Wednesday 30 September 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1962 Harp Lager

I've a peculiar fascination with British Lager. Perhaps because it's been so neglected by beer writers.

Barclay Perkins made their first experiments in Lager brewing during WW I. By the 1930's, they'd a range of three: Export, Draught and Dark. Though they put a great deal of effort into their Lager - building a special brewhouse, employing a Danish lager brewer, advertising - it never sold in huge quantities.

When Courage, which had taken over Barclay Perkins in the 1950's, became involved in the Harp consortium, it was logical to brew it on the company's only specialist Lager plant. Which spelled doom for Barclay's London Lager as a brand.

(The Harp Lager consortium was formed in 1961 by Guinness, Courage, Scottish & Newcastle and Bass jointly. Harp became the main draught Lager for all four companies and was produced in a variety of their breweries. Courage left the consortium in 1979.)

It's a fascinating period in the development of British Lager, when companies were working out which brands to go with. Of course, Courage would later pull out of Harp and mess around with various Lagers of its own. Before dissolving away into nothing, leaving just a couple of wandering Ale brands behind.

Now I'll let Kristen do his technical thing . . . .

1962 Harp Lager

OK guys here is a VERY special Let's Brew recipe. Its the first brewing of Harp's Lager by Barclay Perkins. Thurs Nov 8th 1962. Its such a wonderful log as there are so many little notes all over it. Things like:

'Steam pipe by old M.T. sprang a leak at approx 5.10am. Mash able to continue as normal'

'Very good conversion'

'Very good break'

'Post ferment 211 bbls 32 gals @ 1.0092'

All wonderfully informative which makes a lot of sense since its the first time they brewed it. Ron sent me this one a while ago and I wanted to make sure I had a change to make it before I wrote about it. Its a very simple recipe with a touch of colorant added.

Grist and such
They don't indicate there is any pils malt used as they do in most other logs and use the pale malts they use in other beers of the time. Two simple English pale malts with a very hefty dose of flaked maize chucked in for good measure (~18%). This lends the beer to be very pale...around 5 EBC or so. The brewer wrote in big red pen and underlined '14lb caramel color added to copper'. He then goes on to state 'Colour 13 (EBC), 11 after fermentation.' This is the first time I've seen any
mention of the color after fermentation. All really neat stuff. This is also one of the first time I've seen a brewer blatantly indicated the losses from pre to post-fermentation.

The mash is very interesting here. They split the grain and do two different mashes on it. The first, with no flaked maize, goes through a three step standard process thats very close to Rocheforts schedule. Then it takes a turn and they boil the whole thing for 20min. The second mash is a two step and then a mash out. They also underlet which the first doesn't and sparge the hell out of it.

These hops are very fresh and very much not English. One can see them trying to get a little of the hop character of continental pils-type beers using 50:50 Hallertauer and Saaz hops. At 17bu this isn't any where near the traditional pils, much more like the American lagers.

Tasting notes
Touches of biscuit and bready malt surrounded by a try 'corny' aroma thats quite rich. Floral and spicy Saaz and Hallertauer are just enough to lend some complexity to the nose. The finish is dry but not overly being just dry enough to accentuate the little 17bu of bitterness. All in all, its ok . . . but that's the whole point about this beer right!?


Travel report time. About my trip to Bavaria last weekend. Well, the first day. Probably won't be as extensive as my previous reports as I was in drinking rather than note-taking mode.

I had an early morning flight. The downside of having to get up before 6 am was more than balanced out be being up and running in Bavaria before noon. Well before noon.

Every year I take an off-duty tour. Where I let Andy of Bier-Mania! do all the work. Planning, booking hotels, driving me from pub to pub. It makes a nice change. This year it was four days of beery fun in Bavaria slotted around the Oktoberfest.

I was slightly worried when I couldn't spot Andy in the terminal of Munich airport. Then I recalled how vague our plans to meet were. Nothing more than me passing on my flight details. "He's a professional." I reassured myself. "He's bound to track me down." After a bit of wandering around, I considered heading for the bar. He'd be bound to look for me there eventually. Wouldn't he? No need for such drastic action. A voice behind me boomed "Big Ron!".

The other tour members (a very nice young couple from New Hampshire) were waiting in the minibus. Within a couple of minutes we were on the road to Andechs.

Bavaria is a very pretty place. Not that I paid that much attention to the countryside rushing past. My mind was on higher things. Literally. On the Andechs monastery, stuck on top of a hill. Like all German monasteries seem to be.

Our early start meant we were in danger of arriving before the 10 o'clock opening time. But the slowness of my plod up the hill meant we arrived a minute or two after. There were already a few people in the beer garden, sipping beer and sucking in the sun.

"We'll see you in 15 minutes" Andy said, pointing me to the bar. He didn't even bother asking if I wanted to accompany them to the monastery. I wasn't sure whether to be flattered or annoyed at his certainty of my preference for beer over culture. But walking up the rest of the hill really didn't appeal. A couple of decades living in Holland has left me deeply distrustful of all but the gentlest incline.

The Bräustüberl is self-service. You pay the bloke with a moustache sitting in a little booth your dosh, he gives you a receipt which you then give to the bloke without a moustache behind the bar who pulls your beer. It took me all of two nanoseconds to make my choice between Helles, Dunkles and Doppelbock. I'm sure you can guess just as quickly.

The years I've been a CAMRA member have affected my thinking. Especially when it comes to things like fake barrels. Why can't they just be honest and have a normal pressure tap? I expect better of monks. Though there was nothing fake about the bang with which moustache number two smashed my half litre down onto the bar.

