Thursday 31 May 2012

Fuller's X Ale 1914 - 1920

It seems ages since I last had a ridiculously long series of ridiculously complex tables. Seeing as I've been transcribing Fullers records for the last two weeks, they seem an obvious place to start.

WW I. In addition to piling up corpses in Flanders, it also played havoc with British brewing. The strength and variety of British beer would never be as great again. Looking at an individual beer conveys a good impression of these changes. Today we'll be holding Fuller's X in the searchlight, hoping we can track it long enough until one of our ack-ack guns can pin it.

As with the vast majority of other British brewers at the time, X Ale, or standard Mild Ale, was Fuller's bread and butter beer. They brewed more of it than anything else. But being the biggest seller also meant that it had to bear the brunt of any changes forced either through shortages or government decree.

Looking at the table below, it's pretty easy to spot the key dates: April 1917 and April 1918. Because the decline in OG isn't lineal. There are a couple of sharp drops, followed by a period of relative stability. Up until April 1917 the gravity had dropped a little, around 4 or 5 points. Then it suddenly loses 11 points. It remains steady at 1035-ish for another year, then plummets another 8 points. Down into the regions of intoxication-free drinking.

As you can see, the end of the war didn't bring immediate relief to drinkers. X Ale remained at 1027 for almost a year after the Armistice, before creeping up to 1030. Though the situation is complicated by the introduction of a stronger Mild, XX Ale, at the arse end of 1919. Fullers continued to brew X Ale and XX Ale right through the interwar period. X Ale becoming an example of a new style. A low-gravity Mild sold at a cheap price.

Most London brewers did something similar, effectively continuing to brew the hated wartime "Government Ale". Barclay Perkins' version was called Ale 4d. Whitbread's LA. These beers hung around until WW II, only disappearing when a new round of shortages and restrictions knocked standard Mild down to a similar gravity.

Fuller's X Ale 1914 - 1920
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt black malt no. 3 sugar glucose intense sugar caramel oat husks flaked maize primings
13th Nov 1914 X Mild 1049.6 1011.1 5.09 77.65% 5.15431 1.15 2
60º 71.05%
11.99% 6.00%
6.30% 3.87%
17th Nov 1914 X Mild 1050.7 1011.6 5.17 77.05% 5.43933 2.38 2
60º 74.92%
12.49% 5.55%

6.24% 0.81%
8th Dec 1914 X Mild 1048.4 1011.4 4.91 76.56% 5.43935 1.11 2
60.5º 82.25%
6.96% 3.48%

6.53% 0.78%
7th Jan 1915 X Mild 1047.7 1013.6 4.51 71.54% 5.22874 1.07 1.5 1.75 60º 78.56%
7.35% 3.68%

6.89% 3.53%
2nd Jun 1915 X Mild 1049.4 1011.1 5.07 77.57% 5.43461 1.13 2
60º 74.79%
11.59% 5.80%

6.96% 0.86%
2nd Jun 1915 X Mild 1044.9 1009.1 4.73 79.63% 5.43461 1.02 2
60º 74.79%
11.59% 5.80%

6.96% 0.86%
29th May 1916 X Mild 1049.9 1011.4 5.09 77.22% 6.4071 1.35 2
60º 70.58%
8.30% 9.69%

10.38% 1.04%
4th Jul 1916 X Mild 1047.1 1011.4 4.73 75.88% 5.91424 1.17 2
60º 77.25%
5.35% 5.35%

11.04% 1.01%
3rd Aug 1916 X Mild 1047.0 1008.6 5.08 81.71% 5.91424 1.16 2
60º 77.25%
5.35% 5.35%

11.04% 1.01%
16th Aug 1916 X Mild 1044.5 1011.1 4.42 75.11% 5.82614 1.12 2
60º 76.18%
5.44% 5.44%

10.88% 2.06%
26th Oct 1916 X Mild 1046.0 1007.5 5.09 83.73% 6.4071 1.27 2
60º 77.25%
5.35% 5.35%

11.04% 1.01%
12th Jan 1917 X Mild 1045.2 1008.3 4.88 81.62% 6.0941 1.28 2
59.5º 74.30%
5.31% 5.31%

10.61% 4.48%
5th Apr 1917 X Mild 1045.9 1009.7 4.79 78.89% 4.29841 0.83 2
60º 77.56%
4.43% 5.91%

11.08% 1.02%
10th Aug 1917 X Mild 1034.8 1006.6 3.72 80.88% 7.62423 1.10 2
62º 96.49% 2.88%

