Sunday 30 April 2023

Northeastern Bitters in 1978

Thank you the Mirror. Both Daily and Sunday. For analysing beers in the 1970s and publishing the results. At a time when beer strengths were a closely guarded secret.

But, you might say, CAMRA had started publishing gravities in the Good Beer Guide. However, that was all they published. They didn't include the ABV or the price. Information which the Mirror did provide. Using the ABV, I've been able to calculate the FG and the degree of attenuation. The type of stuff I lap up. CAMRA also only concerned themselves with cask beer. So there was nothing about the strength of keg beer.

The first article I'm consulting has 81 analyses. Mostly draught Bitter, but, for some reason, also including Old Peculier. They come from all over the UK. I thought it would be more manageable to split them up by region.

I'm starting with the Northeast, which I've defined as everything East of the Pennines from South Yorkshire to the Scottish border. It's pretty arbitrary, but what the hell.

If you're wondering why the prices are missing for some beers you can blame the newspaper archive. The right-hand edge of one of the pages has been clipped, cutting off the prices.

I almost forgot another handy thing about the Mirror articles. They include some rudimentary tasting notes. Something that wasn't very common in the 1970s. Oh, and there's also a score out of 12. So you can see which beers the two journalists who compiled the report liked best. All useful stuff.

It's interesting how high the rate of attenuation is. It averages a whisker short of 80%. 

The average gravity of 1037.3º is about exactly the same as average UK beer gravity overall. The spread of gravities is quite small, from 1032º to 1042º, but with most between 1036º and 1038º.

I've excluded Old Peculier from averages because, well, it isn't a Bitter. 

Northeastern Bitters in 1978
Brewer Beer Price per pint (p) º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation score Flavour
Theakston Old Peculier       1056.2 1014.8 5.38 73.67% 11 Rich, fine & deceptively mellow.
Timithy Taylor Landlord Bitter       1042 1008 4.42 80.95% 10 Full bodied, hoppy taste.
Cameron Strongarm       1041.2 1011.7 3.82 71.60% 10 Rich flavoured brew. Great value.
Federation Federation Special       1040.9 1009.5 4.08 76.77% 11 A member ot Beer’s yalty. Excellent.
Newcastle Newcastle Exhibition       1040 1007 4.29 82.50% 10 Crisp, nutty flavour, Very good.
Stones Best Bitter 29 1.33 0.14 1038.6 1007.1 4.10 81.61% 8 Fruity & nicely balanced.
Timithy Taylor Best Bitter 32 1.19 0.14 1038.2 1004.8 4.35 87.43% 8 Real “Bitter”. Unusual flavour.
Ward Sheffield Best Bitter 28 1.35 0.14 1037.9 1006.8 4.05 82.06% 10 A beautiful nutty bitter.
Vaux Sunderland Best Bitter 29 1.29 0.13 1037.3 1008.95 3.68 76.01% 8 Nice, smooth and hoppy.
Webster Pennine Bitter 31 1.19 0.13 1036.8 1006.65 3.92 81.93% 10 An excellent beer needing an acquired taste.
Hull Old Traditional Bitter 31 1.17 0.12 1036.2 1007.55 3.72 79.14% 9 Creamy, nicely hepped bitter.
Tetley Cask Bitter 29 1.25 0.13 1036.2 1006.3 3.89 82.60% 11 Real ale. Truly supurb.
Tetley Keg Bitter 31 1.16 0.12 1036.1 1006.95 3.79 80.75% 8 Last survey champion, but not quite my palate.
John Smith Best Bitter 33 1.09 0.11 1036 1007.3 3.73 79.72% 8 Creamy, tasty. Good flavour.
Cameron Best Bitter 27 1.31 0.13 1035.3 1008.7 3.45 75.35% 9 Nice fruity taste. Good head and lively.
Federation Federation Ordinary 23 1.40 0.14 1032.1 1007.35 3.21 77.10% 9 Refreshing. Lacks guts but no complaints at the price.
Newcastle Newcastle Amber 26 1.23 0.13 1032.1 1005.4 3.47 83.18% 6 Party beer. Nice hut you can’t come to any harm.
Average   29.1 1.25 0.13 1037.3 1007.5 3.87 79.92% 9.1  
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 17 September 1978, pages 22 - 23.


Chris Pickles said...

Boddingtons and Pollards seem to have snuck across on the M62.

Surprised that the attenuation on the Boddies is so relatively modest.

Anonymous said...

Possibly a dumb question, but why would CAMRA not include that information? It seems like serious drinkers would want that.

Anonymous said...

A decent pint of Old Pec is a truly wondrous thing.

Chris Pickles said...

23p a pint for Fed Ordinary... in 1972/3 I was drinking this in the Barnard Castle WMC for 11p a pint. Every alternate Saturday night on the way back to Durham after a days mountain hiking in the Lake District. Blissful days (and nights)!

Jeff Renner said...

Image of the chart, please. It gets cut off on my iPad.

Anonymous said...

Hepped spelling errors in journalism is nothing new

Anonymous said...

Use the request mobile site option in the URL bar.