Friday 6 October 2023

Whitbread beers in 1973

This is what Whitbread were producing in the final days of Chiswell Street, where a couple of hundred years of brewing were about to come to an end.

Unlike some other brewers, Whitbread churned out beer in quite a wide range of gravities. From the low 1030ºs to over 1100º.

The two beers with higher gravities than you might expect – Export Pale Ale and Extra Stout – were both brewed specifically for the Belgian market. And hence were stronger than ones intended for the UK.

Tankard and Trophy were two much-promoted Bitters. The former always in keg form, the latter, I believe, sometimes in cask form as well. Under various names, the two had been brewed since before WW II. And would continue to be brewed for a couple of decades more. Just not at Chiswell Street.

The hopping of the two domestic Bitters is pretty gentle. And, in terms of hops per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, barely higher than Best Mild.

Ironically, the Sweet Mackeson Stout has double the hopping rate of the Pale Ales. Who would have guessed that?

Best Mild is another beer that had been around for a long time. And another which would survive the closure of the original brewery. It’s pretty dark brown in colour, which was typical of Post-WW II London Milds. I assume that it was also being tweaked and bottled as Forest Brown.

The there are the two Strong Ales. Final Selection was introduced in 1968 and originated in Chiswell Street. While Gold Label was a pale Barley Wine first developed by Tennant of Sheffield in the 1950s. After Whitbread took the brewery over, it proved so popular that they brewed it at other plants in the group. Both have an impressive degree of attenuation – well over 80% – for such high-gravity beers.

Most of the beers were over 75% attenuation, other than Mackeson and Best Mild. Which were both just a little below. Top was Export Pale Ale at a mighty 90%.

Overall, a pretty decent range. Multiple styles, a good spread of strength. Yeah, let’s close the brewery and move to a soulless modern plant with a bolshy workforce. How could it possibly go wrong?

Whitbread beers in 1973
Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl colour
Best Mild Mild 1030.8 1008.5 2.95 72.40% 4.41 0.58 115
Trophy Pale Ale 1035.8 1008.1 3.66 77.37% 4.63 0.71 24
Tankard Pale Ale 1039.3 1007.9 4.15 79.90% 4.63 0.78 25
Export Pale Ale Pale Ale 1048.8 1004.7 5.83 90.37% 3.36 0.67 13
Mackeson Stout 1038.8 1010.0 3.81 74.23% 6.31 1.01 300
Extra Stout Stout 1055.7 1013.7 5.56 75.40% 6.31 1.45 375
Final Selection Strong Ale 1079.6 1011.8 8.97 85.18% 6.65 2.24 110
Gold Label Barley Wine 1101.3 1017.2 11.13 83.02% 5.81 2.44 32
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/141.


Matt said...

Trophy Bitter was my favourite beer when I was a teenager in the late eighties and I drank gallons of the stuff in keg, bottle and can, but never saw it on cask. Wasn't it brewed to different recipes by the various regional Whitbread breweries?

Chris Pickles said...

By the late eighties Whitbread had brought back the names of the old breweries that they had taken over, and the various surviving manifestations of 'Trophy' that had been available in cask format started coming out under their old names. Hence Strong's Country Bitter, Fremlin's Pale Ale, Castle Eden Ale, Durham Ale, Wethered's Bitter and the like, with Trophy being left to carry the can, as it were, for the undifferentiated keg and canned Whitbread offerings.

eavyumble said...

Trophy was indeed brewed as a cask beer, at least for Kent.

Michael N said...

I drank trophy on cask during the late 70s. As Matt suggested it was different depending on what Brewery it came from. The Marlow version was excellent. I think the beer was a re-branded version of existing brew from the individual breweries.

Bribie G said...

Matt it varied between the regions.

In Newcastle it came come from the Castle Eden brewery in County Durham and was delivered to the few pubs north of the Tyne as a tank beer.
Sort of half way between keg and cask... filtered but not pasteurised and served by electric pump under blanket CO2 so not fizzy and somewhat cask like and around 4% ABV.

There was a pub overlooking the bus station with a clear window so you could see if your bus was coming in, and I enjoyed the brew.

However an hour up the hills to Alston in the Pennines the Whitbread pub sold Trophy from Dutton's in Blackburn and it was keg shite.

John Lester said...

Final Selection dates from the 1950s: according to Andrew Campbell’s “Book of Beer” (1956), it was introduced in 1953 as Chairman’s Ale ESA/142, and later renamed Final Selection. The first Final Selection beermat was issued in 1956.

Anonymous said...

Gold Label now 7.5% but sold as a Very Strong (capitalised) Special Beer. I'd guess 7.5% wouldn't be considered 'very strong' for an IPA in the US. 11.13%, on the other hand...