Thursday, 5 December 2019

Southern Brown Ale after WW II

Despite covering a large area of Southeast England, there’s a reasonable amount of consistency in this set of Brown Ales.

The gravities are mostly on the low side, with only two examples over 1035º, and averaging a tad below 1032º. Surprisingly, there are a couple below the magic 1027º. It made little sense to brew a beer weaker than that, because you had to pay tax as if were 1027º. That was the minimum rate of tax.

With middling attenuation – there are a couple of beers with over 80%, but also four below 70%. Which means that the average ABV only just pokes its head above 3%.

There are some pretty watery beers, especially from Simonds. Most examples are well below 3% ABV. It’s odd because Simonds Berry Brown Ale was a reasonably big brand.

As in London, the colours are mostly pretty dark. Though the Portsmouth United and Wethered beers fall into the semi-dark region. In general, these Southern Brown Ales look quite similar to those from London. Which isn’t so surprising as there breweries were mostly not that far from the capital.

Southern Brown Ale after WW II
Year Brewer Beer Price per pint (d) OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1951 Benskin Nut Brown Ale 16 1032.9 1008.1 3.22 75.38% 83
1952 Brickwoods Brown Brew 18 1032.2 1008.9 3.02 72.36% 80
1952 Cobb & Co Brown Ale 18 1034.3 1007.5 3.48 78.13% 80
1950 Ind Coope Nut Brown Ale 18 1032.3 1008.6 3.07 73.37% 75
1951 Ind Coope Nut Brown Ale 19 1031.9 1008.3 3.06 73.98% 110
1952 Ind Coope Nut Brown Ale 19 1030.9 1011.7 2.48 62.14% 83
1952 McMullen Nut Brown Ale 18 1035.5 1012.6 2.96 64.51% 110
1948 Portsmouth United Brown Ale 17 1038.2 1005.4 4.27 85.86% 55
1948 Simonds Brown Ale 18 1025.7 1006.4 2.50 75.10% 105
1949 Simonds Brown Ale 15 1026.1 1008 2.34 69.35% 140
1952 Simonds Brown Ale 18 1029.9 1009.7 2.61 67.56% 110
1952 Simonds Berry Brown Ale 19 1032 1005.5 3.44 82.81% 60
1948 Tamplin No. 1 Brown Ale 19 1033.6 1008.5 3.25 74.70% 87
1952 Tamplin No.1 Ale 20 1034.1 1009.7 3.16 71.55% 80
1947 Wethered Golden Brown Ale 12 1025.6 1004 2.81 84.37% 48
Average 17.6 1031.7 1008.2 3.04 74.08% 87.1
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1850 Truman Imperial Stout

Barclay Perkins and Courage weren’t alone in producing an Imperial Stout. Fellow London brewer Truman had one, too.

It doesn’t quite reach my Imperial Stout baseline of 1110º. I’ll forgive them the one gravity point.

A high percentage of brown malt seems to be a characteristic of the posher Porters and Stouts. It’s certainly the case here. Which, I suppose, made it logical to drop the black malt percentage.

Then there is just a whole load of hops. An almost unimaginable quantity: three quarters of a ton. For just 185 barrels. No surprise, then, that the calculated IBUs are in the impossible zone.

Two years in wood is what it deserves. Don’t let it down.

1850 Truman Imperial Stout
pale malt 19.00 lb 80.85%
brown malt 4.00 lb 17.02%
black malt 0.50 lb 2.13%
Goldings 120 mins 5.50 oz
Goldings 60 mins 5.50 oz
Goldings 30 mins 5.50 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.75 oz
OG 1099
FG 1029
ABV 9.26
Apparent attenuation 70.71%
IBU 158
SRM 30
Mash at 158º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 61º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread Ale

The above is one of the many recipes in this book:

What's in it? This:

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Sugar during WW I

After the Free Mash Tun Act of 1880, sugar became an important ingredient. The use of sugar had been legal since 1847, but a special duty had to be paid on it which seems to have put brewers off.

