Before WW I, most of the larger London brewers brewed a single Mild, usually called X Ale, which had an OG a little over 1050º. The war changed all that, particularly in creating a demand for low-gravity Milds, which were similar to the cheaper classes of wartime beer. These were in the watery 1027-1030º range.
The disastrous Snowden emergency budget of 1931 also prompted London brewers to expand their range of Milds. Standard Mild dropped from 1043º to 1037º as a result of the increase in excise duty. But as there was still demand form a stronger type of Mild, some brewers introduced a “new” XX Ale at the old X Ale strength.
Combine this with different coloured versions and you could end up with a dazzling variety of Milds produced in a single brewery. Barclay Perkins went into the war with five, three strengths and with two differently coloured versions of the stronger two. That obviously wasn’t going to last long, as the war inevitably brought about some rationalisation of a brewery’s range.
Barclay Perkins provides a good example of what happened to the different calsse3s of Mild Ale during the war.
Their three strengths of Mild – A (4d), X (5d) and XX (6d) – started the war with reasonable gaps in strength of 5 or 6 gravity points. But by 1943 that was down to a mere 3 points spanning all three. Little wonder then that that year the weakest, A, was dropped.
A similar effect could be seen at breweries that produced multiple Pale Ales. Gravity reductions during the war concertinaed the beers together as the gravity gaps got even smaller. This inevitably led to some examples being dropped, usually the weakest.
|Barclay Perkins Mild Ales during WW II|
|Date||Beer||Price per pint (d)||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour|
|Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/623, ACC/2305/01/624, ACC/2305/01/625 and ACC/2305/01/626.|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.|