Monday, 19 August 2019

Provincial English Mild before WW II

The classes of Mild brewed in the provinces were exactly the same as in London: 4d, 5d and 6d. The strengths they were brewed to were much the same, too. Not really a surprise, when tax made up around a third of the retail price.  

Regional brewers tended to stick to just a single Mild, either in the 4d or 5d category. Out in the countryside especially, Milds were already about as weak as a serious beer could get – 1029º or so. Which did at least mean that the war couldn’t reduce their strength significantly.

Outside London, Milds in the 6d price category seem to have been only brewed in parts of country. The examples in the table below all come from areas that were both Mild drinking strongholds and very industrial: Hull, Birmingham and South Wales. Some of these Milds are a bit stronger than anything brewed in London: over 4,5% ABV.

The examples in the 4d category, on the other hand, come from more rural areas: East Anglia, Kent and Sussex.


Provincial Mild Ale before WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1935 Leney & Co X 4 1028 1006 2.85 78.57%
1936 Greene King Ale 4 1028.9
1936 Wells & Winch Ale 4 1031.8
1937 Tamplin Draught LA 4 1032.7 1007.3 3.30 77.68%
1934 Steward & Patteson XX Mild 1030
Average 4 1030.3 1006.7 3.08 78.12%
1935 Shepherd Neame X 5 1039.9
1937 Crosswells Mild  1035
1938 Lees K 1035.0 1005.0 3.97 85.71% 28
Average 5 1034.0 1005.8 3.52 81.92%
1938 Hancock Draught Ale 6 1040.6 1006.1 4.50 84.98%
1938 Phillips Newport Mow Draught Ale 6 1044.5 1010.9 4.36 75.51%
1935 Ansell Ale 6 1047 1009.7 4.85 79.36%
1935 Dare Ale 6 1047 1013.7 4.32 70.85%
1934 Hull Brewery 6d Draught 6 1041 1008 4.29 80.49% 14
Average 6 1044.0 1009.7 4.46 78.24%
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
“Cardiff Pubs and Breweries” by Brian Glover, 2005. pages 97-101
What's Brewing (Beer) May  2005, p.17; July 2005 p.5
Lees brewing record held at the brewery
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

A nip in the air calls for

By the end of 1949 few genuinely strong beers were starteing to escape from breweries. Some were even confident enough of their ability to supply such beers that they advertised them. Like Friary, with their Audit Ale.

Audit Ales were extremely strong beers originally brewed once a year for colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. After they closed down their own brewhouses, the colleges contracted the brewing out to commercial brewers.

I'm not sure that Friary's Audit Ale has any connection with either university and genuine Audit Ales. Other than it being pretty strong.


"A nip in the air calls for FRIARY AUDIT ALE
There's nothing like a nip of Friary Audit Ale for making you forget the weather. Extra strong, and specially brewed to take the sting out of an English Winter, Friary Audit at 15/6d. per dozen nips coats that little extra — but by Jove it’s worth it!
THE STRONG ALE THAT WARMS LIKE WINE
TYLER & CO LTD
WOKING SURREY"
Chichester Observer - Saturday 03 December 1949, page 7.

And exactly how strong was extra strong? Around 8% ABV is the answer. So genuinely pretty strong. Here are the details of it and some other beers of the period, inlcuding several Audit Ales.


