Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1848 Tetley X3

We're off back to the first half of the 19th century for an early Tetley recipe. A brewery very dear to my heart.

I’m really not sure whether you’d classify X3 as a Strong Ale or a strong Mild Ale. It’s pretty damn strong, though, so I’m happy to include it.

This was a particularly difficult recipe to compile. It’s all in scraggly handwriting. And my photograph is quite blurred. Makes it quite a challenge to read. I’ve been able to work out the most important bits.

One malt. Three types of English hops. All very simple. But that’s what early 19th-century recipes are like. No indication of the age or exact origin of the hops. I went for mild, rather than pale malt, in the 1840s was probably a bit darker than today. Or you could splurge and buy some Chevallier pale malt.

1848 Tetley X3
mild malt 22.50 lb 100.00%
Goldings 120 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1099
FG 1025.5
ABV 9.72
Apparent attenuation 74.24%
IBU 47
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale

This recipe is in my two new books, Strong! vols. 1 & 2 and Strong! vol.2.




Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Barclay Perkins Ales before WW II

To say Barclay Perkins produced a wide range of beers is a bit of an understatement. 20 beers in all. Though it’s possible I might have missed a low-volume export beer or two.

So many, in fact, that I’ve split them into two tables: one for the Ales and one for Porter and Stout. We’re going to kick off with the former.

The 12 Ales break down into four styles: Brown Ale, Mild Ale, Pale Ale and Strong Ale.

“Doctor Brown” (DB) was of Brown Ale which weren’t based on Dark Mild. Another example was Whitbread Double Brown. The OG in the table is a bit deceptive. Very heavy priming at racking time raised the effective OG to 1046.5º. Unusual that a beer which was exclusively available in bottled format should receive so many primings.

There were effectively even more Milds than the three in the table, as all were sold both as brewed, which was semi-dark, and in dark versions. The latter being achieved by the addition of caramel at racking time. Primings raised the effective OGs to 1031.6º, 1037.1º and 1044.8º.

The Milds fall in the lowest three price classes, namely 4d, 5d and 6d per pint.  Not every brewery had Milds in all three categories.

At 7 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, the hopping rate is very high for Mild. Heavy hopping was a feature of many London brewers. Adnams, for example, hopped their Mild ay about 5 lbs per quarter. While at Shepherd Neame it was just 4 lbs.

Barclay Perkins Ales before WW II
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1936 DB Brown Ale 1040.8 1010.0 4.07 75.48% 7.40 1.20
1939 A Mild 1030.8 1007.5 3.08 75.65% 7.00 0.84
1939 X Mild 1034.8 1010.0 3.28 71.26% 7.00 0.95
1939 XX Mild 1042.7 1015.0 3.66 64.87% 7.00 1.14
1939 IPA (bottling) IPA 1043.8 1012.5 4.14 71.48% 7.50 1.32
1939 XLK (bottling) Pale Ale 1035.8 1011.5 3.21 67.88% 7.50 1.15
1939 XLK (trade) Pale Ale 1045.8 1014.5 4.14 68.35% 7.50 1.35
1939 PA Pale Ale 1052.8 1018.5 4.54 64.96% 7.50 1.54
1936 PA Export Pale Ale 1058.6 1017.5 5.44 70.16% 8.89 2.13
1936 KK Strong Ale 1055.8 1017.0 5.13 69.52% 8.34 1.86
1937 KK (bottling) Strong Ale 1068.9 1022.0 6.20 68.07% 10.73 2.89
1936 KKKK Strong Ale 1078.5 1027.0 6.81 65.60% 10.86 3.62
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/621 and ACC/2305/01/623.

Including the IPA, there are five Pale Ales, two of which were draught beers (XLK Trade and PA), the rest bottled. At least I assume the export PA was a bottled beer. I could be wrong.

The export version of PA looks very much like the pre-WW I domestic version. Which was often the case with export beers. Before WW I, they were usually the same strength as versions for the UK market. After the war, they returned to their old strength while domestic ones saw around a 25% reduction in gravity.

The standard PA isn’t a bad strength for between the wars. It’s in the strongest draught beer class, costing 8d per pint in 1939. Many London brewers had beers in this class, but it wasn’t so common elsewhere. Provincial versions were mostly in the 6d or 7d classes.

