Saturday, 24 October 2020

Let's Brew - 1946 Whitbread XXXX

I originally planned to publish my WW II book before May this year. Then I changed my target date to August. Until I got totally consumed by writing a stupid number of recipes. Of which this is one.

There hadn’t been much of a change in XXXX since the war ended. Which must have been reassuring to drinkers in search of something with some punch.

I assume that this was an exclusively draught beer. Certainly its predecessor, 33, had been. It was popular enough to be economical to brew single-gyle. This batch was of 790 barrels, which is a lot of beer by any reckoning.

Making it all the more surprising that this seems to be the last year it was brewed. At least, I have no later photographs of XXXX brewing records. If I were to guess, I’d say that they dropped it in 1947, when UK beer strengths hit a nadir, and just never bothered bringing it back. Odd, as in the 1950s Burton was a standard draught beer in London, where Whitbread was based.

The grist is unchanged, with the classic combination pale and chocolate malt, flaked barley, No. 3 invert and caramel.

The hops were Mid-Kent Whitbread from the 1945 harvest, Mid-Kent from 1945 and East Kent, also from 1945, plus some Hopulon.

1946 Whitbread XXXX
pale malt 6.00 lb 65.50%
chocolate malt 0.33 lb 3.60%
flaked barley 1.25 lb 13.65%
No. 3 invert sugar 1.50 lb 16.38%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.08 lb 0.87%
Fuggles 60 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1043.5
FG 1010
ABV 4.43
Apparent attenuation 77.01%
IBU 28
SRM 22
Mash at 149º F
After underlet 154º F
Sparge at 168º F
Boil time 60 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale


Friday, 23 October 2020

Underlet mashing

I'm so excited to have found some stuff on underlet mashing. Another one of my multiple obsessions.

A widespread method was underlet mashing. A technique that was developed in the last half of the 19th century and remained popular way past WW II. It wasn’t as common in Scotland as in England, but it was still practised north of the border, for example at Maclay. 

After an initial mash at quite a low temperature, 30 minutes later, more hot water was added via the underlet, i.e. from the bottom of the mash tun. The internal rakes were given a couple of spins to mix the new water through the mash. The underlet water was at a hotter temperature than the striking heat and raise the temperature of the goods. In effect it’s a step mash.

After standing for 120 minutes or so, the wort was run off and there were one or two sparges. The exact details varied from brewery to brewery. Because of the need to stir the mash after the underlet, brewers had to have rakes fitted to their tuns. 

There was an explanation for using the method other than improving extract.

“Underletting was not brought into favour merely as assisting in obtaining full extract, but by mashing at a lower initial temperature and then bringing the goods heat up to a high temperature by underlet, it was thought to obtain a wort of more desirable carbohydrate composition for certain classes of beer. There is some reason to think that a sweeter beer was thus obtained. But apart from carbohydrate composition due to controlled diastatic action, there is the question of proteolytic action being more effective at the lower initial temperature and so affecting the nitrogenous composition of the wort favourably. Many experiments have shown that 148°-150° is the temperature at which proteolytic action in the mash tun is inhibited, but at 144 -145º it is positive so that 20 minutes to half an hour at this lower figure might have a very desirable effect in reducing the amount of those bodies which are potentially troublesome in bottled beers. Moreover when an underlet is to be used the mash is generally thicker and in a thick mash proteolytic action is said to be a little stronger.”
The Brewing Trade Review, October 1943, page 309.

I won’t pretend to understand the science there. It does seem underletting influenced the character of the finished beer. If you believe the scienticians.

Here’s a typical underlet mash schedule from my favourite London brewery. It was for a total grain weight of 9,408 lbs.:

1941 Barclay Perkins A and X Ale underlet mash 
action water (barrels) water heat goods heat
mash 56 154º F 147º F
underket after 30 mins 14 180º F 151º F
sparge 102 165º F 154º F
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/624.



Thursday, 22 October 2020

Variety or Uniformity?

Beer wasn't just in short supply in WW II. It was also short on variety.

