Monday, 17 January 2022

Happy New Year!

I think we can all agree that the last couple of years have been strange and scary. Two years after the scheduled date, I still haven't published "Blitzkrieg!". What could be stranger and scarier than that? 

I'm pretty sure I'll release it this year. After several years caged up, it's getting pretty angry. No, ugly angry. I'll be glad to see that back of the bastard. Preferably, as it mauls someone else.

I blame Alexei. Had he got his arse in gear and created the covers, Blitzkrieg would be gaily cavorting in a sunlit meadow. Rather than eating its own shit in a bed of filthy straw. Alexei had some pathetic excuse about needing to study. I never bothered when I was at university. Why should he?

Plague permitting, I've a few trips planned and a couple of others pencilled in. Corona is a real blessing to travellers. The internet had made travels far too simple. The virus adds a delightful randomness to the proceedings. Like planning a European tour in the summer of 1918. 

Every time I book a flight I wonder: "What are the chance of me actually taking it?" Nothing is more thrilling than checking the internet until the second before you leave for the airport that the flight hasn't been cancelled. Or wondering if you'll be let out of the country once you reach your destination. I love the Phineas Fogg feeling the uncertainty brings.

Maybe I'll be your way pushing my latest book. Which may or may not be "Blitzkrieg!". More likely, I'll be in Thailand/Aruba/Tenerife/Malaga/Malta/Folkestone with Mikey pushing as much bacon and booze down my throat as I can physically manage.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Yet more Imperial Stout in Scotland

Continuing to move back in time, we're now before WW I. I see now why Watney was using the Combe brand for Stout in Scotland in the 1920s.

It's simply historical. Combe had clearly established a trade in Stout north of the border before the merger with Watney and Reid. As this advert from 1900 reveals:

IMPERIAL STOUT    Yellow Label.
DOUBLE    Do.    Green Do.
INVALID Do.    Red Do.
A. JACK. Grocer and Wine Merchant, 16 HIGH STREET; DINGWALL.
North Star and Farmers' Chronicle - Thursday 13 December 1900, page 7.
Note that, at this point, Imperial Stout was Yellow Label and Invalid Stout Red Label. It looks like they changed the label colours to fit in with Barclay Perkins.

Another advert reveals the prices for various beers, including Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout.

ALLSOPP’S INVALID STOUT,    1/9 per doz.
TENNENTS LAGER BEER,    2/6 per doz.
BASS & CO.’S PALE ALE,    2/3 per doz.
PRESTONPANS BEER,    1/2 per doz, pints.
„    ,,        2/3 per doz. quarts.
M‘EWAN’S THREE GUINEA ALE,    1/2 per doz. pints.
„    „    ,    2/3 per doz qts.
SCOTCH PORTER,     2/- per doz. quarts.
JEFFREY’S SUPERIOR TABLE BEER,     1/6 per doz. quarts.
Fife Free Press, & Kirkcaldy Guardian - Saturday 31 August 1907.

Unfortunately, no bottle size is specified. It's obviously not an Imperial pint. It works out to 2.5d per pint. To put this into context, a pint of draught Mild cost 2d at the time. The ones where a size of a pint is mentioned also seem too cheap. I think I have an explanation, though.

First, let's look at another advert.

Bass & Co.’s Pale Ale    2.5d per Pint.
„    „ No. 1 Ale    3d per Pint
Barclay Perkins' Imperial Stout,    2.75d per Pint
Lochside Pale Ale,    2d per Pint.
North Port Pale Ale,    2d per Pint.
Lager Beer    2.5d per Pint.
Table Beer (Bitter or Sweet), 2.25d per Quart Bottle.
All in Fine Condition.
Fine Old Scotoh Whisky, 3s and 3s 6d per Bottle.
Grand Value in Teas, 1s 6d, 1s 8d, ls 10d, and 2s per Lb.
Prompt and Careful Attention to all Orders.
Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin review; and Forfar and Kincardineshire advertiser. - Friday 11 February 1910, page 4.
Here a bottle size is specified, and it's a pint. But 2.75d is way too cheap. Simple explanation: it's not an Imperial pint, but a reputed pint. Which is two thirds of an Imperial pint. Making the price for a full pint 4.125d, which does sound about right. If you remember the last Scottish price list I posted, that specified reputed pints.

