Sunday 17 May 2020

London IPA Before WW II

IPA was popular as a beer name between the wars, if not exactly that precise an indicator of the beer it was attached to. More a marketing device than a well-defined style. Though you could argue that, with the proliferation of something-IPAs, that’s the case today, too.

The term must have had some resonance in London, where some breweries, such as Barclay Perkins, introduced an IPA in the 1920s or 1930s.

In the capital, IPA usually signified a bottled beer of a modest gravity. A precursor to 1950s Light Ale, in many ways.

The clear outlier in this set is from Barclay Perkins, which is a good bit stronger than all the others. I’m pretty sure that it cost 8d for a pint bottle, putting it in the price class above the others, which were 7d per pint beers.

Bottled beers usually cost 1d per pint more than draught versions. Making the 7d beers the equivalent strength as a 6d per pint draught beer.

Why did Barclay Perkins put their IPA in a more expensive class? Probably because they already had a 7d per pint bottled Pale Ale, XLK (Bottling). A beer which looks very similar to the other London IPAs. I told you this could get confusing.

The Hammerton and Whitbread examples are pretty highly attenuated. Combined with the fairly modest gravity, it must have resulted in very light beers. Which was probably the idea.

The colour of the two beers for which I have the data is on the pale side of the Bitter spectrum. But not too wackily pale.

Hammerton seem to have had two different beers which they sold as IPA, one around 1040º, the other not much over 1030º. I expect the watery version sold for 1d per pint bottle less.

London IPA before WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1936 Barclay Perkins IPA 1045 1010 4.55 77.78% 20
1930 Cannon IPA 7 1034 1012 2.84 64.71%
1936 Hammerton IPA 7 1040 1004.1 4.69 89.75%
1938 Hammerton IPA 1031.4 1004.4 3.51 85.99%
1938 Hammerton IPA 7 1038.6 1007.7 4.02 80.05%
1933 Whitbread IPA 7 1037.7 1006 4.13 84.08% 23
Average 7 1037.8 1007.4 3.96 80.39% 21.5
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/099.

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