The main reason for the reduction in choice was beer zoning, the system by which brewers had their distant pubs supplied by other breweries. Which is some areas had the effect of introducing a local monopoly.

"Variety or Uniformity
Apart from questions of war damage, the zoning arrangements, following upon the large degree of voluntary exchange of houses previously undertaken by breweries in the interest of transport economy, have resulted in a great many people finding themselves unable to obtain their accustomed brew. Doubtless most breweries will resume the supply of their own licensed premises and their other customers with their own beers as soon as may be. Although the considerations of petrol and tyre shortage make it imperative that long journeys should be avoided wherever possible in war time, it is not in normal circumstances an uneconomic proposition for a brewery to supply its beer over a wide area, and there is every reason to suppose that breweries will wish to do so as soon as it is practicable. From the point of view of the public it is right that there should be this resumption of free choice. In ordinary circumstances the public expects, and has the right to expect, to be able to choose between several alternatives, and the public is quick to detect, or imagine, it detects, subtle differences between the products of different breweries."
The Brewing Trade Review, September 1943, page 268.

Of course, after the war the biggest threat to diversity and choice was the brewers themselves. The mergers and takeovers of the 1950s and 1960s created many local monopolies of near monopolies. Like Watney in Norwich, for example. The tied house system made reduction in choice pretty inevitable.

Shortage of materials had led brewers to prune the range of beers they brewed, eliminating stronger or less popular beers.

"It would be desirable, too, that the range of beers from a given brewery should be fully resumed when the arbitrary restrictions made necessary at present by the shortage of materials are removed. How far this will be possible must depend a great deal upon the policy of the Government after the war in the matter of the beer duty. In 1939 the average beer paid a duty of a trifle over 2d. per pint; the average! beer of to-day—an appreciably lighter product—pays more than 7d. per pint. It is questionable how far, while the present heavy beer duty is in force, the public could afford to return to the qualities of beer which it consumed before the war. Immediately after the last war the duty was increased, not reduced; In 1914 it stood at 7s. 9d. per standard1 barrel; when the war ended it stood at 50s., which was increased in 1919 to 70s. and in 1920 to 100s. Not until 1923 was there a reduction of 20s. on the bulk barrel. When it is remembered that the present duty on a standard barrel is 281s. 10.5d., however, one realises that there may be very little in common between the problem of the beer duty after the last war and that which will have to be faced when this war ends. One is led by the frequent references to the subject to believe that the prosperity of the people generally will be tackled more successfully in the days to come than it was 25 years ago, and this may well go far towards counterbalancing a beer duty disproportionately high in comparison with the general level of the cost of living, whether that comparison is with 1939 or 1914."
The Brewing Trade Review, September 1943, page 268.

The author was pretty astute to point out that beer duty continued to rise after the end of WW I. Because something similar happened after WW II.

UK tax on beer 1943 - 1949
Year Tax/Std. Brl tax pint Total Tax £
1943 281s 10.5d 5.96d 209,584,343
1944 286s 5.5d 7.20d 263,170,703
1945 286s 5.5d 7.42d 278,876,870
1946 286s 5.5d 7.54d 295,305,369
1947 286s 5.5d 7.13d 250,350,829
1948 325s 5d 7.24d 264,112,043
1949 364s 4.5d 9.10d 294,678,035
1955 Brewers' Almanack, pages 50 & 80.

Though the rate of tax was remarkably stable between 1944 and 1947.

Just as with the WW I, there was never a return to pre-war strengths. And brewers never reinstated all their beers.

For example, Shepherd Neame brewed 8 beers pre-war, but only six after it, dropping a strong Pale Ale and one of their Stouts. It was even more extreme at Fullers, where half of their eight pre-war beers disappeared for good.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1911 Heineken Lagerbier

A slight change of pace today, as I go with a Lager recipe. Just for a change. And a Dutch Lager, at that.

As well as expensive beers like Pils and Beiersch, Heineken also had some more attractively priced products.

