Sunday, 2 July 2023

Southeastern Bitter in 1971

Here we are back down South. Looking at another set of Bitters. Fun, isn't it? Well, maybe mot. But we can pretend, can't we?

There isn't a great spread of breweries, with three of the beers coming from Ind Coope. I've assumed that all their beers were brewed in Romford, though they could have been brewed in Burton. A beer like Double Diamond was probably brewed in both breweries. And quite possibly in other Allied Breweries plants as well.

With an average price of 15p per pint, this is the second most expensive set, after London. No surprise there. Though, in terms of value, it's about in the middle.

A couple of the individual beers are amongst the worst value. Two of the Ind Coope beers, Superdaught and Double Diamond. The latter was definitely a keg beer and, based on the name, I reckon Superdaught might have been as well. Which would explain the shit value.

Being a key Alleid Breweries' beer, Double Diamond was available in most, if not all, Tetley's pubs. I never tried it myself. As it was expensive, probably awful and there was always Tetley's Mild. Why the fuck would I drink overpriced keg. I can't remember hardly anyone drinking it. Though there must have been a few fans, otherwise it wouldn't have been on sale.

The average OG is the highest of any set. And around 2º higher than the national average. It's high because most of the examples are what I would call Best Bitter.

Alton Bitter is an interesting one. Courage had a brewery in Alton in Hampshire, specifically for brewing Pale Ales. Their original brewery close to Tower Bridge for a long time only brewed Mild, Stout and Burton. They bought a brewery in Alton because the water had a similar profile to Burton.

I didn't even realise that there was a keg version of Long Life. I can only remember it as a canned beer. As you might have guessed from the name, it was a beer with a long self life. Which probably emant it was pasteurised like hell. Not sure why you'd produce a keg version of a beer meant to last forever in cans.

We're almost done now. Only a couple of sets to go. Then we'll have to move onto 1972. 

Southeastern Bitter in 1971
Brewer Beer Price per pint (p) º gravity per p % ABV per p OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation
Ind Coope Superdraught Bitter 15 2.43 0.21 1036.4 1011.8 3.19 67.72%
Ind Coope Double Diamond Keg 16 2.39 0.22 1038.2 1010.5 3.59 72.51%
MacMullen Castle Keg 14 2.74 0.27 1038.4 1008.8 3.84 77.08%
Courage Alton Bitter 14 2.91 0.30 1040.7 1008.2 4.23 79.85%
Ind Coope Long Life Keg 16 2.69 0.28 1043 1008.4 4.50 80.47%
Average   15 2.63 0.26 1039.3 1009.5 3.87 75.53%
Sunday Mirror - Sunday 21 March 1971, page 25.


Anonymous said...

As an American, another thing that comes to mind during these descriptions of bad beers is what was the serving temperature?

In the US, the cliche is that British beer was always served closer to room temperature than freezing, but I have no idea if that is true.

To be honest, in the US extreme cold has long been a way to cover up cheap beer. I don't know, though, if that was the case in the UK.

A Brew Rat said...

We used to get green bottles of Double Diamond here in the western U.S. until the late 1990s. Not the freshest, but I liked it. It was better than the other commonly available UK ale import at that time, Watney's Red Barrel. I haven't either of them, or Bass pale ale, for that matter, in over 20 years.

LB said...

On a completely unrelated note- I'm trying to find out how invert sugar was made back in the day- do you have any records from the sugar manufacturers? I'm wondering if they cooked the invert longer for the darker grades (as we homebrewers do now), or if they used a less refined cane sugar for darker grades.
-I have made it from raw cane sugar like golden demerara (1-2% molasses)- No. 3 has a rich almost fruity caramelized sugar character
-I have also made it from unrefined sugar like panela, sucanat (8-14% molasses) - This No. 3 has a very different flavor, very heavy on the dark molasses.
I'm trying to to figure out which method is more period correct.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - when I worked in a pub back in the late 80's all the kegged beer was stored in the pub cellar, which was always cool - probably around 55F if I had to guess. All of the beer would have been served at that temperature - lager, bitter, mild, and Guinness.

Chris Pickles said...

I remember my dad telling me that one of the marks of a good pub was that it had a cold cellar. There was no refrigeration, no chiller in the dispense unit, it just came up from the cellar and that was the temperature it was. I guess that wouldn't work in warmer climates like Australia or the USA but in Britain it was fine. A deep stone floored and walled cellar with no windows to the outside would keep cool during the summer so it was OK. Temperature would be in the 50-55 degree F range which was fine for an English style mild or bitter. Too warm for lager but by the time that started to become popular chilling systems had become available.

Anonymous said...

Double diamond used to be sold in Ireland.

Mike said...

LB - I've been wondering the same recently. I found this post from a few years ago which includes some analyis of the different sugar grades.

This does suggest that the darker grades had more of *something* in them and were not just the same stuff heat treated for longer

John Lester said...

Ind Coope Super Draught (sic) was a generic term applied to top pressure (and possibly keg) beer from around 1963 – so there was Super Draught Mild and Super Draught Best Bitter (which I suspect was probably the beer tested by the Sunday Mirror – I believe there was originally a Super Draught Bitter, but I think it had disappeared by the 70s, as had Friary Meux Super Draught Treble Gold). Ind Coope beer was predominantly served by top pressure in London and the south east, though there were quite a few exceptions: in particular, I remember the Duke’s Head in Tadworth was still using Friary Meux pump clips in the early 70s, three years or so after the brewery closed. Some pubs in Oxford still used hand pumps around that time, such as the Bear, or gravity service, such as the Wharf House (and it was at the Oxford Union that I came across Ind Coope Drum Bitter – another keg beer – in 1971). I remember the keg version of Long Life, though I don’t think I ever tried it. However, I think the tinned version was probably the first beer I ever tasted – some time in the 1960s.
The reference in the Mirror to Courage Alton Bitter is interesting, as the brewery had closed by then (in 1969), and the beer they tested was probably Courage Best Bitter brewed in London. There was the occasional Courage pub where the pump clips still read Alton Bitter in the early 70s, which perhaps accounts for the reference.

Anonymous said...

Chris - is the chilling system for lager in the cellar or at point of dispensing?

Christoph Riedel said...

@LB and @Mike

This paper from 1896 shows a process where the sugar and the resulted invert sugar were both heavily filtered. It is one of the reasons why I believe using high-molasses products is not the right way. Also in the link provided by Mike the non-sugar matter scales much less than the colour, indicating that the colour really comes from caramellisation. At the same time the paper I provided shows (on p.482) more non-sugar matter in all varieties, so purity definitely varied over the decades.

I have also read that nowadays the main manufacturer Ragus does in fact create invert #3 by mixing invert #1 and molasses. #2 and #4 are no longer produced.

Christoph Riedel said...

Should have given the link for the paper

Mike said...

Thanks Christoph. An interesting read. Frustratingly the author says very little about how the process differs between the different grades.

The process described appears to be aimed at producing as pale a syrup as possible, and he is at pains to point out that caremalisation is being avoided (the invention temperature of 180F or 82C is well below the caremalisation point and the concentration is done under vacuum at even lower temperatures)

So where the colour in darker grades came from isn’t specified.

Here is the Ragus article on how modern comnercial invert sugar is made.