Tuesday, 17 July 2007


I told you I would get to Truman's soon. Today's the day.

The photos of their logs have only been hanging around on my hard drive since March. We'll be looking at examples from 1850, just before they partially converted the brewery to Ale production.

After a century of boom, Porter sales were starting to flag by the mid-1800s. Around 1800, most of the large London brewers had switched to producing just Porter and Stout. But after 1820, the public began to prefer Ales. Not Pale Ales as some would have you believe - these were never more than a niche market in Victorian times - but Mild Ales. Not Mild as we know. These were strong and pale in colour, being brewed from 100% pale malt.

Below is a snapshot of a large Porter brewery, just before the style went into a slow decline that ended in extinction sometime around 1940.

Is that clear? I guessed not. Interesting names they used. Here's my explanation. There were four basic beers: Porter, Stout, Double Stout and Imperial Stout. All would count as strong or very strong by modern British standards. The weakest had an OG of 1057, the strongest 1100.

The first five columns are variations on the basic Porter. "Runner" and "Running" denote beer sold young or "Mild". "Country Runner" (great name, it sounds like sort of athlete) is Mild Porter for sale outside London. "Keeping" refers to be beer that was matured in great tuns for months or even years.

One of the dangers of modern brewers picking up an old recipe and brewing to it is the 19th century habit of using old hops. That's why I've included rows for different ages of hops. You'll note that the cheaper beers have a higher percentage of older hops. In the case of the bog-standard Porter, 80% of the hops were 3 or 4 years old. Only the expensive Stouts and Export beers used all fresh hops.

Also of interest is the lack of black malt or roasted barley in any of the beers. The Running Porter and Stout, with less than 10% brown malt, couldn't have been all that dark. By this time other London brewers, such as Barclay Perkins and the Griffin Brewery had adopted roast barley or patent malt to colour for colouring purposes. Though all London breweries continued to use some brown malt.


Anonymous said...

I saw a Barclay Perkins pub fascia last night! It's on Upper Street in Islington, and is now a branch of Jigsaw.

Stonch said...

Bailey - if you look through Ron's previous posts, you'll find a photo of that very pub (used to be the Old Parr's
Head, now a Jigsaw store as you say) taken by yours truly! It was still a pub two years ago.