Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Let's Brew 1955 Whutbread DB Brown Ale!

Not another recipe today. Two more recipes. You must be all leaping for joy. I know I am.

Brown Ale. Yet another topic I like to bang on about. (That makes 3,229 and counting.) You know that stuff about "Northern" and "Southern" Brown Ales. I'd like to know where Whitbread Double Brown fits into that simplistic scheme of things. It was too strong to be a "Southern" Brown and too dark to be a "Northern" Brown. And it was brewed in the South.

In the 1950's Whitbread brewed two very different Brown Ales. Double Brown and Forest Brown. The former was Whitbread's first Brown Ale, introduced in 1926. Below are the recipes for both. The originals were, coincidentally, brewed on the same day.

Double Brown's gravity had changed little since its birth. The 1926 version was 1054, the 1955 one 1051. With a base of PA malt, its grist was quite different to Whitbread Milds of the period and was similar to that of PA or IPA. Forest Brown, on the other hand, had a base of Mild Ale malt and very closely resembled the grist for Best Ale, Whitbread's Mild. Though it is not identical. Forest Brown is slightly stronger at 1033 as opposed to 1031 for the Mild.

I've just taken a look at which ingredients the BJCP claim go into a Southern English Brown Ale:

"English pale ale malt as a base with a healthy proportion of darker caramel
malts and often some roasted (black) malt and wheat malt. Moderate to high
carbonate water would appropriately balance the dark malt acidity. English hop
varieties are most authentic, though with low flavor and bitterness almost any
type could be used."
All I can say is that the malt stuff is total fantasy. The weaker types of Brown Ale I've seen recipes for all got their colour from dark sugar or caramel. And the base malt was mild not pale ale malt. Where do they get crap like this from? Just make it up?


Anonymous said...

Another clutch of interesting recipes. And great news! There is a hop variety which, I think, we can identify!
OR55 is Keyworth's Midseason. This variety was released for growing in 1947-48 and was wilt resistant.

Have a look at:

Of course I doubt that anyone still grows OR55 :-(

Ron Pattinson said...

MentalDental, I'd wondered what the hell OR55 meant. My guess was a batch number.

Yet another proof of why publishing and discussing these old recipes is so useful. Everybody wins.

Anonymous said...

I have read the article I referred to a little more and found these nuggets:

OR55 was breed by Salmon and Keyworth using an American wild hop (Humulus lupulus neomexicanus) and a Canadian wild hop.

It had the much derided "American aroma"/"tomcats" characteristics. This aroma was due to a high level of myrcene. In addition it had a, for the time, high alpha level of about 7%.

The growers liked the variety for it's wilt resistance but the brewers didn't because of that aroma. They basically wanted a Fuggle that was wilt resistant. Further development to overcome this objection led to Bramling Cross and WGV.

Anonymous said...

Ron, thanks so much for these. It's really appreciated. It's great to get a contrast between two beers of similar stye from the same brewery and brew date. It really lets you see the differences between them. It's also interesting to see that the hops are only a year old in these, and that subsequently the quantities are a lot lower. Were other breweries moving to newer hops for their beers in this same time period? I'm wondering when the use of two year old hops diminished or if this is just an aberration.

Anonymous said...

Great recipes! Heavy uses of dark sugars. It's a shame it's hard to find some now, or at least that it's hard for me to find some...

I have a little suggestion for the next recipes. What about Russian Imperial Stout, or even the mysterious Imperial Mild, i'm curious to see the recipes of big bold ales of old.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff - keep them coming. Any idea about the type of crystal malt light 110 EBC medium 145 EBC or dark 250 EBC? used in the FB?

Anonymous said...

Is there a typo total hops type 1.66 but boil total 2.66?

Ron Pattinson said...

Bill, you still see old hops in post-WW II logs. Whitbread 1955 IPA had a third 1953 season hops.

Ron Pattinson said...


to be honest, I've really no idea which type of crystal it was. Lloyd Hind gives examples of crystal malt with wildly differing gravities: 85, 120, 150 and 190 Lovibond. I'd say just plump for the middle one.

Yes that was a typo in the hops. I've corrected it now.

Anonymous said...

Just had a thought about the whole double brown, southern brown, northern brown thing. Darwin Brewery in North East England produce a beer called Richmond Ale. On the bottle I had it was described as a double brown ale, though to me it tasted and looked more like a North East style brown ale. Darwin claim that it is brewed to an historical recipe. Thought it might be of interest.

Lady Luck Brewing said...

Comment on older page.
I'm interested if caramel was added in these beers to take them to there final color. I don't seem caramel listed in the recipe nor in the logs.
The color listed does mesh with the recipes.
Any idea on how to convert the color type to EBC or SRM?

Ron Pattinson said...

LAdy Luck,

yes, these would have been colour adjusted with caramel. Dividing the number by four will give you an approximate SRM figure.

Willie said...

Ron, picked up on the 1955 Double Brown from your association with Pretty Things, so I have it on my list to brew. The OR55, based on MentalDental is Keyworths Mid, which is now available in limited quantities, Charles Faram are stocking it as CF107 and also have Keyworths early CF105. The Malt Miller had some in last year, and I'm waiting to see what this year brings, citrus and blackcurrent characteristics.

On the recipe I assume the pale malts a mix of malts, say maris otter, halcyon, optic, and is Hay sugar No 1?

Hops Keyworths Mid, EKG & Fuggles?
and any steer on IBU? please


Ron Pattinson said...


yes, a mix of pale malts. Hays M is some sort of proprietary sugar, probably an invert and caramel mix.

Not sure of the exact hop varitie, but probably EKG and Fuggle. As for IBUs, 50-70.

Willie said...

Thanks Ron,

I plugged the recipe into Brewmate and came up with 50IBU, so will just nudge it up a bit, and I've also got some caramel to adjust the colour.

Phil Wood said...

1955 Whitbread Forest Brown?

Forest Brown was being brewed by Strong & Co of Romsey in 1955, they did not become part of the Whitbread empire until 1969.

Ron Pattinson said...

Phil Wood,

Forest Brown wan't originally either a Whitbread or a Strongs brand. It came from the Forest Hill Brewery which Whitbread bnought in 1924. Their main reasson for buying them was that they had the technology for brewing non-deposit beers.

qq said...

Just as another hop ID - Whitbread 1147 was the trials name for WGV, introduced in 1953 but they were obviously used to brewing with it under the old name. It was another attempt to create a wilt-resistant Fuggles, after verticilium devastated Fuggles in the Weald between the wars.

Both Keyworth's Early and Mid have started showing up in one-off commercial beers lately. Mid got up to nearly 600 acres in the early 50s just because growers were desperate to have something that was wilt resistant, but disappeared once there were blander options that brewers preferred.

Ron's also published the 1955 Double Brown :
and the 1958 KKKK which looks like essentially the same recipe with slightly different hop schedule :

Ron Pattinson said...


thanks very much for that. Hadn't realised it was WGV under another name.

Gregory Horwitz said...


I am a new guy on this site, although I’ve heard about it for many years. I am a new guy on this site, although I’ve heard about it for many years. I apologize in advance for not knowing what the hell I’m doing. This recipe was recommended by the “Milk the Funk” boys. But while looking at it, I’m perplexed about the different malts. Do you have somewhere in this site, a “modern” equivalency of corresponding malts that I could employ?