Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The colour of Pale Ale

That image of Family Ale I used to illustrate today's post. I didn't pay attention to the colour of the beer at first. Now I realise what a great chance it is to glimpse the colour Pale Ale once had.

What's great about the picture, is that it has other objects of identifiable colour in it. The tomatoes. The cheese. The lettuce.

Here's the image I started with:

A bit washed out the colour, don't you think?

Is this more realistic?

What do you reckon? How dark is that beer? The glass is remarkably similar to the Chimay glass I'm sipping a St. Bernardus Abt from right now. Quite wide.

I suspect Pale Ale really was once pretty pale, but there's little evidence. Brewing logs only record colour values after WW I. Before that, colour analyses are rare.

Fell free to fiddle with the image to make it look more natural. It should be possible to match against the label colour, too.


Gary Gillman said...

Because of the mauve background, the beer as refracted through the glass looks even darker than it is. The colour clearly was a straw yellow.


Joe Stange said...

On investigating the colors of old brews... Jay Brooks had a post about a month back on Hamburg-based painter Georg Hinz. He painted still lifes in the 1600s, and a lot of them featured beer. Bright, golden (or maybe light amber?) glasses of beer.

Even better than a Polaroid.

Thomas Barnes said...

What is the source for your image?

Presumably, the original painting will give a truer impression of color. You can correct color by comparing the color of the beer to the color of the tomato.

It's my experience, however, that pale ale can range in color from dark gold to copper, depending on grist. You might be looking at a "sparkling ale" or "golden ale" made with just pale malt, rather than a more typical bitter made with a bit of crystal malt.

Ron Pattinson said...

Thomas, it's a Whitbread advert.

The beer is Family Ale, one of the beers in the table (as FA). You can see the grist for the beer: pale malt and sugar.

From what I've seen so far, crystal malt is unknown in Bitter or Pale Ale before WW I, rare before WW II.

mentaldental said...

Well to me (and I realise the problems of the colour balance and the background to the picture) that seems pretty close to the beers I have made recently with an all mild ale malt base. So a colour of around 10 EBC (5 SRM). Maybe a little less.

During the 1970s (as far back as I have reliable beery memories) that would have seemed a pretty pale beer. Most bitters, PAs etc would have be much darker and browner than that, assumably from crystal malt.