Wednesday 31 December 2008

Volume II and III arrive

I was disturbed while writing my first post today by the ringing of the doorbell. It was the postman with two packages. The next two volumes of my Mini Book Series. "Mild!" and "Can we go home now?".

The two books have a very different target audience. "Mild!" is full of stuff about, well . . . Mild. Not exactly most people's idea of bedtime reading. Lots of statistics. A few recipes, too. "Can we go home now?" is much more personal. Travels tales from my journeys with the family.

My first task of the New Year will be sending them out. I think I can remember who's getting a copy.

Even more Guinness between the wars

Stout, Porter and Guinness. Three of my favourite topics. Today they all come together in a coming together sort of way.

One of the common misconceptions about Guinness is that the "Dry Stout" style it represents has been around since Moses was in nappies. And that an essential ingredient has always been roast barley. You can guess what I'm going to say now: both ideas are utter crap.

I'll start with Guinness in the 1920's and 1930's. Until 1917, Guinness Extra Stout had the same gravity as Foreign Extra Stout: 1074º. Like all other UK beers, government legislation drastically reduced its gravity as the war progressed. Though, due to the somewhat laxer rules applied to Ireland, not as drastically as English beers. The nadir was 1049º in 1918. Not that bad when you think Mild was mostly 1027º. And higher than the gravity of Guinness today.

Between the wars, the gravity of Guinness Extra Stout was pretty constant at 1055º. Take a look:

Take a look at the apparent attenuation. It's mostly around 75%. That's very different from post-1950 Guinness. But more of that tomorrow.

Whitbread also brewed a beer called Extra Stout. Which too had an OG of 1055º. And attenuation of about 75%. It has a profile very similar to Guinness. Though the grists are different. Whitbread Extra Stout had this grist:

pale malt 73%
brown malt 7%
oats 0.5%
chocolate malt 7%
sugar 14%

Guinness Extra Stout used a combination of pale, amber and roast malt. I think. Or maybe just pale and roast malt. Definitely no brown or chocolate.

Tuesday 30 December 2008

Guinness and Whitbread in the 1930's

I promised you more detail on Whitbread's Stouts in the 1930's and here it is. A breakdown of Whitbread Porter and Stout output by type. And details of their sales of Bass and Guinness.

It's unfortunate that I don't have individual figures for Bass and Guinness. It would be nice to see if the proportion of the sales of those two varied as well. For the period where I do have them (ending in 1916), it was 75% Guinness and 25% Bass. Anyway, here are the figures I do have:

You'll notice that LS (London Stout) has sales at least double those of Guinness and Bass combined for every single year. The meteoric rise of Mackeson (MS) is striking. In just the third year it was brewed at Chiswell Street, it was second only to London Stout.

The figures demonstrate the long, slow decline of established beers like Porter and London Stout and the move to sweeter Milk Stout like Mackeson. These trends continued in the 1940's and 1950's, with the disappearance of Porter and Mackeson becoming the main Stout. But these were lengthy processes which took decades to play out. Not sudden changes brought about by events like WW I.

Monday 29 December 2008

Guinness in the 1930's

Still not finished with my anti Guinness wiping out British Stout theory. More numbers, I'm afraid.

It's great having such detailed information for Whitbread. It means I can check whether Guinness was replacing Whitbread's out Porter and Stout. Let's compare the sales of Whitbread's own beers with their resales of Guinness and Bass.

Whitbread's output of Porter and Stout was very stable from 1933 onwards. As was the amount of Bass and Guinness Whitbread was selling, which hovered around 25%. I can see no evidence of Guinness replacing Whitbread products.

Though the overall quantity of Porter and Stout brewed was pretty stable, the quantities of each specific beer made varied considerably. The decline of Porter continued and in 1936 a newcomer arrived that began eating into London Stout's share: Mackeson. Whitbread had acquired the brewery in 1929 and the fact that they began brewing Mackeson Milk Stout at Chiswell Street shows the importance the product was acquiring.

But more about that tomorrow. I need to crack on with "Trips!".

Sunday 28 December 2008

Guinness and WW I

Nope, still haven't finished kicking this one around yet. The "everyone stopped brewing Stout in Britain during WW I and drank Guinness instead" theory. The one really irritatingly repeated in the introduction of the 2008 Good Beer Guide.

It's not that difficult to check. I've got figures for Guinness sales in Britain for the relevant period. Tell me if I'm making a false assumption here, but, if Guinness had taken over pretty much the whole Stout market in Britain, you'd expect their sales to have increased significantly after 1920. Wouldn't you? Let's see what actually happened.

In absolute terms, Guinness sales in Britain only increased slightly post WW I, from just over 1 million barrels a year to 1.2 - 1.3 million. In terms of the beer consumed in Britain, the percentage did indeed increase, from just under 3% to between 4% and 5%. But their market share had already been increasing pre war. In fact, between 1900 and 1912 their share of the British market doubled. As you can see below.