Audit Ale and other Strong Ales 1948 - 1958
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1948 Usher Strong Ale 1090.5 1024.5 8.63 72.93%
1949 Flower Extra Strong 1078 1012 8.68 84.62%
1949 Fowler Prestonpans Twelve Guinea Ale 45 1077.7 1030.3 6.13 61.00% 100
1949 Mann Crossman Strong Ale 30 1071.2 128
1951 Barclay Perkins Strong Ale 37 1079 1011 8.96 86.08% 120
1951 Friary Audit Strong Ale 46.5 1084.6 1022.1 8.17 73.88% 52
1953 Friary Holroyd Audit Ale 45 1084 1025.1 7.67 70.12% 52
1955 Dales (Brewed by Wells & Winch) Audit Ale 36 1062.2 1023.5 5.00 62.22% 115
1955 Greene King Audit Ale 36 1083.2 1017.7 8.59 78.73% 100
1955 Wells & Winch Audit Ale 36 1062.2 1023.3 5.03 62.54% 115
1958 Lacons Audit Ale 54 1095 1017.8 9.65 81.26% 90
Sources:
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document TU/6/11.
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Not that the Friary beer was quite a bit paler than all the other Audit Ales.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Let's Brew - 1944 Drybrough Burns Ale

By 1944, beers as strong as Burns Ale were extremely rare. And probably not very easy to find, give the small quantities of it which were brewed. Just 64 barrels, in this case. But some parti-gyled batches were much smaller, sometimes fewer than 10 barrels.

The gravity has held up remarkably well, being just 8 points lower than at the start of the war. You wouldn’t be able to get many pints of it down before your legs went. Especially if you had become accustomed to watery wartime beer.

Though it wasn’t parti-gyled, the recipe is still basically the same as their Pale Ales. Drybrough, like many Scottish breweries, didn’t believe in having multiple recipes. Why bother, when one could work for any beer?

The one small difference with the Pale Ale recipe was that the percentage of sugar was a little lower: 5% rather than 8%. But the sugar types were identical, as were the proportions used: one third of each.

I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the colour value in the recipe below. Burns Ale would have been coloured up with caramel at racking time to 20-25 SRM.


1944 Drybrough Burns Ale
pale malt 13.50 lb 77.34%
enzymic malt 0.33 lb 1.89%
chocolate malt 0.25 lb 1.43%
flaked barley 2.50 lb 14.32%
malt extract 0.125 lb 0.72%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 4.30%
Fuggles 135 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1076
FG 1025
ABV 6.75
Apparent attenuation 67.11%
IBU 32
SRM 14
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Friday, 16 August 2019

London Brown Ale after WW II

Before the war, most London Brown Ales were in the low-1040ºs, or around average gravity. After the war, most were only around 1030º, which was 4 points or below average OG. Though there were examples around 1034º and, of course, the outlier that was Whitbread Double Brown, a beer far stronger than its local rivals.

There was quite a lot of variation in rates of attenuation – from 60% to 85% – but most Brown Ales were in the range 65% to 70%. That’s on the low side compared to most draught beers, but is probably a result of the way Brown Ale was brewed. Most were Mild Ale recipes which were primed and then bottled. Unlike in cask Mild, there was no chance for the primings to ferment out before sale as the yeast was removed and the beer stabilised either by chilling or pasteurisation.

Much like London Milds, Brown Ales brewed in the capital tended to be at the darker end of the spectrum, averaging over 90. Around 80 would have been typical for examples brewed in the English provinces.


London Brown Ale after WW II
Date Year Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1946 Barclay Perkins Doctor Brown Ale 13.5 1034.1 1011.3 2.95 66.86% 105
1947 Barclay Perkins Doctor Brown Ale 14 1034.2 1007.4 3.48 78.36% 120
1946 Beasley Dark Brown 12 1029.5 1009.5 2.59 67.80% 90
1947 Beasley Brown Ale 12 1030 1007.7 2.89 74.33% 82
1947 Charrington Brown Ale 12 1028.9 1011 2.31 61.94% 90
1947 Hammerton Nut Brown Ale 12.5 1027.6 1003.9 3.08 85.87% 80
1947 Mann Crossman Brown Ale 14 1035.3 1011.4 3.09 67.71% 82
1946 Taylor Walker Nut Brown Ale 17 1030.1 1007.6 2.92 74.75% 82
1947 Taylor Walker Brown Ale 13 1030.3 1007.3 2.98 75.91% 85
1946 Truman Trubrown 14 1035.1 1014.2 2.70 59.54% 115
1947 Truman Trubrown 14 1033.5 1012.6 2.70 62.39% 105
1946 Watney Brown Ale 13 1031.2 1011.4 2.56 63.46% 110
1947 Watney Brown Ale 13 1029.8 1009.7 2.60 67.45% 82
1947 Whitbread Forest Brown 12 1029.3 1009.1 2.61 68.94% 85
1947 Whitbread Double Brown 17 1043 1010.1 4.27 76.51% 100
Average 13.5 1032.1 1009.6 2.91 70.12% 94.2
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Why is beer short?