Though, as it's cheaper than Bass No. 1, which had an OG over 1100º, the implication is that it's weaker. Again, I'm pretty sure I have an explanation.

Remember that I mentioned I didn't have any Barclay's Imperial Stout brewing logs from this period? Well, they aren't the only source of information in the archives. There are also documents called "Gyle Summaries". They list each brew, giving barrels brewed and the costs. The column for OG mostly isn't filled in. But, as both bulk and standard barrels are listed, it's easy to work out the gravity.

I'd assumed That the two version of IBS was a post-WW I thing. It wasn't. The Gyle Summaries list both IBS and IBS ex. At 1100º and 1108º, respectively. Not a huge difference, really. It makes you wonder why they bothered.

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Another cool Guinness video

I loved bottle-conditioned Guinness so much. Never had it corked, mind



Dead impressed the bloke can pick the corked sample.


Let's Brew - 1890 Truman Imperial Stout

I'm still banging on about Imperial Stout. I hope you aren't getting bored yet.

Barclay Perkins wasn’t the only London brewery with an Imperial Stout up their sleeve. Fellow traditional Porter brewers Truman had a version of their own.

While not quite as strong as Barclay Perkins’, it’s still a pretty powerful beer. And the top dog, as you’d expect, among Truman’s Black Beers. A couple of which – Double Stout and Single Stout – it was parti-gyled with.

I could have guessed the components of the grist. Pale, brown and black malt were the basis of pretty much all London Black Beers from 1817 right through until the 1960s. There’s also quite a bit of sugar, described simply as “Garton”. Which is the name of the producer. I’ve guessed it was No. 3 invert.

All the hops were from the most recent season, 1889. Two types from Kent and one from Bavaria. Which in this period usually means Hallertau.

This period of Truman logs lacking any indication of FG, I’ve just had to guess. As there would have been a Brettanomyces secondary fermentation, the rate of attenuation would have been high for a beer of its strength. 

1890 Truman Imperial Stout
pale malt 14.75 lb 71.08%
brown malt 2.00 lb 9.64%
black malt 1.00 lb 4.82%
No. 3 invert sugar 3.00 lb 14.46%
Fuggles 120 mins 4.75 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 4.75 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 2.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1097
FG 1025
ABV 9.53
Apparent attenuation 74.23%
IBU 120
SRM 41
Mash at 157º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

Friday, 14 January 2022

Other Imperial Stouts after WW II

Just a quick post. Been busy today with what, I hope, will be my last exam ever. It was all a bit weird.

The name Imperial Stout was used by quite a few breweries after WW II. Mostly for pretty feeble beer. If you thought Barclay Perkins effort was a bit feeble, take a look at this lot. The weakest, from Russell, is only about the strength of Mild Ale. 

Sorry, I missed the weakest McEwan sample, which doesn't even reach 3% ABV.

Only the beers from Bass/Worthington (almost certainly the same beer) and Carlsberg come anywhere near to living up to the name.

Post WW II Imperial Stout
Year Brewer Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1948 McEwan Imperial Stout 1047 1018.5 3.68 60.64%  
1949 McEwan Imperial Stout 1039.5 1017 2.90 56.96%  
1949 McEwan Imperial Stout 1046.4 1014.4 4.14 68.97% 275
1950 Carlsberg Imperial Stout 1077.1 1025.9 6.64 66.41% 315
1950 McEwan Imperial Stout 1043 1014.4 3.70 66.51%  
1950 Unknown Imperial Stout 1066.8 1017 6.49 74.55% 350
1951 Bents Imperial Stone Stout 1039.7 1006.8 4.28 82.87%  
1952 Bents Imperial Stone Stout 1041.3 1007.1 4.45 82.81% 100
1953 Bass Imperial Stout 1078.2 1025.1 6.90 67.90% 375
1954 Bents Imperial Stone Stout 1039.8 1006.5 4.34 83.67% 200
1954 Plymouth Brown Imperial Stout 1048.6 1018.5 3.89 61.93% 375
1954 Russells Imperial Stout 1041.6 1016.8 3.20 59.62% 175
1955 Bass Imperial Stout 1078.8 1018.4 7.90 76.65% 375
1955 Worthington Imperial Stout 1078.2 1017.3 7.97 77.88% 325
1956 Bass Imperial Stout 1077.5 1027.9 6.43 64.00% 350
1959 Plymouth Imperial Brown Stout 1045.1 1016.4 3.71 63.64% 350
1959 Russell Imperial Stout 1039.4 1014.2 3.26 63.96% 200
1966 Bass Imperial Stout 1077.2 1027.7 6.41 64.12% 312
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Thomas Usher Gravity Book held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number  TU/6/11.





