Thursday, 17 May 2012

Stout Brewing in the 1920's

Browsing old Brewers' Journals is a dangerous occupation. I keep finding more fascinating titbits. Often not of the kind I'd been looking for. Searching for Scottish stuff I stumbled on something on Stout. Too good to ignore, so here it is.

In the 1920's Porter and Stout was less important to London brewers than it had been for nearly 200 years. As you can tell from the introduction, younger brewers needed to be reminded of London's role as a centre of black beer production.

"Stout Brewing.

Although in the space of an "Occasional Note" it is not possible to deal very extensively with all the details of stout brewing, nevertheless we may give a Abort and concise series of hints which may prove useful to some of our younger readers. London happens to be a great porter and stout brewing centre, partly  due  to the soft type of water supply available. And the brewers of the metropolis have been no less famous for their black beers than have their confreres of Burton been noted for their sound pale ales. One variety of the article corresponds to an entire malt beverage, whilst an alternative carries various proportions and descriptions of sugar. The composition of the grist also varies very considerably. It was formerly the practice to make up a black beer grist from a mixture of pale, amber and brown malts, but now the Irish method of employing only pale and black (roasted or patent) malt very frequently obtains. Mixtures are still used, however, and below  are given several grists  made up of different proportions of pale and coloured malts:

Pale. Amber. Brown. Black.
80% - 12% 8%
69% - 25% 6%
83% - - 17%
89% - - 11%
45% 25% 25% 5%
60% - 40%
86.5% 12.5% - 1%

When a very luscious drinking article is desired special sugars are used in the copper, and for priming the finished beer. With reference to the brewing itself, the mashing liquor for a stout brewing should always be boiled, ordinary salt being employed as the saline constituent to the extent of three-quarters of a pound per quarter, the material being intermixed with the mash, as this is being made. The mashing process in the majority of cases embraces a very moderate mash mixture initial of 148 deg. Fahr., quickly raised by underlets and sparging. In connection with fermentation, the attenuation is generally carried down to nearly a quarter of the original gravity of the collected wort. Home brewers fine the beer in bulk and rack a comparatively bright fluid, whereby they are able to employ a liberal quantity of special priming sugar and unfermented wort in the cask.

For Irish  stouts a somewhat different system is in vogue. In the preparation of these beers the black malt used is much less black than that commonly employed in England. The roasting is not carried further than suffices to produce a rich chocolate brown. The Irish brewers commonly use but two kinds of malt, the so-called "black" and "pale," the former, however, being really dark brown, and the latter frequently "pale" only by comparison, in fact it is often so highly dried as to be practically amber. Such malts are finely crushed separately, and used in the proportions of about 23 pounds of black to the quarter of pale for porter, and with a less proportion of black, say 20 pounds for stout. Where the pale malt is of the  highly dried character referred to, the wort produced, even with prolonged mashing, is sufficiently dextrinous to leave enough body in the beer after fermentation, whilst with a view to securing good condition, it is the custom to add to porter and stout, intended for the home trade, a small proportion of strong wort and old beer, at the time of racking. The strong wort, of a gravity of about 1080 deg., and free from yeast, is used in the proportion of about two and a half gallons to a hogshead, two gallons to a barrel, and one and a half gallons to a kilderkin; old beer is added at the rate of about two gallons per barrel. Kept a day or two in store, before going out, the result of this "worting," or "freshing" as it is sometimes called, is to bring the porter or stout into good condition, which, with fair draught, lasts to the end. The use of wort, in this way, though perhaps rather more troublesome than priming with sugar, solution, has distinct advantages where black beer is concerned, for wort being more favourable to yeast production than sugar alone, the result is better condition, whilst at the same time greater fulness is secured.
Brewers' Journal 1928, page 32."

