Monday 28 January 2019

Burton Ale during WW II

As a strong beer, it’s obvious that Burton was subjected to big cuts in its gravity during the war. As a quite a popular beer, the cuts were even more inevitable. Though the profile of gravity changes was very different compared to that in WW I.

In the first war, there was only a slight reduction in gravity up until April 1917. That the cuts – ever more drastic – piled up at an accelerating pace. While in WW II, there was a gradual reduction in gravity until the middle of 1942, after which things stabilised for a couple of years. Whitbread Burton Ale demonstrates this trend perfectly.

Whitbread’s Burton is slightly atypical of the style, in that it started rather stronger than the average, 1061º rather than the more usual 1055º. Which could explain why there was a name change in 1940 from 33 to XXXX. Neither of which is a standard name for Burton, which was usually called KK in the brew house.

Note the fall in the hopping rate in 1941. This was the direct result of intervention by the government, which in June 1941 cut by 20% the quantity of hops available to brewers.  Though in the case of XXXX the drop from 8.5 lbs to 6.5 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt is a reduction of about 23%.

The table below is slightly deceptive as it makes it look as if XXXX remained unchanged in the latter war years. While the strength may have remained much the same, there were several changes to the recipe.

Whitbread Burton Ale 1939 - 1945
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
21st Sep 1939 33 1061 1020 5.42 67.21% 8.49 2.15
11th Apr 1940 33 1060 1019 5.42 68.33% 8.50 2.02
14th Aug 1940 XXXX 1052.8 1014.5 5.07 72.54% 8.50 1.83
16th Oct 1941 XXXX 1046.2 1012.5 4.46 72.94% 6.56 1.24
29th Jan 1942 XXXX 1044.4 1011.5 4.35 74.10% 6.55 1.18
28th May 1942 XXXX 1042.9 1013.5 3.89 68.53% 6.70 1.14
22nd Jul 1943 XXXX 1042.8 1013 3.94 69.63% 6.67 1.25
24th May 1944 XXXX 1042.9 1011 4.22 74.36% 6.64 1.19
8th June 1945 XXXX 1043.4 1014 3.89 67.74% 6.44 1.19
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/107, LMA/4453/D/01/108, LMA/4453/D/01/109, LMA/4453/D/01/110, LMA/4453/D/01/111 and LMA/4453/D/01/112.


Unknown said...

Hi Ron,
Have you got much data for the brewing of Burton Ale types outside London during the war ?, it would be interesting to see any information.

Anonymous said...

I thought you would have addressed the issue of Fullers being purchased by Asahi by now.