I sat in the garden and gazed across the valley. Inbetween greedily guzzling my Doppelbock. After the walk up that bloody hill, I deserved it. Ah, the rolling fields of Bavaria, with their subtle shades of green and brown, punctuated by trees and a red-roofed farmhouse. On the crest opposite a forest stretched out like a waiting army. Only 10:15 and I was already as happy as a pig in shit. Though significantly cleaner. And with considerably less chance of being roasted.

It wasn't just the view and the Bock that brought joy to my heart and a smile to my face. Those smells! Roasting pork and brewing. It's how I imagine heaven.

I was well into my second beer when the others got back from their cultural bit. It didn't last much longer. "Do you want to get yourself another?" Andy asked. Pope, catholic and woods immediately came to mind. Course I bloody wanted another.

I contemplated trying the Dunkles. But it would inevitably have tasted watery after the Doppelbock. Sometimes decision-making is just so easy.

Three Doppelbocks before 11:00. The tour had started perfectly.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Still alive

You'll be pleased to hear (most of you, at least) that I made it back from Munich alive. Just about. A couple of weeks in a sanatorium should have me almost as good as new. Or what passes for new in an old bastard like me.

Munich is a beery town. I already knew that. A very beery town. The industrial scale on which it's served can be quite intimidating. Even for such an enthusiastic pisshead as me. Seeing a waitress with 3 gallons of beer in her mits brings this fact home. Or when a 50 litre barrel is emptied in 15 minutes.

Binge drinking. There's a lot of that going on in Munich. A single beer in some places gets you into the binge-drinking zone, as defined by various twats in Britain. Germans couldn't give a toss about such twaddle. Especially in Bavaria. Or "ladies glasses". Or the rubbish that women don't like beer as much as men.

More details of my trip will follow. That's a threat. (Shouldn't that be "promise"?). Vicariously drink every Maß and crunch every Schweinehaxe along with me. Book the sanatorium now.


I come across some weird beers in my time. Some really weird ones. And this is right up there with the oddest. Yoghurtbier. Yes, it really was a cross between yoghurt and beer.

"Yoghurtbier, brewed in many areas of North and Central Germany, is not dissimilar in taste to Berliner Weissbier; it is made by souring the wort (of barley malt and wheat malt) with a pure culture of bacillus bulgaricus and fermenting the soured wort with a highly-attenuating top-fermenting yeast and contains living bacillus bulgaricus. As there is no requirement for it to appear clear, in fact on the contrary the cloudy look caused by the presence of large quatities of bacillus bulgaricus is desired, Yoghurtbier is ready for consumption a few days after being filled into bottles. as soon as there is sufficient CO2."
"Encyklopädisches Handbuch der technischen Chemie, Volume 4, Part 1", 1915, page 5. (My translation.)

Maybe some of you brewers could make a guess as to how this beer would taste. Sour, I suppose.

Monday 28 September 2009

How Porter faded away (at Courage)

In my last archive trawl I fished out some dead handy documents. Full of statistics. From the Courage archive.

Today's table comes from the thinnest book I've ever seen. It had no pages at all, consisting of just a hard cover with loads of numbers written on the inside. Those numbers are an overview of the draught beer sold in London between 1929 and 1951. By type.

It's not the beer brewed at Horsleydown, but the beer sold in Courage pubs. How do I know that? Because it include APA (Alton Pale Ale) which was brewed, who would have guessed, at Alton. How can I be so sure? I've looked in the Horsleydown brewing records for 1929, 1930 1932 and 1937 and there's no Pale Ale.

A word of explanation first. About the beers. Porter is pretty obvious. BS = Brown Stout. C, CC and MC are Milds. Don't ask me why they're called that. XXX looks like a Burton and KKK a Strong Ale. These were their gravities:

C 1027.7
CC 1031.58
MC 1039.33
XXX 1053.74
KKK 1072.57
Porter 1032.69
Stout 1046.54

OK. Explanation done. Here's the table:

By the late 1930's, Courage's draught Porter was clearly on its last legs. Even without WW II, it looks as if it would have disappeared in the early 1940's.

What struck me more when I looked more closely was the even more rapid decline of draught Stout. In 1929, with over 25,00 barrels sold, it was a pretty mainstream product. By 1940, it was on the edge of destruction. Surprisingly, it made a brief reappearance in 1945 and 1946 before disappearing forever.

This graph illustrates the rapid fall of Courage Stout:

Sunday 27 September 2009

Chilled and carbonated beer

I've found plenty of evidence of the close eye British brewers' kept on their competitors. So I wasn't surprised when I found a notebook amongst the Barclay Perkins records with details of competitors' beers.

No, that isn't what this post is about. Not directly. I was more interested in the comments next to these entries. Take a look:

"Light bitter beers chilled and carbonated and sent out in cask for country bottlers to bottle." It's interesting to know that they did that. Kill the beer and then send it out for bottling. It's one of the earliest pieces of evidence I've seen for carbonated British Ales in casks.

Fascinating, I'm sure you'll agree. And another piece in the jigsaw of the development of brewery-conditioned beer. But, hang on. How did Barclay Perkins get samples? It doesn't say that they tested beer from a bottle. Did they have a friendly bottler passing on samples?

Consulting their brewing records of the period, the Truman beer looks very much like P3, their bottom-level Pale Ale.

