Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Let's Brew 1921 Barclay Perkins BS S Irish Stout type

A special treat for the upcoming St. Patrick's day. An experimental "Irish Stout type".

Barclay Perkins had the advantage of a very flexible brewhouse. Unlike Whitbread, they could brew small batches. Their New Brewery concentrated on small batch beers and experimental brews. It was there most of their many Stouts were brewed. Including IBS or Russian Stout. There were also test brews of new hops. These were usually of one of their mainstream beers - XLK or X - in a batch of just 30 barrels. Most was later mixed in with a full-size batch of the same beer.

The date of this brew is very significant: November 1921.  Just when Ireland was gaining independence. When Guinness, until then the largest brewery in the United Kingdom, suddenly became foreign. Doubtless Barclay Perkins saw this as a chance to take some of Guinness's market.

Zythophile and I have argued in the past that what distinguished London Stout from Irish Stout was the use of brown malt. In Ireland, brewers quickly dropped brown malt after the invention of black patent malt in 1817. London brewers stuck with it to the bitter end. For Barclay Perkins, the distinction was different. As this beer demonstrates. It has a typical London grist, consisting of pale malt, brown malt, amber malt and roast barley. (Don't read too much into the latter ingredient. Barclay Perkins flipped randomly between black malt and roast barley all through the interwar years.)

In terms of ingredients, this beer is pretty much a clone of Barclay Perkins BS. The difference lies in the blending. Of which the log gives a detailed description. At racking time half the batch had old IBS Ex (the strong version of Russian Stout) added and half old BBS Ex (a strong export Stout). Clearly Barclay Perkins thought it was blending in aged beer that was the defining feature of Irish Stout.

That's me done, so over to Kristen with the technical details . . . . .

Barclay Perkins - 1921 - BS - Irish Stout
General info:
Wicked neat experimental stout from BP. Apparently at the time the 'Irish-type stout' was different from their 'London-type' stout in that there was an addition of old/aged stronger stout blended back with the beer. When you look at the grist it’s a very straightforward stout. It dries out very well after racking. They then blend in some of their London export stout at about 10% making a much more robust beer! Experimental indeed! The blending gives a much more complex beer with more dark fruits and bitterness.
Beer Specifics

Recipe by percentages
Gravity (OG)

6.2% Amber malt
53.6% Mild malt
Gravity (FG)

8.5% Brown malt


4.9% Roasted barley

Apparent attenuation

26.8% American 6-row

Real attenuation






120 min

Homebrew @ 70%
Craft @ 80%
Amber malt
Brown malt
Roasted barley
American 6-row
Mild malt



Cluster 7% 120min
Goldings 4.5% 30min
Goldings 4.5% dry hop

70°F /21.1°C

Nottingham ale yeast

1028 London Ale Yeast  - WLP013 London Ale Yeast 

Tasting Notes: Rich and dark. Toasted biscuits, burn bread crusts and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Some husky grain mixed in with some spicy hops. Lots of drying tannins. A boat load of dark fruit. Mostly raisins and dried cherries. Very rich but light at the same time.

Ingredients and technique
Grist & such
This experimental ‘Irish stout’ is made with pretty much BP’s standard BS London stout grist. Amber malt, brown malt and roasted barley. 26% American 6-row and over 50% mild malt. No sugar whatsoever. Not a whole lot of places at the time didn’t use at least some portion of sugar. A deep and dark ‘dry’ stout with a lot of tannic character.

A good amount of bitterness with a definite green tea vege drying character. Some newer Cluster-type hops and Goldings in the middle and dry hopped.  About a 1/6th of the entire hopping was done with old Alsace/ Hallertauer-type hops. Haven’t seen this before but since this is experimental its hard to dry conclusions off one instance. The dry hops are at about 4oz/ bbl which isn’t a ton but will give a definitely hop aroma.

Mash & Boil
A neat little short step mash. A half hour at in a very low saccharification rest and then up to regular temperatures. A single underlet and then a sparge. The ratio of water to grain is nearing current usuage for a lot of ale making. The boil was standard at two hours with the normal stout two hop additions, at make up and then 30 minutes out.

Fermentation, Conditioning & Serving
The fermentation was quite warm. It was racked after a week, blended with the old beer and left to for about 3 weeks before it was conditioned. It was dry hopped and 0.5 gallons/ bbl of freshly fermenting (24 hours) wort from their standard BS London stout was added to each cask. The beer was left to condition for about two weeks. The fermenting wort had an OG of around 1.038 which would finish at around 1.013. So there was about 0.7 pts added to the cask that are able to be fermented to produce carbonation giving a final carbonation of about 2.0 or a little under volumes of CO2. After worting and dry hopping these casks were taken for a ‘walk’.

Gyling & Blending
No gyle but straight blending of beers. This beer was blended with the BS Export stout at 10%.  Here are the numbers:
90% - Irish stout – Pre blend: 1.013FG, 4.4%, 40bu
10% - Export stout – 1.016FG, 7.33%, 102bu
Final Irish stout: 1.014FG, 4.7%, 46bu


johnk said...

This is not really a specific comment about this beer, but it seems interesting enough that I think I will be brewing it, although I fancy it a little stronger, say 60 OG by stepping up the pale malt and hops proportionally and leaving the roasted grains as is. Sorry it won’t be authentic, but I think I might like it better that way.

My main point is to say that I think all us readers really appreciate the amount of work it must take you to produce your blogs day after day and the amount of effort Kristen puts into brewing so many “Let's Brews”; who drinks all the beer he makes?

I am a long time member of Durden Park Beer Club and as you might know, we also make old beers. I generally formulate my own recipes, but have to say that some of the old recipes from our book produce stunning beers, those old time brewers really knew how to make good beer.