Thursday, 13 January 2022

Imperial Stout in Scotland again

We're between the wars now. Sorry if it's all Imperial Stout. You know what I'm like when I get started on a topic.

It seems that Barclay Perkins wasn't the only London brewery flogging Imperial Stout in Scotland. Not even the only one with a Red Label Stout.

I say brewery. Brand, would be more accurate. The Combe brewery closed almost immediately after the formation of Watney, Combe, Reid in 1899. The same fate befell Reid's plant. What's odd, is that in London the Combe name was only used for Brown Ale. Their Stouts were branded as Reid.

Combe's Stout might have been called Red Label, but was it really comparable to the Barclay Perkins beer? After all, it's also billed as "Nourishing Stout" which could mean something pretty weak.

 These minimum prices agreed by the publicans of Aberdeen suggest that they were of a similar strength:


Per Dozen Reputed Pints. Per Dozen Imperial Half Pints. Per Dozen Splits.
Bass. Allsopp and Worthington Beers 7/- 6/- 4/6d
No. 1 Bass 15/- - 7/6d
No. 2 Bass  - - 7/-
Barclay Perkins, Combe’s and Guinness' Stout 8/- 5/-
Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 17 September 1931, page 1.



Per Reputed Pint. Per Imperial Half Pint. Splits.
Bass, Allsopp and Worthington Beers  8.5d 6.5d 5.5d
Bass No. 1 1/3d - 9d
Bass No. 2 - - 7d
Barclay Perkins & Combe's Imperial Red Label Stout 9d - 5.5d
Brown Stout and Guinness Stout  8.5d 5.5d
Draught Beer  7d per pint; 3.5d per half pint    
Aberdeen Press and Journal - Thursday 17 September 1931, page 1.

As the two cost the same, it's safe to assume that they were of roughly similar strength. Also, a bit stronger than Bass Pale Ale. But nowhere near as strong as Bass No. 1, which was a round the same gravity as the the export version of Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout.


Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1924 Barclay Perkins IBS Export

Continuing with my Imperial Stout theme, I thought I'd throw in an interwar recipe.

It seems to have taken a couple of years after WW I before Barclay Perkins brought back their powerful Imperial Stout. But, unlike the rest of their range, it returned at full strength.

I would tell you exactly how it differed from the version of 1914. Except I don’t have any brewing records of it from that period. Which is a bit irritating.

As you would expect, the grist is packed with roasted malts, three in total: brown, amber and black malt. At this point, Barclay Perkins Stouts, unlike their Ales, contained no flaked maize. Though that would have changed by the 1930s.

At 16 lbs per quarter (336 lbs) of malt, the hopping is very heavy. Which makes sense in a beer which wouldn’t be consumed for several years. All were from East Kent: Golding Varieties from the 1924 harvest, Cobbs and Goldings from 1923. The latter two had been cold stored. So, all pretty fresh hops.

I’ve reduced the FG from the 1040º racking gravity based on analyses of the beer when sold. A couple of years of a Brettanomyces secondary fermentation knocked it down considerably.

1924 Barclay Perkins IBS Export
mild malt 12.00 lb 53.33%
brown malt 2.75 lb 12.22%
amber malt 3.75 lb 16.67%
black malt 1.50 lb 6.67%
No. 2 invert sugar 2.50 lb 11.11%
Goldings 135 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings 90 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.50 oz
OG 1103.5
FG 1022
ABV 10.78
Apparent attenuation 78.74%
IBU 132
SRM 49
Mash at 146º F
After underlet 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 58º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale



Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout in Scotland (again)

I'm going to gradually move back in time as I dig deeper into Imperial Stout. Which logically means that we're starting at the end.