What happened after 1914 was just a continuation of trend of increasing sales that started well before hostilities. If anything, WW I and its aftermath put Guinness at a disadvantage in the British market. Irish independence left Guinness's Dublin brewery outside the UK and its beer liable to import duty. This was what prompted Guinness to build the Park Royal brewery in London in the 1930's.

To put Gunness's 4-5% share into perspective, between the wars 25-30% of Whitbread's output was Porter and Stout. The market for black beer was considerably larger than the output of Guinness.

Saturday 27 December 2008

Deventer today

We're going to Deventer today. After three days looked indoors with the kids, we all need get out. There are those 10-euro Blokker train tickets we need to use up, too. Today and tomorrow are the last days they're valid.

We don't even need to go into town. To get to Deventer. Lack of capacity at Cetraal Station has prompted an upgrade to Amsterdam Zuid. Just a short busride away from our gaff.

Hopefully lots of chaotic jocularity will occur and I'll have something new to write about tomorrow. Or you'll have to put up with lots of numbers. Like Whitbread's bottled beer sales by type, 1902 - 1916. Or Guinness exports to the UK.

Friday 26 December 2008

Is it time to look back yet?

It's Boxing Day (or Thumping Day as I tell Lexie). Is it too soon to start looking back on the year yet? Naaaaaah. It's never too soon to look back.

Another year has passed disturbingly speedily, but without any serious injury. To me, at least. Just that toe-breaking incident. But that's almost too insignificant to mention. In many ways, a very productive year. At least in terms of number of words produced. I haven't counted them, but it's a couple of hundred thousand, minimum.

I doubt I'll write as much next year. More commitments. It would be nice to get the book finished. I reckon I've got around 400 pages done. So almost half way.

And remember my Mini Book Series? That's now more than 50% complete. I finished "War!" yesterday. "Trips!" is already started. No-one has successfully guessed its theme yet. Remember there's a dully glinting metallic cluster of death for the first correct guess. Sorry, a nice shiny copy of the book. The metallic cluster of death is for someone else.

I was going to post about Whitbread bottled beer sales by type today. But I couldn't be arsed to to transpose all the numbers. Perhaps tomorrow.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Xmas still life

This photo just about sums up my christmas. No need for cluttering words.

Wow. Fewest words ever.

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Bottled Beer 1901 - 1938

It's Christmas Eve and I've spent the morning looking through old documents. In particular, Whitbread sales by draught and bottled. Fascinating stuff. My life is non-stop fun.

There was a massive surge in the popularity of bottled beers at the beginning of the 20th century. It was partly fuelled by changes in technology which allowed the production of bright, artificially-carbonated bottled beers.

The proportion of Whitbread sales which were bottled doubled over the years 1901 to 1914, rising from a quarter to a half. The war knocked this back down to close to its 1901 level, but in the 1920's it soon rose back to around 50%.

The dubious quality of much draught beer helped bottled beer to continue increasing its market share after WW I.

For the whole interwar period, Whitbread's bottled and draught beer sales were neck and neck.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Whitbread's Ales in 1955

I've had this post for a while. It's not been posted yet because I noticed some more stuff about Brown Ale. In particular, what Whitbread got up to in WW II.

I have the first results from my archive trip this week. A comparison of Whitbread's Ales in 1955.

Since I got back from London, I've been thinking a lot about Brown Ale. I lead such an exciting life. Whitbread's postwar logs are very revealing about Brown Ale. Maybe I've been a bit hasty.

I do like Whitbread's logs. Much easier to understand than some of the others. Maybe it's just because I've got used to them. I probably wouldn't have spotted this straight way in Truman's of Barclay Perkins logs. It's something about Brown Ale.

Whitbread started brewing a beer called Double Brown in the 1920's. It was pretty strong, at around 1054º. Quite heavily hopped, too. Not at all what you would expect from a Southern Brown Ale. Sometime in the 1930's they introduced a second, weaker Brown Ale. I'm not exactly sure when or at what OG, because it doesn't appear in the brewing records. I've seen it in their price lists, but nowhere else. The first gravity book entry for it is 1934, when it had an OG of 1037.9º. In 1946 it was a pretty pathetic 1029.2º.

So I was pretty excited when I spotted a beer called FB in the 1955 logs. Why didn't it turn up before? I can think of two explanations. It could have been brewed at another brewery they owned. It could have been their Mild bottled. In the 1930's, Whitbread X was around 1036º. In 1946 Whitbread's XX Mild was just 1027.6º. Both are a couple of degrees weaker than Forest Brown. Could they have just been adding primings to the Mild before bottling, boosting it's OG a bit and making it sweeter? I'm not sure where I could look to check.