PA was brewed in modest quantities. In the parti-gyle of it and the two XLKs in the table, only 75 barrels were PA. Against 354 barrels of XLK Trade and 312 of XLK Bottling.

You might have expected the Pale Ales to be considerably more heavily hopped than the Milds. But, in reality, the rate is just 0.5 lb per quarter (336 lbs) of malt higher. Not much at all. However, the Pale Ales were dry-hopped while the Milds weren’t. This would surely have made them appear hoppier in flavour, if not necessarily more bitter.

Three Burton Ales complete the set. One draught, one bottled and one seasonal. KKKK was a winter-only beer. If Barclay’s advertising is anything to go by, it was served from a pin on the bar.

Draught KK was primed, raising the OG to around 1057º. Which is about as strong as draught beer got, but typical for a draught Burton, which was usually an 8d per pint beer. Bottling KK, marketed as No. 1 Southwarke Old Ale, and KKKK were not primed. All three were dry-hopped, however. Plenty of copper hops, too. With the exception of a couple of strong Stouts, they were the most heavily hopped beers in Barclay Perkins’ portfolio.

Monday, 10 August 2020

Dark Mild (part seven)

Back to Dark Mild again. With an example that I'd already caught, but was lying hidden in one of my spreadsheets.

It also demonstrates why it's so difficult to find references when searching the newspaper archive. Because, as you'll see, it doesn't say Dark Mild straight out.

Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 24 January 1903, page 9.

The "Dark" and "Mild" don't even appear on the same line. Though reading with human eyes, it's clear that XB is being described as a Dark Mild. Interestingly, it does cost a little more than the pale version.

I assume that XXB, described as Family Ale, is a slightly stronger Mild Ale. I base that on its position in the advert and the "X" designation. But the term was used for different styles of beer. Whitbread's Family Ale was a lower-gravity Pale Ale. While Tetley's was a type of Mild.

I'm intrigued by the AK, which is described as "Crystal Ale". Eldridge Pope marketed their AK as "Crystal Ale". The term implies a sparkling, clear beer. It was often used for filtered, non-deposit bottled beers.

But what's the difference between AK and BB, another Bitter selling for the same price? And which is described as "Tonic Dinner Ale", which is typical of the description of  AK. Don't get me started on AKK and what the hell "Amber Ale" signifies.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

I wrote a poem today by accident

Forgive me.
It's effing hot here.
I put a bottle of Abt in the fridge.
Just for 20 minutes.
I'm not a monster.

A. E. Keyes

Robbie (@robsterowski) asked me and Martyn Cornell this question recently: "You both subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive, right? Worth the money?"

We both replied: "Yes."

And here's an example of why. I make regular sweeps through the archive. This week's search term has been "pale mild". As you might have noticed from an earlier post. A lot of what it's thrown up hasn't been "pale mild" as a phrase, but things like this:


Not exactly what I was after. But I took a look at some anyway, hoping that they'll lead me to a price list. Something which I collect. Sure enough, this one did. A rather nice example of one.

 Maidenhead Advertiser - Wednesday 17 December 1890 page 3.

Keyes wasn't a brewery I had heard of, so I did what I always do: I looked it up in "A Century of British Brewers plus plus". A document any serious historian of UK brewing should own. To my amazement, I couldn't find it in the index. Nor under Maidstone in Kent the section. Bum.

Next step was to search on the internet looking for "A.E. Keyes brewery". Which spat out a result in
"Old Maidstone's Public Houses From Old Photographs" by Irene Hales:

"About the year 1820, the Upper Brewery was bought out by the Lower Brewery, the buildings were demolished and the land was sold.

In 1891 the ownership of the brewery was vested in a limited liability company of which the directors were Major Isherwood, Major Foster and Captain Edward Stacey with Mr A. E. Keyes as managing director. The company maintained approximately 100 public houses in Kent, several of which were in Maidstone."

Sure enough, there was an entry under Isherwood, Foster & Stacey Ltd. in "A Century of British Brewers plus plus". The brewery most only have been called A.E. Keyes very briefly. Before selling out to Messrs. Isherwood, Foster and Stacey, while staying on as managing director. When the brewery was sold to local rivals Fremlin in 1929, it owned 151 pubs.

