Tuesday, 4 December 2012

William Murray's beers in the 1930's

Time for part two of my series on William Murray's beers. Now we've moved on to the 1930's. Hard times for many British breweries.

Let's dive straight into the analysis pool. The first entry in the table is good news for my hammering points not just in but right out the other side tactic. It's a great example of a typical interwar bottled IPA. Remember these points: low-gravity IPAs have been around for a long time; this type of IPA was the norm in the 20th century, Bass and Worthington aside, stronger IPAs just didn't exist; 1036º is about the correct gravity, or maybe even a bit too high (X Ale had fallen from 1070º to 1036º between the 1830's and the 1930's, you'd expect IPA, which started at 1060-1065º to be about 1034º).

There's just one lonely Mild again. Looking much like an English Mild or even a modern one. That colour is about 60-70 EBC.

It looks to me as if there are two basic Pale Ales there. One around 1034º, the other 1040º. This is where I'm glad that I got to the Scottish Brewing Archive again. And that I for once shed my lazy arse and went through all the Maclays records I snapped. Because I have the details of their range of Pale Ales in the 1930's. Their range of IPA's I should say, because that's what their brewhouse names were in 1938. IPA 5d, IPA 6d and IPA 7d. Not for much longer, mind. They magically changed into Pale Ales the next year. Brilliant. There's another of those nails right through the floorboard points: the random way brewers used the terms Pale Ale and IPA.

Here they are:

Maclay's IPAs in 1938
Beer OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation lbs hops/ qtr hops lb/brl
IPA 7d 1042 1015 3.57 64.29% 5.00 0.95
IPA 6d 1038 1015 3.04 60.53% 5.00 0.86
IPA 5d 1032 1014 2.38 56.25% 5.00 0.70
Maclay brewing record document M/6/1/1/3 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive

Murray's Pale Ales look to me like IPA 5d and IPA 6d.

I'm happy to see the Milk Stouts. As I said in the last part, Murray was famous for its Milk Stout. That's why I've so many label images for it. One of the other points I like to frantically beat with a hammer, is that Milk Stout wasn't necessarily weak. Some were, like Murray's. I've seen pre-war ones with gravities in the 1055-1060º range. Murray's do at least have the low attenuation I would expect.

Hang on. I've had a look at those Pale Ales more closely. One thing you need to know about interwar British beer is the great gravity shift of 1931. When the tax went up and brewers dropped the gravity of the beers so that their retail price stayed the same. It's what drove Mild down under 1040º. Bearing that in mind, my guess is that the first five Pale Ales in the table are the same beer. 1038º before 1931, 1034º after.

Now I think about it, the last three could be the same beer, too. They're after the tax dropped back down to the same level. Might not be, though. When the tax fell again, some brewers, rather than putting the beer back up to its old gravity, they knocked a penny a pint off the price.

Another hammer point: the Scottish love of currency units in beer names and their inconsistent and confusing use of them. So that 60/- isn't the same thing as a modern 60/-. And random, because there's no way a 54-gallon hogshead of those beers cost 60/- in 1938. Whitbread LA, a low-gravity Mild of 1028.5º, cost 76/- for a 36-gallon barrel*.

Moving on to the Strong Ale, called No. 3 like one of William Younger's. Which just happens to have the same gravity as Younger's version, 1055º**. The colour is dark, just like the No. 3 I remember well. I assume Murray's No. 3 must have been its direct competitor.

Wow. I can't believe I could write so much about a dozen beer analyses. Don't worry. I'm not worded out yet. There's one more instalment to follow.

William Murray beers in the 1930's
Year Beer Style Price size package FG OG colour ABV App. Atten-uation
1933 India Pale Ale IPA pint bottled 1010 1036 3.37 72.22%
1939 Light Ale Mild 6d pint draught 1008.7 1035.8 40 + 0.5 3.52 75.70%
1930 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint draught 1011 1038 37 3.50 71.05%
1930 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1009 1038 39 3.76 76.32%
1932 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1009 1034 3.24 73.53%
1933 4d Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1009.5 1032.5 2.98 70.77%
1933 Queen Brand Pale Ale pint bottled 1010.5 1034 3.04 69.12%
1934 Pale Ale Pale Ale pint draught 1012 1040 3.63 70.00%
1937 60/- Pale Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1008.8 1039.8 11 – 12 4.03 77.89%
1939 60/- Ale Pale Ale pint bottled 1011 1039 12 – 13 3.63 71.79%
1933 Milk Stout Stout pint bottled 1018 1036 2.31 50.00%
1937 Milk Stout Stout 6d pint bottled 1019.2 1044.8 3.30 57.14%
1939 Strong Ale No.3 Strong Ale 10d pint draught 1009 1054.9 40 + 10 6.00 83.61%
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
Thomas Usher Gravity Book document TU/6/11 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive
Younger, Wm. & Co Gravity Book document WY/6/1/1/19 held at the Scottish Brewing Archive

* Whitbread price list pasted into a brewing book held at the London Metropolitan Archives document number LMA/4453/D/09/124.

** William Younger brewing record held at the Scottish Brewing Archive document number WY/6/1/2/70.


Rob said...

There was no way for the Scottish currency naming convention to correspond with real costs after Sept 19, 1931.

Not that it did before that either.

Jeff Renner said...

I've wanted to ask for some time for clarification on color. I am familiar with SRM and EBC, which came after this time period, of course, The colors 11-2 and 12-13 seem right SRM for the two pale ales, but what about 37 and 39? That's kind of stout territory, I'd think.

And I have no idea what 40+0.5 and 40+10 mean. You've posted such numbers before.

Can you clarify?

Ron Pattinson said...

Jeff, very good question, that.

Most of the colours are Lovibond, 1 inch cell.

Ones that are 40 (red) + 5 (brown) are Lovibond 1/8th inch cell.

I'd love to know how to translate these into exact modern EBC or SRM values.

The crazy thing is, because I've seen these numbers so much in lots of contexts, I can imagine quite well what colour they represent.

Take the 1 inch cell numbers, 6-8 Pils, 18-28 Bitter, 40 amber Mild and Newcastle Brown, 80-100 Dark Mild and Burton, 100-120 Old Burton, 200-400 Stout. The latter is Barclay's Russian Stout. One batch of Russian Stout was 680 when they cocked up the caramel addition. They had to throw it away.