Because it smoked as a child? Its mother didn't eat enough vitamins during pregnancy?

They really mean why was beer in short supply? The brewers, via the advertisement below, were keen to point out that it wasn't their fault.

"WHY BEER IS SHORT
The Government has found it necessary to limit the supplies of barley for brewing beer because of the acute world shortage of grain. This limitation, coupled with the increasing popularity of beer as a national beverage amongst all classes, is the reason for the continued shortage of beer throughout the country.

The reductions which have been made in the strength beer have partially alleviated the limitations in quantity which have been imposed. The output in standard barrels during the war years was restricted to that brewed in 1938/39, and was further restricted in May last to 90% of the output. The small increase subsequently granted has not materially altered the position.

Brewers have done their utmost to maintain the maximum permitted supplies of beer to the public; and they, and the retailers, have done their best to distribute those limited supplies fairly among all their customers. This they will continue to do. They ask the public to be tolerant of the difficulties under which the industry is at present working. The industry looks forward to the days when it can brew sufficient and better beer.
Issued by The Brewers' Society"
Western Times - Friday 01 November 1946, page 3.

There is a tacit admission that wartime beer was sub-standard: "when it can brew sufficient and better beer".

Reading the article, it sounds as if beer production in terms of standard barrels* had declined. But that wasn't true. Production, in terms of standard barrels, increased by 12% between 1939 and 1946. And in terms of bulk barrels, it was up 32%.


UK Beer production and average OG 1939 - 1947
Year bulk barrels  standard barrels average OG
1939 24,674,992 18,364,156 1040.93
1940 25,366,782 18,738,619 1040.62
1941 26,203,803 18,351,113 1038.51
1942 29,860,796 19,294,605 1035.53
1943 29,296,672 18,293,919 1034.34
1944 30,478,289 19,193,773 1034.63
1945 31,332,852 19,678,449 1034.54
1946 32,650,200 20,612,225 1034.72
1947 29,261,398 17,343,690 1032.59
Source:
Brewers' Almanack 1955, p. 50.

It's impressive how well beer production held up during WW II. only in one year, 1943, was the output in standard barrels down on 1939. And then only by 70,000 barrels.

Though after 1947 it was a very different story, with beer production falling year on year for more than a decade.



* A "standard" barrel = 36 imperial gallons of a beer with an OG of 1055º.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1944 Drybrough 80/-

No, still not done with 1944. Nor with Drybrough.

Much as with 60/-, Drybrough 80/- was starting to look very similar to post-war versions. With a gravity in the low-1040ºs, it’s the very image of a modern Export.

Around the strength of a post-ear English Best Bitter, the main difference with beers from south of the border is the level of hopping. Which in this case is very low. Much lower, for example, than even a Mild brewed in London.

As with all Drybrough’s beers, other than 60/-, it was brewed in tiny quantities. 50/- made up about 85% of output, with the other beers sharing the remaining 15% between them.

The grist is the same as all their other beers with one exception: there was no enzymic malt. No idea why that should be. I wouldn’t like to guess. Otherwise, it’s the standard pale malt and flaked barley combination providing most of the fermentable material. Backed up by tiny amounts of chocolate malt and malt extract. Along with three sugars: Fison, Avona and Martineau. Which I’ve replaced with No.2 invert.

The hops were all English from the 1942 harvest.