See what you make of their 1955 Ales:

Notice the two Brown Ales? Pretty different, eh? Forest Brown is clearly just a slightly stronger version of their Mild. In the logs there are brews of the Best Ale and Forest Brown that have exactly the same quantities of exactly the same ingredients. Just slightly more water in the Best Ale.

But what about Double Brown? It's a funny one. It was brewed from very similar ingredients to the PA. The only difference was a touch of chocolate malt in DB and some crystal malt in PA. And the sugar in DB was dark. Surprisingly, it's much more heavily-hopped than the PA. The PA isn't hopped any more than the Mild, which is a bit odd.

And the IPA - the most highly-attenuated and with the most hops.

I'm still trying to work out exactly what all this tells me. Certainly that there were two very different types of Brown Ale. One that was effectively bottled Mild and one that wasn't.

Monday 22 December 2008


I'm finished with my Mini Books. Finally. The ones I've been working on, at least. Can you believe that it took 6 days to assemble the last three?

My Mini Book Series is now almost half complete. I wonder if I'll have time to finish the rest before the New Year? Probably not. I've got most of the titles, but haven't quite got all the themes yet. The title's the trickiest bit, though. Once that's there all the rest is a piece of urine.

"The Amsterdam Pub Guide" is distributed, "Mild!" is at the printers and "Can we go home now?", "Decoction" and "Brown Beer are complete. Prolific or what?

This post has to be quite short. "When are we going, dad?" I'm taking Lexie skating. Thankfully, it's a licensed skating rink. I'll be able to get a beer. Or a jenever to keep out the cold.

Sunday 21 December 2008

I'm lazy - Can we go home now?

I'm lazy. A right lazy git. That's why there's no proper post today. Just me filling space in that void between Sunday dinner and Sunday tea.

This morning I was busier. And wiser. Starting to realise how much work my little christmas holiday project entails. Quite a bit, as it turns out. Getting Andrew to help had been factored into my original equations. But his stomach's hurting. Makes a change from his knees.

I took the kids into town yesterday. Shopping. Presents don't buy themselves. Well, sometimes they do. Dolores has been known to buy her own. She doesn't trust me with so many things. Presents is number 32 on the list. Of course, I got my pub visit, too.

Bierkoning, too. I nipped in there as well. For supplies of St. Bernardus. My local offie is down to just the Tripel again. Christmas wouldn't be christmas without St. Bernardus. Hell, Friday isn't Friday and Tuesday isn't Tuesday without St. Bernardus.

The kids have got quite used to Wildeman. They know its snack menu intimately. That usually gives me time for at least two beers. In christmas beer season, I have chance to get my cockles at least lukewarm. And I did. They were maybe even three-quarters cooked.

No glass-eating from Lexie. Andrew didn't demand cheese. Neither kid ran off and neither said "Can we go home now?" until I was well into my second beer. Life is finally good.

Saturday 20 December 2008

I'm a winner!

I never win anything. That's why I'm such a lonely and embittered old man. Well, one of the reasons. The inability of pretty girls to appreciate my inner beauty is another. And the inexplicable reluctance of multimillionaires to give me enough money so I never need to work again.

Which is why I'm so overjoyed to have finally won a prize. In Alan and Stonch's annual photo contest. A bit surprised, too, as my photo has no obvious beer connection. It's a photo of a bit fat book. Well there is a sort of beer connection, because the big fat book in question is a Whitbread Ale log. But only I know that.

And what a prize. As much beer as I can drink in the Gunmakers. My sort of prize. And appropriate as the photo was taken just a couple of hundred yards away.

Hops 1920 - 1939 (can't be arsed)

Some stuff about hops today. I would write a witty and erudite introduction, but I can't be arsed.

Different varieties had gradually developed over a period of two or three hundred years as growers selected hops with particular qualities to plant. Sometimes flavour was paramount, but other characteristics such as the yield and disease resistance were also important. "It [selection] has resulted in the cultivation in a large number of districts of hops of homogenous type, particularly suited to the soil and climatic conditions, and also in the elimination of apaprently well-established varieties and replacement by others which met with a greater degree of approval." (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, pages 387-388.)

During WW I, when the hop industry came under government control, the different types of hops were classified into four groups: Goldings, Golding Varieties, Fuggle's and Tolhursts. Though many of the hops classified as Golding Varieties had little relation to Goldings. The differentiation was based as much on the use of the hops as on genetic relationship. Hops with the most delicate flavour were put into the Golding Varieties group. Such hops were often used for dry-hopping, while stronger flavoured Fuggle's and the lower-quality Tolhursts were used in the copper. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 388.)

These were named after a Mr. Golding who at the end of the 18th century selected a hop plant from a garden in Canterbury. By the 20th century, the name was being used for several related varieties grown in the best hop-growing regions of East Kent, Worcester and Hereford. They had a delicate flavour and good preservative properties but did not crop as heavily as other varieties. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 388.)