After 1880, the use of sugar became increasingly sophisticated. First, through the use of different grades of invert sugar, Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4, with 1 being the palest and 4 the darkest. Nos. 1 and 2 were mostly used in Pales, no. 3 in Mild Ales and Nos. 3 and 4 in Porter and Stout.

Later, proprietary sugars gained in popularity. These were mixtures of invert sugars and caramel, often formulated for specific styles of beer, such as Mild Ale or Oatmeal Stout.

In 1914, on average 13% of a beer grist consisted of sugar. That included both sugar added during the boil and priming sugars added at racking time.

The biggest problem with sugar, was that it was readily usable in food products. Whereas barley had limited use as a human food and hops none at all. Which meant that brewers were competing with other food industries for the limited supplies of sugar.

Brewers became obsessed with prices during the war, which is handy because it means that the price of every ingredient is listed in the brewing logs. People often assume that sugar was only used in brewing because it was cheaper than malt. During the war, this wasn’t necessarily true. And, of course, there were other reasons for brewers to employ sugar. For colour and flavour in Mild, for example.

Here's are examples where the sugar was more expensive than the malt. This is a PA brewed by Whitbread on February 2nd 1917:

72 quarters malt total cost 4,574/-, cost per quarter 65.34/-
20 quarters No. 1 invert sugar cost 1,496/-, cost per quarter  68/-

This Mild brewed June 7th 1918 is more extreme:

140 quarters malt total cost 12,250/-, cost per quarter 87.5/-
33 quarters No. 3 invert sugar cost 4,059/-, cost per quarter 123/-

As with malt, there were large increases in the price of sugar during the war. In fact, they were even more extreme than in the case of malt, rising from 25s a quarter in 1914 to around 130s, in 1920.

Price of sugar used by Barclay Perkins 1914 - 1917 (in shillings per quarter)
1914 1915 1916 1917
Mar Oct Jun Oct Jan Apr Oct Jan  Apr
Garton No.2 26.5 26 28 42 49 55 67 67 82
Garton No.3 24.5 24 26 40 40 50 65 65 80
Martineau No.3 23.5 23.5 46.5 52.5 65
Glucose 25 58 64
 Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives

Price of sugar used by Barclay Perkins 1917 - 1920 (in shillings per quarter) 
1917 1918 1919 1920
Oct Jan Apr Oct Jan Apr Oct Jan Apr
Garton No.2 86 125 130 140
Garton No.3 84 94 98 151 151 113 123 128
Martineau No.3 151 151 120 123 128 138
Glucose 151 151
Barclay Perkins brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives

Monday, 2 December 2019

Inside a 1920s bar (part seven)

Nope, still far from finished with this shit.

Some things, it seems, never change. Like customers nicking glasses.

"The expert bar-hand sees that the glasses are clean and dry on the outside, before handing to a customer, and also that the counter top is kept dry and clean, as well as everything upon it. The beer service counter should be kept as clean as possible.

In a busy house it should be the sole duty of one or more persons to collect glasses, which are apt to be left anywhere and everywhere. Customers are frequently so absent-minded as to take them outside and put them in their pockets. I have known one hundred dozen to disappear in the course of a single week, from one house, in this way. Yet glass thieves are most difficult to detect."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, pages 214 - 215.

During WW II, when glass was in short supply, losing glasses to theft was a real problem for publicans. They couldn't be easily replaced. Which is why you see what seem extremely petty court cases where people are prosecuted for stealing a couple of glasses from a pub.

The next problem for the publican wasn't from customers, but from dishonest staff.

"Even beers are not always what they seem, and the beer engine  is a worthy ally of Ananias, when several classes of beer, at different prices, are on tap. Hence, some people consider that beer in bottle is of better quality than that in the cask.

Lest I be accused of lack of respect for "Beer, Beer, Glorious Beer," let me say at once that nothing can be of greater importance in the eyes of your Brewers, and customers, than the condition of your beers. I have known each, in their several ways, to show striking attention to it!

