Monday 31 October 2011

Disinformation source

I think I've spotted one. A disinformation source.

Googling, I found plenty who had used it when writing about Russian Stout. Including that recent Courage Russian Stout ad.

"Russian Imperial Stout 

When Peter the Great opened Czarist Russia to the West in the early 18th century, dark ales called "Porter" were all the rage in England. Porters, named after the working class who devoured them, were relatively easy-drinking brews with a small percentage of highly roasted malt. The result was a dark brown, toffee-flavored libation fit for mass consumption. Arthur Guinness took the idea to Ireland, increased the dark, coffee-tinted profile and added “Extra Stout” to his label, thus creating another new beer style.

Peter the Great fell in love with stouts during his 1698 trip to England, and he requested that some be sent to the Imperial court in Russia. Much to the embarrassment of the English, the beer had spoiled somewhere along its tedious thousand-mile journey! Determined as always to save face, the Barclay brewery of London came to the rescue by rapidly increasing the amount of alcohol and hops for their second effort. The result was an inky black concoction with enough warmth and complexity to immediately become a sensation throughout Russia. The “Russian Imperial Stout” had been born and quickly became popular throughout European Russia.

Empress Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796) was very much a fan of Imperial Stout. One notable supplier was Thrale’s Anchor Brewery in the parish [district] of Southwark, a mile or two up river from John Courage Brewery’s site. In 1796 Thrale’s supplied Imperial Stout "that would keep seven years" to the Empress of Russia. The author of The History and Antiquities of the Parish of St. Saviour, Southwark, said of Thrale’s beer at that time, "The reputation and enjoyment of Porter [Imperial Stout] is by no means confined to England. As proof of the truth of this assertion, this house exports annually very large quantities; so far extended are its commercial connections that Thrale’s Entire [a contemporary name for Imperial Stout] is well known, as a delicious beverage, from the frozen regions of Russia to the burning sands of Bengal and Sumatra. The Empress of All Russia is indeed so partial to Porter that she has ordered repeatedly very large quantities for her own drinking and that of her court." She also ordered some of her supply from The John Courage Brewery. The John Courage Brewery continued to brew its Imperial Stout, with the boast on its label that it was originally brewed by Imperial order of Catherine, up until the 1990s. While hugely popular through the 19th century, Porters had fallen away completely from consumer's tastes by the end of the 20th Century. The style may have disappeared altogether were it not for the newfound bravado and quirkiness of the emerging craft brewing scene in the U.S. Anxious to brew all things intense, extreme and obscure, many small batch American brewers began resurrecting and re-inventing the old Russian genre. Today’s versions are even bigger and bolder than the originals."
-by Greg D. Willis, Professional Beer Guy, for the Alexander Palace Time Machine.

Does anyone know who Greg D. Willis is?

It's scary how widely this, er, dodgy article has been copied or used as a source.

The article isn't dated, unfortunately. It could be itself a copy. Can you find an older version of the story? The Peter the Great drinking Porter in London story. Or the Courage brewing Russian Stout for Catherine the Great story. Any of the fantasies in the article will do.

There may be a prize in it. How far back can we trace the crap?

Scottish beer in Australia

People are always sending me stuff. Often quite useful stuff. Like what I'm about to share with you. It's from the Australian Brewers' Journal of 21st february 1910 and shows the prices of various imported beers in Sydney.

Let's take a look, shall we?

First it's Ales. Take a close look and you may find something odd about certain Ales:

10 of the 13 draught Ales are Scottish. At least that I can recognise. I'm not sure where Palace and Guild & Co. are from. Just checked. Looks like they're both Scottish, too. Let's get this right: every draught beer except Bass No. 4 is Scottish.

Talking of which, what an odd beer to have exported. Not all the Bass beer I would have guessed. That's a Burton Mild Ale which, in 1870 had an OG of 1070. It probably hadn't changed much by 1910.

It's a shame that it's not more specific as to what type of beer most of them were. I could guess. But as there are no clues, there's not much point.

In the bottled beers, only four English brewers are represented. Two pretty obvious ones, Bass and Allsopp. Plus two less obvious ones, Combe of London and Tennant of Sheffield. Hang on. That can't really be from Combe. Their brewery closed in 1899, when they joined Watney, Combe, Reid. It must really be a Watney's beer.

Spot the funny Ales? Bit obvious, all those German Lagers. Amusing that they lumped the Lagers with Ales but listed Stouts separately. They couldn't have been paying attention in BJCP class. Note the the two Scottish Lagers, from Tennent and Jeffrey.

