Thursday, 4 March 2010

Strong Bitter ca 1955

I love Andrew Campbell. All the material he's given me. I've virtually had a week off, as I pillage his book, Thanks, Andrew.

We've got as far as the strong Bitters. It's weird to see Double Diamond - for me the epitome of a shit, highly advertised, keg beer - lumped together with classy beers like Bass and White Shield. Just shows what a decade or two can do to a beer's image.

"There are many marks of national and higher-gravity bottled pale ales. They have their origin in the India pale ales said to have been conceived by Hodgson's of Bow (now merged with Courage & Co Ltd) for export to the British colonies and outposts in the Middle East and Asia. In 1825 it was stated that Hodgson's were the only brewers of I.P.A.; earlier brews had been made in Burton, but as the export trade there was concentrated on the Russian market, Burton I.P.A. was not developed until much later.

High-gravity bitters and pale ales are well hopped, have very good substance to the palate and clear appearance to the eye. They are the drinks of the moneyed customer and are important to the brewer, for they are favoured by folk who otherwise prefer spirits. They are usually the only beers on sale in American bars and cocktail bars of the more classy restaurants and hotels. At their head come the three national beers: Bass Pale Ale, Worthington India Pale Ale, and Ind, Coope and Allsopp's Double Diamond, which with Guinness Stout are to be found in most bars, even those of tied houses. Their draught equivalents are met less frequently, mostly in their own tied houses or in the big free houses or hotels owned by such groups as Trust Houses Ltd, Levy & Franks Ltd, j. Lyons & Co Ltd, and many others. Their gravity lies between 1047º and 1053º, approaching five per cent alcohol.

In competition with the national beers, many other breweries have introduced their own higher-gravity beers, pale ales with alcoholic strength resulting from gravities ranging from 1045º to well above 1057º. Some are slightly sweeter than the national beers. Intensive advertising campaigns are arranged to establish their names with the public, and extensive arrangements ensure their availability in many thousands of public houses and bars.

Another group of medium high-gravity pale ales are sold under the name of Export. As a rule they lie between the light ales and the national beers but sometimes are well up to the 1047º level. Finished with care and pasteurized, they have excellent storage qualities but may develop a distinctive, very slightly baked flavour. This is not unpleasant and makes these Export beers rather similar to the general run of Continental light beers."
"The Book Of Beer" by Andrew Campbell, 1956, pages 89-90.

This passage taught me something dead important. Something I'm embarrassed not to have already known. That the Hodgson's brewery in Kingston was the famous IPA one, just in a different location. [Not true - they are two totally unconnected breweries.] Why am I so embarrassed? Because I've photos of their 1886 brewing log. I really must get around to looking at it properly.


Anonymous said...

the Hodgson's brewery in Kingston was the famous IPA one

Just to prove you can't believe all you read in books - no it wasn't, sorry. Mr Campbell is talking out of his arris, evidently confused by there being two brewers in London with the same name. The Bow Bridge Brewery and the Kingston one were completely different concerns, and I've never seen any evidence that the two Hodgson families were even related (it's not that uncommon a name). The Bow Bridge brewery was eventually, after a series of name changes, Smith Garrett & Co by 1869. In 1927 Smith Garrett was taken over by Taylor Walker of Limehouse, so you might find some of their records in the metropolitan archives under TW, or wherever Ind Coope/Allied Breweries' records ended up. The Bow brewery was demolished in 1933 to make way for London County Council flats.

Ron Pattinson said...

Thanks for that clarification. Nice to know I wasn't being totally stupid.

Smith Garrett, eh? I've got a quote from the 1890's saying how bad their beer was.

Rob Sterowski said...

What on earth does he mean by "a very slightly baked flavour"? I can't begin to imagine what a baked flavour in beer would be like.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, I think he's describing the pasteurised taste.

Gary Gillman said...

(Canadian-brewed) Molson Export Ale may be an example of the intermediate class mentioned. It's 5% ABV, pasteurized in the bottle at least, and indeed in taste sort of half way between English light ale (do those still exist?) and a traditional pale ale. It uses some adjunct but is still pretty good. I occasionally drink it on draft. The "Maple Leaf" in Covent Garden, London used to carry some of the Molson beers and perhaps still does. Molson Export Ale was at inception (circa-1903) a lagered ale, a top-fermented beer permitted to age cold. Perhaps that is what Campbell's export beers of the 1950's were, too.

I really like the Campbell extracts. His influence on Michael Jackson is very evident even from these short pieces.