Thursday 3 November 2011

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1868 William Younger 120/-

This is turning into so much fun, working our way through Younger's 1868 beer range. This time it's a beer that was one of the brewery's main products for much of the 19th century.

In my random selection of pages from Younger's Abbey Brewery logs, 120/- is the third commonest beer, after 100/- and XP (IPA). Which is quite surprising, given its strength.

120/- is an Edinburgh Ale. I can now say that confidently. Edinburgh ale being, as we all know, a type of strong  Ale. Sometimes Mild Ale, sometimes Stock Ale. But in the weird world of Scottish brewing, it's not as simple as that. (What ever is simple in history? Stuff that isn't true, or only tells the partial truth.) Because there were two parallel sets of beers.

Excuse me if I've said this before. It's so unusual that I want to be sure you know about it. In England the vast majority of beer, even stuff 10% ABV and more, was usually sold on draught in the 19th century. Bottled beer only really started to get any sort of popularity in the last couple of decades of the century. In Scotland, the situation was completely different. In the 18th and early 19th century almost all beer was sold bottled. Brewers delivered hogsheads to shopkeepers and publicans who then bottled it.

That's what these shilling Ales were. Beers meant for bottling. There was a parallel set of beers, brewed to exactly the same recipes, that were the draught versions. Their strengths were indicated by a number of X's, just like in England. Quite often a beer that was brewed as, say, 100/- was packaged as both 100/- and XXX. The former going into hogsheads and half hogsheads, the latter in barrels and half barrels.

100/- was a dividing line. All the weaker Shilling Ales were Mild Ales when on draught. 100/- was the weakest Stock Ale. These are the pairs of beers:

bottled draught
60/- XX
80/- XXX
100/- S
120/- XS
140/- XXS
160/- XXXS

In English terms, 120/- Ale is about the equivalent of a KK or KKK, but with a lower level of hopping. But don't believe me, look at these numbers:

English and Scottish Stock Ales
Date Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
29th Jan 1868 Barclay Perkins KK Stock Ale 1083.9 1031.9 6.89 62.05% 16.11 7.11
23rd Jan 1867 Barclay Perkins KKK Stock Ale 1093.6 1037.4 7.44 60.06% 15.94 9.53
8th Nov 1867 Whitbread KKK Stock Ale 1082.3 1030.2 6.89 63.30% 14.47 5.60
22nd Oct 1867 Whitbread KK Stock Ale 1077.6 1027.1 6.67 65.00% 14.39 6.01
5th Feb 1866 Truman KXXX Ale Stock Ale 1085.9 1018.8 8.87 78.06% 18 8.14
24th Aug 1868 Younger, Wm. & Co 120/- Ale 1088 1037 6.75 57.95% 7.14 3.57
William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive document number WY/6/1/2/21
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives document number ACC/2305/1/572
Truman brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives document number B/THB/C/147
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives document number LMA/4453/D/01/033

The level of hopping is closer to that of a London Mild Ale of a similar gravity.

Yes, I did say it. In this case the Scottish beer is more lightly hopped than its direct English equivalents.

On that cheerful note, over to Kristen . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Same deal as the previous Younger logs. Very simple stuff. Lots of repeats from last week. That will happen when we are doing the Scots stuff.


Grist – Finally finally finally we get a chance to use some bloody Scottish malt in a Scottish beer!!! So, pick your favorite Scottish malt…of which 99.9% of you use Golden Promise. That works very well for this. In addition to this I used some tasty Dingmans pale malt because I have it and it is definitely tasty…yes, I said that. Whatever you choose, choose something very nice.

Hops – This is going to hard for a lot of people to do but give it a shot. Find yourself some Polish Lubelski (Lubins)…Or a derivation of them. Marynka is easiest to find but  Sybilla, Junga, etc can also be used. If you really can’t find anything else, good old Saaz will be fine. I really like Marynka and had a buddy send me just enough Sybilla and Junga to try out and they are different but really cool. Just please do your best.

Finishing gravity – Ok, so I’ve been getting a lot of emails about how to pull higher finishing gravities for a lot of the beers we do here on the Let’s Brew series and Ron and my book. Most people only worry about not finishing too high. Here, we really want to finish high…and how do we do that. There are many things you can do. Choosing a lower attenuating yeast is a pretty good start. Ensure that your mash temp is actually as high as it is supposed to be. You can also underpitch the yeast by about 25% and still be safe. Under oxygenating will also keep your FG higher. Then finally, you can rack while the beer is a bit green. Pulling beer off yeast will do it all the time. Having said all that it can be very dangerous for your beer to do all of these without experience. A lot of yeast by-products are left in the beer when its pulled off yeast early. Stressed yeast, as you are doing if you ‘under’ anything, can crap a bunch of unfriendly things. So, if you really want to give it a shot. Start with a few things at a time and then go from there. Its hard when you start and you may screw a few things up but for authenticities sake, some of you will give it a go.

Yeast – You want a big fat tasty yeast. London III will do me just fine.


Anonymous said...


Is it me or the Fg's of Barclay Perkins's ales seems higher than sooner in the 19th century?

Ron Pattinson said...

ealusceop, well spotted. I've been revising my interpretation of some Barclay Perkins FG's. Their habit of using different gravity scales in the same records makes like difficult.

Kristen England said...

There are different scales but the attenuations all seem to be in the 1.XXX format. Also, not all of their beers finish high.

A lot of evidence shows why they finish high also. Most of the beers use exactly the same about of yeast whether it be a little 50/- or a huge No2 or 3.

The Beer Wrangler said...

Ron I'm interested to know your view on dividing English and Scottish brewing traditions as 'separate'. It seems to me (a layman by your standards) that there doesn't seem to be a distinct difference in the same way there is between English and Belgian brewing for example. Is it due to the sometimes different terminology used North and South of the border, rather than two distinct brewing traditions and perhaps sensitivities on using the term 'British' where it is felt that even slight differences warrant dividing the UK brewing history into Scottish and English (and Welsh?)

Is this division part of the problem with propagating those myths that you and Martyn Cornell do so much to disprove?

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Wrangler, there were - and still are - differences between English and Scottish brewing. But to see them as two completely disconnected brewing traditions is a mistake.

There was a lot of interaction between the two. London Porter was sold in Scotland and Scottish Strong Ale was sold in London. The types of beer brewed in the two countries were, after 1800, broadly similar: Mild Ale, Stock Ale, Strong Ale, Pale Ale, Porter and Stout.

There was an interchange of technical ideas, with the English learning sparging from the Scots and Scots adopting Burton Unions.

But most authors have made ridiculously simplistic divisions between the two. I'm almost having to begin from scratch in analysing Scottish brewing, so little sensible has ever been written on the subject.

Give me another year or two and I might be able to come up with a decent account of Scottish brewing since 1800. A Scottish brewing tradition does exist. But it's tangled up with the English one.

The Beer Wrangler said...

Thanks so much - I keep learning every time I log on to your site!