Let's look at those grists first. A large number of different combinations of malts were used when brewing Stout. I've loads of examples from London. Not one matches the grists given in the articles. That doesn't have any examples of pale, amber, brown and black being used together, while I do. And, to make things more complicated, some used other types of mat than those four. Barclay Perkins tended to use MA (mild ale) malt and SA malt instead of pale. and a few breweries threw in some crystal. Take a look:

London Porter and Stout grists in the 1920's
Date Year Brewer Beer Style OG FG ABV App. Attenuation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
11th Apr 1929 Barclay Perkins BBS Ex Stout 1079.5 1028.0 6.81 64.78% 15.00 5.00
21st Jan 1929 Barclay Perkins BS Stout 1053.8 1020.0 4.46 62.79% 6.00 1.26
7th Jul 1928 Barclay Perkins BS Exp Stout 1071.6 1022.0 6.56 69.27% 14.00 4.29
9th Jul 1928 Barclay Perkins IBS Stout 1060.8 1020.0 5.40 67.12% 9.00 2.24
4th Oct 1928 Barclay Perkins IBS Ex Stout 1102.6 1039.0 8.41 61.98% 14.19 6.62
4th Oct 1928 Barclay Perkins TT Porter 1027.4 1009.0 2.43 67.15% 14.19 0.70
13th Feb 1924 Camden S Stout 1045.4 1012.2 4.40 73.17% 6.70 1.29
14th Nov 1922 Courage Porter Porter 1032.69 1008.86 3.15 72.88% 7.11 5.83
14th Nov 1922 Courage Stout Stout 1043.77 1011.63 4.25 73.42% 7.11 1.91
2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread ES Stout 1054.8 1019.0 4.73 65.32% 9.19 2.14
2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread LOS Stout 1054.8 1019.0 4.73 65.32% 9.19 2.14
27th Apr 1928 Whitbread LS Stout 1055.8 1020.0 4.73 64.15% 9.20 2.12
2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread P Porter 1028.3 1008.0 2.68 71.71% 9.19 1.10
27th Apr 1928 Whitbread S Stout 1055.8 1020.0 4.73 64.15% 9.20 2.12

Date Year Brewer Beer Style pale malt brown malt black malt amber malt choc. Malt crystal malt MA malt SA malt roast barley
11th Apr 1929 Barclay Perkins BBS Ex Stout 37.20% 9.93% 9.10% 17.51%

21st Jan 1929 Barclay Perkins BS Stout
9.62% 44.88% 16.03% 11.81%
7th Jul 1928 Barclay Perkins BS Exp Stout
8.23% 9.05% 17.41%

9th Jul 1928 Barclay Perkins IBS Stout


28.65% 32.23% 9.47%
4th Oct 1928 Barclay Perkins IBS Ex Stout 14.66% 7.79% 14.54%

4th Oct 1928 Barclay Perkins TT Porter
14.72% 7.36% 14.61%

13th Feb 1924 Camden S Stout 86.39%


14th Nov 1922 Courage Porter Porter 84.11% 6.11% 9.78%

14th Nov 1922 Courage Stout Stout 84.11% 6.11% 9.78%

2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread ES Stout 82.20% 7.66%


2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread LOS Stout 82.20% 7.66%


27th Apr 1928 Whitbread LS Stout 82.20% 7.66%


2nd Feb 1928 Whitbread P Porter 82.20% 7.66%


27th Apr 1928 Whitbread S Stout 82.20% 7.66%


Courage brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/08/253
Barclay Perkins brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/1/614
Camden brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number ACC/2305/9/5
Whitbread brewing record held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/09/121

A couple of notes. All these beers contained sugar, too. The percentages are for the malts only. I've assumed a quarter of black and brown malt to weigh 254 pounds, all other malts 336 pounds.

The stuff about salt confirms what I've seen in some brewing records. But the timing of the addition wasn't exactly the same. Barclay Perkins added 2 oz. per barrel to the mash, but also another 3 oz. per barrel in the copper. That's the equivalent of 4 and 6 oz. per quarter, so 10 oz in all. Which is slightly less than the 12 oz suggested in the article.

