Friday, 21 November 2008

Mild Ale 1940 1949

Back to another subject dear to my heart. Mild.

What happened to Mild during WW II and its aftermath? Funny you should ask that. I've been looking at just. It's much what you would expect. Gravity cuts and price increases. War, as they say, is hell.

Today it's time for another overload of facts. Many more than you need to know. But telling you much more than you will ever need to know is my speciality. That and OG tables.

Standard Mild remained 1034-1038º until 1940, when new wartime shortages and restrictions gradually began to chip away at gravities. By 1942 it was in the range 1027-1030º, where it stayed until 1949. Few Milds were above 1030º. The price rose from 6d in pre-war to 8d in 1940, 10d in 1942, 11d in 1943, peaking at 1/2d in 1948 before falling back to 1/- in 1949. That was still double the price of 10 years earlier, for a beer around 20% weaker.

Almost all the beers listed in the table were brown in colour. Anything below 30 is about the colour of Bitter, 30-40 is a darkish amber, 40+ is brown. Knock off 3 or 4 and you get the approximate EBC colour. 16 + 40 is around 100 EBC.

Some breweries introduced "Best Mild" after the end of the war, but this was only a few degrees stronger than ordinary Mild, in the range 1032-1035º. With such a small difference, it's no wonder most breweries eventually rationalised to just one.

Let's take a closer look at a couple specific examples, Whitbread's X Mild from September 1939 and their XX Mild from 1947.

Though the gravities may be pretty low, the grists have a decent percentage of malt, 90%, and just 10% sugar. With no dark malts used, the colour came from the dark No.3 brewing sugar. The biggest change in the grists is a move from a pale malt/ Californian 6-row malt combination in 1939, to mild ale malt, listed above as MA. I'm not sure what BS means. Another brew of X from April 1940 has a base of Californian 6-row malt, pale malt and mild ale malt but also includes 2% wheat.

The hopping rate of 1947 XX, at under a pound per barrel, may look pretty puny, but you have to take into account the low gravity. Pounds of hops per quarter is the best way of comparing hopping rates for beers of different gravities. By this measure, 1947 XX is more heavily hopped than Whitbread 1910 X Mild, which had just 5.38 pounds per quarter. The seemingly greater amount of hops in 1939 X, 8.27 pounds per quarter, might well not be all it seems. A quarter of the hops were 4 years old. Ironically enough, German Hallertauers.

With a higher finishing gravity, lower degree of attenuation and greater percentage of crystal malt in the grist, 1939 X must have had considerably more body than 1947 XX. Getting plastered on XX, with well under 3% ABV, must have been quite a challenge.

After the war, Whitbread usually used a base of mild ale malt for their Milds and Stouts. All their other beers had a pale ale malt base.

Barclay Perkins were still brewing three Milds in 1939, all party-gyled with each other.

The biggest difference with Whitbread is the 15% maize in the Barclay Perkins grist. Though, to be fair, they did use some amber malt, too. The Barclay Perkins Milds were not brown, but dark amber. The X also came in a darker version, obtained by adding caramel.

The XX is an example of a type of stronger Mild that disappeared forever a short way into the war. By 1943, the gravities of the three Barclay Perkins Milds had concertined together. XX was 1031.4º, x 1028.7º and A 1027.1º. It makes you wonder why they bothered making such marginally different beers. By 1945, just XX and X remained, at the same gravities as in 1943.


Kristen England said...


Your assumptions about the color more or less correct. The Perkins XX was about 62SRM. The bitterness was only about 17 which may have seemed larger if there were any salts added. What did the log say about salt additions?

Ron Pattinson said...

3 ozs salt per barrel in the copper. The liquor was treated as for X (I believe I've already posted details of that). There was this lot, too:

M ph (I think) 1 pint per 40 barrels
RMS 2 ozs per quarter in MJ
Bi Sul. 0.25 pint per quarter in MJ
Bi Sul. 0.125 pint per barrel in cask
DCS 0.5 oz per barrel in cask
Sweet 1 quart per barrel in cask A
Sweet 3 quarts per barrel in cask RA
Sweet 3 quart per barrel in cask X and XX

Not sure what all of that means

Anonymous said...

The 3 "Sweet quarts" may be some sort of priming for the casks.