Thursday, 27 August 2009

Scotch Ales 1925 - 1966

The Scottish fun just never ends, here at Barclay Perkins. Another table for your delectation. A table of 20th century Scotch Ales.

A couple of words of explanation. Some of these beers were specifically brewed for the Belgian market. With some, it's obvious. It says "purchased in Belgium" in the Gravity Book. Others you can infer were purchased abroad. Those with neither a package size nor a price.

You'll notice that some examples are from that famous Scottish town of Tadcaster. Maybe the Belgians didn't know or didn't care if their Scotch Ale came from England. After all, nowadays Scotch Ale for the Belgian market is usually brewed in . . . . Belgium. Funny how Belgian brewers got all upset when Americans called their beers "Belgian Ales" yet seem happy to brew beers called Scotch Ales themselves.

Most of the Younger's examples from the 1930's, though it doesn't specifuically say so, look like No. 3. And the Younger's history I have states that most of what was sold in London as Scotch Ale was No. 3. Incidentally, No. 3 had been brewed since at least 1858 and was not one of Younger's Shilling Ales.

All the beers for which there is a colour indication were dark. Mostly mid-brown in colour. Scotch Ale is another of those styles that moved from pale to dark at the time when everyone claims beers were becoming paler. For most of the 19th century Scotch Ales were brewed from 100% pale malt.

More on 19th-century Scotch Ales soon. Probably tomorrow. But definitely soon.


Oblivious said...

There attenuation also looks to have increased

Rob Sterowski said...

Is there any evidence that 1925 Younger's No 1 and No 3 had the same grist? If so, it would explain the naming of no 3 as Scotch Ale and the relationship between the two.

If not, it would suggest Scotch Ale was more of a marketing term applied to several different kinds of export beer (I suppose England would be thought of as an export market back then). Hence the word also being used for much weaker beers, e.g. Younger's Best Scotch/Scotch Bitter.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I'm just getting to the 1920's records.

No. 1, 2 and 3 were another set of Strong Ales approximately equal in strength to 160/-, 120/- and 100/-. The numbered Ales were more heavily hopped and highly attenuated than the Shilling Ales.

Ah, now Best Scotch is something else. That's a Pale Ale, not a Scotch Ale at all. XXPS it's called in the logs.

Ron Pattinson said...

I should keep my mouth shut. I've just noticed No. 1 and 160/- were sometimes just the same brew packaged with a different name. Ditto No. 3 and XXPS.

Gary Gillman said...

Very interesting data, Ron. And as always, difficult at such a distance to parse. Younger's of course is just one of the brands mentioned.

Could "une Scotch" in Belgium have been a mid-1800's London XX or XXX? In some cases, probably. But not all I think, and probably not typically. It is only really hop level that distinguishes one from the other anyway, and each brewery would have hopped differently (in London or Scotland). Plus, in pre-pasteurization days, hop character would have fallen off with time (for export beers or with domestic cellaring). So the distinction may not seem as important to maintain as first appears the case.

In the end, I feel Scotch ale (except for English-brewed ones) was Scotch because it was made in Scotland and by that fact close enough - at the time - to its bucolic "original". This would have arisen also from a common geographical origin and shared techniques. Why do current Ontario brown ales all seem to share something in common? Because they are made in Ontario at the same time, probably often using similar techniques and ingredients. Ontario brown ales taste like Ontario dark beers, not like English brown ales or any other kind...

This is an impression, admittedly, party backed up by data but withal an interpretation, as all history is.

If this thread keeps going I will put in a taste note on the current McEwan's Scotch Ale which may interest some in that it is not I understand available in the U.K. at this time.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I'm going to wait until I've assembled all the facts at my disposal before coming to conclusions. But it looks as if the post-WW I Scotch Ales have no direst connection with the Scotch Ales of the 19th century.

I think Scotch only became popular in Belgium after WW I, hence it's that type of Scotch Ale they became used to. Dark and 7 - 8% ABV.

Rob Sterowski said...

Gary, that's correct; I was trying to buy Gordon Highland Scotch today, couldn't find it. McEwan's Scotch Ale I've never seen here at all. Presumably the latter is the former, slightly watered down for 8.6% to 7.9%.

I am sceptical, based on my own knowledge and what Tandleman posted the other day, as to whether beer intended for the domestic market has ever been sold in Scotland labelled Scotch Ale.