Just as you had Gerste as a cheap Dark Lager, so you had Lagerbier as a low-budget Pale Lager. You can see all Heineken’s prices here:

Heineken wholesale prices 1904 - 1914
beer type cents per litre
Gerstebier 8
Lager 8
Rotterdamsche Gerste 11
Münchener 14
Export 14
Beiersch (donker) 13
Pilsner (licht) 13
Bock 15
1904-1914 - "Korte Geschiedenis der Heineken's Bierbouwerij Maatschappij N.V. 1873 - 1948" (p.218)

The Gerste whose recipe is a few pages back was the more expensive Rotterdamsche Gerste. You can see that this beer, as just 8 cents a litre, was one of Heineken’s cheapest.

Its successor, Licht Lagerbier was brewed in the interwar years but looks like it was killed off by WW II. After the German occupation, the gravities of Heineken’s beers rapidly fell and by October 1943 it had an OG of just 3.9º Plato (1016º).

It’s another very uncomplicated recipe, just pilsner malt and hops.

1911 Heineken Lagerbier
pilsner malt 2 row 8.25 lb 100.00%
Hallertau 90 mins 1.25 oz
OG 1037
FG 1011
ABV 3.44
Apparent attenuation 70.27%
IBU 19
Mash double decoction  
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 48º F
Yeast WLP830 German Lager

 This, and many other wonderful Lager recipes, features in Let's Brew! 


Tuesday, 20 October 2020

No more Thursday beers

Last week the Dutch government announced all bars and restaurants would have to close, as of 10 PM Wednesday night. For at least two weeks. Or is it four now?

Doubly annoying, as Thursday night for going out. Over the last couple of months we've got into  the habit of going to Butcher's Tears on a Thursday evening. Me and my mates Will and Lucas. Plus, lately, Andrew most of the time.

 There's lots of space and no-one passing by. Dead easy to keep reasonably distanced. And they have the sort of beers we want to drink. It's all very relaxing. Lucas brings along some vinyl so there's always decent music. Usually a mix of dub and thrashy guitar stuff. As that's what barman Hubert likes.

It was a handy way of keeping up a bit of social contact amongst all the weirdness. I'll miss my Thursday beers - usually a couple of pints of Mild then a couple of Double Stouts. But I'll just have to suck it up. An inconvenience for me, but potential ruin for many businesses.

With the number of cases still growing in Holland, I can't see bars reopening anytime soon.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Experimental hops

You might have noticed that I've been using a lot of material from The Brewing Trade Review recently. There are good reasons why.

I'm still researching my WW II book. The restrictions placed on brewing continue to elude me. I'd hoped that The Brewing Trade Review would detail them One of the reasons I scanned and OCR'd the whole of the bugger.

And because I've scanned and OCR'd the whole of the bugger, I'm going to use as much of it as I can. Otherwise I'd just have wasted my time. Not that time wasting is such a problem, now I'm unemployed. I've plenty of time to waste. Like on transcribing every single William Younger beer from every photograph I have of their wartime brewing books. Even though every iteration is mostly identical.

Someone did comment on an earlier post mentioning new hop varieties wanting more details. So here are some more details

"Next comes the question of whether to plant carefully selected Fuggles or one, or more, of the new varieties which have been produced at Wye and East Mailing under the auspices of Professor E. S. Salmon. Mr. Gascoyne, like many other growers, is in favour of selecting the best strains of Fuggles (and Goldings) now in the country so as to improve the general standard rather than endeavour to breed hops with American characteristics. Some Fuggle hop growers do, every season, mark the weak setts, scrap them and replant with stronger ones, and have thereby succeeded over a period of years in producing fine, prize-winning hops which make as good a beer as can be desired. As regards the new varieties, Professor Salmon, Messrs. F. H. Beard and R. G. Hatton contribute a paper to the same number of the Institute’s Journal on the merits of the new varieties. They give a summary of each hop’s origin, cultural characteristics, general qualities and practical trials in brewing, and make a strong case in favour of most of them. What may by some brewers be considered a weakness in their argument is that they rely mainly on the high alpha-resin as the chief indication of quality. There are two points to be considered in connection with this. First, do we really want a very high alpha-resin, for it has more than once been found in comparative trials that a good hop with about 7% of alpha-resin produced a beer that would not go bad just as well as the beer brewed with a new variety having about 11%. Secondly, the opinion has grown strongly of late that the alpha-resin is not the only constituent of the hop which has a preservative value. If this should prove to be the case has the new variety an equal (or better) amount of this substance. However, we hope to see those, hops grown on a large scale and used on normal commercial lines some day."
The Brewing Trade Review, March 1943, pages 72 - 74.