Saturday 26 September 2009

Fermentation rooms at Truman's Burton brewery

This may well be of limited interest to you lot. A bit specific and all that. For me, it's fascinating. Probably because I've spent the last week with my head stuck in logs from Truman's Burton brewery logs.

"As we descended, by an open staircase, on to the floor of the fermenting room, we were struck by its noble proportions and elegant appearance. It is decorated in blue and red, and the floors are composed of iron plates. The vessels are ranged in three divisions and there are altogether thirty-six squares, somme constructed of slate and others of copper and timber, many of these vessels being used for skimming beers, and contain attemperators and parachutes for conducting yeast into troughs below. The total content of these fine vessels is 3,000 barrels. Here we saw the beer in several different stages. In some vessels the fermentation showed a cauliflowered head, others a rocky one, and in a third, a close yeasty head was seen. As we progressed through these avenues of vessels we had a peep of the union room beneath, through the perforated iron plates of the floor, and we noticed here and everywhere else fire mains running along the walls, the stop cocks and hose in every room for use in case of fire.

The union room, which we next visited, is the largest in the place, measuring 2220 feet and, as will be seen from our illustration on the next page, is of handsome proportions. On the asphalte floor are fixed several rows of stanchions and frames, constructed of timber resting on iron columns, forming several long avenues, whereon are placed as many as 320 union casks. Thy are divided into 20 separate "sets", the casks of each set communicating by pipes running alongside and capable of holding one brew or "gyle". From each cask rises a bent copper tube or "swan neck", through which the yeast, produced by fermentation in the cask, is foced up into the trough above, leaving the beer "cleansed" and in a finished state ready to be run down to the racking rounds below.Like the fermenting vessels in the room above, these casks contain attemperators for controlling the fermentation."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. I" Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 221-224.
3,000 barrels sounds a lot. The normal brew length was 130 - 150 barrels. But, having several mash tuns, there could be as many as 5 brews in one day. Or 750 barrels. So those fermenters only had a capacity for about four days of brewing.

There will probably be more of this. Stuff about Truman's brewery in Burton. I did mention this blog was my notebook, didn't I?

Friday 25 September 2009

UK Lager 1914 - 1919

More information from an archive notebook. One from Barclay Perkins. It covers the period 1914-1920.

It's a bit odd. It covers the period of WW I, yet most of it is concerned with Lager. It's the period when Barclay Perkins were first experimenting with brewing Lager. And, true to form, they checked out what everyone else was doing. Gravity-wise, I mean. Take a look:

Lager in the UK in WW I
Year Brewer country Beer Style FG OG ABV atten-uation
1915 Allsopp UK Pilsener Pilsener 1010 1049 5.08 79.59%
1915 Peter Walker UK Pilsener Münchner 1010.3 1044.4 4.43 76.80%
1915 J & R Tennent UK Munich Münchner 1015.3 1049.2 4.39 68.90%
1915 Salomon UK Nonalcoholic Lager Lager 1027.5 1038.5 1.40 28.57%
1915 Haantje Holland Munich Münchner 1011.6 1043.8 4.18 73.52%
1915 Haantje Holland Pilsener Pilsener 1014.4 1044.8 3.93 67.86%
1915 Wrexham UK Pilsener Pilsener 1013.9 1051.3 4.86 72.90%
1915 Jeffreys UK Pilsener Pilsener 1009.8 1039.9 3.91 75.44%
1915 Jeffreys UK Munich Münchner 1012.1 1041.3 3.78 70.70%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Pilsener experimental Pilsener 1008.4 1050.8 5.53 83.46%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Munich experimental Münchner 1020.2 1051.6 4.05 60.85%
1915 J & R Tennent UK Pilsener Pilsener 1010.3 1047 4.77 78.09%
1915 J & R Tennent UK Munich Münchner 1015.6 1050.4 4.51 69.05%
1915 Peter Walker UK Munich Münchner 1013.2 1048.7 4.61 72.90%
1915 Carlsberg Denmark Light Lager 1014 1053.6 5.15 73.88%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Dark (Pasteurised) Münchner 1019.9 1051.9 4.13 61.66%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Dark (not Pasteurised) Münchner 1019.8 1051.6 4.11 61.63%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Light  (Pasteurised) Pilsener 1011.8 1051.1 5.11 76.91%
1915 Barclay Perkins UK Light  (not Pasteurised) Pilsener 1010.5 1051.2 5.30 79.49%
1915 Lyckholm, Gothenburg Sweden Lager Lager 1009.4 1047.5 4.96 80.21%
1915 Lyckholm, Gothenburg Sweden Lager Lager 1012.6 1050.5 4.92 75.05%
1915 Budweiser, St Louis USA Busek's Lager Lager 1015.9 1050.5 4.48 68.51%
1915 Tuborg Denmark Lager Lager 1011.3 1045.1 4.39 74.94%
1919 Allsopp UK Lager Lager 1007.9 1043.9 4.69 82.00%
Document ACC/2305/1/712 in the Barclay Perkins archive held in the London Metroppolitan Archives

WW I, Barclay Perkins, British Lager. A good list of obsessions. Sorry, interests of mine.

Thursday 24 September 2009

The use of sugar in brewing

The importance of sugar in British beers is often forgotten or ignored. It's good to see the reasons for its use - not just financial ones - set out nicely. As in today's quoted passage.

Most modern British beers require the use of sugar to get the right character in the finished beer. Despite what all-malt fanatics would have you believe. It's how brewers in the US can get British beers very, very wrong. By trying to brew them all-malt. Read on to discover why.

