Friday, 5 November 2021

Defining Pale Ale (part four)

No, I hadn't forgotten about my attempt to create a straitjacket for UK beer styles. As I'm breaking them down both by period and region, it's going to take me a while.

I'm still on London Pale Ales, now moving down a class to what I suppose you would call Ordinary Bitter. With the quite strict pricing hierarchy of the interwar period, it's quite easy to break Pale Ales down into different categories. Today we're looking at the 7d per pint (on draught, in a public bar) category.

Sometimes 7d PA was the strongest Bitter in a brewer's portfolio. Whitbread didn't brew a beer in the 8d class, having only a single draught Bitter with a gravity of 1048º.

For most brewers in the capital 7d Bitter was their second-best selling draught beer, after Mild Ale. Though it could be a long second. For example, in 1939 Whitbread brewed 50,740 barrels of 7d PA, but 232,453 barrels of X Ale.

If you're thinking that this just looks like a watered-down version of 8d PA you'd be correct. As the two classes were commonly parti-gyled together, that's exactly what it was. Colour adjustment with caramel, however, meant that 7d PA was mostly around the same shade as its stronger sibling.

Interwar London 7d PA (Ordinary Bitter)
OG 1044-1049
ABV 4-5%
Apparent attenuation 65-85%
IBU 30-40
SRM 6 - 10
pale malt 75-85%
crystal malt 0-5%
flaked rice or maize 10-15%
sugar 5-20%
Bramling Cross  
Northern Brewer  
Styrian Goldings  

Let me know when you get bored of this stuff. It's going to take forever for me to get through them all. Just covering Pale Ale will entail a couple of dozen definitions.


Unknown said...

My understanding of the term "Pale Ale" is that it referred to the use of Pale Malt instead of Brown Malt.

Phil said...

In 2021 money, for info, 7d and 8d work out at £2 and £2.25 respectively.

Ron Pattinson said...


that was true in the 18th century. Things had moved on by the 1930s.