Why were they trying to breed hops with American characteristics? Because they'd been using American hops for nigh on 100 years and had become accustomed to them. I'm guessing for the high alpha acid content. 

Which would explain the emphasis on alpha acid content. Love the discussion on whether high alpha acid = good quality. Equally relevant today.

The next snippet is more specific.

"New Hop Varieties
The new varieties of hops raised by Professor Salmon which may now be said to be established are Brewer’s Gold, Bullion Hop, Quality Hop, Fillpocket and Brewer’s Favourite. These are rich in preservative value as measured by the percentage of alpha-resin and their brewing quality has been proved. They are, however, late varieties, and Professor Salmon has now brought forward three new mid-season varieties (Jour. Inst. Brew., 1943, p. 178, from an article published at Ashford in January) which he calls “Brewer’s Stand-by.” “Mailing Mid-Season” and “College Cluster.” These were all raised at Wye and then propagated at the East Mailing Station. With regard to disease, they are all unharmed by the mosaic disease, but are “carriers” of it, so must not be planted near susceptible varieties, such as Goldings ; they may, however, be planted near Fuggles as these are also carriers and therefore immune. These new varieties also have shown very fair resistance to downy mildew under routine conditions of spike removal and spraying with Bordeaux mixture. As regards Brewer’s Stand-by opinion on flavour has differed a little, C. G. Tosswill finding a mild American aroma, but J. S. Ford saying he. is unable to detect it and giving an all-round good opinion of the hop. It has a high alpha-resin average and is a good cropper. Mailing mid-season also had a curious mild American aroma according to C. G. Tosswill, and “ aroma mild something like Oregon ; not unpleasant,” according to the judges of the Institutes’ Hop Committee, but in brewing trials with it no American flavour was imparted to the beer. We believe all practical brewing experiments have tended to show that a slight American flavour in a hop means nothing against it in respect of its brewing quality. As regards the third variety, College Cluster (a happy name), it is a shade lower in alpha-resin than the other two but is a larger cropper. It has large cones, even larger than a Fuggle, and the upper short laterals have densely clustered cones; the bine has a limited growth so that 12 ft. wire instead of 14 ft. may be used and this facilitates washing and spraying. In the excellent photographs of these three varieties, the College Cluster looks most attractive."
The Brewing Trade Review, September 1943, page 275.

A couple of recognisable names there. And some not so recognisable ones. Fillpocket and Brewer’s Stand-by are my faves. I wonder what happened to them? A reminder that most new hop varieties don't stick around very long.

What did they mean by "American aroma"? Saying they were " not unpleasant" isn't exactly high praise.

Sunday, 18 October 2020


At a time when resources of every kind were short, it made sense on many levels to favour cask beer over bottled. 

With both glass and rubber for stoppers in short supply, there were some obvious disadvantages of bottled beer. (In 1943, 80% of the world's rubber supply was under Axis control.)  It also required more energy and manpower to produce and was heavier and bulkier to transport.

But cask beer wasn't without its own problems. Basically, the casks themselves. Though a wooden cask has a long life, it does require regular maintenance. And replacing staves requires a supply of oak. For a long while UK brewers had preferred Memel oak from the Eastern Baltic. Even before Germany invaded the Soviet Union supplies had been cut off.

