Saturday 30 April 2011

East India Company beer tenders

The East India Company did everything in a very organised way. Including getting beer for the use of their troops in India. Great for me, because they've left loads of evidence behind for me to gather up from the road of history. Much like my grandmother used to chase after the coalman, picking up any coals that spilled.

In the 1850's - a period when as we've already seen many were keen on getting soldiers off spirits - "Allen's Indian Mail" has lots of adverts from the East India Company inviting tenders for beer orders. This is a typical one:

Notice anything odd about it? That's right: the order for Porter is more than double that for Pale Ale. OK, that's just one advert. To get a clearer picture, I've collected all the numbers from the adverts I've found and put them into a nice, neat table. This is it:

East India Company beer tenders (hogsheads)
Month Year Export London Porter Export Pale Ale
Dec 1849 4,322
Jan 1850 1,420
Sept 1850 4,010
Nov 1850 700 50
Dec 1850 1,500
Aug 1851 1,500 1,000
Sep 1851 3,300 50
Sep 1851 6,892
Mar 1852 300
Jun 1852 8,266
Dec 1852 8,000 2,000
Feb 1853 2,526 3,289
Mar 1853 2,000 2,435
Oct 1853 8,520 2,839
Mar 1854 300
Aug 1854 8,841 3,247
Dec 1855 15,407 11,131
Jul 1856 11,414
Oct 1857 10,701 9,133
Total 46,363 23,511

"Allen's Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign India" volumes 8,9,10,11,12,13,14 and 15

Fascinating, isn't it? The amount of Porter requested is about double that of Pale Ale. That's quite a different picture than the one usually painted of Pale Ale swilling expats.

Friday 29 April 2011

Iron Butter Tray

Memories. Treacherous little bastards that they are. This is a tale that starts with an episode of the Simpsons and ends in surprise, disappointment and something else that I haven't thought of yet but will add into the final edit.

The modern world, eh? Everything on tap. At the drop of a hat.

The Simpson's has some great jokes. I've modelled my fatherhood on Homer. Ron. A joke with Ron in it had to be my favourite.

"In the Garden of Eden" by I. Ron Butterfly.

Obsessive is a bit of a recurring theme in my life. Beer. Pies. Music. In particular the sort of stuff the NME liked in my formative years. (Meat and potato, that's what the NME recommended. None of that revisionist beef and onion crap.)

Skint. That describes my childhood years. No money for new records and no effing downloads. What were my options? Systematic taping from the radio and second hand stalls.

Funny how some things stick in your memory. I can remember setting off for that market. In a field. A car boot you'd call it now. Me and my brother. Dragging poor Mum around all those record stalls. Standing while we went flickidy flickidy flick through banks of disks. It must have driven her crazy. Like my kids do me, when they browse a games shop.

We'd prepared, me and my brother Dave. We were on the look out for Strange Locomotion and Tom and Jerry. And, of course, that late sixties stuff I'd been reading about in NME.

The world is a very different place now. Film, music, TV. Everything is available at the drop of a switch. Jammy. jammy, jammy bastards, the kids of today. Telly programmes were shown once or twice and then gone forever. There were no videos or DVD's. If you wanted to watch a film, you had to go to the cinema or wait five years until it was shown on TV.

Records. Most were deleted within a year or two. Most stuff more than a couple of years old was only available second hand.

You see these threads merging here?

In some bleak East Midlands field, I was delighted to get my sticky teenage hands on a weighty, if scratchy, copy of Ball by Iron Butterfly. (In term of  record-buying coups, it rates second to finding The Standell's Try It for 25p in Mablethorpe.*)

I've not listened to it in years. It was quite a shock. I can't remember bugger all of it. Not even the tracks that inspired the poetry I burned on reaching nineteen.

Barnsley Bitter, Home Mild, Holes Mild. That's what I drank back then, in the days when I though Ball was the grooviest record ever. I hope my memory of the beer is better.

* At least for me. Dave's highlight was finding Five Live Yardbirds in Cornwall. I record that later went missing when in my custody. He still hasn't forgiven me.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1934 Kidd PA

Time for the next beer in our Kidd 1934 series. (And only one day late.) This tinme it's PA, or Bitter as it would have been called down the boozer.

In reading "The Pub and the People" I've realised there was a big difference between the beers sold in a Lancashire pub and a London one. Most of the pubs in Bolton only sold one type of draught beer: Mild. In London, the choice was much greater: Mild, Bitter, Burton, Stout and possibly Porter. I think it's important to remember this difference.

It reminds mne of the 1970's. In London, when you could find cask beer, the choice was likely to be Bitter or Best Bitter (London Pride or ESB, Young's Ordinary or Young's Special, Courage Best or Directors). Mild had largely disappeared. Whereas in a Manchester, Leeds or Nottingham pub the choice was Mild or Bitter. Regional differences have been around a long time.

Today's beer is a pretty typical southern PA of the period. A touch weaker than Whitbread's PA(1044.5º to 1048º), quite a bit weaker than Barclay Perkins' PA(1052.5), but very similar in strength to Barclay Perkins' XLK (1045º). That places Kidd's PA very much as standard Bitter. You can blame WW II for kniocking about 8 gravity points off ordinary Bitter. I blame Hitler.