Even this is better than the action of the saloon bar customer who merely left his glass unfinished. When remonstrated with by the proprietor, he replied: "It is not to be found fault with. One must not speak ill of the dead!"

Silent reproaches, when accompanied by a decrease in receipts, are a mournful reminder that you may be the victim of some ghostly visitation which waters the beer. You may even be conscious of departing spirits, and yet find it difficult to lay the phantoms, which you can only do by collaring the cash, or the delinquent."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 215.

I had to look up who Ananias was. A disciple of Jesus who dropped dead after lying about money. The implication is that a server could pull a cheaper beer than that ordered, charger the price of the expensive beer and pocket the difference. Could this be another reason for Mild turning darker? So that bar staff couldn't substitute Mild for Bitter?

With bottled beer, which has a label clearly saying what it contains, pulling a substitution would be much more difficult. Surely another reason the popularity of bottled beer was on the rise.

It's also implied that staff could be watering the beer. I'm not sure I see how that would work. Surely it would be the landlord who would profit from watered beer? I must be missing something here. Unless they wwere just drinking beer and then replacing it with water. I can see how this would work with spirits.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Inside a 1920s bar (part six)

We've finally got to actually serving beer. What fun. Though we aren't going to get to drink any.

"Most of the operations, which, in the ordinary way, you would imagine to be simplicity itself, require considerable dexterity and experience — in a rush trade particularly.

For example, in pouring out naturally conditioned bottled beers, which carry a sediment, such as Whitbread's, the bottle must be inverted, so that the liquor, but not the sediment, is poured into the glass, and the operation requires the service of two hands — one for the bottle, the other for the glass.

Again, the right way to serve spirits from a thimble measure, in a rush, is to hold the measure and glass in one hand, so that no liquor is lost; leaving the other free for the turning of the tap.

It is everything to have your paraphernalia to your hand; as far as possible, arranged so that you need not stoop to reach for it, e. g. cork and crown-cork extractors. Beers should carry a "head." Customers like them brilliant and clear. They must never be served dull, sick, tart, or thick. A certain lively cloudiness denotes brilliancy of condition.

In Scotland, beers are almost invariably drawn through the engine, under pressure from below, and this undoubtedly ensures better condition. Some Brewers, however, do not like the use of carbonic acid gas.
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 214.

Whitbread remained true to bottle-conditioning long after most of their rivals had gone over to artificial carbonation. Though it wouldn't last that much longer. When they bought the Forest Hill Brewery in 1924, one of the main reasons was to acquire their bottling plant, which produced artificially-carbonated beers. Long after that brewery had closed Whitbread continued to produce one of their beers: Forest Brown.

Part has some great terms for beer in poor condition: dull, sick, tart, thick.

Tart is pretty obvious. How many pints of vinegar have I been served in London. "It's supposed to taste like that. It's Real Ale." Real Sarsons, more like.

Thick I'm assuming means very cloudy beer. You know, like the stuff resembling orange juice that the kids drink nowadays.

Dull and sick I'm not so sure about. Based on stuff he wrote in the cellar chapter, where he mentions that if the cellar is too cold cask beer will become "sick", I think it means beer which hasn't had a proper secondary fermentation and conditioned properly.

The bit about Scottish pubs using gas ppressure to serve beer is a bit of a surprise. Using air pressure to serve through what looked like keg fonts was common in Scotland when I was young. I would have assumed that was what was being referred to, except that "carbonic acid gas", or CO2, is specifically mentioned.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Let's Brew - 1939 Barclay Perkins Ale

At the watery end of Barclay’s Mild parti-gyle was A (standing for “Ale”), a successor to the Government Ales of WW I.

It first appeared in the spring of 1918 under the name of Ale 4d. 4d (fourpence) being the price per pint. As you’d expect from a price-controlled beer during WW I, it wasn’t very strong, just 1025.6º. It was replaced Barclay Perkins Government Ale and for a while during 1918 and 1919 was the only Mild produced by Barclay Perkins, X Ale having been discontinued.