In a reverse from normal practice, Drybrough pitched their stronger beers at a higher temperature than their weaker ones. Very odd, that.


1944 Drybrough 80/-
pale malt 7.75 lb 82.71%
chocolate malt 0.04 lb 0.43%
flaked barley 0.75 lb 8.00%
malt extract 0.08 lb 0.85%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 8.00%
Fuggles 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 0.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 0.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1041
FG 1015
ABV 3.44
Apparent attenuation 63.41%
IBU 17
SRM 7
Mash at 149º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 145 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast WLP028 Edinburgh Ale

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

London Mild before WW II

As before WW I, London tended to have stronger examples than more rural districts. The difference after WW I, was that the price was around the same for a beer of the same strength whether you were in London or the provinces.

While London brewers often had three Milds of different strengths: Ale at 1028-1030º retailing for 4d per pint, standard Mild at 1034-38º for 5d per pint and Best Mild at 1042-1044º for 6d per pint.

By far the most common of the three types was 5d Mild. The cheaper Ale was mostly brewed in tiny quantities. For example, in 1938 Whitbread brewed 4,237 barrels of LA, their 4d Mild and 216,200 barrels of X Ale, a 5d beer.

Not every London brewer produced all three classes of Mild. Whitbread, for example, only had a 4d and 5d version. While Fullers brewed a 5d and a 6d Mild, but no 4d. It probably depended on the types of pub a brewery owned.

In general, London Milds were quite dark – in the 80-90º L range. But there were still plenty of semi-dark examples. Barclay Perkins X and XX were both around 45º L as brewed, but there were also versions of both that were coloured up with caramel at racking time to the darker 80-90º L shade.

These are some examples of London Milds in the cheapest price class:

London 4d Mild Ale before WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1939 Barclay Perkins A 4 1030.8 1007.5 3.08 75.65%
1935 Charrington Ale 4 1031.5
1935 Mann Crossman Brandon's LA 4 1031 1004.4 3.46 85.81%
1935 Meux Ale 4 1028.3
1935 Truman Ale 4 1030.0
1935 Watney Ale 4 1031.5
1938 Whitbread LA 4 1028.3 1008.0 2.69 71.73% 80
Average 4 1030.2 1006.6 3.08 77.73% 80.0
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/105.
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/01/623.
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.


These are some Ordinary Milds:

London 5d Mild Ale before WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1938 Barclay Perkins X 5 1037.8 1011.9 3.35 68.52%
1938 Charrington X 5 1037.8 1011.9 3.35 68.52%
1937 Courage X 5 1035.3 1007.9 3.56 77.62%
1938 Fullers X 5 1032.3 1006.6 3.40 79.43%
1938 Ind Coope X 5 1036.1
1938 Mann Crossman X (5d) 5 1035 1010.3 3.20 70.57%
1937 Meux X 5 1036.7 1009.7 3.50 73.57%
1938 Taylor Walker X 5 1034.2 1012.9 2.75 62.28%
1938 Truman X 5 1037.1 1009.9 3.53 73.32% 90
1938 Watney X 5 1036.6 1012.6 3.10 65.57% 105
1938 Wenlock X 5 1038.8
1937 Whitbread X 5 1038.6
Average 5 1036.4 1010.4 3.30 71.04% 97.5
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.


And finally Best Milds:

London 6d Mild Ale before WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1938 Barclay Perkins XX 6 1042.5
1937 Courage MC 6 1039.3 1011.1 3.74 71.83%
1938 Fullers XX 6 1042.5 1009.4 4.37 77.82%
1938 Mann Crossman X (6d) 6 1040.7 1008.8 4.15 78.38% 90
1937 Taylor Walker X 6 1042.6 1012.8 3.86 69.95%
Average 6 1041.5 1010.5 4.03 74.50% 90.0
Sources:
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.
Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/263.
Fullers brewing record held at the brewery
Truman Gravity Book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number B/THB/C/252.