22nd Aug 1917 X Mild 1034.5 1006.6 3.69 80.75% 7.30689 1.09 2
62º 93.73% 2.87%

26th Aug 1917 X Mild 1036.0 1008.0 3.69 77.66% 6.83869 1.19 2
61.5º 76.70%

5.71% 11.42% 5.05%
29th Oct 1917 X Mild 1035.9 1007.8 3.72 78.40% 7.21925 1.17 2
61.5º 81.18%


12.09% 5.54%
4th Jan 1918 X Mild 1035.3 1008.3 3.57 76.47% 6.27451 1.17 2
61º 77.32%
15th Apr 1918 X Mild 1027.3 1005.5 2.88 79.74% 6.37858 0.90 1.5 1.75 61º 65.23%
6.21% 15.53% 1.39%
21st Jun 1918 X Mild 1027.4 1007.2 2.67 73.71% 6.68653 0.86 2
60º 74.61%
12.43% 4.97% 1.45%

4th Nov 1918 X Mild 1028.0 1006.6 2.83 76.26% 7.06311 0.88 1.5
61.5º 77.80%
5.93% 11.86% 1.71%

20th Jan 1919 X Mild 1026.7 1004.7 2.91 82.38% 6.89572 0.89 1.5
60º 76.08%

17.90% 1.68%

12th Apr 1919 X Mild 1027.4 1005.3 2.93 80.81% 6.94391 0.86 1.5
63º 76.22%

14.12% 1.74%

4.23% 3.69%
20th Jun 1919 X Mild 1027.2 1006.4 2.76 76.58% 6.77188 0.82 1.5
61.5º 69.56%

14.05% 1.88%

10.54% 3.96%
22nd Aug 1919 X Mild 1030.5 1007.8 3.01 74.59% 7.25981 0.99 1.5
60.5º 68.60%

17.67% 1.73%

9.35% 2.65%
15th Sep 1919 X Mild 1030.6 1006.1 3.24 80.05% 6.63937 0.91 1.5 1.5 60.5º 64.09%

16.62% 1.63%

10.68% 6.98%
9th Feb 1920 X Mild 1030.5 1006.4 3.19 79.09% 6.88446 0.91 1.5 1.5 62º 74.69%

6.04% 1.74%

13.58% 3.95%
11th Jun 1920 X Mild 1030.5 1005.3 3.34 82.76% 6.98231 0.89 1.5 1.5 62º 77.90%

3.46% 1.93%

13.85% 2.86%
26th Apr 1920 X Mild 1030.5 1005.5 3.30 81.83% 6.93193 0.89 1.5
62º 78.32%

3.48% 1.94%

13.05% 3.21%
6th Dec 1920 X Mild 1030.1 1005.0 3.32 83.44% 6.91815 0.89 1.5 1.5 62º 77.29%

3.38% 1.43%

13.94% 3.97%
Fuller's brewing records.

Fuller's XX Ale 1919 - 1920
Date Year Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl boil time (hours) boil time (hours) Pitch temp pale malt glucose other sugar flaked maize primings
22nd Aug 1919 XX Mild 1041.0 1011.9 3.84 70.93% 7.25981 1.33 1.5
61º 68.60% 17.67% 1.73% 9.35% 2.65%
15th Sep 1919 XX Mild 1041.2 1008.9 4.28 78.48% 6.63937 1.22 1.5 1.5 61º 64.09% 16.62% 1.63% 10.68% 6.98%
9th Feb 1920 XX Mild 1041.0 1009.7 4.14 76.37% 6.88446 1.22 1.5 1.5 62º 74.69% 6.04% 1.74% 13.58% 3.95%
16th Feb 1920 XX Mild 1041.2 1008.9 4.27 78.47% 6.73643 1.21 1.5
63º 73.78% 5.47% 1.71% 13.66% 5.38%
11th Jun 1920 XX Mild 1041.2 1009.4 4.20 77.12% 6.98231 1.20 1.5 1.5 62º 77.90% 3.46% 1.93% 13.85% 2.86%
26th Apr 1920 XX Mild 1041.0 1007.2 4.47 82.44% 6.93193 1.19 1.5
62º 78.32% 3.48% 1.94% 13.05% 3.21%
6th Dec 1920 XX Mild 1041.0 1009.1 4.21 77.69% 6.91815 1.21 1.5 1.5 60º 77.29% 3.38% 1.43% 13.94% 3.97%
Fuller's brewing records.

