Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1917 Whitbread GA and 1918 Whitbread MA

Hey kids, I've a special treat in store for you today. A truly extreme Mild. Yep, a beer that's about as mild as an Ale can get. Sam Calagione eat your heart out.

Before we get to the tables that leave Stonch sighing in his armchair, time for a little background. GA is short for "Governement Ale", a beer whose strength and price was set by government decree. The intention was to ensure more beer was brewed from the same quantity of raw materials and keep down the price to stop unrest amongst the working class. It doesn't seem to have quite worked out as planned, due to resistance from brewers and publicans.

Stylistically, it was like a lower-gravity X-Ale and was often party-gyled with it. When government restrictions on brewing were abolished, Government Ale didn't disappear. Most breweries continued to brew a beer of around 1030º, usually called just Ale. It finally vanished only when the gravity of X Ale dropped to around 1027-1030º at the end of WW II.

Oct. 1 1917: Prices fixed at 4d. per pint under 1036º, 5d. per pint under 1042º.
April 1 1918: Prices fixed at 4d. per pint below 1030º, and 5d. per pint for 1030º to 1034º.

Whitbread dropped their X Mild in 1917 and replaced it with a GA . They brewed versions in both the price bands, one at 1034º the other at 1042º. In 1918, these were replaced by MA, which came in three different versions: 1038º, 1023º and 1011º. Surprisingly, the strongest had a higher gravity in 1918 than PA, which was just 1036º. Whitbread were only able to maintain a decent-strength Mild by brewing large quantities of MA at the weakest gavity, 1011º, something which could scarcely be described as beer. It was barely 1% ABV.

This popular song of the day shows just how popular these Government Ales were with drinkers:

Lloyd George's Beer
Sung By Ernie Mayne

We shall win the war, we shall win the war,
As I've said before, we shall win the war,
The Kaiser's in a dreadful fury,
Now he knows were making it in every brewery.
Have you read of it? Seen what's said of it?
In "The Mirror" and "The Mail"
It's a substitute and a pubstitute,
And it's known as "Government Ale". Or otherwise.


Lloyd George's beer, Lloyd George's beer,
At the brewery, there's nothing doing,
All the water-works are brewing,
Lloyd George's beer, it isn't dear
Oh they say it is a terrible war, Oh Lor'
And there never was a war like this before
But the worst thing that ever happened in this war
Is Lloyd George's beer.

Love the word "pubstitute". I'll have to start using that.

Let's start with a beer that could still actually get you pissed.

This is a simplified bversion of the same recipe:

This one would be more of a struggle to get wobbly on. But it's far from being the weakest Whitbread wartime Mild.

And finally a Mild that definitely wasn't going to make you accidentally blow up the munitions factory. I've seen "non-alcoholic" beers that were stronger.

Kristen's notes
TWO recipes for the price of one....we'll I guess its more like 1.5 recipes. The GA is one of the first Government ales. I won't go into any depth of the 'style' as Ron has done a great job of discussing them in the past. This GA is more unique than most as the gravity is still reasonable and its 100% malt which is very uncommon. It still has a good amount of fresher hops in it.

The MA is the lowest of the low of the mild ales. Complete and utter 'nothing' added. The gravity is not a mistake as it was that low. The quality of the ingredients were horrible, most were old to VERY old and the sugar is through the roof at +20%...plain old glucose. As vanilla as a sugar can get. They included hops that were 5 years old or so. Both recipes are very pale compared to older milds which doesn't make them less of a 'mild'...just different.


Anonymous said...

I would like to be the first to brew an Imperial Government Ale

John Keeling

Ron Pattinson said...

John, great idea! What sort of OG would it have?

Bill said...

I cannot believe someone actually made this 1.011 OG beer. It just does not seem worth the effort to brew or drink it. If this is where mild March is going I'm glad it's April. Bring on the IPA's I say!

Korev said...

Check the date guys

Ron Pattinson said...

Korev, not a joke, I'm afraid, They really did brew beer this weak.