The search for every means by which economy of transport could be furthered naturally led at quite an early stage— two years ago and more—to consideration whether the replacement of bottled beer trade by cask beer was not feasible. Cask beer makes substantially less demand on transport. The immediate answer was the lack of sufficient casks in the country to enable any material expansion in the use of this form of container. Since that time there has been no improvement, but perhaps on the whole there has not been any further serious deterioration. Before the war there were considerable stocks of cask staves — almost entirely of Memel oak — in the country, and these delayed the full effect of the cessation of supplies until the first year or two of the war had passed. The steady drain on cooperage labour through calling-up was already having a serious effect by the time stocks of Memel staves became exhausted. In some few cooperages it had long been customary to use English oak for casks, but efforts to extend the use of this material did not meet with very much, success. It called for considerable skill in working, owing to the hardness and nature of the grain, and skilled labour was short. The Government, realising that the cask shortage would rapidly grow worse and would threaten the maintenance of beer output, made available a steady supply of American oak staves. This material had the serious drawback that the casks must be lined with pitch in order to avoid the beer being affected, but for well over a year now American staves have saved the situation. Supplies have been enough to keep cask stocks substantially up to the level of early last year. Lack of cooperage labour would in any event preclude much improvement over that position. Large stacks of casks still remain which cannot be brought into service again without repair, while the demands of the Services and the public generally and the growing delay which occurs in getting empties back again, particularly when, as they often must for transport economy reasons, casks of beer are sent by rail, are making it more and more difficult to make the available casks go round."
The Brewing Trade Review, August 1943, page 243.

In normal times British brewers would never have used American oak as it imparted too much flavour to the beer it contained. Unlike today, brewers wanted to avoid any trace of oak in their beer. Its presence was seen as a fault. But, with the supply of Memel oak dried up, brewers had little choice.

When supplies of American oak in turn began to evaporate, brewers had to turn to a more local source.

"That is the general position at present. There are, of course, many exceptions. Some brewers are fortunate in the possession of their own cooperage department and sufficient skilled men over military age to handle their work. Others are in much worse case. The fact that the cask position is as good as it is at present is in no small measure due to the co-operation of the cooperage trade, individually and collectively through their Association.

Now the brewing trade is threatened with a serious reduction in the supply of staves in the future. There is a shortage of American oak, and present indications are that early next year American stave supplies will be severely curtailed. It is believed that the seriousness of this is appreciated by the Government Departments concerned, and that efforts are being made to relieve the position. It is hardly likely, however, that supplies can be maintained at the level which has prevailed in the last 12 months, and it will be necessary for an increasing proportion of cask requirements to be carried out in English oak. Here again there is no bountiful supply, but such quantity as can be provided will have to be used in substitution for the American oak. One unfortunate result will be that greater difficulty of working probably means longer time in making up a cask, and consequently still further attenuation of the already severe shortage of skilled labour."
The Brewing Trade Review, August 1943, pages 243.

This is first time I can recall hearing of English oak being used for casks, though I'm sure that was what was used if you go back to the beginning of the 19th century or earlier. Why was it harder to work tha American or Memel oak? Was it harder? 

There was one simple solution to the shortage of casks - rotate them through pubs quicker.

"The position calls for the careful attention of all breweries if serious consequences to the output of beer in the near future are to be avoided. The first consideration which comes to mind is the achievement of the quickest possible turn round of casks. No doubt steps have already been taken by most breweries to get their casks returned more quickly. The Ministries concerned are alive to the urgent necessity of such quick return and we believe they are working to this end so far as railway traffic is concerned—not only with beer casks but with returnable containers of all kinds, for the same difficulties are present in other industries. It remains for the brewery to deal with other sources of delay and to do what is possible to ensure that casks are sent back from licensed premises and other customers as soon as possible after they are empty."
The Brewing Trade Review, August 1943, page 244. 

Zoning - only delivering to pubs close to the brewery would have helped casks get back to the brewery quicker. But other wartime fuel economy measures didn't help. Brewers reduced the number of deliveries and generally only dropped off beer - and collected empties - once a week.


Saturday, 17 October 2020

Let's Brew - 1943 William Younger XXPS

I have a weird affection for some of William Younger's beers Probably because I drank a few of the ones I come across in their brewing records. No. 3, obviously, that most enigmatic of Scotch Ales, the one not like any of the other ones. And XXPS and IPA.

