Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1879 William Younger No.1

No, we hadn't forgotten about Let's Brew. But you know what it's like with the holidays, the food and, of course, the drink. Now we're into January our schedules have become as blank as my kids' faces when I ask them to help me make pies.
I often tell you that we've a special treat for you. Today we genuinely do. It's a legendary beer. The Granddaddy of all strong Scotch Ales: Younger's No. 1. The brewer's flagship beer and one that was once as well-known as Guinness or Bass.

I'll be honest. Younger's product range still confuses me. There are two separate sets of strong beers. There are the strong Shilling Ales, 120/- and 140/-, both around 1100º. Then you've No. 1, and No. 2 which are not far off that gravity. Basically there's a fair bit of overlap in terms of strength. Maybe one day I'll work out the difference. I would say that the numbered Ales were the Stock Ales and the Shilling Ales the Mild Ales, but I'm not so sure it's that simple.

My first spotting of the numbered Ales is 1859, in the form of No.3. I don't get to see the full set of 1 to 4 until 1868. I suspect that their inspiration lay in Burton. Several Burton brewers, most notably Bass, had numbered Ales. With another legendary beer, Bass No. 1, at their head. It was common for the sons of Scottish brewers to spend a brewing apprenticeship in England, often in Burton.

I know that at least one of the Younger family spent some time in Burton. I've seen the brewing notebook of William J. Younger from his time at Evershed in Burton in 1891-1892. Look, it's even got his signature in it:

If Younger's No.1 is their version of Bass No. 1, what does that make it in terms of style? Piece of piss that one. It makes it a Barley Wine. But what did Younger themselves call it? Now there's a funny one. They called it two different things. See that label at the top? There are two versions of it. I can see that it's for the Scottish market because it's called Strong Ale. On the English labels Strong is replaced by Scotch.

I'm getting back to a point I've made several times before: Scotch Ale and Burton Ale are variations on a theme. And basically the same thing.

I would tell you more about the later history of No. 1, but I'm saving that for later recipes. Did I mention that were doing a series of Younger's No.1 and No.3 recipes? No? OK, were doing a series of Younger's No.1 and No.3 recipes. There. You know now. It's fascinating stuff. Especially how they transformed themselves.

Oh, and if you believe all that grillox about Scotch Ales having only the faintest whisper of hops, take a look at the hopping on this baby. 

I'll call it a day here ("It's a day.") and pass you over to Kristen . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:


Happy new year time!!! Yeah….another year of historic beers and plenty more to come. This will be the first in the line of No1 and No3 that we bring you over the course a wee bit me thinks. Enjoy!


Grist – This beer is like a lot of the other Youngers. Two pale malts. Lots of Continental malt and then some Scottish (or English) chucked in for good measure. Pick your favorites. LOTS of malt though. The efficiency of their brewing this beer was pretty horrendous but for us we need not worry. The beer is a solid 1.098. Simple infusion. Easy to get there. The high mash temp will help keep the beer from fermenting out also.

Hops – Good old Youngers. Throwing monkey wrenches in peoples views of Scottish ales. No less than 5 hops go in this one but we’ll only count 4 of them as the itty bit of the other would get drowned out by the Cluster anyway. However, look at the list. Its kind of like the best of the best list from countries around Europe no!? A pretty heavy hand of dry hops also make this one pretty hop forward which is saying a lot for its gravity. I’ve made this with a single hop (Goldings) and then the combination you see in the recipe. The later was much more complex and enjoyable. Do your best to use them all.

Yeast – London III. No real replacement. You really need that low attenuation so do your best. Also, I underpitched by about 20% and it seemed to help also.


Arctic Alchemy said...

A hoppy, sweet pale ale , 4 SRM and no extended boil time for kettle caramalization or color, add to that 5 hop varieties, from Germany, and England If this doesn't shake up the perception of what Scotch Ale really was. Poor Papazian and the style zealots will pull their hair out over this one.

Great recipe fellas, HNY !

Gary Gillman said...