"When the tax on malt was abolished some years ago, and the so-called system of free mash tun substituted, little could it have been imagined what an important part such a step would play in the history of brewing. We venture to say that it would be impossible to produce beers of the quality which a critical ale drinker now demands, without the sanction to replace a quantity of malt with substitutes in the shape of sugar and kindred carbohydrates. Nowadays, sugar is used as a substitute for malt, not only for the sake of economy but because it has become absolutely necessary to do so. We do wish that the farmers, with whom we are in entire sympathy, would all recognise this fact. We are told, and have no reason to doubt, that the old-time beers produced from malt and hops only were very palatable. But we do know that it was necessary to store and mature them for a very long time before they became so. High taxation and other overhead charges have only been met by means of a quicker turnover of capital. In order to achieve it, brewing methods have had to be overhauled and speeded up. Consequently, beers must now be brewed such as will be in good condition and ready for consumption even within a few hours of being racked. This object can only be achieved by using materials such as sugars which are less subject to the influence of nitrogenous and albuminous matters. This argument is in itself indisputably in the favour of sugar. There are many others. With the gravities of beer too low to give fermentation and yeast reproduction such as we should desire, sugar is an undeniable asset.

When already inverted and used as a mixing, it is of the greatest benefit, and we know of many cases where apparently hopeless situations with sluggish fermentations have been saved by the addition of a suitable sugar solution. Furthermore, it may well be argued that great economy of space is effected by using sugar instead of malt. There is certainly much to be said for this argument when one comes to study the convenient method now adopted of solidifying invert sugar into hard oblong slabs, instead of sending it in inconvenient casks and pails, and the even more recent development of fluid delivery in bulk.

To those who agitate against the use of sugar, it has come as quite a shock and an amusing one when we have informed them that beer is only the produce of fermented sugars, and that all malt becomes sugar in the process of conversion in the mash tun. The resulting sugar differs very slightly from cane or beet sugars in its composition. The manufacturers of brewing sugars have made great advances in recent years. Every care is now taken to assure that they contain no deleterious substances, and they can be used with much benefit and every confidence."
"Brewing: a book of reference", 1st ed, revised, 1947.

There may be more from this source later in the week. About malt. Seems a good time, seeing all the discussions we've had about it of late.

Understanding Truman's brewing records

We've been taking a very close look at some of Truman's records this week. (I hope it's we. This stuff is a niche of a niche of nothing.) It's only fair for me to explain them. Then we can discuss on equal terms. Tutorial time.

[Jeff and other non-historical-minutiae-inclined readers should look away now. Keep your eyes averted for approximately 8 days. Then I'll be back from Oktoberfest. With photos of my food and a grey DDR bagful of travel tales. ]

Imagine me standing in front of you, wearing a suit and tie. When you've stopped laughing, we can begin.

Truman. Their records. And why I curse their brewers.

Understanding Truman's brewing records

[slide 1]

This is a brewing log from Truman's Burton brewery. Can anyone guess from which date? . . . .No, not the 20th of October . . . Any other guesses? . . . . not the sixteenth of Seventeentember either . . 12th of July, that's right. Thursday, 12th of July, 1917.

Lots of numbers and a few squiggles. What could it all mean? Quite a lot. If we know how to read it. It's a record of a single brew. And two beers. But let's begin at the start of all beer, with the ingredients:

[slide 2]

These are the malts. Given in quarters*.
2 own Indian
3 own Oregon
9 own Eng.
7 ?art Eng.
5 Th???? Eng. H.D.
5 own Eng. H.D.
31 [total number of quarters]

"Own" means malted by Truman themselves. Indian from, well, India. Oregon, I think you can guess. Eng. Not that difficult. English.

?art and Th???? are maltsters. Maybe you can read their names?

All that's given for most entries is the maltster and the country where the grain was grown. H.D. stands for High Dried. I think. Not exactly sure what they mean by that. Possibly something like mild malt.

Hops next.

[slide 3]

These are measured in pounds.

90 Best CS/16 Wor
90 White CS/15
90 ????????? CS/16
270 [total hops]

CS = cold store, so stored refrigerated.
15 = harvest year 1915
16 = harvest year 1916

1lb 2oz per Brl.


[slide 4]

Not very detailed here. No times. The leftmost column gives water volumes in barrels. The next the temperature of the water in Fahrenheit. The last column is probably the tap temperature. With 155 1/2 being the initial mash temperature. I could be wrong.

What do I think it says?

An initial mash with 72 barrels at 162º F. Drawn off at 150º F.

70 more barrels of water at 170º F. No tap temperature. Draw your own conclusions from that.

69 barrels sparge at 160º F. Drawn off at 157º F.

104 barrels of cold water.

315 barrels of water used in total.

[slide 5]


The heading U = Underback. Three worts in the underback, each of 95 barrels, of 19, 9.2 and 4.6 lbs per barrel gravity.

The heading C = copper. Three worts of 95 barrels each. Second column - post boil volume, I think. Last column - number of hours boiled.

[slide 6]


Here's the fun bit.

The first gyle is for XX.

