Friday, 5 September 2008

Beer Styles 1850 - 1880

Lots of tables today for all you table fans.

I'm fairly pleased with the overview table. It's only taken me a few years to collect all the information. Just the one hole in it, XXXX Ale. Most of the details are taken from brewing logs, the rest from brewing manuals.

How interested is anyone in old brewing equipment? That's what I'm currently researching. This whole process is proving very educative. Your comments are part of that education. Especially the questions. They've helped highlight much I had neglected.

The roastiness of Porter and Stout is troubling me. Lachlan made a very good point about needing to include brown malt in the roast equation. But do black and brown malt provide equal degrees of roastiness? My guess would be that you'd get more roast from black. Anyone have any ideas on this?

Though the gravities had, for most styles, declined slightly from the previous period, hopping rates had gone up. In absolute terms (pounds per barrel) as well as relative terms (pounds per quarter of malt). The one exception was Porter, whose gravity remained unchanged.

X Ales
Mild X Ales were very much the fashion of day amongst the labouring classes. At this time most breweries produced several X Ales of different strengths, X being the weakest XXXX or XXXXX the strongest. Like most other British beers of the period, they were brewed from 100% pale malt. Its increased popularity was mostly at the expense of Porter.

Stock Ales
In addition to a range of Mild X Ales, breweries also offered a range of Stock Ales, their relative strength indicated by a number of K's. These usually ranged from KK to KKKK. Their gravity was identical to the equivalent X Ale, but the hopping rate was approximately 25% greater.

The table below shows the relationship between Barclay Perkins X Ales and Stock Ales.

The best-quality ingredients were recommended for India Pale Bitter Ale, as William Loftus so quaintly names the style. The palest pale malt and the very best, and palest, Kent hops - Farnhams, Golding's or East Kents. Loftus suggested stepping the hops in water at 142 and 172º F for nine hours before use to help a better extraction. The spent hops could be retrieved from the hop back and used in Porter.

Fermentation was slow and cool, with a pitching temperature of 55 to 62º F. The temperature of the wort only increased by 3 or 4º F in the first two days, during which time the gravity dropped 20-25º. When the wort was down to a gravity of 1019 and at a temperature of 62º F, a third of the yeast head was removed. More of the head was skimmed off when the gravity hit 1014º. When it reached 1011º almost all the head was removed. After two or three days standing to cool and clear, the beer was transferred into casks to mature along with two pounds of the best hops. The casks were rolled once every two days to better infuse the beer with the hops.

(Source: "The Brewer" by William Loftus, 1856, pages 60-61.)

Until about 1800, all London Porter was matured in large vats (often holding several hundred barrels) for between six and eighteen months before being racked into smaller casks to be delivered to pubs. It was discovered that it was unnecessary to age all Porter. A small quantity
of highly aged beer (18 months or more) mixed with fresh or "mild" Porter produced a flavour similar to that of aged beer. It was a cheaper method of producing Porter, as less beer needed to be stored for long periods. The normal blend was around two parts young beer to one part old.

After 1860, as the popularity of both Porter and the aged taste began to wane, Porter was increasingly sold "mild". In the final decades of the century many breweries discontinued their Porter, though continued to brew one or two Stouts. Those which did still persist with Porter brewed it weaker and with fewer hops. Between 1860 and 1914 the gravity dropped from 1060° to 1050° and the hopping rate from two pounds to one pound per 36 gallon barrel. It was a mere shadow of the beer which had once been so respected and admired.

The 1873 Whitbread Porter is the only London Porter or Stout I've seen that included no brown malt in the grist.


Kristen England said...

There's a very big difference between brown and black malt. Two completely different animals.

Brown malt is basically 'burnt' simple sugars and black malt is burnt starch. They taste incredibly different.

I've used 100% brown malt in a beer and it has very little roast. A lot more toasted bread and coffee flavors.

The black malt had a ton of dark flavors. By itself its roasty but in beers it usually comes across more of dark fruits like cherries, plums, etc. If you use enough you will get tons of the roast character, if you use a little you'll only get the color.

Ive found that brown and black malt compliment themselves massively so. I had an aversion towards both malts before I did my own research. Thats what you get for following the current dogma! Most of that info is in the whole set of articles I wrote for Brew Your Own magazine.

Point short, they are great on their own but are better together.

Oblivious said...

Hi Ron

Whitbreads 1850 and 1896 according to Durden park both contain brown malt, did Whitbread stop using brown in 1870 and then switch back or did your research suggest something else?

Anonymous said...

Ron, this is really fascinating stuff. Thanks for all the tables. I'm going to need to look them over more to really absorb it.

Is this a period when the beers are changing dramatically? Certainly the dropping of porter by most brewers would indicate that. What do you suppose accounts for the drop in gravities you mention, plus the increased hopping rates?

Really great iunfo in here. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just as a MASSIVELY rough estimate, I think you could use malt colour as an indicator of 'roastiness'. Just from a quick Google I see black malt at 1200EBC and brown malt at 180EBC, which roughly aligns with how I think of their 'relative roastiness' (think I might've just coined a new term there).

There's no doubt in my mind that brown malt has some 'roasty' flavour. I'd compare it to the mid-notes of coffee. I even taste a bit of roastiness in beers with too much crystal malt.

Thomas said...

Brown malt has quite a distinct and pleasant flavour. An easy way to see what it contributes is to taste the difference between American porters and English ones. They are quite different animals.

Ron Pattinson said...

Oblivious, that one Porter is the only ever London one I've found without any brown malt. Even after WW II, Whitbread Stout contained brown malt. There's an interesting one from the 1950's that has a grist of pale, chocolate and brown, but no black malt.

Lachlan, using the colour is a good idea. I think I'll develop this "relative roastiness" idea further. It seems like a good way of getting a general idea of roast levels. in Porters and Stouts.

Bill, gravities peaked in the middle of the 19th century. Changes in gravities affected some styles more than others. There was a move to drinking lighter, less-alcoholic beer that seems to stem from changes in public taste, rather than tax pressure. That came with the Boer War in the first decade of the 20th century.

Oblivious said...

Hi Ron

That Whitbread Stout form the 50's looks very interesting, I have done a few imperial porter with chocolate/brown malt and they turn out very nice

Keep up the good work

Unknown said...

What makes a porter American or English? Flavor wise I mean.

Oblivious said...

Hi Jonah

Some would argue that a modern American porters tend to be higher in original gravity, using more roasted malts especially black patent and are more aggressively hoped, including American C hops. or at least that is what I understand.

Kristen England said...

I would agree with Oblivious and add that the UK ones usually seem to be a touch 'softer' tasting, more crystal malt flavors and definitely fruitier.