Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1897 Fullers XXK

Jumping forward a decade, some significant changes have occurred in Fullers strongest beer.

One of the great mysteries of British beer history is the darkening of some styles at the end of the 19th century. The main types affected were Mild and some types of Old Ale or Strong Ale. Like, for example, London Burton Ale. This version of XXK definitely looks darker than the one from 1887.

The grist is still pretty simple. There are still just two types of malt. But this time, in addition to the base malt, it’s brown malt rather than crystal malt. Brown malt is rare in styles other than Porter and Stout, but not totally unknown. It sometimes pops up in London Mild or Burton Ales. Probably because many London breweries, which started out as Porter brewers, had brown malt in stock anyway.

I’m guessing that the sugar was No. 3 invert or something similar. It could have been something paler, like, say No. 2 invert, in which case the colour would have been 15 SRM.

The hops are all English. As I don’t know which exact varieties, Fuggles and Goldings seem like a reasonable guess. The hopping as, as you can see, pretty heavy, leaving the beer not far short of 100 (calculated ) IBUs. Though it would have been lower when the beer was drunk, due to ageing.

I’d expect XXK to have been aged for at least six month in trade casks. Possibly even longer.

1897 Fullers XXK
pale malt 12.25 lb 76.56%
brown malt 0.50 lb 3.13%
No. 3 invert sugar 3.25 lb 20.31%
Fuggles 90 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 60 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1077
FG 1020
ABV 7.54
Apparent attenuation 74.03%
IBU 93
SRM 20
Mash at 150º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Fullers beers in 1887-1888

I thought I'd continue the Fullers theme with a look at their beers in the late 1880s. It's a bit random, I realise. Just happens to be that 1887/1888 is the first of their brewing records that I have photos of.

I really should complete the set of their brewing records. I've probably photographed around two-thirds of the bound volumes. I reckon I could polish off the remainder in one mad session. You never know what might happen to them with the change in ownership of the brewery. And they're stored in sub-toptimal conditions: in a rather damp cellar. It would be a real shame if they were lost.

At this point Fullers brewed ten different beers: 4 Pale Ales, an IPA, 2 Milds, a Porter, a Stout and a Strong Ale. It's quite an odd set. Half are either a Pale Ale or IPA, which is a very high proportion. Especially for a London brewer. Barclay Perkins and Whibread, for example, at this time each only brewed two.

A single Stout is also unusual for a London brewer. Most of their rivals brewed at least two. And usually a minimum of two Strong/Stock Ales.

Obviously the range Fullers brewed reflected the demands of their customers. And their customer base was different from that of larger brewers such as Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. While all three had a large tied trade in London, Whitbread and Barclay Perkins also sold beer in other parts of the UK and exported. Fullers, at this point, was very much tied to London. The lack of any export trade probably accounts for the absence of a really strong Stout.

It's typical of 19th-century London that there's nothing even vaguely approaching a session beer. Even the weakest beera, X and AKK, are over 4.5% ABV. The rate of attenuation isn't great, with not one beer hitting 75% apparent. Though, by the time they were sold, many of the beers would have had lower FGs, as they would have been aged after racking. This would have applied to the stronger Pale Ales, BS and XXK.

Fullers beers in 1887-1888
Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
1887 X Mild 1054.6 1020.5 4.51 62.44% 6.64 1.63
1887 XX Mild 1064.8 1023.3 5.50 64.10% 6.64 1.93
1888 AKK Pale Ale 1049.9 1014.7 4.65 70.56% 11.40 2.53
1887 AK Pale Ale 1053.5 1014.7 5.13 72.54% 11.58 2.66
1887 XK Pale Ale 1057.1 1016.1 5.42 71.84% 11.58 2.84
1888 XKK Pale Ale 1059.6 1018.0 5.50 69.77% 12.35 2.92
1887 IPA IPA 1060.9 1016.6 5.86 72.73% 12.38 3.45
1887 Porter Porter 1055.4 1018.8 4.84 66.00% 7.56 1.97
1887 BS Stout 1070.4 1025.2 5.97 64.17% 7.56 2.50
1887 XXK Strong Ale 1078.7 1021.1 7.62 73.24% 11.86 4.21
Source:
Brewing record held at the brewery.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Keg Bitter

Just had my Sundey dinner. A doze now takes preference over writing loads of new words.

Instead, heres a section from one of my recently-published books, Austerity!.

Enjoy, while I head off to the settee to sooze along to Match of the Day.