40 barrels @ 21 lbs barrel (1058.2)
40 barrels @ 12 lbs barrel (1033.2)
37 barrels @ 6.5 lbs barrel (1018)
117 barrels @ 13.33 lbs barrel (1036.94)

19 barrels @ 21 lbs barrel (1058.2)
40 barrels @ 12 lbs barrel (1033.2) [the log gets the multiplication wrong]
64 barrels @ 8.2 lbs barrel (1022.7)
123 barrels @ 11.41 lbs barrel (1031.61) [given incorrectly in the log as 10.8 lbs barrel (1029.9)

These two gyles have been blended again post-fermentation:

123 barrels @ 10.8 lbs barrel (1031.61) (X gyle)
37 barrels @ 13.33 lbs barrel (1036.94) (XX gyle)
Giving 160 barrels @ 11.37 lbs barrel (1031.5)

Except it was really:

123 barrels @ 11.41 lbs barrel (1036.94) (X gyle)
37 barrels @ 13.33 lbs barrel (1036.94) (XX gyle)
Giving 160 barrels @ 11.83 lbs barrel (1032.8)

The next line is the yield calculation:

240 barrels of a total of 2891 gravity points. Divided by the number of quarter (31) this gives the yield of 93.25 (rounded to 93.3) pounds per quarter. Except there were really 2964 gravity points and the tield should have been 95.6.

The 59.5 and 60 at the bottom left of this image are the pitching temperatures in Fahrenheit. 68 and 68 to their right and below are the cleansing temperatures.

The heading Sq. and U show where the fermentation took place. In this case in squares 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18. There is nothing filled in for U so these beers did not go into union sets.

The last column in this image shows the attenuation for both worts.

For XX:
8.8 cleansing gravity (I think. Could also be skimming) (1024.4)
13 e 12.0 date/time of cleansing or skimming (13th evening 12 o' clock)
3.2 racking gravity (1008.9)

For X:
6.4 cleansing gravity (1017.7)
14 m 1.30 date/time of cleansing or skimming (14th morning one thirty)
2.6 racking gravity (1007.2)

* a unit of volume, for pale malt about 336 pounds.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1914 Ushers 48/- and 54/-

I know it isn't Wednesday. Maybe it still is somewhere in the Pacific. Not to worry. It's Let's Brew time again.

In my never-ending efforts to educate and entertain, today's recipe is a particularly useful tool. In the former, at least. Not so sure I'll be able to get many laughs out of it.

I've said this many times. But unfortunately some associations run so deep that it's hard to override them. 60/- (60 shilling, for those who don't understand old British currency symbols), 70/-, 80/-, 90/- are not specific styles of beer. Just an indicati0on of relative strength.

Usher's brewed a whole load of beers with shilling designations. 60/- PA (Pale Ale), 60/- MA (Mild Ale) and an X 60/- (a Stock Ale, I think). There were many others. A 40/- PA, 80/- MA, 100/- MA, 40/- Br, 60/- Br. Too many for me to name them all here.

Then there's 48/- and 54/-. It took me a while to work out what they were. Only when I found a couple with "St" at the end. I hadn't been looking that closely at the malt bill. That's my excuse.

Even by 1914, the whole shilling thing seems to have had little connection any longer with the price of a hogshead. If that were the case, you would expect all the different types of 60/- to have been of a similar gravity. But they weren't. Not in Usher's case, at least. These are how they stacked up:

60/- MA Mild 1038
PA 60/- Pale Ale 1053
X 60/- Mild 1051
60/- Br Ale 1034

The beers covered today fit into such a price/gravity scheme even more poorly than the above examples:

48/- Stout 1046
54/- Stout 1056

There had clearly been some movement in relative gravities after the names were fixed.

Now if you've been paying attention, you might have noticed something else about those gravities. They're a good bit lower that at London breweries. In 1914, Whitbread's Porter had an OG of 1052, their Extra Stout1067 and their PA 1061.

What's have we learned today, children? Yes, that's right. Shillings do not equal style.

And on that didactic note, I'll hand you over to Kristen . . . . . .

1914 Ushers 48/- and 54/-

Wow. Its been nearly a bloody month since I've done one of these. How time flies. I've been busy with my new boy Atilla (nearly 2 months now) and the bleeding basement is nearly finished. I think I'll call it the 'Pissed Hole'. Gotta a nice ring to it... but I I usually do.

Ok, so here we go. This Lets Brew comes to you form the great people at Ushers. Yup in Scotland. So there are a lot of similar recipes across the range of Scottish logs I've seen. Strong ales, Lighter ales, etc etc. These ones are actually quite different. Lots of dark malts nearly making them look Stou-rterish (Stout/porter). The difference between the two are quite small. Only 10 gravity points. So what the hell is a 48/- and a 54/-? [I think I've explained this above.]

Grist and Such
This set of beers are very good ones to show everyone that not all Scottish beers were malty. Just look at the grist. Only 50% of it is malt! 14% is black and brown malts and nearly 30% sugar-type adjuncts. The problem becomes deciphering WTH all that stuff is? Maltosan, Oatine,
DM and DH sugars. They do make it simple with the raw cane sugar though! My guess is that with the finishing gravity as high as it is the combination is similar to the No2, or even No3, invert sugar to get a bunch of non-fermentable dextrins in there. The oatine is what gets me.
All the things I can find about Oatine anything have to do with oat-base products. I'm wondering if this was a type of sugar derived from oats or something?

Nothing inherently fancy with the mash. 150F starting moving up to 160F and holding for around 2 hours or so. Should also help to increase the body and up he finishing gravity.

All the fancy details that the English logs go into over their hops the Scottish utterly lack. They give a single digit. 5. That's lbs per quarter of malt used. For this beer that's about 13.5 equating to around 67.5 lbs. The boil is 3 hours for both gyles which with a single addition would put the bu's around 25 or so. Give or take.

