Friday 10 March 2023

Tetley cask Bitter specifications (part seven)

If all has gone well, I should be on plane jetting back to Europe. Do I feel guilty about all my air travel? No. Because I've never owned a car. Other than flights, all my travel is my electric-proered vehicles. Or on foot.

We've got to the end of the Tetley's Bitter specification. And a few surprises have been left until now.

Obviously enough, the last phase of the process was post fermentation. Where there was still lots of interesting stuff going on. I don't want to spoil things too much by getting ahead of myself. But there were a surprising number of differences between the handling of cask Bitter and cask Mild. For no obvious reason. We'll see all of this in my next series of posts. Bet you can't wait for that.

One of the drums I keep beating like a deranged football fan is the influence of tax systems on beer. We'll be seeing a very good example of the crap brewers were encouraged to do by the particular way UK excise duty on beer was collected.

After that tease, here's the first table of fun.

Material Rate Type Where Added
Priming NONE    
Acid NONE    
Hop Pellets 2 Pellets (1 oz per Brl) North Down In Cask
PFB 25% Isohopcon Racking Tank
Colour As required reboil after 48 hours Caramel AB (1045°) Racking Tank
Finings 4pt/Brl Penang Leaf Cask
Sterilised Beer 7.5% Max 1031° Racking Tank
Preservative As S02 (ppm) NaMs  
  468 1 pt Brl NaMs Colour C.V.
  155 1/3 pt/Brl (working Soln) Sterilised Beer
Protesal None    
Lucilite None    
Polyclar At. None    
Tetley Beer and Malt Specifications, 1985, beer page 5.

I'll start with a big surprise right at the start of the table. Tetley Bitter wasn't primed. Which is odd for a low-gravity Bitter of this type, which was supposed to come into condition quickly. Which means they were relying on residual sugars in the beer for conditioning in the cask. 

The figure on the first page described as "Limit Atten," Is presumably the lowest the gravity the beer should attain after cask conditioning. The value is given as 1003.5º. Which would leave the apparent attenuation at 90% and the ABV 4.2%. Which is a good bit stronger than I would have expected.

I'm not surprised that it was dry hopped. The quantity is fairly small, but it is a pretty low-gravity Bitter. Handy that the hop variety is listed: North Down.

What PFB stands for might be a puzzle, I do know what Isohopcon was. A hop extract manufactured by Pauls & Whites Ltd of Reigate. As we saw early, this provided 25% of the bitterness.  It's interesting how late this was added. Only in the racking tank.

The caramel was added at the same stage. Interesting that the OG of the caramel is listed, but not its colour. I suppose that it didn't really matter as only a sufficient quantity was used to hit the colour standard.

Nothing exceptional about the finings, which you would expect to be added to the casks.

Next we see the effect of taxing beer based on what was in the fermenter before fermentation. Because sterilised beer is a posh way of saying ullage. This is presumably retumed beer which has been sterilised to stop it infecting the fresh beer. At least Tetley limited the amount to 7.5% maximum. Watney was merrily using 15% and more, depending on the beer.

Why did brewers use returned beer? Because it was tax-free. When beer was returned to the brewery as unsaleable, the excise duty on it was refunded. If a brewery reused it, there was no tax on it. When the system was changed in the 1990s to be based on the ABV of the beer when it left the brewery, that advantage disappeared. Tax was due on everything leaving the brewery, including any ullage which had been mixed in.

I was slightly surprised to see preservative added. Though some was added to the sterilised beer which does make sense.

One final table.

a) Temperature (°F) (°C) 55 +-3 (12. 8)
b) Yeast Count (10>6 cells/ML) 0.5 +- 0.4
c) Dry Hop i) Rate 2 Pellets per brl. 1 oz/brl
                  ii) Type North Down.
d) Fining (pt/brl) 4
e) Storage Time (Brewery) 3 days
                          (Depot) 14 days max.
f) RT residence time 6-48 hours
Tetley Beer and Malt Specifications, 1985, beer page 5.

This is mostly a repeat of earlier information. You can see that the casks were given a reasonable amount of time to condition: 3 days in the brewery and up to two weeks at the depot.

Why would it sit for up to two days in the racking tank? I'm guessing that was so they could blend together different batches.

Next up is cask Mild.


Matt said...

I've never owned a car either and always either walked or used public transport (easier if you live on the outskirts of a big city rather than out in the countryside I know). I've done plenty of flying in the past, to Europe and North America, but the last time was when I went to Copenhagen at the end of 2019, and I'm not really sure I want to go back to all the hassle of it - I'm seriously tempted by the sleeper train which now runs from London to Berlin via Brussels in about thirteen hours, and which from next year will continue to Prague.

Iain said...

1 oz. hop pellets per barrel seems a minuscule amount. Isn't that just 0.17g per litre? Very strange. It must have done something, although I assume the added hop extract would have swamped whatever the pellets added.

Jeff said...

I would guess PFB stand for post fermentation bittering.

Anonymous said...

How common was priming by residual sugar among other brewers? I seem to recall some of your recipes having high final gravities, and I'm wondering now if they were meant to be primed that way instead of by additional fermentables added before going in the bottle or cask.