I find that I am increasingly getting inspired by some of the micro brewers in the USA in the way they look at European beers for inspiration, but then push the envelope, so called “Imperial IPA’s” for example, new fads like “Black IPA” interesting, if you are not too insulted by the misuse of the name. For those who don’t know about it, they should check out the “The Brewing Network” website where commercial brewers of some of these beers explain exactly how they brew them.

Anyway, I have a request, I am a big fan of Russian Stout and since Courage stopped brewing it, I promised myself that one day I would get to a version of the original recipe and try to reproduce it. I have a few bottles left with which to compare, so I (and I am sure many others) would really appreciate if you could make this the subject of one of your future “Lets Brews”. I know you gave us the weak war version, so how about the real stuff.

Gary Gillman said...

That's very interesting, I would say the blending of old beer into new was originally as English as it was Irish - more so since porter started in England. But by the 1920's the practice seems not to have been rigorously followed any longer in England. The switch to mild flavour in England explains that I think.

But as mentioned the Irish gave up early on the brown malt aspect, so in that sense they remained less traditional.

Last night at an excellent local brewpub I blended a draft old ale of 8% ABV with a fresh young stout, also draft from the house. I did 1:3 respectively which worked well in that case. The ale was very vinous, not sour but tart and fruity and clearly "old ale" by the description of the old books.

We saw how Thomson & Stewart said English brewers in the country would sometimes use old ale for blending with porter (perhaps an echo of a three threads variation, but in any case ale was sometimes used, not just old porter).

I would encourage people to try this mixing in the bar when you have the materials, or ditto at home. It can work very well and the final palate can be deepened and improved, making a drysh, winy drink of complexity.


Gary Gillman said...

Good to hear from a member of Durden Park Beer Club, who were early practitioners in historical beer creation. The comment about Black IPA caught my eye.

I am one who considers Black IPA a logical name and beer. Stout/porter were never, in England, highly aromatic from hops. Black IPA often is and particularly from distinctive American varieties.

Second, one well-known beer observer in the 1800's had already pegged English black IPA:


Kristen England said...

We've done an IBSt from BP in a lets brew before I believe.

As for the Black IPA. Its something the Northwest US is trying to make a style. Blah.

Rob Sterowski said...

I don't mind the term Black IPA as long as people don't start insisting that it has to be black.

Ron Pattinson said...

jojnk, if you want a Stout that's a bit stronger, then there's Barclay Perkins BSc at 1066 and BS Ex at 1072.

These are the grists (in quarters):

brown 2
amber 2.5
crystal 2.25
SA malt 5
PA malt 4
white malt 8.75
No.3 sugar 7
roast barley 2.5
2.29 lbs hops per barrel

brown 3.5
black malt 3.5
amber 5.5
SA malt 19
PA malt 3
No.3 sugar 10
roast barley 0.25
4.19 lbs hops per barrel

As for Russian Stout, I've a variety of recipes from different years.

johnk said...

Thanks for these Ron, but I was really after the Barclay Perkins / Courage Russian Stout at its full strength, I believe at about 1107 gravity. The earliest bottle I have for comparison is 1975, but by your standard that’s really a modern beer and you may not have the details. It would be interesting to set out a few of the full strength versions illustrating how it’s changed (assuming it has) over the years.

Kristen said that a "Let’s Brew" BP IBSt had been done before, but as far as I can see, the only one was just recently (11 Feb 2010), but this was the 1941, low gravity war version, I would be very pleased to see the Lets Brew treatment on a relatively modern full strength version, it’s a great beer.

Ron Pattinson said...

Johnk, although a wartime beer, that Russian Stout was just about the same as the interwar domestic version of the beer. Only the export version was brewed to 1100. I do have a recipes for the strong one from both the 1920's and the 1930's.

johnk said...

Ron, thanks for continuing to help me out with the Russian Stout recipe, I was surprised that the OG was not normally around the 1.100 mark outside of the period when the war was causing it to be cut back. In recent times, for example 1992, it is quoted on the label as 1.098 OG, so I had assumed this was the typical. Anyway I would really appreciate if you would post the details for the strong 1920’s and 1930’s versions with as much detail as you can, so I can brew some.

Incidentally, the black IPA I mentioned earlier seems to have stirred up quite a bit of interest following your blog, as you say, there's nothing new in the brewing world, although I don’t remember seeing a historical coffee porter!

Gary Gillman said...

Johnk: I can't quite provide a historical porter using coffee, but I can provide an 1800's beer, probably a dark lager, that was brewed with coffee. The famed American author, Kurt Vonnegut, in an interview with the Paris Review some years before his death (famed for its interviews of established writers) stated that his brewing forbears in the 1800's - German-Americans who had immigrated to St. Louis - had a "secret ingredient", and it was "coffee".


Gary Gillman said...

Actually, coffee was added to beer in England too:

Once again, there is very little new under the sun.


StuartP said...

I brewed this back in April, and just finished drinking it. Not bad, but I won't be rushing to do it again.

Firstly, deliberately introducing souring organisms into some proper (7%) stout was a revalation! A rather disappointing brew was transformed by additional 'horsey' flavours. Yum.

Naughtily early tastings of the base porter were rather fantastic - great layers of flavour.

The blended product started great, went through some interesting phases as the various organisms went to work, but stabilised as something rather thin and bland. Ultimately, after 5 months, it was interestingly tangy and not 'thin' any more, but really not worth the effort.

Three lessons learnt here:
1/ Get some extra bugs in the brew next time I make a stout stout.
2/ Brew the base porter with a less attenuating yeast and see how that goes. If I can hold the flavour at the freshly brewed stage it will be fab.
3/ Don't bother blending the above brews.

Anonymous said...

i have a bottle of courage barclayes imperial beerv russian stout brewed in 19-75 is it valuble ? thanks