The recipe is pretty standard: pale malt from English and American barley, flaked maize and sugar. Note the absence of crystal malt. It only seems to have been commonly used in Bitter after WW II. Cystal malt was originally mostly used in Mild, later Stout and only much later in Bitter. I suspect it's all to do with the fall in gravity: crystal malt was used to beef up the body of the weaker wort.

One last point. Kristen seems to have been confused by the duty entry. There were three beers produced: PA at 1044.5, XXXX (darkened with caramel) at 1058.75 and something called SBA that must be a mix of the two. No idea what the gravity of that was, because it isn't given. Though interestingly it was all filled into hogsheads. The 12 gallons at 1131º are the primings.

Now over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

This is one I just had to make by the gyle and straight. The gyle is very complicated, complex and I don’t really think you get more out of doing it that way. The beers are drastically different b/c of the different types of sugars and caramel added to them. This one, is definitely a stand out for me. The combo of the fuggles and brambling cross are wonderful. Lots of hop tannins to go with the heavier Invert No.2 fruit. A drive by fruiting if you would.


Grist – Optic, because of its maltiness, is my preferred choice here. I’ve made this w/ and w/o the 6-row. The 6-row definitely adds a level of tannins not available with other malts. I have found that using a lower alpha acid hop can actually replicate the bit of tannin the 6-row adds. It’s a different sort of tannin but gives one a better idea than not using anything. The No2 is very important. For such a pale beer it’s the primary player in the ‘fruit’ territory apart from the yeast. I’d say this beer quality will really hinge on your quality of No2. So either buy a good one or make a good one from great ingredients. Don’t skimp here.

Hops –  I’ve made the rest of these beers with Brambling and frankly, I’m running low so I wanted to swap it out a bit. For Fuggles I used US Willamette which do a very nice job of being a Fuggle. The fuggles I was going to use just were great. I chose Cluster for the bitter as 1) they are cheap-o and 2) they give nearly exactly the same bitter character. For dry hop I did Willamette alone and 50:50 with the Cluster. I do have to say that I preferred the Willamette but could definitely understand the people that liked the fidy:fidy combo…a little more in your face.

Yeast – I chose my favorite PA yeast here. The Tim Taylor strain. However, I really love the Whiteshield nearly as much but its also drops a ton of that minerally character. If you have hard water, use the Taylor, if you have soft use the Whiteshield.

Salts – The first I’ve really advocated their use. Some salts really go a long way here in accentuating the bitter character and brightening the end. Using something along the lines of 0.25g Epsom  and 0.5g Gypsum per liter directly in the boil kettle is a good starting point. Less if you have hard water. I wouldn’t mess around with using it in your mash to start. Get the flavors done working backwards then tweek.

Advanced Mash – There was a short underlet but the single infusion worked pretty much exactly like the multi-infusion. Really, nothing special.

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Oak and WW II (part two)

I've been meaning to post the second part of the Brewers' Journal article on American oak for some time. But, as you know, I'm easily distracted. I think it's worth the wait. Because it's another piece in a jigsaw I've been trying to finish for a couple of years.


American Oak (continued).

In last month's notes an account was given of the work carried out by the Institute of Brewing after the last war in connection with the use of American oak for beer casks in this country, and a brief summary of the conclusions then reached was included. This month a more difficult point is under discussion — viz., how to treat American oak so as to prevent, or minimise, the objectionable flavour which it notoriously tends to impart to British beers.

Opinions in the brewing industry vary enormously on the suitability or otherwise of American oak for British beers, some asserting that if properly treated it provides quite a suitable cask material, whilst others are equally vehement in its condemnation.

This divergence of opinion suggests that the extractiveness of different beers may vary, and that whereas one beer may suffer little from contact with this type of timber, others extract therefrom undesirable flavouring substances which give rise to "tainted" or "woody " complaints.

A more feasible hypothesis is, perhaps, that different types of "white oak" have been used in the different cases, or that the treatments employed have been different. A cask made from newly felled, unseasoned "white oak" of an unsuitable species is sure to give violently disagreeable flavours when it is filled with beer, no matter what preliminary treatment may have been employed to minimise this. We have had personal experience  of casks of this type, and we can testify that even when lined, "pickled" and treated by every - known trick, they will continue to contaminate every lot of beer with which they are filled, until they are eventually broken down and thrown away. Even one stave of timber of this kind is enough to taint the whole contents of the cask.

Careful selection of timber by an experienced buyer is essential at the very start if any success is to be obtained with American oak casks. The timber must be carefully stacked and seasoned, and should not be used as long as there is any sign of wetness. Even with well-chosen, well-seasoned timber, lining is probably advisable, and even essential in many cases. The ideal lining from the flavour point of view is something completely insulating the beer from contact with the timber. Pitch probably fulfils this condition best, but few British breweries are equipped with the plant necessary for this process, so one of the proprietary enamels will probably be the best choice for lining purposes. These enamels, which consist of plastic material dissolved in a volatile organic solvent, act partly by penetrating the pores of the timber rather than as impervious linings, and there is no doubt that they minimise "taint" due to the use of American oak in a large number of casts. Miracles should not be expected, however, and every care should be taken in the original selection and treatment of the timber so that violent taint is avoided in the first place.

Heavy firing of the cask is another expedient which may be found successful in combating timber taint in some cases.
"The Brewers' Journal 1940" page 571. (Published July 17th, 1940.)

It's not so much the fact that some American oak made beer pong that interests me. Though, given that a single stave of the wrong oak was enough to bugger any beer put into the barrel, it was a pretty serious problem. No, it's not that. It's the suggested remedy. Lining.