Unlike other London brewers, Fuller's didn't introduce a beer called Government Ale. Instead, they knocked down the strength of their X Ale to fit the Government Ale specifications. Both Whitbread and Barclay Perkins discontinued their X Ale and introduced a new beer called GA.

You can see the changes made to the recipe as the war progressed. All from necessity. The pre-war recipe was pretty simple: pale malt, No. 3 invert sugar, glucose and flaked maize. The sudden disappearance of the latter three in 1917 was surely because of their unavailability. With the odd result of the beer becoming all malt, with the exception of primings. The colour coming from black malt rather than No. 3 invert. The next phase, later in 1917, was to use a small amount of a brewing sugar called intense for the colour, a fair amount of maize, but no other sugar.

No. 3 invert makes a comeback in 1918 for a while before the recipe settles into its postwar form of pale malt, glucose, intense and flaked maize. Where's the crystal malt? Fuller's didn't use it. Before WW I you don't see it used much anywhere. Sometimes in Mild Ales, but almost never in Pale Ales. That's a comparatively recent phenomenon. Fuller's were pretty typical in using only pale malt in all their beers except for Porter and Stout.

Next it'll be the turn of Fuller's Pale Ales. Or their Porter and Stout. Haven't quite made my mind up yet.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Trouble at Messrs. Arrol & Sons, Limited, Brewery, Alloa (part 3)

Remember the start of this series? No, I can't either. Sometime way back in the past. We've finally got to Mr. Heslop's suggestions for cleaning up Arrol's brewery and making the beers drinkable.

Having read the long list of dirty equipment, sloppy methods and inadequate machinery, you can't help but assume that all Arrol's beer had been vinegar or worse. How could a brewery which, like other Scots brewers, depended mostly on free trade, have kept any customers with their beer in such a sorry state? Well, the fact that they brought in Mr. Heslop suggests that the poor beer quality was affecting sales.

Let's see what Mr. Heslop suggested:

"Mr Heslop's Solution

Having been asked by you to make a full report on the trouble at your brewery at Alloa, I have now pleasure in forwarding same. I have concentrated this as much as possible without in any way detracting from its value, and trust it will meet with your approval, and that better results may be obtained in the near future.

The cause of the trouble with your beers in my opinion arises from a combination of circumstances. The first, dirty plant, walls and cellars, also a certain percentage of casks which had been passed as clean, there having been no proper inspection lamp used. The second, too large a percentage of heavy malts in grists for hot weather. The third, badly cooked wort being boiled in too large bulk and by steam. The finings are being made at Brewery, but although higher in cost to buy it would be advisable to do so until such time as cellars where this produce is made are in a cleaner, sweeter smelling state.

Californian hops are being used for dry hopping meantime, but a blend of Mild English hops might improve the flavour of beer in cask.

Your stock of Indian and Californian malts is getting too small. I have told your brewer to start malting operations immediately as his stock of usable malts will be finished in about a month, and new malt must not be used till it is at least 5 to 6 weeks old. Your Indian barley is late in arriving and you will be compelled to buy this class of malt also Californian for a time to keep your Brewery going, as by blending American and Scotch malts, with above and Californian, except in very small percentages, can only lead to further trouble and fining difficulties. If possible to procure, a quantity of Tunisian light malt to be blended in pale ale grists would still give much better results.

Since seeing American barley to-day and ascertaining from your Maltster the difficulty he had in keeping it sound on the malting floor, I strongly advise you to sell both barley (400 qrs.) and malt (700 qrs.) even at a slight loss, as it will only give you further trouble with your beers if used, and I have told your Mr Church and Mr Hay this to-day. I also examined barley and malt cleaning machinery, and meantime you have merely roughing-out machines and an addition should be made to this plant later.

The mash and sparge heats are correct for type of malts used, and all other particulars and details of system I have gone into with your Brewer.

The Brewer should have full power in the management of Brewing and Malting Departments with no interference whatever from the Commercial Department, and the ordering and order books should be in his hands. When barley, malt and hops have to be bought and contracts have to be made, then one of your Directors should be consulted.

If my advice is carefully followed out without unnecessary delay, plant etc. kept thoroughly clean and sweet and with proper supervision of men, I see no reason why you should not turn out Ales of fairly good quality.

I asked Mr Robert Henderson to examine and report on well, as this was absolutely necessary.

I am. Gentlemen,

Yours faithfully

A. J. Heslop."
Journal of the Scottish Brewing Archive Vol. 3, 2001, pages 35 - 36.

His recommendations in a nutshell: clean the brewery and make sure all the casks are clean; change the malt used; buy in finings rather than making them in a filthy cellar.

