Monday, 19 October 2009

England vs Scotland - first results

Right, I've done the first bit of proper analysis. On the 697 beers I've collected details of so far. Want to know what I found? Of course you do.

It wasn't actually the full 697 I played with. I stuck to Pale Ales. I've 181 of those. Split into two groups, 1877 to 1899 and 1900 to 1914. I started with the latter.

There were 51 English and 29 Scottish examples. The first two rows of the table below shows the average values of the full groups:

As you can see, the average OG of the English PA's is considerably higher - a whole six points. There's quite a difference in the spread of gravities between England and Scotland. The Scottish beers were in the range 1033 to 1054.5, the English 1044.9 to 1061.1. As this will distort the hopping rates, I removed out the weakest Scottish beers and the strongest English beers. That's what the second two rows show.

Let's look at the differences.

Gravity: Scottish PA's were on average significantly weaker.

Attenuation: Scottish PA's had a lower degree of attenuation, just under70% compared to 76% for English PA's

Hopping rate: Even in the comparison of only beers in the same gravity range, Scottish PA's were on average significantly more lightly hopped - a full half pound a barrel. The hopping rate measured in pounds per quarter was also significantly lower - 6.6 compared to 8.8.

Boil times: There was no difference at all between the boil times.

Pitching temperature: On average, English beers were pitched 2º F cooler than their Scottish counterparts.

To sum up, Scottish PA's were weaker, less well attenuated and fermented warmer than their English cousins. There was no difference in boiling practices.

Of course, this is just a first iteration with a comparatively small sample. But it does seem to be showing some differences between practices in England and Scotland.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, George Saintsbury, in Notes on a Cellar-book (1920) wrote: "And good as Scotch strong beer is, I cannot say that the lighter and medium kinds are very good in Scotland". I wonder if your data supports this statement, although lower gravity and lower hopping of themselves wouldn't necessarily spell lesser quality. (What about flavour, in other words?

I like the modern Scots beers at their best including anything from Caledonian and Belhaven. We just got in Ontario a new batch of St. Andrews Ale (Belhaven), 4.6% ABV, I'll put a taste note in soon.


half_man_half_pint said...

Neither of these breweries make Scots beers at their best!

My local brewery - Belhaven - last made decent beer in the late 1980s.
They're only interested in selling nitrokeg "Best" to numpties.

Caledonian used to make OK beer in the early 90. This is when they got their reputation. Beers are now full of diacetyl or bland.


Barm said...

So at this point in investigations it appears that Scottish beer was less attenuated and less hoppy after all? How disappointing.

Have to agree about the decline of Caledonian and Belhaven unfortunately. The finest breweries in Scotland today are making beer influenced by England, Europe and America, so it looks to me like the era of a separate Scottish brewing tradition is over (assuming for the sake of argument it ever existed).

Gary Gillman said...

Well, if these breweries aren't doing cask ale any more, that's a shame. I did have in mind though bottled beers, primarily. I always found the St. Andrews good.


Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I wouldn't read too much into the attenuation numbers. The FG's haven't all been taken at the same point. The ones for Younger are more like cleansing gravities than racking gravities.

This is only one type of beer. I had almost no PA's from Younger, because they brewed them at the other brewery. The one whose logs I didn't really look at. My fault.

One difficulty in making a fair comparison is the difference in the type of beer brewed in Scotland. PA's that were more like an AK.
Tomorrow it's the turn of Mild.

Bill said...

It would appear the Scots were more efficient at mashing as the difference is OG's is relatively small and the lbs/qtr is relatively high. Either that or their malts were superior.

Gary Gillman said...

Well, I just tried the St. Andrew's Ale. It has a good balance of flavours but overall seems lighter than I remember. In particular, I don't get the peat-like flavour I recall from some years ago, it is there but just a hint. I was a little disappointed.


Des de Moor said...

Gary -- Belhaven and Caley still do cask, but there are now arguably better Scottish breweries. Belhaven are occasionally persuaded to sell their ultra-rare "light" low gravity 60/- and it's well worth drinking. No doubt Ron could write a substantial blog entry on the history of this beer too!

Gary Gillman said...

Thanks, Des. What are some of the other good cask beers available in Scotland now?