I've been looking for hard evidence on the lining of wooden barrels in Britain for some time. It's frustratingly difficult to track down. But this article provides some vital clues.

For the wood to taint beer, they need to come into direct contact. So the implication of this article is that barrels weren't usually lined. If they were, you wouldn't need to worry about a funny taste from the oak. The assertion "few British breweries are equipped with the plant necessary for this process" about pitch-lining makes it clear that this practice wasn't common.

I now feel confident in saying that most British barrels were unlined until at least 1940. Good to know.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

India Pale Ale vs. India Porter

What I treat I have today. You may not agree, but hey, this is my blog and what I say goes, OK?

During my long and tortuous research there's a certain type of source I keep stumbling on: temperance tracts. All share certain characteristics: earnest, long-winded, blinkered, self-righteous, pseudo-scientific and unable to contemplate a contrary view. I've used few, mostly because they aren't very reliable. The authors don't let little things like facts stand in the way of their righteous opinion. (Little has changed. Modern prohibitionists harbour all the same failings

This is a short extract from a long, rambling article about Pale Ale. Most is - how can I put this politely? - total bollocks. The theory about alcohol sucking all the oxygen out of the blood so waste products can't be destroyed is an interesting fantasy, but belongs more to the Middle Ages than the age of science.

But, despite all its obvious failings, it does contain a few fascinating facts.

"We choose India, then, for our battle-ground with the champions of the Burton Pale Ale; and it is most assuredly not for them to decline the combat within these lists ; for among the great benefits which the Messrs Allsopp and their coadjutors claim to have conferred upon mankind, the greatest, on their own showing, is the saving of life and health which has resulted from the extensive consumption of their liquor by European residents in India, as tested by an experience of thirty years. Upon this subject, their hired scribe, the 'London Citizen,' becomes highly eloquent; the very profitable nature of the trade affording the strongest motives that a venal writer can appreciate, to use his endeavours in its defence:—

'Since the period in question, the consumption of the article has increased with a rapidity commensurate with the growing knowledge of its potency in warding off the deadly effects of climate—the pernicious consequences of exposure to the blighting heats and not less dangerous malaria and nightly dews which planted the seeds of death in thousands of our countrymen in the East, and which, in former times, on an average of years, dug the graves of fifty per cent, of all new comers within thirty months of their arrival. Things in India are changed since then. Fearful experience, dearly purchased, has brought its plentiful crop of knowledge, and, amongst other descriptions of knowledge, that of the dietetic observances which all must obey who would live to see Old England once more, and not die during their probationary " seasoning," as it is locally termed. The consequence is, that, at the present day, the scale of mortality in most of our Oriental possessions can be calculated at the Institute for Actuaries, for ordinary seasons and circumstances, with nearly as much precision as for the meridian of Devonshire or Hants, Improved dietary regulations have done much towards this auspicious change; and amongst the articles whose use has conduced to the sustainment of the stomach and the digestive faculties, to the abrogation of the old and gloomy proverb which associated " an Indian liver" with early decay and death, a most honourable and conspicuous place is assigned to " Allsopp's Pale Ale." To the increased consumption of this salutary preparation may, in great measure, be ascribed the presence amongst us of so many " old Indians," veteran octogenarians, the bulk of whom, fifty years ago, would have died in their prime, but who now survive to " sit at home at ease," in the enjoyment of their well-won wealth and laurels. Such is the verdict of the medical profession, and in that verdict good sense and intelligence acquiesce.'

Now, let us examine a little more closely into the facts of this case. We freely admit, and shall probably surprise many of our readers by the admission, that the extensive consumption of pale ale in India has had a most beneficial influence upon the health and longevity of the European residents in that country. The testimony to this effect, which we have received from numerous disinterested sources, is too strong and tco unanimous to be resisted. But in order to make evident that the real bearing of this fact is against, and not in favour of bitter ale, we have only to inquire, for what beverages has the bitter ale been substituted— whether for water; or for the stronger alcoholic liquors ? No one who knows anything of the past and present habits of Europeans in India, can have the slightest difficulty in replying to this question. The terrible fatality of the 'seasoning' process was due, there can be no kind of doubt, to the excessive use of wine and spirits, which were taken under the delusive idea that they afforded the safest and best means of keeping at bay the noxious influences of the climate; and the health and longevity of the European residents in India have improved, in the precise proportion in which they have given up the use of alcoholic beverages, or substituted the weaker for the stronger. For those who cannot bring themselves to abstain from everything of the sort, the substitution of a malt liquor, containing a small proportion of alcohol, is doubtless the next best thing; and hence it has been that, as was pithily said to us, a few years since, by the surgeon to an Indian regiment,' Since our officers have taken to drinking bitter ale instead of brandy and water, promotion is no longer expected to take place more rapidly among them, than in any other departments of the service;' a statement which recalls to our minds the toast that was formerly common at the Indian mess-tables, — 'A bloody war, or a sickly season.' The latter of these fearful occurrences has now comparatively little influence upon the chances of the Indian officer's rise; and whilst much of the improvement in his health is to be set down to a better accommodation of his general habits to the requirements of the climate, and especially to the greater care now taken in securing the free ventilation of his apartments, there can be no doubt that a large share of it is due to the general substitution of Burton Pale Ale for spirits and wines, that is, to the substitution of beverages containing a minimum of alcohol for those containing a maximum.