 They had a couple of cask beers in my youth. They were sold under varying names. 80/- was usually called IPA in England. Its weaker sibling XXPS, went by the name of 70/- North of the border and Scotch in the land of the Sassenachs. When I was supping it in one of the few free houses in the Newark area where I grew up, I was clueless as to its history. Complicated, messy and too much to go into here. I'll just say that its early years, without the S suffix, were as a full-strength IPA.

Being 1943, the flaked oats are no surprise. In fact, you’d expect more. When this was brewed in October, 15% was the norm. Not sure why there is so little.

The hops are dead fun: Kent and experimental. Both from the 1942 harvest. Pretty recent, then. Just bigger all of them. 

1943 William Younger XXPS
pale malt 7.25 lb 80.56%
flaked barley 1.25 lb 13.89%
flaked oats 0.50 lb 5.56%
Fuggles 75 min 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 min 0.50 oz
OG 1038
FG 1012
ABV 3.44
Apparent attenuation 68.42%
IBU 12
SRM 3.5
Mash at 153º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 75 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale



Friday, 16 October 2020

Essex Old Strong Beer

I just stumbled upon this lovely snippit about long ageing of beer. To be specific, a strong, vat-aged Ale.

It's frustrating how few descriptions there are of vat ageing. This gives us at least a glimpse into the process:

As regards acidity and flavours we knew of an Essex brewery many years ago which was noted for the pine-apple flavour of its old strong beer. This beer, of about 30 lb. O.G., was made in three successive brewings which after primary fermentation were pumped into a 500-barrel vat. These vats were very acid ; getting into them to see if they were properly cleaned (!) made one’s eyes water, and the beer went through a strong bacterial fermentation in from six to nine months after filling. The beer was then full of long rods, often called vibrios in those days but actually a butyricus bacillus, and the taste was offensively acid. But on further storage the acidity mellowed greatly, the titratable acidity dropped at least 30%, a pine-apple flavour developed and the beer was ready for consumption at the end of two years. There were one or two breweries in the East Anglian counties which brewed these old acid beers which incidentally were much favoured by jockeys for keeping their weight down !"
The Brewing Trade Review, September 1943, page 278. 

30 lbs per barrel is 1082.4º. Strong, but not stupidly strong. who knows what bugs there were in that vat, All sorts of stuff, as in a Lambic barrel would be my guess.

Fascinating that a very specific flavour is mentioned: pineapple. And that it took a couple of years for it to develop and the beer to mellow out.

Not sure why this beer would have been so useful for jockeys. I'm baffled.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Oats in WW II

One of the oddities of UK brewing during WW II was the use of oats. In beers other than Oatmeal Stout, I mean. Though in those the quantity of oats was tiny - far too small to have any impact of the flavour of the beer.

In 1943, the government, wanting divert some barley into food production, ordered brewers to replace 10% of their barley with oats. At most breweries this would mean a reduction or total elimination of flaked barley. The quantity of malt used, however, wouldn't change.

"Flaked Oats
In September, 1941, the use of flaked barley was introduced by the Ministry of Food in order to conserve malt supplies, and a large proportion of the brewing trade has achieved a substantial use of this material. It has now become imperative that there should be a substantial reduction in the use of barley, whether flaked or malted, while maintaining the present level of output of beer. Supplies of flaked oats will be available from the present suppliers of flaked barley, and in most districts these supplies are already sufficient. A proportion of the barley crop is required for use in the loaf, and it has become necessary in the national interest to ask every brewer to take steps without delay to obtain delivery of flaked oats and to carry out experiments in order to ascertain the maximum proportion of this material that he can use. It is hoped that brewers will lose no time in putting the result of their experiments into effect. In some cases breweries are working to the full capacity of their mash tuns, and the greater bulk of oats, necessary to replace a given proportion of barley or malt, presents a difficulty. It may be possible to overcome this difficulty by using ground oats in place of flakes, and there is no reason why a brewer who can more conveniently use oats in this form and has the necessary facilities for grinding should not take his supplies in grain instead of in flakes. It should be said, however, that the malting of oats will not be permitted, as this would be uneconomic in malting labour having regard to the lower output of beer obtainable as compared with that from a corresponding quantity of barley malt."
The Brewing Trade Review, March 1943, page 63.