Where am I going with this? No idea, really. I've wandered off track a bit. I remember. The beers in their range.

There are only two Milds, XX and XXX, but five Pale Ales: K, AK, KK, PA and IPA. Which is rather a lot. K is particularly weak for a 19th-century Pale Ale. 36 shillings per barrel was usually the lowest price for a Pale Ale and K is just 30 shillings.

These are my guesses for the OGs of the Pale Ales:

Beer OG
K Light Dinner Ale 1040
AK Family Tonic Ale 1045
KK Superior 1050
PA Strong 1055
IPA India Pale Ale 1065

Note that the IPA was the same price as XXX Old Ale and Imperial Stout. Beers which would have had gravities in the 1090-1100º range. Showing how expensive IPA still was for its strength.

A good example of how multiple sources can help you get a fuller picture of the past. It's the type of thing I do every day. And the Newspaper Archive is a big part of it.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Let's Brew - 1888 William Younger 160/-

Time for another super-strong Scotch Ale. 

That William Younger introduced a new top of the range beer when gravities fell is a sign to me that the name really reflect the wholesale price.

160/- is a very powerful beer, with an OG even a little higher than 1859 140/-.

Not much to the recipe again. Just base malt and sugar. There are two types of sugar, DM and “sacch.”. I’m guessing that the latter is some sort of invert. But I could be wrong. “Saccharum” really just means sugar. I’ve gone with No. 1 invert.

Hops from both continental Europe and the USA again: Kent from the 1887 and 1888 seasons, Wurttemberg from 1887 and American from 1887 and 1888.

1888 William Younger 160/-
pale malt 23.50 lb 90.38%
maltodextrin 1.25 lb 4.81%
No. 1 invert sugar 1.25 lb 4.81%
Cluster 120 min 3.00 oz
Tettnanger 60 min 3.00 oz
Fuggles 30 min 3.00 oz
OG 1118
FG 1042
ABV 10.05
Apparent attenuation 64.41%
IBU 84
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 163º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 54º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale


This recipe is in my two new books, Strong! vols. 1 & 2 and Strong! vol.2.




Friday, 7 August 2020

Perry Beers just after WW II

To say there had been a cull in Perry’s beers across the war would be an understatement. Only two remain: XX and IPA. Leaving a range of beers which doesn’t look particularly Irish.

In particular, the lack of a Black Beer of any description. During the war, Perry brewed two: Porter and XX Stout. The latter seems to have been dropped during the war, the former just after its end.

Both have, as you would expect, reduced gravities. More extreme in the case of IPA, down from 1052º to 1038º. While XX has only lost 7º. The changes leave the two with the same 1038º gravity.

What’s the difference between the two, then? Rather more hops in the IPA and rather more black malt in the XX, to put it simply. The hopping rates (per quarter) are much the same as before the war. As is the rate of attenuation.

IPA no longer includes crystal malt. And neither it nor XX has any malt extract.

The supply situation has obviously improved, due to the presence of American hops. Being from Yakima gives it rather the look of a modern beer. The vast majority of the hops are English and American, as pre-war.

Really not much more to discuss here, given the limited number of beers and ingredients.

Perry beers in 1947
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
XX Mild 1038 1011.5 3.51 69.74% 4.97 0.85
IPA IPA 1038 1013.0 3.31 65.79% 6.62 1.10
Perry brewing records held at the local studies department of Laois county library.

Perry grists in 1947
Beer Style OG pale malt black malt hops
XX Mild 1038 96.18% 3.82% English, Yakima
IPA IPA 1038 99.35% 0.65% English, Yakima
Perry brewing records held at the local studies department of Laois county library.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Pale Mild Ale

The results of searching for "Dark Mild" in the newspaper archives were pretty disappointing. I only found a handful of references to the term before 1920

After a bit of thought, another , indirect method occurred to me. Why not search for "Pale Mild"? If something;s being called Pale Mild, then Dark Mild must also exist. Otherwise, the "pale" prefix would be redundant.

And Bingo, I found this advert from 1899:

 South Bucks Standard - Friday 12 May 1899, page 1.

Two Mild, X and PX, with the latter clearly described as Pale Mild. What surprised me most about this was that at such an early date Dark Mild should be the norm.