Very strong evidence to the same effect is afforded by the experience of the comparative rates of mortality of the three divisions of the Indian Army, which was published some time since by Lieutenant-Colonel Sykes, whose official position gives to these statistics the stamp of the highest authority. The annual loss by death, in the European troops of the three presidencies respectively, on au average of twenty years, previously to the date of the returns, was as follows :—

Bengal, 73.8 per 1000.
Bombay, 50.7 per 1000.
Madras, 38.4 per 1000.

Now, there cannot be shown to be any other reason for the extraordinary difference in these rates of mortality—the annual loss of a regiment a thousand strong being nearly twice as great in Bengal as in Madras, and nearly one-half more than in Bombay—than the mode in which the troops (to use an American phrase) are 'liquored.' The Bengal army, we learn from Colonel Sykes, has no supply of porter, but is furnished with rum, a spirit peculiarly unwholesome in hot climates. On the other hand, the Madras army consume large quantities of porter, and drink comparatively little spirits, what they do consume being arrack, which seems in a degree less pernicious than rum. The Bombay troops had only recently commenced the consumption of porter; and the spirit they drank is understood to be more wholesome than rum, and less so than arrack. We have since been informed by Colonel Sykes, that the substitution of porter for spirits has produced the same good effect in the Bombay army that it had previously worked in the Madras; the mortality in the former during the last few years being reduced nearly to the level of the latter.
"The Scottish Review", 1853, pages 13 - 15.

Those fatality rates are scary. I've rethought my plan to join an East India Company regiment. The odds of survival look shit. After fifteen years in Bengal, everyone would be dead. And that's without combat.

That's not why I've published this text, eerily compelling as those number may be. I'm not sure what the temperance author would make of my reading of his piece. Probably that it demonstrates the debility of the drunkard. It was the references to Porter that grabbed my attention. Poor, old neglected India Porter. Is it just class considerations that have focused everyone's attention on India Pale Ale?

The phrase "Since our officers have taken to drinking bitter ale instead of brandy and water" is revealing. Especially when compared to the Porter references in the last paragraph. "Madras army consume large quantities of porter", "The Bombay troops had only recently commenced the consumption of porter". They refer to consumption by the army as a whole and not just the officers.

As you can see from the table below, Whitbread exported a considerable proportion of its total Porter output to India in the 1850's and 1860's:

Whitbread Porter output 1850 - 1867
Year India Porter % contract  total all Porter
1850 11,037 7.95% 138,819
1851 5,367 3.89% 138,114
1853 14,043 9.05% 155,125
1854 24,180
1855 34,715 26.47% 131,160
1856 128,232
1857 132,133
1858 13,158 8.68% 151,618
1859 35,619 21.55% 165,284
1860 50,430 28.83% 174,929
1861 120,786
1862 3,750
1863 30,493 18.94% 160,993
1864 10,392 7.45% 139,472
1865 29,337 18.59% 157,810
1866 133,181
1867 16,114 11.67% 138,047

Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives

Typical, the emphasis put on Pale Ale. Another case of only paying attention to the upper classes and ignoring the plebs. There's something else that never seems to change.

Monday 25 April 2011

Increasing Temperarance of the Europeans

No, this isn't about the success of modern neo-prohibitionists (or bastards, as it's easier to call them). It's about India. Beer in India. But not the one you're expecting.

During the course of recent research into Pale Ale in India I kept finding references to another type of beer. One that's rarely mentioned nowadays in connection with India: Porter. With writers mesmerised by the romantic story of IPA, everyone's forgotten, ignored or neglected India Porter. Weird or what?

I would have published this stuff a while ago. But I decided to save them all up to coincide with a particular event: the release of the next Pretty Things beer: East India Porter. I should be trying the beer in just a few days. It should be one of the highlights of my year.

To kick off this series, here's a nice piece about Porter-loving squaddies:

INCREASING TEMPERANCE OF THE EUROPEANS. It is seldom that we can find either space or inclination to record details of improvements in the commissariat. A reform has, however, been recently effected on a point of vital importance to the health of the European soldier, and we are happy to believe that it has been completely successful. The Government has diminished drunkenness in the army, as it is proposed to diminish it in England, not by rendering the sale of spirits a misdemeanor, but by diminishing the cost of liquor less injurious to the constitution. It has often been argued that it is the duty on wine which drives the London artisans to the gin-shop, and it seems certain that use of porter has induced the European soldier to abandon rum.

Up to 1851, rum was the only liquor allowed to soldiers. "The army army drank rum in the Peninsula," and the Indian Government contracted with local distillers for an annual supply of a certain fixed strength. The liquor was kept for a period of three years in store, and then, after receiving an admixture of ten per cent cold water, sold to regimental canteens at thirteen annas and four pie per gallon. Another, and not inconsiderable, profit was derived from the circumstance that the liquor was bought at one and sold by another measure. At first the arrangement produced no financial advantage, but by degrees the soldiers found out that the rum kept in store for three years was of a much superior quality to the stuff obtainable from licensed liquor vendors.

