Friday, 11 March 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1942 Barclay Perkins XLK

Slight cockup this week. Kristen sent me this recipe in plenty of time. Then I just forgot about it. All my fault that it's late.

Worth waiting for though. An exciting little wartime number from Park Street. The next instalment of my series of beers from Barclay Perkins public bar price list. (I really should have thought up a snappy title for the series.)

The development of Pale Ales amongst the London brewers is a fascinating one. Reid briefly dabbled their toes in the Pale Ale pool in the 1830's, then retreated back to the changing room for a few decades. The Porter brewers for a long time brewed only that: Porter. When they did have a go at Ale brewing, it was X and K Ales that they brewed.

Whitbread's first brew of Pale Ale was 1st November 1865. In the 1870's, a younger, weaker sibling was born: FA or Family Ale. In the 1900 a third member of the family arrived, the even lighter IPA.

The story was probably similar at Barclay Perkins. First a PA of around 1060º, then a decade or so later  XLK at 1053º. I would be more precise, but I don't have brewing records for the period this would have happened, 1870 to 1885.

By the 1930's, PA was sold as Best Bitter, XLK as just plain old Bitter. There they stood, shoulder to shoulder on the bar, until Hitler came along and ruined everything. The was prompted a cull of Barclay Perkins product range and PA, along with Porter and a couple of Milds, were discontinued.

On the eve of hostilities, XLK still had a pretty respectable gravity: 1046º. In 1940 that dropped to 1043º and in 1942 to 1035º, where it remanined for the rest of the war. And probably the 1950's, too. An OG of the mid-1030's was where most ordinary Bitters hovered after the war.

Time for Kristen to that thing that he does so well, you know, that recipe stuff . . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

This one is quiet straightforward. Not a whole lot of things to mess about it. A simple little ‘bitter’.


Grist – The low gravity of this beer really begs for malt complexity as there really isn’t a whole lot there. This would not be a place that I substitute out the mild malt. It lends a much more round, fuller malty quality to this beer. I made one batch where I used Maris Otter for the pale malt and Paul’s Mild for the other. Worked beautifully. I made another batch with 100% Optic malt for the pale malts. This was also very nice, just a bit different. 100% Maris Otter would be fine also. Simpson’s medium crystal comes out just a bit but enough to make sure and use good quality crystal. I’ve made this both with flaked and terrified barley and the flaked lends a rounder character that this beer needs as it finishes very dry. This beer looks exactly like later ones to come in time but the flaked barley was usually swapped out for flaked maize. The invert #3 really doesn’t come through very strong but I wouldn’t use anything lighter than golden syrup if you want to swap things out. No2 invert would be fine also it would just have a bit different character. No white or brown sugar for this one. In a pinch raw sugar can be used but you’ll be missing the color.

Hops – A combination of a few different types of Golding’s and Fuggles would do very nicely. I made this as the recipe reads except I swapped out the Kent Goldings dry hop in favor of Whitbread Goldings. Not better, just different. I did split some of the batch and dry hopped it with a combo of Fuggles and Goldings which was also very nice but more resinous than spicy. There’s not a ton of bitterness to this beer but it comes through well because it finishes quite dry.

Yeast – I used the Whitbread dry strain, Nottingham strain and the Courage strain. I like each in their own right but the Courage strain really adds another dimension of flavor. Try to stay away from the White Shield strain on this one as the mineral character will really overpower this beer.


Advanced Mash – Pretty much the same mash as the KK from last week (2011-03-02 – 1942 Barclay Perkins KK). Dough-in, underlet infusion and then a sparge (165F/74C) that was usually quite long. The simple infusion produced an identical beer to this advanced mash in this instance. As always, you are left up to find the hot liquor temperature needed on your system to achieve the temperatures below.

Dough in


Ed said...

Surely using 'terrified barley' will lead to poor quality beer! ;-)

Gary Gillman said...

Interestingly enough, the taste note, which highlights pomme fruit and resinous hop notes, resonates almost exactly with my impression of cask Worthington White Shield tasted recently in London (at Southwark Arms at the edge of Borough Market). This is another validation of the historical veracity of these recreations since the current White Shield especially - brewed under license at Marston's - is itself intended to render a taste of history.

The only difference is the White Shield seemed sweeter than this wartime beer recreation judging again by the taste notes here.