My guess would be that X and PX were identical. With caramel being added to X. In any case, with the price being identical they would have at least been the same strength.

I decided against "Light Mild" as it's ambiguous. It could mean either light in colour or light in strength.

When I started down the beer history rabbit hole, I never imagined it would be so hard to pin down a date for the beginning of Dark Mild. I've enough evidence now to be certain that it lies in the 19th century. Probably at least 1890. Though the date varied by region and brewery.

Wheeler's must have been a decent-sized brewer. When it it was taken over in 1924 it owned 148 pubs.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1856 Devenish Store Beer

Yet another Strong Ale recipe. You may have noticed a theme. All to do with my new book, obviously.

I look back at some brewing records – mostly the totally handwritten ones – and think: “How the hell did I ever make any sense out of that?”

I had that in spades with the Devenish records. Luckily, I’d already transcribed most of the information years ago. And not really done anything with it until now.

Given its name, I think it’s fair to assume that it was meant to be aged. Which is why I’ve knocked the FG down from the racking gravity. A secondary fermentation – with Brettanomyces playing a leading role – would have slowly worked its way through the stuff Saccharomyces couldn’t handle.

The brewing record contains no details of the hops, other than the quantity. It’s not the most expansive of documents.

1856 Devenish Store Beer
mild malt 18.75 lb 100.00%
Goldings 60 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings 20 mins 2.75 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1086
FG 1020
ABV 8.73
Apparent attenuation 76.74%
IBU 45
Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 178º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This recipe is in my two new books, Strong! vols. 1 & 2 and Strong! vol.2.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020


We're back with Lloyd Hind trying to predict the future of UK.

He seems to have been fascinated by pasteurisation especially its use in stabilising bottled beers. In the 1920s, even for non-bottle-conditioned beers, pasteurising wasn't common in the UK Chilled and filtered bottled beers were filtered, cooled down to precipitate out sediment and then artificially carbonated, though, obviously, such beers would have a limited shelf-life as they weren't biologically sterile, as pasteurised beer would be.

There were still problems with pasteurised beers:

"Given satisfactory pasteurisation any turbidity that arises is due to gradual precipitation of protein matter; fermentation in bottle would point to the use of dirty bottles or failure to secure proper sterilisation. Modern pasteurising apparatus has got over to very great extent the other two difficulties that used to be so apparent, namely, the production of rather objectionable flavour and high percentage of breakage, with loss of bottles and beer. Prevention of steamed flavour does not, however, depend only on the process of pasteurisation; brewing methods and materials have lot to do with it, and in general lager beers stand the heating better than top-fermentation beers."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 323.

That's the problem I always has with pasteurisation: the funny boiled flavour. For some reason it's particularly prominent with British-style beers. A point which Lloyd Hind makes:

"There are differences, too, in the way in which lager beers will stand up after pasteurisation. The German brewers suffer more in this direction than the American; turbidity came on much more quickly in German export beer, and with turbidity deterioration in flavour takes place but greyness without any change in flavour is enough to make high-class beer unsaleable, or, in any case, let in the opponent's beer in the export market. The advantage gained by the American brewers was due to their unrestricted choice in the matter of materials. The Germans were confined to the use of malt only in the mash tun."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 323 - 324.

Basically, through the use of unmalted grains, American pasteurised beers were more stable than German ones. That pesky Reinheitsgebot made life difficult for the German brewer.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Why was British beer crap in the 1920s?

I think I know the answer to that question. But let's get another opinion first.

This is from Lloyd Hind, a renowned brewing scientist.

"It might be well to set out some of the disadvantages of top beer and then examine how they can be most easily overcome, either by the adoption of bottom fermentation or by improvement of present methods.

Quite apart from questions of flavour or brilliance, beer as generally brewed here suffers from the following causes:—

(1)    It is frequently sent out from the brewery in an unfinished state, the last stages of conditioning and fining being left in the hands of the customer, a not altogether satisfactory state of affairs.

(2)    There is a considerable amount of waste on account of the sediment.

(3)    Export trade is severely handicapped through the difficulty of pasteurisation and the instability of any other than comparatively strong beers.