The demand increased steadily, and in 1851 it actually yielded a net revenue of nearly two lacs of rupees. However gratifying that result might have been financially, yet it on the other hand afforded a painful proof of the increasing predilection of the soldier for spirituous liquors. The maximum quantity issuable to each soldier was fixed by the rules, and of course could not be exceeded ; but, nevertheless, it was surmised, and by subsequent information fully proved, that the desire for liquor increased, and was gratified by the consumption of the "diluted prussic acid" of bazaars. The glaring increase which the annual reports of the Military Board thus exhibited, attracted the attention of Government, and the Governor-General determined at once to check the growing evil by raising the price of rum, and by placing ale and porter within the reach of the soldier at a moderate cost. The Court of Directors were therefore recommended to contract at home for the annual supply of malt liquor, to be delivered at the risk of the contractor in India, and accepted after approval by special committees. The proposal met with the cordial approval of the home authorities, and the Governor-General, on the 17th July of 1852, passed an order " fixing the price of rum at 2 rupees per gallon, old wine measure, and directing that the difference between the above charge and the cost be credited to a general fund, from which a monthly allowance is to be made to canteens, for the purpose of reducing the retail price of malt liquor." This order was shortly afterwards followed by a public notification, stating the terms on which porter and ale would be supplied by Government to canteens, and in a General Order by the Commander-in-Chief, issued on the 18th March, 1853. it was determined that the monthly allowance payable out of the rum profits for the purpose of reducing the retail price of malt liquor, should be Rs. 140-14-7 for each hundred men. It was also ordered that the maximum issue to any one man should not exceed three quarts of malt liquor, without spirits, and two quarts with one dram in one day ; or one quart of beer with both drams of spirits.

We are happy to learn that, although the arrangements must still be considered in their infancy, there are already unmistakable proofs that they will work well. The accounts of the commissariat, it is said, show a steady decrease in the sale of rum against a large increase in that of ale and porter, whilst the recent improvement in the standard of rations absorbs the three annas and four pie deducted from the soldier's pay. He buys, therefore, porter at the canteen, and cannot afford to purchase rum in the bazaar. The change must soon be apparent, but it has not been effected without loss.

In fixing the monthly allowance to the canteen it was expected that the profits derived from the sale of rum would more than cover the outlay, and that Government would suffer only the loss of the two lacs of rupees formerly obtained from the traffic in rum.

It is, however, clear, that in its practical result, the loss will be much greafer, inasmuch as the beer-cheapening allowance is a fixed monthly expenditure payable out of a fund, the profits of which decrease as the taste for the less injurious liquor extends. This fact will be better seen on a reference to figures. Supposing 100 soldiers to avail themselves of the option allowed to them by his Excellency the Commander-in-Chief's order of the 18th March, 1853, and take on an average two quarts of beer with one dram of spirits, their monthly consumption would be as follows : —

Beer: 2 qts. x 30 = 60 x 100 = 6,000 quarts.
Spirits: 1 dram x 30 = 30 x 100 = 3,000 = 75 gallons.

The average profit derived by Government by the sale of rum is about Re. 1 5 a per gallon, and at that rate the above 75 gallons would yield Rs 98-7, but as the beer-cheapening allowance is fixed at Rs 140-14-7, Government will be a loser to the extent of Rs. 42-7-7 for each 100 men consuming beer and spirits in the proportions mentioned above. It may perhaps be premature to suppose that those proportions will be the result of the average consumption in all the regiments in India, but nevertheless a modification of the present arrangements may become recommended. We question, however, whether a loss of this kind will be weighed against the improved health of the soldiers, more especially as that health is ultimately a financial question of no ordinary magnitude.—Friend of India.
"Allen's Indian mail and register of intelligence for British and foreign India, vol. 12", 1854, pages 93 - 94.
Are you starting to see a theme? When Pale Ale is mentioned it's usually officers or East India Company officials who are guzzling it. It's the ordinary soldiers who got the Porter.

Whenever I tell people my favourite hot weather drink is Guinness Special Export, they look at me with a combination of horror and pity. Yet Stout continues to sell well in tropical countries. It's often the only type of beer available other than Pils. So why should it be a surpise that British soldiers took their taste for Porter with them to the tropics?

Sunday 24 April 2011

Dextrin maltose primings

It's been far too long since I wrote anything about sugar. Brewing sugar. I'm still getting a grasp of the subject. There's so much more to it than just 1, 2, 3.

The array of sugars available to early 20th century brewers is baffling. And each had its own specific use. First there were the ever-popular invert sugars, mostly used in the copper. Straight glucose was also used in the copper. Occasionally, even plain old sucrose was used. Then there were proprietory sugars, blends of various other sugars. Caramel mixed with invert sugars was popular for priming dark beers and colouring them at the same time.

Dextrin-maltose is a sugar I've not paid too much attention to until now. Though I've just realised that it often makes an appearance in brewing records. It's just called DM, which is why it had escaped my attention. Ah, the value of background reading. It'd explaining many of the puzzling entries in brewing logs.

Dextrin-maltose seems to have had a very specific use. See what the experts say:

"Glucose. (It has already been noted that the sugars dextrose and levulose are more often referred to now as 'glucose' and 'fructose' respectively. Commercial glucose, while consisting mainly of dextrose (or glucose) contains other substances and the term 'glucose' as used for the pure sugar should not be confused with the term as used for the commercial product.)

