Sunday, 23 July 2023

Whitbread beers in 1972 - including IPA

Wondering how they made those lovely early 1970s beers? Well, here's your chance to find out more. As take a close look at the beers from Whitbread's original Chiswell Street brewery. Just a couple of years before it closed for good.

There are nine beers in all. Which was more than Whitbread brewed for most of the 20th century. Though I'm pretty certain that PA and Trophy are really the same beer. Though the story is a little complicated.

Since the end of WW I, Whitbread had brewed two Pale Ales: IPA and PA. With the latter being the stronger of the two. In 1958, IPA became WPA. Then, around 1969, PA starts being called Tankard in the brewing records and WPA simply PA. Then in 1971 it's suddenly called Trophy. Sometimes. Though I'm pretty sure than the trade names for them had been Trophy and Tankard long before that.

There's not a huge difference in their gravities: just 4º. Both have a pretty high degree of attenuation which leaves them with a higher ABV than you might have expected. The hopping rates of the Pale Ales are pretty low. Barely higher than the Mild.

Both Trophy and Tankard were sold throughout the Whitbread estate. Tankard was always the same beer. While Trophy was different from each one of their breweries. Rather than a single beer, it was just the Ordinary Bitter of the original brewery rebadged. Which was pretty weird. Though it did mean a lot of regional beers were retained.

Dark and pretty watery I think sums up Best Mild. Bit of a joke calling it that, really, given its feeble gravity.

EX - BM is a bit of a mystery. What could the BM stand for? "Belgian Market", perhaps? Because Whitbread did produce a stronger Pale Ale that was sold in Belgium. It's even more highly-attenuated than the other Pale Ales. And considerably paler. Though the hopping rate, at under 3.5 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, is still very low.

Surprisingly, they were still making two Stouts. The renowned Milk Stout Mackeson and a stronger beer, again specifically for the Belgian market. In a bizarre twist, the Sweet Stout has the highest hopping rate of any of the beers: 4.5 lbs per quarter of malt. If you're wondering why its FG is so low, that's because the lactose was added as primings at racking time.

Final Selection - a name I've always found rather ominous - was a new strong bottled beer introduced in 1968. With its dark colour and high gravity, it recalls the strong Burton Ales of the start of the century. At its introduction, it was the strongest beer Whitbread had brewed for several decades. Compared to most of their other beers, it's more heavily hopped. But still far short of crazy.

A few years later, an even stronger beer started coming out of Chiswell Street: Gold Label. Acquired along with Sheffield's Tennant brewery, it became a key part of Whitbread's beer range. Which is why they started brewing it in London in 1972. I can't tell you how happy I was when I stumbled on the first Gold Label record in the logs. It being a beer with which I'm weirdly obsessed. 

Whitbread beers in 1972
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl colour
Best Mild Mild 1030.9 1007.8 3.06 74.76% 3.22 0.43 115
PA Pale Ale 1035.8 1007.1 3.80 80.17% 3.43 0.49 23
Trophy Pale Ale 1035.9 1006.4 3.90 82.17% 3.32 0.36 21
Tankard Pale Ale 1039.8 1007.7 4.25 80.65% 3.32 0.40 24
EX - BM Pale Ale 1048.8 1004.7 5.83 90.37% 3.36 0.67 13
Mackeson Stout 1038.6 1010.8 3.68 72.02% 4.51 0.72 250
Extra Stout Stout 1055.8 1013.0 5.66 76.70% 3.93 0.90 325
Final Selection Strong Ale 1079.8 1011.3 9.06 85.84% 4.44 1.50 115
Gold Label Barley Wine 1101.9 1020.6 10.76 79.78% 3.88 1.74 37
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/141.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does that mean that Trophy was a pale mild?