Chilling and carbonating has been adopted to a very large extent with a view to getting over some of these disadvantages, and has met with a great measure of success for quick trade, but it cannot be said to be altogether a success. Typical characteristics of British beers are their hop aroma and the flavours produced by secondary fermentation. Chilling, filtration and pasteurisation tend to remove these very much-desired flavours, so that chilled and filtered beer generally suffers in comparison with naturally conditioned beer. Chilled and filtered beer also has the very serious disadvantage of instability. Haze and fermentation often set in very rapidly. This may be very largely due to the fact that the chilling process has been adapted to beers brewed on lines which were worked out or have been developed for natural conditioning and are totally unsuitable for really good chilled and filtered beer."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 322.

The real problem was the drop in strength in WW II. Publicans had been able to get away with dodgy cask handling when beer was stronger and sold quickly. It took a while for brewers to adjust their recipes and methods to account for weaker draught beers.

And for publicans to get their act together. But they did, eventually.

Why did cask beer survive in the UK an almost nowhere else?

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Beer of the future

Back with Lloyd Hind's speculative piece on how beer might look in the future.

He spoke at some length about just how short-sighted UK brewers were when it came to exports:

"English brewers have never exploited fully the very large field existing for export bottled beer, to warm climates in particular. At present, of course, that particular trade is severely handicapped, and often made impossible by the rates of exchange, but the possibilities in regard to it for ale and lager should not be overlooked. When strong ales were brewed it was possible to do a great deal with naturally conditioned pale ales, but the tendency is generally for a lighter beer. To ensure constant success with these beers pasteurisation is necessary in the export trade, and pasteurisation of top-fermented bottled beers has not hitherto been so successful as that of lager. Indeed, I think it may be said without hesitation that lager is the better beer for the export pasteurised trade. America at one time had a very large trade of this kind.. Is it not worth while considering who is getting it now, and whether a larger share is not available for this country, particularly if advantage was taken of the possibilities of bonding up to the time of bottling?"
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, pages 321 - 322.

I don't think it was the conditioning or bottling methods which were hampering the UK's export trade. More that consumer tastes had moved on and UK brewers were serving up the wrong types of beer. For the most part, though some brewers like Allsopp did try to keep up, they didn't attempt to switch to Lager for the tropics.

Only problem with Lager was, it was too expensive:

"If these considerations point to the possibility of lager being the beer of the future, there are others which point very strongly in the contrary direction. There are many factors which complicate the issue, and digestibility and less intoxicating properties are not very likely to overcome some of them. The chief of these are economic, based largely on the duty that beer has to carry here, and the greatly increased cost of lager brewing. Every effort must be made to reduce the cost to customers, and it is not very likely that brewers will seriously consider a process which adds materially to the cost of production, through refrigeration or otherwise, if there are other ways of producing the beer that is demanded."
Journal of the Institute of Brewing, Volume 30, 1924, page 322.

The answer in the 1960s and 1970s was to convince consumers that Lager was a fancy sophisticated product, worthy of a premium price. At the same time cutting corners in production to make it cheaper to brew.

Next time, Lloyd Hind will explain why British beer was so crap and how it could be fixed.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

1911 Russell XXX

Russell was a smallish brewery in Gravesend in Kent. They were bought by Truman in 1930. Along with 223 pubs, which is what Truman would really have wanted.

Russell XXX has very much the air of a London Burton. No real surprise, as the brewery wasn’t a million miles away from the capital.

The grist is a classic base malt, flaked maize and sugar combination. There were two types pf pale malt, described as “English” and “foreign”. Which would be noting the origin of the barley, not where the malting was done. Which would have been in the UK. Apart from tiny quantities of lager malt, no malt was imported into the UK at that point.

“Pale invert” and “Kendall” are the descriptions given to the two types of sugar. To interpret the first as No. 1 invert is a no-brainer. The latter, given the minute amount employed, must be some type of caramel

1911 Russell XXX
pale malt 12.25 lb 77.88%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 7.95%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.15 lb 13.67%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.08 lb 0.51%
Fuggles 120 mins 2.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 2.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1076
FG 1022
ABV 7.14
Apparent attenuation 71.05%
IBU 62
SRM 13
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

This recipe is in my two new books, Strong! vols. 1 & 2 and Strong! vol.2.