Useful data, and interesting to ponder with a number of posts and discussions here in the last three years regarding shilling ales vs. the range, arguably the "English" range, that emerged in parallel in the mid-1800's and partly replaced it. As much as the numbers, colours and of course tastes can ever be reconciled to such a scheme (i.e. not perfectly), I believe this is a fair view of it.

The shilling ales, in previous analyses here, were said to be generally syrupy, which e.g., the short boiling times before 1850 would have enhanced but also there was IIRC lower average hops per barrel for these ales vs. the English-type range. Even fruitiness, an English characteristic, could be said to characterize Scots ales more and more into the century since another finding was that fermentation temperatures slowly increased over the 1800's. This itself shows a stylistic bent to England.

All this makes sense (to me) because the increasing scale of the industry would tend to uniformize practice between the two countries and in the English direction given the huge base of the industry there. Shilling ales were surely an echo of an older time, but echos which in this regard and some others IMO, linger to this day.

One of the problems of reconciling comments on Scots ales old, later and current is, which ones are they talking about? If they are talking about English types, hoppiness should, past the mild ale range, be accepted. If they are talking about beers which are vestiges of an older tradition, the comments about few hops make more sense.

This is my own view anyway from what I've seen to date, and therefore I'd view Younger's numbered range as indeed a more or less English scheme - mild ale to pale ale to Burton ale in style - vs. the shilling ales which were mostly rich and classically strong, too (i.e., at their best in the 100 plus range).


Barm said...

Actually they called it three different things: when Irish bottlers got No. 1 it was labelled Barley Wine.

Kristen, how would you achieve low attenuation like this with modern yeast?

Adrian Avgerinos said...

This seems like a good recipe to ask this question:

Kristen, do dry hop additions produce any sort of secondary characteristics after extended aging? This looks like a beer one might age for at least a few months prior to serving but by that time I suspect a lot of the dry hop character may be lost.

If the plan is to age/condition for a few months prior to serving are dry hops pointless?

Ron, was this type of beer shipped out to pubs only a couple weeks after fermentation or was it brewery conditioned for a few weeks/months? Would pubs serve this shortly after receiving or would they condition it for a period of time?

Ron Pattinson said...

Adrian, it looks like a Stock Ale to me. So yes, it would be conditioned before sale.

I've no details so I can only guess based on other sources. One thing I know for certain: it wasn't vatted. It was filled into hogsheads, barrels and half barrels. The first is usually the sign of a beer that's going to bottlers.

Guess as to conditioning time? Probably at least 3 months. As to where that happened, I'm not sure. But I seem to remember a source that said Edinburgh brewers sent their beer out young. So it might well have been aged either by bottlers or publicans.

I think you're assuming that the only purpose of dry-hopping is hop aroma. I suspect it was as a preservative.

Gary Gillman said...

Thomson & Stewart, both Scots, stated Edinburgh practice was to send out the beers young, in trade casks direct to customer:

They state too the beer was essentially fined and little or no fermentation would result. Therefore, while I'm sure the strong beers were kept for a time by some publicans (or possibly by the brewery, just in inventory before shipment and depending probably on the time of year), this is not a conditioning as the English would have known. It is a practice closer to what craft brewers do here today, which is to filter the beer reasonably well but not pasteurize it. These beers can be kept for a time but won't develop the same flavours as beer cleansed but not rendered bright. In this sense, I believe the stock beers in Edinburgh at least were not matured in the same way as English strong beers kept on the lees for a long time in vats or other containers. They would therefore have tasted cleaner, with no likely no brett development.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, they were talking about Shilling Ales which are essentially Mild Ales. So of course you wouldn't expect them to be aged. This is a different type of beer.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, I agree, but did not the same practice occur with English-style strong ale and the pale ales? I can't recall seeing any evidence of vatting or cask-conditioning in Scotland, regardless of beer type, in other words. The one exception I can recall is for some porter, that reference to vats on gantries you found. (This by the way may explain the relative absence of cask ale in Scotland until recently, I don't think they had any real tradition of it).