Now the Stouts:

I can only spot two Scottish breweries: Jeffrey and Tennent. That's hardly surprising. Stout wasn't such a big thing in Scotland. The best-known Stout brewers were in London and Ireland. Which is reflected in the list. Glad to see Barclay Perkins putting in a cameo. They certainl;y picked some odd brands to sell beer: Beaver, Fish, Pelican, Dog's Head, Dagger (my favourite) and Pig. Lots of different flavours of Guinness, though I'm sure the beer inside the bottles was the same.

Scotland is ridiculously over-represented, especially in the draught Ales. The percentage of beer exported must have been much higher in Scotland than in England.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Hop usage: England vs. Scotland

Brewing records often contain more than just the details of individual brews. Sometimes there are totals of various kinds. I stumbled on one of these yesterday.

A dead handy set of total it is, giving the malt and hop usage of William Younger for the year ending September 30th 1858. Here it is, just scribbled into one page of the brewing book:

One of the reasons I love Whitbread's records is for the tables at the back of each brewing book. There's one that lists every brew of each beer with monthly and annual totals. Dead useful for observing the waxing and waning popularity of different beers.

There's another table I've not used until now. One listing the use of malt and hops over the year, again with annual totals. This is it:

Can you see where this is going? Towards a table, that's where it's going. This table:

Hop usage at William Younger and Whitbread
Younger - year ending 30 September 1858 Whitbread year ending July 1865
qtrs malt 17,598 20,906
lbs hops 166,498 181,839
lbs hops/qtr 9.46 8.70
Document LMA/4453/D/01/029 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Document WY/6/1/2/14 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive

This isn't total Whitbread usage, by the way. Just for their Ales. (Ale and Porter are in different brewing books.)

As you can see, the overall quantities are relatively similar. With one slight difference: William Younger was using proportionally more hops than Whitbread.

Anyone still believe Scottish brewers barely used any hops?

Saturday 29 October 2011

James Calder beers 1922 - 1961

To break up those slabs of text from old books, there's something lighter today. Almost fluffy.

I promised you a look at James Calder's beers and here they are. Though, if you've been paying attention, you'll realise that none were brewed at Calder's Shore Brewery. That closed in 1921 and Calder's products were produced at Arrol's Alloa Brewery. Until 1951, when they moved to Jeffrey in Edinburgh.

The most surprising beer in the table below is the first: a Stout from 1922. Why is it unusual? Because of the attenuation, almost 80%. Scots loved their Stouts sweet and this one is surprisingly dry. You can see that later they did brew more Scottish-looking Stouts with low attenuation.

Brown Ale was one trend that did hit Scotland around the same time as England. I'm surprised that the OG of Calder's only fell five points between 1938 and 1950. Around double that woukld have been more typical. In the 1950's, most Brown Ales clawed their way above 1030. The name - Nut Brown Ale - signifies nothing in particular. It's a stock phrase that appears in several  poems and songs. A bit like "oinomata ponta" ("wine-dark sea") in Homer.

Here's one:


The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale,
The toast, the nutmeg, and the ginger,
Will make the sighing man a singer.

Ale gives a buffet in the head,
But ginger under proppes the brayne;
When ale would strike a strong man dead,
Then nutmegge tempers it againe,
The nut-brown ale, the nut-brown ale,
Puts downe all drinke when it is stale.

"Festive songs, principally of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Volume 23" by William Sandys, 1848, pages 81 - 82.

And here's another:

'When the chill sciroco blows,
And winter tells a heavy tale ;
When pies, and daws, and rooks and crows,
Do sit and curse the frost and snows ;
Then give me ale,
Old brown ale,
Nut brown ale,
Stout brown ale,

O give me stout brown ale -
Ale that the plowman's health up keeps,
And equals it to tyrant thrones ;
That wipes the eye that ever weeps,
And lulls in sweet and dainty sleeps.:
Th' o'er wearied bones
Old brown ale, &c.

From the comic opera "Robin Hood" by Robin Mcnally, 1783, page 31.

Do a search in Google Books and you'll find loads of works in which the phrase was used.

Considering that's what made their name, there are very few Pale Ales. Though that could be because of the source of the data. All analyses from 1950 on come from the Whitbread Gravity Book. With a big brand of Milk Stout (Mackeson), Whitbread were keen to see what its rivals were up to. They were also fascinated with Brown Ale.

See how the one 60/- is a Pale Ale. That's what 60/- was before WW II. I'd love to know how and when (and why, come to think of it) it became a type of Dark Mild.

Here's the table.