The biggest surprise is that, even after the return of full-strength Mild in the summer of 1919, Barclay Perkins continued to brew A. Though it quite small quantities. A typical parti-gyle in the early 1920s consisted of over 1,000 barrels of X and just 100-odd of A.

By the time WW II rolled around, nothing much had changed. A was still very much the junior partner in the parti-gyle, though by this point there were two other beers it was brewed with: X and XX.

During the mid-1930s there had been a variation on A called RA (Royal Ale), which seems to have been brewed for George V’s Jubilee in 1926. It was the same basic beer as A, but primed differently. It contained more and darker primings, leaving it a little stronger, and quite a bit darker, than plain old A.

1939 Barclay Perkins Ale
pale malt 1.50 lb 22.06%
mild malt 2.50 lb 36.76%
crystal malt 60 L 0.50 lb 7.35%
amber malt 0.25 lb 3.68%
flaked maize 1.25 lb 18.38%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 11.03%
caramel 1000 SRM 0.05 lb 0.74%
Fuggles 150 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.25 oz
OG 1031.5
FG 1007.5
ABV 3.18
Apparent attenuation 76.19%
IBU 18
SRM 12.5
Mash at 146º F
After underlet 154º F
Sparge at 170º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 62º F
Yeast Wyeast 1099 Whitbread ale

Friday, 29 November 2019

Scottish Shilling Ales in the 1840s

These beers formed the bulk of production in Scotland until the growth of Pale Ale in the second half of the century. The name derived from the wholesale price per 54-gallon hogshead. They have no connection with the 60/-, 70/- and 80/- of post-WW II.

Though not everything with a shilling designation was what I’m calling a Shilling Ale. You also had things like 54/- Stout or 60/- Pale Ale. Shilling Ales were essentially the Scottish version of Mild Ale. Unlike English Mild Ales, however, they were mostly sold in bottled form. After racking, hogsheads or half hogsheads were sent to bottlers, who repackaged the beer and sold it.

At William Younger in the late 1840’s, there were seven Shilling ales, ranging in gravity from 1043º to 1134º. That’s a considerable spread, but they did have several features in common, such as a poor degree of attenuation and relatively modest hopping, though this wasn’t always the case at the top end of the strength range.

To put the hopping into context, English Mild Ales at this time had 8-9 lbs of hops per quarter. Looking at the hopping per quarter of malt allows the comparison of beers of different gravities. You can see in the table below that the rate was rather lower, around 4lbs per quarter, for most of William Younger’s Shilling Ales.

Scotch Ales in the 1840's 
£3 1080-86 1032-35 6.625
£4 1090-95 1036-39 7
£5 1100-1108 1040-44 7.75
£6 1110-1116 1045-47 8.375
£7 1120-1125 1048-50 9.25
Scottish Ale Brewer, WH Roberts, Edinburgh, 1847, page 117

William Younger Shilling Ales 1848 - 1849
Date Year Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
19th Apr 1848 42/- 1043 1012 4.10 72.09% 15.00 2.65
19th Feb 1848 60/- 1074 1037 4.89 50.00% 3.33 1.18
13th Mar 1848 80/- 1088 1038 6.61 56.82% 4.00 1.69
5th Oct 1848 100/- 1101 1039 8.20 61.39% 4.52 2.16
18th Feb 1848 120/- 1112 1045 8.86 59.82% 4.17 2.70
11th Mar 1848 140/- 1130 1059 9.39 54.62% 7.61 4.71
4th Apr 1849 160/- 1134 1063 9.39 52.99% 12.96 7.94
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive, document number WY/6/1/2/3.

The above is an excerpt from my book Scotland! vol.  2, the best book ever written about Scottish beer. Get your copy now!

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Inside a 1920s bar (part five)

More excruciating detail about a 1920s bar. I do love this stuff. Despite how ultimately useless this information is.

Today we start with something about measures. This was an area where publicans had to take particular are on account of various legal requirements.

"Note: if a half-pint is asked for, a Government Stamped Measured Glass must be supplied.