The yield from oats is significantly lower than that from barley Which you need more of it to produce a wort of the same gravity. Which could be a problem if you were already brewing with a full mash tun.

You can clearly see that in Whitbread's recipes from 1942 and 1943:

Whitbread beers in 1942 - 1943
Year Beer Style OG pale malt choc. Malt crystal malt mild malt PA malt wheat malt flaked barley flaked oat
1942 XX Mild 1029.1     12.02% 68.11%   2.00% 12.02%  
1942 IPA IPA 1032.4 53.50%   5.73%   27.71%   6.69%  
1942 PA Pale Ale 1040.0     3.30%   76.65%   9.07%  
1942 XXXX Strong Ale 1044.4   2.80%     79.44%   9.35%  
1943 XX Mild 1028.3 46.39%   10.31% 18.56%       17.53%
1943 IPA IPA 1031.4     6.52%   82.61%     10.87%
1943 PA Pale Ale 1039.2     4.97%   72.93%     13.26%
1943 XXXX Strong Ale 1043.8   2.86%     71.43%     17.14%
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/01/109 and LMA/4453/D/01/110.

The quantity of oats was about 50% higher than that of flaked barley.

Using oats was a very temporary occurrence - 1943 only. The next year everyone reverted to using flaked barley. What it does do, is throw up some odd recipes for people like me.

Given how high the percentage of oats was - 17% in the case of Mild and Burton - there must have been some impact on the character of the beer. Surely some drinkers must have noticed?

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1936 Boddington CC

A decade or two of peace has seen big changes in CC. There’s been a small drop in the gravity, but the real changes are elsewhere.

In the recipe. Which has several new ingredients: crystal malt, wheat malt and flaked maize. Quite change from the austere recipe of 1923. Though it does lack the enzymic malt that Boddington put into all their other beers except Stout. The same is true of the Diastatic Malt Syrup that appears in their Mild and Bitter.

The sugars are more complicated than they appear. In the original a combination of sugars called B and Fl . I’ve lumped them together as No. 3 invert. Hopefully, it’s somewhere close.

Loads of different hops again: Oregon from the 1935 crop, Styrian from 1933, English from 1934 and 1935. The quantity of Styrian hops was too small to be practically included in the recipe below. Just 5 lbs from a total of 220 lbs. Styrian from the 1934 harvest and English from 1935 were employed as dry hops.

1936 Boddington CC
pale malt 7.00 lb 56.20%
crystal malt 1.50 lb 12.04%
flaked maize 2.75 lb 22.08%
wheat malt 0.33 lb 2.65%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.02%
caramel 2000 SRM 0.125 lb 1.00%
Cluster 240 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1055.5
FG 1013.5
ABV 5.56
Apparent attenuation 75.68%
IBU 54
SRM 24
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 162º F
Boil time 240 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

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

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Corona and me

As things seem to be hotting up again with the COVID-19 virus, it seems time to finally bring the topic up in this blog.

When the 2020 began, I had four international trips planned for the first half of the year. Well, more than planned, flights were already booked and other arrangements made.

Flying out to Brazil on 5th march, the virus wasn't really on my mind at all. There were few cases in Holland and only a handful (supposedly) in Brazil. Nothing to worry about, surely? So I happily trailed around a packed Schiphol and Sao Paulo airports without a care in the world, other than making sure I got a few drinks in.

South Americans are a very tactile bunch. Meaning I had lots of close contact with my fellow judges. Without any thought of contagion. Why should I? The virus seemed very far away and life continued as normal in Brasil. Everything was open, no-one wore a mask.

All was well until my last morning in Blumenau, when I woke with a worryingly annoying cough. No fever, mind, and I could still taste perfectly well. Just a cold I reassured myself. I headed off to Rio as planned for a night before returning to Amsterdam

Feeling reasonably OK, I swanned around Rio for half a day with Martyn Cornell, before returning to Amsterdam.