James Calder beers 1922 - 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package Acidity FG OG colour ABV App. Attenuation
1922 Stout Stout pint draught 1011 1052.99 5.47 79.24%
1922 Ale? Ale? pint draught 1010.8 1052.34 70 5.41 79.29%
1928 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1008 1037 3.77 78.38%
1937 Milk Stout Stout pint bottled 1022.3 1055.75 4.32 60.09%
1938 Nut Brown Ale Brown Ale pint bottled 0.06 1013.4 1039.4 10 + 40 3.36 65.99%
1939 60/- Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1007.8 1036.75 11 – 12 3.77 78.91%
1939 Milk Stout Stout 5d half pint bottled 1021 1052.5 4.06 60.00%
1940 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1005 1035.5 3.97 85.92%
1941 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1009 1038.5 3.83 76.62%
1948 Stout Stout pint bottled 1015 1039.5 3.16 62.03%
1948 Scotch Strong Ale Scotch Ale pint bottled 1019 1065.5 6.04 70.99%
1948 Export Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1015 1045.5 3.95 67.03%
1949 Beer Pale Ale pint bottled 1006.5 1029 2.92 77.59%
1949 Stout Stout pint bottled 1013 1038.5 3.30 66.23%
1950 Nut Brown Ale Brown Ale 1/- half pint bottled 0.06 1011.4 1034.3 40 + 8 2.96 66.76%
1950 Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 0.05 1014.2 1054.7 21.5 B 5.26 74.04%
1950 Milk Stout Stout bottled 0.07 1029.7 1069.3 1 + 14 B 5.10 57.14%
1954 Scotch Stout Stout 1/2d half pint bottled 0.04 1015.9 1040.9 1 + 14 3.23 61.12%
1959 Scotch Stout Stout 14d halfpint bottled 1021.5 1042.2 300 2.66 49.05%
1961 Export Ale Pale Ale 15d half pint bottled 0.05 1009.9 1044.1 23 4.27 77.55%
1961 Stout (no lactose) Stout 16d half pint bottled 0.06 1019.8 1041.3 250 2.69 52.06%
Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11
Whitbread Gravity Book document LMA/4453/D/02/001 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Whitbread Gravity Book document LMA/4453/D/02/002 held at the London Metropolitan Archives

Friday 28 October 2011

William Younger's Porter and Stout 1868 - 1869

There were some questions about William Younger's Porter and Stout grists in reaction to the last Let's Brew recipe. Today we're going to look at them in more detail and hopefully provide fuller answers.

Looking at Porters from outside London is a strange experience. I'm so used to the London way of doing things. It makes these beer look quite odd.

I mentioned in the original post that there were two obvious differences with London-brewed Porters:

  1. Younger's were lower gravity
  2. Younger's brewed one Porter and one Stout while London brewers had several Stouts
Looking in greater detail, there are further dissimilarities. The attenuation of Younger's Porter is low, a little either side of 60%. At the same period, Whitbread's Porter was 70-75% attenuated. And at least 7.5% ABV. While none of Younger's is even 4% ABV.

Then there are the grists. Again, the dissimilarities are striking. Younger's grists have more variation and the proportion of dark malts is higher in most cases. Younger's used amber malt but no brown malt. Amongst the London brewers it was the other way around. Younger's Porter was less heavily hopped but its Stout was hopped about the same as the London beers. (Using lbs per quarter to iron out gravity differences. Younger's Stout had 12 - 14 lbs per quarter, The London brewers - if we exclude the Export Stout - 12.5 yto 18 lbs.)

Looking at other details (anal-retentive is my middle name), Younger's boiling times were longer, but their pitching temperatures were about the same. Interestingly, Younger fermented their Porter and Stout differently to their other beers. They pitched 3 or 4º warmer and the fermentation time was shorter by a couple of days. It looks as if they are mimicing London practice in that regard.

One final point. Every single one of the Younger's beers, with the exception of the bottling Porter, was vatted. It's not as easy to tell how the London beers were treated, but I think it's safe to assume that anything with the word Runner in its name wasn't vatted.