If a glass is called for, it may be supplied in a five to the quart glass.

All other measures of beer must be sold in pints, quarts, or gallons, and not in fractions.

It is illegal to serve over measure in the sale of beer, and it is equally an offence to sell under measure.

The particular sizes of glasses you use for soda-water, bottled beers, etc., do not signify, as regards measure.

You are bound, by law, to have stamped pint and half-pint glasses or mugs.

Opaque mugs are not now generally popular, as customers take a great deal of pleasure in criticising the condition of the beers they buy. A few tankards for the saloon bar are necessary.

If measures become dented or bulged, they should be taken out of the bar, and correct ones substituted, as a prosecution would result in conviction."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, pages 213 - 214.

A couple of points about the beer measures. I'm surprised that nips (third of a pint) aren't mentioned at all. This having been one of the permitted measures - along with half pints and pints - when I was younger.

And the "glass", well such a vague, unmarked measure definitely wasn't allowed when I was younger. I've seen mention of it as a measure in texts from WW I. I didn't realise it continued after the war. I'd be intrigued to know exactly when it was outlawed. At five to a quart, it's half way between a third and a half pint.

It might seem odd that an over measure was banned. This is a hangover from WW I. Some landlords had deliberately served over measures to attract custom.

Part can be quite cutting at times. I love this: "customers take a great deal of pleasure in criticising the condition of the beers they buy". You can tell some punters really pissed him off.

Why were tankards needed for the saloon bar? Because some middle-aged toss-pots rewuested them?

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Next May in Washington

Hi there. Trying to plan next year's romping aroung the USA in my typical anarchic way.

Here's what's set so far: fly to Seattle, do shit there.

It's all a bit vague after that. Other than return to Seattle, get pissed in airport, fly back to Amsterdam.

Idaho is an option. As a state I've never visited, it's high up my list. But I coild be easily diverted by anywhere in the Northeast USA I've never visited before.

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1939 Adnams Double Stout

Despite the popularity of national brands like Guinness and Mackeson, the vast majority of UK brewers continued to make their own Stout. Even relatively small and rural ones, such as Adnams.

Though, in contrast to London brewers, such regional Stouts were available exclusively in bottled form. Draught Stouts was, in most parts of the country, just a memory by the start of the war.

As with most of Adnams other beers, their Double Stout was on the weak side. It’s about 5º lower in gravity than the bottom-level Stouts from London brewers, such as Whitbread and Barclay Perkins. 1042º is about as weak as English Stout got before WW II.

The grist is different from the classic London pale, brown, black malt combination. Here it consists of mild, crystal, amber and chocolate malt. Plus, of course, some invert sugar and caramel for extra colour and flavour.

That the hops were English is about all I can tell you about them. The brewing record has no record of their type or year of harvest.

1939 Adnams Double Stout
mild malt 7.00 lb 73.68%
crystal malt 80 L 0.50 lb 5.26%
amber malt 0.50 lb 5.26%
chocolate malt 0.50 lb 5.26%
No. 3 invert sugar 0.75 lb 7.89%
caramel 2000 SRM 0.25 lb 2.63%
Fuggles 120 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 30 mins 0.50 oz
OG 1042
FG 1013
ABV 3.84
Apparent attenuation 69.05%
IBU 26
SRM 39
Mash at 147.5º F
After underlet 156º F
Sparge at 163º F
Boil time 120 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Christmas gift suggestions

It's that time of year again. When I try to shift some books in the hope of being able to afford Christmas presents for the kids.

First is my most recent masterpiece, Armistice!, which takes a detailed look at the exciting world of WW I brewing. Including some of the most watery beer recipes ever.

 Buy this wonderful book.

To summarise the next book: seemingly the dullest of matt shades post-war period is way more fun than you might think. Or maybe that's just me bigging it up. Buy the effing thing and make up your own mind.

Now my contract limitations have expired, I can tart to my heart's content what  I like to call my expansion pack to The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer. Recipes? That's all it is. Loads  and loads of them. With North American and Lager recipes that Idropped from the original book for reasons of space.

