The war had affected gravities, but not quite as drastically as some other styles. Bass No. 1, for example, had an OG of 1115º before WW I. After the war it was weaker, but just by a few degrees.
Barley Wines remained powerful beers, as the average of the samples in the table shows. Average OG in the interwar period was in the low-1040ºs – less than half that of the Barley Wines.
As a pretty niche product, Barley Wine wasn’t produced by anything like every brewery. Two of the two biggest brands – Bass and Truman – were both brewed in Burton, where there was a long tradition of brewing very strong Ales. As far as I’ve been able to discover, Mann and Watney were the only breweries in London producing one.
At first sight, some examples have a surprisingly high degree of attenuation. The highest, Mann’s Barley Wine, is over 90%. Which is a lot for a beer of its strength. But remember some beers in this style still underwent a long secondary fermentation. Which might well have included Brettanomyces. Taking that into consideration, the attenuation doesn’t seem that unreasonable.
|Barley Wine before WW II|
|Year||Brewer||Beer||Price per pint (d)||OG||FG||ABV||App. Atten-uation||colour|
|1923||Younger, Geo||Malt Wine||1078||1016||8.12||79.49%|
|1923||Younger, Geo.||Malt Wine||1083.4||1023.9||7.76||71.34%||69|
|1927||Bass||No. 1 Barley Wine||1105||1035||9.13||66.67%||70|
|1929||Younger, Geo||Sparkling Malt Wine||1076||1013||8.27||82.89%|
|1932||Truman||No.1 Burton Barley Wine||24||1097.3||1017.8||10.49||81.71%|
|1934||Bass||Prince's Ale (brewed 23/7/1929)||1112.8||1029.2||11.00||74.11%|
|Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.|
|Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive.|
|Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.|