Nothing more comes to mind so here are the tables:

William Younger Porter and Stout 1868 - 1869
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl dry hops (oz / barrel) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp max. fermentation temp length of fermentation (days) pale malt black malt amber malt
12th Sep 1868 Bg Porter 1046 1020 3.44 56.52% 8.00 1.45 3 61º 69º 3 + 2 92.25% 7.75%
27th Apr 1869 BS Porter 1041 1017 3.18 58.54% 7.69 1.18 2.5 3 61º 66º 2 + 3 43.43% 13.13% 43.43%
6th Feb 1869 P Porter 1048 1018 3.97 62.50% 2.75 62º 67º 2 + 1 67.36% 10.18% 22.45%
11th Dec 1869 BS Porter 1042 1018 3.18 57.14% 7.50 1.46 2.5 3 61º 67º 2 + 3 67.36% 10.18% 22.45%
21st Nov 1868 DBS Stout 1062 1014 6.35 77.42% 12.22 3.47 2 3 62º 74º 3 + 4 81.25% 5.85% 12.90%
28th Nov 1868 DBS Stout 1064 1018 6.09 71.88% 11.43 3.33 20.00 2.25 62º 73º 3 + 3 81.95% 5.63% 12.42%
3rd Dec 1869 DBS Stout 1066 1019 6.22 71.21% 12.76 4.11 2.5 3 61º 75º 3 + 4 76.33% 5.50% 18.17%
4th Dec 1869 DBS Stout 1066 1020 6.09 69.70% 14.23 3.74 2.5 3 62º 74º 3 + 4 73.43% 6.17% 20.40%
15th Dec 1869 DBS Stout 1065 1018 6.22 72.31% 13.33 3.83 17.02 2.25 3 62º 72º 3 + 4 63.97% 6.04% 29.99%
27th Dec 1869 DBS Stout 1067 1021 6.09 68.66% 14.23 3.78 2.25 3 60º 72º 4 + 3 62.47% 6.30% 31.23%
William Younger brewing record document WY/6/1/2/21 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Assuming 336 lbs for a qtr of pale malt, 254 lbs for black malt and 280 lbs for amber malt
Fermentation time is fermentation + cleansing.

London Porter and Stout 1865 - 1871
Date Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt brown malt black malt caramel sugar
13th Jan 1868 Whitbread K Porter 1057.1 1016.6 5.35 70.87% 19.91 5.08 1.5 2 2 64º 79.87% 16.10% 4.03%
10th Jan 1868 Whitbread P Porter 1048.8 1011.9 4.87 75.57% 9.91 2.23 1.5 2 2 64º 55.58% 15.76% 5.25% 23.41%
24th Aug 1868 Whitbread SS Stout 1082.3 1029.9 6.93 63.64% 13.67 5.52 1.5 2 2.5 62º 72.65% 14.64% 3.66% 9.05%
24th Aug 1868 Whitbread SSS Stout 1101.4 1048.8 6.96 51.91% 13.67 6.80 1.5 2 2.5 62º 72.65% 14.64% 3.66% 9.05%
14th Oct 1868 Whitbread xp S Stout 1070.9 1023.5 6.27 66.80% 20.05 6.62 1.5 2 2 62º 79.87% 16.10% 4.03%
18th Mar 1865 Barclay Perkins TT Porter 1058.2 1018.5 5.25 68.20% 15.14 3.69 65.5º 83.41% 13.10% 3.49%
5th Jul 1870 Truman Runner Porter 1056.8 1016.6 5.31 70.73% 10.3 2.64 62º 85.34% 9.77% 4.89%
21st Dec 1870 Truman Bottling Porter Porter 1060.4 1013.9 6.16 77.06% 18.2 5.14 60º 86.06% 9.29% 4.65%
23rd Nov 1870 Truman Country Runner Porter 1062.3 1011.9 6.67 80.89% 13.7 3.53 59º 76.01% 8.21% 4.93% 10.86%
16th Mar 1871 Truman Keeping Porter 1067.3 1016.6 6.71 75.31% 16.5 4.84 58º 89.53% 9.67% 0.81%
6th Jul 1870 Truman Running Stout Stout 1072.0 1020.8 6.78 71.15% 14.0 5.03 58º 88.88% 6.95% 4.17%
4th Jul 1870 Truman Double Stout Stout 1079.5 1022.2 7.59 72.13% 12.5 5.14 60º 89.29% 6.98% 3.72%
4th Jul 1870 Truman Imperial Stout 1083.7 1023.5 7.95 71.85% 12.5 5.40 60º 89.29% 6.98% 3.72%
17th Nov 1870 Truman Double Export Stout Stout 1092.0 1020.8 9.42 77.41% 12.5 5.89 58º 81.28% 14.63% 4.10%
Whitbread brewing records document numbers LMA/4453/D/09/061 and LMA/4453/D/09/062 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Barclay Perkins brewing record document number ACC/2305/01/546 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Truman brewing record document number B/THB/C/72 held at the London Metropolitan Archives
Assuming 336 lbs for a qtr of pale malt, 254 lbs for black malt and brown malt