This being 1916, getting hold of the foreign barley to malt wouldn't necessarily have been that simple. And the quality of barley available wasn't likely to be the best. Brewers had to learn to make use of what they could get hold of during the war. I've seen it mentioned elsewhere that malt shouldn't be used immediately. Not sure why that is exactly, but I'm not going to argue.

I'm shocked that they used American hops for dry-hopping. Normally only good English or Continental hops were used in the cask and American hops were reserved for early copper additions. Mostly because no-one much cared for the flavour of American hops and used them where this would be the least noticeable.

There's one recommendation that should be nailed up in every brewery: let the brewer run brewing operations and keep the money men out of it. It's a sad and depressing truth that once the brewer loses control of brewing, the beers turn to shit. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. It's happened everywhere from Bass to Guinness to Pilsner Urquell.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

People like you shouldn't have kids

Alexei Burton Pattinson. My younger son. Bit of a handful in his younger years.

I'd picked him up from the creche, then gone to the supermarket. Bags hanging on the handles of the pushchair, balancing his weight.

Lexie is his own man. I love that. He's got a character you can strike sparks off. It'll serve him well it later life. But I had to deal with him as a toddler.

Going home from the supermarket. Full day of work, beating sun, son kicking off shoes. Trying to stand, struggling, shouting, screaming.

I wish I'd known why he was so angry. I'd have given him anything. Sudetenland? It's yours, mate. My underwear? Take them. Oh, you don't want them, you want me to put them on my head. Skid-mark face side? Nae probs.

You can't threaten, reason, or bargain with kids of  certain age and anger level. I've tried. Bribe? Forget that. Money is meaningless to toddlers.

While I tried to stop him smashing himself onto the pavement, a stranger approached. Someone to help me soothe my child and support my shopping? No. A self-righteous bastard, who said: "People like you shouldn't have kids" and fucked off.

A middle-aged bloke came and helped.

Lexie wanted to come down the Wildeman today. Course he could. The main plank of my parenthood is never refusing the kids anything I'd like to do myself.

He was a pussycat.

I should't have kids?

Mr Whitbread and opium

Parliamentary debates can sometimes take surreal turns. This is a particularly bizarre discussion that took place during a debate on excise duties.

The discussion was prompted by a government proposal to raise the import duty on opium to discourage brewers from using it in beer. Odd, seeing as it was already illegal to put opium in beer. It was mentioned by name in the list of items specifically prohibited from being put into beer.

And yes, he is one of those Whitbreads. There was quite a tradition of London brewers entering parliament.

"Mr. WHITBREAD stated, that many of the respectable persons concerned in the brewing trade felt themselves much aggrieved by the expression of an Honourable Gentleman (Mr. Vansittart) on a former evening, that his reason for proposing an additional duty on the importation of opium, was to prevent the brewers from using it in the manufacture of beer. Now he wished the Honourable Gentleman to state whether he meant to apply that allusion generally, for he could assure the House that long as he was acquainted with the brewing trade he never knew of any such ingredient being employed. On the contrary, he was aware that a very severe penalty would attach to the use of it. If, therefore, the Honourable Gentleman was in possession of any information that such means were resorted to to adulterate the beverage of the public, it was his duty to prosecute the guilty parties, and not to throw out any general imputations.

Mr. VANSITTART, in reply to the Honourable Gentleman, said that Government had received information sufficient to justify the statement alluded to, but not such as to furnish legal proof of guilt in a Court of justice, but he assured the Honourable Gentleman that he did not at all intend to insinuate any thing as to the use of opium against the London brewers.

Mr. WHITBREAD observed, that it was incumbent on the Honourable Gentleman to propose every precaution for the security of the health of the People, and thanked him on his own part and that of all the Gentlemen concerned for the explanation he had given.

Mr. VANSITTART again disclaimed any intention of throwing out a general insinuation, but that from the information he had received, coupled with an account that a large quantity of opium was about to be imported, he felt it advisable to recommend the advance on duty alluded to.

Mr. LANGMEAD said, he had been above thirty years engaged in the brewing trade, and that he never heard of such a thing as opium being used in the manufacture of beer.

Mr. VANSITTART was as ready to acquit the Plymouth brewers as those of London (a laugh) of the charge of using this noxious ingredient.

Mr. SHERIDAN thought that as Government had such information as they described, it was not sufficient to levy a tax upon opium ; for that was in fact nothing more than to let the State partake in the profits of poisoning the People. Some measures effectually to punish the manufacturer and prevent the sale of such noxious beverage ought to be immediately adopted.