The Canterbury Whitebine or Canterbury Golding was one of the oldest and best types. Very similar to this, and probably closely related, were the Worcester Mathon and the Farnham Whitebine. In Kent and Worcester the Bramling, an early-ripening hop first cultivated in 1865, was widely grown. It was a development of the Golding and had a similarly good aroma and preservative qualities. Amos' Early Bird was a further development of the Bramling that cropped better and earlier, but was of a slightly lower quality. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, pages 388-389.)

For dry hopping, Barclay Perkins used mostly East Kent Goldings. They also used them sometimes as copper hops.

Golding Varieties
There were two main types of Golding Varieties. The Cobb, selected from a garden of Canterbury Whitebines in 1881, which had a good flavour but poor preservative power. It was very good as a dry hop. The Tutsham cropped well but was of only average quality. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 389.)

Widely grown in Kent, Sussex, Hereford and Worcester, Fuggle's was the commonest copper hop. It cropped well, had a high lupulin content, but had a coarser flavour than Goldings. It was particularly suited to the soil in Hereford and Worcester. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 389.)

Barclay Perkins used Fuggle's as a copper hop for most of their beers.

A collection of low-quality, but heavy-cropping, varieties which were widely planted after WW I, when new hop gardens needed to be developed quickly. By 1940 it had gone out of favour on account of its poor flavour and preservative power and was no longer widely grown. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, pages 389-390.)

New varieties
Several new varieties of hop were developed at the South-Eastern Agricultural College at Wye in Kent. They included Brewer's Favourite, Brewer's Gold, Fillpocket and Quality Hop. All had excellent preservative qualities but not such a great aroma. They were used in the copper in conjunction with other, better-flavoured hops. None of these new varieties was widely grown before WW II. (Source: "Brewing Science & Practice" H. Lloyd Hind, 1943, page 390.)

Friday 19 December 2008

I write too much

I'm assembling "Can we go home now?", "Decoction!" and "Brown Beer" at the moment. It's taking somewhat longer than expected.

I've been at it two days now. (Though I was interrupted this afternoon when we tried to install our new wireless modem. There was a fair bit of shouting, some crawling into dusty corners and then a bit more shouting. About par for the course. We're an excitable bunch, us Pattinsons. The modem still isn't working.) Looks like a third day will be needed. To blame is the forest of articles I've planted on the web. How on earth did I manage to write so much in the last 18 months?

Feel free to guess what any of the other titles might mean. The first correct guess will be rewarded with a copy of the book. Assuming you want to read my unique combination of anger and tedium.

Though the book isn't quite finished, I've already done the front cover for "Can we go home now?". I'm quite pleased with it. If you can tell in which pub the photograph was taken, there's a (what a surprise) free copy of the book for you.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Can we go home now? - the answer.

We have a winner. It's starting to get scary how often he gets the answers to my weird questions right.

Beernut correctly explained that "Can we go home now?" is a collection of bits I've written about travels with my family. I plan finishing it tomorrow. Have to think of a cover still. Any suggestions?


I'm so prolific. One book (well, mini book) off to publisher yesterday and I've already half-finished three more.

I'm not sure many have understood my Mini Book Series. It took Mike four explanations to grasp the concept. And he's not that slow. So I'll run through it once more.

My Mini Book Series is, believe it or not, a series of books.I'm compiling a series of 11 books. Not writing, but compiling. I wouldn't have the time to write ten books* in whatever length of time it takes me to roughly sew them together. Stuff I've published in my blog or website that you hoped you'd seen the last of. No such luck.

Over the next whatever, I'll be getting eleven books vanity printed. That's when you pay to have your book published.In a way, most of the web is vanity publishing. So why should I feel embarrassed about indulging in a little physical vanity publishing?

To keep it interesting (and to save me dosh), there only be 10 of each volume printed. They won't be for sale..The only way you'll get one, is if I give it to you. Unless some ungrateful bastard doesn't hang on to it. Then there'll be a name crossed off my christmas card list. If I find out.

As always, my motivation is selfish. Not just vanity, though I'm certain there's a full pudding with custard of that in there. Each book contains something I wanted to have in one place, for my own reference. Finding where things are in my blog is harder than I imagined. I shouldn't write so much. “Stuff I didn't want to lose track of is” the theme.

As I write this I have, I have ten titles. “Can we go home now?”, “Decoction!”, “Mild!”, “Numbers!”, "War!", “Destroy the evidence!”, "Trips", "Brown Beer", “Unreadable” and “Dutch Pub Guide”. These may change. Depending on my holiday plans. A printed guide can be really handy when you're in a foreign city.

All the books will be numbered in my own fair hand. Except volume I, “The Amsterdam Pub Guide”, where I forgot to number and sign some copies. I keep one of each volume. And no, it won't necessarily be number one.