I noticed a similar sweetness in numerous other cask ales essayed on this trip and I think it is probably the priming sugar. The sweetness would vary depending how long the cask was in the cellar, but they must all be sold quite quickly since the taste seemed omnipresent. This ties in to earlier posts here about priming from the late 1800's and the effect it had on palate.

I must say I found the White Shield a little too sweet for my taste but still it was an excellent product. Perhaps if it really gets going as a brand, some publicans will hold it longer in cellar to dry it down a bit.


Kristen England said...


Don't confuse sugar sweetness with estery (fruity) sweetness. This beer actualy has a lot of estery sweetness however I always leave it out of the descriptions b/c people will always say, 'ITS NOT SWEET!'.

An easy example would be a dry Riesling. It is absolutely bone dry but has a rich fruitiness that makes it taste much sweeter than it is.

Re White Shield, I haven't had it on cask for about a year but have never found it particularly sweet. There are a few guys on this blog that are Landlords so should know better to answer that part.

mentaldental said...

Sweetness in beer is a funny thing. Invert sugars leave a perceived "sweetness" in the beer despite that fact that they are all but 100% fermentable and actually dry out the beer.

Gary Gillman said...

No confusion on my end re what I tasted. The White Shield I had (twice, one was in Soho in a pub on the aptly named Brewer Street) had a noticeable sucrose-like sweetness. Since a number of other cask beers shared the taste, I believe priming sugar explains it.

Of course, if in fact White Shield uses no priming sugar, it must be the maltiness I noticed.


Martyn Cornell said...

Ed - "terrified barley" what what they used to brew the infamous Adnams Deathly Pale.

Ed said...

Martyn: Look lke my very own Black Syrup of Death

Kristen: Where can you get the Courage yeast?

Kristen England said...

Ed, Wyeast 1469. Started in Courage, moved to Timothy Taylor.

Rod said...

The sweetness you tasted could be from Maris Otter. For the Old Brewery Kellerbier, I've gone from 100% Maris Otter grain bill to 40% MO 60% Tipple in the last six months, and I believe other breweries such as Fullers have made similar moves. It will be interesting to see if the new season's Maris Otter when it becomes available wiil have quite this level of honey sweetness, which could perhaps have been caused by the long hot spell we had in Southern England last Summer.
I doubt that the sweetness you were tasting was from priming sugar.

Barm said...

White Shield is brewed at Molson Coors/Worthington in Burton. It's Bass that is contract-brewed by Marston's.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rod, Fullers do currently use Tipple.

Oblivious said...

Fullers as I am aware buy base malt of nearly everyone

Kristen England said...


I heard the same thing about last years MO and have found it to be true when I use it. Around here most brewers cut it with Golden Promise. How do you find the cut with Tipple? How close do you find Tipple rather.

Gary Gillman said...

All points taken and thanks for correction regarding the site of Worthington White Shield brewing. I think I saw the term Museum Brewery, now the (enlarged I understand) White Shield Brewery, and confused it in memory with Marston's (the M).

I know Bass is brewed under license at Marston's and oddly (or not) a bottle of Pedigree just sampled reminded me of keg Bass!

I thought though someone has written that some White Shield, I think just the bottled, is brewed in a larger plant given the current sales volumes. Is that possible, could it be where Carling is brewed?


Rod said...

Kristen -
The Tipple is a good way of cutting the honeyed flavour of last year's Maris Otter, as it seems quite neutral - at 40% MO and 60 % Tipple, you still get some of the sweetness, at a reduced level, but no other particular flavours from the Tipple. When we were considering what malt to use as a proportion of the grain bill to reduce the MO honey (which some people, including the guy who rated TOB Kellerbier on Ratebeer :-{, confused wit diacetyl!), we tasted a malt called Flagon, which I liked, but in the end decided against using, as it would have contributed a lot of flavour of it's own. I haven't used Tipple on it's own for anything, so I can't commet on what it tastes like from that point of view, but it seems a good, if fairly neutral malt. Flagon on its own would be interesting to try some time.
For the Lovibonds 1864 recipe, which I got from Ron, I used 75% Maris Otter, because I thought that the sweetness might be welcome in such a powerful, well-hopped, beer, countering both the hop character and the alcohol.