My pride and joy. An award-winning book. The truth about Scottish beer and brewing. If I could find some bastard to publish it properly, I'm sure it would shake the world to its very foundations. Or at least joggle the odd noddle. 

You can find more of my lovely books here:

Inside a 1920s bar (part four)

We're back inside that 1920s bar, this time looking more closely at the sale of beer.

There had been many rumpours distributed - especially after the 1880 Free Mash Tun Act - about the dangerous substances used to brew beer. Total bollocks, for the most part. Though the rumours were, inevitably, mostly started by temperanve twats.

"Beers.— A number of people always imagine that beer is brewed from deleterious materials, and retailed at outrageously high prices, as the following impromptu lines written by a famous wit to a no less famous Brewer in days long gone by, show:
"They've raised the price of table drink.
What is the reason, do you think?
The tax on malt's the cause, I hear;
But what has malt to do with beer!"

You can assure your customers that no Brewers of reputation brew from any substance that is harmful to health, and that, if asked to pay more than their share towards the expenses consequent upon the war, their predecessors, in Sheridan's time, had the same privilege. If, therefore, beer seems to be harmful, it must be, as the old lady said, "On account of the exciseman's stick"! The mere fact that the beer in a Licensed House sometimes differs from the same quality at the Brewery is no proof that it is harmful!

Any deterioration in the quality must be attributed to the "tyranny of trade." Is not beer the great irrigator of Conservative principles?"
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, pages 212 - 213.

I can't really argue with that last sentence. Mostly because I've no idea what it means. Sounds good, mind.

The next section gets into some specifics about beer pricing.

"Beer Prices.
Saloon Bars.  Public Bars.
Mild 8d. and 7d. per pint 7d. and 6d. per pint
Bitter  8d.        „ „  7d.        „ „
Best Bitter 9d.        „ „  8d.        „ „

The duty on beer is 100s. per standard barrel.

It has been suggested that it is wrong to rob the poor man of his beer. Is it more right for the Government, as a sleeping partner in the Trade, to rob the poor man through his beer?

Bottled Beers.
0.5 pints 6d. saloon bars only.
0.5 pints 8d. Bass and Guinness.

The average percentage of gross profit in a public bar is 18 to 20 per cent.

The average percentage of gross profit in a saloon bar is 35 to 40 per cent."
"The Art and Practice of Innkeeping" by Alexander Francis Part, published by Heinemann London, 1922, page 213.

This book was published at a very strange point in time. Price controls on beer had only been abolished in August 1921. Presumably about the time this book was being written.

I would argue about the prices quoted. In London at this point, there were Mild Ales at 5d, 6d and 7d per pint. While Ordinary Bitter was usually 8d and Best Bitter 9d. Mild Ales would be around 1028º, 1035º and 1043º; Bitter 1047º and 1054º. In general, beers would have a gravity just over the minimum allowed for the price.

Price control 1917-1921
Price Oct-17 Apr-18 Feb-19 Jul-19 Apr-20
2d <1019 span="">
3d <1022 span=""> 1020-1026 <1019 span="">
4d <1036 span=""> <1030 span=""> 1023-1028 1027-1032 1020-1026
5d 1036-1042 1030-1034 1029-1034 1033-1038 1027-1032
6d 1035-1041 1039-1045 1033-1038
7d 1042-1049 1045-1053 1039-1045
8d >1050 >1054 1045-1053
9d >1054
The Brewers' Almanack 1928 pages 100 - 101.
"The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980"

This was also the brief period when beer duty was 100 shillings (five quid) per standard barrel. In 1924 it was reduced, but in an odd way. The official duty remained ay 100 shillings, but there was a rebate of 20 shillings per bulk barrel. Something which penalised the brewing of stronger beer. It's effect was to knock off 1d per pint from the pricek

I'm pleased to see the profit margins specified. As I suspected, they were very low in the public bar. Obviously, they were higher in the posh side as the prices were higher.