"The Best Products of nature combined in...
Milk Stout

The best products of nature are combined each pint of this stout. Malt and hops for nutrition and ail the goodness of 10 ozs. of pure dairy milk for energy. 


You can still enjoy the original B.P. Imperial (Red Label) Stout
Dundee Evening Telegraph - Thursday 07 March 1940, page 4.

From the way this advert is worded, it's obvious that Milk Stout had replaced the older Imperial Stout and reduced it to a footnote. This doesn't seem to have lasted long, as a few years after the war Imperial Stout was being advertised on its own:


"A Meal in itself"
Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 14 December 1949, page 3.

Just the sort of meal I like. A liquid one.

This is the last advert I can find for Imperial Stout. It's just a couple of years before the merger with Courage.

"THE STOUT for the REAL Stout Drinker the traditional
Aberdeen Evening Express - Saturday 11 April 1953, page 5.

The label surprised me. That's the style they used before WW I. It looks awfully old-fashioned.And very different from the label on the full-strength version.

I'll leave you with some more analyses. Just making sure I get at least a few numbers in.

Weak Imperial Russian Stout 1925 - 1937
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation Price size package
1925 Imperial Stout 1060.3 1016.1 5.75 73.30%   pint bottled
1925 Imperial Stout 1060.3 1020.6 5.14 65.84% 8d pint draught
1935 Imperial Stout 1061.8 1014.2 6.20 76.97% 6d to 9d pint bottled
1937 Imperial Stout 1061.2 1010.1 6.69 83.50% 6d & 7d half pint bottled
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Barclay Perkins Imperial Stout in Scotland

Time to give my few remaining readers a relief from all the WW II and and Dutch stuff. What could I write about? I know: Imperial Stout.

Not a totally random choice. There's the obvious Barclay Perkins connection. I've spent quite a bit of time looking at their legendary Imperial Stout. They weren't the only ones by any means to have a beer of that name. Truman and Courage, for a start. Others who, like Whitbread might have not called it Imperial Stout in the brew house, had a beer sold under that name.

I love that Courage brewed two Imperial Stouts at different tines with completely different heritages. Their own and, after Barclay Perkins closed, the granddaddy of the style.

After banging in "Imperial Stout" search in the newspaper archive, I started off looking far back for the first mention of the term. Nothing in the 18th century. I wasn't that surprised, as Britain only became "imperial" in the 19th century.

A comment on the weediness of Barclay Perkins Russian Stout of the 1940s reminded me adverts for it in Scottish newspapers from that time. All for a weaker version - "Red Label". After the war a weak version was specifically identified as being for Scotland.

How far did this "Red Label" go back? Was it always weaker than the classic version? If so, how did they achieve that? Have I missed it in the brewing records? 

The first spotting I have (in the brewing books) of a weak Russian Stout is in 1921. Though I haven't seen a brewing log, just a Whitbread analysis, a full-strength version was on sale in 1922. Both beers were brewed right through the interwar years. 

The strong Russian Stout is identified as IBS ex in the logs. Indicating an export beer. But was it really only exported? Or just a name to distinguish it from its weedy sibling? 

I'll leave you with a table. I wouldn't want to disappoint. 

Weak Imperial Russian Stout 1921 - 1947
Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1921 IBS 1061.3 1020.0 5.46 67.37%  
1922 IBS 1061.1 1019.0 5.57 68.90%  
1924 IBS 1061.0 1020.0 5.42 67.21% 340
1924 IBS 1061.4 1021.0 5.34 65.80% 280
1928 IBS 1060.8 1020.0 5.40 67.12% 260
1929 IBS 1060.7 1022.5 5.05 62.93% 290
1936 IBS 1060.4 1020.0 5.34 66.88% 360
1936 IBS 1060.5 1020.0 5.36 66.94% 360
1937 IBS 1060.8 1021.0 5.26 65.44% 330
1940 IBS 1055.4 1022.5 4.35 59.36% 280
1941 IBS 1055.6 1022.0 4.45 60.45% 290
1946 IBS (Scot.) 1043.8 1019.5 3.21 55.48% 310
1947 IBS (Scot.) 1043.5 1021.0 2.98 51.72%  
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/01/608, ACC/2305/01/611, ACC/2305/01/614, ACC/2305/01/621, ACC/2305/01/623, ACC/2305/01/624 and ACC/2305/01/627.