Commercial glucose is a sugar made by the action of dilute acid upon commercial starches derived from rice, maize, sago or potatoes. The process of preparation is as follows:

The starch is dispersed in hot water containing 1 to 3% of acid. The solution is heated, usually under pressure, until the reaction is complete. The starch is progressively hydrolysed into dextrin, maltose and finally glucose, although these reactions overlap and at any time all three products may be present, their relative proportions depending upon the stage to which the action is allowed to proceed. It the action is stopped as soon as all the starch has been destroyed (when the cooled liquid ceases to give a blue colour with iodine) the product will consist of a mixture of dextrin and maltose with very little dextrose. If this product, after neutralizing the acid, is concentrated to a syrup containing 75-80% solids, the result is known as dextrin-maltose. It is largely unfermentable and is not very sweet. It can be used as a priming to produce fullness and body in beer without increasing the fermentable matter too much. As such it is often a constituent of priming sugars for pale ales, particularly to be used in hot weather.

If the hydrolysis is allowed to proceed to completion, the resulting product on neutralizing and concentrating to give about 80% solids will solidify and this is commercial glucose. Glucose is mainly used as a copper sugar to increase the fermentable matter in the wort. It imparts a somewhat dry flavour."
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E.J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 164 - 165

The characteristics of dextrin-maltose were: not very sweet and not very fermentable. At first glance you'd wonder what use it could be put to. But those features turn out to be perfect for one thing: priming Pale Ale. And in particular low-gravity Pale Ales.

As this entry from The Brewer's Journal problem page confirms:

"North Essex,—We are anxious to get as lasting condition as possible on our small cask trade, and we think of using dextrin maltose sugars in both copper, also as priming. We have hitherto primed with cane candy, but condition is rapid and soon goes off on tap. We also use No. 2 invert in copper. We now suggest using dextrin maltose both in copper and cask. We realise this sugar is not so sweet, but we think the dextrin will give us a more permanent fulness and lasting beady condition while cask is on tap. We shall appreciate your criticism and advice. We suggest priming with D.M. at rate of quart per barrel at rack and sending out casks ten days later to secure a steady condition before cask goes out to customer.

Your suggestions are in accord with common practice. Dextrin maltose and other sugars of similar composition are very useful as primings with low-gravity beers, especially light bitters, with which fulness rather than sweetness is required. It does give more lasting condition than the more fermentable sugars, which are more suitable when the beer is sent out at racking for rapid consumption. It is advisable to ferment the light bitter fully before racking."
"The Brewers' Journal 1940" page 664. (Published August 21st, 1940.)

You see the problem with straight sugar? It fermented too quickly and readily in hot weather and casks went off too quickly. Something that doesn't ferment as easily and isn't particularly sweet (you wouldn't want you Pale Ale too sweet, would you?) is the perfect priming.

Saturday 23 April 2011

Messrs. Salt and Co. (part two)

I promised you a glimpse inside Salt's brewery and here it is. The first bit. Just too many fun facts to fit into a single post.

"The new brewery is of the most complete character, the machinery and utensils in connection with it being of the best and most improved kind, and some of the vessels of enormous capacity. Ascending a flight of steps, we came to the mash room, a lofty apartment 52 feet by 36 feet, well-lighted and ventilated, the floor of which is both fire and waterproof. It contains five mash tubs, each capable of mashing fifty-five quarters of malt, four of which are fitted with Steels mashing machines, and the other with the old-fashioned stirring rakes, and all possess perforated copper false bottoms. The operation of "mashing" is an important one, and the greatest possible care has to be taken by the brewer, that the water to be used is of the proper temperature, and at no time during the process is his art put to a more severe test than at this period, After the wort has remained in these vessels the requisite time, it is drawn off the underbacks, of which there are two below the floor, both constructed of copper ; these are merely temporary receptacles for the wort, which runs therefrom direct to the coppers. Crossing a timber bridge, stretched over the hopbacks, we reached the copper house, a large place 60 feet square, with glazed roof and side lights. Here we were shown seven large coppers by Briggs and Morton, in each of which eighty barrels, or 2,880 gallons of wort is boiled with the hops at one time. Boiling is continued in these vessels for some hours, after which the hops are separated from the wort, and subsequently pressed under hydraulic presses. On our way thither we noticed, from the bridge, the two copper hop backs, each holding 170 barrels, where this separation takes place, and which is accomplished by draining the wort through gun-metal strainers.

In the copper house we also noticed Daniel's patent apparatus for condensing the washings obtained from the hops after the wort has been drained from them The process was explained to us by our guide as follows :—After separation from the wort, the hops are allowed to remain in the circular hop-back, and over them the necessary quantity of hot water is sparged, until all the saccharine matter they hold is completely washed out of them. These washings are then drawn into the apparatus and very quickly evaporated to the required gravity ; after which, they are pumped up to the coolers, and then mixed with the brew to which they originally belonged. The great advantages of this process are the rapidity of the evaporation, and the avoidance of anything like decomposition or colour in the wort, these ends being obtained by boiling the liquor in a vacuum at a low temperature. The process has been in operation in this brewery for several years with most satisfactory results.

From the copper-house we ascended to the cooler-loft, which forms the roof of next building, and measures go feet by 63 feet.

It contains one of Briggs and Co.'s copper coolers, 44 feet long, 28 feet wide, and 12 inches deep, with a capacity of 200 barrels, and three of Morton's horizontal refrigerators; but the greater part of the floor is covered with four open shallow coolers, wherein the cooling process commences ; the wort then runs over the refrigerators into the fermenting squares placed on the floor below. We noticed a novelty in this cooling room, consisting of two dreg filters - the first we had seen of that description in any brewery - being square timber vessels used for filtering the grounds which are left behind in the coolers, by atmospheric pressure.
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 2", Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 119 - 122.