I found the description of Irish malts particularly intriguing. I already knew that Irish black malt was different from the English version, being not as dark and charred. But I hadn't realised that the pale malt was much darker. It sounds like the elusive "high-dried" malt. Something I've been trying to pin down for years.

I'm grateful that there are some more specific details about the Irish practice of "worting". It confirms that it's basically a form of priming, but with wort instead of a sugar solution. Two gallons per 36 gallon barrel is about 5.5%. Which means each barrel was 5.5% old beer, 5.5% wort and 89% fresh beer. Now wouldn't that be an exciting experiment for you homebrewers? Worting a Stout the Irish way.

One thing that doesn't get a mention is Barclay Perkins technique of boiling a couple of bushels of black with the wort in the copper. I've still never seen this mentioned in any technical literature. Was it unique to Barclay Perkins?


Gary Gillman said...

Ron some of the numbers in the first table got transposed I think because some don't add to 100.

I dont think Irish pale malt was the old (1700's) high-dried, as e.g. George Watkins refers to dried on culm, a hard form of coal. Watkins got a very dark colour, as for all porter, only with high-dried so if it was the same, black malt later would have been unnecessary. Plus, many old sources use the terms brown malt and high-dried interchangeably. I think this Irish darkish pale malt is probably though what mid-1800's English pale malt was, and this explains the colour of old pale ale ads from Burton for example.

Clearly the colour of pale malt varied with producer and perhaps a la longue the country, but high dried malt was something apart IMO.

Interesting description and clearly by this time, much had been remembered of porter-brewing in its home city but not the brewing of it with 100% brown malt, which it seems all the breweries had abandoned for some time.


Seb said...

what is SA malt again? I'm sure it has been covered but I can't seem to find any answers on the site

Craig said...

Well, it looks like I'll be brewing that April 27, 1928 LS Stout.

Ron Pattinson said...

Seb, I'll be honest: I don't know. I think it stands for Strong Ale malt.

Kristen England said...

It could me 'strong' however my guess is that if it does mean strong, it would be something that could be used easily for making stronger ales. Meaning a top quality ale male. Ive always taken SA to mean the 'standard' ale malt and treated it as such. Maris otter or the like.

Gary Gillman said...

I think it means Special Amber, and explained my reasoning here a few years ago. Possibly it is what later was called Diamber.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, I think it's very unlikely to be Special Amber as I've seen it used a a substitute for pale malt.

Gary Gillman said...

The fact of substitution for pale malt suggests the opposite to me, Ron, especially in the context of the stout recipes shown in your table where no pale is used at all.

Any substitute for pale malt would have to be as efficient for starch conversion given that the remaining malts would be colouring malts and not very enzymatic. So it makes sense that the substitute would be darker but diastatic, as Diamber was and a light amber malt could be.


Gary Gillman said...

Ron, adding black malt to the copper was done in the mid-1800's. Black, in 1849, gives as the reason that a mash without black malt was, once spent, preferred by farmers for cattle feed. See page 30.


Ron Pattinson said...

Gary, just been going through some Fuller's logs. They always put 1 bushel of black malt into the copper. Out of three quarters, so there was stil plenty in the mash tun.

At Truman they had small mash tuns where they mashed the dark grains separately. They blended it with the main wort in the underback. Derek Prentice told me that. Can't remember why. It might have been that they got a better price for the spent grains.

Gary Gillman said...

Interesting. Steel in his book I mentioned earlier refers at pp 40-41 to this special vessel for mashing black malt. He states it is used to improve the return on sale of spent mash to farmers. He includes a diagram, it had a false bottom and something called euphoniously, a "circumferential diaphragm":

Steel also states in some cases the black malt was added straight in to the copper. I'd guess this was done if it was felt there was little extract to get from the malt. It probably depended on its quality, some must have approached brown malt in quality from an extract point of view. Not that later 1800's brown malt had a lot of extract, but it probably had some, pace Steel, and perhaps this was true of some grades of black malt.