At a time when the quality of cask beer was often questionable, but bottled beer was rather expensive for the average drinker, Keg Bitter was an attractive proposition Brewers often described it as being bulk bottled beer.

Crystal clear and sparkling, it had the visual characteristics associated with good-quality beer. And, being pasteurised, there was little chance of it turning sour before the keg ran dry.

The first Keg Bitters of the 1950s were promoted as high-class Pale Ales. And that’s where the origin of some truly lay. Double Diamond was a version of Allsopp’s IPA and Ben Truman was the descendent of a 19th-century bottled IPA. These beers were priced according to their perceived prestige. Keg Bitter was, on average, 3d per pint more expensive than an equivalent cask beer.

As brewers moved away from cask-conditioning, mostly for reasons of consistency and convenience, standard Bitters were also presented in keg form. Though still generally at a higher price than the cask version. It’s a trend that continues today: cask is generally cheaper than keg.

As keg began to spread to smaller breweries, more lower-gravity Keg Bitters were brewed. More like Ordinary Bitter than Best Bitter. For the most part, however, they still weren’t cheap.

It’s interesting to note the date when smaller, regional breweries started brewing Keg Bitter: around 1960. Also when they started brewing Lager. That’s probably not a coincidence. There’s overlap in the equipment used to make the two.


Keg Bitter in the 1957 to 1959
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1959 Simonds Keg Bitter 22 1037.4 1007.3 3.76 80.48% 19
1959 South London Brewery Golden Keg 18 1037.9 1005.7 4.03 84.96% 19
1959 Watney Red Barrel 22 1038.5 1010 3.7 74.03% 24
1959 Flowers Keg Bitter 22 1039 1010.7 3.54 72.56% 23
1959 Whitbread Tankard Bitter 22 1039.1 1011.9 3.52 69.57% 22
1957 Watney Keg Bitter 24 1039.4 1007.6 4.14 80.71% 23
1959 Truman Keg Bitter 22 1040.5 1008.8 4.12 78.27% 22
1957 Courage & Barclay Keg Bitter 22 1042.8 1006.6 4.72 84.58% 22
1959 Wm. Younger Keg Bitter 19 1043.7 1007.8 4.68 82.15% 55
Average 21.4 1039.8 1008.5 4.02 78.60% 25.4
Without Younger 21.75
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

 
Keg Bitter 1960 - 1965
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1960 Bass Worthington "E" 18 1041.8 1006.5 4.6 84.45%
1960 Gibbs Mew Blue Keg Bitter 18 1036 1007.6 3.55 78.89% 25
1960 Ind Coope Double Diamond 19 1040.2 1010 3.92 75.12% 22
1960 Marston Burton Keg 21 1036 1006.8 3.65 81.11% 20
1961 Arkells King Keg 24 1040.5 1007.2 4.16 82.22% 20
1961 Birkenhead Brewery Keg Gold 20 1043.1 1006.5 4.57 84.92% 23
1961 Brickwoods Sunshine Keg Bitter 21 1035 1008.4 3.33 76.00% 28
1961 Dryborough Keg 19 1037.6 1006.8 3.85 81.91% 10
1961 Flowers Keg 24 1039.3 1012.5 3.35 68.19% 27
1961 Fremlin Keg 24 1040.4 1005.8 4.33 85.64% 23
1961 Gibbs Mew Red Keg 22 1040.4 1003.7 4.59 90.84% 21
1961 Gibbs Mew Blue Keg 18 1034.7 1002.8 3.99 91.93% 24
1961 Home Brewery 5 Star 22 1047.5 1007.7 4.97 83.79% 18
1961 Howcrofts Silver Keg 15 1037.3 1006.9 3.8 81.50% 20
1961 Lacon Keg Bitter 24 1040.1 1007.1 4.12 82.29% 17
1961 Starkey, Knight & Ford Star Keg 23 1042.3 1008 4.29 81.09% 27
1961 Tennant Bros. Keg Bitter 21 1036.8 1005 3.97 86.41% 15
1961 Threllfalls Keg Bitter 18 1038.5 1004.9 4.2 87.27% 17
1961 Truman Keg Bitter 21 1039 1006.2 4.27 84.10% 16
1961 Vaux Keg Beer 20 1034.8 1002.2 4.07 93.68% 14
1961 West Country Breweries Star Bright Keg 16 1029.8 1004.6 3.15 84.56% 22
1961 Whitbread Tankard Bitter 24 1038.6 1011 3.58 71.50% 18
1961 Yates's Castle Brewery Keg 20 1037.8 1006.8 3.88 82.01% 16
1963 Watney Red Barrel Ex. PA 31 1047.7 1012.9 4.52 72.96% 20
1964 John Smith Golden Keg 24 1039.1 1009.4 3.71 75.96% 23
Average 24 1039.1 1009.4 3.71 75.96% 23
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Three pints of Mild

That was my order at the bar yesterday. I was in my local brewery, Butcher's Tears, having a few beers with a couple of mates.

