Sunday, 25 October 2020


Time for another super-fascinating post. Perhaps even more thrilling than Containers

After a few weeks of laziness, I'm seriously attacking my WW II book again. I reassured myself that I was researching. In reality, I was dodging writing certain sections of the book. The ones where a whole load of raw source material  requires transformation into a coherent narrative. 

And I just couldn't be arsed. Daunted by the minimal intellectual effort required, I sought refuge in transcribing reams of William Younger brewing records and OCR'ing The Brewing Trade Review. Far more time and effort than just cracking on and writing a few thousand words.

That's what happens when you have whatever you call the craziness that goes on in my head. Being lazy entails countless hours of tedious, repetitive labour.

And I would have said, unproductive labour. That ludicrously detailed - and mostly pointless - research. Except, it did throw a few tasty dumplings my way which I might have missed. Had I been less obsessive. (And I do love me a dumpling. I dream of making suet dumplings like my Mum's. How did she get them that fluffy?)

Vaguely amusing bit over. Now the tedious, unedited, book preview. Some of the things what I wroted this week. Enjuyulate.

During the WW II draught beer was almost all in cask form. As it had been for centuries. About the only change to the process since the early 19th century had been the introduction of sugar primings, which really took off at the beginning of the 20th century.

Primings were a sugar solution with an OG of 1140º to 1150º added at racking time with the principal aim of providing readily fermentable material to condition the beer in the cask quickly. Additionally, the primings could also add colour through the presence of caramel. 

With as much as a gallon of primings being added per 36-gallon barrel, they could significantly boost the effective OG of a beer by as much as 10%. The increase was especially prominent in low-gravity beers like Mild Ale.

Frustratingly, most breweries didn’t record details of primings in their brewing records. Those few that do, show how sophisticated a procedure had become. 

Barclay Perkins primed many of their beers, not just draught ones, but some of the bottled, too. Here’s how it all looked a couple of years into the war:

Barclay Perkins primings in 1941
Beer Style primings (gallons) OG before primings OG after ptimings
A Mild 0.25 1028.7 1029.5
X Mild 0.75 1031.8 1034.2
XX Mild 0.75 1037.7 1039.9
KK Burton 0.5 1051.4 1052.7
LS draught Stout 0.75 1040.8 1043
LS bottled Stout 1 1040.8 1043.7
IBS Stout 0.75 1055.6 1057.4
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/624.

IBS is Russian Stout. If you're wondering why I've used an image of the Cossack bloke.


Edd The Brew said...

Hi Ron ,
Priming Sugars are 1.140-1.150°

Kevin said...

That's what he said Edd.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't realized sugar priming didn't take off until the 20th Century. What did they do before? Unfermented wort?

For the purposes of your older recipes, do you have any ideas for priming?

Ron Pattinson said...


Ive some evidence of breweries adding high-gravity wort that was fermenting rapidly. Especially in Irish breweries when making Stout. A sort of Kräusen.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting, thanks. I might try a rough approximation sometime with malt extract as a primer in the bottling bucket when I make one of the older recipes from your books.