Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1930 Whitbread AK

On time again. Will wonders never cease? Today is the beginning of our AK series. Not sure how long it will last as I can't recall exactly how many of these little devils I have.

Today we've an odd one. A beer Whitbread brewed for about 5 minutes and then discontinued. There were just 12 brews between February and April 1930. It's a funny time to have introduced an AK. The heyday of AK's had been before WW I. After the war, falling gravities saw AK competing with PA for the Light Bitter slot. Mostly PA won out.

AK is a beer born from the demand for lighter Pale Ales in teh second half og the 19th century. Mild Pale Ale as opposed to Stock Pale Ales like Bass or Allsopp. A beer that was ready for sale in a couple of weeks, rather than being matured for months. That was weaker, too. 1045º against 1065º.

Whitbread already brewed three Pale Ales: PA, IPA and TA. All were stronger. Here they all are in a pretty table.

Whibread Pale Ales in 1930
Beer OG FG ABV lbs hops/barrel
PA 1048 1013 4.62 1.62
IPA 1036 1007.5 3.76 1.92
TA 1037 1004.5 4.25 1.94
AK 1029 1004 3.29 1.53
Whitbread brewing records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/01/096

It looks like Whitbread were trying to introduce a Pale Ale equivalent to their LA Mild. That, at 1027º, was even weaker. It was a hangover of the Government Ale weak Milds brewed during WW I. Barely alcoholic beers - less than 3% ABV - that surely only survived because of their price. LA cost 4d a pint, standard X Mild 6d. And there were plenty of price-conscious drinkers at the time.

That's me done for this time. Over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:


Grist – Three simple malts and one sugar. That’s it. Pretty simple. This beer is quite odd, though, in that it uses over 15% invert sugar when the gravity is under 1.030. Never seen anything like it in the ‘bitter’ beer zone. Sure, the odd mild will have such a low gravity with a boat load of No3 but this is different. Use really any UK pale malt you’d like. I used Maris Otter and it came off very well indeed. The American 6-row, at such a high rate really does make a huge impact for the flavor. A massive grainy, husky aroma and some in the flavor as well. Same rules apply for the US stuff as we’ve talked about before if you can’t get it. I made this with regular No1 invert and then Golden syrup. In the latter the caramel character was really overpowering. The prior let the hops really shine.

Hops –  They call for Worcester Goldings and East Kent Goldings split 1:2. It does make a difference but if you only can find EKG, use those. Although this beer is very hoppy, there aren’t a whole tonne of hops added in…relatively anyway. You’ll get much more of the hop character without a ton of the greenery you’d usually see in a beer with this BU count. The beer is lightly dry hopped. For this beer, I wouldn’t really go higher than what I have listed. It tends to dominate the beer and over power the aroma.

Yeast – The dry or the wet Whitbread works very nicely here. I don’t really like it much at all, as I’ve said numerous times, so I went with the Fullers and Whitshield strain. Both worked very well but I think the mineral from the Whitshield took too much of my attention away.


Edward said...

I made this 2 weekends ago and started drinking 9 days later. I used TF MO, Bries 6 row, Crisp C60, homecooked No1 invert, wy1968, a 2:1 blend of 2011 EKG and 2010 goldings. I overshot the OG by 3pts and finished at 1.007 so its a little stronger than the original. A fantastic summer beer! Thanks for posting these recipes.

Mike K. said...

I brewed this up as well, although I chickened out a bit on the hops: 40 IBUs instead of 56...A great summer beer, doesn't drink like a 2.7% beer at all. Brewing up a bigger batch this weekend, it goes fast!