We were all on Flying Bed, a proper Dark Mild, brewed the English way. That is, not coloured with fucking chocolate malt or roast barley. No, done the proper way with crystal malt, No.3 invert sugar and caramel. A superbly drinkable beer. Enough flavour to keep your interest across a pint or five, but not so much that it overwhelms you. The epitome of a session beer.


As the pints steadily slipped by, we discussed the current insanity in the UK and the general uselessness of it politicians. All UK immigrants, we agreed we were lucky to have got out when we did. We were members of a fortunate generation, able to move wherever in Europe the fancy took us. And also the luck to arrive in Amsterdam before housing became unaffordable. What chance would current UK youth have? Fuck all, was the consensus.

Brewer Eric came and sat at our table. Handing over a bottle of S4, beer he brewed to an old Truman's recipe of mine. Which was nice. But then he got talking about the council's redevlopment plans.

Butcher's Tears is at the end of Amsterdam's most unusual street. A random collection of buildings or randomly different sizes. A row of single-storey garages. Odd bits of light industry and at its end, a lovely little brewery.

Which will have to move out in July. The council has been eyeing up this piece of, in their view, underdeveloped land for years. Gradually nibbling away at its edges one demolition at a time. This year they're going for the jackpot, clearing away most of what remains.

When I moved to Amsterdam it was an exciting, edgy city. Much of its energy was generated on the margins. In squats and repurposed industrial buildings. Every year a little more of that old city is lost. Replaced by a safe middle-class blandness.

Another piece of the fun old city is to be destroyed. It's a sad day.

But it's still way better living in Amsterdam than being trapped in the UK's madness.



Butcher's Tears
Karperweg 45,
1075LB Amsterdam.
https://butchers-tears.com/

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Let's Brew - 1887 Fullers XXK

With Fullers in the news, I thought it was time to chip in something. With a look back into their brewing records. And what better beer to pick than their Burton Ale.

This beer demonstrates well the decline in gravities in the early 20th century. This was Fullers only Burton Ale and would have been available in their pubs as one of the standard draught beers. Their equivalent beer in the 1920s, BO, had an OG of just 1061º. Even OBE, considered super-strength between the wars, was only 1072º

Though I’m not 100% sure that’s what they billed it as in the 1880s. They may well just have called it Stock Ale. Exactly when such beers adopted the name of Burton is unclear to me. Maybe Martyn Cornell can pin the date down better.

The grist holds few surprises, having a typical 19th-century simplicity. The slight exception being the presence of some crystal malt, the use of which was mostly limited to Mild Ales in the 19th century. The brewing record is very vague about the sugar employed, simply describing it as “Sacc.”. No. 2 invert is my best guess.

The hops were HB, EK, W of K, illegible and Poperinge, all from the 1886 harvest. As this beer was brewed in April 1887, all were pretty fresh. This is reflected in the high (calculated) IBUs of 74.

Though that would probably have been tempered a little by the time of sale, as I’m sure XXK would have received some ageing, probably at least 6 months. I’m pretty sure that in London ageing of Burton Ales was performed in trade casks rather than vats.

1887 Fullers XXK
pale malt 13.50 lb 79.41%
crystal malt 80 L 0.50 lb 2.94%
No. 2 invert sugar 3.00 lb 17.65%
Poperinge 90 mins 0.75 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.75 oz
Goldings 60 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1080
FG 1021
ABV 7.81
Apparent attenuation 73.75%
IBU 74
SRM 14
1st Mash at 150º F
2nd Mash at 155º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 57º F
Yeast WLP002 English Ale

Friday, 15 February 2019

Don't miss out on this

A chance to buy some of the wonderful books that I've published recently.

The greay thing about self-publishing is the frredon to choose any fucking subject I want. No matter how uncommercial it might be. That and the lack of deadlines. Which, weirdly, probably prompts me to come out with books more quickly and more frequently.

The most recent of these efforts is my history of UK brewing in WW I. It has everything: words, numbers and a stupid number of homebrew recipes. Plus a lovely cover by my son Alexei.