The gyle is so close on this one that it really doesn't make a lot of sense to do it as a gyle so I'll just post the recipes for the 48/ and 54/ separately.

Tasting notes
Just finished this sucker so no actual notes yet but that hasn't stopped me before. Thick and rich for the gravity. Profound dark roasty character with a lot of dark fruits like prunes and cordial cherries. Bitterness is made sharper by the acidic malt character making this beer dry out in the finish making it taste much lower in gravity than the FG would suggest.

Crazy thought

A crazy thought crept up on me in the tram home tonight. What am I doing? Could I be going too deep?

Truman's weird party-gyling has been puzzling me all week. There seemed no pattern. The wrong-gravity versions weren't always the same. Gravities all over the place. Sometimes over-gravity beers being diluted, others a below-gravity wort being strengthened. And in all sorts of different proportions. For me that rules out flavour as the reason.

Then I noticed something. The few times when they didn't play this game was with two gyles of equal size. Just over 200 barrels. Small batches - under 100 barrels - were invariably blended. Were they just brewing to fill what fermenters they had available? Or to fill them as close as possible to the optimum?

Thinking about this on the tram, as you do, I came up with a plan. I could map out Truman's fermenters, working out their size by what was fermented in them. And because I have loads of photos of consecutive brews, I could map the fermenters across time, seeing which were full. and which free.

Is that crazy? Making a four dimensional virtual map of Truman's fermenting squares? Have I just gone the final step into madness?

I'll report on how the map progresses.

Truman's log from 1800

Barnard's "Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland" is a remarkable work. And dead handy for me, as it describes pretty much all of the breweries I've got brewing records for.

What came as a surprise, as I browsed the Truman's chapters today was an illustration. It's of a brewing log from 1800. Do you want to see it? Yeah, course you do.

Barnard remarks on it being "unusual". At first sight, it does look a bit weird. But I've looked at hundreds of Truman's brewing records. I can work out what a fair bit of it means. Because 100 years later, just after Barnard's visit, they hadn't changed much:

The leftmost columns has the ingredients. First the malt, then the hops. To the right of that are the mashing details with the number of barrels of water, strike heat and tap heat. Next are details of the worts before they went into the copper. Then volumes before and after the boil and the boil time. At the bottom of the boil time column is the pitching temperature. Usually to it s right is the cleansing temperature. For some reason it isn't filled in here. Next the gyles which were blended before fermentation (quantity and gravity) with the resultant blend on the bottom line, along with the total gravity points and the extract per quarter of malt. Piece of piss, eh?

You can find just about all those elements in the same place in the old log. In fact, in some ways it's easier to read because the columns have headings. If you can read them.

About 1055. The OG of the 1800 beer. No, it doesn't actually list the gravity. But I've some Truman's logs from 1812 that do. And, taking the yield in those (72 pounds of extract per quarter) the 1800 beer comes to about 20 pounds per barrel, or 1055 in new money.

The fermentation temperature of the 1800 beer is very high. Pitched at 67º F and cleansed at 78º F. The 1900 beer (coincidentally also about 1050) was pitched at 61º F.

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Oktoberfest here I come

The last week has been a hard slog. Hewing posts from the coalface day and night. Night and day. OK, evening and breakfast-time.

"Why so much work?"

Because I love you all and want to share, share, share.

Real reason. I'm going to the Oktoberfest and don't intend being sober enough to post. Or feeling much desire to do so. Post, I mean. I've written enough posts to last well into next week. Enough to cover holiday and hangover.

It's a Bier-Mania! tour*. Four days: Andechs, Ettal, Oberammergau, Munich, Oktoberfest and stomach pump. "Dem Himmel so nah'". How true.

*For which I have paid in full.

Truman being weird again

Here's a rather clearer example of Truman's weird way of party-gyling.

It's from 11th November 1930 and P1B and P2B. So bottling versions of their two strongest Pale Ales.

The first gyle is for P1B:

37 barrels @ 30 lbs barrel (1083.1)
37 barrels @ 10 lbs barrel (1027.7)
combined to make:
74 barrels @ 20 lbs barrel (1055.4)

The second for P2B:

37 barrels @ 30 lbs barrel (1083.1)
37 barrels @ 10 lbs barrel (1027.7)
combined to make:
74 barrels @ 20 lbs barrel (1055.4)

18 barrels @ 30 lbs barrel (1083.1)
54 barrels @ 11.5 lbs barrel (1031.86)
combined to make:
72 barrels @ 16.13 lbs barrel (1044.67)

It's definite that these worts were fermented in this state. Because here's the fermentation record:

You can see that P1B starts at 20 lbs per barrel and finishes at 5.2 (1014.4). P2B starts at 16.1 lbs per barrel and finishes at 4.2 (1011.63). These have the starting gravities of the original wort blends.

Then there's the figure in the bottom right-hand corner. "Ave. G. 4.5". That's showing the FG of P2B AFTER post-fermentation blending. It can't be the average OG of all of P1B and P2B because that's 4.7.

34 barrels of the fermented P1B wort were mixed with the 72 barrels of P2B wort to give a nominal OG of 1048.12.

They brewed certain beers this way all the time, so it's not just some weird mistake. Other beers were always party-gyled in the normal way. I would love to know why the hell they did this. It seems like the same could be achieved much more simply by blending to the right gravities pre-fermentation.

