Tuesday 11 December 2012

Thomas Usher's beers in the 1920's

I enjoyed telling you about William Murray's beers so much, I decided to continue with another Edinburgh brewery, Thomas Usher.

True to tradition, I'll work through the styles in alphabetical order.

The good news is: there are Milds! Warms my cockles and all that. What's even better, two different strengths of Mild. Decent gravities, by crap attenuation. The low 1040º's is about right for a standard  Mild in the early 1920's. I'll give you a slight preview of the next instalment. There are no Milds in that. The evidence is mounting that Mild was a rarity in 1930's Scotland.

Now all those Pale Ales. There really are a lot of them. And that's a difference with England. I can't think of an English brewery that made four different Pale Ales in the 1920's. The PA, PA 60/-, PA 70/- and PA 80/- grouped in the middle of the table are taken from a brewing record. They form a neat set, with just about equal gaps between them: 1035º, 1041º, 1048º and 1055º. Knock 10 points off the last three and you've got post-war 60/-, 70/- and 80/-.

Those obviously aren't the wholesale price per hogshead. The tax per hogshead was more. They seem to have got stuck at pre-WW I prices. But what's that 90/- Sparkling Pale Ale about? It looks like it's probably the 60/- PA. Where did that term 90/- come from? It seems to be applied to bottled Pale Ales of 1038-1040º, but doesn't seem based on any former price like the 60/- to 80/-. I've seen labels or analyses of versions from several breweries.

Though the 120/- Strong Pale Ale looks like the 80/- from the brewing record. What was going on? Did they add an extra few bob for marketing reasons?

Usher's seem to be one of the few Scottish breweries that called one of their beers Scotch Ale both internally and in the Scottish market. You'll note that a couple were export versions for Belgium. At 809% 8-9%ABV, they look quite like the beers sold as Scotch Ale in Belgium today. Which I guess shouldn't be a surprise. The level of attenuation is a surprise - more than most of the Pale Ales. I'd have expected the opposite.

Finally the Stouts. Like Murray, they made two of quite different character. First, one of those half-fermented sugar bombs the Scots seem to have loved. I prefer something with more poke myself. The second, Export Stout, looks like a pre-WW I Stout. That's a very decent gravity for the 1920's. From what I can see this second, stronger type of Stout gradually died away in Scotland, just leaving the sweet one.

Next time it'll be Usher's beers in the 1320's. Just joking. 1930's.

Thomas Usher's beers in the 1920's
Year Beer Style package FG OG ABV App. Atten-uation
1920 Mild Ale 90/- Mild draught 1016.5 1048 4.07 65.63%
1920 Mild Ale 80/- Mild draught 1013.5 1041 3.56 67.07%
1928 MA Mild 1015.5 1040 3.24 61.25%
1929 90/- Mild Ale (carbonated) Mild bottled 1012 1042.5 3.95 71.76%
1920 PA 54/- Pale Ale draught 1010.5 1034 3.04 69.12%
1920 PA 60/- Pale Ale draught 1012.9 1040 3.51 67.75%
1920 PA 90/- Pale Ale draught 1016 1054 4.93 70.37%
1925 PA 60/- Pale Ale bottled 1006 1038 4.17 84.21%
1927 Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1007.3 1040.3 4.29 81.89%
1928 PA Pale Ale 1013 1035 2.91 62.86%
1928 PA 60/- Pale Ale 1013 1041 3.70 68.29%
1928 PA 80/- Pale Ale 1015 1055 5.29 72.73%
1928 PA 70/- Pale Ale 1014.5 1048 4.43 69.79%
1928 Pale Ale Pale Ale draught 1014 1040.8 3.46 65.69%
1928 Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1012 1040.5 3.69 70.37%
1928 70/- Ale Pale Ale draught 1014.5 1047 4.21 69.15%
1928 90/- Sparkling Pale Ale Pale Ale bottled 1009 1038 3.76 76.32%
1929 Pale Ale (carbonated) Pale Ale bottled 1012 1040 3.63 70.00%
1929 90/- Sparkling Pale Ale (natural condition) Pale Ale bottled 1009 1040.5 4.09 77.78%
1929 120/- Strong Pale Ale (carbonated) Pale Ale bottled 1013.3 1051.5 4.96 74.17%
1920 Old Scotch Ale Scotch Ale bottled 1026 1080.7 7.11 67.78%
1920 Old Scotch Ale Scotch Ale bottled 1008 1078 9.24 89.74%
1920 Old Scotch Ale Scotch Ale bottled 1022 1078 7.30 71.79%
1923 Old Scotch Ale (ex Brussels) Scotch Ale bottled 1016 1082 8.66 80.49%
1923 Old Scotch Ale (ex Brussels) Scotch Ale bottled 1017 1083 8.66 79.52%
1928 Old Scotch Ale Scotch Ale 1026 1085 7.81 69.41%
1920 Stout Stout draught 1020.7 1048 3.52 56.87%
1920 Export Stout Stout bottled 1024.4 1067 5.51 63.58%
1928 Stout Stout 1021.5 1045 3.11 52.22%
1929 Strong Old Scotch Ale (carbonated) Strong Ale bottled 1020 1085 8.51 76.47%
Thomas Usher brewing record document TU/6/6 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive


Rob said...

"809% ABV"


Rob Sterowski said...

If you have a 60/– quality in a hogshead for bottling, it is 50% more, i.e. 90/–. And 80/– becomes 120/– the same way.

Ron Pattinson said...

Rob, thanks for pointing that out.

Ron Pattinson said...

Barm, interesting point. But I thought it was always the hogsgead price, the shilling stuff. You've got me doubting now.

Rob Sterowski said...

I suspect it was sometimes the barrel price and sometimes the hogshead price. I don't think assuming it was invariably the hogshead price is a safe assumption.

Gus said...

Good god, 89% attenuation? There must have been some funky stuff happening there!

Janie said...

Hi, I've found a bottle of usher pale ale in my attic but it's just got the label that you gave as a picture at the top of this page and nothing else. Do you know when it would have been produced?