Is that clear?

Still no-one has guessed the theme of volume II, "Can we go home now". I thought it was easy.

* One of the eleven is already nailed together, printed and mostly handed out.

Herberg Hooghoudt

Now I have a little time again, due to my enforced holiday, I've chance to look at some new pubs for my Amsterdam Pub Guide. Yesterday, it was the turn of Herberg Hooghoudt.

Some of Amsterdam's best pubs are jenever bars. Mike's been pestering to visit Herberg Hooghoudt for the last couple of months. The awkward opening times meant we hadn't managed to get there soon. Soon after Mike found it in the Brandslang leaflet.

It's slightly discouraging that tables set for diners are elbowing to one side thos for drinkers. Maybe it really is more of a restaurant than a pub.

I almost forgot to mention the most important feature: draught korenwijn. From an oak barrel. Not sure how long the korenwijn's been in the barrel, but it still looks impressive.

Mike wants to talk about Inspector Morse, so no time to take any more notes. Sorry.

I'm back. Mike is chatting to the barman about oude jenever. There is a downside. No decent jenevers other than the draught one. Presumably because that's all the distillery that owns them makes.

On the beer front, they've Brand Pils, Brand Urtyp and two guests on draught plus half a dozen bottles.

Herberg Hooghoudt
Reguliersgracht 11
1017 LJ Amsterdam
Tel. 020-4204041

Opening times
Tue - Sat 17:00 -

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Whitbread costs 1913 - 1920

Just in case you thought I'd abandoned my old documents for the holiday period, here are some more numbers.

I'm back on the topic of profiteering in WW I. The little notebook full of statistics I found in the archive last time is proving invaluable. It has All the other costs - wages, fuel, etc - missing from my initial calculations. Take a look:

Interestingly, their labour costs didn't increase significantly during the war. I suppose because much of the workforce was in the trenches. The area of biggest change between 1913 and 1922 is pretty obvious: tax. In 1913, tax accounted for a third of the cost of a barrel of beer. By 1920, it was two thirds.

Almost-end-of-year greetings

Dolores has hardly even had to pester me this year to write my Almost-end-of-year greetings to my friends. "See, I am improving." That's what I said to her. "Mmmmm" was her reply. That means yes, doesn't it, mmmmm? I'll take it as a yes.

It's been a year. Not sure what type of year. One full of days that eventually become weeks, then months. Before you know it, it's December again and a letter needs writing. A year of tears, laughter, and getting to bed nice and early. Shouting, too. Plenty of shouting. There's always lots of that when I'm close to a computer.

There was lots of shouting when I broke my toe. On one of the stupid steps into the stupid bloody kitchen. It wasn't an important toe, so it had little impact on my life breaking it. Except I couldn't play for England for a few weeks. Not that I play for them when my toe is unbroken, but I haven't ruled out the possibility. I reckon there's still a chance of getting a game in goal, having looked at my competition.

According to Dolores, one positive result of the toe-breaking incident is that we're getting a new kitchen. She thinks I'm shallow and selfish enough to only have been bothered by the crappy kitchen when it personally affected me. Married for 20 years, but she doesn't know me at all. Does she?.

Dolores still just has the one head, despite what you read in the British papers about Germans. No sign of horns coming through yet, either. She now works at a university hospital. I told you last year she'd become a brain surgeon. It's amazing how quickly she picked it up. Being a bit of a whizz on the computer, she was able to knock up convincing qualifications in a jiffy. The practical side of surgery was a bit trickier, but you have to expect the odd death, don't you?

That's about it for another year. Who knows what the next will bring. I'm hoping to unexpectedly inherit a fortune and never have to work again. That's my plan for every year. More of a vain hope, really. But it has to happen sometime, doesn't it? I can't go through the whole of my life without becoming randomly rich eventually. Can I?

Enjoy all those holiday type events (which will probably be just a dim memory when this letter finally arrives) which happen around now. I know I will. Three weeks with no work. (Dolores has asked me to point out that the bank has given all contractors a compulsory, unpaid, 3-week break as a cost-cutting exercise.) Who wouldn't rejoice about that?

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Book plan

Did I mention my book plan? Not that monster. The British beer 1700-1973 thing. Not my plan for a book. My . . . plan for books.

My life may appear, to the naked eye, as total chaos, but there is some reason and not a little rhyme hidden in there. At the bottom. Under all that funny gunk.

It's not my idea. I'm too old to have ideas. Thoughts are all I get. The kids, they have ideas. My kids, I mean. "The kids" is pretty blooming unspecific. Like "the street". On which the kids usually are. It's Andrew's idea. "Why don't you get a book printed, dad." "Mmmmm . . . . that's a good question . . . "

Andrew beat me in print. He wrote a book and had it printed. Shattered my ideas of being the writer in the family. Bastard. . . . . bastard. . . . double bastard. Why aren't I young now? All this great er, stuff, they have now. Telly all day. Kids programmes that aren't just unconvincing puppets. Computers. The internet. International travel. Bicycles. They don't know they're born, they don't.