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, English-style Pale Ales were matured in trade casks - barrels or hogsheads. The practice was exactly the same in Scotland.

I've no idea what you mean by there being no cask-conditioned. All the draught beer in this period was cask-conditioned.

Gary Gillman said...

Ron, I mean it is my understanding that no further fermentation occurred after racking in Scots practice (post-artisan anyway).

See e.g., this explanation, which references Scottish brewing, not just Edinburgh's (1852):

I believe this never changed even though Burton-style ale and pale ale became popular. The palate of the latter would probably have differed from shilling beers in bitterness and perhaps esteriness. But I don't think Scots beers of any kind were known for secondary fermentation qualities, in other words (excepting apparently some porter).

The author above is saying that long vatting and a continued, "obscure" fermentation, of the type known in England, did not occur in Scotland. Of course, it died out finally in England too, to be replaced by conditioning of running beers and use of finings. Did this latter practice transfer to Scotland even though the one it replaced had not? Maybe it did, but I can't recall seeing any discussion on it, and therefore I think all the beer in Scotland was mild in the sense of being racked bright.

This doesn't mean that some pubs or even breweries didn't keep strong beer for a time, in cask or bottle, and a cool climate would facilitate that just as now is done in the U.S. with aid of cold rooms. But this is different surely than keeping beer on the lees to clarify and ferment multiple times.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, you're misunderstanding that text. By fermentation he means primary fermentation. He's discussing the system of cleansing, not cask-conditioning.

If Scottish beer hadn't been cask-conditioned it would have been as flat as a pancake.

Gary Gillman said...

The way I read it, he is saying no further fermentation of any kind occurs in the trade cask. He says there is no further yeast to come out. He does refer to finings later but his discussion encompasses successively brewing in different areas of Britain and I don't think he means Scotland in this regard.

Roberts (Scottish Ale-Brewer), writing a few years earlier, states, "The Scotch brewers make no use of isinglass for finings...". Taken together, I read it that clear beer that was fizzy enough was sent to the trade.

I do recall as you will those statements in the books that some Scottish ale was sent warm in the cask, still fermenting, to the households. This was surely an artisan phase though; in commercial establishments, from what I've gleaned, the beers were in effect conditioned at the brewery, at least by this period (circa-1850).

I'd assume this was so for any kind of beer they made including English styles, except maybe some porter. Maybe there is evidence to the contrary, and if so fine, I can't recall off-hand seeing any though.

If the industries (English, Scots) did align, as I believe they did, increasingly in the 1800's, it would make sense that draught beer in Scotland was cask-conditioned, but again I can't recall reading this or e.g., that Scots publicans practiced cellarmanship in the English way (pegging, adding finings where the brewer didn't, etc).

Ian Donnachie has something to say about the history of cask-conditioning in Scotland but I don't have access to the full text.


Kristen England said...


there are many things you can do. The mash temp is high which will help. You can limite the number of yeast you put in and the oxygen. However you are likely to be more in danger doing it this way. The easiest and most traditional way would be to drop the yeast by cold. They'd open the attemperators when they hit the gravity they wanted to crash the yeast.


yes, dry hops produce many different characteristics. You lose a lot of the actual hop character when the beer ages. The bu's and the regular character. Ron has more info but Fullers did a comparison of aged Vintage ale I believe showing so. As Ron said, its more of an astringent/aseptic than for aroma, although there was a lot of aroma and tannins inparted b/c of it.

BukowskiVenom said...

Kristen, any idea on how to bottle this high FG beast? If you let the yeast drop out then the sugar the yeast didn't finish will either start back up in the bottle or it will be still since no priming sugar method was used to carbonate. Frightened of bottle bombs. How long do I ferment it and age before bottling also? I'm just trying to come to grips how to prime and bottle a stable high FG ale? Would you just bottle the stable FG ale without priming and hope some very minor sugars will eventually produce a little condition? Thanks.