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER explained the cause of the proposed increase of the tax upon opium; while it was not at all too high for the sale of it as a medicine, he confidently hoped it was too high to discourage the use of it in the adulteration of beer. As to any further measures of prevention or punishment, he considered the laws already in existence quite adequate where conviction could be brought home.

After some further remarks by Mr. Sheridan, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Hobhouse, and Mr. Vansittart, the motion was agreed to. The House resumed, and the Report was ordered to be received to-morrow. "
Morning Chronicle - Thursday 16 June 1803, page 2.
Evidence but not good enough to get a conviction? Sounds more like rumour or supposition.

The accusation of adding opium to beer crops up quite a bit, but I can't ever remember seeing a case where a brewer or publican was prosecuted for it. While there were plenty of convictions for other adulterants. You have to wonder if it's all just a myth.

The same newspaper article recorded another Parliamentary debate. This one on Report of the Committee on the Survey of the Highlands:

"Mr. BASTARD objected to the application of the public money to any other purpose in the present conjuncture, than the defence of the country."

I thought Alan B'Stard didn't enter parliament until the 1980's.

Monday 28 May 2012

The local veto and Glasgow trams

The British press. It's always had its fair share of scumbags. Why let facts get in the way of sensation? Why indeed.

The Local Veto allowed areas in Scotland to vote on whether any licences for the sale of alcohol would be granted. Effectively turning a district dry. Temperance campaigners spent a couple of decades trying to force it through parliament. They hoped that areas would go dry one by one, resulting in total prohibition. Just one slight problem. Most areas had a "wet" majority.

A few districts in Glasgow did go dry. Though nothing like as many as the killjoys had hoped. Now here's the second flaw in the Local Veto approach: "dry" areas inevitably bordered wet ones. Any guesses what thirsty drinkers in dry areas did? It's pretty effing obvious. Got on a tram or bus. Only those with brains twisted by teetotal propaganda could have failed to see that coming.

The following roundup of Scottish newspaper articles about the phenomenon may sound familiar. It's a lot like the bilge you read in today's newspapers about "binge" drinking.

"The crazy patchwork of "temperance" experiment, set up by the operation of the Temperance (Scotland) Act, is causing much confusion in that country which at once is the playground of the tourist and the corpus vile of teetotal activity. The result of last year's "local option" voting under the Act has had results which the progenitors of the Act apparently were incapable of foreseeing. Here and there certain areas  have gone  "dry," the licensed house has been deprived of its licence, whilst in contiguous areas " no change " is the rule of the day. We referred last month to the fact that this state of affairs has led to the resuscitation of many omnibus and tram-car routes between "dry" and "wet" areas, owing, as one local newspaper describes it, to the "search for drink." The Press of Scotland, indeed, is to-day full of boldly-headed articles telling of the unmanageable throngs who besiege the tram-cars and buses in their endeavour to reach outlying districts which are able to minister to their requirements for alcohol. In lurid colours is painted the condition of these poor, misguided people — "men and women of the lowest class in search of drink" who so crowd the conveyances that "regular users of the cars complain that they are unable to get home." According to the manager of the Glasgow Corporation Tramways — Glasgow has an inconvenient habit of closing its licensed houses on Tuesday evenings — on the homeward trek "90 per cent, of the passengers are under the influence of liquor, some singing, some quarrelling, and some smoking" contrary to regulation. We perused these stories of the iniquitous behaviour of our "brother Scots," told in their own newspapers, with deep-felt sympathy, albeit we inclined to take comfort in the reflection that having made their bed they must lie in it, till our eyes were held (despite the miscroscopic headline) by the following astounding information:—

It was reported by the Chief Constable to the Glasgow Magistrates yesterday that the convictions for offences involving drunkenness recorded at the divisional police courts of the city during the week ended September 18th numbered 352, contrasted with 544 cases in the corresponding period of last year. The continued decrease of drunkenness is interesting in view of the fact that the trading hours for licensed premises were extended on September 1st under the now Licensing Act.

In the "dishing up" of "news," our friends of the Northern Kingdom can surely give points to some of our Press south of the Border!"
Brewers Journal 1921, page 423.

The phrase "men and women of the lowest class" immediately made me think of Rab C. Nesbitt and his mates. Funny that.

The Local Veto Act turned out to be an expensive farce. Local taxpayers had to foot the bill for repeated polls, few of which resulted in areas going "dry". Its effect on the number of licences overall in Scotland was minimal. It managed to both disappoint temperance campaigners and annoy the pub trade.