Audit Ales were extremely strong beers originally brewed once a year for colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. After they closed down their own brewhouses, the colleges contracted the brewing out to commercial brewers.
I'm not sure that Friary's Audit Ale has any connection with either university and genuine Audit Ales. Other than it being pretty strong.
"A nip in the air calls for FRIARY AUDIT ALE
There's nothing like a nip of Friary Audit Ale for making you forget the weather. Extra strong, and specially brewed to take the sting out of an English Winter, Friary Audit at 15/6d. per dozen nips coats that little extra — but by Jove it’s worth it!
THE STRONG ALE THAT WARMS LIKE WINE
TYLER & CO LTD
Chichester Observer - Saturday 03 December 1949, page 7.
And exactly how strong was extra strong? Around 8% ABV is the answer. So genuinely pretty strong. Here are the details of it and some other beers of the period, inlcuding several Audit Ales.
|Audit Ale and other Strong Ales 1948 - 1958|
|Year||Brewer||Beer||Price per pint (d)||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour|
|1949||Fowler||Prestonpans Twelve Guinea Ale||45||1077.7||1030.3||6.13||61.00%||100|
|1949||Mann Crossman||Strong Ale||30||1071.2||128|
|1951||Barclay Perkins||Strong Ale||37||1079||1011||8.96||86.08%||120|
|1951||Friary||Audit Strong Ale||46.5||1084.6||1022.1||8.17||73.88%||52|
|1953||Friary Holroyd||Audit Ale||45||1084||1025.1||7.67||70.12%||52|
|1955||Dales (Brewed by Wells & Winch)||Audit Ale||36||1062.2||1023.5||5.00||62.22%||115|
|1955||Greene King||Audit Ale||36||1083.2||1017.7||8.59||78.73%||100|
|1955||Wells & Winch||Audit Ale||36||1062.2||1023.3||5.03||62.54%||115|
|Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document TU/6/11.|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.|
Not that the Friary beer was quite a bit paler than all the other Audit Ales.