Five mash tuns, each with a capacity of 55 quarters. Assuming their Pale Ale had an OG of 1065 and they were getting an extract of 85 brewers pounds per quarter, I make that about 200 barrels of beer per mash tun. Or, in total, about 1,000 barrels a day. That's quite a lot of beer. The annual capacity would have been 250,000 - 300,000 barrels. Not quite on the same scale as Bass or Guinness (who each brewed around 1 million barrels), but enough to put them in the top twenty. I'm sure I've got a league table of brewers somewhere. Here it is:

Largest breweries in the UK in 1884
Beer Bands (barrels) sugar (lbs) sugar estimated as malt (qtrs) malt (qtrs) sugar + malt (qtrs) license and beer duty paid Average OG of beer brewed
Guinness 1,300,000 0 0 310,930 310,930 391,843 16s 3d 1056.3
Bass 1,000,000 1,172,010 5,581 234,495 240,076 302,677 0s 9d 1056.5
Allsopp 850,000 326,081 1,552 212,091 213,643 257,689 16s 3d 1059.2
Combe 500,000 816,480 3,880 118,513 122,393 153,123 16s 3d 1057.6
Barclay 550,000 4,076,016 19,409 108,191 127,600 157,050 13s 9d 1054.6
Watney 450,000 3,294,035 15,686 205,816 221,502 273,383 5s 0d
Truman 450,000 0
Charrington 400,000 2,205,800 10,504 89,824 100,328 123,359 15s 0d 1059.1
Reid 350,000 1,800,008 8,571 76,985 85,556 104,972 5s 0d 1057.6
Whitbread 300,000 2,392,572 11,379 129,484 140,863 177,605 5s 0d
Courage 300,000 0
total 6,450,000 16,083,002 76,562 1,486,329 1,562,891 1,842,425 1s 3d
Document ACC/2305/8/246 part of the Courage archive held at the London Metropolitan Archive
Output based on the cost of the brewing licence which was based on bands of output, 
the figure given is the top of the band into which the brewery's output fell.
Average OG assumes a yield of 85 lbs of extract per quarter and is my calculation.

It's from a few years earlier, but close enough. See how well London is represented: 8 of the top 11. Though tellingly none of the top three was in London.

Now didn't I have another table showing the number of breweries of each size. Yes, that's it:

Number of UK breweries by output (barrels per year)
<1,000 publican brewers 1,000 - 10,000 10,000 - 20,000 20,000 - 100,000 100,000 - 500,000 >500,000 <10,000 >10,000 Total
1870 26,506 - 1,809 210 128 23 3 28,315 364 28,679
1875 22,138 - 1,864 260 194 25 4 24,002 483 24,485
1879 17,542 - 1,863 301 217 27 3 19,405 548 19,953
1880 16,770 - 1,768 272 203 23 4 18,538 502 19,040
1881 14,948 14,479 1,677 275 183 24 3 16,625 485 17,110
1885 12,608 - 1,537 270 187 27 4 14,145 488 14,633
1890 9,986 - 1,447 274 255 34 4 11,433 567 12,000
1895 7,213 - 1,162 267 256 34 5 8,375 562 8,937
1900 4,759 - 910 262 308 42 9 5,669 621 6,290
1905 3,787 - 832 232 280 40 9 4,619 561 5,180
1912 2,868 2,663 673 205 266 43 7 3,541 521 4,062
1913 2,700 2,502 615 210 271 42 8 3,315 531 3,846
1914 2,536 2,357 580 197 280 46 8 3,116 531 3,647
1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 118.

In 1890, there were 34 breweries producing between 100,000 and 500,000 barrels a year. Salt were about bang in the middle of that group.

That's odd. It's called the new brewery, but one of the 5 mash tuns only had rakes and no Steel's masher. Why was the one fitted out differently? Was it used for a particular purpose? If the brewery had been newly fitted out, you'd expect them all to be the same.

Seven coppers, eh. Helpfully, Barnard has provided a drawing of them. They look like open coppers to me. They definitely aren't domed coppers, like Fullers had. If you remember an earlier text mentioned that they preferred open coppers for Pale Ale.

"Daniel's patent apparatus" is intriguing. Hop sparging was pretty standard practice by this time - no-one wanted to waste extract. Presumably the liquid drawn of was pretty low gravity, so concentrating them would make sense. But, this being a Pale Ale brewery, they wouldn't want to boil for long for fear of changing the colour. They were, after all, trying to produce a beer with a pale colour. It sounds very Heston Blumenthal, boiling at low temperature in a vacuum. Does any brewery still do this?

The cooling process is very standard. Start off in a shallow open cooler, partly to remove all the sludge from the wort, then finish by running over refrigerators.

Now the wort is nice and cool, it s ready to ferment. But you'll have to wait for part three to find out about that.

Friday 22 April 2011

USA here I come (again, again, again)

I'll be in the USA again soon, family in tow. 1st May we fly out to Washington. Then I'll be wallowing in beery goodness for a week.

Tuesday 3rd May I'll be in New York for the launch of Pretty Things East India Porter. According the to Dann, it's the best beer yet in the series. Can't wait to get my lips wrapped around a pint of it. If you fancy being subjected to an hour-long monologue on 19th-century mashing techniques, come along. I'll talk to anyone who'll listen

Thursday 5th May I'll be at Devil's Backbone doing my pretend brewing thing. Throwing hops in. I'm dead good at that.