Monday 21 September 2009

Amsterdam's Golden Age

It truly is a Golden Age of beer in Amsterdam. De Spuyt is the latest in a series of new openings in 2009. What have we done to seserve al this bounty?

And it couldn't be in a less promising spot, right in the centre of tourist hell around the Leidseplein. In an area full of Argentinian Steak Bars, coffee shops and fake Irish pubs. An actual proper beer bar.

Inside, it's a classic Amsterdam café. Small, cosy with a handful of tables and a few stools at the bar. Don't try bringing a fifty-strong stag party here. There isn't room.

Did I mention the beer choice? It's more than decent. All the Trappists (even Westvleteren occasionally) and most of the cream of Belgian brewing (no Slag Pils, though). Holland is represented by a quartet of Ij and a pair of De Prael beers.

Mokum's getting scarily good for beer. There are now too many specialist beer spots fo a single pub crawl. Allow two days minimum.

Cafe de Spuyt
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 86,
1017 RD Amsterdam.
Tel: 020-6248901

Sunday 20 September 2009

Weird brewing practices (part 92)

Every now and then I stumble across something in the brewing records I just don't understand. That's understand the why not the what. The latest is from Truman.

They started it in April 1917. When they scrappped their whole beer range. But they were still at it in the 1930's. For the life of me, I can't see the point. It's the weirdest form of party-gyling I've seen.

Truman's new range of beers was mostly made up of X, XX and XXX. As you would expect, they party-gyled them in various combinations: X and XX. X and XXX, XX and XXX.

Nothing weird about that. You get three or four gyles from the mash and sparge that you blend together to get two beers of different gravities. It's bog-standard stuff. But Truman's took it a step further.

It's probably easiest to explain with an example. This is a brew from the 6th June 1917.

The first four rows show the three gyles that were combined to create XXX.

26 barrels @ 31 lbs per barrel (1085.87)
22 barrels @ 14 lbs per barrel (1038.78)
21 barrels @ 6.1 lbs per barrel (1016.89)
blended to make a single wort of:
69 barrels @ 18 lbs per barrel (1049.86)

The next four rows are the blend for XX:

26 barrels @ 31 lbs per barrel (1085.87)
44 barrels @ 14 lbs per barrel (1038.78)
65 barrels @ 6.3 lbs per barrel (1016.89)
blended to make a single wort of:
135 barrels @ 13.6 lbs per barrel (1037.67)

The weird bit is what happens next. It's on the next two lines. The giveaway is the comment "Rack as"

XXX 135 barrels @ 15.8 per barrel (1043.76)
XX 69 barrels @ 13.6 per barrel (1037.67)

What they've done is take 66 barrels of XX and mix it with the XXX, dropping it's gravity by about 6º. That's the effective OG, because the blending was done after fermentation. That's clear from the rows at the top right of the image. They give tun details. 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15 are the tun numbers. The middle number is, I think, some sort of dip measurement. The last number is the SG. For some reason given not given in pounds per barrel like all the others. You can see that, in the fermenters XXX was 1049 and XX 1037.

My question is this. Why didn't they just blend the worts to the strength they wanted before fermentation?

Saturday 19 September 2009

Largest UK breweries in 1884

Time for another random statistical post. Based on a document I found on my last archive visit.

I say document. It's just a sheet of paper with a load of handwritten numbers. But I find them interesting. Here they are:

There are 11 breweries listed, with a combined output of around 6 million barrels. That's out of a total of 48 millions barrels for all breweries in the UK. Or 12.5%. Interestingly, the 11 were located in just three cities. Dublin, Burton and London. Eight in London alone.

It's a chilling reminder of London's demise as a major brewing centre. What's left today? Fuller's.

Come to think of it, all but the top two - Guinness and Bass - have closed. (Though Bass isn't really Bass any more.) Courage, Charrington and Truman were all still open when I began boozing.

Ok. I've got 10 minutes to finish this off. Have to be quick. Use of sugar. The Londoners were hooked on it. Guinness used none and the Burton boys just a little. (Just been looking through records of Truman's Burton brewery for this period. They didn't use as much as the Brick Lane parent brewery.) I wonder if that had any connection with the type of beer being brewed. Hang on, though. Whitbread used more in their Pale Ales than in anything else.

A decade or so after this, the first mega-merger took place. When Watney, Combe and Reid combined to form . . . . Watney, Combe, Reid. Their pooled output was over 1 million barrels. It was the beginning of consolidation of the brewing industry. A process, lasting 70 years, which led to the formation of the Big Six. (Should have been Big Seven, really, but for some reason CAMRA left Guinness out.)

There. I'm done. And with two minutes to spare.

Friday 18 September 2009

The private brewer's guide

That handwritten notebook. There was something about the recipes that rang a bell. They looked eerily familiar.

Being an inquisitive chap, I did a quick search on the interweb. And guess what - I found them. Or at least something very, very close. Which now has me wondering. Is the notebook a draught of the book or a copy of it?

The book in question is "The private brewer's guide to the art of brewing ale and porter" by John Tuck, published in 1822. Here's the London Ale recipe:

As the book's title indicates, it's a work intended for private brewers. Accordingly, the quantities are much smaller (1 quarter of malt rather than 22). But, other than that, the text is virtually identical.

So which came first - the notebook or the book?

Thursday 17 September 2009

Windsor Ale Brewing 19 Quarters

Here's yet another recipe from the handwritten notebook. Windsor Ale this time. Again, it includes some dodgy ingredients.

