. 1 and No. 3.

They were usually labelled Scotch Ale in England and Strong Ale North of the border. A typically OG was 1080-1090º, though there were stronger examples. The strongest were about as strong as beer could get and had pre-WW I type gravities.

William Younger, who always were a bit different from other Scottish breweries, had two different strength Strong Ales. No. 1 had a similar profile to those from rival breweries. But it also had a weaker version, No. 3, which was also available on draught. In London, it filled the draught Burton Ale slot. Both No. 1 and No. 3 were brewed single-gyle.

Despite being dark in colour, there was no coloured malt in any of these beers. The colour all came from caramel added post-fermentation.

Bottled Scotch Ale before WW II
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1933 Ballingall Strong Dundee Ale 1083.5 1023 7.89 72.46%
1933 Fowler Strong Ale 1108 1034 9.68 68.52%
1934 Jeffrey No. 1 Strong Ale 1059.5 1016.5 5.59 72.27%
1933 McEwan Strong Ale 1084.5 1027 7.48 68.05%
1933 Usher Old Scotch Ale 1096 1022 9.72 77.08%
1935 Younger, Wm. No. 3 Strong Ale 1053.5 1010 5.67 81.31%
1932 Younger, Wm. No. 1 Strong Ale 1080 1026.5 6.95 66.88%
1933 Younger, Wm. No. 1 Strong Ale 1082 1023 7.69 71.95%
Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document TU/6/11.

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