The USA meanwhile having banned Europeans from entering while I was in Brazil, I already knew my next two trips - both to the USA - weren't going to happen. Never mind, I could still go to Thailand with my mate Mikey.

Back in Holland, everything had changed. A partial lockdown was imposed in the few days between my return from Brazil and my departure for Thailand. As more and more countries closed their borders. Could I still fly to Bangkok? I was checking if the flight had been cancelled right until I left for the airport.

Schiphol was totally different from a couple of weeks earlier. The bars and restaurants were all closed. Almost half the flights were showing as cancelled. Far fewer people around and far more with masks. Things were starting to get a but scary. At least the duty free was open. I grabbed a bottle of hotel whisky and a few miniatures for pre-flight loading.

The first few days in Thailand everything was much as normal. Just far few tourists around. Which suited me, to be fair. Then 5 or 6 days in, the bars were suddenly ordered to close. Not such a disaster, as restaurants were still operating. And they all sell beer, so where's the problem?

My annoying cough was still following me around like a mangy dog. But surely it was just a cold that it was particularly hard to kick. Also like a mangy dog.

The day before we were due to fly back, the restaurants were also ordered to close. But the shops were still open. Where I stocked up on beer and a whisky-like substance they make in Thailand. Maybe that would soothe my throat? It did make me feel better. But not in a less throat achey sort of way. More in the a few quick shots of spirits way.

As airports closed and flights were cancelled around the world, I fretted over whether I'd be able to get back to Holland. Luckily, our flight was still on. Though it was totally packed due to nervous tourists rebooking to make sure they got home. Good news for me, as I was upgraded to business class. Bad news was that the flight was dry for pretty vague reasons.

The flight attendants were so impressed with my coughing that they gave me a FFP2 mask to wear. The young lady sat next to me was equally in awe. She repeatedly sanitised her hands and tray table all through the flight.

Safely back home in Amsterdam, the rest of the family soon shared my annoying cough. Then Dolores lost her sense of smell. Bugger.

Not having the symptoms most associated with COVID-19 - a fever, exhaustion, loss of taste - I assumed that my illness must have been something else. Being in a couple of high-risk groups, I also expected I would have been totally laid out by the virus. It wasn't even anything like as bad as flu. Just a slightly nasty cold.

Now I don't know what to think. Chances are that I did have it. And I feel dead guilty about how much I travelled and how many people I was in contact with while infected. Had I known, I'd have stayed at home.

That I'll probably never know for certain whether I had it or not is dead frustrating. Though nothing at all compared to those that have become really sick or died had to endure.

Monday, 12 October 2020

The price of Barclay Perkins draught beers during WW II.

Not only was the strength of Barclay Perkins beers falling as the war progressed, they were also becoming more expensive.

Though the worst of the increases happened after the end of hostilities. The price increases were almost always the result of an increase in tax. Not quite sure why some prices dropped by a penny in 1946. It does specifically say in the circular letter that the reduction was temporary.

The stronger beers increased relatively more in price. Both Best Stout and Burton increased by 75% between 1940 and 1948. XX and X increased by 55.56% and 62.50%, respectively. XLK fared best, increasing by just 50%.

This has to be put into the context of the day. Beer prices had been very stable between the wars, save for a blip in 1931-1933 when the tax was increased. In 1939, beer cost the same as in 1922. The rapid rise in the cost of beer must have been disconcerting for younger drinkers, who would have been used to stable prices. To those old enough to have been drinking in WW I, it all must have seemed depressingly familiar.

Barclay Perkins draught beer prices in public bar (d)
Beer 1940 1942 1943 1946 1947 Nov. 1947 1948
Porter 8            
Best Stout 12 15 17 16 17 19 21
XX (Mild. Ale Light) 9 11 12 11 12 13 14
X (Mild Ale Dark) 8 10 11   11 12 13
A Ale 7 9 10        
KK Burton 12 15 17   17 19 21
XLK Bitter 10 12 13 12 13 14 15
KKKK Old Burton     26        
Barclay Perkins Circular Letters held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/521/1.