Excuse my aged rage against the young. It's pure envy, nothing more. Book plan. That's the title. I feel sort of obliged to get around to it sometime. I have a book plan. I just thought of it on the tram just now. My first impulse was to pretend I'd been plotting this out all year. But I'm a crap liar.

I had a few beers in town tonight. Fred Waltman and Tom were in town. We had a blind tasting in Wildeman. True to form, I failed to spot one of my regular tipples. Two of my regular tipples. I was forgetting Tripel Karmeliet. How on earth could I miss that? In my defence, I had been drinking Schlenkerla Urbock. Before we started. And in between flights. And after the odd not so nice beer.

On the tram home, I got to thinking. It happens usually at least once a day. That I start thinking. Mostly, I notice and stop things getting out of hand. After a beer or two, I can't achieve that level of self control. Books. Books were in my thoughts. Shiny new books.

The thrill of holding a proper printed book with my name on the cover has gone to my head. Driven into an egoistic frenzy by my act of vanity publishing, I've decided to move on from just self-publishing a book. One isn't enough. I want to publish a whole series of books.

I can't expect anyone to pay for the rehashed stew I'll be serving up. From my website. My blog. The stuff that was too low quality even for either of those. Like the crap advertised on daytime television, these books won't be available in the shops.

There'll be eleven books in the series. A nice round number. And one more than the print run of each title. I'll just be getting 10 printed of each. One's for me. Nine for everyone else.

I have four copies left of book number one, The Amsterdam Pub Guide. Two are sort of assigned. Two still up for grabs.

The next in the series will be "Can we go home now?". Pretty obvious what that will be. But what the hell, first correct guess gets a copy of the book.

Monday 15 December 2008

Whitbread Porter and Stout in WW I

It's red-face time. Slight cock up with some of the numbers yesterday. The ones on brown malt usage were correct. But I got the years muddled up for the output of Porter and Ale. That's what you get for rushing.

My new table has Whitbread's Ale and Porter output for the years 1902 to 1926. Very interesting reading it makes. Not exactly what I had expected.

Starting at about a third of total output in 1902, the percentage of Porter and Stout increased steadily before WW I. By 1914, it was almost 43%. It peaked just shy of 50% in 1917. There was a big change in 1918, when its share almost halved. 1919 was even worse, at just over 20%. Postwar it soon got back to over 30%, about the same level as in 1902.

This is a breakdown of the Porter figures for the specific beers:

Porter output was around 70,000 barrels for most years up until 1918, when it slumped to just 36,000 barrels. Its share of Whitbread's Porter and Stout production fell from 25-30% to under 10%. So although as a whole Porter and Stout recovered to around their pre-war levels, a much higher proportion was in the form of Stout.

So what are my conclusions? Porter and Stout production did decline more than Ale in the last war years. But by the early 1920's was pretty much back to its pre-war level. However postwar the proportion that was Porter was much smaller than it had ever been before. 1918 seems to have been the pivotal year. Whitbread Porter sales never again exceeded 40,000 barrels a year.

Was a shortage of brown and black malt the reason for the drop in Porter and Stout production 1918-1920? I don't think so. The proportion of those malts used remained fairly constant. The fall in Porter brewing coincides with the appearance of brown malt in Mild grists. It seems that because they were brewing less Porter and Stout, there was spare roasted malts available for use in other beers.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Brown malt (yet again)

Serendipity. Great concept, cool word. A little of it came my way on Thursday at the London Metropolitan Archives.

I've have a routine at the LMA. I have request slips pre-filled. I slip them into the box as soon as I arrive. It saves valuable time. But there's still at least a 15-minute wait before the first documents are brought up to the reading room. While I'm waiting, I have a quick look through the archive catalogues. Looking for documents other than brewing logs. The descriptions are sometimes rather vague, which means it's a bit hit-and-miss, but I always get one set of five (that's the most documents you can order at one time). I hit the jackpot this time.

"Notebook with brewing information and statistics". That's how the catalogue described document LMA/4453/D/02/16. It turned out to be a disintegrating notebook. Only about half the pages were still bound. But what a source of information. It certainly does contain statistics. Amount brewed of each type of beer 1902-1920, amount of beer bottled 1900-1939, costs - raw materials, wages, duty, coal - 1900-1920, "Trade Charges" - attorneys, auditors, repairs to casks, horse van hire, delivery, corks, brooms, spiles, shives, stillion - 1900-1920, and much more. Really, much more. Just the sort of stuff that fascinates me.

