Thursday 25 April 2019

Burton-brewed Pale Ale on the eve of WW II

The spiritual home of Pale Ale was a law until itself. Not weird, given its reputation for the style. Here beers close in strength to classic 19th-century versions continued to be brewed. Though draught versions didn’t drift above 1055º. Blame those pesky WW I price controls for the gravity cap on draught beers.

The stronger examples in the table, those with an OG around 1055º could also be classed as IPA.

Though just as elsewhere, Burton-brewed Pale Ales came in a variety of strengths. Ones in the Burton classic style were typical 8d per pint beers, with gravities around 1055º. The bottled versions were the same strength and were some of the most widely available beers. As with Guinness, they were often sold in other breweries’ tied houses. Which might explain the high price. Beers of that strength wouldn’t usually cost more than 10d per pint.

At the Burton plant of London brewer Truman, three Pale Ales were brewed. Or maybe just two, really. Because Pale 1 and Pale 1 B (the B standing for “Bottling”) look identical.

Pale 1 is clearly an 8d per pint beer and Pale 2 a 7d per pint beer. To confuse matters, Truman also brewed a 6d Pale Ale, XLK, in their Brick Lane brewery.

Pale 2 was brewed in a slightly weird way. It was parti-gyled with Pale 1 at a gravity 1044.9º. It was then blended post-fermentation with some Pale 1 to raise the effective gravity to 1047.4º. Truman started doing weird stuff like this towards the end of WW I. Blending their parti-gyles both pre- and post-fermentation.

The hopping is surprisingly modest for Burton. At under 7 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, the rate is lower than Barclay Perkins X Ale (7 lbs per quarter) and Whitbread X Ale (7.75 lbs).

Burton Pale Ale 1932 - 1937
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
1932 Bass Pale Ale draught 1054.7 1012 5.56 78.06%
1933 Bass Pale Ale 13.5 bottled 1055.8 1012.2 5.68 78.14%
1935 Bass Pale Ale 7 bottled 1037 1007.8 3.79 78.92%
1933 Worthington Pale Ale 14 bottled 1055.4 1011.6 5.71 79.06%
1936 Worthington Pale Ale 7 draught 1046.9
1937 Worthington Pale Ale 8 draught 1054.3
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.

Truman Burton Pale Ales in 1939
Date Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
28th Apr Pale2 Pale Ale 1047.4 1009.7 4.98 79.53% 6.75 1.22
1st May Pale1 Pale Ale 1053.5 1013.3 5.31 75.13% 6.75 1.37
28th Apr Pale1 B Pale Ale 1053.5 1013.6 5.28 74.61% 6.75 1.37
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/339.

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