 Buy this wonderful book.




Published earlier in 2018 is my book covering British brewing after WW II. One of the gloomiest periods in Britain's history. When the beer was as weak as piss. I'm selling this well, aren't I? For those interested in such piss-weak brews, there are more than 300 homebrew recipes. Some even for beers over 3% ABV.

http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/austerity/23181344



Tallking of homebrew recipes, Let's Brew! consists of nothing else. I consider it an expansion pack for my Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. With many recipes - like North American and Lager recipes - that I couldn't include in the original book for reasons of space.



http://www.lulu.com/shop/ronald-pattinson/lets-brew/paperback/product-23289812.html

Finally, what's possibly my most important book so far, a history of Scottish beer over the last 150 years or so. All material in is new, apart from a few recipes, of which there are almost 400. Why the hell hasn't this been picked up by a "real" publisher?



http://www.lulu.com/shop/ronald-pattinson/scotland-vol-2/paperback/product-23090497.html 

Greene King Burton Ale

Burton Ale wasn't a style confined to just London. There were brewers outside the capital (and Burton-on-Trent) who brewed one. I know that from, amonst other evidence, old beer labels.

It wasn't until I stumbled upon this advert that Greene King had a draught as well as a bottled Burton Ale. Which is intriguing. Especially as it sold for the same price - 1s 3d - as their Best Bitter.

Bury Free Press - Friday 20 May 1949, page 11.

The question I immediately asked myself was: how strong were Greene King Burton and Best Burton? Time to scan my spreadsheets and take a look at their brewing records.

Unfortunately, I don't have records from spring 1949, just late 1948 and January 1949. Which is just that little bit too early. I'm hoping that the relevant brewing book is one of the ones Henry photographed. And that I will eventually get the pictures off him.

On the upside, I do have quite a few analyses of Green King beers from just a little later. Combining all of this, I've got a pretty good idea of the character of their beers.

Let's take a look at their bottled range first:

Greene King bottled beers 1954 - 1960
Year Beer Style Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour Index of Hop Bitter
1960 Burton Ale Brown Ale 20 1033.4 1011.7 2.80 64.97% 16
1956 Harvest Brown Ale Brown Ale 22 1035.2 1013.9 2.75 60.51% 105
1959 India Pale Ale IPA 20 1033.3 1010 3.02 69.97% 25
1960 India Pale Ale IPA 20 1033 1007.7 3.16 76.67% 25
1960 India Pale Ale IPA 20 1033.2 1008.5 3.20 74.40% 24
1960 Lager Lager 1034.9 1006.4 3.56 81.66% 9.5
1960 Abbot Ale Pale Ale 30 1048.6 1006.7 5.24 86.21% 19
1954 Stout Stout 19 1034.3 1012.7 2.79 62.97% 450
1954 Sweet Stout Stout 26 1046.6 1020.3 3.39 56.44% 450
1960 Suffolk Ale Strong Ale 34 1056.8 1015.7 5.14 72.36% 70
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.

What first strikes me about their bottled Burton Ale is that it looks more like a Brown Ale than a London Burton. It's called BA in the brewing records and, had I not known they brewed a beer called  Burton, I would have assumed that it stood for Brown Ale.

From the brewing records, I know that in late 1948 all three of the bottled beers listed, Stout, IPA and Burton Ale, all had an identical OG: 11.1 lbs per barrel, or 1031º. By 1960 that had increased a few degrees to 1033-1034º. They had also expanded their bottled range, which included a higher OG Stout and a stronger Pale Ale in the form of Abbot Ale.

Index of hop bitterness, if you're wondering, seems to be about the same as IBUs. The figure of 16 certainly tallies with what you'd expect from a Brown Ale. London Burton Ales were more heavily hopped than that.

Now their draught beers:

Greene King draught beers 1954 - 1960
Year Beer Style Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour Index of Hop Bitter
1960 Mild Mild 12 1030.7 1006.05 3.20 80.29% 18
1960 Abbot Ale Pale Ale 22 1051.3 1007.9 5.43 84.60% 20
1960 Best Bitter Pale Ale 15 1038.4 1007.4 3.88 80.73% 20
1960 Bitter Pale Ale 15 1037.0 1006.25 4.00 83.11% 33
1960 Ordinary Bitter Pale Ale 13 1033.9 1005.7 3.53 83.19% 26
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002
Which Beer Report, 1960, pages 171 - 173.