My brother's coming over to look after the books. I've instructed him to talk them for at least 15 minutes each day. Tell them what good books they are and how much daddy loves them. I hope he doesn't hold one of his wild accountancy parties and spill cash on them.

Spare money? In Washington or New York during the first week in May? Buy me beer.

Beer cocktails

Not modern beer cocktails, obviously. These are ones I tripped over while trotting down the corridors of the past. I've still got a bruise on my knee.

"Ale and Beer Cups should be made with good sound ale, and drunk from the tankard; being more palatable and presentable in this way than in glasses.

Cambridge Ale Cup.—Boil in 3 pints of water 1 oz. of cloves, 1 oz. of cinnamon, 1 oz. of mace, (all bruised together), for one hour; strain clear; add 3 oz. pounded sugar, with the juice and thin peel of a lemon; then 3 pints of good college ale, and j pint of sherry; make hot immediately before serving; add a thin slice of fresh toast, with some nutmeg grated on it.

Ale Cup.—Macerate 0.25 oz. cinnamon, 2 cloves, 1 allspice, a little grated nutmeg, in a gill of sherry; in two hours, strain; press, and put this in a jug; pour in 2 pints Burton ale (No. 1), and 4 bottles Rawlings' ginger beer. This is a drink that will make you forget all care; a little ice is an improvement in the glass.

Ale Cup, or Jehu's Nectar.—Into a quart pot grate some ginger; add a wine-glass of gin-and-bitters; then a pint of good ale (heated). This should be drunk while it is frothing.

Ale Cup.—Bottle of Edinburgh ale, 2 bottles of ginger beer, 0.5 gill syrup from preserved ginger, slice of cucumber, pint of shaven ice; mix together; stir well, and pour into thin glasses.

Ale Cup.—Bottle of good ale; pint of lumps of ice.
"Cooling cups and dainty drinks" by William Terrington, 1869, pages 184 - 185.

Bit dull those ones. Don't despair. The next set have much better names.

"Porter Cup.—Bottle of porter, wine-glass of sherry, 0.5 bottle of claret, 0.5 nutmeg (grated), sugar to taste. Mix the nutmeg and sherry; in a quarter of an hour, strain; put these together, in a jug, with a slice of cucumber and a large lump of ice.

Porter Cup.—Bottle of Burton (No. 1), bottle of London porter, pint of shaven. ice, bottle of lemonade.

Hot Cup.—Warm a pint of good ale; add 1 oz. of sugar, 1 oz. of mixed spice, glass of sherry; when nearly boiling, pour it on a round of buttered toast.

'Tween-Deck Cup, or a Splitting Headache.— Put into 0.25 pint of rum 0.5 doz. crushed cloves, a little cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; strain in an hour, with pressure; add equal quantities of limejuice, and 2 quarts of bottled ale.

Copus Cup.—Stick a lemon full of cloves, which roast before a fire till of a dark brown; while roasting, make a mixture of 0.25 pint of brandy, 0.25 pint of noyeau, 0.5 oz. cinnamon (bruised); let this be well stirred; then put the lemon into a bowl, give it a squeeze with a spoon; add a toast of bread, and lay the lemon on the bread; add 4 oz. pounded sugar; pour on 2 quarts of hot old ale; then add the spirits, and in a quarter of an hour it will be fit for use.

Ale Cup.—Bottle of Scotch ale, mixed spice and nutmeg on a toast of bread; pour through a strainer, on a lump of ice; drink immediately.

Ale Cup.—Grate 0.25 oz. nutmeg; add an equal quantity of pounded ginger, cinnamon, and 3 oz. brown sugar; beat these up with the yolks of 3 eggs; meanwhile warm 0.5 gallon good ale and 0.5 pint of gin; pour in, whisking the while the spice mixture, when all frothing: it must be drunk immediately.

Freemasons' Cup.—Pint of Scotch ale, pint of mild beer, 0.5 pint of brandy, 1 pint of sherry, 0.5lb. crushed sugar-candy; grated nutmeg to taste. This can be used either as a hot or cold cup.

Wait a Bit.—Pint bottle of the best Scotch ale; 1 bottle of aerated lemonade, pint of ice in lumps.

Mother-in-law.—Half old and half bitter ale.

Shandy Gaff.—Pint of good ale, bottle of ginger beer.

Cooper.—Pint of Dublin stout, pint of London porter.

John Bright.—Pint of stout, pint of bitter ale.

Purl, or Early Birds.—Heat a quart of ale, mixed with a tablespoonful of powdered ginger and nutmeg; whisk up with a gill of cold ale and 2 oz. moist sugar 3 fresh eggs; when well frothed up, add the warm ale, by degrees, and a glass of spirits; when this is done, drink immediately."
"Cooling cups and dainty drinks" by William Terrington, 1869, pages 185 - 188.

Dainty drinks?  I wouldn't describe a drink containing half a pint of brandy and a pint of sherry as "dainty" myself. Sounds more like something that would get mixed up on a park bench.

I was shocked to see Mother-in-law in there. Who would have thought it had been around for that long? Just too good a bad joke, I suppose.

Splitting Headache - what a great name for a drink I can just iumagine ordering that in some trendy cocktail bar. "A Splitting Headache, please, and make it a pint."