Now here's the serendipity part. What I've seen in WW I brewing records has led me to seriously doubt the story, repeated in the 2008 Good Beer Guide, that the brewing of Porter and Stout died out in Britain because of wartime restrictions on making roasted malts. Yet the logs show that not only did Porter and Stout continue to be brewed right through the war, but that they also started using brown malt in beer - like X Ale - which had contained none in 1914.

I'd tried making a few rough calculations about the quantity of brown malt Whitbread used in the later war years. But I didn't have quite all the information. I'd been planning on collecting it via the brewing logs. Turns out, I didn't need to bother. LMA/4453/D/02/16 had a couple of pages listing the quantities of each type of malt used in the years 1903 to 1932.

It's time to nail down firmly this particular coffin lid. After, just as a precaution, driving a stake through the myth's heart. Here's a table of Whitbread's malt usage:

Yes, their usage of brown malt went down during the war. But they used less of all malts because of the government limit on how much they could brew. In the last year before the war (the brewing year ending in July 1914) 6.68% of the the malt Whitbread used was brown malt. By 1917, that had increased to 7.54%. Usage peaked in 1919 at 8.77%. That's the year where the regulations around brewing were the tightest.

You'll have to wait a while for me top get the years 1917-1920, but you can see that a considerable percentage of Whitbread's output was Porter and Stout. Their London Stout was still one of their best-selling beers in the 1930's. Yes, the percentage of Porter and Stout brewed fell during the war years, but it bounced back again afterwards. And Porter had been losing popularity for decades.

Sadly, a few years are missing in the notebook. But I'll be able to put them together myself, from the brewing logs. They have a handy couple of pages at the back listing how much was brewed of each beer each week. With the logs I photographed last week, I have all the years 1914-1921.

Saturday 13 December 2008

back from London

That was an interesting 2 days. It's great to have two consecutive days at the archives. I'll be boring not just the pants, but shirt, socks, shoes and undertrollies off you for weeks. If not years.

Highlight was finding brewing records from three more breweries. Courage, St Stephens Brewer of Norwich and an unnamed one. The courage logs are the most detailed I've yet seen. They alone should keep me in material for weeks.

And a boyhood dream came true. I got to sleep in an empty pub. Though not by hiding in the bogs until everyone had left, as I had expected. I did get to pull a couple of pints for myself, which was pretty groovy. My ambitions are very modest. Many thanks to Stonch for letting me achive one of them. He deserves an award.

May as well get into name-dropping mode. Meeting Podge and Siobhan is always great fun. Getting to spend a whole evening in their company is a great treat. If you can't get to meet them in person, reading one of their books is a good substitute ("Around Bruges in 80 Beers" and "Around London in 80 Beers") Only got to have a very brief chat with my favourite beer historian Zythophile, but it was still very educative.

While I was away my books came. No, not more dusty old brewing manuals, but my book. The one Andrew got printed for me. A hardcopy of my Amsterdam Pub Guide. It's a very limited edition. Just 10 copies. One's for me, the others are presents.

Friday 12 December 2008

Hops 1920 - 1939

"Brewing Science & Practice" by H. Lloyd Hind is brilliant when it comes to hops. There's so much on the topic, I've only room for a small excerpt.

I should be enjoying my second day in the archives at the moment. Snapping Barcaly Perkins WW I brewing records or some other fun documents. I'm so excited. Give me another couple of years and I might get photos of every year of the Whitbread records. Wouldn't that be great? Well, maybe not for you, but it would for me.

Continental hops
Some typical central European varieties, such as Saaz and Hallertauer, turn up in British brewing logs. Barclay Perkins often used Saaz for dry hopping their more expensive beers and sometimes used Hallertau as a copper hop.

Occasionally, Polish or Yugoslavian hops were used, normally mixed with British varieties as copper hops.

North American hops
American hops had been used in Britain since the 19th century. Most came from the West Coast where large amounts had been planted after a form of mildew virtually wiped out New England hop gardens in 1910. The absence of the diseases to which hops are susceptible, particularly mildew, had been the driving force. However, by the 1930's this was no longer true.

The main West Coast hop-growing regions were Sonoma, Russian River and Sacramento in California; the Williamette Valley in Oregon; and the Yakima Valley in Washington State. The commonest variety was the Oregon, also known as Late Cluster. It was thought to be a cross between an English hop and wild American hops. It had a high lupulin content an excellent preservative qualities. The only drawback was the strong blackcurrant flavour that meant it could not be used on its own in British Ales.

In the brewing logs, American hops are very common and are referred to as Oregons, Pacifics or Californian. Usually they make up no more than one third of the copper hops. Often they were used when quite old. In 1918 and 1919 Whitbread used "Pacifics" from the 1911 and 1913 crops. Presumably their high levels of bitterness and good preservative powers made American hops good for keeping for long periods. "Pacific Coast hops can rarely be used immediately after arrival in England, unless the liqour is very gypseous. In the majority of cases they are to be preferred as yearlings [more than a year old], when they give a milder flavour with adequate preservative power."

