Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1934 Barclay Perkins Draught Lager

Not to dilute the current Lager thread, I thought I'd throw in some recipes, too. Next week's is a real treat: one of the earliest commercially-brewed Lagers in Britain. But, as a warm-up, here's a early draught Lager.

I really must revisit the Barclay Perkins Lager records. I've only ever looked at a couple of them. Funny how your ideas changed. When I first saw the catalogue of the Barclay Perkins archive, I never imagined that I'd be so interested in the Lager records. Initially, it was only the Porter logs that interested me. The 19th century ones.

There's something else I hadn't anticipated being so exciting: the 20th century records, especially those from after WW II. If you'd asked me right at the start of my archive trail, I'd have said my interest ended at around 1922. How things have changed since then. I'll be honest, lots of 19th century records are pretty dull. Pale malt, hops, sometimes some sugar.

Barclay Perkins entered the Lager business in 1921, when their shiny new Lager brew house opened. With little domestic competition, they were soon able to establish themselves as one of the country's leading Lager brewers.

The early Lager market was a funny one. There were only 6 Lager brewers and just about all of them operated on the national level. They had to, given the small volume of Lager sales. In 1935 those six Lager brewers (Alloa, Barclay Perkins, Jeffrey, Red Tower, Tennent and Wrexham) only produced 114,000 barrels between them (source: Western Daily Press - Wednesday 10 June 1936, page 12).

Barclay Perkins brewed three Lagers in 1934: Export at 1049.4º, Draught at 1043.2 and Dark at 1057.4º. Most Lager was still bottled at the time and Barclay's led the way in offering a draught version as well. I know from later pricelists that it was delivered in metric-sized casks, 5.5 and 11 gallons (25 and 50 litre). It was served on top pressure, as the pricelists also include CO2 cylinders.

It looks like a pretty authentic Lager. I can't say that I understand the mashing details totally. But it is complicated. And it starts at a very low 130º F, rising to 175º F. It's all malt - something none of their top-fermenting beers was - and uses half German malt and all Czech hops. The wort was pitched at 46º F and rose to a maximum of 52º F. After primary fermentation it was moved to lagering tanks at 39º F.

I hadn't realised before Kristen mentioned it, but this is very like a Czech Výčepní Pivo in terms of gravity.

Time to let Kristen take control . . . . . . .

Kristen’s Version:

Notes: Holy smokes kiddoes, this one is pretty sweet. It very much feels like a Světlé Výčepní…that being a very pale light Czech lager. Very simple grist of pils and pale malt. I really wanted to keep it English so I went with Fawcett lager malt and Fawcett Optic however I did choose to use those delicious Czech Žatec hops. A simple primary fermentation for a week and then a 3 week lager at 36F. Keep it simple. Make it now, drink this bastard for Ofest!  


dana said...

Oh boy lager!
Thanks Ron & Kristen for the recipe and background.
I'd be curious for more info on their mash if you can interpret it. I seem to recall details of an early BP lager mash where they filled the tun to the top trying to get their temps up. I suppose they would have been pretty well on to a standard procedure by now.

Andrew Elliott said...

I notice the recipe has a single infusion, but is there any more information on the step mash Ron mentioned:

" it starts at a very low 130º F, rising to 175º F"

I step (and decoct) all of my lagers, so curious about how it was originally done.

Kristen England said...


Gimme a bit and I'll get a proper mash schedule up there for you.


Kristen England said...

Here you go ya'll...

BP 1934 Draught Lager mash

As you will see below, a very simple directly heated step mash. You dough in pretty wet and then just heat from there. The rest times are short but not crazily so. You have to remember the amount of time it took to get to 'X' temp.

Dough in @ 1.35qt/lb (2.8L/Kg)
- 123F x 40min
- direct heat to 158F over 15min
- 158F x 20min
- direct heat to 170F over 15min
- 170F x 15min
- the taps were 'set' at 165F after this time

- they used 175F water to reach about ~162F in the mash. Thats pretty much where you want to be during your sparge.

Anonymous said...

Love the lager stuff. Keep 'em comin.

Andrew Elliott said...

Very interesting steps there. I usually try to limit the rest in the 120's to 20 min. The rest of the mash is a bit warmer also. Will hopefully give this one a go before too long.

dana said...

Brewed this a couple weeks ago and will be drinking it soon. And Truman's 1895 export last week for a second time. I missed having that one as soon as I finished it. Thought you'd like to know and thanks!

Ron Pattinson said...

Dana, I'd be interested to hear how the BP Draught Lager turns out.

dana said...

Ron, not sure what to say other than full of beery goodness, though it needs a couple weeks more. Maybe you're thinking of the malt difference? Maybe I can plan to have some ready for you when you're in Boston next.
Do you have a more leading question as to how it turns out?

dana said...

Ron, the verdict's back and it's delicious! Leave it to a bunch of home brewers to enjoy a light lager and catch its subtleties - it was a hit at the homebrew store. My version has the usual malty goodness upheld by a bit of bitterness. But, I'm guessing, because of the English malt, there's a slight honey flavor there too.
I've a second keg for a friend's 70th. He's gonna love it.
Thanks to you & Kristen for sound what you do!

Anonymous said...

Brewed this up earlier this year with Premiant hops, German Pale Ale and Pilsner malts and Kellerbier yeast and using the simplified mash schedule. So not a clone, just inspired by the recipe.
Anyway, I'd say it came out close to what Kristen describes. Floral hops and a little malt sweetness. It's light and refreshing, but not thin or watery. Good bitterness and some husk in the end. The Kellerbier yeast I used did add some sulphur and maybe just a little bit of diacetyl, but I would say it's not a fault.