Monday, 24 November 2008

Bitter 1920 - 1939

Yup, I'm still stuck before WW II. Today it's the turn of PA, or Bitter as it was usually called in the pub.

There's nothing earth-shattering about what I'm posting today. It is a little surprising how strong Barclay Perkins PA was right up until 1939. But that's about it for excitement. And perhaps the fact that they sometimes dry-hopped their PA with Saaz. Though you won't see that in tables below. I didn't have room to fit that in.

Bitter, or Pale Ale as it was called within breweries, suffered the smallest reduction in gravity of any style as a result of WW I. Typical pre-war gravities were in the range 1060-1065º. In the 1920's Bitters retailing at 8d a pint, were 1050-1054º. Weaker versions, selling for 7d a pint, were 1044-1048º.

There was a big difference in price between Bitter and Mild: 2d a pint. The expense of Bitter probably explains its limited popularity during the interwar years. The most popular draught beer was still Mild, which outsold Bitter by about four to one.

Whitbread's PA changed little over the interwar period.

Whitbread PA had a prettty simple grist, mostly pale malt. A mix of pale malt from Californian 6-row barley and pale ale malt made from British-grown 2-row barley. After 1930, there was also a small amount of crystal malt used. The proportion of sugar, varying between 15 and 24% was quite high. The hopping rate fell from 9 pounds per quarter to 7,33 pounds per quarter between 1923 and 1939, despite the fact that the OG increased slightly. That's less than Whitbread X Mild, which was hopped at 8.27 pounds per quarter in 1939.

Barclay Perkins brewed two draught Bitters, PA and XLK, selling for respectively 8d and 7d per pint.

The main differences with the Whitbread PA grist is the use of 8-15% maize and the absence of any crystal malt. The Barclay Perkins PA, despite its higher OG, probably tasted thinner than Whitbread PA. You'll note that there was little change in either PA or XLK between 1926 and 1939.

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