Note that the draught beer prices are the same as in 1949. The explanation is that the tax had decreased between 1949 and 1960. Though it also seems that draught Best Burton had disappeared. But, given that it cost the same price as Best Bitter, I'm guessing that its OG was around 1038º. Which is more like a Best Mild than a London Burton. Even in the darkest days of post-war austerity, London Burton had a gravity of over 1040º.

Though it was called IPA Cask within the brewery, the trade name seems to have been plain old Bitter. I wonder when they started calling the draught version IPA in pubs?

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Excise Licences to Makers of Alcoholic Liquors 1900 - 1936

Numbers again today. Lots of them And not a huge number of words as I have to start cooking Sunday dinner in a minute.

This set is interesting because it breaks down the number of breweries by the UK's constituent countries. Which reveals that the vast majority of breweries were in England and Wales. Every year covered by the table approximately 97% were in England and Wales. While fewer than 90% of the population lived there.

While Scotland contained a disproportionate number of the distilleries. No real surprise there.

The numbers for brewers not for sale - i.e. homebrewers - are a bit weird. In that, unlike those for common brewers, they weren't in constant decline. They were falling slowly until WW I, when they initially rose and then collapsed. Presumably because brewing materials were unavailable. After the war, the numbers shot up again, getting back to almost their 1900 level by 1928. Quite surprising that.


Excise Licences to Makers of Alcoholic Liquors 1900 - 1936
Year ending March 31 Common Brewers Distillers and Rectifiers Brewers not for Sale
Eng. Scot. Ire. U.K. Eng. Scot. Ire. U.K. Eng. Scot. G.B.
1900 6270 136 41 6447 268 200 59 527 12607 127 12734
1901 5936 132 41 6110 286 200 57 543 12296 114 12410
1902 5736 126 36 5898 272 196 56 524 11772 100 11872
1903 5533 122 37 5692 252 193 56 501 11665 87 11752
1904 5340 117 38 5495 256 195 54 505 11275 84 11359
1905 5164 111 36 5211 264 191 51 506 9863 67 9930
1906 5001 108 33 5142 254 187 52 493 9266 56 9322
1907 4846 108 31 4985 257 195 50 502 8840 49 8889
1908 4674 104 30 4808 261 188 48 497 8438 43 8481
1909 4539 98 30 4667 256 188 48 492 7530 38 7568
1910 4390 92 30 4512 241 185 46 472 6980 26 7006
1911 4212 88 29 4329 212 184 42 438 6833 22 6855
1912 4074 81 29 4184 212 177 41 430 5953 20 5973
1913 3833 79 29 3941 224 180 41 445 4992 17 5009
1914 3643 75 28 3746 213 179 41 433 4522 15 4537
1915 3458 71 27 3556 220 175 41 436 4728 13 4741
1916 3273 70 27 3370 222 173 41 436 5982 9 5991
1917 3141 67 26 3234 222 171 39 432 5207 10 5217
1918 3060 66 25 3151 219 169 39 427 1598 4 1602
1919 2968 64 25 3057 226 161 38 425 1876 3 1879
1920 2826 63 25 2914 270 161 38 469 2998 1 2999
1921 2587 60 23 2670 277 162 37 476 6174 6174
1922 2403 59 22 2484 260 160 37 457 7069 7069
1923 2238 58 2 2298 247 156 *12 415 8028 40 8068
1924 2089 57 2 2148 254 151 12 417 9423 409 9832
1925 1938 56 2 1996 252 159 12 423 8991 476 9467
1926 1789 54 1 1844 252 153 12 417 10869 618 11487
1927 1670 51 1 1722 246 150 11 407 11427 751 12178
1928 1550 49 1 1599 245 145 11 401 12257 842 13099
1929 1453 49 1502 237 145 11 393 11878 1044 12922
1930 1372 46 1418 241 136 11 388 11437 1076 12513
1931 1295 45 1340 231 134 10 375 11462 1088 12550
1932 1241 45 1286 235 129 10 374 10033 1106 11139
1933 1196 43 1239 221 126 10 357 10141 1135 11276
1934 1153 44 1197 215 123 8 346 9549 1197 10746
1935 1102 42 1144 217 124 10 341 8906 1264 10170
1936 1060 43 1103 204 121 9 334 8502 1265 9767
* From 1923 figures are for Northern Ireland only.
Source:
"Drink in Great Britain 1900 - 1979", by Gwylmor Prys Williams and George Thompson Brake, 1980, page 367.