Thursday 9 July 2020

The changing of a Burton Ale

I've been frantically writing recipes this week. In an attempt to add a recipe section to one of my books in a week. A crazy schedule, which I might manage, if a kilo of crystal meth drops from a plane into my garden. That not being very likely, I'll have to make do with tea.

Writing lots of recipes in a short space of time does have its advantages. When you do a long sequence of one beer, you can't help but notice patterns.  Obviously, you need a long sequence of data. Not a problem if, like me, you're as obsessive as a wasp around jam*.

I've a full set of Whitbread Chiswell Street records. Giving me lots to numbers to wrangle. Which is what I do best. I noticed some things about Whitbread's Burton Ale.

From the number of times the strength, recipe and even name changed, it looks like Burton was a bit of a problem child for Whitbread. Between 1932 and 1940, it changed names three times. Accompanied by a big change in the beer.

As you can see from this table.

Whitbread draught Burton Ale 1900 - 1958
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1900 KK 1076.3 1033.0 5.73 56.74% 12.00 4.07
1924 KK 1055.1 1014.0 5.44 74.60% 10.03 2.37
1932 XXX 1045.2 1015.5 3.93 65.71% 7.49 1.45
1934 33 1060.8 1019.0 5.53 68.75% 9.48 2.45
1940 XXXX 1052.8 1014.5 5.07 72.54% 8.50 1.83
1946 XXXX 1043.3 1010.0 4.41 76.91% 5.75 1.08
1958 KKKK 1050.5 1011.5 5.16 77.23% 7.75 1.68
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/065, LMA/4453/D/01/089, LMA/4453/D/01/098, LMA/4453/D/01/100, LMA/4453/D/01/107, LMA/4453/D/01/113 and LMA/4453/D/01/126.

Between 1946 and 1958, I haven't any photos of a Whitbread Burton record. It could be that they just brewed it very occasionally and I missed it when I was flicking through their records. (When in the archive, I aimed to process one Whitbread brewing book every 5 minutes.)

It's weird how they flicked back and forth between X's and K's. When, logically, they all should have been K's. According to London convention, at least. Note the inflation in X's and K's over time. Often as the beer itself got weaker.

* Or super-strength Lager. I've had them bother me a couple of times this week on the bench. Despite it being wet and windy. The little bastards.

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