Come with me as I dig further into the questions I've raised. After a little research - a couple of hours this afternoon while vaguely watching football - the story is mildly interesting. Who could ask for more than that? The tiniest scrap of excitement.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Imperial Russian Stout 1849 - 1986

Someone commented on a post a few days ago about Barclay Perkins beers in the late 19th century, remarking on the pitiful OG of Russian Stout in 1946. Had the terms "Russian" and "Imperial" become meaningless by the middle of the 20th century.

My reply was that the low gravity was connected with the war and later went back to the classic 1100º+. Want proof? Well, obviously, I've got plenty. From a couple of different sources.

Russian Stout was extremely unusual in being almost exactly the same gravity in 1986 as in 1847. I can't think of another beer that managed to get through the two World Wars with no drop in gravity.

If you're wondering why the rate of attenuation is greater in the examples from 1938, 1950 and 1953 is greater, the answer is simple. Those are analyses of the finished beer, after the secondary Brettanomyces fermentation. While the others are taken from brewing records and the FG is at the end of primary fermentation.

Imperial Russian Stout 1849 - 1986
Year OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1849 1104.9 1031 9.78 70.46%  
1850 1109.0 1031 10.32 71.57%  
1855 1107.2 1033 9.82 69.22%  
1856 1106.9 1033 9.78 69.14%  
1859 1105.3 1033 9.56 68.65%  
1922 1100 1030 9.15 70.00%  
1924 1103.4 1040 8.39 61.32% 420
1928 1102.8 1042 8.05 59.16% 680
1929 1102.7 1037.5 8.63 63.49% 340
1931 1102.9 1040.5 8.26 60.65% 460
1936 1102.5 1034 8.93 66.83% 400
1937 1104.5 1041.5 8.33 60.29% 380
1937 1102.7 1023.2 10.47 77.41%  
1938 1101.5 1024.1 10.18 76.26%  
1950 1100.1 1021.1 10.41 78.92% 350
1953 1101 1018 10.97 82.18% 500
1981 1101.8        
1986 1104        
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers ACC/2305/1/540, ACC/2305/1/542, ACC/2305/1/544, ACC/2305/01/611, ACC/2305/01/614, ACC/2305/01/621.
Whitbread Gravity books held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document numbers LMA/4453/D/02/001 and LMA/4453/D/02/002.
Good Beer Guide 1982 and 1987.


Saturday, 8 January 2022

Let's Brew - 1960 Lees Mild

What is a Light Mild? It’s a very different question to answer. What makes it different from a low-gravity Bitter? I’m not sure that I have a definitive answer.

Here’s a recipe for one. Will it help answer that existential question?  Possibly not. It does provide an example of the style, if nothing else.

No shock that the grist includes nothing darker than crystal malt. Other than that, base malt and flaked maize, nothing went into the mash tun. If only the same simplicity could be found in the sugars. There were six of those: Invert, C.M.E., C.W.A., DCS, HX and C.D.M. Only the merest hint of the last, which is a dark sugar.

It’s not a massively bitter beer, clocking in at just under 20 IBU (calculated). Enabled by two types of English hops from the 1958 harvest and one of Styrian from 1959.

How did it differ from Lees Bitter? More crystal malt and more types of sugar. And fewer hops. So Mild was most likely a sweeter beer.

1960 Lees Mild
pale malt 4.00 lb 63.09%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 7.89%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 7.89%
No. 1 invert sugar 0.67 lb 10.57%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.67 lb 10.57%
Fuggles 90 min 0.75 oz
Fuggles 60 min 0.50 oz
Styrian Goldings 30 min 0.125 oz
OG 1032
FG 1007
ABV 3.31
Apparent attenuation 78.13%
IBU 19.5
SRM 7.5
Mash at 148º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 90 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)