The question marks represent a symbol I couldn't recognise. Seems to be a measure of some sort. Any suggestions as to its meaning are welcome.

Windsor Ale Brewing 19 Quarters


19 quarters of white Ware


170 pound of new pale Kent
Boil the hops in a close nett

Turn over 3 liquors and 2 worts.

First wort boil half an hour.
Second wort boil four hours.
Use in the first wort in the copper @ boiling six pounds of hartshorne shavings, 10 pounds of new honey and one pound of salt.

First liquor over @180 degrees 33 barrels of liquor over.
Second liquor over @196 degrees 28 barrels of liquor over.
Third liquor over @160 degrees 30 barrels of liquor over.

Lett the worts down into the square to ferment @60 degrees with 4 scoopes of yeast.

Scim the head clean of and use in the square ? flour 1 ? salt and 1 ? ground carraway seeds & 1 pound of ground coriander seed well roused.

WW I season

They didn't call it the Great War for nothing. WW I was a cataclysmic event.

Now I've deciphered Truman's Burton logs, we can all wallow in the mud again. Watch gravities plummet and beers be culled. Slightly scary obsessive that I am, I've looked quite closely at their records. And I'm going to tell you all about them. That sounds a bit like a threat. I'll try to brighten it up with a label or two and a couple of stupid jokes. When I can be arsed.

WW I at Courage. 1914. 1916. 1917. 1918. Yes, even 1919. A theme. I need a theme every now and again.

mid-18th century brewing

As promised, the section on brewing.

Milk-warm. Is that hotter or cooler than blood-warm? You have to admire anyone who would take on mashing without being armed with a thermometer.

Do some of the descriptions look a little familiar? Where have I seen them before?

Of brewing In general.

THE malt is first to be ground, and let this be done moderately. It should be only cracked, and mattered in the mill. This is sufficient, for the water will thoroughly take out its virtue ; and if it be broke more it will not answer so well in the brewing. Many desire their malt to be ground very fine, thinking it by that means answers better in giving out its strength ; but in this case it mixes with the water instead of impregnating it with its virtues : the wort runs thick, and the brewing goes on coarsely.

Let the farmer have his malt ground ten days before brewing. This is most essential to the brown malts, because it takes off the fiery taste they got in their high drying ; but it is of great use to all. The ground malt must be kept in a dry place, and it always mellows in lying. The paler the malt the less time it needs lye after grinding. In the London way of business it is not easy to give malt this advantage, because they brew so frequently and in such quantities : therefore the family brewer has an advantage. About eight days mould be allowed to the pale malts, and from ten to twelve or fourteen to the brown. The malt thus ground and kept is ready for use, and we mail lead our farmer into the practice, by giving him a general idea of the method in London, where there are perhaps the most understanding brewers in the world.

Four kinds of beer are brewed in London, stout, common butt-beer, ale, and small beer. Stout is the strongest beer, brewed from brown malt; and is fold for forty shillings the barrel, or six pound the butt, from the wholesale cellar. To brew this, the water in the copper for the first marsh is made to heat soon, by pouring in a couple of bushels of husky malt, just to spread over its top. The degree of heat to be given this is the utmost that the hand can endure, but it must not boil.

When it is in this condition the fire must be damped, and the best way is by throwing on a good quantity of fresh coals. Then cold water is to be let in till the whole is just blood warm. The malt is then to be worked in with oars, half an hour, and this is called the stiff mash. While this is beating up more water is to be boiling in the copper. This Is to be let in : and the whole being mashed again, and well mixed, some baskets of malt are to he thrown over it, and it stands an hour. At the end of this time it is to be let out into the under back ; and is then boil'd an hour and half. This, with the due quantity of hops, is the stout.

The common brown ale, or as they call it starting beer, is made in the fame manner as the stout; but a larger quantity is brewed from the fame portion of malt. After the stiff and second mash they cap the whole with fresh malt and boil it an hour; and after this small beer is made of it. The difference between brown beer and brown ale is only that less beer is made, and it is boiled longer and has more hops, proportioned to the time it is intended to be kept. The pale beers are brewed in the fame manner, only pump water is used, and it is made hotter at first, and lowered to be almost cold afterwards.

The small beer in London is made thus. They heat the first water with some hully malt over it, and when it is of a due heat they let in some cold, and run it into a tun milk-warm. The malt is mashed in this ; and then the second quantity of Water is let in, which is scalding hot. It is to stand an hour, and then be run off into the under back. This makes one copper of the first wort without putting any fresh malt in. The next liquor is to be blood-warm, then hot, and then lastly, cool.

This is the great secret of the London brewing. Their beer has a great advantage from the quantity that is brewed together; and there is a great deal of art in putting in the first: water blood-warm, and the rest hot: for this warm water opens the malt beyond any other practice, and makes it ready to receive, and yield all its strength to the hot.

The allowance for stout beer is a quarter of malt to one barrel; and this is fold from the tap at thirty shillings. The proportion for the common brown ale is a quarter of malt to a barrel and half. For entire small beer the allowance is a quarter of malt to six barrels: tho’ some allow a quarter to five. The allowance for pale and amber ale is a quarter to a barrel and a firkin.

Thus have we laid before the country farmer the general proportions and method of working in the London brewhouses for their various kinds of drink ; and from this and the particulars of the several kinds premised before, he will be able to comprehend the whole theory, art or mystery of the business, and may safely and successfully enter on the practice.
Source: "A Compleat Body Of Husbandry" by Thomas Hale, 1758, pages 322 - 324.