Monday, 12 October 2009

Whitbread Mild 1836 - 1965

Phew. Finally got all the way through the Whitbread Ale logs. Being a nice chap, I thought I'd share some of the results with you.

You know I have this thing about Mild. It's an obvious place to start. And it's the only Ale Whitbread brewed for the whole of the period. Here - especially for Jeff - is the table:

No huge surprises with the gravity and ABV, which fell steadily over time. As did the hopping rate, at least in pounds per barrel. In terms of pounds per quarter (a better measure for beers of different gravities), the hopping stayed more constant during the 20th century, with the exception of the war years.

I've not much more to say. This is, of course, nothing more than an aside. I've still loads more material to assemble for my ultimate goal: a comparison of English and Scottish beers. Shouldn't take more than a couple more months.


Matt said...

I wonder what the reaction of the average drinker was to such savage cuts in gravity?

Imagine if you were born in the mid-1860's and made it into you're eighties in the late 1940's: you'd have seen mild go from over 6% abv to under 3%, twice as much drinking for the same effect!

On a related point, Ron, are we any closer to finding out when mild changed colour?

Ron Pattinson said...

Matt, especially during WW I, the gravity cuts must have been pretty obvious. Drinkers did complain, but often they were just happy to get any beer at all.

Mild colour is a really tricky one. Unfortunately, breweries only started noting colour in the logs in the 1920's, by which time Mild wwas already (mostly) dark.

The big problem with the period when the change took place (between 1880 to 1910) is exactly when the heavy use of brewing sugars came in. Except most of the time they didn't bother to specify which type. So you can't see if they were using pale or dark invert sugar. And not all brewers bothered to note caramel additions.

So no, I'm not particularly any closer to nailing down a date.

Zythophile said...

IIRC, 1836 was when Whitbread first began brewing mild ale, having been a porter-only brewer before - and no surprise to see those logs fit in with descriptions of mild at the time as stronger than (standard) porter - a popular drink at the time was "half and half", mild ale and porter mixed ...

Ron, I have to say (sad fecker than I am) I'm excited and impatient to see the results of your comparisons of English and Scottish brewing methods. Brewing historians everywhere (well, me, anyway) salute you. I;ve never felt able to write anything meaningful about Scottish beer because, as you say, there's remarkably little hard fact available, only people's opinions.

Ron Pattinson said...

Zythophile, the batch sizes tell a story. Pre-1850, the Mild batches are pretty small, especially compared to Porter batches which were usually 1,000 barrels or more.

I'm glad someone finds my investigation of Scottish Ale interesting. I'll look at the years 1870 to 1914 first. With any luck, I'll start getting some results next week.