Large amounts of hops were grown in British Columbia in Cananda, mostly in the Fraser River Valley and on the Sumas Prairie. The most important varieties were English Fuggle's and Goldings which had been planted in the the middle of the 19th century. These hops were generally similar in flavour to their English ancestors. Some American Cluster hops were also grown.

Australasian hops
In Australia hops were grown in southern Tasmania and the Owens River Valley in Victoria. Neither area produced any great quantity of hops. Rather more were grown in New Zealand - 35,000 cwt in 1935 - and some of these were exported to Britain.

Use of hops
New season hops were not usually used until at least three months old. When new, they were too bitter. To achieve a constant level of bitterness in the finished beer, hops from the most recent season were blended with older hops in a gradually increasing proportion. In the brewing logs, it's very rare to see 100% hops from the most recent season. Usually a blend of at least two ages of hops was used.

A higher hopping rate was employed in the summer when the preservative power of the hops was more needed. Filtered beer also needed to be more heavily hopped. Even Pacific Coast hops were used for dry-hopping filtered beer in tanks.

A majority of brewers preferred Goldings for dry hopping, because of their delicate flavour. Good quality Fuggle's, though coarser in flavour, were also used, as were Continantal hops such as Saaz, Hallertau or Styrians. Barclay Perkins usually dry-hopped with Goldings, though they sometimes used Saaz or Styrians. Though they didn't dry hop all their beers. Their Pale Ales were all dry hopped, as were the strong K Ales (KK and KKKK). Their Mils, Porter and Stout had no dry hops.

Stronger flavoured hops were mostly used in the copper. "It is generally possible to use a stronger hop with mild ales and dark ales in which the hop rate is low, than in pale bitter beers for which a higher hop rate, combined with delicacy, are reequired. It is not generally possible to increase the hop rate with the stronger flavoured hops in order to increase the bitterness, as it usually gives rise to an objectionable rankness." It was possible to use more strong hops in beer brewed with water high in gypsum.

Resin content of hops

Thursday 11 December 2008

Sparging 1920 - 1939

As you read this, I'll be clicking away in the archives. Unless those hippies close Stansted again. In which case I might be trying to make my way from Glasgow to London.

Today there's more from "Brewing Science & Practice" by H. Lloyd Hind, published in 1940. Sparging. What a great word. I wonder what its etymology is? Zythophile will probably know.

The object of sparging was to wash out as much of the remaining extract as possible after the wort had been run off at the end of mashing. Care had to be taken not to extract substances contained in the grains which might have a negative effect on the clarity or stability of the finished beer.

The water used for sparging was usually 168 to 170º F. Sometimes the process began with water at a slightly cooler temperature, 167ºF, which was gradually raised to 170ºF. It was important that the sparge water was distributed evenly over the surface of the mash and that it was able to percolate through all of it. If channels formed in the mash, not all the grains would be properly washed by the sparge water. The amount of sparge water used was restricted so that the total quantity used for mashing and sparging was no more than 6.5 or 7 barrels per quarter of malt.

Often the taps were opened as sparging began. The wort was run off at the same rate as sparge water was added. This kept the level or wort in the mash constant and prevented suction which might draw sediment into the wort. Sparging ceased when the gravity of the wort running off had fallen to 1002-1003º. Wort at lower gravities was of little value and could cause problems with clarity and stability. In some breweries such very dilute worts were used as "returns", that is in place of water in a subsequent brewing.

A "dead mash occurred" when the grains had become so compacted that the wort would not run off. The reason for a "dead mash" could be:

1. standing too long
2. running off the wort too quickly
3. sparging too fast
4. "steely" (hard) malt
5. too deep a mash tun

A dead mash could be loosened by rotating the mashing rakes a couple of times or by a quick, strong underlet.

Whitbread and Barclay Perkins both sparged twice, once after each underlet. The second sparge was usually at a lower temperature than the first. Both breweries sparged at a wider range of temperatures than those indicated by Hind, varying from a low of 155º F to a high of 174º F.

Whitbread had basically 4 sparging regimes:

- Pale Ales (IPA, PA)
- Milds (LA, X)
- Strong Ales (DB, KK)
- Porter and Stout (P, LS, ES)

Barclay Perkins practice was somewhat different. The first sparge was almost always at 170º F, except in the case of the Strong Ale KKKK and BBS Stout. Unlike Whitbread, the second sparge was coldest for Pale Ales (PA, IPA) than for Milds (XX, X, A). Most of the Porters and Stouts (TT, BS, OMS) had no sparge after the first underlet. IBS Export, Russian Stout, had a mashing scheme different to all the other beers, inclusing a very cool second sparge.